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Apull 1999

I had hoped to have a separate article, "Dialogue with an Agent" posted at this time. Well, maybe next time. I do have an excerpt from the 4th GEODYSSEY novel, Muse of Art, which is to be published by TOR in hardcover next month. Next time I hope to put on the Xanth historical timeline, which gives dates and details for the entire Xanth framework from the year -4000 to +1100. Some readers have found the Xanth family trees confusing; it may be that the translation to HTML messed up the structure. The timeline is about 400 lines long, each line an entry about a character or event; it should be clear enough for those who don't try to read it straight through. It is intended for reference rather than reading, so that those playing games in Xanth settings have accurate background information. So check this site in a couple of months, just in case there is anything interesting.

At this writing, I have completed the first draft of the fourth Mode novel, DoOon Mode. It's 121,500 words, which means that by the time I have edited and paginated it, it will be 125-130,000 words, which is a solid novel. Not that a book should be judged by its length, any more than by its cover or its publisher or its author; it should be judged by its relevance and effect on its intended readership. If I ran a school for reviewers, that's the point I would make, and any that proved to be too dull to understand that would flunk out. So possibly the majority of contemporary reviewers would flunk my course. But this is an idle dream; in the real world atrocities of every nature abound, and there's much that needs attention before getting down to this minor alcove. As readers of this site know, the Mode series lost its market and was cut off incomplete. The single most frequently asked question at this site may be "Where's the 4th Mode novel?" So the readers have remained interested, but I saw no point in writing a novel I couldn't get published. But now, with Internet publishing, I know I can get it into print on my own if I have to. So I will have my literary agent try it on the conventional book market, and if it finds a publisher you will see it in print in a couple of years. If it doesn't, you will see it on the Internet much faster. I am taking time off to write this column, then will return to edit the novel, a process that normally takes about a week. Chances are that by the time this column appears, DoOon Mode will be on its way to my agent. Then we'll see. I'll keep you posted.

Meanwhile, here is the essence of the novel, with some key details omitted, so as not to ruin it for your later perusal: Our four Virtual Mode travelers are Colene, who is smart and pretty at age 14 but suicidally depressive; Darius, who is the Cyng of Hlahtar (King of Laughter) in his home Mode, a very important position of magic; Nona, who is completely magical and would be queen of her planet in her fractal home Mode, which is why she fled it; and Burgess, completely alien, who floats on a cushion of air. Darius and Colene are now married, but unable to consummate it because of Colene's horrible memories of sexual abuse. They encounter the three Feline nulls Tom, Pussy and Cat, respectively male, female and neuter, all human but resembling the feline persuasion. After some interaction in the DoOon realm, the seven travel on the Virtual Mode - where the dread mind predator attacks Colene. To escape it they stop off at Colene's Mode of Earth, and then at Nona's Mode of Julia, where Nona gets off. This allows the telepathic horse Seqiro to rejoin the group. In the end, Colene battles the mind predator, and the outcome affects the rest of her life.

I have spoken before of Internet publishing and my involvement in it. Now it is time for a bit more detail. My interest is in opening things up for the hopeful writers who otherwise face no realistic outlet for their dreams, because there is room in Parnassus - the global publishing establishment - for only about one book in a hundred available. This makes getting your book published like winning a lottery, unless by some fluke you manage to get into print and then have a recognizable name. You might say that I won my lottery three and a half decades ago and now am comfortably set. But it took me eight years of struggle, and it was a struggle thereafter too, as I got blacklisted for six years for demanding a correct accounting from a publisher who cheated me. You might wonder what kind of a profession would allow such a thing to happen. The answer is this profession. I remain alienated from the Science Fiction Writers of America because that organization not only failed to support the wronged writer, it tacitly sided with the publisher, though other members had been similarly cheated, and has on occasion spread malicious misinformation about me. It's why I support the National Writers Union (NWU), which really does go after errant publishers. If you are a serious writer, published or unpublished, check out its Web site www.nwu.org/nwu, email nwu@nwu.org . NWU recognizes that a writer who spends years struggling to get published is serious, even if Parnassus doesn't think so. And of course I support Internet publishing, which has the potential to bypass Parnassus. Yet even now Internet bookselling has been tagged for adopting one of the conventional vices: selling shelf space, pushing not the best books, but the ones for which what in the music industry is called "payola" is made. I'm not sure what it's called in the publishing industry. You wonder why certain books get put in front of the store while others are buried way in the back? The front books are paid for. It's legal, and considered ethical; the most convenient real estate always costs what the market will bear. Bestsellers are made that way. I have been the route, but never did really like the smell. This will continue as long as Parnassus is the only game in town, and it may not be better in the Internet, but at least there will be a broader alternative. The Internet is essentially ungovernable, which means that no one outfit can corral it, and the mavericks' day will be longer. It is not inherently superior, but is inherently more egalitarian. So it brings the best and the worst, and that's best.

I first heard from John Feldcamp, president of Xlibris, in AwGhost 1997. He said "I am the president of a new technology company that provides publishing services for both writers and publishers." He went on to say that Xlibris would make it possible for every author to be published, and for every work to remain in print forever, via the Internet. "Xlibris is not a publishing company, but rather an enabling service, which provides the infrastructure to allow everyone to become their own publisher." He solicited my advice, support, or endorsement as a successful author. I was cautious. "At first consideration, my impression is that this is intriguing but unworkable," I replied. I told how I had lost heavily in connection with Hi Piers, which marketed my own books. I mentioned my World War Two novel Volk, then at Pulpless.com for downloading, saying "So I know that even a good and provocative novel by an established writer does not necessarily pay its way on the Internet." Then I got down to a serious critique: "You propose to put an enormous amount of material on the Internet. You will need a formidable staff just to handle it, and 90% of it will be inferior, political, or obscene. You seem to have no founder with publishing experience. You are entering treacherous waters. Who will handle copyrighting? Who will track the accounts? Who will deal with the lawsuits by parents, conservatives, or others who don't believe in free expression? This is vanity publishing on a huge scale…You will have ten year olds applying, and folk who don't know what paragraphing is, let alone story or theme…Applicants will have unrealistic expectations, and will blame you when those expectations are not met." I concluded "I regret being so negative, but I have had more experience than I care for with disaster. In the past year I have put lawyers on two publishers who were reneging or cheating…I have a deep disaffection with Parnassus, and would love to see an alternative succeed. I do wish you well. But I doubt you folk appreciate what you are getting into."

Feldcamp responded with a full clarification, and asked to talk with me by phone. We talked for half an hour in SapTimber, and he impressed me with his knowledge and dedication. He sent me a package of literature on Xlibris, including its business plan. I am a creative type who has made it a point to understand business matters. Xlibris was addressing things competently. My doubt was wavering. "In summary," I said next, "I am increasingly impressed with Xlibris, and my support of it is likely to grow…Meanwhile, I suspect you folk have yet to appreciate the avarice, ignorance, and duplicity of conventional publishers; you won't believe it until you have seen it for yourself. So you had better be prepared to operate independently." I mentioned that I might be interested in investing in Xlibris. Feldcamp recommended that I do a "due diligence" investigation on the company. This may best be described to those who haven't heard of it, as I had not, as like hiring a private dick to investigate someone, only the investigation is done mostly via paper research. We did so, and the proprietors of Xlibris checked out okay. I felt a little as if I had been peeking into Mr. Feldcamp's bedroom; I learned when his wife got her Social Security card, and what a former employer thought of him: "We wish we had him back." This was obviously no swindle outfit. And so, in Dismember 1997, my wife and I invested in Xlibris as venture capitalists, becoming the third of three significant outside investors.

In the course of 1998 Xlibris sought major investors, because the initial round was enough to keep it going only a year or so. Economy of scale means that what is unprofitable at a low level of operation can be profitable at a higher level, but it needed more money to achieve that higher level. In due course it found one: a large Parnassus outfit was seriously interested. The total initial investment from all parties was in six figures; this one would invest in seven figures, and Xlibris would be on its way to vastly increased operation, putting out perhaps 200 new books a month. Negotiations continued for months, as Xlibris fought for the best feasible terms for itself and its investors. But it was like David sparring with Goliath; the smart money is generally on Goliath. Meanwhile, it was running short of cash, so we made a bridge loan, intended to keep the company functioning another four or five months while it completed negotiations. At last, in Jamboree, the deal was agreed to. Then one of the original investors objected: the payoff of 2.7 to 1 (that is, for every dollar invested, $2.70 would be paid back to buy out that investor: this kind of return is standard in venture capital) was not sufficient. This put the deal in peril, because the big investor would not budge: it wanted the small investors out of there, and at that price. I could see why: together we owned about a quarter of Xlibris, and if the big investor's money made the company a hundred times as valuable, we'd later get paid off a hundred fold, getting a virtually free ride to riches. The deal seemed about to collapse, but finally the small investor talked directly with the big investor, and realized that no blood was about to be squeezed from this stone, and backed off. The deal was on again. We signed over our stock certificates, and the takeover was set to happen late in FeBlueberry. All that was needed was the okay of the big investor's top man. I told those who queried me that I thought Xlibris was a good place to be, and would probably get better in the future; I was not free to say how much better. Xlibris, retaining effective autonomy as a division of the larger company, with its founders running it and having six figure salaries, was about to become the major player in Internet publishing.

Then the big company's top man said no. That was it. No reason given. Suddenly, instead of the heights, Xlibris faced the depths. Its operating cash was nearly gone and it faced bankruptcy in short order. No, I didn't remind Feldcamp of what I had said before about the nature of Parnassus; I had thought the big outfit was serious too. It is possible that it set Xlibris up to crash so that it could pick up the pieces much cheaper in a bankruptcy sale thereafter, but I don't think so. I presume the winds of investment shifted, and the company simply changed its mind, having meanwhile played its cards close to its chest. But the effect on others who had counted on this acquisition was formidable: the investors stood to lose all that they had put in, and the founders stood to lose their life savings, which they had used to start up Xlibris, and see the destruction of their dream. The writers who were getting published there stood to be abruptly unpublished. Well, I understand this sort of power dealing, having encountered it before in Parnassus - those who think me paranoid on this subject have not had the experience I have had - so my concern was how to play the next stage of the game. My wife and I concluded that it would be best for Xlibris to continue in operation, and seek other investors. We decided to give it more time. John Feldcamp came down in Marsh and spent a night with us, discussing business. Thus we are now in the process of investing more, becoming the major small investor, so that Xlibris can operate at its present level for another year. I also sent out a "Dear Colleagues" letter to other leading writers of the genre, expressing the hope that some would want to join me in investing in Xlibris. The company is also soliciting new investors by more traditional routes. We don't yet know the outcome of any of these initiatives, but I can say that Xlibris will be with us at least through 1999. Thereafter I don't know, but a lot can happen in a year, especially in connection with the Internet. It has been a financial adventure, and will likely continue so, because in such ventures one seldom breaks even; one either wins the pot or loses all that he has put in. So my prior cautions to those who have queried me about Xlibris have twice the force now, because I have more money riding on the outcome. Never take the word of one who stands to profit by what he recommends; that's a conflict of interest, and you need to check it out elsewhere. I didn't do this for money, and have never been in it for the money. I'm in it because I want there to be a viable alternative to Parnassus, and this seems to be the most promising avenue. I resolved before I ever had money that if I ever did have it, I would try to use it for beneficial purpose, and that is what I am doing now. I do recommend Xlibris to hopeful writers, and to those who want to put their old novels back into print, but my judgment is inevitably compromised by my financial interest. But I will say this: a writer who is published conventionally can see his work out of print within a year, so could be about as well off at Xlibris even if it does fold in that time.

Meanwhile, my life continues in its petty pace from day to day. I was riding on the AweCycle - that's my recumbent bicycle, named after the store I bought it at, Awesome Cycles - when suddenly I was veering off the edge of the drive toward a tree. I tried to steer, and was about to get by the tree, when I went down: the wheels had skidded on the leaves. I strained my left knee, but was otherwise okay; the thing about the recumbent cycle is that when there's a crash, you crash feet first. I always wear a helmet, but have never hit my head, just other parts of my body. It seems to me that such crashes are supposed to be for folk fifty years my junior - I am now 64 - but I suppose there were some spills left over, so they came my way. My other cycle, the RowBike, broke a part, and it took me two months to get the current address of the proprietor, which I had stupidly mislaid. Then I called to ask for the cost of a replacement - and they sent it free, because it's on a lifetime warranty. That pleased me, so I gave them a good testimonial. It's a rugged bike, and I alternate its use with the AweCycle and with jogging. All part of my exercise routine, which also includes dumbbells and archery. It's been months since I've had to search for a lost arrow, partly because my aim has improved, and party because I now have supplementary targets buttressing the main one, so that the occasional misses don't get far. I enjoy it.

Glass sculptor Eric Torgerson sent me a lovely bare winged fairy last year. I teased him about making something ugly, like a harpy. So this year he sent me an ugly glass harpy. She's pot-bellied, with drumstick legs, sagging breasts and drooping tail. She's perverse, too; I hung her by her thread from the shelf on my desk, beside my fairy and mermaid and Penny coin, but she wouldn't face me. Half an hour of adjustments did not alleviate her perversity: no matter how I adjusted the string, she faced away. I finally figured it out: her thread is flat on one side, so that it always comes to rest with that side against the shelf. The same is true for the threads of the other figures, but they do not resolutely face away, so I hadn't noticed before. So there is a mundane explanation. I think.

Last time I mentioned that Pulpless.com had the low ground on courtesy to querents. Pulpless protests that it has tried its best to be courteous to all. Maybe it was a misunderstanding. Last time I also mentioned my curiosity about the location of Entwood Forest. Half a dozen informed readers enlightened me, one sending a map, another sending a detailed history of the treelike ents. It seems that their leader was named Fangorn, so their forest came to be called Fangorn instead of Entwood. Thanks, readers; you have resolved a perplexity. Another fan - I presume - is sending me First Day Covers; I have three of these valuable empty envelopes now, and am not sure what to do with them. I continue to ponder Linux as an operating system, and readers have been informing me on that, too, with information and addresses. So I have started a folder - a physical one - for my Linux clippings and info. In Apull I expect to start anonymously surfing the Internet, and I'll be looking up Linux along with many other sites, getting my bearings. In Marsh I learned email, and can now receive and send it. So, step by step, I am coming into the twentieth century. I know - just in time for the 21st century. I look forward to the Y2K Bug taking out the IRS and at last bringing meaningful tax simplification.

Joe DiMaggio died. He was considered perhaps the best baseball player of all time, and seems to have been a nice guy. My interest in baseball is peripheral, but I am reminded of a joke involving him. It seems a man brought what he claimed was a talking dog to an agent and showed off his stuff. "What's on top of this house?" The dog said "Rrrrrooff!" The agent was unimpressed. "What's it like when you rub two pieces of sandpaper together?" "Rrrrufff!" The agent was disgusted. "Who's the greatest baseball player who ever lived?" "Rrruth!" The agent had had enough. "Get out of here!" Outside, the dog turned to the man and asked "DiMaggio?"

Here's a paragraph from a Jenny Letter: How about this Internet humor? Remember the Emoticons? :-/ And the Asscons? (_!_) Now JFCaroth@CEI.Net sent us a page of Breastcons. (o)(o) are perfect breasts. Then there's (+)(+) fake silicon breasts. (*)(*) high nipple breasts. (@)(@) big nipple breasts. oo are A cups, and {O}{O} D cups. (oYo) Wonder Bra breasts. And so on: (^)(^) cold breasts, (o)(O) lopsided, (Q)(Q) pierced, \o/\o/ Grandma, |o||o| android. Then there are the specialty breasts: (p)(p) with hanging tassels, (:o)(o) bitten by a vampire, (/)(o) scratched, and (-)(-)flat against the shower door. Now that we've seen faces, asses, and breasts, I wonder what's next?

I sometimes watch videos while writing. I set up a two and a half inch diagonal TV screen in the corner, and play my VCP - Video Cassette Player - while typing notes or text on my novel. It's odd: I can listen to news or talk on the radio, or watch TV, while writing, but not while reading. Apparently the mental processes differ, so that I can have intake without interfering with outgo, but not two intakes together. When I see the kind of video junk I like on sale, I sometimes get it. You know, wild fantasy or science fiction with shapely young women whose clothing barely fits. But what arrives does not always match my expectation. I got one called Femalien and it turned out to be straight soft porn with no real alien involvement. Not that I object to soft porn, or to hard porn; just that when you've seen one of those, you've pretty much seen them all. So I was disappointed; it was a waste of a good title. So I didn't expect much from Barb Wire - but that turned out to be much better, with a truly shapely woman, Pamela Anderson, and cliffhanger SF junk plot, exactly my kind of diversion. At the end it has ten minutes of Pamela dangling from a trapeze, busting out all over. What a body! I watched Cyberzone, which was more of my kind of junk, and Sirens, which turned out to be a quality movie. How did that get in there? So I brought it down for my wife to see sometime, only my daughter ran off with it. She traded me one she had gotten by mistake. She's a vampire fan, and this one was Nightbreed, subtitled "They only came out at night." But it wasn't vampires, but straight soft porn, no story at all. Ah, well, the women are shapely. And I watched Flesh Gordon II, sequel to an infamous one. I loved it; it's truly dirty humor in a science fiction mode. One example: they fly into space and encounter the Farting Assteroids, which look like human posteriors. The assteroids emit so much foul gas that our heroes in the spaceship are choking. So they aim their cannon and fire huge corks into the holes, plugging them up. Where else can you find naughty nonsense like this?

One reader sent an email to Com Passion, the lady computer in Xanth who is now taking up with Com Puter, and who likes solitaire. Pete Fowler sent a layout for the solitaire game Free Cell that is unwinnable. He says it's so easy to make up unwinnable layouts that he wonders why the myth that all layouts are winnable. Well, the theory is from Microsoft; maybe this layout should be sent there. They think all their software is user-friendly too. We also get spam. I think that if every email sent were charged, even a very small amount, spam would greatly decrease; it's the free delivery that encourages it. This one said THIS MAY BE THE MOST SIGNIFICANT LETTER YOU'LL RECEIVE THIS YEAR!! Hardly; it's a pyramid scheme, dependent on ever greater numbers of fools sending in money. It says to send a dollar to each of the seven names on the list, then remove the top name and add yours to the bottom, and wait for thousands of dollars to come in from those who follow. Apart from the ones who will simply cheat, sending no money but keeping their names on the list to receive it, as was the case with the one we received, there is the fact that you can't constantly multiply by seven very long before running out of new names. Pyramid schemes depend on people not knowing elementary math. They are also illegal. And how does anyone send dollar bills by email, anyway? So I hope my readers have sense enough to throw away solicitations like this. If you want to waste your money, waste it by buying my books.

Stray other notes: an email titled Happy99.exe arrived at HiPiers. I deleted it without opening. Now I'm curious what it would have done to my system, but can't find the notice I saw. The bad recent one is Melissa. Our email stopped coming in for a day, and we suspect it was because the Melissa virus was clogging up the Internet. Meanwhile the DOW aspect of the stock market crested just above 10,000, and sank again. Kosovo was bombed, and the experts were confounded when the Serbs didn't quit, but instead intensified their genocidal efforts. What experts don't know about human nature would fill more volumes that what they know. Here in Florida, teens got their kicks by dropping rocks on the cars passing under an overpass along I-75, and succeeded in killing a woman. Lovely. As my novels go out of print, their prices on the scalper's market rises; a reader reported being offered a copy of Macroscope for $107. Well, we have to get by Income Tax season; then we can tackle the balky scanner again and start scanning novels into the computer. Macroscope is one we'll try to get to this year, for Internet republication. So I hope my readers don't let themselves be scalped. Also, readers should be advised that HiPiers will not forward chain letters of any kind. Finally, I have an ongoing process of running down songs I once heard. Readers helped me locate "The Girl In the Wood" years ago. Now something reminded me of another. In 1953 I was hitchhiking from Philadelphia to Vermont, and one of the cars I rode in had the radio on, and I heard a song. It wasn't special, but I remembered the refrain: "I'm glad I kissed those other lips, before I kissed your own; If I had not kissed those other lips, I never would have known." Years later I heard it again: Eddie Fisher sang it on TV. So I figure it's an Eddie Fisher song, and I collected all his songs I could find, but that one was never among them. I subscribed to the TIME/LIFE series of CD discs, Your Hit Parade, and the 31st disc just arrived: not there either. That's what reminded me. So is there by chance a reader out there who dates from the 1950's and recognizes that song? I'd love to identify it. However, I did get a response to my question about why the Phoebe flycatcher wags its tail: it could be to make predators think it was heading in that direction, when actually it flies the opposite way. I'm not sure I buy that, because other flycatchers seem to survive well enough without such devices; seems more likely to me that it has developed a way to clearly distinguish it from other very similar species. I can't tell one flycatcher from another by sight, but I know the phoebe instantly. I'll bet birds can tell similarly. But this is only my conjecture; my appreciation of birds exceeds my knowledge about them.

Thus my dull and ordinary life continues. Readers can have exaggerated notions about the lifestyles of successful writers. It is true that some go to Ireland for the atmosphere and tax benefits, but I like it in backwoods America. Remember, I came from Great Britain. One person once reported in print that I lived in a very posh closed-access private community with its own golf course. A collaborator who knew me sent in a correction, and the magazine refused to run it, showing that the error was not entirely accidental. The fact is, I reside on a tree farm replete with sink holes. I like trees, and the sink holes can be interesting. I never played golf, but I think this terrain would be hellish for it. But mainly I live in my novels, whose realms draw me in. I love it there.

I wrote this column at the end of Marsh. Apull Fool's Day I edited it - and everything landed in the mail. Eric Torgerson sent me another package, including glass sculptures of two winged bare fairies kissing, and two copies of Jenny Elf. I had teased him about doing Jenny - I think I'm going to have to stop teasing that man! The second Jenny is for me to send on to the real Jenny, which I shall do forthwith. She's kneeling rather than suspended, shapely bare, with the pointed ears; there's not enough detail on her hands to see whether she has four fingers. So now mine is kneeling under my computer monitor, while the fairies kiss suspended below it. In the same mail came a box from Pulpless.com: trade paperback copies of their first 18 titles, eight of them autographed by the authors, some with friendly messages. No, I don't think they do this for everyone; I'm a significant investor. Pulpless' emblem is a fir tree with a Æ symbol across it: since the novels can be downloaded, no trees need be sacrificed for their publication. I like that. If commercial messages are accepted as part of the package, they will be free. I believe this is now scheduled for Mayhem. So those who like my writing, but don't like paying for it, should be able to get it free, as well as the works of other writers. I read the first ten pages of one, more or less randomly, and found it well written and interesting. This is Wall Street Blues by Jerome Tuccille, republished from a decade ago, subtitled "A Novel of Corruption and Office Sex." I had just reached the part where a shapely 25 year old secretary named Monica (sic) approached her 45 year old boss to confess that's she's been dreaming of him sexually, X-rated dreams, when I came to the end of my allotted 10 pages and had to stop so as to return to the editing of this column. Sorry about that. You don't believe me? Go to www.pulpless.com and get your own copy. However, checking farther, I discovered a horrendous typo in the book, so there are evidently bugs remaining to be worked out. My own Realty Check has errors too, that occurred after my proofreading. Overall, these books have nice covers, and they all look interesting; I wish I could read every one, but I'm a slow reader and my time is limited. But others who have more reading time than I do should find Pulpless.com worth tracking.

I conclude with assorted spot notes: reader reactions are coming in on my collaboration with Julie Brady, Dream a Little Dream, and they continue to be quite favorable. As a straight fantasy novel I think Dream is standard, but apparently it has two things going for it: the lucid dream aspect, which fascinates many folk, and the depressive aspect, to which many others relate. So there is a sharp dichotomy between the one pro review we have seen, which trashed it, and real readers, which have so far been unanimous in praising it. Surely as time passes this will level out, but it does serve as an example of the problem of reviewing: it is a good and necessary service that is too much in the hands of the Philistines who don't relate well to real readers. Now, closer to home: we live in the forest, and we like it that way, though our house is clothed in mud and paper wasp nests and our yard has gopher tortoise burrows, and our swimming pool is now the home of frogs and tadpoles. We moved into nature because we like nature. But sometimes it gets too close, as when a lovely coral snake came into the pool enclosure, or when big spiders get trapped in the kitchen sink, or lizards explore the house. We usher them safely back outside. This time a pair of wrens decided my targets for archery would make a good nesting site. We like wrens; they are bold little birds, and we keep two birdbaths filled for them and others. But I use those targets twice a week, and I don't think that would be good for birds or eggs. So I stored the targets inside the house. So then they were going to set up housekeeping on my recumbent bicycle. I had covered the panniers with a cloth to prevent this, as I use that cycle on a near-daily basis, but now they were setting up on top of that cloth. So I moved off their early nest makings and tightened the cloth and parked the cycle away from the wall, and that seems to have done it. We moved a bird house to the front portico, but wrens are choosy, and seem to prefer to make their own. We hate seeming to be mean to them, but do need them to nest somewhere else. Meanwhile, I checked with my dentist about some discomfort in my jaw: sure enough, another tooth has developed an infection below the root canal guttapercha, and I will need more dental surgery. I could have financed my higher education with the money that has gone into my mouth. I got sixteen onlays a quarter century ago, but it seems saliva works its way in under them, taking out the nerves, so then I need root canal work and replaced onlays or crowns, but this is below all that, so they have to get at it through the gum below the tooth. This is not cheap or fun. The irony is that I take good care of my mouth; the hygienist often comments how clean it is. The damage proceeds anyway. So what advice to I have for others, to avoid such mischief? Don't get old. Thus our lives, as Daylight Saving Time comes: each day is its own little adventure.

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