Patching Concrete: My Favorite Thing!

Not. My basement wall is happier now, but I’m tired. It all started years ago with parts of our basement being a little on the damp side, which we’d been ignoring because there was so much stuff in our basement, we couldn’t even see the dampish parts.

That changed when Allysen’s mom had to move to a place with a higher level of care than us, and we faced emptying the first floor apartment of our two-family house, so our daughter Lexi and her husband Connor could move in for a while. Where was all that furniture, art, books, etc., going to go? Down to the basement, where else? In a way, it’s Allysen’s mom’s fault, for having high standards in art and furniture pieces acquired in a lifetime spent living around the world. Pieces valuable not for their dollar value, but for the cultural meaning and the artistry of craftsmen from Latin America, Southeast Asia, and elsewhere. Stuff you want to keep or at least find a good home for.

Cue the demolition squad, to get rid of our accumulated crap, and even some good things we just didn’t need anymore. We had an amazing giveaway assortment in front of our house for the last week, and a lot of items found new homes. Those that didn’t left the hard way—ceerrrunch!—in the trash truck. Some good electrical appliances left that way, sadly, thanks to the vandal who came along and cut off the cords on everything we put out that had a cord. Why?

Time for more shelves! Ever more shelves! But wait—what about those water-stained cracks where the floor meets the foundation? And the crumbling mortar? And—oh look, we’re having unusual torrents of rain this evening—and is that water running into the corner? Yikes!

Cue the chisel, Quikrete, and trowel. Follow up with sore knees, aching back, and giant blister on big toe from crouching for hours in bad shoes. Finish with an adjustment to the downspout outside, in hopes of redirecting the next big downpour.

I’m starting to feel as if I’m putting myself in the running to be Heinlein’s “competent man.” Not on purpose!

Now, about those shelves….

Mercury and Venus Dance in the Evening Sky

posted in: astronomy 1

Remember when Venus was a planet of lush jungles and radiant oceans, and Mercury was a tidally locked world of extremes, its dayside treacherous with molten-metal pools and its nightside a frigid locker of exotic ices? And who knew what sorts of intelligent lifeforms existed to pose a communications challenge?

Such were the imagined worlds during the Golden Era of science fiction, the stories written in the 40s and 50s and early 60s, the stories I imprinted on as an avid young reader. Those visions may have been shattered by the real worlds discovered by space probes of the late Twentieth Century. But my mind was full of those images over the last couple of evenings as I peered through my binoculars at Venus and Mercury—seemingly close enough to reach out and tango—in the western twilight sky.

Oh, to have those Golden-era worlds back. The possibilities!

I tried to take a picture with my phone camera, but it was hopeless. Here are two NASA images, Mercury on the left and Venus on the right (not to scale). These are the worlds I saw, though the vision I saw was quite different!

Mercury and Venus - NASA galleries

Summon the Heroes!

Summon the Heroes - Boston Pops at Home

Uplifting music for strange times—that’s what we need! Here’s the Boston Pops Orchestra performing a special edition of “Summon the Heroes,” by the incredible John Williams, in honor of first responders everywhere. Scroll back to see the intro by Keith Lockhart and John Williams himself. Otherwise, put up your feet and watch 78 members of the orchestra, all performing from their own homes. Read the whole story here.

 

 

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Author Zoom Chat – Saturday May 9, 2:00 EDT

posted in: appearances, events 2

What was originally intended as a bookstore event at Annie’s Book Stop in Worcester, MA, has morphed into an online event, so you can attend no matter where you live! Even the ISS, if their wifi is up to the task. I’m not saying that the astronauts will attend, but I’ll bet they could if they wanted to.

I’ll be zooming in with two of my friends and colleagues in the science fiction trade: Steven Popkes and L.J. (Lisa) Cohen, for a conversation about the writing life, our newest books, and what about our writing life led us to write our newest books. Questions from the legume gallery will be encouraged.

For more information, and a teaser, visit the Author Spotlight thingy at https://anniesbookstopworcester.blog/2020/05/01/author-spotlight-friday-jeffrey-a-carver/.

Oh, also visit the signup page at https://www.facebook.com/events/689350495158992/ because you have to RSVP to get the login information.

Be the first on your block, wherever your block may be!

Sign of the Times in Middle Earth

posted in: Coronavirus, humor 1
from TheHardTimes.net

Middle Earth Temporarily Bans Fellowships of More Than Five…

MINAS TIRITH — The White Council of the Wise issued a decree today that all fellowships in Middle Earth shall be no larger than five companions for at least the next quarter-age to help slow the spread of the Samund-01 curse that has already killed over 30,000 elves, dwarves, and men.

“The following measures are to be implemented with great haste across Middle Earth,” said Council leader Saruman the White via palantir. “Taverns and mines are to cease operations immediately, and all festivals and Entmoots are to be postponed. When you do venture, maintain a social distance of two longswords. Only essential quests are to be embarked upon.” . . .

Read the whole story here, on The Hard Times. The Lord Denethor sounds like someone we know…

Story Collections for Free!

posted in: specials 0

Some of my writer friends were talking about people’s reading habits during the current situation, and the theory was floated that in times like these, people like comfort reading: light, escapist, familiar.

A lightbulb went off in my head. I think I forgot to tell everyone that my two story collections, Going Alien, and Reality and Other Fictions, are both free at Smashwords through May as part of the Authors Give Back Sale. Both of those collections have some light, funny stories in them. Plus, they’re free!

Going Alien cover   Reality and Other Fictions cover

I also have two omnibuses, Dragon Space and The Chaos Chronicles: Books 1-3, for 60% off as part of the sale.

These prices are at Smashwords only. Lots of other authors have books on special for the sale, as well.

 

 

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