Moonlight, Best Cat Ever, 1999 – 2019

Our beloved cat, Moonlight, has left us, taken by cancer and age. She was 20 years old, almost 21. She was an amazing friend to all of us. Far from the aloof cat of Siamese stereotype, she always wanted to be part of the family, dogs and all. She used to try to come along on dog walks, but we could never get a leash and harness to work right on her. As a young cat, she competed with the dogs for dropped food. (Ask me sometime about the Battle for the Broccoli, wherein Moonlight squares off with a boxer, and the little beagle sees opportunity.) Moonlight was quite vocal, and would “Mwah” whenever stroked. She loved laps, and in response to gentle hugs would go, “Mwah! Mwah!” like a squeezebox. In the last few months, her meow evolved—first into a melodic “Moi?” and then later into a “Honk!” She was the living embodiment of “cat gravity,” which prevents you from getting up with a cat in your lap, and excelled at putting whoever was holding her to sleep.

Over the last couple of years, she came through two surgeries for skin cancer with flying colors. Our vet was amazed at her resilience. “Ordinarily, at her age, we wouldn’t even be having a conversation about surgery,” he said, shaking his head in disbelief. Here’s a picture of her, after one of the operations.

I love animals, and Moonlight had a unique place in my heart. I hate this part of loving animals, where your heart is broken at the end. It’s probably going to be hardest on my daughter Jayce, to whom Moonlight has been a special friend for the greater part of her life. We will grieve together.

The timing could hardly be worse, as I’m leaving shortly for a convention in Philadelphia. But the last 24 hours have been telling, with noticeable decline in her strength—and it seemed better to say good-bye now, rather than endure worse scenarios while I’m gone. But there is no good time. At the vet’s, she put up a final fight: Even in her severely weakened state, it took an extra injection to stop that stalwart heart of hers.

Moonlight, I hope you find little Sam the beagle, and Hermione the boxer, and all of your other friends waiting for you on the other side. Peace now, little one. Peace.

What an Unfun Week It’s Been

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It’s been a little over a week now since Allysen’s mom fell and banged herself up enough to need to go to the hospital. (Nothing broken, fortunately.) A few days later, a close family friend had to be hospitalized. So we’re doing double duty on the hospital/rehab visits, and pondering the difficulties of aging. Feh. Not for the faint-of-heart. Difficult decisions lie ahead.

To counter this, I ask you visualize the adorable tableau I encountered today, when I got up. Captain Jack (dog) and Moonlight (cat) were curled up asleep together on the sofa (where, mm, Jack is not supposed to be). Did I have the presence of mind to grab my phone and take a picture? I did not.

This one, from an earlier time, will have to do. The shaggy one is dog-in-law McDuff, who’s staying with us for now.

Fans Are Slans!

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It’s an old fannish expression from an A.E. Van Vogt novel, but it’s true. Fans are Super Loyal and Not-to-be-under-appreciated! The latest three examples came one right after another. First, longtime fan and correspondent David B (whom until last week I had never met) was visiting the U.S. from Brazil, and he and his lovely wife took a day to ride the train from New York City—where among other things, he had been trying to get bookstores to order my books—to Boston, just to have lunch with me! We spent a wonderful couple of hours hanging out at Legal Seafood and walking along the Charles River near MIT. And I signed a couple of new books for him. It was great. Only a true fan would do that.

A day or two later, I got a package in the mail from Chad H, another longtime fan (whom I hadn’t met until DragonCon). In the package was a totally cool STARRIGGER doorstop, custom created on his personal 3D printer! Who has their own 3D printer, I ask? Fans, that’s who.

Right after that, I got an email from Kitty K, who needed information to help arm her in her efforts to get her local library system to buy The Reefs of Time and Crucible of Time. They were being reluctant, but she was keeping after them. That’s the kind of thing fans do.

So here is a heartfelt tip of the hat to fans everywhere—especially my fans!

The Empire Strikes Back

Microsoft, the evil empire, has struck back at my efforts to keep my computers running. I have a desktop and a laptop running Windows 10, and both have tried to update to the newest, greatest iteration of Windows, cleverly named 1903, and both crashed and burned due to bugs in the installation software. Microsoft support people actually spent a couple of hours on the phone with me, but they couldn’t solve the problem (though they did acknowledge that there were a lot of people having problems).

I’m back in business, though, with the older version of Windows, thanks to full disk image backups I’d run to external hard drives. Not quite as recently as I’d wished, but recently enough.

If you have a major Windows update coming, do yourself a big favor and get yourself a fat external drive if you don’t already have one, and back up your whole system before the update! You’ll be glad you did.

Even if the emperor isn’t.

Microsoft, You Shall Not Pass!

Microsoft, suspected agent of Morgoth, once more hosed my laptop with a major Windows update. What is with this company? Don’t they test their frickin’ software before they frickin’ release it? Apparently not. But the good rings have saved me! A full disk backup from April restored the usability of my computer, and Dropbox and Microsoft’s own One Drive saved my data. (Let me tell you, though, restoring my inbox to its former glory was no fun. (I still have about 5000 unwanted emails to delete. The backup service on that saved too much.)

We will prevail against the forces of darkness!

Tomorrow, Crucible of Time goes live!

Forty-Nine-Plus Years Old

Yesterday was my birthday, and I turned 10, in dog years! A big milestone, though I don’t feel a day over 5. If you’re wondering, that translates to forty-nine-plus, which is the age I magically became fixed at, oh, about “plus” number of years ago. It’s great! You never get old. But you can still get the senior discount.

We had a lovely cookout with my family and a few good friends. The weather was great, the margaritas were great, the company was great.

My daughter Lexi painted me a landscape, based on a photo by our cousin Mike Sherrick, of farm country in Wooster, Ohio. This is where my mother, Mildred Sherrick Carver, grew up, though the farm depicted in this painting is, I believe, down the road from the old Sherrick farm.

The other big gift was almost too heavy to lift. My loving wife Allysen, her mom, and her brother and his family, all pitched in to get me this gorgeous 6-inch Celestron telescope. (There’s a story behind why this particular telescope, but that’s for another day.)

And yes, I blew all the candles out.

Resuming Course

So, the last couple of weeks were pretty hard, with my brother’s passing—and thank you all for your kind thoughts and wishes. Now I’m trying once more to get up a head of steam. The Reefs of Time launches in just three weeks!

What I’m focusing on now is proofing and correcting the print edition of Reefs, and yes, this is getting close to the wire. (And any corrections I make that are not just formatting, such as bad hyphenation, uneven spacing of justified text, and so on—meaning word or punctuation or italicizing corrections—all those have to be copied into the ebook and the source file, as well. It’s an incredibly finicky business.)

Due to unavoidable scheduling conflict with my brother’s memorial service in August, I have canceled plans to attend Worldcon in Dublin. That hurts, because I picked the launch date specifically to have the book out in time to promote it at Worldcon. Well, family first, and no regrets about making that choice; I just wish it hadn’t happened. And I mean that in every possible sense.

Okay, this 460-page book isn’t going to proofread itself. See you later.

Charles S. Carver, 1947–2019

Charles S. Carver, my brother

Charles S. Carver left us yesterday, after a long and often painful struggle with cancer. The academic world and the University of Miami lost a world-class, distinguished researcher in social psychology. Countless people lost a dear friend. His beloved wife Youngmee lost her husband. And I lost my only brother.

The final battle came on suddenly and unexpectedly, and we initially thought he would pull through it and recover. But that didn’t happen. Chuck wound up in the ICU on life support, and after several days on life support, when hope for recovery was gone, he was allowed to slip away peacefully. Youngmee was at his side, along with my wife Allysen and me, and several members of Youngmee’s family.

His professional accomplishments are legion, and he was awarded the American Psychological Association’s highest award for Distinguished Scientific Contributions “for significant theoretical and empirical contributions to our understanding of goal-directed behavior and self-regulation.” His publications include ten books and hundreds of articles, and his work has been cited an astounding 120,000 times in scientific publications by other researchers.

To his friends and colleagues, he was a curmudgeon and mentor loved by all. He was quietly and extraordinarily generous, both professionally and personally. He would have responded with an acerbic denial if you said that to him. A former football player and wrestler (at Huron High School, Huron, Ohio), he loved watching sports. He was the only person in the world who could get me to sit down and enjoy a football game on TV. He was utterly devoted to his dogs Tntn and Jahng, who it must be said are totally charming little rascals. He helped me and my family in ways I cannot even begin to describe, and I will not try. He was perhaps the first person in the world to believe in my writing. He loved good science fiction. Among his favorite writers were William Gibson, Rosemary Kirstein, N.K. Jemison, Connie Willis, and Linda Nagata.

To describe Chuck as a brother is difficult. As kids, we fought all the time. My mother once wrote back to relatives from a family vacation, “I have been asking myself why we didn’t leave the boys at home, or in cages.”  Yeah, I can see that. He was two years older and stronger than I was, and I could never win. I bought a set of weights so I could get stronger, but I never liked using them, and he did. So guess who got stronger.

In high school, he started taking an interest in being a big brother in a good way, and he strong-armed me into joining the wrestling team. I didn’t like it that much at first, but it grew on me, and in time I became dedicated to the sport and valued it for the remainder of my high school years. It was because of Chuck that I ventured way out of my comfort zone for colleges and attended Brown University, where he was a junior. At some point during this period he asked me, “When are you going to start writing again?” And he nudged me for copies of my stories to read.

In our adulthood (when the hell did we become “adults”?) he was relentlessly helpful, especially after I had a family.

He waited many years for a chance to read my forthcoming book, The Reefs of Time. He only got halfway through the first book before he was struck down, which is supremely unfair. But that was long enough for him to find a word-o that had escaped all of my readers and proofreaders, and me.

I’m going miss him like hell.

Here’s Chuck and Youngmee, taken on a trip to Fiji, back 2009.

We Interrupt Our Program…

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The thundering, runaway train of Operation Launch got shunted onto a siding last week, when my brother wound up back in the hospital, with pneumonitis and respiratory distress—probably connected to his long-term cancer treatment. I flew to Miami once more to help out. He’s okay-ish. But with liquid in his lungs, he’s tied to continuous high-dose oxygen supplementation for now. Someone has to be there all the time, to make sure nothing goes wrong.

So I’m going to be here for… I don’t know how long, yet. I’ll try to keep working, when I’m not on duty at the hospital. (Beep, beep, beep, boop, beep…)

Brief progress report: I now have print proofs of both books (or will, when the box of Crucible proofs arrives in a day or two), which puts the paper editions of both books that much closer.

Meanwhile, please send thoughts and prayers for my brother Chuck’s recovery.

 

Returning Home

posted in: personal news, travel 1

That 7 a.m. flight out of Burbank was definitely out of my comfort zone time-wise, but it was a very smooth flight nevertheless, and we arrived early in Boston. Here’s what it looked like, coming in low over the harbor.

The temperature in the L.A. area was in the 50’s and 60’s most of the time I was there. I had been chilly, not having packed enough long-sleeve shirts. I knew it would be cooler in Boston, so I wore one of those for a second day, plus a jacket—to find it in the 80’s in Boston!

I was apparently at peak-time pricing for Lyft, so I opted to take the T home. That’s when it started. The Silver Line bus took a big-ass detour, and then broke down at the combustion-to-electric changeover point, and all the passengers dragged their luggage to another bus. The Red Line was fine, except that the elevator at the endpoint was closed for “vertical transportation” improvements. I made it home, though, and thought I was done for the day. But no.

We went out for dinner with friends—and on the way home, I hit a pothole, and BAM!, front tire blowout. Brand-new tire. We were on a downhill access road to a highway, which wasn’t great for changing a tire, but should have been easy for a tow truck to find. But no, the service driver sent by the auto club couldn’t follow even step-by-step instructions, and finally abandoned me without troubling to tell me. By the time my local shop sent a tow truck, it was after 11 p.m., and I’d been waiting for almost two hours. He, bless him, dropped me off at my house on his way to the shop with my car.

Welcome home!

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