Hey, Mom! The Explanation.

Here's the permanent dedicated link to my first Hey, Mom! post and the explanation of the feature it contains.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #1090 - Decades - an xkcd comic

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #1090 - Decades - an xkcd comic

Hi Mom,

You would think that with just a few days left to go in daily production before I reach the three year mark, assuming I really do quit dailies after July 6th that I would have something more significant to share than an xkcd comic.

And I would say, why the Hell not share just an xkcd comic?

I mean, really. The last two days have been heavy on the grief. Time for some laughs (or at least a chuckle or a good "hmmmm") and something short and not so ponderous.

That is all.

Happy Saturday, which in my world, so often, features an xkcd comic.

FROM - https://xkcd.com/1849/


Reflect and connect.

Have someone give you a kiss, and tell you that I love you.

I miss you so very much, Mom.

Talk to you tomorrow, Mom.


- Days ago = 1092 days ago

- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1806.30 - 10:10

NEW (written 1708.27) NOTE on time: I am now in the same time zone as Google! So, when I post at 10:10 a.m. PDT to coincide with the time of your death, Mom, I am now actually posting late, so it's really 1:10 p.m. EDT. But I will continue to use the time stamp of 10:10 a.m. to remember the time of your death, Mom. I know this only matters to me, and to you, Mom.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #1089 - Three Years Ago

1995 - at Laura's wedding
Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #1089 - Three Years Ago - "Actively Dying"

Hi Mom,

So, yesterday during my process of consideration and rumination about this blog and the future of the HEY MOM feature, I promised an investigation of what was happening three years ago while you were in the process of dying, what we call "actively dying," which seems to me the wrong term since you were still fighting up to the end. Though you stopped eating around June 22nd and entered this process of "the end," it took you thirteen days before you gave up, and then only because we may have given you a little push. It seemed more to me about "actively fighting" death rather than doing the dying.

Recently, I attended an author's reading at Powell's in Portland, an author, Sallie Tisdale, whose book I taught for ten years during my time as a women's studies instructor, and who I now learn is a Portland resident. Her new book is about dying, about being with people as they die. She examines what to say and what not to say. Not that this is about me, though actually it is... I was happy to learn that lots of the things that she says NOT to day were things I didn't say. Mostly, I just told you that it was going to be okay and that I was right there with you, that Dad and Lori were right there with you, that we love you, and that it's okay to let go if you need to let go. At least, I might have said that. I am pretty sure I did. But it's been three years, and I don't remember, honestly.

I know I tried to focus more on "it's going to be okay" and "we all love you" and "I love you."

You spent thirteen days from the time you stopped eating until you breathed your last breath. And before that time, we had fifteen years of extra time with you, time we cherished because we had almost lost you, so we knew how precious it was. And yet, still I feel you were cheated. So many people I know have lots loved ones abruptly, without warning. They lost these people without the time to sit at their bedside, without the time to tell them all the things they wanted to say, without the chance to say goodbye properly. I know people who have lost loved ones who were quite young, who had so much more to live for, so it feels terrible to say that I feel you were cheated of life, Mom, when so many others died much younger and with much left to do compared to you. And yet as my family moves on from the loss of you, I think you were cheated. What if you were still alive? What if the meningitis had never happened to you? What then?

You had a great life, and we had a great life with you. When we almost lost you in March of 2000, we all realized how precious and fragile our time together is, was. The next fifteen years were filled with so much love, so much cherishing of our time together, so many hugs, and kisses, and tears. You were not quite 79 when you passed away, Mom, but that's a pretty good and long life. And yet, I am greedy. I want more.

So, here I am at a crossroads, trying to decide if I should stop daily production of the HEY MOM feature on July 6th, as I started the blog feature two days after you died. I am leaning toward yes, toward stopping.

I could post one old HEY MOM a week for the rest of my life and probably not run out since I have generated almost 1100 of them. Granted, they are not all about grief and loss and dying, many are very simple or devoid of much of any content by met at all, and yet they were published, they exist, and I have produced them. I feel this occupation has helped me immensely.

So, today, in thinking of your "active dying" of three years ago, I present two of these former posts. The first one -- #350 -- was published a year after your death around the time you began this "active dying process." Looking back, I did not make sure a post at the same two year mark. The second post -- #25 -- focused on my decision to count the days since your death at the bottom of my post. I started counting because after I lived beyond the month you died, I would need the count to know how long it had been, exactly how long. During that first month, I just subtracted four from the date. It seemed more important in July of 2015 to be counting these days. I have continued counting for three years. Today marks the 1091st day since your death. Counting has helped me keep perspective. It has helped me to chart where I am in the grieving process and how much distance I have from the event. Even if I stop daily transmission, I am going to keep counting, though I may remove the count from the daily posts.

Thank for reading.

I know it seems like I am still very much in the throes of strong grief, but I am not. It's just the time of year to think about your death, Mom, and how I feel about it, to take stock of my inner self and my spiritual connections. I still feel your presence in my life, which is part of why I have continued with this conversation for 1089 days. Though I may stop our daily talks, I will not stop thinking of you every day. But those thoughts do not make me sad. Feeling you with me as I type these words, I am sitting outside a new house, not the one I lived in when you died, I live in a new state, there's mountains, and my puppies are playing in the lawn I mowed for them. It's a good life. And the love I feel is because of the way you taught me to be. I could write HEY MOM for another 1000 days or more and really not pay adequate tribute to the great gifts you have given me.

Thanks, Mom.

PS: The picture at the top is my favorite picture of you. I have shared it before. I considered sharing a post-meningitis picture of you, but I prefer to think of you laughing, just like in that photo.


Originally -

Thanksgiving 2014

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #350 - A year ago, it began

Hi Mom,

A year ago, today, is the day we consider that you started actively dying. Following our pizza party for Dad's 80th birthday and the 2015 Father's Day, the next day, a Monday, you would not eat.

13 days later you were gone.

But that was a long 13 day period.

So, we're closing in on a year since your death, and I am trying to figure out how I feel.

The obvious feelings are all here inside of me. I miss you. I am sad. I am grieving.

It's the more complicated feelings that I am trying to pin down. Or perhaps, I am trying to pin down the more elusive feelings. Not complicated, just difficult to define.

I have spent all day, today, thinking about this issue, these feelings, you, your death, this date a year ago. I have few answers. But I am about to quit and finish this in the morning. I need to sleep on it. So this will be another post that will be posted late.

I remember last year when Dad called to tell me you were not eating. We had not yet defined at the time that you were actively dying. We did not say those words yet. But we knew it was not a good sign that you would not eat.

There's an emptiness that I cannot define. And I guess, it's this emptiness that is also complex. The emptiness is caused by many things or exists for many reasons. I plumb this depth often, trying to find its shape, its meaning, its origin.

I have learned in this year to examine closely the rational-emotional split inside me. Rationally, intellectually, consciously, I knew you would not live forever, Mom. I knew we were on borrowed time since 2000 when you got the meningitis. I felt that I was prepared. We had so many close calls. So many bedside vigils. But emotionally, I was not ready; I was not prepared. And there's a place in me that has all this emotion for you, Mom, that is empty because it is never refilled with experience with you, at least not physically in person in corporeal form.

It's the adjustment of my emotions that is still in progress and maybe it always will be. Judging by the experiences of others who have lost a parent, or a mother, I can see that the grief goes on and on and on. I know from your own experience of losing your mother that you grappled with that grief for the rest of your life. I expect to do the same.

And so I mark these dates. I reflect. I connect. I strive. I have moved on. I am not trying to hold on to you, Mom. I am celebrating my life as lived now, in the moment, and I cherish the love we had and the loves I have now. And though my life is wonderful, there is something missing, and something I do not want to be missing, you.

Today is a day that I would really like to talk with you, Mom, and I have as best we can now. I hear you, and though it's not the same as it was, it will have to be good enough.

Reflect and connect.

Have someone give you a kiss, and tell you that I love you.

I miss you so very much, Mom.

Talk to you tomorrow, Mom.

- Days ago = 352 days ago
- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1606.21 - 10:10


Originally presented in -

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #25 - Counting Days

Hi Mom,

Dad (the Big Guy or BG) sent me this photo the other day, and I just started weeping.

This photo tells me so much about you, just like the other one from the other day (Post #22).

I had forgotten about the flower petal clock in the corner of the counter at the Hazelwood house. See it there in the picture?

I didn't mention the dishes during the Memorial Service. When we were older, dishes were something you would let Lori and I wash, though often just one of us, and you would do either the washing or the drying.

And yet, here you are working alone. This photo tells me many things, such as the apron and the latex gloves. I often use latex gloves when I wash dishes. The hot water hurts my hands. Liesel teases me about this thing. There's that dish rack. Our first dish rack, Liesel's and mine, was your old one. All those pots. No dish washer in those days. The ceramic mug my dad used to drink root beer is waiting to get washed right by the sink where he set it for you.

Mom, what did you use that alarm clock for? Obviously, you're timing something. Or maybe it's just sitting there in front of the flower clock for when you do time things but you were not timing something when the picture was taken.

I did not ask you enough of these questions before you left us. I did not look at all these pictures with you and talk about our lives nearly enough. I was too focused on my life. I would call or visit, and I would talk about my life. Yes, I know, you were interested. But I am very interested in your life, and I feel like I do not know enough about it.

So, I started counting days. Not that this idea is related to the previous, but this is my next topic.

I started this blog two days after you died, so if I remember that fact, I could use the blog to count each day for the first year. But then, I decided to make it easier, and I started counting the days as "days ago" (IE. days since you died) at the bottom of the blog. I needed a counter because soon I will not be able to just subtract from the date. Soon we will leave July behind, and then days since you died is not as it is today, which is simply 30-4 = 26. Then, I will need the count. And so I will count. And some day, though the days often seem to crawl by, eventually, the count will reach 365, and I will acknowledge it on this blog. Then, (well, okay, two days later), I will have reached my goal to write one of these posts every day for a year.

And then what?

You will still be gone.

Writing this blog will not bring you back.

What will I do then?

I have 340 days to think about that.

But for now I am working and watching soaps and missing you.

I miss you a lot more today than I did yesterday.

Have someone give you a kiss, and tell you that I love you.
Talk to you tomorrow, Mom.


- Days ago = 26 days ago
- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1507.30 - 19:01

Reflect and connect.

Have someone give you a kiss, and tell you that I love you, Mom.

I miss you so very much, Mom.

Talk to you tomorrow, Mom.


- Days ago = 1091 days ago

- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1806.29 - 10:10

NEW (written 1708.27) NOTE on time: I am now in the same time zone as Google! So, when I post at 10:10 a.m. PDT to coincide with the time of your death, Mom, I am now actually posting late, so it's really 1:10 p.m. EDT. But I will continue to use the time stamp of 10:10 a.m. to remember the time of your death, Mom. I know this only matters to me, and to you, Mom.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #1088 - At The Pool 1972 -Throwback Thursday 1806.28

at the pool - circa - 1972?
Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #1088 - At The Pool 1972 - Throwback Thursday 1806.28

Hi Mom,

I am conflicted.

I have dropped comments on the blog that I am considering ending DAILY Hey Mom production soon, possibly at the three-year mark of the feature, which will be July 6th, 2018. Though at that point, I will be very close to 1100 entries, so I am considering going for the more milestone like number, rather than 1096 entries.

Mom Dad and Lori Long Lake 1971

However, that said, I am not planning to stop the feature completely. I plan to do at least one HEY MOM post per week (probably this one, Throwback Thursday) and others as they seem appropriate. And so, for this reason, the number at which I stop the daily production seems rather arbitrary.

However, the conflict is not really about the stopping point or the number, but rather whether I should stop at all. I like writing to you, Mom, though I will freely admit that it is not serving the grief-salving remedy it served three years ago. I am better. I am okay. I still miss you, but I do not need to make a public spectacle of missing you so much.

Also, I am beginning to use the blog as a means to serve up professional content. Though writing to you, Mom, may be something to which many can relate, it may also have an opposite effect with some people, which is reason alone to abandon the feature, at least as a daily broadcast.

Long Lake dinner 1971
But I keep waffling. When I began this project, like the T-shirts one, I thought I would stop after a year. But it didn't FEEL right. It was my sister who suggested that I didn't need to stop. I could keep going. Two years on from that discussion and three years total, here we are. In discussions with a few others about the possibility of stopping this feature, I said I would stop when it "FELT RIGHT." It did not "feel right" at the end of year one, and it did not feel right at the end of year two, not because I felt like I was still in the process of actively grieving. (Well, maybe after a year I was still actively grieving but not after the second year mark.) By then, I felt okay. By the two year mark, I had stopped the coping mechanisms, such as my phone alarm set to the time of your death every day and a few other things I did to keep your spirit alive, or maybe to best connect with your spirit, acknowledge your spirit's presence in my life.

Since January, I have felt that I was ready to let go of this last coping mechanism, this tribute, this activity. But I also realized that I did not want to cease the daily production of some blog event, whether it be a sharing of someone else's content, a re-post of my own content, or some other special feature that was somewhat light on original content. I like being a daily blogger. I need this outlet.

Me Dad and Lori Memorial Day 1972
The idea of stopping daily transmission of the HEY MOM feature in some ways feels like a betrayal of you and of our relationship, Mom, and so in that way, it does not "FEEL RIGHT." The source of these feelings? I am operating at an intuitive level with this decision, at the level where I feel your spirit with me, at the level where the deeper connections feel fast and true.

As for the picture at the top, I do not know when it was taken as my Dad's record keeping in file naming is not as precise as I would like it to be. I have no idea what pool we are in or where, but judging from my sister's apparent age and my mother's lack of grey, I place the photo around 1972 give or take one-two years. It's a good photo, and though not strictly about summer-time -- as that is clearly an indoor pool -- it makes me think of family vacations which, for the most part, were a summer thing.

Also, and this will probably be the subject of tomorrow's post, you were actively dying three years ago right now. It was a long road, though not as long as the road others have traveled with other actively dying loved ones. Maybe ten days? I may have a better recounting of the sequence of events elsewhere on the blog, which may be in my post tomorrow, though I am not going to look for it now.

That said, I have been thinking about you and your death (as well as your life as well as the rest of the life that I feel you were cheated out of) a great deal lately. I do miss you, Mom, and if I let myself the pain can grow more intense, though not quite as raw as it was that first year.

So, what am I going to do about the blog feature?

I don't know.

Fortunately, I have another week to think about it.

Mom and Me Tug's Boat 4.5 yrs-1966


Reflect and connect.

Have someone give you a kiss, and tell you that I love you, Mom.

I miss you so very much, Mom.

Talk to you tomorrow, Mom.


- Days ago = 1090 days ago

- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1806.28 - 10:10

NEW (written 1708.27) NOTE on time: I am now in the same time zone as Google! So, when I post at 10:10 a.m. PDT to coincide with the time of your death, Mom, I am now actually posting late, so it's really 1:10 p.m. EDT. But I will continue to use the time stamp of 10:10 a.m. to remember the time of your death, Mom. I know this only matters to me, and to you, Mom.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #1087 - Learning Pyramid • Generalized Specialist • Reflective Learning


Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #1087 - Learning Pyramid • Generalized Specialist • Reflective Learning

Hi MOM, 

I like studying and thinking about learning. I am most interested in process, but I am always trying to improve my own ways of learning.

I attended two webinars today, both of which were trying to sell me things. The second one, about projects, was very useful and well worth my time. Plus the presenter was engaging, responsive, and funny. The first one -- a crash course from a coding bootcamp trying to get me to sign up -- was not useless but not exactly packed with information as the pitch started after about 30 minutes of "instruction."

I have shared from the e180 newsletter before. I never manage to read all the content shared in the e180, so this blog post is much for my own study of things to read as for you, Mom, and readers as a share that some of you may find useful.

Though there are links to many articles here, I like the main three the best. Passion is the basis for learning. If one has a passion for something, then one will strive to learn it.

But even more so the idea of the generalist is something that appeals to me. I like to think of myself as a polymath. I am not sure if I have actually achieved that level of deep and varied learning, but it's something I fancy as an intellectual who spends a great deal of time trying to learn new things.

From the article included in a link farther down:

A generalist is a person who is a competent jack of all trades, with lots of divergent useful skills and capabilities. This is the handyman who can fix your boiler, unblock the drains, replace a door hinge, or paint a room. The general practitioner doctor whom you see for any minor health problem (and who refers you to a specialist for anything major). The psychologist who works with the media, publishes research papers, and teaches about a broad topic.
A specialist is someone with distinct knowledge and skills related to a single area. This is the cardiologist who spends their career treating and understanding heart conditions. The scientist who publishes and teaches about a specific protein for decades. The developer who works with a particular program.
In his original essay, Berlin writes that specialists “lead lives, perform acts and entertain ideas that are centrifugal rather than centripetal; their thought is scattered or diffused, moving on many levels, seizing upon the essence of a vast variety of experiences and objects … seeking to fit them into, or exclude them from, any one unchanging, all embracing … unitary inner vision.”

But the last one, reflective learning, may be the one that strikes the most resonant chord. As I wrote, I love to examine process. I am always talking to people about their process because I am always working on mine. I was just discussing with a friend my struggles to achieve optimal work-life balance. He asked if I would consider stopping this blog's production. I said I would not do that because the loss of what I gain from it in study, self-care, enjoyment, activity, engagement are greater rewards than what I would save in time and attention. Besides, as regulars know, I fall behind when the demands of the rest of my life prove too great.

As described in the article, the reflective learning process is hardly revolutionary or paradigm-shifting, but just for these four process considerations, it is very valuable.

1. Thinks laterally. Considers that the data might be interpreted many different ways. We see this at the climactic points in certain movies where a “prophecy” appears to be fulfilled. But it is fulfilled in a way that is not expected. By thinking laterally we can envision the problem at different and unexpected angles. This gives rise to new solutions to old problems.

2. Lets time pass after a lesson or action, then reflects back upon it. For all our learning, there is an action. Afterward, there’s reflection upon the action. Then comes a transformation—we cannot go back, because we have changed in some way.

3. Uses journals and group discussion directed toward answering a defining question. Often we lose sight of the goal of our reflection. Reflective learning in its strictest sense involves drawing conclusions and solving problems.

4. Considers opposing historical, cultural, and political viewpoints and values beliefs with an open mind. Arrives at solutions that are practical and that encompass many viewpoints, which allows our brains to stretch.

Thanks for visiting today.

Learn Constantly, Be Future-Proof


Learning Pyramid • Generalized Specialist • Reflective Learning
Only one more issue left in 2017! Although I do look at Mailchimp stats (which we use for this newsletter) to know which articles are the most popular—informing some of my topic choices—any feedback as to what you especially enjoy or what you feel is missing would be greatly appreciated. Just reply to this email and tell me.
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Mastering the Learning Pyramid

John Hagel • 6 min read

Those are not the skills you are looking for. Hagel considers what we usually think of has skills as ‘capabilities’ and places them within a learning pyramid which also takes into account knowledge and passion. He then looks at how this kind of framework should inform how we structure schools, learning on the job, and our careers. Btw, it’s not a direct transposition but the levels of his pyramid and the speed at which skills become useless vs capabilities vs passion reminded me of Stewart Brand’s pace layering.
Rather than thinking about learning as something that occurs in the occasional training programs that support a scalable efficiency operation, we’ll need to re-imagine our work environments in ways that can support scalable learning, learning that occurs day to day, on the job, in the work environment. If we’re serious about scalable learning, we’ll need to find ways to cultivate and amplify the passion of everyone who participates in our institutions.

The Generalized Specialist

Farnam Street Blog • 12 min read

Those familiar with the neo-generalist will find this quite similar but still very much worth a read for Parrish’s analysis and comparison of generalists and specialists and for his conclusions.
Because you have no idea of the big ideas, you start making decisions that don’t take into account how the world really works. These decisions ripple outward, and you have to spend time correcting your mistakes. If you’re not careful about self-reflection, you won’t learn, and you’ll make one version of the same mistakes over and over.

The psychology of collaboration

Weavy • 9 min read

Jory MacKay looks into collaboration and the four distinct ways in which we work together as well as the five key principles for successful collaboration—as proposed in a study by the London Business School.
Rather than a formalized mentorship program, the researchers found that the most collaborative teams had less formal, yet on-going mentoring and educational processes baked into their everyday activities.

UnSchooling The Pioneers of Change

We Seek • 14 min read

“Dr. Leyla Acaroglu is focused on sustainability, on having an impact, on solving complex problems, and doing so by sharing knowledge and concentrating on teaching others the tools to change themselves and the world. She’s also 2016 UNEP Champion of the Earth.”

Three Simple Learning Practices

We Seek • 8 min read

Reading, Attending a Learning Circle & Collaborating
“Then I started being more mindful about the quality of articles I was reading and deleting more liberally when some pieces gathered too much dust or were just not that interesting to me anymore.”
If you enjoy e180's newsletter, magazine, and work, have a look at our careers page.

No laptops in the lecture hall

Seth Godin • 3 min read

Short article in answer to a NY Times op-ed about banning laptops from class. Godin thinks that we should ban the lecture instead. The argument is interesting in itself but also, to me, hints at a variation on the MOOC and at a good model for out of school courses. As in the quote below.
We’ve discovered that a focused 8-minute lecture, delivered by video, can lead to hours of useful interaction and discussion, enough to change the way professionals do their work.

The Most Important Things to Know About Reflective Learning

Global Digital Citizen • 3 min read

Very good short article about reflective learning, which you can work on by thinking laterally, reflecting, journaling, and considering opposing views with an open mind. Also includes / associates with their ‘6Ds’ (Define, Discover, Dream, Design, Deliver, Debrief).
Conscious reflective learning allows the mind to rest and reflect and revisit, bringing forth a deeper understanding of the experience and skills that we acquired.
Speaking of lateral thinking, this one also offers some good pointers:
How to Apply Lateral Thinking to Your Creative Work.


Tom Gauld


Reflect and connect.

Have someone give you a kiss, and tell you that I love you, Mom.

I miss you so very much, Mom.

Talk to you tomorrow, Mom.


- Days ago = 1089 days ago

- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1806.27 - 10:10

NEW (written 1708.27) NOTE on time: I am now in the same time zone as Google! So, when I post at 10:10 a.m. PDT to coincide with the time of your death, Mom, I am now actually posting late, so it's really 1:10 p.m. EDT. But I will continue to use the time stamp of 10:10 a.m. to remember the time of your death, Mom. I know this only matters to me, and to you, Mom.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #1086 - SF for nothing; stories for free

Bob Eggleton
Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #1086 - SF for nothing; stories for free

Hi Mom,

Need summer reading?

I am here for you.

It is fitting that I share this post on finding "free" science fiction on my Dad's 83rd birthday.


Without my Dad's influence in my life, I might not have started reading science fiction. But from a young age, there were science fiction books in my house, lots of them.

I am sort of late to the party becoming a Charles Stross fan. I just discovered him a couple of years ago and started to make way through the Laundry Files books, On Warren Ellis' recommendation I also read Accelerando, which I believe I read more like four-five years ago long before I started following Stross' blog and reading the Laundry Files series.

Ellis writes about why he loves Accelerando here AT THIS LINK. It's worth examining.

Though this post that follows appeared on Stross' blog, it's actually written by this other guy.
But in addition to his examination of "free" SF, I followed with some of the best comments that shares even more free science fiction (or SF).

BTW, SF is the preferred acronym for science fiction not sci-fi.

We live in a digital world. You can read on tablets; you can read on phones. You can even print to paper.

I find that after a day during which I am looking at screens for eight to ten hours, I need to get my eyes off screens as I relax before bed, so I still like books and paper.

from - http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2018/06/sf-for-nothing-stories-for-fre.html

SF For Nothing, Stories For Free

Hello strange people: by way of introduction, I am Dan Ritter, occasionally seen in the comments section as -dsr-. I live outside of Boston and work in Cambridge, doing various bits of computer work just off of the MIT campus for a small financial software firm -- if you don't work for a bank or brokerage, you probably haven't heard of it.
I once suggested to Charlie that since the Indian Navy was having budget problems, they might agree to sell a de-militarized Krivak-class frigate, which would make an excellent evil billionaire's yacht.
Today my subject is "free SF", by which I mean stories that you don't have to pay money to read. That doesn't necessarily mean that they are in the public domain, or that the author has given up copyright; it just means free of required monetary cost. Some authors do that as a sort of advertisement for their work; some do it because it makes them happy, some do it because they don't want to put it up for sale (or can't -- that's a whole class), and some are doing it for the exposure so that they can build an audience. All of this is only viable because the Internet has such a low marginal cost. For me, the best thing about free SF is that I have a zero-risk opportunity to read new authors, and the second best thing is that I have more money to buy books.
There are some free stories by Charlie over on the sidebar, of course. I like TOAST quite a lot, but I recommend you stay away from Scratch Monkey. (The title derives from the sad tale of Mabel the swimming monkey -- you may gurgle that at your own emotional risk.) Tor.com has published some of his short stories and novellae, too -- Equoid, Overtime, and Down on the Farm, among others.
The tradition of magazines publishing stories, reviews and discussion is still alive, and some of them are freely available.
Strange Horizons publishes online for free, and is run exclusively on donations. They occasionally run fundraisers where content is unlocked progressively as donations come in. You may have heard of some of their authors -- Saladin Ahmed, Eleanor Arnason, Mishell Baker, Elizabeth Bear, John Scalzi, among many others.
Clarkesworld is an SF magazine published online for free, and you can buy epub copies for reasonable fees, subscribe directly for automatic delivery, and buy an annual collection in print or epub. They've run stories by Kij Johnson, Tobias Buckell, Aliette De Bodard, Ken MacLeod, Elizabeth Bear.
Uncanny Magazine is also online for free -- you can read the first half immediately on the publication date, as an inducement to buy the epub or PDF version, and the second half becomes free a month later. Naomi Novik, Nalo Hopkinson, Zen Cho and overachiever Elizabeth Bear have all been in there in the recent past.
Once upon a time, SF novels were shorter. Slaughterhouse Five is actually just under the 50K word threshold that the Hugos use for novels. The reasons for the growth has been adequately covered here in the past. The tradition of serializing novels in magazines obviously works better when the novels are shorter, but authors can now put things online without limit. Here are some that I've particularly enjoyed:
Over at qntm.org, Sam Hughes has a bunch of short stories and two excellent novels, which he released in serial fashion: Fine Structure and Ra. What I'd really like to direct your attention to is Ra.
In 1970 or so, magic is discovered. This makes a lot of people very unhappy. Most are unhappy because their world-view is based on science, and they now need to fit non-supernatural explanations to these events. Naturally, research leads to academics, and academics means degree programs. Ra starts off as the story of Laura Ferno, Ph.D candidate in Applied Thaumic Engineering with an eye towards harnessing magic to build spacecraft, and her sister Natalie who is an academic on the theoretical side of magic. One night Laura is mugged, she defends herself with magic spells, and before you know it ten chapters have gone by and the fate of the world hangs in the balance.
If you have a couple of weeks available to read a compelling story about the problems of superheroes and supervillains and the nearly nonexistent line dividing them, let me recommend Worm. It in turn has inspired remarkably good fanfiction: Taylor Varga is nearly as long (1.5 million words) which is not yet finished.
One final bit of fan fiction: Honor Among Thieves. If you've read through David Weber's Honor Harrington series and wished that he would finally wrap it all up, you're doubly lucky. First, it looks like his latest entry is the beginning of the end. Second, in 2015 an author with the pen name of Bracketyjack wrote a wholly satisfying series conclusion in a style almost but not quite exactly like Weber -- it's less annoying, on the whole -- taking about two books worth of words to do it.
What have you read for free lately? And where did you get it?

NGC 6357_The Lobster Nebula Cosmic Vastness Tumblr


I've subscribed for a while to the monthly http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/ - they have epub/pdf subscriptions, but release most of the content for free, online reading during the course of the month after release.

A Practical Guide to Evil is a pretty well crafted fantasy story.
Can be found here: https://practicalguidetoevil.wordpress.com

Well for some reason I've recently read Jack London's dystopian political thriller The Iron Heel. Since it's from 1909-ish it's in the public domain. Slightly unsatisfying in structure, it does a fair job of predicting fascism. Worse news is that the Oligarchs aka The Iron Heel control the world for about three hundred years before being overthrown.
Apex magazine posts it's content throughout the month; Only today I was reading Jacqueline Carey's story Suzie Q, which was good though [lowers voice] Fantasy. Also sexually explicit for those who like to know before reading.
Been reading a few other "classics" that are out of copyright - The Portrait of Dorian Grey (spends a lot of time talking about Dorian's love of jewels and religious vestements), The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (not much there that the popular idea of the story doesn't already have), and Jules Verne's Robur The Conquerer, a poor aerial version of the much superior 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, though Robur's flying machine, The Albatross is quite entertaining.
Also (apologies for self promotion, please delete if inapropriate) I have seven parts of a space opera serial I've written, Chronicles of the Deep Patrol online for free. Basically the concept is what if the characters in a Star Trek type universe realised how deeply weird things were. The main protagonist is Tommy "Ray" Gunn, which is probably the worst joke of the series, and says something about the flavour.


Reflect and connect.

Have someone give you a kiss, and tell you that I love you, Mom.

I miss you so very much, Mom.

Talk to you tomorrow, Mom.


- Days ago = 1088 days ago

- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1806.26 - 10:10

NEW (written 1708.27) NOTE on time: I am now in the same time zone as Google! So, when I post at 10:10 a.m. PDT to coincide with the time of your death, Mom, I am now actually posting late, so it's really 1:10 p.m. EDT. But I will continue to use the time stamp of 10:10 a.m. to remember the time of your death, Mom. I know this only matters to me, and to you, Mom.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #1085 - Flag Day - A Stone's Throw Away - Musical Monday for 1806.25

Truman Brewery - Brick Lane - London - 1970s
Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #1085 - Flag Day - A Stone's Throw Away - Musical Monday for 1806.25

"Too many Florence Nightingales not enough Robin Hoods."

Hi Mom,

Last week when I started thinking about this week's Musical Monday, I realized that I had let Flag Day get by without a post using "Flag Day" by the Housemartins.

I have been more political lately, and so I felt it was time for another politically charged post.

I have always found such greater resonance with the musical art of the Brits, especially when it comes to political comment. And though some of the greatest voices are conspicuously absent from this post (like the Clash and the Who), these omissions are simply due to the place I started, which was with the Housemartins and Paul Weller.

The song "Flag Day" makes me immediately think of both "A Stone's Throw Away" and the even more gut piercing "The Whole Point of No Return," both of which were tunes Paul did with the Style Council.

And so, I follow in my theme of inclusions of other music by those artists. This mix is heavy on the Housemartins and Paul Heaton's other band the Beautiful South with six of the twenty tracks from those two groups and then three by Paul Weller, which at nine make up almost half the tunes in this mix.

I have to admit that The Beautiful South is a band that I had not explored much. I own a couple of things, including a greatest hits. I knew the band featured Paul Heaton, and I liked somethings, such as "The Tupperware Queen," which I did not put in this mix.

As I began assembling, I wanted an emphasis on '80s music but not exclusively 1980s sounds as the Beautiful South though established in 1988 was a band for all of the 1990s and most of the 2000s. But I do have an emphasis on 1980s sounds with bands that either started in the '80s or were big in the '80s, such as   Dream Academy, Killing Joke, New Order, Joe Jackson, Haircut 100, the Cure, Cocteau Twins, and even They Might Be Giants (though a newer cut from them), formed in the Eighties but arguably really hit it in 1990 with Flood.

I have other musicians and groups, some who started in the 1980s technically, like MOBY but some more recent artists, such as Lykke Li and Max Richter. I wanted to add some new videos as a counterpoint to the older stuff, so Moby's and Max Richter videos are brand new, like just a few days ago.

Wiki note on the Max Richter video:

In 2016, Richter composed the score to "Nosedive", an episode of Charlie Brooker's Black Mirror. Also that year, he scored Luke Scott's debut feature Morgan and the political thriller Miss Sloane, while his piece "On the Nature of Daylight" opened and closed Denis Villeneuve's film Arrival. He composed all the music in BBC One's drama Taboo which was broadcast in January and February 2017.[61]

I wanted a mix that would fit together both thematically in many ways in terms of sound, though as with many of my mixes there are often jarring switches of rhythm and pace, such as the switch between The Beautiful South's "I'll Sail This Ship Alone" and New Order's "Bizarre Love Triangle," mainly because  the video by i'm cyborg but that's ok is awesome.

Some of these mixes comes together quickly, but I am rather proud of this one. It's tight.

Best to you all.

Hold tight.

We're all in this together.

Following some notes, the track lists along with the URL link to the whole mix on YOU Tube, then each video individually and lastly the embedded video link for the entire playlist.

HOUSEMARTINS NOTES: The band was formed in 1983 by Paul Heaton (vocals), Stan Cullimore (guitar), Ted Key (bass) and Chris Lang (drums). The band's membership changed quite a lot over the years. Ted Key was replaced by Norman Cook — the future Fatboy Slim — and drummer Chris Lang was replaced by Hugh Whitaker, former drummer with The Gargoyles, who in turn was replaced with Dave Hemingway.
In 1986, having recorded two John Peel sessions, the band broke through with the single "Happy Hour", which reached No.3 in the UK charts. The single's success was helped by a claymation animated pop promo of a type that was in vogue at the time, featuring a cameo by TV comedian Phill Jupitus, who toured with the band under the stage name "Porky the Poet". At the end of the same year, they narrowly missed out on the Christmas No.1 single with a cover version of Isley Jasper Isley's "Caravan of Love", when it was knocked off the top spot by Jackie Wilson's "Reet Petite" on 23 December

Flag Day - A Stone's Throw Away - Musical Monday for 1806.25

1. The Housemartins - "Flag Day" - 5:18
2. The Style Council - "A Stones Throw Away" - 2:40
3. Joe Jackson - "Steppin' Out" - 3:37
4. Lykke Li - "I Never Learn / So Sad So Sexy" - Primavera Sound 2018 7:50
5. The Beautiful South - "A Little Time" - 3:02
6. Haircut 100 - "Favourite Shirt (Boy Meets Girl)" TOP OF THE POPS 1981 - 3:03
7. Killing Joke - "Kings And Queens" - 3:53
8. The Housemartins - "Anxious" - 2:12
9. Dream Academy - "Life In A Northern Town" (Official Music Video) - 4:15
10. Moby - "The Sorrow Tree" (EastWest Session) by Moby - 3:48
11. Max Richter - On The Nature Of Daylight by Max Richter - 6:37
12. They Might Be Giants - "The Greatest" (Official Video) - 2:44
13. Paul Weller - "The Loved" (HD) - 4:30
14. The Cure - "A Forest" * first ever TV performance Dec 79 - by The Cure PL - 4:03
15. The Beautiful South - "I'll Sail This Ship Alone" (Original Video) - 4:09
16. New Order - "Bizarre Love Triangle" by i'm cyborg but that's ok - 4:19
17. The Housemartins - "Sheep" - 2:11
18. Cocteau Twins - Carolyn's Fingers (Official Video) by 4AD - 3:05
19. Paul Weller Live - The Whole Point Of No Return (HD) - 2:42
20. THE HOUSEMARTINS - "Happy Hour" - 3:11





Reflect and connect.

Have someone give you a kiss, and tell you that I love you, Mom.

I miss you so very much, Mom.

Talk to you tomorrow, Mom.


- Days ago = 1087 days ago

- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1806.25 - 10:10

NEW (written 1708.27) NOTE on time: I am now in the same time zone as Google! So, when I post at 10:10 a.m. PDT to coincide with the time of your death, Mom, I am now actually posting late, so it's really 1:10 p.m. EDT. But I will continue to use the time stamp of 10:10 a.m. to remember the time of your death, Mom. I know this only matters to me, and to you, Mom.