Fires, Pandemics, Job 2, and Productiveness (Private Replace)

There is a lesson in all of this for writers, however I am going to get to that on the finish.
California is burning. There are one thing like 17 main wildfires which can be utterly uncontained.
We’re additionally coping with the worst warmth wave in 70 years––some locations are as much as 110F/43C––which is a part of the explanation we’re burning. We’re one of many many vanguard faces of anthropogenic local weather change within the U.S. Fireplace season is pure. Nevertheless it will get earlier, lasts longer, and is extra intense yearly. I bear in mind an interview on NPR three years in the past in late October with an environmental scientist the place the interviewer requested “Is that this the brand new regular?” and the environmental scientist answered, “Just for this 12 months. By subsequent 12 months there might be a brand new, new regular. And it will hold getting worse.”
Whereas there are many locations being evacuated due to precise hazard from the fires themselves, and if you happen to recall, final 12 months there was per week the place I went and stayed in Oakland for some time, I’ve since moved, and my present condo is not more likely to be in bodily fireplace hazard except your complete Bay Space––city areas and all––turns into a scorched wasteland. However what will get to me is the air high quality, and it truly makes staring on the little phrases on the display screen for hours and hours fairly untenable when my eyes are burning. 
The fires occurred final 12 months, and on the time I picked up an air filtration system. I am prepared to fireside it up (see what I did there?), however the issue is that if I shut up my condo and switch that on, the temperature will soar from about 80F/27C right here in my condo to 85 or 90+. At present the downstairs is simply JUUUUUUUST barely tolerable (if you happen to do not transfer round an excessive amount of) as a result of the new air is vented out the home windows upstairs. So I am at the moment making an attempt to do the fee/profit calculation of miserably scorching towards miserably smokey. 
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In official parlance we’re within the
“Say goodbye to your fucking lungs” class.
And naturally….that solely works if the facility stays ON. We’re having rolling blackouts all via the state as 1- the grid cannot deal with all of the individuals making an attempt to chill off and 2- PG&E will shut down its non-upgraded gear moderately than danger a fireplace that they may get sued for. (I’ve ideas about personal, for-profit utilities, however perhaps one other time.) 

That is after all on prime of the pandemic. Which gives me extra than simply existential dread and a deplorable relationship life, but additionally extra nannying hours than I can at the moment deal with. 

And if that weren’t sufficient…… (That is like a type of previous commercials that throw in a set of steak knives. “BUT WAIT! There’s extra…”)  See….principally each coping mechanism we have cast throughout this pandemic just isn’t an possibility proper now within the burning wasteland that’s my state. Cannot go for a solitary stroll––the air high quality is just too dangerous. Socially distanced lunch? Fuggedaboutit. So we’re all caught inside making an attempt to determine if air or warmth is worse and never in a position to a lot as take a stroll to stretch our legs.

Oh yeah….and it is raining ash. No, I am not even kidding. 

Now I am in a comparatively great place, contemplating. I am surrounded by industrial zones and heavy city areas, so wildfires aren’t more likely to attain me except issues get so catastrophically dangerous that the least of my considerations goes to be my weblog replace schedule. The warmth wave is meant to interrupt right now or tomorrow, after which it will be a better selection to shut up my condo and run the air filter. I am pet sitting a day and alter this weekend for one of many few shoppers I stored they usually have a pool (which is why I stored them, to be trustworthy). So far as individuals in California go, I’ve obtained much less to complain about and quite a bit to be thankful for.

AND YET the very last thing I will do proper now could be be toxically constructive about this. That is FUCKING BALLS. It sucks. It blows. In neither case is it the great manner with the attention contact. I am type of at floor zero within the California Apocalypse, and I wish to warn you all that I may need to overlook a put up right here and there as a result of the world is ending in my yard. (And me with out my marshmallows!) As all the time I’ll do my finest, and doubtless higher than 99% of my readers even suppose is cheap. (“Properly, I arrange my iPad right here within the shelter as a result of I wished to remind everybody to vote on this week’s ballot, however the burning hail is fucking with the wifi, and the wall of lava might be right here quickly, so I’ve to make this quick…..”)

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And look….(right here comes the lesson I discussed, by the best way)….writers who wish to be WORKING WRITERS have a needle to string. After all writers are human, and if you happen to suppose that whole fucking laundry listing of shit I simply wrote is not simply GETTING to me as a human and damaging my means to take a seat down and calmly clack out phrases for a number of hours, let me divest you of such a ridiculous notion. That is unbelievably troublesome from a psychological well being perspective. Greater than something, I would prefer to pack up a couple of issues and drive to Denver or one thing. 
You need to be lifelike. You need to be type to your self. You need to have a look at the truth that that is like seven issues occurring concurrently, and any ONE of them would fuck up a routine. You need to handle your expectations and your ambitions.
And it’s a must to be the one to determine what meaning. No author generally is a working author if they don’t seem to be writing. (That is probably not uncommon to writing. Should you do not do the work at any job, you in all probability will not be there for for much longer.) It would take slightly longer for the results to catch as much as you, however you continue to have to search out that stability for your self. And when the entire world is burning, and also you’re choking on the smoke and ash as the facility goes out throughout a worldwide pandemic––all with the rise of fascism because the backdrop––….that is definitely no simple activity. 

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Sep 13, Grand Remembrances

Today is Grandparents Day in the United States. Being a Grand is a special honor. I feel very blessed that my wife and I have two grandchildren. We were able to visit them today. Yes, we are still being cautious with the coronavirus, but we also find it very difficult to not see them when they live so close. So today we did drop by to visit Jacob (age 10) and Sophia (age 7) along with their parents. We brought donuts and caught up with them. Our grandchildren are still pretty young and this is a precious time in their lives – and ours!

I wish I had known my grandparents better. We never lived in the same place. Dad was a career Air Force pilot, so we moved around a lot. But we did get to see them once in a while when they would visit us, or we them.

A Plague of Giants

There are five known magical ‘kennings’ or types: air, water, fire, earth, and plants. Each nation specializes in of these kennings, and the magic influences the society. There’s a big pitfall with this diversity of ability and locale–not everyone gets along.

Enter the Hathrim giants, or ‘lavaborn’ whose kenning is fire. Where they live the trees that fuel their fire are long gone, but the giants are definitely not welcome anywhere else. They’re big, they’re violent, and they’re ruthless. When a volcano erupts and they are forced to evacuate, they take the opportunity to relocate. They don’t care that it’s in a place where they aren’t wanted.

I first read Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid books and loved them (also the quirky The Tales of Pell), so was curious about this new venture, starting with A PLAGUE OF GIANTS. Think Avatar: The Last Airbender meets Jim Butcher’s Codex Alera series. Elemental magic, a variety of races, different lands. And it’s all thrown at you from page one.

But this story is told a little differently. It starts at the end of the war, after a difficult victory, and a bard with earth kenning uses his magic to re-tell the story of the war to a city of refugees. And it’s this movement back and forth in time and between key players in this war that we get a singularly grand view of the war as a whole. Hearne uses this method to great effect.

There are so many interesting characters in this book that I can’t cover them all here. Often in books like this such a large cast of ‘main’ character can make the storytelling suffer, especially since they don’t have a lot of interaction with each other for the first 3/4 of the book–but it doesn’t suffer, thankfully. And the characterization is good enough, despite these short bursts, that by the end we understand these people and care about what happens to them.

If there were a main character it would be Dervan, a historian who is assigned to record (also spy on?) the bard’s stories. He finds himself caught up in machinations he feels unfit to survive. Fintan is the bard from another country, who at first is rather mysterious and his true personality is hidden by the stories he tells; it takes a while to understand him. Gorin Mogen is the leader of the Hathrim giants who decide to find a new land to settle. He’s hard to like, but as far as villains go, you understand his motivations and he can be even a little convincing. There’s Abhi, the son of hunters, who decides hunting isn’t the life for him–and unexpectedly finds himself on a quest for the sixth kenning. And Gondel Vedd, a scholar of linguistics who finds himself tasked with finding a way to communicate with a race of giants never seen before (definitely not Hathrim) and stumbles onto a mystery no one could have guessed: there may be a seventh kenning.

There are other characters, but what makes them all interesting is that they’re regular people (well, maybe not Gorin Mogen or the viceroy–he’s a piece of work) who become heroes in their own little ways, whether it’s the teenage girl who isn’t afraid to share vital information, to the scholars who suddenly find how crucial their minds are to the survival of a nation, to the humble public servants who find bravery when they need it most. This is a story of loss, love, redemption, courage, unity, and overcoming despair to not give up. All very human experiences by simple people who do extraordinary things.

Hearne’s worldbuilding is engaging. He doesn’t bottle feed you, at first it feels like drinking from a hydrant, but then you settle in and pick up things along the way. Then he shows you stuff with a punch to the gut. This is no fluffy world with simple magic without price. All the magic has a price, and more often than not it leads you straight to death’s door. For most people just the seeking of the magic will kill you. I particularly enjoyed the scenes with Ahbi and his discovery of the sixth kenning and everything associated with it. But giants? I mean, really? It isn’t bad enough fighting people who can control fire that you have to add that they’re twice the size of normal people? For Hearne if it’s war, the stakes are pretty high, and it gets ugly.

The benefit of the storytelling style is that the book, despite its length, moves along steadily (Hearne is no novice, here). The bits of story lead you along without annoying cliffhangers (mostly), and I never got bored with the switch between characters. It was easy to move between them, and they were recognizable enough that I got lost or confused. The end of the novel felt a little abrupt, but I guess that has more to do with I was ready for the story to continue, despite the exiting climax.

If you’re looking for epic fantasy with fun storytelling and clever worldbuilding, check out A PLAGUE OF GIANTS.

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The Artwork Of Gary Choo

Gary Choo is a concept artist/illustrator based in Singapore. I’ve know Gary for a good many years ( 17, actually ), working together in animation studios in Singapore like Silicon Illusions and Lucasfilm. Gary currently runs an art team at Mighty Bear Games, but when time allows he also draws covers for Marvel comics, and they’re amazing –

The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo

To see more of Gary’s work or to engage him for freelance work, head down to his ArtStation.

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