lazy workaholic

All my life I have known I am lazy. And a fair few people have told me too! One teacher of mine- Fat Frank- told me I was mentally lazy but physically less so. He meant I think that I was happy enough walking 30 miles but I wouldn’t get out of bed for a job entering data into a spreadsheet- however important it was. To the lazy man nothing is that important… Whatever the nuances, I am something of a connoiseur of laziness and I can spot it in others and it’s…commoner than you’d think. One form I am interested in is the kind where you do lots and lots of work that YOU WANT TO DO but actually isn’t fit for purpose. So let’s say you are fixing up a boat and you spend hours painting it (done that) when it really needs it’s bottom fixing. But the painting is so much more fun…and the continuous activity cons you into thinking ‘I’m not lazy’. But whether you are toiling like a madman or sitting on the loo reading Aescalus* the test of whether you are lazy or not is in the result. If toiling continuously is wilfully avoiding the pain of stop-start work then it is laziness.

A definition is beginning to emerge here- being lazy is avoiding real work. And we all know what real work is- it’s stuff that needs to be done rather than what we want to do. Oh yeah, I know, all those people who just do their ‘passion’- be it cooking, photography, gardening- haven’t we heard enough about that already? But all these people use the MOMENTUM of doing the thing they love to power over the real work, the in-between bits that just aren’t much fun but have to be done. Obvioulsy you want to make these road humps on the path of sweet living as low and undisruptive as possible but they will always be there and you have to face up to them one way or another. That’s when you cease being lazy. So laziness is really a refusal to see what is right in front of your face. Why? Because you are scared you might just have to take the harder of two paths. There is a crazy old samurai saying which is; “In a 50/50 life or death situation the samurai chooses death”. I think this is just a way of saying, get used to taking the hard option. Since in most situations you know what you have to do (deep down), by being mentally prepared to take the hard option you take the distorting pressure off the decision; you certainly take away that classic lazy response; “I just don’t know what to do!”

Laziness is about taking the easy option, not necessarily the most painfree option (quite a few lazy masochists) but the one that is least disruptive to our comfortable way of thinking. I have been comfortable under a boulder in a rainstorm- comfort is not about physical conditions really, it is about that good old mental nest we have in our heads. The lazy person just wants to lounge around in that nest and ‘do stuff’, maybe lots of stuff, as long as it doesn’t mean getting out of the nest.

What I am saying is that the lazy panacea is ‘as long as I work really really hard and do loads of stuff everything will be alright’. Well, maybe not.

Are there ways to outwit laziness? I think momentum is one way. A designated ‘shit hour’ or ‘shit day’ is another, a time when you do all the hard stuff. But is there a nirvana triple bells in a line lazy solution to laziness? Can one use one’s own laziness to be less lazy? Well you can spend hours writing about and observing laziness in self and others, become an expert on it, become more aware of it in different cultures and situations (any one size fits all ‘efficient’ solution is often a mask for laziness). You can shift yourself out of the lazy nest by using ‘I am lazy’ as a way of becoming more aware of that nest in the first place…

* I am aware that this is not the usual spelling..indeed all variations on the conventional letter order in a word, punctuation and capitalisation are ways to loosen that leash that chains you to the machine…or I am just too lazy to check…

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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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