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Rainy all day. Again. Well, there were a few precious minutes of sunlight. The high was 73˚F.

This may be the year Alabama has no winter.

A friend just told me that a new survey has shown that Alabama has the most conservative legislature in the country, while Rhode Island has the third least conservative. None of that comes as a surprise. But it explains so much. I have not yet checked to find the source of this information.

You do not even want to know what I did today. But at at one point I was writing about laser scanning plaster casts of fossil bones. How's that? I began work at 6 a.m. I did about six hours on the paper. If I could keep working tonight, I think I could be 100% done with our "final" draft before midnight. We shall see. It might be easier to start over at 6 a.m., I'm so damn tired.

All this fiction piling up: the new Tinfoil Dossier story I'd just begun; Sirenia Digest 201-203; writing a novel, The Night Watchers for SubPress.

How strange is it that Kirtie Alley has died?

Yesterday, my Lovecraft reading was "The Shunned House." Today it was a favorite, "The Strange High House in the Mist." Also, that's a short one I had very little reading time today.

Today, I paused to be stunned by idiots who think Marx and communism would mean they'd have to work less (or not at all). And I thought, my grandparents were lifelong coal miners, brick masons, steel workers. One of my grandmother's picked cotton and raised three daughters. One grandmother was a nurse. And now we have people whining about having to work at all, or who so fail to appreciate the value of a job they whine about having to get dressed and leave their home and go to work. How did things go so wrong so fast? Even I learned auto mechanics, because no one actually believed I'd go to college. Kiddos, the lucky work.

Please check out our amazing Big Cartel shop! Thank you!

Later Tater Beans,
Aunt Beast



2:05 p.m. (Winnie says, "Relax.")
Horribly rainy all day. Our high was 61˚F. The whole week is looking that way. Rainy, but at least it's going to be warmer, with highs in the low 70s˚F.

I think I am profoundly depressed.

Some of it is this paper, that we simply seem unable to finish. I was at McWane about two hours today, and Jun and I have all the figures – I hope that all of them – ready to go. They actually look splendid. This journal has no limit on the number of illustration and they can be in color. Now, I just have to be happy enough with the text to tend the damn thing in, so I can go back to work on what pays the bills. Really, we might be missing a crisis.

So, there was that.

Not much else.

But yeah, profoundly depressed. As I just said on Twitter, The plioplatecarpine paper is "almost" finished. Almost. I think it will be important. I think it will be worth a year of my life. But I have reached a point where I am well and truly sick of those two poor lizards.

Really. More than a year of my life. How many short stories and novellas well never be written because of this? I mean, I'm not sure I care, but...it's lost revenue I could not afford to loose.

Oh, something I said yesterday on Twitter that was surprisingly popular, especially with university professors: My message to all those undergrad and grad students hoping to be full-time pro paleontologists: Have *good* plan Bs and Plan Cs, because odds are you'll need them. I have spent most of my adult life on my Plan B (fiction), doing paleontology when life allows. Do not fear options.

There was a fairly hilarious and unproductive bit today where Jun tried, to no real avail, to teach me track changes in MS Word, which I hate on principle.

But yeah, depression. The suicidal ideations.

I just didn't need the damn rain.

Please, look at the Big Cartel shop. Thank you. And getting started early, here's my Xmas wishlist at Amazon.

Later Tater Beans,
Aunt Beast




12:10 p.m.

226

How long has it been since we've lost fiction writers to advances in technology? Sadly, probably not all that long. But I have personally reached a point where I have editors and publishers who expect me to be willing and able to work with editing technology I neither own nor comprehend. I tend to just walk away from those projects, rather than struggling on my it. I'm not a stupid person. But there is a limited to how much of this stuff I'm willing to learn. I passed that limit about two decades ago. If I had my way (I don't), I'd still be composing on my Royal manual typewriter and sending publishers carbon copies of original manuscripts.

This is not a put-on. I really, truly hate this world.

Rainy today. Our high was only 59˚F. I kept my blinds down all day.

Let's not talk about MP2.

Somehow, I slept seven hours last night without waking once. Clearly, I really was exhausted. I went to bed at a little before 11 p.m. and woke a little before 6 a.m.

I read Lovecraft's "The Shunned House."

Please have a look at the Big Cartel shop. Thanks.

Later Tater Beans,
Aunt Beast




10:03 a.m.

"My impossible" (125)

An overcast, rainy day; our high was 71˚F.

There are actually people out there doing Xmas shit. On December 3rd, three weeks (to the day) before Xmas. How is the day special if you spend a whole month celebrating it?

I've been on the warpath lately against Christianity, and against religion in general. In part, it's the rise of Christofascism, the persecution of LGBT people, the end of Roe vs. Wade. In part it's watching superstition and ignorance swamp a planet whose only chance at survival, between one thing and another, global warming and pandemics and overpopulation, whose only chance is in science. Religion is, at best, something we'd should have outgrown five hundred years ago. It is the stunted predecessor of science, a speed bump, a road block, a Petri disk for hatred and xenophobia, a lie we tell our children. See what I mean? Warpath.

Today was better than yesterday sorta, in that I slept a little more and a worked a LOT less. On the other had, I worked a LOT less and my left shoulder hurts like a motherfucker because somehow I am in such bad shape that merely taking Stephen J. Gould's admittedly heavy The Structure of Evolutionary Theory wrecked my body. Yes, I am that out of shape. And here we are supposed to move in another few months.

I was talking, on Facebook, about how drag queens and drag shows have become a particular target by the bigots. There's a lot that would seem unlikely here, except...several years ago, when I first heard about a "Drag Queen Story Hour" at a public library, I said, "Well, that's cool, I guess, but it is going to blow up in everyone's face." And now it has. We gave them the proof they thought they we seeking to draw a connection between "the perverts" and "the children," and they are doing tremendous damage with it. Never, ever get so complacent that you give your enemy ammunition. Which is what happened here. This was always going to happen, once someone thought they could make drag G-rated for a public library. In Texas, the anti-LGBT organization Texas Family Project, has launched something horrendous called Defend Our Kids, where people can report live drag queen performances. Never mind that 99.99% of all drag shows, everywhere, including in Texas, will never been seen by anyone underage, much less by children. This is happening anyway. And Fox News is fanning the flames. And men with rifles are showing up at drag shows.*

Fuck us all.

Please have a look at the Big Cartel shop. Thanks.

Oh, I read Lovecraft's "The Whisperer in Darkness" today.

I was going to explain what I mean, day before yesterday, by "realistic gun control," but I think that's all I can manage for now.

Later Tater Beans,
Aunt Beast




5:34 a.m.


* Full Disclosure: I worked as a drag queen between 1991 and 1993, "Aliesha Palance," here in Birmingham, and I very much have a right to talk about this.

Not the last day. (124)

Warmer weather. A mix of clouds and sun today. A high of 65˚F. Warm December has arrived.

I desperately wanted today to be the last day of work on MP2 before submission to the journal of our choice. I'll tell you which one later. Not yet. I was awake at 3:30 a.m., and I was working a little after 4 a.m. Today, I did nine hours on the paper, with a two-hour gaming break to try and preserve my sanity. Coffee. Red Bull. A pack of gingerbread Pop-Tarts. And it is not done. There's still more tweaking to be done. There's a new Table to write. There's an idea for a very cool Figure 15 that I thought of this afternoon, so Jun and I are gonna try and put it together Monday morning at McWane, a lateral reconstruction of one of the skulls, but it means rephotographing a bunch of the bones, then all the Photoshopping. Jun is the Photoshop guy.

Last night, Kathryn and I saw a fairly decent movie, a nice piece of weird fiction. Not great, but nice. And after the fiasco on The Invitation, it was very welcome. Juston Benson and Aaron Moorhead's Something in the Dirt (2022), which is sorta like a dash of me and Kathe Koja, a little Jeff VanderMeer, and a whole lotta House of Leaves.

Today, I read Lovecraft's "The Lurking Fear."

That was today.

I am so unimaginably tired.

Later Tater Beans,
Aunt Beast




6:09 a.m.

The Year I Gave to Two Mosasaurs (123)

So, compared to yesterday, this will be very short. It'll likely be very short in a more absolute sense.

Cloudy and cooler today. Our high was 54˚F.

I worked. Enough. I hardly slept. I am feeling better. A little.

Mike called.

Last night we watched a fairly wretched new vampire film, in which vampirism was basically forced to serve as a subtext for everything "Progressives" hate. On the one hand, it was pretty, in a predictable sorta way. That's what lured us to it. On the other, I really would have screamed if I'd heard "colonial" or "privileged" just one more time. And the plot started out dumb, then got awful. Oh, I forgot to say it was Jessica M. Thompson's The Invitation (2022), possibly the silliest perversion of Dracula ever, and that's saying something.

Anyway.

Christine McVie is dead. That was sorta a blow I didn't see coming. Back in the hallowed seventies, when I was young, I was a big Fleetwood Mac fan.

Today, I read Lovecraft's "Rats in the Walls" and "The Lurking Fear."

Please have a look at the Big cartel shop. We sell stuff.

Later Tater Beans,
Aunt Beast



7:15 a.m.
A stormy night across the state. I was awakened at 3 a.m. and lay awake more than an hour, listening to the storm. The sun came out this morning, but we only made it to 56˚F.

No work today. Mild food poisoning yesterday (or so we assume). No real work yesterday, either. Everything derailed. Whatever it was, I'm over it and staring at the shambles left by its passing. Tomorrow, I have to hit the ground running and try to pick up the pieces.

Already the end of another year. The last three years, just...lost. It's hard not to be bitter about so much lost time, and the consequences of that loss, when you know you have far fewer years ahead of you than behind.

I am, likely, a paragon of the things loathed by Gen Z (and a lot of Millennials,) if we buy into this idea of a monolithic GEN Z, which is probably more a media creation than anything. Anyway, what I was saying, I'm not progressive, though not right wing (in the old days, we called it being a "political moderate"). I am terrified speechless at the idea of revolution. Social media is, at best, a necessary evil, but, more likely, it's the nail in the coffin of humanity, especially when married with AI. I do not embrace globalism. I am not "woke," and here I am using the term's original meaning, not what happened to it once the Right got hold of it and demonized the shit out of it. I hate change. I cry for statues and paintings splashed with paint. I believe in tradition, not revolution. Of course I believe in civil rights, in equality for all, regardless of race, sex, sexual orientation, gender, age, and so forth, but what I believe, it's kinda old school. Humanism. Leveling the playing field and moving on. Nothing much of what you see taught in liberal arts colleges nowadays. I do not think of myself as a feminist, and I am certainly not a third-wave feminist. Books should never be banned, no matter who they offend. I do not think all the evils of the world come down to capitalism and colonialism. But I also believe that if they do, well...that's never going to change. I believe in treating other people the way you want to be treated. I believe in science and literacy and public education. I believe in free speech, but I am not a free speech absolutist. I do not believe the path to social justice lies through tearing down, but through building up. I own two guns, but I believe in realistic gun control, namely background checks and banning the sale of assault rifles. I believe pretty much all drugs should be legal, on demand, to adults. I detest "trigger warnings." I am not the least bit ashamed of my hillbilly Appalachian background, and I lament the way Trump used those folks. I believe that overpopulation, and it's inevitable byproducts (including global warming), are one of the greatest threats to humanity, not schools named after people who offend you. I believe history matters and that without it we are lost. I am not a socialist, and I despise communism. I'm 99% sure our species' best years are behind us, and that the late 19th-mid 20th century will be seen as our golden age.

Yeah, I don't know. All this was in my head.

But, as an author, that's where I'm coming from. I could go on and on, but I won't.

I do not believe I should be afraid to speak my mind, but I accept there are consequences. You don't like me and don't want to read my books? I wish you didn't feel that way, true. But I can't do anything about it, can I?

Yes, I am queer. Former drag queen. I'm somewhere between trans and what is being called "gender fluid." A writer and a scientist. Most of my life has been lived near or below the poverty line. I've struggled all my life with mental illness. I'm pro-choice. An atheist and staunch evolutionist. I have voted Democrat my entire life, but if Liz Cheney were to run, I'd likely vote for her. I can be an utter asshole, and I can be a pretty decent person. In the eyes of the Far Right, I am pure evil. In the eyes of the Far Left, I am pure evil. Both sides have told me so, repeatedly, so at least they agree on that.

In this day and age, honesty is as good as arsenic.

---

Today, I read "The Hound" and "The Haunter in the Dark." It's good, immersing myself in HPL again. I have missed him.

And it will keep me going until the next Cormac McCarthy drops in January.

Please have a look at the Big Cartel shop. Thanks.

Later Tater Beans,
Aunt Beast




4:12 p.m.

"Ride the kick..." (121)

Sunny this morning, but it's been getting cloudier all day. Our high was 72˚F.

I don't think there is anything good I can say about today.

It's the sort of day I just have to survive.

Yesterday I read "The Dunwich Horror," today "The Shadow Over Innsmouth." The afternoon's movie was Christopher Nolan's Inception (2010).

Humans and our livestock now equal 96% of all mammalian biomass...

There's the Big Cartel shop.

Later Tater Beans,
Aunt Beast




11:53 a.m.

"A raging feral..." (120)

Sunny today. Our high was 62˚F.

I'm not going to say a lot about today's work, except that there was a lot of work today. Starting at 6:30 a.m., after about four and a half hours sleep.I did talk with both Jun and Mike. And, on Twitter, nerded around about mosasaurs with other mosasaur nerds.

I am exceptionally tired.

Last night, Kathryn and I saw George Miller's Three Thousand Years of Longing (2022), and it genuinely is one of the best films I have seen in...at least a couple of years. So, today I watched Max Max: Fury Road (2015), because I needed more George Miller.

Earlier, I almost dated something 11/28/77...and then almost cried when I realized it was not 1977.

Please have a look at the Big Cartel shop. Thanks.

Later Tater Beans,
Aunt Beast




9:57 a.m.

A lizard can only spare so much. (119)

A sunny day. A high of 64˚F.

After a windy, rainy night.

Today, after spending another day editing and rewriting portions of MP2, I informed Jun, my coauthor, that we're submitting the paper this week. I cannot spare anymore time. I'll have to attend to the rewrites that follow from the peer review and the journal's editor, but I likely won't have to do that until late December of January. In the meantime, I have to get back to fiction. I love paleontology more than anything else in all the world, but no one is paying me to do it. And likely they never will. So, I'll read the ms. through one last time tomorrow, and we have to redo Figure 9, and hopefully we can submit it on Tuesday. And I will a) sigh a sigh of relief and b) begin stressing out over the reviewers' comments.

Today I watched American Oz, an episode of The American Experience. Three guesses who it was about.

Oh, I forgot to mention that I overslept, which never happens these days. It was after 7:30 a.m. before I got up.

Please have a look at the Big Cartel Shop. Thank you.

Later Tater Beans,
Aunt Beast




10:44 a.m.

Bus and Trains (118)

A cloudy, damp day. There was a brilliant red sunrise and little sunlight here and there, but not much. The high was 65˚F.

Five and a half hours of work on MP2. Tomorrow will be the last day that I work on the text, save requested revisions from reviewers. Today I rewrote the section of on the dentigerous bones of one of the two specimens, expanding it quite a bit. Mosasaurs have seven bone-bearing teeth, by the way - the premaxilla, two maxillae, two dentaries, and the paired pterygoids.

I took a break and watched two documentaries, the first on Christopher McCandless and the other of children and teenagers who became hobos in the 1930s.

Last night Kathryn and I saw a very excellent film, Sean Ellis' The Curse (2022). I knew Eliss via an earlier film, the WWII drama Anthropoid (2016), but I only realized after seeing The Curse that they shared the same director. Anyway, yes, if you can overlook a dogged reluctance to obey the order of certain historical events, I think you will be pleased. This is a different sort of werewolf story, very much the way The Red Tree was. The cinematography manages to catch the ominous and the eerie in the simplest shots of fields and forests and streams, in this film that understands the importance of silence and atmosphere to effective weird fiction. Some great creature design/effects.

Having completed The Call of Cthulhu, today I moved on to "The Colour Out of Space."

On Twitter, I wrote: I am cursed, apparently, w/projecting an air of indomitable self confidence, entirely at odds w/my actual nature. Every short story, novella, and novel is a war w/self doubt, and this paper I am trying to finish, it's many times worse.

Oh, and my copy of the World Fantasy 2022 souvenir book was waiting at the P.O., which only made me feel awful all over again about not making the convention.

Later Tater Beans,
Aunt Beast



1:35 p.m.
Cloudy this morning, sunny this afternoon. Our high was 67˚F.

Editing, proofreading, but no motivation, little sleep, struggling to stay focused and not lose the spark.

Today and yesterday, and I have little explanation except exhaustion.

And the state of the world and what's left of humanity.

I discovered today that, bizarrely, Wil Wheaton has me blocked on Twitter. No idea.

The afternoon's movie was Ridley Scott's The Martian (2015). Last night, after dinner, we watch John Hughes Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (1987), mostly because it's one of the very few Thanksgiving films.

While I wait of the next Cormac McCarthy, I have resolved to read again pretty much everything by Lovecraft. I made it through At the Mountains of Madness today and began The Call of Cthulhu.

Want madness? Look upon the grey walls of this apartment...

Later Tater Beans,
Aunt Beast




3:06 p.m.

"Who made the coffee?" (116)

Sunny and cloudy today, by turns. Our high was 71˚F.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Spooky's making the Gobbler Cobbler. I spent the day editing and proofreading, just like all those days before.

Kathryn and I were both very excited at the prospect of Tim Burton's TV debut, Wednesday. Maybe if we'd known more going in we wouldn't have been. Regardless, it's a huge disappointment. Frankly, I have trouble believing that Burton actually the episodes. The script is awful. The direction's awful. The acting is almost without except flat. The concept is awful. It isn't funny. Wednesday Addams trapped in a crappy Gen Z "pararom" YA novel. Frankly, just about the only thing that works in the whole sorry mess is Jenna Ortega, who has the title role. She's spot on. But that's it. Likely, we'll suffer through to the end, because I'm like that.

This afternoon's movie was Tarantino's The Hateful 8 (2015).

Have a look at the Big Cartel shop. Thanks.

Later Tater Beans,
Aunt Beast




12:33 p.m.
Cloudier as the day wore on. Our high was 71˚F.

This paper...a hundred sticky notes, a thousand proofreaders marks in red and black ink and in pencil, "still-to-do" lists, loose threads, unanswered questions, confusing formatting guidelines. That is where it stands. Today, I was going to go to McWane and work out some of the very last bits of this thing with Jun, but after getting up at six and sinking more long hours into editing, I didn't have the energy I needed to leave the house. So, I'm gonna try to go in Monday. I did email the most recent and 97% "final" draft to Jun. That took a Herculean denial of my perfectionism.

On Twitter, I said, "I have reached that point that always arrives for me, when a paper is almost ready for submission, and I'm pretty sure it's a work of utter and absolute incompetence."

In the end, even if it did take me about six months to complete a 38-page ms., the picky shit at the bottom isn't all that different from working on one of my novels or short-fiction collections. Especially the latter. Editing a spider web for me.

There's nothing else, really. Well, Elon Musk is an ass. There's that. The demise of Twitter says something about the fundamentally unstable nature of the entire internet that we ought to be paying attention to. It also says something about how so many people get so caught up in something so inherently shallow. Twitter, that is. Elon Musk is an ass, and Twitter was always a sucker's game.

Me, I'm happy to be a "hall monitor," Mr. Musk.

I wish I could believe the world has reached "peak" pettiness, but I fear it's gonna get a lot worse.

The afternoon's film was David Leitch's Atomic Blonde (2017).

But you know, take a load off and have a look at the Big Cartel shop. Thank you.

Later Tater Beans,
Aunt Beast




4:16 p.m.

Sweat and tears. (114)

Mostly sunny today, some clouds. Our high was 62˚F.

And long, long day, but at last I cleared the hurdle on MP2. All that is left now is...I don't know...forty or fifty picky little things. The draft is done, if far from perfect. The refinement begins. We still hope to submit the paper for peer review next week. Me, I want to get back to the Tinfoil Dossier novella...

This is going to be short. I only slept about four and a half hours, and there was a mild relapse of post-vaccination symptoms last night, but they passed quickly.

I'm just tired.

Something I posted to Facebook this morning, an update:

So, for the concerned, mildly curious, and those that actually have some business knowing, our move back to Rhode Island will likely occur sometime between March and October 2023. Belgium is off the table for now, pending further political developments (namely the 2024 political election). I do not *want* to leave Birmingham. But the hostility towards LGBTQ folks in the South has just become too frightening, and it's only going to get a lot worse. (And yes, there is still an emergency "bug out" plan, should I have to go much more quickly.)

Today's film was Denis Villeneuve's Dune (2021). Such a beautiful film.

Please have a look at the Big Cartel shop. Danke.

Later Tater Beans,
Aunt Beast




10:08 a.m.

Milky thick (113)

Mostly sunny today. A high of 58˚F..

Yesterday, with the finish line in sight, I let myself get knocked off the horse. Stuff happened. And by 1 p.m. I was sick from...you know, I said this yesterday, I bet. About my vaccination and everything. Yes, well, by the time I was done with dinner and had a fairly sad dinner, I was just about delirious. I spent the night on the floor, drifting and moaning and watching The Big Bang Theory for three hours until I crawled away to bed.

But I woke feeling 100% better. Unfortunately, I flailed about all morning trying to get back on the horse, will little success. as the day wore on, my head began to clear, and I spoke with Jun this afternoon, so I should be able to get the last of this thing done tomorrow and Wednesday morning. I will defeat the spleio-angular joint!

BECAUSE OF HAVE TO FINISH THAT NEW TINFOIL DOSSIER NOVELLA AND GET SIRENIA DIGEST 201 OUT, BECAUSE NO ONE PAYS ME TO DO PALEONTOLOGY.

I have to stop dithering and second guessing and succumbing to my own perfectionism and make an end to this thing.

This blog entry, too, actually.

The afternoon's film was Denis Villeneuve's Blade Runner 2049 (2017).

And here are some things I said on twitter today:

As we consider the possibility that Twitter may go belly up, perhaps I will make a few of the opinionated posts I usually try to avoid. For example, I think avoiding contractions in scientific papers is a very silly practice. See? Edgy stuff.

~ and ~

Okay. A serious one. I hate the way that good, solid anatomical description has lost ground to phylogenetics (which, of course, in theory, is built on good, solid anatomical work). In a description of a new taxon, the morphology should not be overwhelmed by cladograms.

~ and ~

So, yeah. It seems like a big deal when you lose a hundred Twitter followers in a couple of weeks. But I just did the math and the net loss is hardly more than 1%.

~ and ~

ATM, I am *most* frustrated that in all the hundreds of pubs on mosasaurs since 1764, no one has devoted any real attention to variation in the splenio-angular contact between taxa, constantly reducing it to a simple "ball-and-socket"-cotyle/condyle joint.

There's the Big Cartel shop. Have a look.

Later Tater Beans,
Aunt Beast




1:41 p.m.

There but for the grace of coal. (112)

Cold day, after a cold (but not as cold) night. Our high today was 48˚F, after a nightly low of 31˚F.

My sprint to the finished first draft of MP1 hit a big snag yesterday, which led to six hours more work today, and an hour and a half phone conversation with Mike, and by the time that was done – about 1 p.m. – I realized that yesterday's COVID booster was making itself felt. And this snag, it's two little bones. Two. Little Bones.

I lay down and watched a documentary about death on K2 and Nanga Parbat, and then I finally finished reading George R. McGhee's Carboniferous Giants and Mass Extinction: The Late Paleozoic Ice Age World.*

A couple of things from Twitter:

If Twitter *does* succumb, it's interesting to consider the aftermath in an ecological context, to think of the subsquent "recovery" of social media sorta the way we might the reorganization of life after a mass extinction. Social media will survive, but may look very different.

~ and ~

It's just hard to comprehend the mentality that would pay $44 billion dollars for the privilage to troll Twitter unimpeded. It is a level of pettiness that is alnost impossible for me to wrap my brain around.

Please have a look at the Big Cartel shop. Thanks.

Later Tater Beans,
Aunt Beast




4:01 p.m.


* Our building sits atop a cap of Carboniferous (Mississippian) aged Harstelle Sandstone.

"Your sky, all hung with jewels." (111)

Cold and partly cloudy today. Last night's low was 30˚F and today's high was 49˚F.

I was up at six a.m., and I did four and a half hours on MP2, and talked to Mike, then went and got my COVID-19 booster (mine and Spooky's fifth shots; we got a second punch card). Then I came back and watched a two-part documentary, Plants Behaving Badly, narrated by David Attenborough. How could I resist a title like that? The first half was carnivorous plants and the second half was orchids. And then it was back to work, and I did another two hours on MP2. I really want a whole and solid first draft by Monday morning, but that's beginning to feel as if it's asking a lot. I just sent Jun a bunch of stuff for the final figure, the one for the phylogenetic analysis.

Um...I said I went to the pharmacy. Right.

Here's some stuff I said on Twitter:

The thought of trying to navigate the tedium of #Mastodon just makes me tired. I don't need anything else that makes me tired. I'll be here if & until Twitter folds, then I'll be @ LJ & FB & that's *more* than enough social media for me; the word "mastodon" will remain untainted.

~ and ~

I suppose the *only* thing I would genuinely miss about Twitter is the contact with other vert paleo and herp folks. I won't get that elsewhere. BTW, greygirlbeast at LJ and caitlin.r.kiernan at FB. Yeah, I know. For old people. I'm not young, kiddos.

~ and ~

Frankly, I get a LOT more feedback on Facebook. I've been here since June 2009, & Twitter still seems to look at me askance.

~ and, finally, –

Too many people think my fiction sets out to scare them. No. Almost never. My fiction, to the degree that it can be said to have a goal, sets out to make the reader feel awe, wonder. It's just that the path to awe is often disquieting.

Please have a look at the Big Cartel shop. Thanks

Later Tater Beans,
Aunt Beast




12:12 p.m.

Rarr Monkey Rarr (110)

Cold and sunny today. Our high last night was 25˚F (!) and our high today was 54˚F.

I woke after a fitful night hardly rested from yesterday. I was up at 6 a.m., and after much hemming and hawing and talking with Jun, I decided to stay home and proofread MP2, rather than go to McWane and proofread MP2. Oh, and I need to rewrite the sections of the splenials and angulars for one of the specimens, and expand the sections on the quadrates of the other specimen. I really am ready to be done with this project, though these are marvelous specimens and I am grateful to have been given to chance to do this work. But it is time to wrap it up and move on to other things. I'm gonna work on it like a fiend all weekend. The next time I am lead investigator on a paper it will not be describing two new taxa.

Are there really people who don't work on the weekends?

I signed a bunch of books from the Big Cartel shop this morning, including three to a certain Dr. Funk Nasty. It's the little things.

The afternoon's movie was the extended cut of Peter Jackson's King Kong (2005).

So, all this kerfuffle about Twitter. I've only been saying Elon Musk is a douchebag since, oh I don't know, 2004? I was briefly acquainted with his first wife, Justine Musk (née Wilson). Anyway, Twitter. For one, I will not mourn its passing, if it does pass. I expect I will be relieved. It has done so, so, so much damage to the world, especially political and social damage, and I would hope that in its absence there could be some healing. Or at least we could get back some of our peace and quiet. Just a dab would suffice. And I don't believe it would be replaced by any single platform or service or app. That which was the Twitterverse would be scattered and likely never again coalesce into the toxic brew it has become. And in the interest of full disclosure, I have been a member of Twitter since June 2009. But, also, I stepped away from almost all political "conversation" there after the nightmare of the 2016 Presidential election. These days, I use it mostly to share cool scientific and artistic stuff, to keep readers updated on my projects, to stay in touch with other paleontologists and herpetologists, and to mirror the journal. But mostly, I just share cool stuff and try not to add to the storm. I do not completely buy that this is the end of Twitter, but if it is, so be it. I will not cry.

Now if we could just get Elon Musk to buy Fox News and TikTok.

Later Tater Beans,
Aunt Beast




1:32 p.m.

"You're lucky this place has rules." (109)

Cold last night and not exactly warm today. Our overnight low was 28˚F and our high was 46˚F.

I spent almost the entire day on MP2, mostly hammering together a full draft of the phylogenetics section. But I got it done, and now, after almost two years of research, after 5+ months of writing I almost have a draft that is suitable for review. And all twelve figures but one done. I'm going in to McWane tomorrow, where I'll mostly spend the day in the silence of the collection doing one more edit. I'm still hoping we might get this beast submitted before Thanksgiving. But wow, I think the last time I felt this sense of accomplishment as I neared the completion of a project was with The Drowning Girl: A Memoir early in 2011 or maybe with Beneath an Oil-Dark Sea in early 2015. Yeah, it's been a while.

Somehow, I slept almost eight full hours last night. It has been months since I've managed that.

The afternoon's film was Drew Pearce's vastly underrated Hotel Artemis (2018).

I point you to the Big Cartel shop. Thank you.

Later Tater Beans,
Aunt Beast




3:19 p.m. (yesterday)

Beat (108)

Very, very, very tired. But first, it was sunny today and our high was 52˚F, and the low last night was 37˚F.

I was at McWane today, my official first "regular" day back since March 2020, since I will now be doing Wednesdays and Fridays each week. Jun and I put in hours of work on the figures for MP2, including reviewing everything, rephotographing a few of the bones, and a bunch of Photoshop stuff. And I took some photos for Mike P. It was, for me, a long and exhausting day. I am used to sitting here in this chair typing all day. Actually moving around, that's gonna take some getting used to again.

Oh, and I wrote on the phylogenetics section for two hours before I went to McWane.

In fact, I think I'm too tired to talk about much else.

Please have a look at the Big Cartel shop. Books. Chapbooks. Tie dye. I don't even know what all.

This thing will be out of my hands soon, MP2, and I will be spending a lot more of my life on fiction once again.

Later Tater Beans,
Aunt Beast




3:17 p.m.

Little Books (107)

Overcast, rainy, and the high was 52˚F. There is some genuinely cold weather on the way.

Today was less exhausting only because I was still so exhausted from yesterday that, well, you see what I mean. I worked on MP2, running the PAUP analysis again, and the constraint search did what it was meant to do, and all is well. But, honestly, I am having to learn a language I do not know, the very specialized, technical language of translating the graphic/mathematical results of phylogenetic analyses into text, into coherent and convincing arguments. A year and a half ago, this all seemed to straightforward, but the truth is describing new taxa in 2022 is a hell of a lot harder than it was when I named Selmasaurus russelli in 1988. I am not convinced that systematics has made the science better, but it has surely made it far more complex. More quantitative does not necessarily translate to better.

Yes, well. I am very tired.

Also, I got to see almost all the figures for the paper today. Jun Ebersole has done a marvelous job on them.

Oh, and a signed a whole bunch of books we'd sold via Big Cartel today, and almost all of them were signed to people who's names began with J, which was odd. So, I took a photo of the one signed to someone named Sebastián, because it was respite from all the Js.

The afternoon's film was J.J. Abram's Star Trek: Into Darkness (2013). I really am fond of this film, and I wish I knew what happened between Into Darkness and Star Trek: Beyond that led to such a plummet in quality, and why the decision wasn't made to pursue the next obvious story development: War with the Klingon Empire. Anyway, Admiral Marcus' USS Vengeance is one of the most bad-ass things in the history of Star Trek.

Did I mention how tired I am?

Later Tater Beans,
Aunt Beast




9:51 a.m.
A long, long long, long day. And I fear tomorrow will be longer. Weather? That is the tradition, yes. Sunny today and a high of 57˚F.

Few people seem to suspect how important tradition is to me.

Most of the day, hours and hours, was spent revising the text of MP2 and getting serious about the phylogenetics section. Late in day, a string of phone conversations with Mike Polcyn began, as he'd worked out an algorithm to provide constraint for the PAUP4 analysis, so that only topologies will be generated that recognize a certain genus as monophyletic. A good deal of time was spent with me sitting here, listening to him code. Today, I'm running the the analysis again, with the constraint, and then I have to begin writing the phylogenetic section of the paper, including the rationale for the constraint. It will be a very long and tedious day.

Science can be tedious, but through tedium lies revelation.

I mean that.

This afternoon's film was J.J. Abrams Star Trek (2009). The movie was really only an excuse to permit myself a two-hour break from the work.

Please have a look at the Big Cartel shop. The spice must flow.

Later Tater Beans,
Aunt Beast




8:41 p.m.

Climb (105)

The sun came back today. Our high was 47˚F. This time last week we were pushing 90˚F. We have a freeze warning again tonight.

I don't know if my mood is less black that yesterday. It was certainly boiling with ugliness earlier today. I think I just did a slightly better job of keeping myself occupied today. I worked on MP2 and nothing else. Fine tuning for the tenth time. I hate to think that there are people who have to write fiction this way. No, thank fuck I'm not one of them.

Last night we splurged and watched Baltasar Kormákur's Beast (2022), a better than average "killer animal" film, if only because it allowed us some sympathy for the beast of the title, a rogue lion. Mostly, though, I admit I was just there are Idris Elba.

This afternoon, three documentaries: the other half of the Nova on the alphabet, and two episodes of Nature, one about invasive lionfish and one about the wildlife of Portugal.

So someone asked me to come to Belgium to speak. Now, I wouldn't have gone, anyway, because I no longer travel unless absolutely necessary. They agreed to pay for all my travel. Two weeks later they say the board has changed to a "green policy" and are using distance appearances (or some crap like that). So, I pointed out that the carbon footprint of the internet and the airline industry are almost identical (~3.7% annual global greenhouse gas emissions). They never wrote back. What people assume is "green" usually isn't.

Please hate a look at the Big Cartel shop. Thanks.

Later Tater Beans,
Aunt Beast (ugly on the inside),




4:50 p.m. (yesterday)

Ruin and Rain (104)

It seems our weirdly, ominously warm November is over. The high today was only 59˚F, overcast, with rain, and we have a freeze warning for tonight.

As wrong as the warmth and the dry were, I do so hate the cold and the wet.

I fucked up and slept late, until 7 p.m. I managed a paltry 597 words on the beginning of Section 7 of the new Tinfoil Dossier novella, but I'm not sure any of it is usable. Anyway, I'm setting the story aside until after Wednesday. All my work time for the next three days will be devoted to a "final" draft of MP2 that I can present to Jun on Wednesday afternoon. He's currently getting the images together, so I have to get this done now. I think my greatest enemy here, as so often is the case, is my almost complete lack of self confidence. This is something that often surprises people about me, or they simply refuse to believe it can possibly be true. Apparently, I project confidence. Well, good for me, but if I do so it is a sham. I need this text to read like I didn't spend 2003-2019 not doing paleontology.

The blackest of moods today, but miraculously I somehow worked.

There's no doubt
Of the future in my head.
It's all worked out,
I'd hate it to go left unsaid.
~ Catherine Wheel

Three documentaries this afternoon, an episode of Nova on the Nazca lines, an episode of American Experience on Mount Rushmore, and, lastly, the first half of a look at the origin of the alphabet.

And that was my day. Please visit the Big Cartel shop. Thanks.

Later Tater Beans,
Aunt Beast (a bitter beast)




11:49 a.m. (October 27th, last gasp of summer's color)

"Late Stage Human Civilization" (103)

My "soul" is sick.

And in mere hours, the human population will reach eight billion. That's a death knell. Another death knell. When I was in junior high school, there was less than half that many people.

I do not stir.
The frost makes a flower,
The dew makes a star,
The dead bell,
The dead bell.

Somebody's done for.
~ Syvia Plath

I will almost certainly live to see the end of America (as we know it, my America). I hope I do not also have to live to see the end of humanity.

----

I was up at six a.m. this morning. By seven i was writing. I had a very unusual day and wrote a whopping 1,646 words and finished Section 7 of the new Tinfoil Dossier story. At this point, the ms. is 48 pages, 17,100 words long. I wonder if I will even live to see this one published.

But something has to fill the days.

I talked with Jun at McWane. I talked with Joshua Lively (Utah State University Prehistoric Museum). I talked with Drew. I was supposed to have that long talk with Mike Polcyn this afternoon, but something came up on his end and we rescheduled to Monday.

It looks as if we are going to try and remain in Alabama until June 2023 or October 2023. Those seem to be the options. I have my emergency exit plan, of course, my go bag and all that, my emergency port of call. Should it come to pass.

I could live the rest of my life, which likely will pretty short, and never again hear the phrase "late stage capitalism," and I'd be pretty happy about it. As happy as I ever get about anything. I mean, who started this shit? Me, I suspect the unholy alliance of liberal arts programs and internet activism. Oh, and Bernie Sanders. It is, if nothing else, likely fallacious reasoning, assuming you can even determine when something has reached "late stage." And how is that, setting aside subjectivity and bias, different from "maturity"?

My only problems with our monetary system? I don't have nearly enough and I never will.

Anyway...

There's the Big Cartel shop, if you still believe in money and all. Here, we kinda still need it (and always will).

Later Tater Beans,
Aunt Beast




8:20 a.m.

Lingering Questions (102)

Primarily, who will control Congress.

Cloud much of today, thanks to Hurricane Nicole. But no rain here. No wind. our high was 74˚F.

I slept poorly last night. I got up at 5 a.m. I began writing about 6 a.m. I did another 1,085 words on the new Tinfoil Dossier novella, beginning Section 7. And then I spent a chunk of time editing MP2. I talked with Jun about the figures today...and other things. I wrote a couple of other paleontologists. Oh, I sent 345 grams of basal Mooreville Chalk to Anthony Maltese is Colorado to get his advice on which air scribe would be best for prepping the rest of Winifred.

I finished Cormac McCarthy's The Passenger (Book 1), and while I'm not sure it's the best thing he's ever written, it's astoundingly good. Now I have to wait for January for the second half. I think now I'm going to read everything by Algernon Blackwood again.

I need to call my mom.

Something I wrote yesterday on Twitter, and it bears repeating over and over and over: Everyone please keep in mind, just because things did not go as badly last night as many expected, American democracy is still on the ropes, and the GQP is gonna come back from these defeats with the viciousness of a rabid dog. We have a long, long way to go to safety. Sure, no Red Wave. Yes, Trump has egg on his face and the other are questioning if the useful idiot is still useful. Abortion is protected in a couple of states. But we still stand at the edge of the precipice. Democracy, to mix metaphors, is still increasingly thin ice. And we have to keep that in mind and not become complacent.

Please, has a look at the Big Cartel shop. Spooky works hard to keep it running.

Later Tater Beans,
Aunt Beast




12:48 p.m.

Ages of You (101)

So, yes, a cooler day today. Our high was only 71˚F. But sunny.

This morning I finished that section of the Tinfoil Dossier novella, which turns out to be the 6th section, not the 5th. Got that wrong. Spooky caught that I had two Section 5s. That was very good. The ms. currently stands at 14,197 words, and I'm guessing at a total around 35k, so I have hope I can actually finish this. Also, I told Merrillee to accept the French offer. I talked with Jun on and off all day. I talked with other paleo' folks, in Manhattan and Colorado. I got instructions from Heather Cole at the John Hay Library about how to get my next lot of papers to them. They're actually willing to have them picked up and shipped to Providence, on their dime, and if I go that route if will make things much easier on Kathryn and I. I looked at mosasaur silhouettes at PhyloPic that might be used for MP2, but they sorta disappointingly look all the same.

Oh, and this morning, after the fiction work, I did a bunch of editing and a little rewriting on MP2. There was that, too.

It was a busy day.

After for last night, well..no, there was no "Red Wave," and there were some surprising victories. More than a few. I was extremely pleased that Fetterman won in Pennsylvania. As I write this, it looks like the Democrats have a chance of maintaining control of the Senate, and, well...who knows what's going to happen with the House. And the GOP seems to be turning on Trump. But none of these things mean that the general and terrifying trends are not still right there. As I said on Twitter this afternoon, "Everyone please keep in mind, just because things did not go as badly last night as many expected, American democracy is still on the ropes, and the GQP* is gonna come back from these defeats with the viciousness of a rabid dog. We have a long, long way to go to safety." Someone replied to me, "I'm concerned that conservative voters may take their frustrations out against certain minorities in the streets, given they couldn't do so effectively in the voting booth." Yes, exactly. We were spared violence at the polls that was feared, but...this is all terra incognita. We still stand at the edge of the precipice. But Gen Z has given me some very, very guarded hope.

Yesterday at McWane I finally got to see (and borrow) a copy of Bill G. Deutsch's Ancient Life in Alabama: The Fossils, the Finders, and Why It Matters (see below). I was involved with this production of this project on and off the last couple of years, as were very many other local professional and avocational palentologists and fossil hunters, and it really is a marvelous book. I strongly recommend it. And not just because my own work in paleo' in all over the thing. It's worth the dough. If you wanna know how Alabama played such a role in my obsession with the science, this book has the answer. Bill, by the way, in an aquatic ecologist at the University of Auburn.

Have a look at the Big Cartel shop. Gasoline don't buy itself.

Later Tater Beans,
Aunt Beast




12:54 p.m.


*Grand QAnon Pary
Yet another very warm day. Sunny, and our high was 84˚F. But tomorrow is supposed to be significantly cooler. Yeah, I like warm weather, but I don't like constant reminders of how badly we've broken the planet.

Despite my anxiety over the election, I did have a productive day. I think the work was a defense mechanism (as it often has been). I made some progress on "The Authentic Life of the Eyeball Kid," the fifth section of the new Tinfoil Dossier novella. I hope to finish that section tomorrow. I did a bunch of work organizing the images for MP2, so I could present it all to Jun Ebersole today. I had to be at McWane at 3 p.m. to meet with him about the paper (I didn't make it until 3:30, go me). It was a very good meeting, and the illustrations should be done soon. We left McWane about 5:30, and I was shocked to see it was dark outside. It sneaks up on me, the shorter days. Oh, and Merrilee wrote to tell me we had an offer for a new French edition of The Drowning Girl: A Memoir, so that was a little unexpected money from the sky.

Beginning next week, I will have regular hours again at McWane for the first time since March 2020 and the advent of COVID-19.

This evening, I am trying not to give voice to my dread.

Please visit the Big Cartel shop. Good stuff.

Later Tater Beans,
Aunt Beast




5:10 p.m.
Another freakishly warm day. But, you know, it's all a Chinese hoax or moonbat propaganda or Jewish laser beams operated by lizard people from the constellations Orion, Sirius, and Draco, but it's not possibly the metric fucktons of carbon dioxide and methane we're pumping into the atmosphere. Our high today was 84˚F, with a heat index of 86˚F.

I wrote 1,085 words on the new Tinfoil Dossier novella. Oh, and we got the cover reveal on Living a Boy's Adventure Tale (see below). It came out even better than I expected. John Conway's painting is perfect. I exchanged email with my agent, SubPress, Jun Ebersole, and the John Hay Library. I talked mosasaurs with Amelia Zietlow, postdoc at the American Museum. I did more work organizing the photos for the MP2 figures.

In short, I kept myself busy and tried hard not to thing about the horror that will be visited upon the country tomorrow.

Try not to think of a white elephant.

Marco Rubio looks at at blood moon and says even the moon's on their side. Which oughta tell you loads.

If I had written this future, it would have been deemed outlandish. A failed billionaire and reality TV star fans the flames of latent fascism in America, bringing democracy to the edge of collapse. The richest man in the world, who wants to go to Mars, wrecks Twitter, which has somehow become something that matters. Atmospheric CO2 has risen to more than 400 ppm for the first time in many millions of years and the global temperature is somewhere between 1.1 °C and 1.7 °C higher than pre-industrial levels. The icecaps, glaciers, and tundra are melting...fast. Men with guns stand outside polling places to intimidate brown people. There's something called TikTok that's even more toxic than Twitter. We land probes on asteroids, and no one cares.

I feel like this is the last semi-normal evening we in America will ever know. An age ends here.

Meanwhile, we're really loving Pennyworth. It's damn near brilliant. And I was shocked to see there are three seasons. Shocked, but pleased.

Please have a look at the Big Cartel shop. Even at the end of the world as we know, I gotta pay bills.

Later Tater Beans (Please Vote),
Aunt Beast




Cover art for Living a Boy's Adventure Tale, forthcoming in 2023 from Subterranean Press.

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