Saturday, February 3, 2018

Greetings--Permanent Payment Explanation

Welcome to the blog, 'zine, and bookstore of Priscilla King. Effective February 2, 2017, this web site has gone to a pay-per-view mode. Old posts, and keywords for new posts not yet visible here, continue to show up here. They can be found by using the site-specific search bar on your right. New posts can be seen for $1 and will become visible free of charge, in a graphics-friendly format here and a graphics-free format at Live Journal, when they've earned $5.

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Thursday, September 21, 2017

Tim Kaine Visits Washington County, Virginia (and Annoys Priscilla)

This web site has no contractual obligation not to call U.S. Senators outright liars, merely a policy. However, this web site WILL ask Senator Kaine why he did not refer these business owners, manufacturers and plant managers to the local baby-boomers who already have the skills to fill these jobs...and the experiential knowlege that time spent mailing out resumes and filling out forms only leads to hostilities. I'm definitely grumpy today--it's my second grumpy day this month, and both grumpy days occurred after I'd eaten natural-wheat-gluten-free but evidently not glyphosate-free Cheerios--but this one was actually right below the e-mail that appeared on this web site yesterday. It just ticked me off. It still does tick me off. Students, schmudents, y'should've told'em to e-mail me. Or Dan. Or Bill. Or Carol. Or Jeff. Or they should just go into the Friday Market and check out a whole crowd of people who may look older than fifty (while being thirty-five) or look younger than fifty (while being sixty-five), and may be coasting on some sort of disability pension or just on unemployment, but who are obviously fit to work. Not all that stupid, either, although some of them are embittered, spiteful, and mean.

Wherever I travel through Virginia, I hear the same thing from business owners, manufacturers and plant managers: there are good-paying jobs out there, we just need to train our students with the skills to fill them. I heard the same while in Washington County last week visiting the Utility Trailer Manufacturing Company's factory and sitting down with workers, managers, and local community leaders about workforce shortages.
I was also glad to have the opportunity to tell them about how the Middle STEP Act, a bipartisan bill I introduced last week with Senator Capito, can complement what they are doing to help future workers explore in-demand careers. The future of the U.S. economy depends on a skilled workforce, and exposing students to career and technical education earlier can help train the next generation of workers with the skills to succeed.

Yes, those skilled workers I have in mind are in Gate City. And y'know what else is in Gate City? It no longer stops in Gate City, it merely ruins the property values of older buildings, but we still have a railroad in Gate City. It carries just a few coal trains these days. It used to carry passenger trains. It could be carrying workers to jobs in Bristol, Kingsport, Big Stone Gap or who knows where-all else. The company could reasonably be required to do that, just to make the railroad earn its keep!

Amazon Does Not Discriminate Against Political Parties, But Does...

...discriminate against sensible shoppers. Amazon does. They didn't last year, but they do now, and that's why I can't find any of the reviews I posted last year and why the publisher didn't send me any more shiny new books to review.

After last week's post about how well matched the numbers looked for Republicans' and Democrats' popular (and less popular) books on Amazon...

...I received an e-mail asking for links to my reviews. I dug up a few and tested them. None of them worked any more. I e-mailed Amazon to ask what had happened. This morning, Amazon replied. The reply went out with a smarmy Orwellian heading that looked like an ad and almost got deleted as I checked this web site's group account, which is also our Amazon Associate account, for something that should have been clearly identified as a response to a complaint.

I didn't copy the text of the reply; basically, it said that Amazon's new policy was to display reviews only after customers had spent $50 with a credit card.

Here's what I e-mailed back:

Last year I bought several books from Amazon; I wrote informative reviews, and a publisher sent me several more books for review purposes. Recently someone asked about my reviews. I clicked the links in the e-mails showing where four of them had been posted. They had disappeared. I asked what had happened to them, and was told that the new policy was to accept reviews only from people who'd purchased things with a credit card.

I've never used a credit card, and I never intend to use one. I saw how much trouble they got other students into and burned the "free trial" offers I got in college! Online, any direct use of any bank information, even debit cards, invites even more trouble--fraud, and potentially espionage and terrorism (since this information enables identity thieves). I've bought things from Amazon using giftcards; I would have bought more if Amazon had worked with Paypal to accept fully anonymized payments that trace back to Paypal's company account rather than an individual's bank account.

Although online information about me is information about a registered business not an individual, I'm real. So are my purchases and reviews. I don't like seeing reviews I took the trouble to write for you, free of charge, discriminated against because I've followed FBI recommendations to protect my identity.

You need to base your business on giftcards that can be sold for cash in real stores, and/or fully anonymized Paypal payments that trace back to Paypal's company account rather than any individual's bank account, and/or real money orders sent through real mail. Even debit cards, which are safer for individuals in real life, should never be used online.

And actually, although I think (without checking) my Amazon purchases add up to more than $50...don't you find that people who've bought only one one-cent book are more likely to buy other things when they see their reviews go live? I thought that was one of the secrets of Amazon's success.

Gentle Readers, all of us need to stand firm with businesses that may have bought into some sort of lucrative deal with greedhead credit card companies. Customers rule...and customers should destroy any credit cards they may own, before their credit information is stolen and used to help somebody hijack a plane!

Yes, it's ironic that this is going on at what claims to be "America's most customer-centric company," and it's even more ironic that it started during the week of September 11...

We have the best armed forces and the best civil defense forces on Earth...but no country will ever be secure enough that its citizens can afford to post their identity and bank information on the Internet. That's like setting fire to your house just to watch the firefighters at work.

Tepid Book Review: Don't Sweat the Small Stuff for Women

A Fair Trade Book

Title: Don't Sweat the Small Stuff for Women

Author: Kristine Carlson

Date: 2001

Publisher: Hyperion

ISBN: 0-7868-8602-1

Length: 264 pages

Quote: “For the most part, women have never had it so good...Along with the many options we have created for ourselves, however, comes some very real confusion accompanied by a sense of being overwhelmed.”

For a short time toward the end of his stress-shortened life, Richard Carlson was pumping out variations on his bestselling first book, Don'tSweat the Small Stuff. He became an industry. He enlisted his admittedly PMSsy wife, a full-time mother, to write the inevitable volume titled Don't Sweat the Small Stuff for Women.

It's better, I say, than the first volume, because the Carlsons were finally running out of “We don't give a flip what your problem is” wisecracks, and Kristine Carlson had to move a little closer to the position from which counselling can be useful:


There is some actual, practical, potentially useful advice in this book: Garden. Make memories with children. Insist that husbands and children do their full share of housework. Pack light. Step out of your “rut of routine.”

There's also some potentially harmful advice. It would be quite a feat for any writer to generate 100 tips for living a happier life and not come up with something that's likely to help any reader, although what this book has to offer you may or may not be new to you. So there are parts of this book that you'll probably appreciate. But it's not the Bible; you may want to bear in mind that the writer's husband died “old” at a horribly early age.

I often object to the way writers confuse “forgiveness” and “releasing the emotions” when you are the one who wants to feel better. “You don't have to believe that what they did was acceptable, just forgive them...” No. That line of thinking interferes with people's ability either to give or to receive real forgiveness. If “they” was a teacher who molested you when you were fourteen, and they're still teaching and molesting students today, you cannot forgive them. What you're likely to feel better for having done is to denounce them, to make sure they can't go on being teachers. Even while you're doing that you might choose to begin to release the emotional reaction you had ten years ago. You would do that if you found it easier to be a hero when you've not reliving being a victim. But none of that has anything to do with Christian forgiveness, which begins with the molester confessing that s/he did wrong and asking for help to change and atone. When we need to practice Christian forgiveness, I've not found that “Just sweep everything under the rug” type thinking helps at all.

Among Christians I've seen substantial harm done by this confusion between the practice of good will and the practice of forgiveness. People who wanted to feel good about “being a forgiving person”were manipulated into hiring a convicted thief as a security guard (yes, that happened; yes, he stole stuff) or admitting confessed “emissaries of the Church of Satan whose mission was to confuse and corrupt Christians” to full membership in churches, and so on. What followed were some good object lessons that Christian forgiveness is a longer, slower, more objective process than a mere decision to let ourselves focus on other things that evoke more pleasant feelings.

The case can be made that the Christian wife who says “I've released the anger I felt about my husband's adultery, but I'm still very hesitant to try to rebuild the marriage” and the one who says “I've forgiven my husband's adultery, but I'm still not willing to try to rebuild the marriage” are describing the same things in two different ways. Does it matter? I don't know how much it matters to those women, but to writers I say that it does matter, because it inevitably affects the way we understand God's forgiveness; it may well determine whether we are able to perceive ourselves in any kind of relationship to Powerful Goodness, and it may well determine whether we have anything worthwhile to say about that relationship to readers. I say that if she's forgiven her husband's adultery, then she's actively working to rebuild the marriage. If she's merely released the anger, she's probably dating other guys.

That's one quibble. Readers who are aware of it can fold a corner of page 83 down over page 82 so they just skip that section, and enjoy the book. Still, there are other sections that may totally not work for you, either. On page 87 Carlson dithers, “I think it would be a good idea if all women had a sign to put on their bedroom doors, which says: P.S.--I'm PMS!” Oh really... “Pre-Menstrual Syndromes” are real medical conditions, but they may be the only medical conditions ever to have been politicized out of all relation to reality from both sides. Many women don't have PMS; when we do, it's a symptom of some sort of disease condition, whether major or minor, treatable or untreatable, and improving our health (if possible) makes more sense than advertising our illness.

It's very easy to be flippant and nonchalant about other people's concerns being "small stuff" as far as we're concerned; Wayne Dyer, his disciple Richard Carlson, and Carlson's widow and disciple Kristine Carlson, notoriously encouraged this undesirable tendency most of us have. On the whole I've not found their approach as helpful as those that focus more directly on physically controlling blood pressure and muscle tension, which can free us to fix facts without the need to write unpleasant realities off as "small stuff." I note that Wayne Dyer died at a fairly early age, Richard Carlson died looking unusually "old" at a very early age, and Kristine Carlson's not looking so good either--which suggests that sweeping unpleasant facts under the rug and focussing on the feelings don't work for those who practice it as a spiritual discipline...

Still, many people find some useful ideas in the "small stuff" books. They're popular. I've been given copies of them to resell, and I can't say they're unfit to resell. Gardening, cuddling children, and training family members to become "self-cleaning" are very useful suggestions for women who want to reduce the stress levels in their lives. Most people who appreciate being reminded to organize and minimize their baggage for a less stressful trip are old enough to spot the less functional ideas in books like this one.

So...I have these books. I've read some of them. If you buy them here, under this web site's rules, since Kristine Carlson is still alive, the ones that are widely available as secondhand books become Fair Trade Books: $5 per book, $5 per package (I think eight of these books might fit into a package, which would cost $45), plus $1 per online payment, and we send $1 per book to Carlson or a charity of her choice. 

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Tim Kaine Supports the Troops

(Status update: The writer known as Priscilla King has just finished a cyberchore that's gone on for several weeks, tying up my Internet Explorer window and slowing down the reading of e-mail. I should be reading more e-mail during the next few weeks! Here, from the top of the stack--remember Yahoo stacks the newest e-mail on top--is U.S. Senator Tim Kaine's newsletter.)

I’m proud that once again the Senate was able to come together in a bipartisan way to strengthen our national security, support our servicemembers, and bolster the work of our defense community in Virginia.
I was especially proud the Armed Services Committee and the Senate stood with me in support of $10 billion in additional funding for the Navy, critical to Hampton Roads and our shipbuilders. There is always more to do. And though we delivered many wins for our servicemembers in this bill, we still owe them a very important debate and vote on an Authorization for Use of Military Force. There are thousands of American troops fighting across the world, willing to sacrifice so much, and they deserve to know Congress is behind them, not just with funding, but in support of their missions. Instead Congress is punting—allowing the President to wage war anywhere, anytime, against any terrorist group, and for however long he wants.
I’m thankful to Chairman McCain and Ranking Member Jack Reed for helping our committee set an example of how the Senate should work, by passing a bipartisan bill that will make a difference in the lives of Virginians. We need more of this.

Fiction: International Incident on a Peaceful World

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You can also mail a U.S. postal money order to Boxholder, P.O. Box 322, Gate City, Virginia, 24251-0322.)

Like yesterday's poems, this short story was a contest entry that didn't win. One reason why it didn't win: although the contest sponsors' web site generally promotes science fiction and fantasy, this bit of conceptual fiction is set in more of an alternative world than a future world, although the whole fictional concept of which this story is part has always been deliberately ambiguous...The "peaceful world" has a global geography roughly similar, though not identical, to ours. It seems to be another side of our world as viewed from the fourth dimension. Is the fourth dimension time or space? I wrote these stories before Hawking wrote his Brief History of Time, when Real Physicists were still debating the matter. The fourth dimension appears in the whole story sequence as a plot vehicle that can be interpreted either way, or ignored. 

Short stories tend to grow out of random thoughts, dreams...In real life I've noticed that air traffic above the Cat Sanctuary has increased dramatically in recent years. My whole family have always liked being out of sight, and (except in very damp weather) out of hearing, range from a paved road. Now the sky is a source of noise and pollution just like a paved road; I'm not pleased. And it occurred to me that in the "peaceful world," where different groups of people have agreed among themselves to adopt or reject new technology for different reasons, and they all respect one another's choices, of course flying over someone else's property would be a crime. 

I erred in sharing this one with "Writers of the Future," since it does involve one of the "futuristic" cultures in the fictional Peaceful World. If we ever do evolve in the direction of peace, I think we will grow to resemble the Peaceful World, or Elizabeth Barrette's Torn World, where some people routinely use aircraft, robots, computers, etc., and others ban them. But, as mentioned in a discussion on EB's Live Journal years ago, I've always visualized the people of this world as an alien humanoid race. At the time when I started writing these stories--with my brother, who wasn't even a teenager yet--the idea of reversing the incidence of albinism and melanism seemed like a clever, satirical way to show that these people are aliens. Or, if they are our future, they're a remote and hypothetical future. Write a hundred penalty lines, Priscilla: WotF should get stories about our future; there's another'zine for tales of the fourth dimension.

(Actually the history of how Rama, specifically, got written into these stories would be a separate post; whimsy, cliches, and an obscure supplementary textbook I was studying by way of "enrichment" at school, were involved.)

I can't quite imagine our world becoming this peaceful...but we can always keep trying to cultivate this level of nonviolence and respect for others in ourselves, anyway.

Amazon link? Why not...I certainly wouldn't presume to dispute the logic that explains what the fourth dimension must really be, in...

(Fwiw, that picture just happens to make the real Stephen Hawking look like the fictional Shela Vum's father.)


As the four girls enter the second decade of life Kaza Mar learns that her genetic desirability score is 13. Shela Vum, with her bright blue eyes and soft dark-blue hair and clear, exquisite periwinkle-blue skin, has a score of 92. Lope Graz, whose nose is too long but whose color reaches a near-perfect purple, has a score of 81. Raza Volram, whose leaf-green skin is marred by pinkish acne, but who is expected to outgrow that, has a score of 75. Kaza’s hair, eyes, and skin barely color at all; to the extent that they do, her color is yellow. Worse than that, she can’t think of anything she would rather do, all by herself, than be with the others at school.

“Shela Vum will be an image crafter,” their teacher says enthusiastically, “and an excellent partner to Peta Rune, who has compatible talents. They should have children. Lope Graz should do well in clothing designs; her designs are beautiful. She will earn a good living, and may have children. Raza Volram might easily be a great gymnast, after which she might choose to marry and have children. Kaza Mar may have a good career as a delivery flyer. She has been scheduled for sterilization on the day 330 of the present year.”

All Rame people take a scientific approach to measurable data. Those who react emotionally to the facts of their talents and desirability are not Rame. Only through constant dedication to the science by which they live can humans live on the large continent of Rama, whose natural climates and ecosystems are not favorable to human life. Certainly Rama is not naturally favorable to Rame life, particularly. Only the discovery of flala, the coloring agent added to drinking water with the disinfectants and nutrients, could ever have allowed people born without melanin to survive on the sunniest land on the planet.

After classes on the day 23, when they receive this announcement, Shela, Raza, and Lope try to console Kaza. They will be in different classes now, of course, but they’ll remember her. They have never seen her as an ugly person. Everyone knows that an orange or yellow color in reaction to flala is a reliable indicator of many undesirable genes. Nevertheless they always rated Kaza’s personality and intelligence well in the 80s. Her life will not be as long as theirs but, while it lasts, they wish that it may be as happy, or happier.

From the day 24 forward they begin growing away from Kaza. By the day 330 they’ll be as remote as Kaza’s own parents, who are quite old for an orange and a yellow Rame, well into their thirties, and beginning to look toward death more than life.

Kaza continues to do the same gymnastic moves Raza does. Raza always did them better. Now they know that the difference is more than a matter of Raza being slightly smaller and having better rhythm. Raza will be famous, will travel far and wide, perhaps even off Rama, and eat fresh fruit every day, and live in one of those compounds where rich people’s domes are linked by covered walkways to their mates’ and children’s domes. Kaza will spend most of her time inside an airship, and will eat an orange or a mango on her weekly day of rest, and live in a small practical dome in a row of identical domes whose occupants probably never speak to each other.

Kaza continues to admire the holograms of beautiful costumes Lope displays to the class at break. The colors glow, the flounces flow, as Lope’s models dance through illusive space. Lope will probably have a selection of dresses with flowing flounces that play up her purple color. Kaza will wear yellow flightsuits, even on her day of rest, all alike and not particularly matched to her amber eyes and pale yellow skin.

Beautiful Shela and handsome jade-toned Peta begin to work as a team, discussing their stories with one another before they tell their stories to other friends. All three of them know that Kaza will be part of a twenty-person fleet, not a two-person team. Lumo Lezar, displaying empathy, allows Kaza to touch his velvety black-rose hair. Once.

Nevertheless Rama allows nothing that might be positively called cruelty or oppression of unfortunate people. Kaza will not live long, or be rich, or be loved; but she will fly. The few great forests left on Rama, the vast deserts and secret jewel mines, the massive raging rivers and the waterfalls that can be heard a mile away, will be Kaza’s daily acquaintances. She will float and dive and bound up into the air, just as Raza does, only her loops will roll on for miles. The whole sky of Rama will be her generation, the airship an ever-responsive attendant to her fast-aging body.


At ten Patrice Livorni, of Oxpasture town in southern Obregon, is finally allowed to hitch a plough to a meek old ox and drive it alone. Concentrating fiercely, even going so far as to string guidelines between the fences, he wants his furrows to be as straight as a full-grown man’s, and they are.

All Obregonese people, like the other civilized nations on the Phorian continent, know that a man’s vocation is to serve God through his relationship with the share of God’s earth that God appointed to his ancestors. A woman’s vocation is to crown her husband’s land with a gracious home and a healthy, well disciplined child. Some couples have a second child after marrying off the first; a few couples who marry young even manage three. To have more than one child in a house at any time appears to have been common in ancient times, but it has always produced undesirable behavior—see the fourth chapter of Genesis!—and civilized people now understand that the healthiest and best disciplined children are brought up in continuous adult company, with as little contact with other children as possible. At the very best, children together waste their time on idle games.

As a result Patrice, a healthy and well disciplined child, has only a vague general idea that other children are scattered through the district. Most of his parents’ friends are older and childless. Patrice has a cousin, an infant female he has only ever seen when she was sleeping. Occasionally, at work bees, he has worked beside other boys and tried to do a better job than they, especially when they were older.

It has never occurred to Patrice to spin silly tales, as some children do, out of the inevitable childish misunderstandings of things adults say. What he has told his parents has always been the truth.

That is why his parents are amazed, and appalled, when Patrice reports that he saw the thing that streaked through the night sky like a meteorite, but was not a meteorite. It was like an enormous wagon, only bigger, all made of polished metal, with some parts painted purple, and it was flown by a child his age with short dandelion-fuzz hair and pale skin and pale orange eyes like the cat’s, and that child waved at him.

Such children, they know, do exist; the heathen Rame on the southern continent, deprived of melanin (probably for their sins), have to stain themselves in some artificial way. The Rame also claim, though no reasonable person would believe it, to have ways to shoot themselves through the air like arrows. But the Rame, with all their faults, do at least keep to themselves.

The thing is certainly unnatural, blazing in the sky like a meteorite, returning like a comet, but not as regularly. Even the adults are, in truth, just a little bit afraid of it. Such a thing might easily crash into the earth, doing who knows what damage.

However, speculating on such things is no part of a responsible man’s business. Boaz Livorni has a quiet word with his son, in the field, about the things rational observers have found in the sky: sun, moon, stars, planets, comets, meteors. He also discusses the many peculiarities of the Rame race and the possibility that they may have learned ways to fire objects like wagons and children through the air, though he cannot imagine even a Rame surviving such a flight.

Elisheba Mother-of-Patrice Livorni quietly loads her son’s plate with extra greens at dinner.


On the day 126 Kaza Mar considers the ethical aspects of her now frequent night flights, and feels sure that she is doing no harm. Children are supposed to prepare for the work they will do as adults. She will fly airships. And if Raza will one day visit foreign countries, why should not Kaza see foreign countries?

Nevertheless Kaza has a vague sense that it may be best not to tell adults how she has flown over the Central Sea, on moonlight nights, and seen the islands of volcanic rock, and the orange and olive trees growing in dusty Obregon and the chalky cliffs of Debir. The flyer whose airship she borrows is her parents’ friend and has always seemed friendly to her too. And fuel...although the cost of processing must be paid by the flyers, fuel does come out of people and need to be used up. What else would people do with fuel? Sit around smelling it? Dump it, as she’s read of some unenlightened people doing in ancient times, into the ocean?

Still...adults like to make rules. When children think of things to do that seem not to break any existing rules, adults are likely to think up another ten or fifty new rules, just because they are adults. Kaza hopes, as devoutly as any Rame can do anything as unscientific as hope for anything, to grow up different from all the adults of her acquaintance in this respect.

Sometimes she wonders whether she’d like to regress back to the first decade of life, in which all children are equal. She would not. No child ever really wants to be an even younger child.

In any case Kaza does not tell her friends about her night flights. They’re kind enough not to tell her about the things they are now learning and doing in separate classes, without her. Kaza is equally kind.

She knows she cannot expect to enjoy a high level of energy for long. She has a high level of energy now. As long as she spends only one night a week flying, she needs no kla to keep her awake, and nobody complains of her being tired the next day or recommends zoma to help her sleep longer.

Kaza does, however, like sharing her secret flights with one other child, who she imagines is in some way her friend. A light sleeper, the Obregonese boy uncovers his face and looks around the empty pasture where he sleeps when Kaza approaches; he stares wide-eyed up at the airship and waves back as Kaza passes overhead. One night, she thinks, she will land the airship nearby and speak to him.


Boaz Livorni has a quiet word with Pastor Amadeus, who has a quiet word with Governor Laurentio, who summons Boaz Livorni to a quiet after-dinner meeting with them and other official of the church and state. Despite their courteous manners and frequent reminders that no one blames any Livorni for anything, Boaz Livorni is visibly ill at ease. He wonders whether he might feel less likely to trip over his own feet if they were walking through the grove, pruning orange trees, or might in fact be more so. All the others are wearing long black robes instead of blue-and-white twill trousers. Every one of them has had at least ten years of formal education beyond the point where Boaz Livorni stopped.

“A child,” Boaz Livorni repeats. “He thought it was a child.”

Ivor Pontio, Governor of Tunaport, hisses aloud. “Could even the Rame use a living child in such an experiment!”

“Experiment be...” Everyone knows what Laurentio would have said if fewer clergymen of rank had been present. “To shoot themselves through our air, our sky, is no less than an act of war.”

Cousin,” Lucas Lanconi reproaches. “We have only the report of one witness, and that a ten-year-old herdboy, that they shoot anything thhrough the air. Even adults do not always easily distinguish a dream from reality, when awakened at night, and this is a herdboy.”

“One can never take a warning lightly where Rame are concerned. They have no religion. They have been known to open wars...”

“Not within recent centuries.Not since our own ancestors, in their own time of ignorance, became nvolved in...wars.” Lanconi’s whole person seems to draw back from the thought of war. They all do, but Boaz Livorni is aware of an uncharitable suspicion that Lanconi, Governor of Olivehills, may be exaggerating his sensitivity to conceal one of those secret, perverse fascinations that immorality has for some people.

“Let us pray,” proposes Bishop Barnabas, and they do; the clergymen take turns pleading with the Holy One for guidance.

After the prayer Pontio asks, “What come to your minds?”

Laurentio speaks first. “We have weapons that can intercept the type of weapon the boy has described. I propose that we use them...and send the wreckage of this missile back to Rama between two men in a rowboat.”


If war between civilized nations had been fewer than three hundred years behind them, no doubt the Obregonese would have been better prepared to charge their antimissile weapons, and Kaza’s last flight would have been her very last adventure.

As things are she feels two direct hits, feels her airship falter, and decides to turn and coast back to the field where the friendly wide-eyed boy sleeps. Only about fifty miles past the field, she lands with time and fuel to spare.

As she reduces speed and altitude she understands at last why adults would have disapproved of her flights. “Something might go worng”—and it has. Now she has no idea whether she can return the airship she borrowed, or whether any of these ignorant foreigners can help.

She has been studying to be able to talk to the boy. Rama uses Latin as its primary trading langue; Obregon uses French. These exotic languages resemble each other much more than either resembles Ramo; both are generally understood to have been invented, along with English, by one eccentric foreign genius. (Why did he invent three languages that looked so similar, yet were mutually unintelligible? Perhaps he was more than merely eccentric?)

On opening the door she realizes that, if the Obregonese ever do collect and use fuel, at best they leave it drying in the sun for days. In the moonlight she can discern piles of fuel lying right on the close-cropped grass. There seems no alternative, though, to stepping on the fuel-polluted ground as she checks her airship.

It is well made, with an outer shell that can absorb the shock of 98 out of 105 known types of crash. Despite an ugly hole where part of the shell was ground into the insulation she realizes that the airship could easily fly back to Rama.

As she circles back to the ladder, the wide-eyed boy bars the way. “Sta,” he says in Latin. “Stand where you are. I want my parents to see that you are real.”

He looks as if his intentions are friendly...but he pulls up the cord at the end of the step below him.

“Don’t do that!” Kaza says in Latin. It is, of course, too late. The ladder slowly retracts, loading the boy into t he airship. Startled, he almost loses his balance—but not quite—while he’s twenty cubits into the air.

He is still inside the airship when a woman runs toward Kaza, arms pumping as if she needed the long skirts gathered about her knees to help her legs move faster, shouting in her native language. As she comes closer she switches to Latin—“Release my son!”

“He will have to release himself.” The thought that the boy can easily steal her airship makes Kaza feel faint. “He sealed himself in. The control box is on the seat.”

“Patrice, Patrice,” the woman begins to scream.

Kaza looks at her and feels amazed that anyone can feel so much more emotional in this situation than she, Kaza, is feeling. When the woman pauses for breath she says, “He can’t hear us inside.”

“Stupid child! Foreign child! Who sent you here?” roars a man.

“No one sent me.” There is some sense of relief in confessing her misbehavior. “No one knew I came. No one told me I was or was not allowed to come here. I never asked.”


Patrice Livorni has no use for a Rame airship. After seeing that the thing that all the adults said had to be a sort of meteorite is in fact a sort of room lighted by its own glowing walls, he begins to search the glowing wall that sealed itself behind him for a way to get out again. After inadvertently raising the temperature control to a setting no human could possibly want, and starting an instructional reading of which he understands not a word, he presses a third button that causes the door to reopen and the ladder to slide down. Slowly, so slowly.

His father plucks him off the fourth step, from which he defied the foreign child, whose arms have by now been pinned in his mother’s apron. “Never touch such things! Who knows what foreign pollutants they might carry?”

By the time his feet touch the soil Patrice understands that, much as he might like to talk with the foreign child, the prudent thing to do now is ignore it.

“What we have for a governor,” his father says, “spoke of war. I would like to see his face when he learns that this was the prank of an undisciplined child.”

Patrice’s mother smiles. “Girl,” she says in Latin. (Patrice is disappointed; he had imagined that the child would be a boy.) “Have you any device we can use to send a word to your parents?”

“None,” says Kaza Mar.

This, Patrice reads in her face, is not really a lie. People who can make houses fly through the air can write without paper and ink. Very likely the girl’s means of doing that is in her flying house, not in her hands. The important part of what she means is that his parents can’t use the device.

Patrice has never used such sophistries in communicating with his parents but now, as he imagines their potential, a multitude of other sophistries suggest themselves to his mind.


The airship’s own distress signal, of course, awakens Shalo Shoka, vibrating his wrist, shrieking up into his face that his airship is in distress at a point in...

“O-bre...” Shalo Shoka breathes. He has never seen Obregon. No flyer has, so far as he knows. To fly over countries where people have chosen not to use airships is a crime. The thief is violating international law, and liable to punishment under the harshest of the laws of the countries involved.

Shalo Shoka will probably lose his job, and if the medical system has any say in the matter he’ll not last long without it, merely for letting his airship be stolen—but he has to report that it was stolen, and flown to one of the most resolutely anti-technology countries in the world.


Waking, Patrice Livorni remembers that something special happened during the night. As he begins to milk the cows he remembers the flying house in the field further west, the foreign child in his parents’ home. He still wishes it had been a boy. Girls are brought up by their mothers, boys by their fathers. Girls are taught the things boys are not taught. A boy would be like him, therefore surely a friend. About a girl, who knows?

Patrice Livorni is a well disciplined child, not as big, as strong, or as experienced as his father, but no less sensible. He allows no thought even of the foreign child to interfere with the morning’s milking and leading the cows to the right field for this day, not the field with the flying house.


“Pare,” says Elisheba Mother-of-Patrice Livorni to Kaza Mar. “Were you not taught even how to pare potatoes?”

“Those are potatoes?” Kaza knows potato flakes and potato starch. Neither looks much like the objects on the table before her.

“Those are potatoes...Child, what were you taught?”

“To fly airships. I can get a license at fourteen.” People like Raza Volram and Shela Vum will be schooled up to the age of twenty-five or thirty, because they are likely to live thirty or fifty years after that. People like Kaza are allowed to finish school at fourteen, because they are unlikely to be able to work after age forty. Kaza’s Latin is not up to explaining this.

“Pare lightly,” says Elisheba, marvelling that people live without potatoes.

Kaza is interested, but her mind wanders. She does not imagine Shalo Shoka in any great hurry to report the theft of his airship to corporate headquarters, but she knows she needs to return the airship.


At school Kaza Mar is missed. the teacher sends messages to her parents. Both reply indignantly that Kaza ought to be in school. Both are, in fact, worried.

Shela and Peta start a new story. Their characters are searching for the lost Princess Goldendawn, whom Shela has drawn with a face shaped like Kaza’s.

“A yellow princess?” says the teacher. “Do try to make your plot believable.”


The biggest breakfast Kaza Mar has ever eaten finally reaches an end, and she gets permission to go back to her airship to change suits. “No dawdling, Patrice,” his mother says. “Go directly to the pasture.”

“Yes, Mother.” Even one day ago, Patrice Livorni would not have made a mental note that his mother did not say “Go directly to the pasture where the cattle are to spend the day.” He will, of course, go first to the pasture with the flying house in it.

Along the way the children get their first good look at each other. Both can be said to have yellow hair. Patrice’s hair is darker, and longer, but not much. His eyes are brown; his skin is tan. Kaza’s skin is almost the color of old paper; dark glasses shield her yellowish-reddish-pale eyes from the sun.

“I’m Patrice. I’m ten years old.”

“I’m Kaza. I’m eleven.”

Patrice bows slightly, but wants the visitor to know, “I herd twenty cows and two horses. Eleven of the cows are giving milk.”

Kaza recognizes the words for domestic animals but has no idea what the animals are like. “I fly airships.”

“Is it hard to learn?”

“Navigating is as easy as steering your greshu down the street.” Patrice, Kaza sees from his face, has never used one of the transport-robots Rame children learn to steer before they learn to walk, and has seldom seen even a street. He looks more deeply impressed than she hoped. Nevertheless, she wants to admit: “Being a child is hard. If I were an adult I would have been back home by now, before the airship and I were missed.”

Patrice admits, “I’ve never talked to another child who was only one year older than I.”

“What? No school?”

“I’ve never gone to school. I do lessons while I’m out with the cattle. My parents correct and explain at meals.”

“All Rame children always go to school.” Kaza cannot imagine life without school. “We learn to steer our greshu and walk and talk at school.”

“What do your parents talk to you about then?”

“Mine don’t talk much. One is orange, and one is yellow, so they’re already old and weak. In the evenings they sleep, mostly.”

“I wonder why people who are weak would want to have children.”

“I would not know. I’m scheduled to be sterilized soon.”

“At eleven?”

“They say it hurts less at an earlier age.”

“Sorry,” Patrice mutters. (He has caught himself thinking, lately, of how all sorts of other creatures, even objects, might perceive the world. He is not sure why he’s been doing this, whether he likes it, or how he might be able to stop.) He picks up a stone and makes it skip twice on a pond. Kaza pauses to make a stone skip once before hurrying on to her airship.

At the sight of it her knees wobble with anticipation. she swarms up the ladder on all fours, not trusting her legs. “I’m sorry I trespassed in your air. I won’t again.”

“Could we write letters?” Patrice asks.

“I wish!” Kaza tugs on the cord to pull the ladder up behind her. “I will already be in trouble, being so late?”

Watching the hatch seal itself, Patrice thinks that he’d like to do unauthorized things, the way Kaza evidently does, but he doesn’t like the sound of that word “trouble.”


Patrice has no more strange dreams, no more extra portions of greens at dinner. His life returns to its regular routine.

Shalo Shoka’s company orders him to leave the airship at company headquarters, henceforward, and crawl to and from work in his own private greshu. On the whole he feels relieved.

Kaza is banned from school, and ordered to participate in long, boring counselling sessions, for a month. She limits her part in the counselling sessions to one-word answers to direct questions. Hints are dropped about futures less appealing than flying airships. In view of Kaza’s obvious talent and her unfitness for better-paid jobs, these hints do not go far.

Bishop Barnabas, himself, delivers the formal rebuke of the rest of the council to Governor Laurentio for having worked himself up about “war” over a child’s prank. However, since no one can prove that Laurentio’s recklessness did any damage even to the Rame airship, this rebuke likewise does not go far.

Patrice Livorni lives a long healthy life, with one wife, two children, several thousand cattle over the years, and at least three truly memorable horses. Between the ages of thirteen and thirty-nine he receives strange letters from Rama, with cards that hum tunes and paper that smells like flowers and similar extravagances. Up to the age of eleven his daughter, Cassianna, helps him reply, with long friendly letters and drawings and song lyrics, to his friend in Rama.

Book Review: Chicken Soup for the Cat and Dog Lover's Soul

A Fair Trade Book

Title: Chicken Soup for the Cat and Dog Lover's Soul

Editor: Jack Canfield

Editor's web site:

Date: 1999

Publisher: Health Communications

ISBN: 1-55874-710-9

Length: 403 pages

Illustrations: several cartoons

Quote: “When Agnes celebrated her one-hundredth birthday, Mattie” [a dog],” herself a senior citizen and still a regular visitor, came to celebrate...Agnes...stroked the now-grizzled head resting in her lap.”

We all know what to expect from the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” series, and this volume shouldn't disappoint anyone. Here are cats, dogs, and also horses and parrots and other companion animals, who defied the odds just by surviving; who gave old people something new to live for; who gave children confidence; who adopted their own smaller animal “pets”; who found humans from whom they'd been separated for years; who warned their humans of danger, one even in a visionary way after the animal was dead; who guided their humans through physical hardships; who summoned help when their humans were injured; whose stories, generally, answer the question “Why do people love other animals so much?”

Snakes don't become real pets—they're probably not wired to feel love or loyalty, and if big enough they're apt to repay those who taught them not to fear humans by eating their human housemates—but most snakes are harmless to humans in any case, and in this book we meet a tame snake who gave a troubled teenager social status.

Rabbits are seldom considered much more emotionally rewarding pets than snakes, but in this book we meet a rabbit who knows when a child could really use a good cuddle.

Ducks are famous for the ease with which they abandon their humans, but in this book we meet a faithful duck who ignores the wild ducks at the pond and, even when the humans try to abandon her, sticks to her human family like glue.

Cows can seem to define insensitivity, as far as humans perceive things—they literally do have skins of cowhide, which allow them to ignore, barely notice, or enjoy several things humans find painful—but here we meet cows expressing one of the emotional reactions they do feel, and express, in a way humans can recognize.

The horse who finishes a race on three legs may not be so heroic by horse standards as he is by human standards. Racing comes naturally to horses and it's not unusual for one horse, or even a whole herd, to run itself off its feet—or over a precipice. What is unusual, probably peculiar to horses that live with humans, is for a horse with a broken leg to be able to survive. Horses' faith in their ability to keep walking on a long difficult trek is another instinct that doesn't always serve horses well “in the wild,” but many a horse has, like one the Duchess of York recalls in this book, encouraged its human to keep going foot, foot, foot, until things get better. Then there's that other horse instinct that appeals so powerfully to humans—the chivalrous instinct with which huge, strong horses not only step over, but protect and comfort, smaller animals; in this book we meet a race horse pulling a 6'6” man off his feet, then quietly nuzzling a child in a wheelchair. Horses are naturally like that, too, though it must be admitted that some horses have stepped on their pet chicken or kitten...and many have stepped on their humans.

Also in this book we meet a squirrel...Rodents often pick up things that look as if they might be useful, then drop those things where they pick up food. The “pack rat” or “trader rat” is so called from its tendency to drag in, and drop, something whenever it raids a human's food supply. It can look as if the little fellows imagined that the things they carried in, which can be anything from weed seeds to antique gold watches, were payments for the food they ate and carried out. In this book we meet a squirrel who gives a friendly human an ornament. The squirrel's thinking may well have been “This is not a nut; I've never figured out what it is, or what it's for; why not see what the human does with it.” Then again, how can humans be sure that the squirrel's thinking was not “Here's something the human will like; I'll offer it to her by way of thanks for her help.”

Parrots' ability to mimic human speech is proverbially an example of meaningless noise, yet parrots do unmistakably learn, along with the sounds of human words, the contexts in which humans say them. All the “talking birds” are notoriously more likely to learn naughty words than nice words. As a child I grew up hearing stories of a parakeet who had lived with my parents before I was born, who seemed to know everybody's name—certainly his own and his less gifted mate's—and learned in just one afternoon to repeat “You come here, you stinker, you!”, but despite several attempts to teach him the phrase it took a crisis to get him to repeat, “Mommy loves the baby bird.” (And why not? He knew he was a full-grown daddy bird, of a small species, but not a baby.) As an adult I've learned that, although keeping caged birds as pets is out of fashion these days, among people who live with birds that story is still familiar. The version of it found in this book may be especially special. Parrots aren't sentimental and most of them, most of the time, probably hold a low opinion of even their favorite humans' tastes and intelligence, but when life prods them, it seems, they'll admit they are fond of their humans.

Dogs and cats whose reactions alert humans to danger are perhaps another familiar story. Cynical readers have observed for a long time that a more newsworthy, equally true, story might be one along the lines of “While the building burned Wuffles, the manager's dog, was apparently fast asleep.” The animals have naturally keen senses and normally will notice things before humans do, but there's nothing supernatural about their sensitivity—a nervous pet will alert its humans to every train that rolls along a railroad half a mile away, and a calmer pet may indeed expect its humans to be taking care of everything while the house burns down. Still there is a very solid body of true stories of pet animals knowing when to give the alarm. The one in this book is especially special. The dog doesn't merely bark or howl...

Included in this book are a few familiar animal legends; Jim the Wonder Dog, who in the late 1920s astounded people by “answering” almost any question anyone asked him (some dogs are fantastic body-language readers), and Greyfriars Bobby, who slept on his dead human's grave for years, and one of James Herriot's clients' sweetest pet cats. Here, too, are Socks and Buddy from the White House. However, most of the stories are new, contributed by “Chicken Soup” readers, who have traditionally been invited either to send in their own stories or to nominate published stories they've read.

"Chicken Soup" books sell fast and turn up as used books fast, so you might as well buy them here. Other sellers may offer better prices but when you buy Fair Trade Books here, usually for $5 per book, $5 per package, and $1 per online payment, we send $1 to the author or a charity of his or her choice. Four "Chicken Soup" books, including the earlier title Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover's Soul, should fit into one package for $25 or $26, and if you order four of them, Jack Canfield or his charity will receive $4 (assuming, of course, that his charity accepts $4 payments).

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Zhen Shan Ren Poem

Here's a more formal poem, also about Asia in a way, also generated by a writing contest. This one specified formal poetry for a collection, from which somebody would receive a cash prize, but the purpose of the collection was to be sent to the Chinese government on behalf of members of the Falun Gong whatever-it-is who claim to be facing religious persecution. So, a formal poem about the history of religious persecution seemed appropriate. Zhen, Shan, Ren sounded like terza rima in English... This poem wasn't written as comically Bad Poetry; it's serious, but "Bad Poetry" is the label this web site uses for verse by the writer known as Priscilla King and we're sticking to it.

I know very little about Falun Gong beyond what's posted on their web site; if members of the group are being prosecuted for something other than their stated teachings and practices, the world wants to know what that might be. Although this web site has no foreign policy, I think the Chinese government needs to know that it's being accused of religious persecution, and clear itself of those accusations in the Global Court of Public Opinion.

“Surrounded and outnumbered; how then can
God save me? Tell me, prophet,” said the king.
“Bow to the enemy as the common man
bows down to you,” the prophet said. “What? Fling
this prophet in the cesspit!” This being done,
the troops defined the forces in the ring
around them, and they fell before the sun
went down. The prophet suffered damp and cold
till, when a friend obtained consent to run
a rope down to him, his hands could not hold.
The enemy put the king to death in shame,
enslaved his people, melted down his gold.
The prophet lived, and honored is his name.

Some say his later prophecies foretell
a righteous man so wholly free from blame
his virtue saved the entire world from Hell.
Most said, “No mortal creature is so fine;
through some misdeed, alleged or real, he fell.
A perfect man would have to be divine,
and though our leaders are our gods’ own heirs,
perfection’s not found, even in their line.
This disagreement, tolerated, tears
away our leaders’ worship, which is wrong.”
Rejoicing in their freedom from all cares
the Christian Martyrs welcomed death with song
while Pagan Rome lost its collective mind
and crumbled from within, though ne’er so strong,
and the whole world rejoiced as Rome declined.

The Christian faith, like an imperial tree,
grew from the fame the martyrs’ death assigned,
but China, far away as land could be,
kept its own sense of duty to a Way
of truth past all that mortal eyes can see.
Once duty was to suffer pain, they say.
Now duty’s to keep bodies straight and strong
and fit for service, to their final day.
Even old bodies can do Falun Gong.
Grandchildren whose grandmothers’ feet were bound
stretch, flex, stand fit and tall: can this be wrong?
Grandparents, now, themselves, they rally round
the discipline of bodies well maintained.
They stretch with music, or dance without sound.
They seek to demonstrate they have attained
some right to be respected by young men.
What sort of government could have complained
that elders want to live and serve? Oh, Zhen,
Truthfulness! Tolerance! Compassion! Shan,
Where has the public spirit gone? Ah, Ren

Amazon link? The resources of Amazon are astonishing. Here, although I'm not sure I'd recommend it if I'd read it, is a book about the imperial tree, also known as the Empress' tree, Princess' tree, Paulownia tree, or Paulownia tomentosa. Though native to Asia, it thrives in the Eastern States and is becoming a familiar "exotic" sight; some even worry about its becoming "invasive."

Great Business Ideas - How to Get Rich with Paulownia Tree Plantation by [H, Dr. Vincent]

Hack Writer on the Intersection of Internet and Reality

(Status update: Although I still owe you readers a few more free posts, I've collected no more income since Friday, and my property taxes are higher than they've been. If your income for the year 2016 was US$12,000 or higher, you're making substantially more money than I am, and you need to support this web site--which you can do best, not with a "donation," but by actually contributing your opinions and perspectives and the felt needs of your business, at your choice of the following:

You can also mail a U.S. postal money order to Boxholder, P.O. Box 322, Gate City, Virginia, 24251-0322.)

One of the more unusual writing contests publicized at was for poems that just casually mentioned Singapore, written by people who were not in, of, or from Singapore. As a hack writer, I just happened to have written something like that one day, so I sent it to the contest. It didn't win. So, as usual with things other people haven't bought or published, it's going live here just to assert my moral right to it. (To see the poems that won, click here: )

Here's what I wrote, back in 2015. Details have been blurred; I'm 5'4", not 5'6", an so on.

I’ve published something almost every day
I’ve gone online: most not in my own name,
and that’s by choice, most of the research being
entirely on the Internet, from web sites
suggested by the clients, thus one-sided.
The fun is logging on to writing sites
to see what people want. You learn a lot
of stuff to use in your own writing life
from writing about other people’s jobs:
Where people over six foot five buy clothes.
(You’re five foot six.) Male strippers’ thoughts on stripping
for men, by camera phone. (You never visit
that kind of sites: you can’t afford a virus.)
A high-rise mall-with-posh-apartments tower
in Calgary. (Toronto’s “west” to you.)
How mass mailings are targeted in London:
“by neighbourhoods.” (So that’s who lives in Barking.)
The season’s fashion looks in Singapore,
policy changes in the banks in Davao,
and prices for extended travel tickets
(even on Greyhound you get no vacation).
“Bright-colored doors are ‘in’,” a decorator
suggests you write. You write the piece while muttering
that no one you’d know would paint their door red.
Your jogging buddy recommends a route
down a nice residential street. “What color
d’you call that door?” Yes—a dark shade, but red.
“Headboards are back,” says the same decorator.
Headboards and footboards used to come in sets
to tell the world no one over five foot ten
would ever sleep at your house. You admit, though,
your bookshelf might be counted as a headboard.
Run word-count. Run spell-checker. Read the whole thing
through, one more time. Hit “send.” Collect ten dollars.
Then go and do a Real Job in the Real World
before you start to look like Pac-Man’s ghosts...
The first job I was paid to do, the winter
after Ms. Trendy ran the headboard story,
was helping an old man install a headboard.

Amazon link? Why not...more about the organizer of this poem contest?

Book Review: The Dark Moment

Title: The Dark Moment

Author: Ann Bridge

Date: 1952

Publisher: Macmillan

ISBN: none

Length: 310 pages

Quote: “It is not an easy job, to turn a primitive oriental nation into a twentieth century one.”

In quoting the next to last line a character utters in this novel I'm not giving away anything. The Dark Moment is not a novel of suspense. It's a discussion of the history of social change in Turkey in the early twentieth century, drawing heavily from Winston Churchill's World Crisis.

That change is symbolized mostly by a fictional family. On page 7, in 1914, a little girl is scolded, “Oh, what a shameless girl, showing your hair!” By page 261, as a young woman in 1924, she's being ordered to attend a formal party with “not a scrap” of even an ornamental gauze veil covering her hair; that's the price of her family's good fortune as allies to the very real character Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

I hardly dare to comment further on the story. This is one of a collection of books a friend ordered me to dispose of; I read it, and it's a nice, wholesome piece of historical fiction, not a mere romance although the fictional girls who grow up during the war years will of course have relationships with men, sex and violence suggested but kept properly “offstage.”

Beyond that...this web site tried to say supportive things about Turkey, once, long ago, after Reuters had reported some sort of weather disaster there, and not long after that my Yahoo account was hacked into by some vile person, reportedly in Turkey, who changed my Yahoo Classic to Yahoo Neo. Ugh, ick! How can I ever feel any sympathy for anyone in Turkey, ever again! This web site currently gets a lot of traffic from Turkey. If I had faith that that traffic meant readers rather than hackers, I'd be pleased.

Seriously, Gentle Readers, I don't know enough European history to be able to criticize this historical novel. If you enjoy novels about well-balanced adult women who love their men, care about their parents and children, are loyal to each other, and also take an interest in world events, The Dark Moment is your kind of story. How much “truth” does it present through its fictional characters? Beyond the facts anyone can look up, to what extent has Bridge understood the cultural changes she describes, or even described them accurately? Maybe a review of this book should be able to answer those questions, but mine can't.

Maybe, if we have actual Turkish readers, they'll post comments...Google doesn't handle comments on Blogspot blogs well because Google tries to route them through Google +. Google + is global and easy to join; you don't have to disclose inappropriate information or pay for anything, and e-friends who also use Google + are easy to find. I don't want to grow a horrible prejudice against Turkey, so if you are an actual reader in that country, please identify yourself on Google +; I'd be delighted to meet you.

To buy it here, send $5 per book, $5 per package (four books of this size would fit into one package), and $1 per online payment to the appropriate address from the very bottom of the screen.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Book Review: The Coconut Diet

A Fair Trade Book

Title: The Coconut Diet

Author: Cherie and John Calbom

Author's web site:

Date: 2005

Publisher: Time Warner

ISBN: 0-446-57716-2

Length: 310 pages

Quote: “Coconut oil works wonders when combined with a low-carb diet because it...helps improve metabolism.”

Is coconut oil a health food or a mild poison? The answer seems to vary from person to person. For those who can digest coconut, the pulp, juice, and oil seem to have nutritional benefits. Some people, mostly those whose ancestors lived in cooler climates, do not digest coconut. For us it may help us lose weight quickly, in perhaps a safer way than popping laxative pills, but it does that by making us sick.

It's called biodiversity and it improves the chances of humankind being able to survive in different conditions. One person's meat is another's poison.

Coconut is poison as far as the members of this web site are concerned, and a high-fat low-carb diet isn't sustainable either. So, nothing in this book is useful to me or has been useful to anyone I know, but there are people who apparently lose weight and feel healthy on low-carb diets. The Calboms developed this diet by working with those people. They might help you too.

If you can eat coconut (a lot of coconut), you'll probably enjoy this recipe collection and meal plan. If you live in a place where you can have coconut trees in the back yard, this book will be a real frugal favorite.

To buy The Coconut Diet here, send $5 per book, $5 per package (four books of this size will fit into one package), plus $1 per online payment to the appropriate address below: Boxholder, P.O. Box 322, or the e-mail address you get by e-mailing salolianigodagewi.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Book Review: The Best Devotions of Patsy Clairmont

A Fair Trade Book

Title: The Best Devotions of Patsy Clairmont

Author: Patsy Clairmont

Author's web site:

Date: 2001

Publisher: Zondervan

ISBN: 0-319-24174-X

Length: 195 pages

Quote: “The sweet psalmist David...points out that he had to be led by the Lord to the still waters. I wonder if...he was naturally drawn to the excitement of the rushing waters?”

“Devotions” may be misleading if readers are expecting one-page-a-day “devotional” reflections sandwiched between a Bible verse and a prayer. Patsy Clairmont, Christian comedian, had written longer pieces—short talks/articles—and not all of them began with a Bible verse. It would have been possible, and fun, to have selected 365 of her speeches, articles, and book chapters and printed them as one page each of extremely small type on large paper, but that's not what the editors did in this book. This book has sixty short chapters; most print on four smallish pages of good-sized type. They're not too long to read aloud as a “morning devotion.” Some may find them too whimsical. They're probably best appreciated just as short funny stories by an evangelical Christian, at the pre-or-early-grandmothering stage of life, whose stories always lead her mind back to her faith.

Clairmont describes taking one of those art classes community colleges offer free or cheap to retirement-aged people: “All the participants had prior art training—except me. (I decided the time I tripped over and spilled a can of paint on the porch probably wouldn't count.)...My pictures were a sight; some were a blur and a couple resembled images of birds, but we weren't sure if they were living...I decided in the privacy of my home to attempt to put into practice some of the insights the teacher had shared. Before my eyes some flowers began to emerge, and it almost frightened me. I wasn't used to identifiable results.”

Have you noticed, in yourself or others, the stage of middle age at which middle-aged people suddenly become fascinated by people whom we consider old? (Even as a teenager I remember noticing people who were aging especially well; in my fifties I find my eyes sliding past the pretty girls, handsome men, and adorable children in a crowd to focus on some white-haired woman who stands, moves, and dresses well-- “I want to look like her when I grow up!”) Clairmont notices an older woman's fear of walking across ice. “She suggested I take her left arm while she used her cane in her right hand...Then she stated sadly, 'But I must tell you that you don't have a lot to look forward to. Aging is painful.' She turned to enter the apartment and pleasantly called out, 'Happy Thanksgiving!'”

A dominant “story” in Clairmont's life is her husband's ankle injury, compounded apparently by osteoporosis (the main reason why we don't hear much about men having this disease is that nobody understands how it works or claims to offer a cure), so that it changes the lives of both halves of the couple. “It was the first new car I had picked out all by myself...the vehicle...had just enough space in the back for my husband's electric cart...I couldn't find the right button. I did locate the sunroof button. About a quarter inch of fresh snow accumulated on my hairdo before I refound the sunroof button and shut the thing...I fished out the owner's manual.”

Sometimes ditzy but never really silly, Best Devotions of Patsy Clairmont would make a good gift for just about any Christian baby-boomer, but the book seems to have been physically designed with sick patients in mind. It's bigger than pocket size, smaller than standard size, reasonably well bound but lightweight, with nice clear print and those three-or-four-page chapters. It may cause enough chuckling to cause other patients to growl “What's so funny?” but if the patient, or a visitor, can read it aloud the chuckling is likely to spread and may help everyone feel less pain. And it's part of a series; Zondervan collected the "best devotions of" their other Christian women writers for release in similar format.

These books have not yet reached the collector price range so you'll find better prices on Amazon, but if you buy it here, for our standard price of $5 per gently used book, $5 per package (six of these books might fit into one package), plus $1 per online payment, we'll send $1 to Patsy Clairmont or a charity of her choice. If you order Clairmont's other vintage books, e.g. God Uses Cracked Pots and Normal Is Just a Setting on Your Dryer, for $5 each, the author or her charity will get $1 per book. 

If you like this author's brand of clean, family-friendly humor with an uplifting spin, you'll want to check out her new books at her web site. Buying them as new books is a great way to encourage a writer!