To the Moon, Alice!

by wjw on February 26, 2015

If Paul Allen builds it, it will fly.

The world’s largest aircraft, with a wingspan wider than a football field is long.  Longer even than the Hughes Spruce Goose, which is still the largest to date.


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Eye of Newt, Toe of Frog, Balm of Tiger

by wjw on February 24, 2015

k2-_b58a1acb-304d-4a0b-929f-34b37ef87feb.v1I am feeling particularly yeasty at the moment, because I’ve actually had a good night’s sleep, followed by a long, peaceful nap.

This hasn’t happened lately.

Something like two-and-a-half years ago, I woke sleeping on my left side, with my left arm pinned under me.   This resulted in a good deal of left shoulder pain, which for some reason shifted over to the dominant right shoulder even though I hadn’t slept on it.  Some deep-tissue massage at the hands of the former masseuse for the Green Bay Packers pretty much settled this problem, until a few months later I spent a week on a dive boat on the Great Barrier Reef, when massive pain in both shoulders came leaping at me like a Great White Shark.

This continued long after I got home, until I was reminded me that a doctor, who I had consulted for something else entirely, had recently put me on a statin drug, and that the side effects of statin drugs include muscle pain, muscle damage, liver damage, diabetes, and cataracts.  (Hey, I got two of those!)  People like me, without actual heart disease, really need to stay away from the statin drugs.  (I was aware when being prescribed the stuff that the reasons for the prescription amounted to superstitious nonsense, no more effective than banging sticks together or chanting at the moon, but my insurance company paid for it, so I thought what the hell.)

Anyway, I went off the statin drug and the pain from the left shoulder went away entirely, and the right was reduced to manageable levels with the help of deep-tissue massage— Green Bay’s finest masseuse had returned to Wisconsin, but I found someone else who is really very good.

And so this went for a couple years, until I finally got tired of the whole business and got my MD to recommend a physician who specialized in arm-and-shoulder problems (didn’t know they had those), and after X-rays and other investigations he concluded that I suffered from an inflamed rotator cuff.  (“What inflamed it?” I asked.  ”No idea,” he said.)  So he gave me a couple cortisone shots, and it was as if a dam broke— the pain just kinda poured out of the right shoulder . . . and into the left.  So now the left shoulder, which had been quiescent for many months, was suddenly inflamed, and the right shoulder was fine.

Now around this time I got one of those back massager pillows, the kind you put on your chair and lean against,  and put it to good use against my left shoulder.  The effect was similar to having one of Green Bay’s 280-pound linemen grind his massive knuckles into my muscle tissue, but it succeeded in getting the problem to move again.

Now the pain shifted to my upper arms and the front of my shoulders, where it hadn’t been before.  It was like squeezing a bean bag and seeing the beans run from one place to the next. except that in this case the beans carried pain with them.  And with the pain in the front, there was no way of using the massage pillow.

The pain wasn’t really bad unless I was lying down.  There was no comfortable position, there was always upper arm pain no matter how I arranged myself on the bed.  Which meant that I didn’t sleep well.

Till last night.  I was out of town without the massage pillow, and I thought to take along some of Aunt Dolores’ Tiger Balm that we’d got from her apartment after she passed away, and I applied the Tiger Balm just before bed.

And the pain went away.  Within seconds, I mean the camphor didn’t even have a chance to start its heating process.   The pain stayed away all night, and I got the first good night’s sleep in I don’t know how long.  In a hotel bed, too!  And when I got home I took a nap in my easy chair, and it was the most restful sleep I’ve had in I don’t know how long.

(I used to use Tiger Balm for muscle aches, but the Chinese market where I bought it went out of business, and I never replaced the last jar when it ran dry.  I will not make that mistake again.)

And now I feel great!  My brain seems to be functioning better than it has in a good while, and my body has energy, and it seems that my vim reservoir has been completely topped up!

Whatever weird Chinese juju is in those little jars really does the job!  (And it really shouldn’t have, because it’s a topical ointment, and it shouldn’t have been able to even reach the rotator cuff.)  And now I keep thinking, two years of pain and doctors and massage and cortisone shots, and all I needed was Tiger Balm!  How strange is that?

So here, Tiger Balm, is my unsolicited endorsement.

And as for me, I think I’ll go back to bed.


How Art Is Made

by wjw on February 22, 2015

I’m swamped with work and other obligations right now, and telling you about all that process would be boring for all of us, so I thought I’d post a video of someone else’s process.  Check this out, it’s fascinating.


I Am Back

by wjw on February 20, 2015

. . . but it took a lot longer than I expected.

There were delays flying to Boston on Thursday— I won’t detail them all, but there were lots— and my bag didn’t make it, and when I got to the hotel early in the evening my room wasn’t ready, and I really wanted a shower.  They did give me a free dinner, so I ordered a couple glasses of the most expensive wine on the menu, which felt justified to me.  Eventually whoever was squatting in my room (a hostess with Emirates Air, I believe) was crowbar’d out, and I finally got my shower around ten o’clock.

My bag finally showed up about twelve hours later, and the delivery got me out of bed.  I lunged for my travel bag so I could brush my teeth, which I needed far worse than I’d needed the previous evening’s shower.  Sane people have since pointed out to me that I should have asked the hotel if they had a travel bag for this sort of emergency, but somehow I didn’t think of it.  (Maybe it was all that really good wine.)

After that the convention was fine.  I had lunch with Marjorie Liu and Junot Diaz, who told me how the house they’re trying to buy became available— it involved bad heroin and thugs with guns— and then the convention proper began.  I was heavily programmed (it’s nice to be wanted), but I had enough free time to talk to Steve Brust, Jo Walton, Charles Stross, Carrie Vaughn, Alex Jablokov, Jim Cambias, Ada Palmer, Beth Meacham, and many others who now escape my travel-logged brain.  I also saw Toolbox grads Fran Wilde and Laurence Schoen, both of whom have novels upcoming from Tor.

It began snowing mid-Saturday, and when my agent Joshua Bilmes took me out to dinner, we had to trudge a few blocks through the falling snow.  It was very cold, but there wasn’t a wind, so all was relatively benign, and the seafood very tasty.

Next day, though, quite a few people didn’t show up— they’d either run for it the night before, or couldn’t get out of their houses to attend the con.  I was the only panelist for the Romantics and the Birth of SF panel, but new writer Thomas Sweterlitsch volunteered to come out of the audience and ask all the questions, which provided enough structure for a lot to get said without it being All About Me.  (Not that I would have minded that, necessarily.)

The snow had stopped falling by mid-afteroon on Sunday but that didn’t stop Southwest from canceling my flight out Monday morning.  Not only that, but all flights prior to Thursday were canceled or otherwise unavailable, so I spent a lot of time complaining about this and trying other bookings.   There were no flights out before Tuesday, and the flights that existed would cost a lot of money, and since there was another storm scheduled for Tuesday I had no confidence that any Tuesday flights would actually get off the ground.

It was clear I’d have to find another airport.  Manchester, Providence, and Hartford had the same problems as Boston, so I booked Amtrak to New York on Monday, and then a surprisingly cheap flight from La Guardia to New Mexico for Tuesday afternoon.

All Amtrak was late, and my own train was canceled and the passengers bundled into another train that was five hours late and standing-room only, though by virtue of my speed and brawn I actually found a seat.  I would have felt more guilty about this, but I’d already been standing for five hours, so I was only sorry that Amtrak didn’t offer me dinner and free wine.

John Douglas and Ginjer Buchanan had very kindly offered me their spare room, but they might have reconsidered if they’d known that I wouldn’t show up till two in the morning.  So I slept late, at the lovely breakfast that Ginjer made, and chatted for a couple hours before it was time for my car to leave for La Guardia.

Whence all was chaos.  I had to rebook on an earlier flight, because my scheduled flight was delayed and might not have made it on time for my connection, except that when I got to DFW, my 9:15 flight out had become the 10:15 flight out, and then the 11:15 flight, the 12:15 flight, and the 1:15 flight.  And then it was the 11:00 flight, which actually got off the ground maybe at 11:45, which meant I landed shortly after midnight MST, and got home by 1am, feeling like flotsam washed up on the ashen sands of Time.

But this time, with my bag.

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Genius Quest!

by wjw on February 12, 2015

Taos-LogosmallTaos Toolbox, the master class for science fiction and fantasy, still has a few openings!  The workshop will be taught June 28-July 11, 2015, in Taos Ski Valley, and will be taught by myself, Nancy Kress, and special lecturer Carrie Vaughn.

If you want to bring your literary genius to the next level, you need to get your application in now!


Dan Is The Man

February 12, 2015

I am pleased, and not a little astounded, to report that Dan Dos Santos, who painted the original cover for Implied Spaces some years ago, has very kindly allowed me to use the painting on my ebook.  For free.  Because he’s an awesomely nice guy. Neither he nor I have the rights to the original cover design, […]

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My Boskone Schedule

February 11, 2015

I’ll be at Boskone this weekend, and I’m scheduled for a whole weekend of events, including panels, a signing, and a kaffeeklatsch. So if you’re in the Greater Boston Area, by all means head to the Westin Boston Waterfront Hotel, come over, and say hi. Wild Cards: Inside the Series Friday 18:00 – 18:50, Griffin […]

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New Contest

February 10, 2015

I’m at it again!  For free downloads of the audio editions of the three Praxis books, please tell me who is in this photo, and what he’s playing at.

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Reviews Too Late: Fury

February 9, 2015

I’m sitting here doing my taxes, which normally means that I’m diverting myself from the task by watching action films, most of which are sufficiently predictable that they don’t require my full attention. And here was Brad Pitt in Fury, newly available on Xbox for a token sum.  So hey, I downloaded it. Fury is a post-9/11 […]

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Meet Mr Cephalopod

February 6, 2015

I’m doing my taxes, and so I considered uploading a photo of a receipt with a undecipherable scrawl on it by way of explaining how I’m spending my time.  But then I thought you’d probably enjoy this more.  

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