Sponge Mode

February 1 2002

It's my grandpa's birthday. He's 74. He makes a good 74, I think. But he made a good 73 as well, and I'm sure 75 will be equally pleasing. He's not allowed any surgeries this year, having used his quota up last year and very nearly exceeded it.

Many of the "grandpa" birthday cards say things like, "I know we don't say it very often, but...." Well, actually, we do say it very often. I talk to my grandparents on the phone pretty often, and I tell them I love them every time. Both of them. Grandpa is funny, he'll just say, "Yah." Or if he's getting off the phone and Grandma is staying on, I'll say, "I love you, Grandpa," and he'll say, "Yah, okay. Talk to your grandmother." He doesn't have to say it, it's just a frill. I already know.

I talk about being self-entertaining as a facet of being an only child, and I'm sure that's part of it. But it's also something I got from Grandpa. He can entertain himself indefinitely. He's always coming up with projects to do and books to read and all sorts of stuff. Grandma says he'd be happy watching the paint dry. I don't think that's a bad thing.

They're leaving to come out here today, if the weather is good. It'll be Grandma and Grandpa and Onie and Uncle Dud (Grandma and Onie's youngest brother) until they get to Phoenix, where they'll pick up Aunt Doris and Uncle Rudy and head for L.A. I have no idea when they'll get to the Bay Area, because they don't know, either. But it'll be good when they do. I'm looking forward to it. They're staying with my godfather Joe up in Walnut Creek, which is not too long a drive from here.

So. We had talked about going to an Arlo Guthrie concert in Santa Cruz with Zed today, but we couldn't get tickets. I think Zed would be glad, because I ought to be sequestered from the rest of humanity just now. Yesterday I got a new point-of-view character (can I say POV? Do you guys know that abbreviation?) for the Not The Moose Book. I suspected her existence, and she made several other plot points quite clear. And then Timprov helped me into the idea for another book in that universe, and it's going to be very cool, so I'm excited. But I'm in sponge mode. Information, slurrrrrrrp. I feel the need to learn everything in the world, right now. I don't know why the urgency, but it's there. Now I need to know about the Hungarian Uprising of 1956. It won't appear directly in this book, but I do need to know it...I had finished Hunter's Oath yesterday, so I could go on to a nonfiction binge with all of Intelligence, Defence [sic -- it's a British book], and Diplomacy and the beginning of Coming of Age in the Milky Way. (The latter has nothing to do with the Not The Moose Book, but I'm hoping that the sections on the 19th century are helpful springboards for the historical novel I'm going to write eventually.) I learned a lot about Yugoslavia and British foreign policy and many other good things, but I need more, more, more! I also need to write, write, write! Not enough hours! Too many things that desperately need doing! Woohoo!

If you're more than five years older than me, you're perfectly well allowed to smile fondly and think, "Ahh, twenty-three." I don't mind.

Oh, a note on Hunter's Oath: this is not a novel. It's a novel-length chunk of a bigger story. So I'm torn: I wasn't wowed enough that I'd want to run right out and buy Hunter's Death for its own sake, but I hate to judge West on half a story. Hmm. I shall perhaps look for it used.

Anyway...so if you have any interesting tidbits about the Hungarian Uprising of '56, or any books you'd like to recommend, feel more than free.

My new POV character is Karelian and mad. Angry, I mean, not insane, that's a different character. Hee. This is going to be so cool.

One of the interesting things Intelligence, Defence, and Diplomacy had to say was this: " A final component of the American system was its extraordinary openness to foreign influence. Americans were eager to hear what one thought about their politicians and their policies. They did not take offence if one entered into discussion and even argument about what was strictly their business." (That was from the essay "The Washington Embassy: The Role of an Institution in Anglo-American Relations, 1945-55," from Michael F. Hopkins.) I think this is something we take for granted in this country, that of course we should hear opinions, we should hear anyone's opinions, in case they might make sense, regardless of where that person is from. I don't know if that's spread to other governments, but Mr. Hopkins goes on at length about how the lack of protections against foreign influences was fairly uncommon about America at the time.

On a less positive note, is anybody else sickened by the glorification of the first female suicide bomber? For heaven's sake, some people are treating her like she's Sally Ride or Marie Curie. "First woman!" Um, great. Her momma is so proud of her, and so is Saddam Hussein. Good grief. I would hope that even the most stringently anti-Israeli person would give pause before thinking, "oh, hurray for equality!" in this case. We've always known women could be just as violent, just as unconcerned for their own lives and the lives of others, as men can. We didn't need it proven this way. This is not a big leap forward. I promise. If she had been the first woman to sign a big peace treaty and actually convince her people and those on the other side to live by it, put up the statues, strike up the bands. But this -- just, no. No, no, and no.

Evan commented on yesterday's journal entry that I should be arguing with people who ask me questions so personal as "so when are you going to start a family?" in the first place. I agree that it's a pretty personal question, and it's not the business of a lot of people who might think to ask it. I think other people have done that rant better than I, though, and I've proclaimed my desire and intent to have children. Because of that, I think a polite question about when could potentially be acceptable from some close friends or family members. No nagging, though. That's not acceptable. And no attempts to change our mind on the subject. Those are just rude.

Oh, I have a new theory of marketing. I think that any given TV commercial could be made better by the presence of one or more of the Barenaked Ladies. (This came up during whose line when the car commercial of people singing "One Week" came on -- we would have loved to have seen Ed from BNL as one of the random singing drivers.) And it explains a lot about the marketing industry. I think they came up with this theory themselves, only someone forgot the capitals.

Of course I'm being silly. It's what I do. Only right now what I do is read some more, because I need to. Really. It'll be good.

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