Over by the Buffet

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Over by the Buffet

Mrz. 14, 2020, 5:45pm

So it occurred to me that it might be nice to have a dedicated thread for general chatting.

So here I am, sipping my lemonade and nibbling on some chocolate chip cookies. Come on over and join me by the buffet. :)

Hello, there! Nice to see you around.

Read any good books lately?
What about this epidemic going on--has that been changing your life?
Did your kids, coworkers or pet do or say anything funny recently?

The book I'm currently reading is one I'm trying to betaread, so I probably shouldn't be talking about that one. The one I read previously was a collection of essays/articles about architecture. I've been feeling for a while that buildings are one of the more difficult things for me to invent, because although I actually have a reasonable general understanding as to how they are built, I don't feel I have enough grounding in the whys of architectural design. Cathedrals could be built because of flying buttresses and vaulted ceilings. Why the builders wanted all the height and the space was about religion. I would love to find more books about the whys of buildings and building styles, particularly from non-western viewpoints.

As for the epidemic, all my face-to-face social activities have been cancelled except Tatting Guild. So I'm really looking forward to that. And my daughter has been whining at me that the school has shut down preparatory to switching all classes to an online format. The students have been informed that they can all go home. And she's all "I'm a theater major, Mom, I don't want to be learning stage management online!"

I dunno, it could be worse, imagine trying to take dance classes online. Ballroom dancing over skype with a virtual partner. It could become the latest fad in YouTube videos.

In actual fact the theater students can't go home. They will still be putting on their scheduled performances. But the shows will be filmed, rather than having live audiences.

As for conversations, I don't know how funny we are but my husband says we score huge in "unexpected":

Husband: "So we have the Relic of Ages that repossesses the past, right?"
Son: "Nope. We have the Relic of Ages that forestalls the future."
Daughter: "So we can't save the world because we've been hauling around the wrong relic?"
Husband: "How did we even end up with that relic anyway? ...Ah, I have it. We were supposed to have switched that one out after getting to the bottom of the caverns."
Daughter: "So we did have the right relic and we only thought we had the wrong relic?"
Me: Luckily, we never actually tried to use it.
Daughter: But saving the world is still on for tomorrow, right?

Mrz. 14, 2020, 9:55pm

Sharing the questions and answers.

""You said you were an a father, how many kids and what ages?
Is chess your favorite game? Are there any other games you like?""

I have a six and a nine year old.
Chess isn't my favorite game, but my grandfather did teach it to me. I was the Texas state champion at one point and inspired to a small degree the character in my book. I don't have time for many games. I generally prefer videogames when I play them. I'm fascinated by the social, technological, and creative aspects around them.

Mrz. 15, 2020, 12:35pm

I'm finding the virus panic rather motivating with respect to my book-in-progress. As I recently read in Arthur C. Clarke's preface to The City and the Stars,
The knowledge that I was to spend some months diving among sharks of doubtful docility was an additional spur to action. It may or may not be true, as Doctor Johnson stated, that nothing settles a man's mind so much as the knowledge that he will be hanged in the morning, but for my part I can testify that the thought of not returning from the Reef was the reason why the book was completed at that particular time, and the ghost that had haunted me for almost twenty years was exorcised.
My work is also of two decades' gestation.

Mrz. 16, 2020, 6:47am

Regarding the virus, I am visiting one of my adult sons in London for a few days (plus attending a psychology conference). Went to the cinema on Saturday evening to watch the DC Birds of Prey film, there were only 4 people there. The underground (metro) is almost empty plus all the usual tourist haunts. Apart from the upsetting health aspects this virus will cause international chaos financially.

Mrz. 16, 2020, 9:42am

You'll find me by olives. If I've left any. Pork pies are also high target. I'm not good at buffets haven't really mastered the multi-tasking required to hold drink, food, eat, talk and stand all at the same time.

Currently we're operating under business as usual, but I'm looking forward to everything being closed and getting some dedicated reading time in.

I've just finished an ER anthology of 52 short stories. Very difficult to review as they were all very different. Metaphorosis magazine's compilation. I think do take submissions for monthly outputs.

Mrz. 17, 2020, 12:57pm

>2 KitFalbo: "I have a six and a nine year old. "
Still in the mostly cute stage, then. :)

I've two sons and four daughters, but the eldest is 29, and the youngest is 19. No more cuteness for me until I start getting grandkids.

"I don't have time for many games. I generally prefer videogames when I play them. I'm fascinated by the social, technological, and creative aspects around them."

State champion, that's pretty impressive!

My kids always wonder why I don't play more games, when I seem to enjoy them as much as they do. I do play games regularly, but mostly I play board or card games, and the reason for that overwhelming preference is entirely social: those are the games that I play together with family members. As long as my family is involved, I am willing to prioritize a game above all the other things I want to be doing. And then, because I do play with family regularly, my gaming 'fix' is achieved, and the rest of the time I focus on my other interests.

Two of my children and my husband are interested in game development. My husband and eldest son focus on board/card games (even though my son is a professional programmer), and it is one of my daughters whose primary interest is online games.

But even though I hardly ever play them, I agree that videogames are a fascinating medium. Most of the other moms I know are horrified at the time their sons spend on, say, Minecraft. I, on the other hand, after listening to my son tell me what he was doing (this is also, apparently, an unusual phenomenon, most mothers don't seem willing to listen to gaming stories) thought he was learning lessons in leadership and cooperation that will be very valuable to him when he is involved in large complex projects after finishing his schooling as a civil engineer.

I mean, if it wasn't for the negative impression typically received by the medium, what he was doing would look seriously impressive on a resume. "I gathered together an international team of pilots, designers and engineers, trained them and coordinated their efforts in order to achieve a succession of goals over a period of two years, that included maintaining financial stability in a rapidly changing economic environment, developing new technologies, defending the teams assets against frequent attempts at hostile takeovers, and the acquisition of new territory.

BTW, Kit, I added you to the alphabetical and subject based author indexes, but if you want to be added to the location index, I need to know roughly where you are.

>3 paradoxosalpha: "The ghost that had haunted me"

Love that reference!

If stories that you can't forget but have not yet managed to write are ghosts, my brain counts as one of the most haunted places on the planet.

But it sounds like your project is going well for you. I'm glad. :)

>4 Denscott:
It must be really, really strange for places that people are used to see bustling being empty.

My husband took pictures of the empty store shelves at the grocery store so he could show me. Not because he thinks I'm interested in looking at empty shelves -- it was the emotional impact that comes from the change from what we are used to, that made him want to share.

For me, I am accustomed to staying home all day and seeing no one but my family, so there hasn't be much of an effect on my day-to-day life at all.

(But I missed Tatting Guild, because I wasn't feeling too good, which for me is totally normal* and would not necessarily stop me, but my husband said, "bad idea: going out in an epidemic when you already aren't feeling well." And, darn it, he's right. But I was really disappointed.)

*Speaking of what's normal, my Asthma/Allergist sent out a email: "We are aware that for most of our patients, coughing and sneezing are things that would be happening under any circumstance. If, however, those symptoms are accompanied by a fever..."

But the financial hit... yeah. I'm thinking that'll hurt pretty much everybody. :(

Ebooks might be one of the better markets to be in, right now, though.

>5 reading_fox:
Clearly I must remember to restock the olives. ;)

Even if someone is good at multi-tasking, sooner or later we run out of hands. I remember my sister was doing a "if you could pick a super-power, what would it be?" meme. My kids were much younger then, so I said I wanted an extra set of arms/hands (and whatever extra brain capacity would be required to be able to use all four hands at once.)

One of the things I like about a electric forum type medium is that I don't have to multitask. The posts wait until I've read them, I can take all the time I want to read the whole thing, and I can respond to as many different things in each post as I feel like.

But, reviewing 52 short stories all in one book review? Urk! Have you figured out an approach yet? (Maybe grouping them into like types?)

Did you have any favorites?

Mrz. 28, 2020, 11:33am

New questions (answer as many or as few as you like):

What are your favorite snack and beverage?
(Because I need to keep the Buffet stocked.)

If you were exiled to a deserted island which six books that you already own would you take with you?
**Special bonus, if anyone owns all six of someone else's selected books, I will grant both of you a virtual medal, and will post a commemorative sketch.

If islands aren't your thing, what scenery would you rather be looking at right now?

And what is a question you think the rest of us might enjoy answering?

Mrz. 29, 2020, 5:03pm

>8 paradoxosalpha:
I don't own a single one of your selections. No medal for me.

I'm always tempted when the 'choose x many books' memes, come around to pick collections and omnibuses, so I won't run out of material. Dune because I'm int the middle of it. The Heyer because its got sentimental value and I haven't read it in a while And then I have to take the books I'm currently editing, don't I? Nobody is going to win a medal from this one.

1. The Complete Works of Shakespeare
2. The One Volume Kipling
3. The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer
4. Dune by Frank Herbert
5. Eyes of Infistar by me
6. Sails of Everwind by me

I just spent all morning trying to make an organized list of all my tags so I could tag more effectively. Now there's a rabbit hole you can wander around in for forever!

Mrz. 29, 2020, 5:33pm

>9 LShelby: Six from me:

1. Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke
2. A Madness of Angels by Kate Griffin
3. Mollie Peer: or, The Underground Adventure of the Moosepath League by Van Reid
4. To Say Nothing of the Dog* by Connie Willis
5. The Once and Future King by T.H. White
6. The Unknown Ajax** by Georgette Heyer

*It was damned hard to pick my favorite Willis. Crosstalk almost won. It might if you ask me this question again tomorrow.
**If we're on adjacent islands, we can swap Heyers :)

Mrz. 31, 2020, 3:43pm

I'd bring along Exit West, where doors serve as portals to other locations, because deserted island life requires a sense of hope. And salty chips and root beer. :)

Mrz. 31, 2020, 6:57pm

>10 Marissa_Doyle:
Clearly we must arrange to be on adjacent islands. The Heyer swap must happen: neither I nor my local library has a copy of the Unknown Ajax. :)

>11 LisaTognola:
I agree, Exit West's doors look very handy.
(And how did she make the name of the book link to the book page, you may wonder, does she have mad coding skills? I do, actually, but I haven't been using them. Just put square brackets around the title of the book and LT will do its best to link it.)

I'm not actually familiar with the book (2117 copies, thats a lot) clearly I don't pay a lot of attention to the Booker Prize.

We have this thread about the rules that's not too old, in which I tried to discuss magic realism, but I was struggling because I don't actually read magic realism. Maybe you would do a better job?

I have added you to the 2020 Author index, where you are the only entry so far under contemporary fiction. It always makes me strangely happy when one of my empty categories gets its first listing. :)


I sometimes wonder how I would fare if left in actual solitude for long times. When raising six kids one spends comparatively little time alone. I can't actually remember the last time I spent even one day all by myself.

Bearbeitet: Apr. 2, 2020, 5:07am

>6 LShelby: no I just commented a bit on how the whole collection felt. It was ok, but not something I'd seek out.

Six books is hard. Does Lord of the Rings count as one? I could bring six series I'd quite happily re-read, but reading only the 1st (or favourite) episode would be sad.

The little prince
to kill a mockingbird
Ridley walker
War for the oaks
The Postman

Which is all SF/F because my contemporary fiction is nearly all crime(ish) and hence although they're great books something like Christie or LeCarre relies on a degree of not knowing the ending, and after a few re-reads wouldn't work so well. I do re-read them but only with long gaps between. If series were allowed it would be totally different.

I do love the sea, but I'd be just as happy underground in a vast cavern as long as I had an adequate light supply (or perhaps a daylight shaft)
ETA to correct touchstones because LT was having a wobble yesterday.

Apr. 1, 2020, 9:07am

Favourite snack - Anything with cheese in it
Favourite Beverage - British 'Bitters' (real ales now re-branded as craft beers), although my consumption has dived over recent years

Favourite books to take to desert island -

LOTR (treating as one)
Here, away from it all
The Idiot
The World Walker Series
The Family Trade
Tales of an Accidental Life (mine)

Scenery - lakes

Apr. 1, 2020, 4:28pm

>13 reading_fox:
So far, yours and >10 Marissa_Doyle: 's lists are a tie for me at four read and two owned.

I don't actually don't own many mysteries. I mostly read them out of the library. (This is actually because I'm a total tight-wad, and I hate spending money on anything I can get for free elsewhere.)

My husband buys fantasy, some science fiction, and regency romances. (He claims the regencies are all for me, but he actually reads a fair number of them himself.)

I have a tendency to remember clever means when reading mysteries again, but not the character details. So I will remember, for example, that the murder used dry ice to kill the pneumonia patient, but not who the killer is, or why they wanted the patient dead.

I'm not sure what that says about the way my brain works.

>14 Denscott:
I will help you empty the cheese platter. :)

Is the Family Trade Stross?

Lakes are nice pick.

I have a particular fondness for very deep mountain lakes, because of childhood memories. But I visit Lake Winnipeg every couple years or so, and that one's BIG, but also very picturesque.

Apr. 1, 2020, 6:21pm

>15 LShelby:

Yes the Family Trade is the first in a series by Stross (he's returned to it in recent years with 'Empire Games'). Very much the sort of thing I enjoyed for light relief especially in my working days. In fact, on reflection my own writing is of a similar style (I wouldn't claim it's as good, or not yet anyway), though more humorous (hopefully).

Like you I think that lakes are particularly picturesque, especially surrounded by mountains and forest (although I have to be happy with pictures or film). The closest thing in my area is large (by English standards) reservoirs with their perimeters designed as nature reserves. Nice for a walk when the weather (and virus lock down) allows.

Apr. 3, 2020, 4:44pm

I remember how we teased Charlie Stross every time he complained about his workload, back when.

After many years of not selling anything he sold three series at once, each to a different publisher. So his deadlines, truthfully, were far from funny, but somehow none of the rest of us* could drum up a whole lot of sympathy for him.

Finally the day came when someone else found themselves a bit buried in deadlines, and was told: yes, yes, it does sound bad--but please don't Stross over it.

The poor guy, he'd been verbed.


Apr. 3, 2020, 8:54pm

>17 LShelby: If ever I'm as successful as Stross people can call me whatever they want. Although it's not likely that I ever will be, for a start I would possibly refuse to sell through a publisher even if the opportunity occurred. Not for any high minded reason but because I've never really been able to cope with people telling me what to do (both in private life and at work I am a total control freak).

Apr. 5, 2020, 10:49am

For me the biggest bar is that I'm allergic to deadlines.

Mrz. 23, 2:25pm

The dog rips up the old bed, like a wildebeest carcass. Will not chew new toys, nor sleep on the new bed. He now has a high-rise.

Mrz. 23, 2:30pm

>14 Denscott: I developed a roast turkey recipe with currants, cherries and bitter beers as the poaching agent. The cheeses, hot dips and other accouterments were laid out at a dentist office to pay for some work I had done. One dentist and two of the ladies were chili heads, so my hot oils and salsa were well-received.

Mrz. 24, 11:08am

>20 smirks4u:
In his old age, my dog slept on the couch at night. He knew he wasn't allowed on the couch, but as soon as the people went to bed, up he got. I could hear the couch squeak as he slunk off it in the morning, (and of course, the dog hair was additional evidence.)

I suppose I could be blamed, since I stopped providing him with a bed in his puppyhood, after I discovered that he never used it. But he never used it!

>21 smirks4u:
Cheese is currently one of my two most favored snacks. The other is peanuts. I seem to crave proteins for some reason.

Based on my current mood I'd probably take some non-fiction with me to the island. I'm not sure which non-fiction I'd take though. It might depend on what I could find. But I feel like I'm having non-fiction withdrawal symptoms.

Mrz. 24, 3:57pm

>22 LShelby: Dogs are part of a pack. You cannot unravel that dog brain. They are either the Alpha, and tell all their humans how it is going to be; or Beta-through Theta. Betas are terrific guard dogs, but if Mommy or Daddy are the Alphas, sometimes children are not, and thus open to doggies discipling them. It's a dance. Owning a dog is less a purchase of a slave, and more an incorporation into the family. I am trying to write an entertaining book on survival, herbology and homeopathic plants. It is a slow row to plow.

Mrz. 26, 2:49pm

>23 smirks4u: "I am trying to write an entertaining book on survival, herbology and homeopathic plants."

The "entertaining" part is usually the tricky bit. It's not so easy to make things fun as many people claim. If you follow the formula for what worked before, it doesn't always work again. ::rueful::

BTW, I'm looking for a few good sources on plant use by native Americans in and around Ohio previous to 1900, if you know any awesome references for that please let me know. :)

Apr. 1, 11:45am

>24 LShelby: I am more ignorant than average on Ohio plants and natives people. I do not know where to find primary source materials in that/those language(s); but I would start with Thomas Jefferson. He was fascinated with Botany and saving all Native American languages. I get the feeling he and Andrew Jackson would have killed one another in close quarters. Here is one website, of many, discussing 'weeds'.

Apr. 1, 11:50am

Getting to know people from those original tribes; and then gleaning what they remember, is difficult. Going to a Pow wow and making contacts is vital. I know an old Lumbee native here, and he is entertaining and knowledgeable. There may be someone in the Bureau of Indian Affairs who could give direction or introductions. Going into a reservation is a different world, and not for everyone. Taking tobacco as a gift is considered polite by many peoples/races, what we might call tribes.

Apr. 4, 11:01pm

>Thank you for the link!

My foster brother and sister are Blood tribe. (Part of the Blackfoot nation). My mother and father live right next to the reserve, and visit my brother there regularly. But alas, this does me no good whatsoever, because when it comes to plants there is a world of difference between Ohio, and the essentially treeless semi-desertic rocky mountain foothills where I grew up in Canada: different climate, different plants, different languages, different culture.

...I remember thinking to myself after moving here, that I really ought to learn to identify at least some of the plants. I told myself "If you needed it for a story, you would learn it." So I came up with a story -- now I need to learn the stuff. I decided I would start with trees, because there would be fewer of them. So I obtained a book about Ohio trees, read the introduction, and knew I was in trouble. Apparently Ohio is the split line between the northern and southern forest bands AND the eastern and western forest bands, plus it has this nice big forested swamp in the northwest corner and some highland scrub areas in the southwest corner. Six different major forest types, and over a hundred different trees are native to the state.

Speaking of which I was out enjoying the woods earlier today. :) We spotted a woodpecker that was neither the omnipresent Downy, nor the spectacular Pileated -- Probably a female Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. Little white Spring Beauties and Trout Lilies were dotted about the detritus of fallen leaves. Out of death and decay, beauty and life.