Cold Ground
email Derryl (replace AT with @)

Places to Go:
Derryl's Fotolog
Fictionwise (reprints of some of Derryl's fiction)
Alyx Dellamonica
Boing Boing
Charlie Stross
Jena Snyder
Making Light
Randy Reichardt

~ Friday, January 31, 2003
Not-quite plagiarism alert

The Chair of the UNBC English Department, Stan Beeler, has responded to this link I sent him, about Smart Mobs and SF, with a quick little dissection of one portion, which I will repeat here, complete with any typing errors he may have perpetrated:

"It is amazing how often people use sources without referencing. The following is from Rabkin and Scholes book on Science Fiction:

" fiction could begin to exist as a literary form only when a different future became conceivable by human beings specifically a future in which new knowledge, new discoveries, new adventures, new mutations, would make life radically different from the familiar patterns of the past and present. (Eric S. Rabkin and Robert Scholes, Science Fiction: History Science Vision, New York:Oxford University Press, 1977, p.7.)

"Compare it to this from the article you referenced:

"Science fiction is a genre about discontinuities rather than continuities, change rather than tradition, and about open questions rather than tried-and-true wisdom. It could only emerge at the moment when cycles of cultural and technological change could be viewed within a single lifetime.

"These are not close enough to call it plagiarism, but the 'It could only...' style of phrasing and the essential thought are remarkably
Courtesy of Alyx, here's Jesus Christ, Vampire Hunter. I must say I'm surprised this one didn't make it to the theatre here.
~ Thursday, January 30, 2003
As a parent, if I ever found out that the boys had a Principal who insisted on them putting down their books so they could watch TV (every day!), I'd be calling for that person's head.
~ Wednesday, January 29, 2003
This is making the rounds, and I think it's a fine quote that deserves repeating:

"The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore. We don't just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary."
—James D. Nicoll

From a cool blog called Languagehat.
Jena passed this one on to me. The Parkallen is probably Jo's and my favourite restaurant in Edmonton. A recent survey of the top ten chefs in Edmonton had four of them picking the Parkallen as the place they go when they wish to eat out. The feta pizza is to die for, and they make a great bunch of Lebanese cuisine. So to find that they have a cookbook online is a huge treat.

Jena does warn, though: "If you make the eggplant salad, cut WAAAAAAY back on the '1 tsp' of salt the recipe calls for. Let's just say the predominant flavors are salt and lemon juice." Still, I'm making plans for Sunday's dinner.
~ Monday, January 27, 2003
My Grandma, Norma Walker, is in the onset stages of Alzheimer's, although where one would put the onset and the middle, I don't know. Likely, now that I think about it, she's somewhere in the middle, as it's been some time since this started.

Jo and the boys and I visited her in Nova Scotia last summer, and Mom had warned me about the changes, but to be honest, at that time it wasn't too bad. A couple of times she called me George (my Dad, her son-in-law) or Averell (one of her sons; he and I share a sorta raspy voice, and since I was shaving my head at the time, a lack of hair). She wasn't terribly mobile, which comes as no surprise. Even if she wasn't in her late 80s, the fact that she'd been run down by a teenager on a rain-slicked road while leaving church some years ago would have made (excuse the pun) an impact. I do know that the walker she was given has she slowly regained her mobility was soon reduced to being dragged behind her, but that was, as I say, years ago. Last summer, she had her chair in her living room, a porch swing on a newly-built enclosed veranda, and the supper table, a place she ate only when there was company; otherwise she'd eat at her comfy chair. Her days are centered on reading books (she rips offending pages from romances, even if the books don't belong to her! None of that naughty stuff in her reading), visiting with my Aunt and Uncle when they come over from their side of the house, writing letters, doing puzzles, watching a little bit of TV, chatting with people if they call her. And, I imagine, spending some time revisiting various points of her past.

When we visited, I spent as much time as she could handle hanging out and chatting, and often the boys would follow and wrestle at her feet ("They're like puppies," she commented once. She was quite enthralled with them, and they her, I'm proud and happy to say). We would chat about the past, sometimes her past, sometimes the distant past, and I would learn much about my ancestors, which was cool. But even cooler for me was finding out that she'd been something of a math whiz in her day, and she probably could have gone on to a post-secondary education, if life had allowed such (I'll write about her life another day, I think).

I got a letter from Grandma yesterday, and the signs all point to a good deal of slippage since I was there. We've talked on the phone a few times (the boys love to say hi to her, which is a bonus), but sometimes phone conversations can mask things. You're on, you're focused, and if you're not, you can always just give short, one-word answers. But this letter, well, Grandma usually writes at Christmas and on birthdays, but this one was Just Because. There was evidence of confusion, and the handwriting, which hasn't been very good for some time, was down another couple of notches.

For about five seconds after reading the letter, I felt a kind of frozen state inside, like I didn't want to react and so I could just hold it off. But then I realized that this was just fear, and that I was damned lucky that I could get a letter from my Grandma. All four of Jo's grandparents died when she was in high school, and I still have two (Grandpa Murphy will show up here soon). She witnessed first-hand the decline of one or two of them, as she worked for the summer in the hospital as they also diminished from Alzheimer's or senile dementia, and I'm removed by thousands of kilometers, a fact that can be both blessing and curse, obviously.

Grandma, like my other grandparents, made a large impact on my life, and there were days when we were visiting that I wished Jo and the boys could be treated to the Grandma I remember from thirty years ago. But we, Aidan and Brennan and Jo and me, have had an impact on Grandma's life in this late stage, and I'm proud of that. The letter was still clear enough to read, and clear to me in another way; she was acknowledging Jo's and my continued presence in her life, as well as the special gift of two small boys who were happy to be around her and full of more energy than over-caffeinated pogo sticks in an earthquake.

The trip to Nova Scotia was, I know, a farewell. I can't afford to go again; when we went last year, Jo was on the university's nickel, and her brother was gracious in giving air points for the boys to fly. Unless I win a lottery, I won't see my Grandma again, will just talk on the phone or receive letters. Letters like the one she sent are precious things; they help fill in the dark spaces between the strobe-like snapshots of infrequent visits. Phone calls are good, too, but their contribution is more fleeting, aural reminders that drift away after a day or two. And letters, coupled with pictures, will help remind my boys as they grow older just who this special woman was.
~ Sunday, January 26, 2003
Update on the weather thing: This morning we were at 4 degrees above freezing. I'm making an uneducated guess that the air up high was warmer than ground level, and that it fought its was down through the night, creating some precipitation that didn't have time to freeze until it hit the ground.
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