Tag Archives: “Mike C. Baker”

“Six days shalt thou work …

and do all thou art able (on the seventh the same, and sweep out the stable)”

One doggedly persistent concept that keeps getting knocked about and kicked in the shins is the legendary 40-hour work week.  Legendary, because there are documentable instances of individuals who have achieved and maintained such a lofty goal (it would be mythical if no mortal being could achieve such a condition).  Knocked about and kicked where it hurts because for the vast majority of people I am aware of the work nearly always exceeds the limits of five days at eight hours each.

Usually more like a minimum of nine hours each day for six days out of seven, and something more than that on at least one additional day.

Where’s my proof, you ask?  Consider the modern “knowledge worker”, required by an employer to inhabit an office for purposes of control and security (we’ll come back to the security aspect in a bit…).  Is our paragon of productivity housed on-location?  Almost certainly not, so we add a required commute to the office and back again to the living quarters.  Let’s be generous and only give Paragon thirty minutes for each leg of the commute.  We’ll stick with the 8-to-5 daily schedule, with an assumption of one hour allowance each day for lunch or other personal (non-work) break.  Now, factor in the expectation for accessibility 24x7x363 — we’ll be generous in this exercise and designate Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day as non-working holidays.  Include the probable requirement for mandatory-in-all-but-name company functions at night or on weekends:  holiday “parties”, “retreats”, “volunteer opportunities”, etc.

We’ll allow half-credit for vacation time actually scheduled and taken (full credit only if no expectation exists for the vacationing worker to check email, remain reachable by telephone, or be on conference calls during the time away from the office).  Additional kudos and partial credit for coffee breaks, with double credit if the business provides the coffee / tea / snack service and reduced credit if pay is deducted automatically whether or not Paragon actually drinks coffee.  (We’ll remain neutral on “smoke breaks” for now, OK?)

Wipe out three-quarters of any credits otherwise earned by the workplace if the current workload requires “take-home” work, reduces available training time during the normal workday, or makes overtime hours mandatory outside of traditional “busy season” timeframes.

Calculators at the ready?  Naw, no real need to add to brain-strain.  If you can find a modern, effective, productive knowledge worker who spends less than 50 hours a week in work-related activity, show me where they are working — I wanna apply there!

Bad news, and there is some:  a “creative” worker on average will be logging something closer to 70 or 80 hours in that same week in order to produce anything like an equivalent income.  Maybe more, if they are conducting their own marketing efforts.

There are REASONS that people are reporting more fatigue in their lives now than in my parent’s generation.  You wanna try and legislate a “living wage” and in all likelihood take away good entry-level jobs from the available pool?  Good luck, my friend, and in the most direct Southern manner “Bless your heart”.

Yer gonna need every advantage you can get when the villagers show up with the “bricked” cellphones they can’t pay for and the burning-resume torches for the jobs you just made disappear.

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Art & Craft of Writing: Using Maps And Games

(A prior, simpler version of this article appeared as a reply to a thread [on using maps in the writing / marketing process] in the writer’s forums on How To Think Sideways)

I’ve been a wargamer almost as long as I have been a writer, and have been creating scenarios or adapting published material to game systems pretty much since Day One. Ergo, I have quite a number of odd bits available when I want to haul in a working-space for my story characters — and have dealt with some really creative game rules for approximating 3-D line-of-sight using a 2-D map for the playing surface (the FASA BATTLETECH system has been my fall-back there, although the earlier methods of the Avalon Hill SQUAD LEADER game system appeal to others of my acquaintance). This can be a real help when checking LOS (line-of-sight) for story continuity and visualization.

I find that it helps some people to use hexagonal grids instead of the commonly-available square-grid graph paper when creating or interpreting maps, but that may be an anomalous personal bias of mine showing. With either of those aids, or several other possibilities, it can help to find or make a (semi-)transparent overlay that can be laid on top of any printed or created map. This provides an immediate visual scale that can be simpler to read than measurements acquired by repeatedly moving a ruler. Transparency sheets (like those used with overhead projectors) allow for marking up a map without damaging the original; with a little practice, this concept can be used to show damage effects, terrain additions (where DID that parking garage go up?), temporary structures / “placed” equipment, etc.

The concepts of Frontage, Depth-of-Ranks, and March Times I learned in gaming translated well to my own writing, and may help in “feeling” / visualizing the relationship of map to real- / created- world:

Frontage:
Frontage is not just how wide a person or vehicle or critter is, but how much width of passage they need to function at a given rate of effectiveness for a desired activity — movement, hold-the-line defense, active fighting, et cetera. Frex, that five-foot hallway can be run through if “empty”, but add just one console table and a big guy may have to slow and sidle past (or smash the furniture accidentally while fighting).

Depth-of-Ranks or alternately Formations:
People and objects are three-dimensional at the least, and that includes length as well as width! A covey of quail, a homecoming parade, or an army on the march all take an amount of time to pass by any given reference point. If for some reason the moving group stops, it still has an area-of-coverage greater than the sum of the individuals making up the group. Think for a moment about a marching band. Unless there are VERY careful rehearsals and practice involved, each band member is separated from all those nearest by a minimum of an arm’s-length, or (roughly) one pace.

To further complicate our writing and gaming lives, movement is required — both physically and in terms of position-over-time — to shift from normal marching into any selected formation, either for static (“motion-less”) position or relative to allies, enemies, and features yet still in motion.

One Special-Case class of examples in military formations is any infantry unit maximizing defense through use of shields. “Special” here also involves nomenclature: a Testudo is not a Schiltron, and neither of those is a simple Shield-Wall… and all three have cultural variations. These (and most other) formations require varying amounts of acreage depending upon current circumstances as well. Each has benefits, each has limitations, and each has failed spectacularly when faced with advances in tactics or technology. (Massed archery or gunnery, and area-effect weaponry, being the death of most close-quarter formations at one time or another…)

The classical Phalanx is a fourth often-used description for shield- and spear- / pike- intensive infantry formations, and is perhaps the one most often MIS-used or simply misunderstood. Any discussion of the phalanx is further complicated by placement in history: a phalanx in the army of Alexander the Great at the time of his death was different in composition from that of the Athenians a mere three or four generations earlier, and both were different still from the Greek phalanx that would face Roman legions a few generations afterward, and NONE of those really relate to any modern (20th-century or later) military unit, although usage might make us want to believe otherwise.

The basic phalanx CONCEPT was little changed for at least two millennia, however: a mass of men arranged in a rectangular formation, all carrying a spear or spear-like primary weapon and usually also armed with a secondary (dagger / knife / short sword / etc.). Later descriptions indicate some specialization in the ranks: first rank shield, spear, and short secondary weapon; second rank shield and medium-length weapons (or “choked-up” longer ones), third and fourth ranks pike or other long weapons, sometimes without shields. Additional ranks were usually added up to a depth of eight or more, and a minimum front of ten men, usually more. A “true” Phalanx was seldom less than a hundred soldiers in number, although the more common camp & march unit was based upon the file (column or sometimes pair of columns within the deployed phalanx). Some of my sources are loathe to give the title of Phalanx to any formation of less than five hundred or so…

A convoy of vehicles has a minimum-safe separation distance that increases with speed (if you have been through Driver’s Ed or similar learning experience, remember the discussions about reaction time required to brake to a complete stop?), but ALSO typically has a minimum separation distance when parked in a line. That separation should be enough for crew and passengers to move between convoy elements without crawling through / over / under. There may be special circumstances where the minimum separation is reduced or eliminated due to any of several factors. These include but are not limited to providing cover to dismounted forces (use of vehicles as a temporary fortification, a la “Circle The Wagons!”, whether stationary or on-the-move), reducing threat from dismounted opposition, temporary fencing for herds, etc.

March Times: individual or group, living or mechanical (or other), humans assume that it takes some amount of time to move from Point A to Destination B. (Even with teleportation, Glinda – havta at least think about destination / initiate the transfer, after all!) In the simplest cases, this is a straightforward calculation. At a slightly more complex level, add in meal-times / fuel stops / potty-breaks. For any journey requiring more than the normal amount of time between two meals, it is best to include deliberately-scheduled rest time(s) and other possible fatigue factors.

The astute writer also does a little research into the perils of forced-march and subsequent effects upon performance of not only people and animals but also machinery not given extra maintenance attention.

* = * = * = *

(YES, I do happen to also design or expand / correct the rules for games in an attempt to make the experience more realistic. There is a balancing act involved quite simple to exposition in a given story, where too much detail detracts from enjoyment of the experience. I also happen to sharpen knives, swords – and wits…)

The Semantics of Naming Genres For Books (and other things)

A Curmudgeon-In-Training Rant: cf. http://curtisagency.com/blog/about#comment-9784

INCOMPLETE / WORK-IN-PROGRESS

OK, so Richard J. Wilson asked on a publisher’s WordPress-maintained blog (and had received no visible response after MONTHS…):

Can someone please define these terms: “commercial” fiction; “mainstream” fiction; “upscale” fiction; “literary” fiction; “steam punk” fiction. Thank you!

 My immediate reply said in part:

The first four genre-indicators you list are essentially variations upon the same theme, and may apply at one point or another in the lifespan of any given book with equal degree of squishiness / accuracy (or failure to achieve direct semantic meaning when examined in isolation).  The first three in particular are more-or-less semantically null: a book falls into those because the publisher or a critic says that it does.  “Literary” is a bit more of a stretch, and often indicates something with a high degree of acceptance by critics and perhaps academia, but often lacks true market penetration with the majority of readers (at least within the year or two after initial release).  _Valley of the Dolls_ might be one example of a novel spanning all four categories within my lifetime (and I’m still short of six full decades as I write this).

Steampunk is actually the most descriptive out of the five, and also perhaps simultaneously restrictive and free-wheeling.  The most simplistic definition of steampunk is as a subgenre of science fiction (and fantasy) where technology has advanced or otherwise exists in combinations not seen in the “real” world.  From TV and film, approachable examples can be “Wild Wild West”, “Briscoe County Junior”, and “Back to the Future III”.  In books and derived works, the ancestors of steampunk include Captain Nemo (Jules Verne), the Traveller (H.G. Wells “Time Machine”), and Anthony “Buck” Rogers (Nowlan – yes, a novel came before the film serials, comic strips, and more recent TV series).

So here, in an initial form, is the Curmudgeon-In-Training’s long-form response defining some uses of “genre” in categorizing literary works:

Ground rules up front – what follows is MY opinion.  That opinion is based upon more than a half-century as a reader, and may in some ways contradict your own.  Almost certainly things I opine here will be at odds with one publisher, or academic, or critic, or any other individual who reads.  However, my blog = my rules.  (Grumpiness number one established.  Yay.)

OK, with that basic precept / (hopeful) understanding established, here’s the next biggie:  as long as my stories are getting sold, I don’t give much of a rat’s behind what some scholar in academia or critic hiding behind their position’s title might say, at least as far as I am accorded the right of defense AND (gosh-darn-it-all-to-heck) real and intelligent debate upon our differences.

Going for the third leg of the tripod:  genre definitions inherently begin with a value judgment as to the veracity of the work being defined by the genre. Is it a work of fiction? Is it a poetic examination? Is it NON-fiction? (Yes, there are cross-overs and cross-pollinations and cross-ups out there in the wilds of the “real” world. Live with them. I will attempt to recognize them in the chart/outline when we get there, but remember always that I never claim this to be THE definitive work on this subject. It will go further than the most simplistic basics, however.)

Batter up!  OK, yet, mixed metaphor alert should also be issued.  If I am going to batter at the gates of the literary castles out there, I’m bringing siege equipment to bear upon the task, including shovels to clear away the batter. (Some research may be needed on your part to follow portions of the preceding sentence — have fun storming the castle!…)

Definitions Before Definitions:  Topicality versus “True” Genre

Publishers have traditionally (mis-)used genre to such an extent that the term is indeed rather fuzzy around the edges.  My working Rule of Thumb is to differentiate Genre from Topic.  Genre is hereby decreed to cover a range of topics that have some (RATIONAL) commonality.  Sub-genre is often determined as restrictive to a narrow range of topics.

By way of example, consider the Fiction:Young Adult genre.  One traditional sub-genre of Young Adult popular in my own youth  was Animal Stories, which were further distinguished by topic as Horse Stories, Dog Stories, and the like.  In more recent years, a substantial subgenre of Fiction:Mystery has grown up around Cat Mysteries.

Generally recognized sub-genre in Fiction:Romance may be complicated about as far as any other of the top-tier genre can be.  Consider for the moment a romance set on an alien planet among the survivors of a crashed starship, who have the uncomfortable additional complication of developing psychic abilities due to contamination of the water supply.  Is it Science Fiction, Paranormal, Survival, or Eco-Disaster – or simply Romance in a strange setting?  Pity the traditional publishing assistant trying to market this one!

Genre:  The Essential short-List

  • Fiction
  • NON-Fiction
  • Poetry
  • Games/Simulations AKA Participative / Interactive Entertainment

That’s it.  Oh, you wanted more?  Therein lieth the rub.  You get as much out as you put in, and in this case that REALLY requires some skull-sweat on both our parts.

Also, here is as good a place as any to handle “and other things” from the title of this blog entry. “Media” has become another of those over-used conflated words that it really does yield results for us to peel back a few layers from every now and then. Every form of information presentation in a recorded and reproducible form goes into making up “THE MEDIA” — at least when it comes time to try and define genre. Whether a given tale is being related by written words or full-immersion VR, the story will at some point be categorized as existing within the context of one or more genre. I can read an adaptation of any entry in the Indiana Jones movie franchise or I can watch the films. I can do the opposite with Harry Potter, where the books existed first and independently of the cinematic productions. Likewise for The Avengers, or Superman, or One Piece (the last is anime-related, just in case your personal viewing habits aren’t the same as mine).

To maintain our rationality, and occasionally to challenge it, humans tend to categorize the disparate elements of the world we live in as we build up our cognitive understanding of that world. This happens on both individual and group levels, At the least, perhaps at the best, the practice tends to improve not only understanding but the communication of our individual understanding to others we come in contact with. Categorization reduced to memes begets genre. Or such is MY understanding.

Genre Within Super-Categories

I like outlines when dealing with multiple levels of description.  Blame my high school teachers who taught me how to use The Outline as a tool and not something to be feared.  Therefore, we are going to extend the definitions above as bullets-in-outline warrant doing so.  (I’ll keep these as visually consistent as I can, within the limitations of the HTML implementation I’m using to generate this blogpost.)

  • Semantic-Null Market Definition (Publishers / Critics) Gradations

See above, in my initial response to Richard.   “commercial”, “mainstream”, “upscale”, “literary” and – sometimes – “non-genre” all tend to blend in and out, mutable marketing terms in the main.  “Literary” is perhaps the one item in the list that is most often MIS-used, particularly when applied to works that haven’t yet been released to the general reading public. In my most curmudgeonly moments, I would advocate reserving Fiction:Literary to works that have remained in print (or return to print regularly) for at least 25 years, or whose authors are deceased and still continue to be reprinted, and / or can truly be described as “timeless”. Note further that I am very well aware that this definition is in serious need of refinement for the new reality of electronically-published works.

  1. Fiction (general catch-all heading)
  2. Fiction:Children’s
  3. Topics and sub-topics within Children’s Fiction generally are over-shadowed by intended age of the reader and intent of the writer. Much that is written for children has a substantial educational purpose above and beyond entertainment for entertainment’s sake, but not all. Bless Dr. Seuss for now and forever! Theodore Geisl got it right, and brought back silly for the child in all of us…

  4. Fiction:Young Adult
  5. Fiction:Young Adult:By SubGenre/Topic
    • Fiction:YoungAdult:Adventure
    • Fiction:YoungAdult:Animal (may be better described as Animal-Centric: Lassie, Flicka, Black Beauty, Flipper, etc.)
    • Fiction:YoungAdult:Teen Angst (High School / College Life)
    • Fiction:YoungAdult:Mystery/Thriller (including series such as Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Rick Brandt, etc.)
    • Fiction:YoungAdult:Vocational (a [dated] series example is Cherry Ames: [whatever] Nurse)
    • Fiction:YoungAdult:Fantasy (e.g. Harry Potter, )
    • Fiction:YoungAdult:Science Fiction ([dated] example Have Spacesuit, Will Travel)
    • Fiction:YoungAdult:Paranormal
  6. Fiction:Young Adult:Media-Driven
  7. Fiction:Science Fiction
    • Fiction:Science Fiction:Space Opera
    • Fiction:Science Fiction:Alternate Reality
    • Fiction:Science Fiction:Apocalyptic
    • Fiction:Science Fiction:Post-Apocalyptic
    • Fiction:Science Fiction:Media-Driven
    • Fiction:Science Fiction:Military
    • Fiction:Science Fiction:Science Fantasy
    • Fiction:Science Fiction:Slipstream
    • Fiction:Science Fiction:Steampunk
    • Fiction:Science Fiction:Sociological/Political

    and so forth… Science Fiction as a genre has been under attack of one form or another since the genre was developed.  Often conflated with “pure” Fantasy even by the practitioners in the field, there has been some push from time to time to use “Speculative” fiction to describe the combination — a somewhat misleading term, as ALL fiction is in some fashion speculative.

  8. Fiction:Adventure AKA Men’s Adventure (significant subgenre by topic exist)
  9. Fiction:Mystery
  10. Fiction:Nautical
  11. Fiction:Nautical:Pre-Napoleonic
  12. Fiction:Nautical:Napoleonic
  13. Fiction:Nautical:Other Historical
  14. Fiction:Alternate History
  15. Fiction:Western (“Horse Opera”)
  16. Fiction:Romance
  17. Fiction:Horror
  18. Fiction:Fantasy
  19. Fiction:Thriller
  20. Fiction:Thriller:Techno-thriller
  21. NON-Fiction
  22. NON-Fiction:Journals, Memoirs,  and Auto-biography
  23. NON-Fiction:Biography
  24. NON-Fiction:Erotica
  25. NON-Fiction:History
  26. NON-Fiction:Science
  27. NON-Fiction:Religion
  28. NON-Fiction:Textbooks and Instructional Materials
  29. NON-Fiction:Commentary And Criticism
  30. Poetry
  31. Poetry:Lyrics
  32. Poetry:Epic
  33. Poetry:NonRhyming

Emerging Trends In Writing — The Downside Of Drivel

I’ll probably be strung up by my thumbs, figuratively, if Certain People ever actually read this particular rant.  However, I have opinions.  Strong ones.  Sometimes I even express them in written form, as opposed to simply shouting them into an empty well…

I don’t like bullies.  Never have, never will.  Does not matter one bit in the slightest whether it is a matter of brute force physicality or sharp-witted intellectualism.  Bullying is bullying, regardless.  Along the way, this attitude gets me in trouble.  That falls into place along with my other sterling quality of an inability to resist pointing out that the truth is other than some nitwit might be claiming.  “Flamewars”, “Blog Battles”, and the not-so-honorable art of “Trolling” in forums, boards, or newsgroups all — I repeat with emphasis ALL — deserve to be held up to the real light of honest truth and discarded as “not worth my time”.  Will they be?  Unfortunately for all of us online, not very damn likely.  Among other reasons that I propose they must continue is that we must each and separately aggressively preserve our rights to freedom of expression.  Ignoring the ignorant and the deliberately, willfully erroneous just is not where my heart lies in the fight for Truth.

Hmmmm.  Truth.  Sticky concept there.  There are self-evident Truths out there.  Trust me that this is indeed so.  Whether they are necessarily the same for you, me, or any other individual remains an unprovable position as long as we continue to operate under our current universe’s rules for proof and refutation.  What is preference for me and others born into my birth-culture may be utterly foreign to others of my species and race born into a different culture, sometimes even though both may express adherence to the same standards of morality and (substantially) similar religious teachings.  A third culture on the same spectrum may take those preferences and make them essentials of civilized behavior, treat them as self-evident law, and severely punish any who would choose a different manner of expressing the tenets.  Horrid and reprehensible wars have been fought for all of recorded history over just such differences.  We should expect more of modern human society, warts-and-all interconnected as we may be on some frighteningly final levels?  (Nuclear Armageddon is NOT anyone’s friend.  Global Winter may play favorites, but it still kinda ruins the day of the vast majority of the planet’s currently viable biomes.)

“Politically Correct” had a time and a place in polite conversation.  The egregious overuse of the term, the certitudes, and the mindset have all contributed to a distinct and urgent need to kick all three to the curb with vim, vigor, and carefully-applied velocity.  YES, with politeness too.  Politically Correct changes to the way we write have taken hold, whether good, bad, or indifferent.  Those changes should not necessarily be abandoned utterly.  It is the combative attitude of “Politically Correct” that has become less than truly polite and has edged far too closely into the thought-policed fringe leading toward Orwellian or Huxleyian dystopias.

There comes a time in the writing of fiction when the writer must choose the degree of verisimilitude to be applied to the “world” being created by the words being set forth to bring the story to life.  (Yes, Virgil and Virginia, this also applies to non-fiction writing of most coherent types I’m ever likely to put my own attentions to…)  For the best of the authors out there, now and in the illustrious (HAH!) past of human literature, the STORY came first, the “real” and desired systems of the non-story world that we live in have nearly always been secondary.  (Yes, even in the midst of a rant I can demonstrate tempering consideration.  Wouldn’t do to ignore Ayn Rand or that Sinclair fellow, among other counter-examples.)  I am encouraged by the extent to which most of my peers seem to understand this.

I am discouraged by the extent to which some of those willing to rant AGAINST the practice have apparently been gaining traction and radicalizing otherwise sane and sober folk through various means.

I write on both sides of the fiction divide for a number of reasons.  Some of those reasons directly relate to my desire to make fiction “better” in some way.  I’ve written about the history of weapons, the historical Bard (and modern descendants of the type), and about how to create more-believable corporeal undead.  My article on the last has even been reprinted (in a paying market, no less!), so at least one editor out there seems to think I can get an idea across.  I also wrote a column on grass-roots activism for a size-rights magazine a decade ago.

Does any of that make a difference when I sit down to write a fictional account of the next apocalypse to threaten human extinction?  Well, maybe a little — my zombioid critters may not have active mentality, but they also Make A MESS as they thrash across the story-scape, and the human survivors facing them don’t suddenly all have swords available to lop off the squishy bits.  Does my understanding and background mean that any of the human survivors will be anguishing over whether or not their gender/sex role choices are the “right” ones?  Not likely, unless / until they have some time to relax and think about anything beyond personal and perhaps racial survival.

Does my emerging culture of survivors care (much) what the remaining technologically-blessed enclaves are opining about politics in blogs written on the pitiful remnants of the Interwebsnet they have managed to keep running while the rest of the civilized world collapses into howling chaos?  Not likely, at least not until it makes a difference to  personal / species survival for the band of “winners” who crawl out of the chaos into the too-temporary safety of an enclave.

Does religion make a difference to any of the survivors?  Probably, but I haven’t gotten that far in the creation of the alternate universe this set of stories will occupy.  Hey, wow, I only started writing this particular storyline three days ago.  Give me SOME time to consider what the stories need, what I need for the stories, and what my erstwhile readership wants.  Will the type of post-apocalypse government forms make a difference?  Far more likely, BUT the functions and types of government the survivors will tolerate are going to be driven by the needs of my story.  They will not be bent to the expectations of any external body.  There may be some consideration of outsider opinion on the way to publication, but that consideration will be separate from the form and choices of MY ORIGINAL story.

I’m betting on more physical and immediate survival as driving the characters that will be most interesting here, those who will be living through their unexpected descent into nightmarish conditions.  The “Politically Correct” elements will go hang on a meat-hook in the corner for now.  They don’t contribute to surviving the next night’s challenges.

Does that make me less of a (insert genre tag here) writer?  Well, as long as the genre isn’t “Women’s Fiction”, “Politically Correct”, or “Message Fiction”, I Do Not Think So.

Absence and Presence

“Life Happens … sometimes, with great insistence on PAYING
ATTENTION”

Calendar 2013 was not kind to the household I live in, or to my family, or to many friends.

To that end, I spent far more time dealing with off-line events than I did paying attention on-line.  Oh, I kept writing (as mentioned elsewhere, I write like I breathe…), but my awareness was very much focused on physical and immediate matters of existence.  Friends and family facing cancer, loss of loved ones, and in one case a Parkinson’s-afflicted household member’s broken hip leading via surgery to long-term residence in a nursing facility (now expected to be permanent relocation).  More about that last in a bit…

Some of my creative outlets went away as well.  Others lost my regular attention as matters requiring focus and physical presence consumed my thoughts, time, and energies.

That all said, “I’m back!” and I have a backlog of commentary upon life, the universe, and everything to put into something like a permanent form of expression now.

That should account for my renewed presence in an on-line sense.

About that broken hip:  Parkinson’s Disease is a progressive and ultimately fatal condition, and some of how it affects the patient is all the more nasty because it is relatively slow in the onset of symptoms — and those symptoms may be mis-attributed or conflated with other medical events.  Add in the general declines associated with aging, the deterioration in muscle response, and stubborn (human!, after all) insistence upon maintaining as much of the daily routine as possible, THEN serve up a few lesser-known “Gotcha!” side effects.

There are other terms / descriptions that may be more medically-correct, but I will call one of those Parkinson’s “Gotcha” effects “anesthesia senility”.  Three and a half years ago I’d never heard of this, but it seems that there is a significant segment of the Parkinsons Disease patient population which reacts very poorly to general anesthesia.  Observed effects are that upon emergence from anesthesia, the patient exhibits marked decline in mental acuity and other symptoms generally associated with dementia and senility:  full-blown hallucinations, anger, diminished capacity for communication, and so forth.  Even worse, the impact appears to worsen with subsequent anesthesia events.

In the immediate instance, the household member I am helping to care for, a mistake in judgment led to a fall after a shower – a hook on the back of a door placed before physical decline was just THAT much out of reach – and a fractured hip.  General anesthesia, partial replacement of the joint, and off from the hospital to a skilled nursing / rehabilitation facility.  Fast-forward a week, and the rebuilt joint is recognized as being dislocated.  Back to the hospital, return to general anesthesia to allow a closed reduction of the dislocation (the physician was able to put the ball back in the socket without repeating the surgery).

The physical effects would have been hard enough to deal with all on their own.  Adding in the sudden mental deterioration was simply too much, with an end result of what is now expected to be end-of-life permanent residence in a nursing facility.  Physical therapy failed to regain any useful mobility in the affected leg.  General physical weakness, and a prior shoulder surgery, made other common alternatives unavailable or unwarranted, particularly in combination with the mental deterioration.

Parkinsons sucks.  Parkinsons combined with broken hip sucks far worse.

Philosophy of the Wizard’s Den, Iteration Current

First, get it clear in your heads:  I write like I breathe, in fits and starts and not always as well as I might.

OK, I’ve admitted it up front and plainly — I am neither perfect or perfectable.  Does NOT mean that I won’t keep trying, because I do *that* about like I breathe as well.

I’m also held to account as a Bard, in a very old sense of that word, one even older than simply being a poet.  I teach, I study, I create, I preserve, I encourage, I conduct ceremonies, I write ceremonies, I sermonize, I extemporize, I serve as an advocate, and can be called upon to render judgement – perhaps with only the agreement of the affected parties, but it still comes with the territory…

I am also an incorrigible punster and a Curmudgeon-in-Training.

Here, I’ll gather this and that from here, there, and elsewhere.  Could be a bumpy ride, but I ask that you enjoy it with me.

(Applicable rates for any of the previous described functions are negotiable according to needs, means, and expectations of the parties involved and in accordance with the underlying principles.  “Do not anger a Bard, for your name *IS* funny and your miserable existence can be described in detail and rhyme in many and often hilarious ways.”  If you really hit the trifecta, true Bards are admitted to the right of Satire, by which the best of the ancient practitioners could raise welts on the skin of a miscreant…)