Lori and Jimmy and sex, oh my

Author and journalist George Case has written an interesting blog post, Sick Again, which I felt I had to reply to.  I decided that because my thoughts are really way too long for a comment, I’d post them here.  Please read George’s article so you’ll have the context for what I’ve written below.

Jimmy Page & Lori Mattix

You ask: What would a fourteen-year-old and a twenty-eight-year old see in each other, and who around them could have imagined their liaison was a healthy one?

The answer: The two would see opportunity for friendship. Companionship. Excitement. Stimulation. Fun. Love. Sex. Great food and drink. Great drugs. Travel. New experiences. Interesting conversation. Comfort. Great parties.

The people around them would see two people who are attracted to each other, just like any other two people, give or take a bit of fame and fortune. Why would anyone think it was unhealthy?  If two people experience these things together, then they are lucky.  They might be envied, even.

But okay, maybe a few would see sexual exploitation in the relationship.  Um.  Which one would be the exploiter?

Remember, back then there was also this going on: The burning desire for freedom to think for oneself, to each forge our own way, to toss off the shackles of establishment that had only led the world to racism, war, and repression.

Back in the days of flower power, many of us believed strongly in a world vision of freedom and peace. It was a sexual, moral, and ethical revolution created by living it. We pushed the envelope, we lived that pushing.

Excess? That is a view from outside, not inside.

Back then we resented the establishment that tried to impose a morality on us that we didn’t believe in. Who cared what the law was when it was so clearly outdated and wrong.

I still feel that way. Many of us of a certain age still do.

All of the young women the establishment said back then (and are still saying now) were too young were in fact quite old enough, thank you very much. We knew what we were doing. We knew a lot more than many who were a decade or two older than us. Young women like Lori were not being exploited, they were taking advantage of the only avenues open to them at that age to climb the ladder to where they wanted to go. They were having an incredible time doing it, too.

They aren’t the ones who were wounded and scarred by sexual predators.

Young women are not children just because they are under some arbitrary legal age according to criminal law. Women who are 14 years old do not need protecting from using their bodies to get what they want in life. Women of all ages should have the unquestioned right to make decisions about their own bodies and their own lives.

Women of all ages should have the unquestioned right to say NO for themselves, not permission from others to say yes to what they want in life.


The first

It’s hard to be an innovator, a creator, the first person to do something.  It’s easy to copy what others have done and go where others have already broken trail.  It’s also easy to forget how tough it is to be the first, the one to break through to the new.

This is true of so many things.  Of pretty much everything, in fact.  It’s hard work to be the first and it’s sometimes downright risky.  You know this to be true even if you’ve never dared to break out of the fold.  Or maybe you have dreamed but haven’t dared to act, because you innately understand how tough it would be.

If being the first was easy, everybody would be doing it.
Sailor tattoos

Tattoos used to be a way of signifying identification with and belonging to groups that outsiders couldn’t hope to be part of.  Sailors and Hell’s Angels and tribes.  The tattoos were meant to show that those so marked were special, with powers that others couldn’t have. In turn, people who flaunted tattoos were looked down on or feared.

Now everybody’s grandmother — and great grandmother and great grandfather and the next door neighbor’s new-born — has tattoos.  Now a tattoo shows you’re part of a group — the one that’s become the norm rather than of outliers.

Even so.  Even in the 21st century.Megan Fox tattoo

Being the first is still to be the one who breaks the barrier of conformity, a place that is safe and comfortable.  And that means that it still isn’t so easy.  Many try, many fail.  Those who persevere have a hard time daring to go where no man — or woman — has gone before.

Touchers, gropers, and rapists

Which brings me to the accusations of sexual misconduct.  First it was a trickle, then it became a streamlet. If you think it’s starting to look like a flood now, let me tell you pretty soon it’s going to become a tsunami.  People may believe that this is a sudden thing that men are doing (because it’s mostly men who are being accused), but that’s not the case.  What is the case is that women (because it’s mostly women who do the accusing) have been groped and worse by men probably since Adam.

Then what’s happening now?

Being the first to complain about sexual misconduct….  oh forget that.  It’s not “misconduct”, it’s wrong, it’s bad, it is evil , abusive, crappy behavior.  Anyway, complaining has never been a good idea for women.  Here we are in 2017 when presumably women have “equal rights” but even now a woman’s accusations are doubted .  Even now a woman is blamed for the inappropriate behavior for men.  Even now it just isn’t considered something a woman should complain about in the first place.

And yet you ask any woman and the high probability is that sometime during her life, no matter how old — or young — she is, she will have been the recipient of unwanted advances by men.

That’s just plain crap.

Understand: this isn’t a diatribe about men.  This is about being the first, and how hard it is to do that.  Humans mistrust people who step outside area of The Way Things Have Always Been Done.  Safety is in numbers.  But…

The first women have spoken.  More will speak up.  Suddenly it will happen that the complainers aren’t outliers.  Maybe finally those who  have always had their way will find themselves in the minority, not the majority, and things will change.


Lif C Strand

Quemado NM USA



Smoke from AZ forest fires spreading into New Mexico

Dear Forest Service: I have a few questions for you. They arise from my state of confusion about what the purpose of a Forest Service actually is. I thought you were a federal agency that managed our forests for multiple uses. But I seem to be mistaken. Nowadays people are being blocked from using forest resources as they traditionally have plus all you do is encourage fires so even wildlife doesn’t get the use of our forests. So rather than speculate, I thought I’d ask and maybe you could clear a few things up for me.

1) When did “management” and “burning” become synonymous? I get the concept of the occasional naturally started fire being allowed to burn, because that clears brush and adds nutrients to the soil, but I also understand that trick only works in a healthy forest.

But we don’t have healthy forests. The forests are bug-ridden, drought stressed, and overgrown.  So why are you not only burning, burning, burning, but you’re also igniting fires in the name of management?

How come you’ve got the budget to pay firefighters to manage all that burning, but you never have the budget to pay for NEPA studies that would allow logging, forest restoration, and mechanical hazardous fuels reduction? You know, stuff that would not only benefit the forests, but benefit local economies?

Sorry, that was more than one question, but let’s move on.

2) When you burn all the brush and grass in the fall, what does the wildlife that browses and grazes, or lives on plant seeds, etc. eat during the winter, before there’s any growth in the spring?

3) When you burn, how many small animals that can’t flee the fires do you kill? How many large animals that than can run get burned by your fires and are crippled or die slow deaths?

4) What impact does all this smoke have on tourism, I wonder?

5) Just how much carbon and particulates gets added to our polluted atmosphere by all this burning? How does breathing the smoke day after day impact human health, and the health of any critter that has lungs? How does the smoke you generate with all your burning contribute to global warming or climate change?

6) Do we ever get a break? Or are you planning to just burn, burn, burn all year long?

Thanks for any answers that you could provide. I am sure everything I’m asking is public information you have made available somewhere, but darned if I can find it.

Lif Strand

PS: I’d appreciate it if you didn’t just give me the party line, but for once just answered the questions.
PS: Sorry for my bad attitude. But month after month of headache, burning eyes, sore throat, and congested lungs from YOUR FIRES tends to make me crabby.



Apple Attitude

Apple Attitude (c) 2017 Lif StrandRANT ALERT.  iLovers just keep quiet for once.

If you’re a PC/Android person, you’ll know just what I mean when I talk about Apple attitude.  It’s that feeling we get when Mac users (even more than other Apple product users) condescend to us.

It pisses me off.  I’ve used Apple products.  I’ve had a Mac Book  (I think that’s what it was called.  It didn’t live with me long enough for me to get to know it’s name.  And really, doesn’t it sound like someone should be asking you if you want fries with that?).

I’ve got an iPad.  Don’t use it.  I’ve got an iPhone.  It works.

So it’s not like I’m not unfamiliar with the products.  It’s just that they aren’t all that hot.

Seriously.  Apple products are simply other options.  They aren’t necessarily better options.  Too many iLovers are like vegans: They act like the rest of us are scum because we aren’t following The Path.

It’s not just Mac users.  It’s Apple Inc., too (I’m sure they encourage the iLovers.  And the vegans).  Heaven forbid you should want to install Apple products adapted for PC/Android devices and then expect they’re going to work.  No, no.  First you must be beaten to your knees.

And my Mac friends wonder why I gnash my teeth and have to restrain myself from throttling them when they tell me “get a Mac” as a solution to my tech problems.

Look, Apple:  we are perfectly happy with our PC oriented life.  We don’t want to worship at the alter, we just want a tool to do the job.

Like this:

I bought a digital book in 2013 (yes, friends, four — that’s 4 — years ago!)  It was only available from iTunes store.  Probably still is.  The alternative was to spend mega bucks on a hard copy because it was a book of photographs.

Never once have I been able to actually see the contents of the book.  Oh, yes, of course I can access it on my iPhone.  Viewing a large format coffee table book on a teensy tiny screen is such a wonderful experience that of course I want to do it all the time.


But I have iTunes on my PC.  I don’t like iTunes.  Like other Apple products, it assumes that if I downloaded it, then I must want it to rule my life.

Not so, Apple.  Keep your grubby fingers off my music.

I’ve learned bypasses around iTunes sticky fingers – because, hey, I actually buy CDs and rip them.  I don’t need the iTunes Store to purchase my music, thank you very much.  Plus if I wanted to buy digital music to download, Amazon is much more user friendly.  I mean, is there some actual reason — other than that I’m using a PC — for all these extra steps that Apple forces us non-Apple people through?

Probably not.

At any rate, I decided the other day I really really wanted to be able to access that book.  Now I admit, I’m not great at following directions.  At least, not before I’ve tried winging it and failed sufficient times to cry uncle.  (And hello?  Tech people?  I don’t do videos for instructions.  Please learn to write.  Because sometimes I don’t want to fast forward and back, I just want to read the damn instructions I need.  I know, how strange.)

So okay, I wait till iTunes for PC loads up.  I poke around, look for a way to read a book via iTunes but don’t find anything.  Surprise surprise.  But okay, there is an audiobook link.

I click on that and get nothing.  Because I don’t have any iTunes audiobooks.  I just have that one regular book.

I go to my purchase history and yup, there’s my book.  Unfortunately there’s no way, zero way, absolutely zippo nada way to download a purchase from your purchase history.  I mean, why be like every single other merchant on the planet?

No.  If I want to download a book I bought via iTunes, I have to download it not to my computer, not even directly to my iPhone.  No, I have to get an iBook app for my iPhone first.  Not for my computer, but for my iPhone.

Because Apple.  Not sacriligeous PC.

So okay, I’m going to download it to my iPhone and then I will transfer it from the phone to my computer, which is the stupid way that Apple makes me do things.  But no.

I can view the book on my iPhone but I cannot download it because it’s too large.  Hey, don’t ask me, it’s just the error message I got on the phone.

So after Googling it and wading through all the stupid forums and tech sites that don’t care if a PC person wants to use a PC to access precious Apple stuff, I break down and contact Apple.

Yes, I did.  I contacted tech support.

iTunes support.  Not Apple support.  I wanted to download to iTunes because that’s what the help pages all said I should do for this book I purchased from iTunes.

Me:  I provided the Windows version and the iTunes version.  The order number.  The book name.  The date.  The fact that I had already used Help and followed the directions.  I pointed out I couldn’t even see the book title in iTunes although I could see it in my purchase history.

iTunes support:  “I understand that you’re unable to re-download your previously purchased audiobook. I’m happy to help you with this today.  I would like to inform you that you can re-download it from your past purchases. To download past purchases from your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, computer, or Apple TV, see this page…”

You do see there the word “computer” in the response.  Not Mac computer.  Not Apple computer.  Just computer.  Okay!

But that word “audiobook”.  No.

So I replied and support responded.

iTunes support: “I once again reviewed your case and see that the item you purchased is a book and not an audiobook. So, you can access the book from iBooks.”

Oh really?  Would that be iBooks for PC?  Hah.  Not.  Turns out that while you can purchase a book using iTunes on a PC, you CAN NEVER READ THE BOOK with iTunes.

Because in the latest iTunes versions, iBooks has been removed by Apple.  Not just iTunes for PC — iTunes for everybody.  You have to have a separate iBook app.

Which is not available in any way shape or form for PC.

No. NO! NOOOOooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!

It just… just… well, makes me want to weep.  It makes me want to wrap a baseball bat with barbed wire and wipe that attitude right off some faces.

Not really.  That would be sign of a bad attitude on my part.


Falling Apart

“I knew my body would fall apart in time,” he said, “but I didn’t know it, you know what I mean?  All those core strength exercises I ignored till my back started hurting and my belly wouldn’t stay in place.  I started them too late.  You shouldn’t put those things off.”

“So you say,” I replied.  “But it’s not like it matters with you.”

“Of course it matters!”

“Only because you’re still so vain.”

“Not so.  You think it’s been easy being me?”

“Well, as a matter of fact… yes.  I do think it’s much easier being you than it is being me.  And I think your vanity has no bounds.”

“For someone who thinks she’s had such a tough time of it, seems to me you’re being rather snarky.”

“And so?  It’s not like you can do anything about it in your condition.”

“I think you’re lacking in sympathy.”

“What if I am?”  I made as if to spit but with no follow-through, of course.  Manners count.

“That’s so petty of you.”

“So I have no sympathy and I’m petty.  At least I’m not falling apart.”

“There is that,” he sighed.

“Besides, you’ve been around a long time.  A long time.  So it’s not like this is some sudden tragedy.”

“Easy for you to say.  You’d feel differently if you were me.”

“But that’s just the point,” I said.  “I’m not you.   You’ve had it all and I haven’t.  So your whining is… just whining.”

He didn’t have much to say about that, though I could tell from his expression I’d pissed him off.  He was used to great masses of people hanging on his every word.

Now it was just one people, me.  Waiting as he fell apart.  A little bit of me that I wasn’t proud of wanted to help him along.  Not help him get better, mind you.  Help him get on with the falling apart business.  I’ve got as much patience as the next person, but the clock was ticking.

“Someday you’ll understand,” he said in a voice thick with phlegm.

“I suppose I will.  But that’ll be a long time from now.”

“You’ll be just as surprised as I am now.”

“Maybe.  Probably.”  I looked at my wrist.  How much longer?

A squishy sound caught my attention.  Another part of him sloughing off, though nothing essential, not yet.

“You’re female, you know,” he said.


“That makes it harder.”

I shrugged, though he probably couldn’t see subtle movements anymore.  “I’ll manage.”

“I’m sure you will.”

We waited in silence.  More of his flesh oozed off of him.  It was a rather unpleasant sight.  The smell didn’t help.  I’d been at his side for long enough that it shouldn’t bother me anymore.  But it did.

“You remember what to do.”  It wasn’t a question, not anymore.

“How many times have you told me?” I asked.

“A dozen?”

“Hah.  How about once a day for oh, maybe a thousand years?”

“You haven’t known me a thousand days much less a thousand years,” he pointed out.

“A figure of speech, meaning enough times that there’s no way I could possibly forget.”

A slight splash when the tip of his nose fell into the puddle his tissues had melted into.  I stepped back, not wanting the noxious liquid to touch my naked toes, even though that wouldn’t matter in a while.

“It will be very soon,” he said, as if he had read my mind.  For all I knew he could do just that.  Three years was not long enough to have gathered even a crumb of what he knew.  Fortunately I would not have to wait till I was as old as he was now for all to be revealed to me.

Any moment now.  At least I hoped so.  I was getting a chill.

“Get ready, child,” he said.

“I’m no child.”  He snorted in amusement, as I meant him to, but there was nothing behind it.

“Remember to–” he began, but the words became a wheeze as his whole body collapsed on itself and bodily fluids splashed over my legs.  I gritted my teeth and stepped into the steaming muck, kicking at the big bones that were taking too long to dissolve, hunting for…

There.  I forced my fingers into the disgusting mess, snatching the walnut sized lump before it could escape.  The bloody blob burned my fingers as I held it, waiting as the pulse weakened and slowed.

I waited… waited… the timing was precise.  A moment too soon and disaster for me.  A moment too late and true death for the both of us.

And then I felt it quiver: the thrill of a soul on the cusp of fleeing the physical.  I popped the lump into my mouth, my tongue shrinking away from the nastiness.  I gagged it down and cried out as it burned its way to my stomach, where it promptly seared through the muscle and aimed itself at my heart.

I steeled myself for the possibility of death even as I prepared for the agony of metamorphosis.

Thy will be done, Master.  My will be done.







What I’m reading

What I’m working on
(I like to have several books going at the same time):

Goodnight L.A., by Kent Hartman.
“The rise and fall of classic rock — the untold story from inside the legendary recording studios.”
Fat Chance, by Gilbert Klein
” We Were the Last Gasp of the 60s and the Birth of Americana Music But Was America Ready For Us?”
Urban Enemies, by Jim Butcher, Kevin Hearne, et. al.
“Stories from the villains of your favorite urban fantasy series”
Play It Loud, by Brad Tolinski & Alan Di Perna
“An Epic History of the Style, Sound, and Revolution of the Electric Guitar”

What I just finished:
(Rated on a scale of 0 – 10, where 0=horrible)

An Obvious Fact, by Craig Johnson (2016)
Rating: 8 A fun book, though Johnson’s characters are becoming caricatures of themselves

The Practice Effect, by David Brin (1984)
Rating: 5  An okay book that started out well but with a predictable ending.


In the immediate queue:

Sound, by Bella Bathurst
The Path, by Peter Riva
Teresa of the New World, by Sharman Apt Russell
High Tide in Tucson, by Barbara Kingsolver
Loving Pedro Infante, by Denise Chavez
The Shipping News, be Annie Proulx
Damnificados, by JJ Amaworo Wilson
The Western Star, by Craig Johnson


NaNoWriMo is coming

2017 NaNoWriMo

Yes, writing maniacs, it is that time of year again.

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing. On November 1, participants begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 PM on November 30.”   About NaNoWriMo

So.  Why do that crazy thing?
If you’ve never completed writing a novel it could be because you become overwhelmed with the idea itself.  Or you figure it’s just too hard to find the time.  Or that you never could write that many words.  Or… well, there’s lots of reasons.

The one thing that I found to be true for me was that it’s easy to start a novel but not so easy to finish one.  Somewhere not that far into the process I lose momentum.  It wasn’t until I started with NaNoWriMo, coming on 14 years ago, that I discovered the secret to writing a novel:  Write lots of words.

Hey, if you don’t believe me, believe Stephen King in his great book, On Writing (p 145), “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others:  read a lot and write a lot.”

I read a lot — no problem there for me.  And I thought I was writing a lot, but if that was true seems to me there’d be at least one novel completed.  Understand — I’ve been writing for a living for longer than I have been messing around with NaNoWriMo, but non-fiction writing is a whole ‘nother ball of wax.  It’s easy to write 50 page and longer documents for a client month after month.  Fiction?  I had to come up with my own stuff to write about – stuff that hadn’t happened anywhere but inside my own head!  And trust me, that was scary!

Do not be fooled by 50K!
Coming up with that many words is hard to do at first.  It seemed impossible that first year or so.  But it was worth it because it turns out that 50,000 words is enough to push me over the hump and onto the slide towards The End of a proper length novel (i.e. significantly more than 50K words).  But I didn’t know that when I started.  And I didn’t find out the first year, or the second.

I forget how many years till I did it for the first time – and let me tell you, that was quite the day, the day I got to submit my 50K.  And what came of it?  I mean, do you see a novel around Amazon with my name on it?  (Yes, I do have a book on Amazon, but it’s not a novel.  It did come about indirectly because of what NaNoWriMo taught me, though).

So what did NaNoWriMo do for me?  I learned I could make up enough stuff every day to seriously write.  I learned this by setting my butt on my chair and my fingers on the computer keyboard every single day for a month to churn out at least 2000 words a day.  Yeah, I know — if you do the math, you “only” need to write 1666.66 words a day to get your 50K by the end of November.  But there are days when Life Happens.  Thanksgiving, here in the USA, for one thing.  And other real obligations that mean missing a day of writing now and again.  So I learned to write more than the minimum each day.  If, somewhere before the 30th of November I reached 50k, well, so much the better.

Along the way to 50k (hey, that has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it), writing the required number of words every single day taught me to stop getting all caught up in writing the correct words, instead of  just writing words.  Because it’s writing words that gets the story out.

The need to churn out the 2000 words meant I dragged in all kinds of ideas that I might not have otherwise in order to make my daily quota.  Those ideas led to other ideas, and had my characters doing all sorts of interesting things that they might not have done if I had been wedded to writing correctly.

Because you can always come back and fix the writing.  But that takes precious time.  And besides, first you have to have something to fix.

A close corollary is that I learned that my words weren’t precious.   I had churned them out and when the time came to edit, well, hey.  I had proven to myself I could churn out more if I had to.  I don’t just delete, mind you.  Because my words are a teensy bit precious to me.  My darling words that get cut from my edits go into file folders for later use.  Not that I tend to ever bother looking at them, but I could if I wanted to.

It’s a comfort knowing they’re safely there.  It allows me to be more ruthless than I might be otherwise.  Believe me, ruthless is necessary, but not for NaNoWriMo.  For after November 30.

Counting down to November
So here I am, about to embark on my 14th NaNoWriMo.  I’ve reactivated my account for 2017.  Donated some money to the cause (not a requirement, but it’s a non-profit, and if/when I get my first novel out there, I’ll have gotten so much more out of NaNoWriMo than I have ever given them!)

I’ve given no thought whatsoever as to what I’ll write in a few weeks.  It doesn’t matter.  I’ll write.  For 30 days (well, 29 since Thanksgiving is happening no matter what) I’ll have the luxury of telling people, sorry.  I’m doing NaNoWriMo.  I can’t go anywhere.  I can’t do those things you’d like me to do.

I’m a writer.  I gotta write.