Seeking Immortality in Fact and Fiction

I just heard a really interesting piece on the science of brain preservation. Scientists are still working on it, with the intention that the information in frozen brains may be downloaded into… something, someday. You can read a synopsis or listen to the whole 20 minute article here.

Three thoughts I had while listening:

  • These guys are just like Herbert West!
  • Freshness is, indeed, important.
  • In the end, it’s a crapshoot.

To elaborate…

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Howard Phillips Lovecraft

Bringing people (or their brains) back from the dead is a stock element of science fiction. H.P. Lovecraft’s Herbert West is a quintessential mad scientist engaged with this effort. Like one of the present day real scientists on this quest for immortality, Herbert realizes you need a really fresh corpse to succeed. It seems it’s best to start the process before death occurs, meaning it might be necessary to kill the patient to save him.

The article examines this and other ethical and practical issues, concluding with the thought that even if the preservation and information retrieval techniques work (a really big if), by the time it’s possible to do all this, society will be totally different. The reactivated minds will find themselves in environments that may be alien and terrifying. And the uses to which the minds are put may be other than benign. Life after death for the awakened brains may be heaven, hell, or anything in between. Or it may never happen at all. Which is, when you think about it, pretty much where we are right now.

For fictional treatments of this topic, you might want to read H.P. Lovecraft’s stories Herbert West, Reanimator or, for a different take, The Whisperer in Darkness.” Then there’s my novel, The Friendship of Mortals, which presents my expansion on Herbert West and his motives.

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‘Of Patchwork Warriors’ Wigran Hendrechan explains something of the forces at work

Here’s yet another Patchwork Warriors character. This fellow might be called a hacker.

heroicallybadwriter

 

Hello.

My name in Wigran Hendrechan and you’ll find something about me in ‘Of Patchwork Warriors’.

I’m not really one of the heroes nor at present, a truly central character, although to be fair if it wasn’t for me Trelli wouldn’t be the strong person she has become. I don’t mean to sound arrogant about that, but it is a fact of Cause and Effect in the book. When you read the narrative, you’ll find there is a great deal of interaction between The Stommigheid and folk and all sorts of things happen no one expects. (Actually, I don’t like the term Stommigheid, that’s too judgemental. The Ethereal is more apt because the whole business is very difficult to pin down in simple sentences)

I’ve been trying to explain all of this to Roger who makes our adventures known in your world. He’s quite sharp on the uptake on…

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Back garden, spring, bird bath, ugly white chairs

A Gardener is a Plant Referee

Wandering around the garden, I found myself nudging aside foliage of vigorous plants to make sure less hearty subjects weren’t being shaded or squashed. That got me thinking about what I actually do in the garden and what roles I play. I’m no sports fan, but it could be the current playoffs (hockey and basketball) and new season (baseball) have influenced my metaphor-maker.

A gardener is…

A referee, who makes sure everyone plays nice and no one gets hurt. Except sometimes that means someone has to get hurt weeded.

A coach, who puts plants into the right spots, so they’ll grow well and look good.

A trainer, who snips, prunes, and stakes, encouraging everyone to get into optimal shape.

A doctor, who designs preventive regimens, diagnoses ailments, and applies tonics and nostrums when needed.

A chaplain, who ministers to the dying and performs the last rites at the compost heap.

A general manager, who decides what changes are going to be made for success next season.

Which means all those plants out there are a team.

My home team is looking pretty good right now, but its season is just getting under way.

White and green ornamental grass and pink tulipsGreen and white ribbon grass (Phalaris arundinacea var. picta) looks good with pink tulips. It’s a quick spreader, though, so eventually some management will be needed.

Male fern, Dryopteris filix-mas, unfurling fiddleheads and yellow ornamental grass, Milium effusumFerns have finally unrolled their fiddleheads. Dryopteris filix-mas looks fine with the intense yellow-green of the ornamental grass Milium effusum.

 

Heuchera "Green Spice"One of the huge tribe of coral bells is Heuchera “Green Spice.” It does fairly well in dry shade, and the subtle shades of purply-red and greeny-grey invite artful colour combinations.

Heuchera "Dolce Key Lime Pie" and Hellebore "Ivory Prince"Another Heuchera, this one with the rather awkward moniker “Dolce Key Lime Pie,” lives in a big blue pot with the hellebore “Ivory Prince,” whose flowers are taking on shades of green and pink as they mature.

Gentians, Gentiana acaulisThose blue gentians again! Gentiana acaulis is doing its thing next to the front walk. I suspect the plants need to be dug and divided every few years, because this newer patch is doing much better than the original, which has been in place for almost 20 years.

Wallflower, Erysimum "Bowles Mauve"Wallflower Erysimum “Bowles Mauve” is at its best right now. The magenta of the flowers and grey-blue-green of the foliage are a magical combination.

 

 

American goldfinches at feeder enjoying black sunflower seedsRecent visitors to the garden include two pairs of American goldfinches, who spent much of an afternoon loading up on sunflower seeds. A deer rested in my neighbour’s garden and stopped by here later to nibble on the lawn.

 

 

 

Deer in neighbour's yard seen through shrubs

Can you spot the deer?

Go Team!

 

Mr Silc wants to have a few words about ‘Of Patchwork Warriors’

Mr. Silc suggested I reblog this post, so I’m doing it. Besides, Of Patchwork Warriors is a good read! You get to meet Mr. Silc, his associates and all sorts of other colourful characters. Your vocabulary will expand too.

heroicallybadwriter

‘Ullo. Grenaww Silc’s the name. Elinid’s me home town. I do alright by her and she does alright by me, if you get my meaning, which most folks do, soon enough, and feel a lot better for knowing so.

Now this lad who does the writing. Well, be honest he’s a bit of walnut. Told him so, and give him his due, he accepts that and does his best.

To be fayre to him, he’s given Elinid a good spread, been writing about the old town for years, he has, in one those affectionate ways, which is nice. ‘Course he started out the wrong way, gave us Silcs a minor, what they call, reference role, just to build up this Ven Jek bloke. Oh yes, I shouldn’t get started on them Jeks, going on like they was all moral and just roguish when they were just a bunch of small-time…

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‘Ullo Everyone! It’s proper ‘Patchwork Warriors’ time!!

Here’s a word from Karlyn, one of the main characters in RJ Llewellyn’s lively and harrowing novel, Of Patchwork Warriors. She gives a pretty good impression of the book. I’ve read it and recommend it to those who appreciate tales of action and adventure with a bit of magic and some grit mixed in.

heroicallybadwriter

Hi Karlyn here!!

‘Lo everyone! I said I’d be back didn’t I?

For meself, speaking personally, I was pleased  wiv’ the way ‘Of Patchwork Warriors’ went. There was a lot of running about, thumpin’ blokes wot deserved it, stabbing a few an’ I got to climb up as many trees as I wanted to AN’ talk to so many really interesting and clever bees and butterflys. AN’ a made a really best good friend Trelli, who understands me. And is kindly an’ sweet.

AND ‘course there was (hee-hee) Flaxi, whose proper name is Arketre but she’s got this lovely blonde hair! So my pet name for ‘er is Flaxi!….But I’m not supposed to say too much ‘bout us ‘cause Flaxi’s particular about HOW much you lot should know. She says ‘I don’ want to go a walkin’ about their bedrooms do I naw? So they can jus’ use their Good…

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An Exciting (Scary) New Venture

Those who haven’t seen this yet — author and blogger Don Massenzio is now offering editing and formatting services to indie authors.

Author Don Massenzio

I launched my author blog about three years ago and have watched it grow beyond anything I’d hoped. I’ve met many great people as I’ve made some friendships and have helped some authors along the way.

As luck would have it, I lost my day job about two months ago and I’m still in search of regular employment to keep the lights on and put food on the table.

The silver lining that emerged from this is that I’m embarking on a new venture. During the past year, I have edited books for a few select authors as kind of a pilot and test launch of a set of services that I hoped to turn into a business. My extra ‘free time’ and my need to generate some income, I’m launching a book editing/formatting service formally as a separate WordPress site.

For authors that take advantage of these services, I’m…

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Free on Kindle: The Journey (Book 2 of the Herbert West Series)

Islands of the Gulf Volume 1, THE JOURNEY is available for free via a special promotion until end of day Sunday, April 29th.

Here’s an opportunity for those who’ve read Book 1 of the series, The Friendship of Mortals, to find out what happens to Herbert West after his departure from Arkham.

AMAZON:   USA   UK   CA   AU 

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Once, he was Herbert West, superlative surgeon and revivifier of the dead. Now he’s lost his reputation, his country and his name. Rebuilding his life as a country doctor on Bellefleur Island, he struggles with doubts, emotional entanglements and terrible memories of the Great War. Above all, he must forge a new relationship with his old adversary – death – and negotiate with a new one – love.

 

 

I’m curious to see which of the existing reviews readers will agree with.

 

 

 

 

Carrie Rubin and Audrey Driscoll — Authors Who Deserve More

A delightful surprise to read this post on Mark’s blog, mentioning one of my books along with The Bone Curse by Carrie Rubin, which looks really interesting.

KingMidget's Ramblings

Audrey Driscoll is a blogger/writer who has followed my blog for some time. I have always appreciated her likes and occasional comments, but I only recently returned the favor and started following her blog a few months ago.  It’s the kind of writer’s blog I appreciate. Most of the time you don’t even realize she has pursued publishing efforts because much of her blog is dedicated to her other pursuits.

A few weeks ago Berthold Gambrel posted a review of one of Audrey’s books, The Friendship of Mortals. Interestingly, Berthold learned of Audrey from my blog, likely because of a comment she left there that he then followed down the WordPress trail. His review inspired me to read The Friendship of Mortals. And I don’t know why. I’ve never read Lovecraft and haven’t the foggiest idea about his (her?) books and stories, although I’ve heard the name occasionally over…

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Lily-flowered magnolia "Susan" in April 2014

The Rites (and Wrongs) of Spring

Spring has settled in and I’ve done the usual things associated with the season: edging the perennial beds, distributing enriched compost, cutting the grass, seeding tomatoes (indoors), cutting down old dead stuff, and, of course, pruning. Pruning is always a challenge, often involving ladders, rose thorns, and holly prickles. Then there’s disposal of the trimmed off stuff — more thorns and prickles.

But now all that’s done, and the deadheading and watering phase hasn’t started. The garden is looking pretty good (except for certain spots to a discerning eye). Time to list the good and the less-than-good (i.e. bad) things I’ve noticed so far.

The Bad

  • poppy pagoda to protect blue poppies from winter rainAll except one of the blue poppies (Meconopsis) perished over the winter, despite (or maybe because of) being transplanted to deluxe quarters in half-barrels last autumn. Even the specially built roofs on legs, intended to protect them from winter rain, didn’t do the trick. I think my mistake was the pea gravel mulch, which kept the soil too moist through the winter. The sole survivor looks a bit feeble, but I’m letting myself hope it will survive. Local nurseries don’t as yet have any plants in stock, but I plan to give this fussy species another try.
  • The reliable-as-furniture ferns (Dryopteris species and others) haven’t unfurled their fiddleheads yet. Usually by mid-April they are well under way. They’re alive but dawdling. Why? The past winter wasn’t that harsh. Could it be because I cut down last year’s fronds too early, before the last hard frosts?
  • A potted delphinium has, like the blue poppies, succumbed to root or crown rot, probably because I didn’t repot it into fresh, uncompacted soil last year. Delphiniums need that near-mythical combination of “moist but well-drained” soil. If they’re grown in pots, the gardener needs to keep in mind that the soil becomes dense and less well-drained over two or three years. The next winter administers the kiss of death. Goodbye, delphinium.
  • A couple of tulips appear to have “tulip fire,” a disease caused by the fungus Botrytis tulipae. They will have to be dug up and disposed of. This problem is new to me. Those particular tulips have occupied their spots for years — which, I understand, is the problem. The longer they remain undisturbed, the more susceptible they are. If I decide to replace them, the new bulbs will have to be planted in different locations.

The Good

  • The winter massacre of crocuses (most likely by rats) wasn’t as bad as I thought. Some areas escaped completely.
  • A potted hosta I thought was a goner after it was dug and dumped by some creature (probably a raccoon) has sprouted out nicely.
  • The pretty blue* bindweed relative, Convolvulus sabatius, has survived the winter well, unlike other years when it didn’t show above ground until June. I also have hopes that Gaura lindheimeri made it. I still don’t know why this plant, supposedly hardy to Zone 5 or 6, has a habit of dying here in Zone 8. My soil is sandy and well-drained, which is supposedly what it needs.
  • Daylily “Hyperion,” which I dug up and divided in February because it seemed to be in decline due to pushy maple roots, appears to be doing well, both in its old spot (from which I removed a lot of roots) and the two new ones.
  • Clematis armandii foliage and flowers in holly bush

    Clematis armandii and holly

    I managed to prune both Clematis armandii and the holly that supports it without inflicting major unintended damage to the clematis. It tends to grow in loops and figure eights, so if pruning is needed (best done as its blooming period ends), you can’t just snip anywhere. My rule is never to make a cut unless I can see the end of the thing being cut. There’s nothing worse than seeing a whole section of the plant wilting a few days later because of a blind cut.

  • After a dry March, we’ve had an abundance of rain in April. The real test, of course, will be June, July, and August. At least one of these months will be rainless. If it’s two consecutive months, there will be groaning and gnashing of teeth by this gardener.
  • The pink magnolia is blooming heartily. So are forget-me-nots and bluebells. And gentians, which are intensely blue.*
  • The apple tree and lilac have obvious plans to bloom soon. In general, the garden looks fine.
Back garden spring 2018 birthday birdbath

Part of the back garden, featuring the birdbath that was this year’s birthday present. A few birds have actually used it for bathing purposes.

April 6, 2016

Gentiana acaulis

* Like many gardeners, I have a thing for blue flowering plants, many of which are hard to grow (blue poppies and delphiniums, for instance). One type of gentian (Gentiana acaulis) seems to do fairly well here, and forget-me-nots are practically a weed. For them I am grateful.

A Book Series Infographic

A while ago, I read a couple of posts about creating infographics to promote books or enhance blogs. Being a keen user of Canva for the past couple of years, I suspected they had templates for that. They do — lots of them, including many free ones.

Here’s an infographic for my book series I whipped up using one of the Canva templates. I changed the background and text colours, and, of course, the text and pictures. It really was quick and easy.

Give it a try: www.canva.com

The Herbert West Series