Archive for May, 2019

Okay, this is seriously spooky.
Windows just popped up a reminder for me to do something. This is NOT a task or reminder that I set up. No, this is a task that Windows created for me.
The reminder quoted something from an email I sent. Windows/Microsoft had read my email, analyzed it, and determined that I needed to follow up on what I said I would do.
And today it reminded me.
Windows/Microsoft is reading my email.
You can pretend all you want that this is benevolent, but it’s not. It’s spying. It’s an invasion of privacy.
But of course, Microsoft knows better. They only have my best interests at heart.
This is more than spooky. It’s evil.
Check the date. Regardless of what the calendar says, it’s 1984.
All hail Big Brother.

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My friend Earle and I disagree. A lot. And that’s okay. But more about that later. First let me tell you about Earle.

I have a pair of very good friends—Valerie and Earle Gardner. Valerie is a talented author of medieval fantasy. (Check out her “Blood of Ancient Kings,” “Dracona’s Rebirth,” and “Servant Queen,” written under the moniker, V.J.O. Gardener.) Earle is not an author. He is simply a great guy. He is clever, inventive, intelligent, and above all, friendly. He is the kind of guy who will help anyone at any time. Valerie, Earle, and I have been friends for years. We’ve spent countless hours together at Renaissance faires, writers’ conferences, and other events—anywhere we can sell our books.

When I do my medieval weapons shows/presentations/workshops, Earle and Valerie pack up my arsenal (often with the help of their adult son, Thomas), transport it to the event, and set up the tent/pavilion and the display. They man the arsenal, keeping everyone safe and making sure no one walks off with one of my lovely, lethal treasures. They carefully monitor the weapons as they are passed around among the patrons during the show/class. They carefully wipe off every single weapon—more than eighty pieces and growing (who knew swords, spears, and axes—oh my!—proliferated like that?)—to get all the fingerprints off the high-carbon steel so the swords won’t rust. After each class, they help me answer questions, help keep everyone safe (and above all protect my weapons), and basically make sure everyone has a wonderful, enlightening time. At the end of each day, they pack up the weapons, pavilion, etc., and transport it all home (or store it safely away for the next day). After the event, they transport the entire arsenal back to my home and help haul it back up to my office (a.k.a. “The Armory”).

I have had two major surgeries in the past two years—I’ve had my Achilles tendon repaired and a total knee replacement. For a couple of years before that, when I was in extreme pain and taking medications to control that pain (medications that made me very sick and didn’t do all that much to mitigate the pain), Earle and Valerie did ALL the work for the workshops—except for the teaching itself. Physically, it was all I could do to teach the classes. I couldn’t do any of the physical labor. When we loaded up from my office, my family and some of my neighbors would help haul things up and down the stairs, but the rest was all Earle and Valerie. (Thankfully, I am able to help out more and more now as I’m slowly regaining my strength.)

But there’s more.

Earle has invented and constructed clever and durable display stands for my various suits of armor, breastplates, helms, and spears. Valerie has sown coverings for the helmet stands and for my English longbow. Earle has engineered containers and strategies to safely transport the weapons. He is constantly thinking of ways to improve the displays and the process. The man is a genius!

Now, why would Earle and Valerie do all this? There is certainly some mutual self-interest involved. Valerie sells her books and I sell mine at these faires, conferences, and other events. Often, Valerie and Earle will do an event out of town that conflicts with my service in the Tabernacle Choir—so I can’t attend—but they take boxes of my books and sell them right along with Valerie’s. Sometimes, we sell a lot. Sometimes, we sell few. Sometimes, Valerie sells more than I do and visa-versa. But we are selling books. So, there is that aspect, to be sure. But Earle is there, pitching both Valerie’s books and mine to anybody who is interested. But that’s not all there is to it. Not by a long shot. There has even been one event where I was allowed to sell books (because I was invited to participate), but Valerie was not. And yet, they both came and did their thing anyway. I am constantly amazed and profoundly grateful. I cannot thank them enough.

So why? Why, especially on those occasions when there is little or nothing to gain, would Earle and Valerie do all this? Because they are just great people.

Now back to my opening statement.

Earle and I disagree about a LOT of things. A lot of IMPORTANT things that we are PASSIONATE about. We have strong, often, conflicting opinions. We’ve had discussions online and in-person about these important things. They have never devolved into arguments. Not once. We’ve never even exchanged an angry or a harsh word. Not once. And while we can find common ground many times, I don’t think either of us has ever converted the other to the opposing position on anything. We’ve exchanged ideas, opposing viewpoints, and left it at that.

And that’s okay. We can disagree about fundamental things and still be friends.

What a concept!

Earle has never once accused me of hating people who are different. He has never accused me of despising the Earth, clean air, clean water, or bunny rabbits. Earle has never called into question my character or my honesty. Not once.

Today, I texted Earle out of the blue: “Kirk, Picard, Janeway, Cisco, or Archer?”

His response was “What?” (I’m pretty sure he thought I might have been on some serious drugs. Or that Ferengi had stolen my phone.)

I replied, “Star Trek captain.”

His response? “Janeway.”

Seriously? Janeway?

Okay, so Earle is very clearly WRONG on this fundamental and important issue. The correct answer is obviously Kirk (or possibly Archer).

(Actually, John Sheridan is THE best, but I didn’t give Earle that option, now did I?) But, Janeway???? Janeway?????


Guess what? We are still friends.

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