Wednesday, March 9, 2005

Colors Recorded and Questions Answered

Colors of the Day

I took Tuffy out around the neighborhood at sunset, the Mavica around my neck.  Had I not been so busy at sunset on Monday, when there were still clouds, I might have gotten something nice.  It's too late now.  The winter monsoon is over, and the skies are clear. My sunset picture isn't very interesting at all. I therefore won't bother to post it here. purple eastThis journal's taking too long to load as it is.

Drat. I wanted to show you the way sunset can be seen in other parts of the Tucson sky than just the west, because of the way the colors are reflected off the mountains. I don't know whether it was the lack of clouds or the time of year, but the Catalinas didn't pick up any interesting colors tonight.  So I pointed my camera at the purple sunset--to the east!


not much of a flower.
Because Tucson had a ton more rain than usual this winter, there are supposed to be lots of wildflowers this spring.  You can't prove it by our house.  We have lots of weeds--or did, until John did many hours of weeding--but only a few unimpressive yellow weedy flowers.  See?  Tuffy's standing over one of them, oblivious. 

 Tuffy is oblivious to the flowers.

It's just as well, really, because flowers fall into my rule of thumb for allergies: if I can smell it (food excepted), I'm allergic to it. This limits my interest in and affection for flowers, just as I have a limited interest in cats, who through no fault of their own bring me asthma and misery.

Other houses in the neighborhood do have flowers, though.  I'm not sure how many of them are wild. I think the bluish purple ones are verbena.  I have no clue about the others.

This neighbor's yard is nothing but flowers. verbena - maybe 

Paul's Interview Questions

Paul is participating in a meme that's more interesting than most.  Somebody asked him five questions, which he answered in his journal, Aurora Walking Vacation.  Now he's writing individualized questions for readers who volunteered to pass it on.  Here are his questions to me:

Hi Karen.   Here are your five questions. The response I'm getting, I'm going to be doing this all night. Have fun with these.  

1) What specific piece of your writing are you most proud of, and why?

2) As a science fiction/fantasy fan and writer, and a Catholic, what is your take on the evolution vs. creation controversy?

3) You recently returned to college as a mature student and completed your degree/diploma. What was the best part of that experience? What was the worst part?

4) Leaving aside the fantasy genre, what hard science fiction work of literature has most influenced you, and why?

5) Sam Beckett or Jonathan Archer? Why?  


1. Hmm.  Tough one.  I'm proud of what I've done with JW after all these years, and of the Mâvarin series in general, which to me is all one work.  But I think I have to go with Heirs of Mâvarin, because it's all done, aside from the final edit that's theoretically in progress.  I'm proud that this amateurish, unworkable high school effort eventually evolved into something really worthwhile.  I love these characters, and it would be a damn shame if only a handful of friends ever got to read about them. That's why I'm determined, determined, I tell you! to get the darn thing published (I don't mean by a vanity press!) and in the stores.

2. Minor correction: I was baptized and raised a Catholic. Given my mom's chronic ambivalence,  I always say,  accurately, that I was raised  to be a lapsed Catholic. 

Now I'm an Episcopalian in a very Anglican church. The primary reason for this change in denomination, aside from the many virtues of this specific parish, is that the Episcopal Church is sort of the Catholic Church as it should have been, without the hidebound, dogmatic attitude.  One has only to look at 1) the fact that many (perhaps most) Episcopal priests marry, and 2) the recent uproar over Bishop Robinson, who is gay, to get a feel for the differences.  And yet the liturgies are very similar.

The Episcopal Church, at least, the St. Michael's version, thus tends to have a modern view of science and reason, existing in uneasy harmony with faith.  One version of the Eucharistic Prayer even mentions galaxies. Aside from the core tenets of Jesus' life, death and resurrection, there's no expectation that one ignore science, reason and history and proclaim the literal truth of stories not meant to be strictly factual.

So when one of the lectors reads from Genesis at St. Michael's, there's no sermon afterwards to say that creation happened just exactly that way, and that any dinosaurs you may happen to dig up from time to time are just a dirty trick to keep you on your toes. As for me, I've always assumed that dinosaurs were real (including the green brontosaurus of childhood books and toys, darn it!).  I stopped going to a Bible study group back in high school when a classmate's parents took me aside and gave me a creationist tract.  "What nonsense!" I thought, and that was that.

That said, however, there is one small part of the intelligent design argument that rings true for me. If one accepts both God and science, there are interesting, often troublesome ramifications to that world view. One of these, in my opinion, is the idea that God set the Big Bang (or whatever) in motion, along with the laws of physics.  Some book I intend to read more of some day puts forth the theory that one reason for doing this, perhaps the main reason, was to start a chain of events that would eventually result in the evolution of creatures intelligent enough to interact with  God. That works for me.  I don't need God as the ultimate micromanager, forcing evolution along a certain path, let alone doing it all in six days. God would have foreseen that the way Creation was set up, from the infathomable beginning, if any, would inevitably lead to God having someone to talk to.

Incidentally, I haven't put a Creation myth into the Mâvarin books.  It never even occurred to me to do so, despite the variety of other religious beliefs and practices depicted, especially in Mages of Mâvarin.

End of lecture.  No hate mail, please!

3. Even now that it's over, it may still be too soon to choose the best part of my return to school. As I fuss around with clothes and makeup, resumes and interviews and tests, I'm thinking the best part may be the result of the whole thing, in which I get a lucrative and challenging job, and finally reverse the trend of ever-increasing debt.  Since that hasn't happened yet, I'll go with the sense of accomplishment as the best thing.  I took this old failure from 1979, in which I didn't quite finish a BA in a fairly useless major, and redeemed it by getting a more useful degree.  I finished it, and I did it in style, with all As except for two courses.

The worst part about it was not the management theory, although that was tedious and sometimes pseudoscientific. No, the worst bits all had to do with negative interactions with specific people:

  • In one early course, I did about 85% of my team's course work, because the other people on the team were either lazy or incompetent.  One of them even called me up a couple of times for step by step instructions on how to send an email from AOL. 
  • Another low point was a shouting match between two team members, neither of whom, I'm glad to say, was Karen.
  • One particular instructor also makes my human interaction hall of shame, because she liked to hand out a grade of 0 (and make the student redo the assignment) if a paper didn't exceed the stated parameters set out by UoP. 
  • And at the very end, I was rejected from a team of people from my previous classes, and ended up doing most of the work for my final learning team, while butting heads with a teammember who wanted to run the show. 

I learned a lot from the team learning part of UoP, but it wasn't always a pleasant experience.

4. Hard SF?  Does Pern count?  McCaffrey's Dragonriders books use the trappings of fantasy in an sf setting.  I appreciate them for the characters, the political/social conflicts, and the huge sweep of reasonably consistent backstory. 

Other than that, and A Wrinkle in Time, I don't have many specific memories of sf I've read. I liked The Martian Chronicles, but I don't think Bradbury--no, wait.  I've got it. Fahrenheit 451.  I love the anti-censorship message, and the hope for the future despite the difficulties, exemplified by the human books and the protagonist's enlightenment.  Yeah.  That's it.

5.  Sam Beckett is probably the second best character in the history of television, due to his compassion, his complexity and his chameleonlike changeabilty. On the other hand, I barely tolerate the character Jonathan Archer.  He's unpleasant and sometimes immoral, and I have a hard time rooting for him.  Scott Bakula is an excellent actor, but if the writing isn't all it should be, Scott's talent is just wasted.  I liked what I saw of this season of Enterprise, but honestly, this old Trekkie and Scott fan missed many episodes of Enterprise due to annoyance, forgetfulness, bad scheduling and ennui.

Done!  Now it's your turn.  Step right up!  Who wants to be interviewed online by someone who once interviewed Scott Bakula?


P.S.  It's March 10th.  Do you know how old Karen is? (And why should you care?)

Happy birthday to me,
Happy birthday to me
Happy birthday, silly Karen,
Now get back to work!


plittle said...

Hi Karen,
1) So let me ask you this. Is it out there? Has it been out there in its current form? Will we ever see Mavarin in Borders, or on Amazon?
2) I apologise. Being areligious myself, I must confess to not paying much attention when you have written about your church. I should have made that distinction, and if I had, I would have asked a different question.
3) I expected the worst part to be other students :D Were they all mature students, or were you working with other actual college age children?
4) Considering how long it's been around, and popular, it's surprising that I have never read any Pern. Any McCaffrey at all, for that matter. I can't say why. Just never got there. It's been years since I read Fahrenheit451, but I quite remember it.
5) OK, I'll bite. Who's 'number one?'

ryanagi said...

LOL at Paul's interview questions. You could interview me. I'd be interested to see what you ask. LOL ;-)  Happy Birthday!  

deabvt said...

Deeply thought answers, Karen,
Happy Birthday!  Woo Hoo!!!!

onemoretina said...

    Enjoyed reading your answers, Karen......even if it took me sooo long to leave a comment ! .  My life has been pretty crazy lately.  Hopefully, that will soon change.
     I, too, was raised a Catholic, and am considering making the jump to the Episcopal church.  I call it "guilt-free Catholicism" ... which is as it should be ( I think so, anyway ).   Tina

cneinhorn said...

never mind, as you can see I found your answers!  I missed this entry the first time around!  I loved a Wrinkle in Time and actually have the book and the movie!  you can question me if you'd like and if you are still playing this game that is!  LOL