Summer Words

Images, Lettering

Awareness of the outside world. EarthSky: Why hottest weather isn’t on longest day, Byrd, 2019.

Process notes. Today’s project was Gradient. Radial gradient for sun; linear gradient for hot. Inkscape. Letters drawn on grid with Bezier pen. Not exciting shapes, but a) more original than starting with a font, & b) this was about the filling rather than the form. GIMP to finish, per usual.

Because I’m going to want to remember how I did this, the linear look of the S and the N are from drawing out the gradient circle into a long, narrow ellipse. The gradient line for the O is set on the diagonal. Purple stars indicate position of gradient handles.

Stay safe. Stay sane.

Rage Anthem, A Fictional Author Interview


How did you come to write Rage Anthem?

I was in a bad place. I’d had some personally reversals and I was watching way too much news. That was right around the time of the Florida Riots and I knew people who had gotten caught up in them. I hated the human race. So, I sat down to write a story about the planet from an alien point of view. The whole thing just poured out of me.

I tend to process a lot of my writing internally before I start typing, so that part wasn’t too strange. The anger and pain and darkness was NOT what I usually write. I have a fiber blog. I usually write about how to set up your loom or match dye lots. Writing the story actually wasn’t all that much fun, but I couldn’t stop.

Your relationship to the story is almost as famous as the story itself. Was the anonymity intentional?

That was a by-product.

Rage was not on point for my blog. It didn’t seem fair to spring that kind of tirade on a reader who was stopping by to read up on the latest fiber products.

So I created a secondary blog and posted the story. I disabled the comments because at that point I really didn’t give a shit what other people had to say. I didn’t put my own name on it because it was posted as coming from Xerf. Putting an IRL name with it would have spoiled the illusion.

Then I forgot about it.

I occasionally thought about taking it down, but I’m enough of a pack rat that I wanted it to be stored somewhere. That was as good a place as any. Plus, it was a time in my life that I didn’t really want to revisit. I left it there the way you leave old chargers in a desk drawer. You know you should do something about them but you never get around to it.

Now, I’d say that’s it’s more of a willful anonymity. I’m no one’s image of Xerf’s amanuensis. No teenager wants to be reminded that an author who speaks their pain actually looks like their grandmother. Editors want a more marketable attitude, you know, more piercings, less knitting.

I don’t hide who I am but neither do I go to conventions. When the limited edition print volume came out, I didn’t do any in-person book signings. You quickly get tired of people looking at you with various degrees of shock and horror.

Are you surprised that so many young people read it?

I’m surprised that anyone reads it. Or at least reads it a second time. That is not a happy story.

I am surprised young people seems so drawn to it. I touch on modern events, but I also talk about the Cold War and First Wave Feminism. Those things were over before these kids were born. If you are fifteen, the 1970s are ancient history.

When did you realize Rage was popular?

When Xerf started showing up on memes, I honestly didn’t make the connection. I know it sounds disingenuous, but it’s true. I figured I’d seen the name somewhere and unconsciously copied it.

Did you know that XERF was the Mexican radio station where Wolfman Jack got his start? Xerf-the-alien would be pleased by that.

Even when it started to go viral, the original page never got that many hits. People would repost it. Readers would come over to my page, see that there was no more information, no way to comment, no way to contact the author. So they’d go back to the repost and argue about it there.

Every so often, I’d get a visitor spike on the fiber blog. I think someone would hack the server, do a backtrace, look around, assume it was a mistake, and leave.

Then I started getting comments. Mostly asking if I was related to the author. That’s when I put up a second About page saying, Yes, I was the author of Rage Anthem. No, there ‘s nothing on this blog that related to that fictional world. Thanks for visiting.

I had one … um … zealous fan who took it upon themselves to argue with me over the fact that I had written the story. They kept present proofs of why it was not possible for me to have done so. That’s when I started sorting Xerf-related emails into their own folder.

And then not looking at the folder.

It was a hairball.

Are you surprised that there is so much argument surrounding it?

Not really. It’s an angry story. The thing is, I’m not. I hate arguing. I hate people not getting along. I guess I unloaded decades of repressed anger into that one story and then went back to bottling it up.

Does the lack of day-to-day recognition bother you?

Depends which day you ask me.

Would you say you are proud of writing it?


I am a great admirer of snarky writing. I don’t do it very well. Rage Anthem was the one time I got in touch with my inner snark maven.

As for the message. It’s negative. That doesn’t make it wrong.

Have you thought of writing more, perhaps expanding it into a novel?

I wouldn’t have the faintest idea where to start.

That’s all the time we have. Thank you for stopping my to speak with us.

Thank you for having me.

Milton’s Meals


Awareness of the outside world. Tokyo Olympics. Would you go? As an athlete? A volunteer? A spectator? Assuming costs covered, qualified, etc. etc. Me? I’ve been vaccinated. I trust the science. I would feel personally safe to go. However, I would be concerned about the burden on the host country. The Guardian: In Japan most people want to cancel the Olympics, but the government won’t listen, Nakano, May 24, 2021.

Note. No loyalty to this brand or formulation. This was easily available for proof of concept.
So, Milton. Looks like we need to have the food talk with you as well.

You may have noticed that there is less in the bucket and that it doesn’t taste the same. You were having trouble keeping the marbles on the table. We had to makes some changes.

The first place to start was fewer calories. Hence the portion control. We’ve also taken you off the fancy food. You are not a zebra horse. You don’t need zebra feed.

We’ve also put you on a supplement that should help you keep it together in times of adversity, like when someone is trying to get on.
But seriously folks.

Milton was getting shirty about mounting. It was taking forever to get him settled at the mounting block and if everything wasn’t perfect, he’d have a come-apart. Riding was fine. It was the start that was the issue.

Spring? Too much food?

In researching the issue, random source on the Internet said that the problem with spring grass is that it is fast growing, and therefore low in magnesium.


Deficiency symptoms included angry, oversensitive, and not liking to be touched. Ding. Ding. Ding. We have a winner. Or at least worth a try. One has to have a theory. The alternative is hopeless despair.

On one hand, I’m willing to admit that much of the supplement industry is a) for the owner and b) produces expensive urine.

OTOH, I’m also willing to believe that the terroir of Canada is different than that of Alabama.

He’s been on it for a month.

Mounting has gotten way better. Could be our brilliant training methods. Could be instituting a mounting cookie as a reward. Could be the supplement. Could be that Spring is over.

Riding is good.

His attitude around the barn has gotten better. He seems more relaxed. Brushing isn’t the worst thing to happen to a horse. To the extent that we would keep him on the supplement even if there was no change in mounting/riding.

Here’s the weird part. His color has changed. He’s much darker. I can testify that white and dark hair behave differently. My hair looks much whiter and fluffier after washing. Changes to Milton’s skin changes how the white and black hairs are seated?

Dunno. Gonna stay with it for a while.

If minerals are the issue, then starch is not. Took him off the fancy food. I’m not heartbroken, that stuff was a pain to find. He’s now getting generic pellets from the local co-op.

So that’s Milton. The boots were part one. Perhaps the missing magnesium is part two? As with the boots, coincidence is not causation. I know this rationally. Emotionally, I am deep into straw-grasping territory. [Miracle Boots]

Stay safe. Stay sane.

Extending The Sweet Gum Branch

Riding Journal

Awareness of the outside world. I suspect the people who are getting their knickers in a twist over CRT (see yesterday) are conflating it with the 1619 Project. Personally, I’m all for teaching the full story. Politically, I am having a hard time seeing the NYT as a hotbed of subversive discourse. The Old Gray Lady is as establishment as it gets.

Go figure.

My head-shy horse has no problem with a branch swishing around his ears.

Rodney’s neck is too long for me to reach forward to flick bugs off his ears. So I grabbed a branch. (Thank you, tree.) I thought I’d have to get him used to the idea. Nope. He was cool with it from the first swat. I can even whack his ears/poll/neck.

Anything in pursuit of deer flies, horse flies, and their bitey ilk.

Stay safe. Stay sane. Stay unbitten.

Let The Summer Hours Begin

Riding Journal

Awareness of the outside world. “Critical Race Theory … is an academic movement … seek to critically examine the law as it intersects with issues of race …” Wiki: CRT. If we are going to argue about it, at least know what it is.

“I’ve taught in American law schools for 30 years … And I can guarantee you that until it became Fox News’s favorite new chew toy about fifteen minutes ago, the overwhelming majority of law professors had only the vaguest trending toward non-existent idea of what Critical Race Theory even is — ‘um, something like critical legal studies but about race?’ — and CRT was invented in American law schools!” L,G&M: It’s like a fly in your Chardonnay (Republican Freedom Edition), Campos, 2021.

Unrelated wildlife for visual interest.

The heat is here.

Midday is ridiculously hot.

Evening is cool-ish; the bugs are belligerent.

Early AM here we come.

I probably said this last year when we were getting up early for the Virtual Tevis, but it’s funny how horses have preferences.

Previous Horse made it very clear that pre-breakfast rides were not an option. Feed early. Wait. Get the ride in before 10, when it was only moderately insanely hot.

Rodney and Milton are philosophical about being greeted with saddles rather than buckets. What they do not want is their post-breakfast ritual to be disturbed. Ride. Wait. Hay & feed. Don’t talk to us we are grazing &/or napping.

Do your horses have schedule preferences?

Same frog, earlier. Look on the left flank. Apparently frogs are bothered by flies as well.

Stay safe. Stay sane.

In Which Rodney Finds Out That Things Come At A Price

Horsekeeping/Riding Journal

Awareness of the outside world. You feel strongly. The issue is a dealbreaker. What do you do about people who are not on the side of the angels? If you continue the association, are you empathizing with a fellow human or betraying everything you hold dear? If you cut them off, are you living your values or being a judgmental jerk? What if it’s a business rather than a person? What if they are family? I ask for all the blue dots in red states, and for all the red dots in blue states.

[Would Sir Like His Meals Served In A Hay Net?]

Sorry, Dude.

Now that you are getting more calories from your hay, you need to get fewer calories from your feed. Time to cut back.

After a week of better access to hay, you had trouble keeping it together last weekend. I don’t mind extra spring in your step. That’s nice. I’m concerned about the extra spring in your sproing.

Remember the month-long meltdown you had all those years ago? Part of it was being fed too much hi-test. Last weekend’s rides had an echo of that. I suspect you are sensitive to being overfed. I’m definitely sensitive to you being overfed.

Look on the bright side. You’re will be getting lots and lots of lovely hay.

Stay safe. Stay sane.

To Show Or Not To Show Or Show Or Not To Show Or

Riding Journal

Awareness of the outside world. Helmet safety for the ages. YouTube: Danish Road Safety Council / Helmet has always been a good idea.
Show last weekend, Didn’t go.

Rodney’s attitude was so good at the clinic that we have promoted him to normal horse behavior. You know, where you can show because you want to, not because you require endless successive approximation to get your horse alongside the idea. [Clinic Report]

If he’s comfortable in his body, he’s comfortable in his head. Mostly. For a Thoroughbred definition of comfortable in the head. That’s the theory of the moment.

Or maybe I just can’t bear the idea of another round of kindergarten dressage and crossrails. [Show Report]

I dislike bailing on shows. We don’t have a huge choice around here. If I keep talking myself out of shows because they aren’t ideal, suddenly – poof – six months has gone by and inertia has won.

To compensate, I’ve promised myself that we will concentrate on lessons & schooling this summer.

Time passes.

Wrote text. Promised self to be diligent. Rained all week. Not a gentle eventers-ride-in-rain misting. Five days of thunderstorms-at-any-moment rain. Accomplished nothing.

Immediate proof of why I keep waffling about shows. [Another One That Got Away]

On one hand, minimal interest in doing more mediocre intro dressage tests. Stay home!

OTOH, between weather, footing, lamenesses – including the ever-popular surprise abscess, and a thin schedule, do I have any room to be picky? All the shows!

More time passes.

Show last weekend. Or not.

Show has been postponed one week due to weather.

This is what I get for writing posts ahead of time. The world moves faster than my posting schedule. [The Meaning Behind Monday]

Climbs back on decision merry-go-round. Wheeeeee.

Stay safe. Stay sane.