Susan’s Salon: 2020 September 20/21

Twenty-twenty just keeps twenty-twentying.

Please use the comment section to just chat about whatever you want. Susan’s Salon is posted early Monday (Sydney time which is still Sunday in most countries) . It’s fine to be sad, worried, angry or happy (or all of those things at once).

Please feel free to post either troubling news or pleasant distractions in the comments for this open thread. [However, no cranky conflicts between each other in the comments.] Links, videos, cat pictures 🐈 etc are fine! Whatever you like and be nice to one another 😇

Wear appropriate PPE while posting a comment.

46 thoughts on “Susan’s Salon: 2020 September 20/21

  1. Apropos of absolutely nothing —

    I’m having an interesting discussion about abortion rights over on Ceasefire (formerly known as Change My View). I just signed up for the site and asked the members to critique the points I’ve worked up over the years, and it’s a relief to be able to discuss such a sensitive subject without the discussion instantly devolving into invective and defensiveness.

    Oh, and I’m also spending a lot of time thinking Happy Thoughts like “There IS a Santa Claus, there IS a Santa Claus!” to try to alleviate my doom and gloom about upcoming Republican shenanigans surrounding a new SCOTUS pick!


        1. I like it for a couple of reasons. First, because I think it is more pertinent to the legal questions about abortion (which are related to but not the same as the moral ones) but also because it is pertinent to the implications to women’s healthcare of abortion restrictions (which often have ramifications beyond the kind of scenarios discussed in)


      1. Found it. Yeah, that is pretty interesting, and hasn’t gone off the rails (or at least not yet). It’s sad and infuriating, though, that Contrarius feels the need to couch her arguments in religious terms, because of the idiotic stranglehold evangelical Christians have on the US government.

        Religion–anyone’s religion–should have no say in government policy. The most important issue regarding abortion should be the woman’s bodily autonomy. Full stop.


        1. “Found it. Yeah, that is pretty interesting, and hasn’t gone off the rails (or at least not yet). It’s sad and infuriating, though, that Contrarius feels the need to couch her arguments in religious terms, because of the idiotic stranglehold evangelical Christians have on the US government.”

          Ehhh, that’s not why I do it.

          I couch arguments in religious terms because most of the anti-abortion people in this country are Christian evangelicals, so that’s the type of person I most frequently debate the issue with. If I can rebut their arguments on their own turf, that is going to be more powerful than if I rebut the arguments on grounds they don’t care about.

          Liked by 1 person

      2. Also, as Fred Clark has pointed out over at Slacktivist, the anti-abortion stance of Evangelicals is fairly recent, and you can still find older printings of books by Evangelicals of the time who were relatively fine with the de. Abortion was considered a Catholic concern, and thus good Protestants shouldn’t care about it.

        Back in 2012 Fred Clark wrote The ‘biblical view’ that’s younger than the Happy Meal, because this was literally a change in views that happened post-1979.

        The general consensus that I’ve heard is that the whole purpose of the anti-abortion movement of the time was to get more conservative judges appointed. The people were told this was so they could overturn Roe v. Wade… but the actual people making the decisions really wanted to overturn Brown v. Board of Education. The trigger point for this change in evangelical teachings was almost certainly Bob Jones University v. United States, after BJU had complained because the IRS had threatened to revoke their tax-exempt status over their racist entry policies.

        Liked by 3 people

        1. “Back in 2012 Fred Clark wrote The ‘biblical view’ that’s younger than the Happy Meal, because this was literally a change in views that happened post-1979.”

          Thanks for the link!

          Liked by 1 person

      3. @Contrarius:
        You’re welcome.

        Fred Clark is one of those rare beasts, a progressive Evangelical, and old enough to have seen a lot of the changes that most of the people running things refuse to admit the ‘non-denomination’ has gone through as it became much more blatantly political. He first got on my radar (as well as a lot of other people’s) for his utterly detailed and precise takedown of the ‘Left Behind’ books, and how they were not only horrible literature and inconceivable depictions of humanity, but also horrible theologically.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Fred Clark is, pardon the pun, a godsend.

        His “Left Behind” reviews are a thing of beauty and a joy forever when you’re in the mood for them.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Anyone know if Fred Clarke will get back to doing the takedown of the Left Behind series? I do understand that the books are unpleasant to read and to think about and that he needs a break, but I always looked forward to these posts. His thesis seemed to be that these were the worst-written books in the world from every angle — world building, continuity, believability, characterization, plot, dialog — and he definitely made his point. For ex., Our Heroes are supposed to be fighting against the Anti-Christ, but since everything has been foretold, they don’t do anything except watch him.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. If you are looking for a light, frothy book and don’t mind reading a romance I can recommend “Big Pickle” by JJ Knight. It’s self published and I got it off of Amazon; I don’t know if it’s available elsewhere. It was described to me as a romantic comedy set in a deli with lots of pickle-related puns (some, of course, lewd in nature) and it delivered. It was a short book so there wasn’t time for developing all of the characters but I thought the male lead’s transformation from billionaire playboy to hard-working deli owner was handled well. The female lead had a terrible childhood, but she’s aware that she has strengths and is determined to build on them to create a better life for herself. I had fun watching them overcome [difficulties] to get their Happily Ever After.

    I’m not a fan of the romance genre but I am considering following the rest of the series. I like the glimpses shown of the rest of the Pickle family and I’d like to read more about them. I would like, but will probably not get, a book about Granny Pickle.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The book is also available in audio. Cooel. 🙂

      I used to sneer loudly at romance, and I still sometimes sneer quietly at it. Nonetheless, I’ve found over recent years that romance is great for comfort reading when you are stressed, don’t want to think very hard, and really need to know that everything is going to turn out okay!


      1. My big problem with romance books is that they frequently end up reminding me that I’m basically unlovable and will die alone, but yesterday I was absolutely in the mood for something with low stakes and a guaranteed HEA, and as you say the genre is very good at delivering just that.

        For future comfort reading, may I suggest the Fire & Rescue Shifters series by Zoe Chant? I will be honest, the woman who wrote them is a friend of mine, but because of that I can assure you that they are well-written (and proofread!), with zippy action plots, touching romance, and lots of humor.

        Liked by 3 people

        1. “My big problem with romance books is that they frequently end up reminding me that I’m basically unlovable and will die alone”

          Oh no! That’s what cats and dobermans are for, doncha know. 😉

          (Owning a doberman means never having to go to the bathroom alone again. There’s one lying on my foot right now.)

          “For future comfort reading, may I suggest the Fire & Rescue Shifters series by Zoe Chant?”

          I’ll check it out. Firefighters are often fun characters to read!

          Liked by 1 person

    2. Thanks for the recommendation. I quite like romance novels on occasion, though some romance tropes drive me up the wall. It’s just a matter of finding the books and authors that work for you.


  3. I spent the weekend following the streaming panels of the virtual Bloody Scotland crime fiction festival, which was a lot of fun.

    I also published a new standalone (for now) sword and sorcery story called “King’s Justice”, which is currently going up at the various vendors. I’m publishing this one under the Richard Blakemore byline. Richard is a pulp fiction writer from the 1930s who’s also the protagonist of my Silencer series, where he dresses up as his own character, a masked crimefighter called the Silencer, and fights crime (and at one point, tangles with John W. Campbell).

    Sometimes, when I write something that’s a bit more retro in style like sword and sorcery or pulpy space opera, I publish those stories as the rediscovered works of pulp author Richard Blakemore.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. It was a hard week for a lot of my friends (parental deaths, terminal diagnoses, Portland smoke out, work blows, skunk infestations, RBG and the court). You are right about 2020 continuing to 2020.

    My week was OK though. Cousin had first baby at age 40. One super horrible incident at work when someone under my supervision called a co-worker a nasty slur and then I had to spend a day and a half wrangling administrative ramifications and getting the offender transferred (can’t believe that was even a question). I think the pandemic and the move to online interactions has taken a very real toll on people’s patience, energy and civility. Even well-meaning people seem tired and snappish.

    But my landscaping project is done and I love it all so much. Next spring I am getting a lilac tree, periwinkle, lupins, delphiniums and some baby-sized lavender. My new stone walkway is so pretty that I am finding all sorts of excuses to walk to the curb and back.

    Reading a biography of England’s Queen Caroline. Pretty interesting stuff! Good energy and health to all, hope everyone gets one little wish come true next week.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Oh! Speaking of RBG —

    Months after my mother’s death last year, but before my father’s death in March, I took in several of the cats they had been keeping. Another family friend also took in several. Mom did cat rescue for years, and by the time she died she essentially had a colony of rescues, most of which didn’t really have names.

    So, anyway, I’ve ended up with FIVE black cats, three of them without names, in addition to three non-black cats (all of which already do have names). I’ve just started trying to name the nameless ones in this past week, mostly because two of them just started getting friendly recently.

    So yesterday I decided to name one of the black cats Ruth Bader. She is a smallish cat with black hair, after all. She also likes to lie on the mantel and look down at the world as though looking down from her bench in judgment, and she is quite insistent on being paid attention to when she wants attention. And finally, she has a feathery white spot under her chin, reminiscent of RBG’s collars and necklaces.

    That just leaves me with two more names to think up!

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Short fiction reading continues. This week there were a few I really liked but nothing I’m rushing to add to my possible Hugo nominee list. Most were okay — only one that just didn’t work for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I went to a film festival this weekend. Felt a bit strange to go to one during pandemic times. We were a total of 50 persons in the cinema, sitting at safe distances. I’d have guessed the tickets would have been sold out long beforehand, but we got them earlier this week.

    It was a horror festival and we saw a set of short films and then the Swedish vampire movie “Frostbite”, followed by a Q&A-session with the director. It was fun as he regaled us with the story of when they showed the movie in North-Korea, the first time a horror movie had been shown there.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I had to take the credential in for his yearly checkup. You guys will remember him from being be-coned and hiding in the closet.

    Normally we trap him in a bathroom and wrestle him into the carrier but this time he got past Mr. LT and ran under the couch. We got him out. He ran under the other couch.

    This meant moving said couch (which has recliners on either end and is thus heavy AF), climbing over it, squeezing between it and the wall, hauling the cat out by his front legs, lifting him up (as he adjusted gravity to weigh about 50 lbs) and scruffing him to hand him over the back of the couch to Mr. LT, going back around to the front, and taking a few tries to get him stuffed in the carrier.

    All this after only 5 hours’ sleep and waking up 2 hours earlier than usual, plus I have a bad back.

    Then I drove him there, they took him inside, and I sat in the car listening to some very mellow music. Vet called my cell phone and reported that for once the cat didn’t bite anyone. He had scratched his nose trying to batter his way out. He checked out fine and is in good shape for his age. Yay. Only $55.

    Drove home, gave him many kitty treats, gave myself a lemonade with a shot of vodka, and there were naps. Ibuprofen was had at bedtime.

    Rest of the week was fine except for RBG. 😦 Air quality is in the good range!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Whoa! Glad the credential at least checked out okay after all that. My partner’s family have stories like that about the cat they had while he was growing up. They would flip the furniture over before getting out the carrier but he still gave them a hell of a time. Then at the vet he would brace himself inside the carrier so they couldn’t even pour him out by tipping it open side down.


      1. Luckily technology marches on, and current carriers snap apart into a top and bottom half. It’s the only way to get this beast out of his carrier. Literally disassemble it around him.

        Little bastid is lying next to me on aforementioned couch being all friendly now. He doesn’t hold grudges because his long-term memory is about 4 days, max.

        Liked by 2 people

    2. Lurkertype: He checked out fine and is in good shape for his age. Yay. Only $55.

      I’m glad to hear that he’s doing well and that the wallet biopsy didn’t go too deep.

      At least 2 of my credentials (they were both Siamese) elicited the same response from different vets after a procedure involving anesthesia: a phone call to me at work in early afternoon saying, “Your cat’s procedure is done. You can come and pick him up now. PLEASE come and pick him up NOW.” 😀

      Liked by 2 people

      1. This is the first time he hasn’t tried to bite anyone there. Very surprising. I guess he was tired out from the efforts to get him in the carrier. Probably next time he’ll take chunks out of people. He’s been to 2 regular vets, a specialist, and an ER vet and all of them have put the orange “BITES” sticker on his record. He’s a long muscly cat, so quite the hands-full.

        I like the curbside service. It’s much nicer than sitting on the uncomfortable waiting room couches. Flopped my car seat back and listened to music of my choice. I sent a piece of paper in with a sketch locating a bump on the back of his neck I was wondering about, which the vet thanked me for. Turns out it’s nothing — something older cats get, and he’s 14 — but it got a good look.

        Most importantly he didn’t gain much weight during lockdown (unlike me) and his teeth are in great shape so he can continue to bite hoomans for years to come.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. I haven’t checked in for a couple of weeks. Week before last wildfire smoke from California came in on the jetstream and slowly our air quality went from Good to Moderate to Unhealthy so sensitive people. Than the air flow low down shifted, and we got smoke from Oregon as well as more from California, and air quality was Unhealthy for Everyone, Very Unhealthy, and Hazardous for a bit over a week.

    Despite closing up the house and changing the hepa filters in the air cleaners, I started coughing eight days ago (and had almost constant headaches and itchy eyes) and had resorted to calling my doctor to verify that the inhaler he has me keep around for when I get bronchitis was okay to try to use for this. I’m only supposed to use it four times a day, and each time it gave me relief from the coughing for an hour.

    My husband had headaches and a little bit of coughing during, but nowhere near what I did. While I quit smoke 27 years ago, I did smoke for a number of years (which is why I tend to get bronchitis so often), whereas he never did. So I suspect part of the reason I reacted so badly is the damage done to my lungs back when I was a smoker./

    Only 200 miles south of us where some friends and relatives live the air quality was frequently “too bad for the sensors to measure.” So there was also a lot of anxiety about their safety.

    We finally got really rain over both our state and Oregon for the last two and a half days and I still have a bit of a cough but things are definitely improving.

    I have a significant birthday coming up, and we have toyed with trying to do a virtual party, although I don’t have a guarantee at this point that I won’t be called in to work despite having requested time off months ago because I’m the only Tech Writer that hasn’t quit, been laid off, or retired in the whole company, and we have software releases this week.

    And then, of course, we got the news about Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and that’s really done a number on my mood.

    I haven’t had much success at making myself read. I think I should punt and give the cheesy silliness of Julie and the Phantoms a try, because maybe cheese is just what my mood needs.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. fontfolly, I’m so sorry to hear how bad things have been there for you, and I’m glad that they are at least a little better now.

      I have a lot of friends on the West Coast, and between the forest fires and the unconstitutional policing going on there, it grieves me what all of you are having to deal with. 😦


    2. You definitely deserve silliness and cheese. I haven’t done much reading lately with the fires, heat, apocalyptic orange skies, politics, etc. etc. Comfort food and comfort reads are needed.

      You know it’s bad when you’re happy to see your air quality is “down” to yellow. I got another filter for the HEPA machine.

      The smoke chest ache is very different from others. I basically feel like a coffee-can-sized cylinder has been punched through my chest and out my back, with soreness all the way through.

      There was a big forest fire in Colorado. It had a foot of snow dumped on it. It stopped growing — for a few days.

      I swear the only places not on fire are having hurricanes.


    3. Sorry to hear that you’ve been struggling with the wildfire smoke and bad air quality. Some smoke particles from the western US even made it across the Atlantic on the jet stream, so I don’t want to imagine how bad things must have been on the US West Coast.


  10. Our neighborhood used bookstore isn’t buying books these days, so I put a bunch of books in a box and put them out on the curb. I picked some pretty decent stuff, from all different genres, because I have some very light and fluffy mysteries and sf waiting in the wings and I wanted to get the folks here primed to look forward to me putting boxes out. (We’re close to a university, and if people read it’s mostly non-fiction or mainstream.). There were about 25 books and I ended up with 4, so pretty good. Someone came by and ripped the covers off two books, which I don’t understand at all.


  11. Finished a largely forgettable Korean literary novella entitled “When Adam Opens His Eyes”. Decent enough but nothing really grabbed me about it. Now I’m making my way through Ha Seong-nan’s Flowers of Mold – a collection of horror-tinged short stories. I’m enjoying it so far.

    Susanna Clarke’s (of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell fame) new book also just made its way to my Kindle so that’s up near the top of my TBR once I’m ready to go back to SFF for a bit.

    Tried surfing again. I continue not to understand what’s fun about drowning for an hour while attached to a a lump of plastic. I have bruises on my hips and ribs from the board too. I’m going to stick with climbing and diving; things where *I* am in control.


  12. So last night I got home from work and went into the laundry room to scoop the cat box… only to discover that the Ancillary Cat (an 8-month-old kitten) had torn open two heavy plastic bags of clean litter and built herself a zen garden all over the laundry room floor. It was clear from all of the swoops and swishes in the sand that she had a great time swatting it all over. <sigh> I guess I should just be thankful that all she did was play in it.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I want to give JJ’s comment multiple likes. Where is my multiple like button?

      1. Ancillary Cat
      2. zen garden of litter
      3. being generous enough to provide the opportunity for all that fun!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m so glad our litter comes in heavy cardboard boxes. They’re hard to break down for recycling, but the bitey credential chews on everything (not just people) and we’d have a Sahara desert.


        1. The litter comes in really thick, heavy plastic bags — I have to use a box cutter to cut the plastic to open them. She had to really work at those for quite a while with her teeth to get them open (I keep her claws trimmed).

          The expensive vet food comes in thick plastic bags, too, but I keep those inside a huge airtight Rubbermaid container. I think she’s still experimenting to see if every bag might contain food. She tore open an 18-roll pack of toilet paper the other week.

          She’s like a little tornado, and she’s hungry all the time, even though she gets fed frequently. She’s always into everything. Every morning I come out and there’s something new she’s dragged out from somewhere. The day before yesterday it was the dishcloth and dishtowel pulled off the rack onto the kitchen floor.


  13. Another episode of “Blue States Rule, Red States Drool”: Latest missive from the state. Ain’t nobody going to steal the election here.

    Bolding is mine on what I thought was important updates.

    (It comes in 10 languages but I can only read about 1.3)


    Dear California Voter,

    All registered California voters will be sent a vote-by-mail ballot with a prepaid, first class postage return envelope for the November 3, 2020 General Election.

    You have multiple safe, secure, and reliable options for returning your ballot

    Mail – No stamp is required to return your ballot through the US Postal Service. Make sure your ballot is postmarked by November 3, 2020.

    Drop box – Many counties will offer secure drop boxes to return your ballot. Make sure your ballot is deposited by 8:00 p.m. on November 3, 2020

    In-person – You can return your ballot to a polling place, vote center, or your county elections office by 8:00 p.m. on November 3, 2020. Many counties will have early voting locations available before Election Day. Voting locations will offer voter registration, replacement ballots, accessible voting machines, and language assistance.

    We’re taking proactive steps to safeguard the vote-by-mail process

    County elections offices will carefully process all valid vote-by-mail ballots they receive. Your signature on the return envelope will be compared to the one provided when registering to protect your vote. For many voters, this will be the signature on your CA driver’s license or state ID.

    The state has allowed more time for vote-by-mail ballots cast by Election Day to arrive at county elections offices. County elections offices will process all ballots that are postmarked by Election Day and arrive within 17 days of Election Day.

    Our US Postal Service partners are prioritizing delivery of vote-by-mail ballots. All ballots feature the Official Election Mail Logo to help postal workers and carriers identify ballots and ensure all ballots are processed in a timely manner.

    You can also take action to ensure a smooth voting experience

    Double check the address on your registration. To make sure you get your ballot, you can confirm your address at:

    Sign up for ballot tracking alerts. You can sign up to receive updates on your vote-by-mail ballot via text (SMS), email, or voice call through the state’s official “Where’s My Ballot?” tracking tool at:

    Make your plan to vote. Decide how you will return your ballot. No matter which method you choose, you can find tools to cast your ballot at:

    Together we can ensure a safe and secure election for all California voters!


    Alex Padilla

    California Secretary of State


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