April 15th, 2015

#4673: De-thicketed the front yard, again.

This year I did it the smart way: I cut down all the sumac trees that had (re)sprouted, then ran the lawn mower--before the lily of the valley had sprouted--to get all the raspberry canes cleared out.

The front yard looks enormously better. It took me perhaps half an hour to do all this, because power tools.

I'm looking at the honeysuckle bushes, and thinking that I'd like to hack them the hell out of there, too. The one by the post light is more deadwood than live, and the big one near the house should probably also go.

Then I need to get after the brush at the front of the house. There's a pyracantha bush which scrapes against the siding when the wind blows; it's about 90% thorns and its placement is less than decorative, so I have to wonder if I should just cut it down entirely. It's not even the pretty kind of pyracantha; it just makes it harder for me to get at the hose. Getting rid of it would give me room to get in and trim the other bush that's there, species unknown.

The tractor's battery is charging overnight. I'd wager I'm going to have to replace it soon--this year or next--but considering that it's already seven years old it's probably due anyway. Tractor needs basic maintenance again, including an oil and filter change; the filter costs $7 at the auto parts store but after seven years that's $1 per year so far.

I'm not getting any writing done this week, though. It's probably not a good week for that since I've got all those other chores to attend to, but that's all right. Give the word bag a chance to refill.

* * *

While running an errand for Mrs. Fungus this evening I recalled Wild Cards, because I drove past a used bookstore. For some reason, whenever I see a used bookstore, that craptastic extrusion is what inevitably comes to mind.

Wanting to look up some details on it, I checked the Wikipedia entry...and learned that the series was originated by none other than George R.R. Martin.

Surprise.

...I mean, I'm really not surprised. That series was awful, and it was the prototypical example of SJW fiction in action. Plenty of people bought the books, and like me they eventually gave up on the series because nothing good ever happened in it. I had what turned out to be--I learned today--the complete first series, books 1-12, because I was a dumb kid and didn't know any better. As I said in a prior post on this topic, "'Dude buttfucking a corpse for information' is a gigantic sign flashing WARNING! DANGER! (or at least should have been)." (Paraphrased.)

The series did not come to an end so much as it just petered out, and I think that happened because by book 12 so few people were still reading that it no longer made sense to continue the first series. Except "George R.R. Martin" and Game of Thrones, so enough people are still buying the crap that the series has lurched onward to this very day.

But I was thinking about Game of Thrones and realized that Martin hasn't written the next book yet because he's written himself into a corner. He's at the logical turning point of the story, and if he continues on the nihilistic trend he's going to end up writing another Wild Cards, where everything gradually goes to shit and everyone dies at the end--only this version will be set in Westeros.

If he continues down this path, there are big wars, winter comes and everyone starves; those who don't will be eradicated by the White Walkers once the Wall comes down. The result is a complete failure of Westerosi civilization if not the extinction of humans.

This will annoy about half his fan base.

If he instead has the story turn, and has the good guys start winning, there are some big wars but then there's time to prepare for winter. People will be able to band together to fight off the White Walkers. Civilization will continue to grow and thrive.

This will annoy the other approximate half of his fan base.

He can't go both ways, of course. In the latter case his story is a critical failure and people will deride the ending as "pie in the sky", scoffing about "and they lived happily ever after". In the former case, though, the entire epic becomes a long slog through the sewer.

Kind of like Wild Cards was.

The best stories are the ones where the good guys are on the ropes, then manage to pull out a win at the last second. Where GoT is right now, Martin could easily do this, and it would be epic. Varys and Tyrion ally themselves with Dany Targaryen, she reunites the seven kingdoms, peace reigns and everything is set right--he can do this, and it would make for an excellent story.

Jim Butcher does this all the time with his Dresden Files books. You look at the situation and you think, "Now, how in the everlasting fuck can Harry Dresden even live through this, let alone triumph over the bad guy?" And he always pulls it out, and does it using things which were right there in plain sight from the beginning of the book--no cheating, no deus ex machina--with the result that the stories are immensely entertaining.

Moreover, I have a feeling that Martin wants to have the good guys win this, but is afraid of the reaction from the critics and the idiots who love sewer slogs...and that's why it's been four years since Dance with Dragons came out and the next book is still RSN. (RSN="real soon now", hacker-speak for "where the hell is it?") Feast for Crows took Martin five years to write--after the first three were published at two-year intervals--and DWD came out after a six-year wait.

The next novel is supposedly to be titled The Winds of Winter and the final novel in the cycle (again, supposedly) will be A Dream of Spring.

Vox Day's theory is that the story has gotten too complex, with too many viewpoint characters and too many subplots, and Martin's getting in over his head. This, too, is a possibility.

What I do know is, the TV series is entertaining enough.

* * *

I was pretty happy about being able to get that yardwork done today without aggravating whatever it is that's wrong with my left side. Here's hoping that trend continues.

#4674: Well, that didn't happen.

Which is to say I got nothing done today and it's already 4:30 as I finish the pre-blog surf and start to write. *sigh*

I could not get to sleep last night, again. I ended up getting to sleep perhaps an hour before Mrs. Fungus got up. Today, however--unlike yesterday--I lacked the fortitude to get up anyway.

This is my weekend. I need to get some sleep, damn it.

Yesterday I ended up making two trips to the pharmacy for Mrs. Fungus--two, because I forgot my cell phone and one of the prescriptions was quite unexpectedly $90. I refused the RX, thinking I'd come back if it were necessary, but I wanted to check around to see if anyone had it cheaper, anyway. A phone call could have saved me the second trip, but "forgot my phone", so, yeah. And it turned out this is something no one has for cheap. Argh etc.

Doctors. You know, if there's an expensive drug to treat a common condition, and a cheap one, they will inevitably prescribe the most expensive one possible. Okay: I can see prescribing an expensive antibiotic for a persistent infection which cheaper ones has not alleviated, and I can see prescribing an expensive medication when no cheaper one is available.

But when there's an even choice between a $4 scrip and a $90 one--when there's no reason not to prescribe the cheap one--why do they ALWAYS prescribe the expensive one?

I'd like to think that highly trained medical professionals aren't thinking something like, "WTF, I make $90 in about twenty minutes on a slow day; it's not like that's real money or anything. I spend more than that when I go golfing!"

Karl Denninger is spot-on when he says that the medical industry should be subject to the same anti-monopoly laws that everyone else has to follow, and that people ought to be able to comparison shop.

As for me, standard operating procedure is for me to ask a doctor, "What does the medication cost?" before I accept the RX. Except in cases where I already have some idea, of course. For example, when I get an RX for amoxicillin, I don't ask, because I know the stuff's dirt cheap. Any time the doc prescribes something I don't know about, I ask. Usually they can give me some idea. (Also, my regular doctor is conscientious about spending his patients' money for them, which helps.) Give me a valid reason for using the more expensive medication and I will; I don't think it's too much to expect a doctor to be able to tell me why the cheap drug is less desirable than the expensive one. When it comes down to a 10:1 ratio in price, it should certainly be a more valid reason than his own personal preference.

My doubled trip to the pharmacy kept me out of the house until 11:30, and the entire rest of my evening was goofed up as a result. After I tucked Mrs. Fungus in I watched some more YouTube videos about old engines, and after attending to some housekeeping in WoW (total on-time, 15 minutes) I was going to watch a couple eps of Haganai Next, but instead ended up fapping around on Google and YouTube, and suddenly it was nearly 4. Hit the hay, tossed and turned for quite a while, and...yeah, didn't sleep all that well.

*sigh*

Right now I need to go make meatloaf. Wheee!