Testing, Testing

Kage Baker endured many medical procedures. She was heroic about it – patient, courteous, quiet. Brave.

And it was bravery, because she hated everything to do with medical tests. They were usually weird, often painful, and always embarrassing for her. Even so simple a procedure as a blood sample was a trial for her, because needles scared her and because Kage was a profoundly modest lady. And it’s apparently a law of nature that the medical assistance field is positively littered with people who have all the native manners of barnacles.

Kage was, literally, paper-white. On her, a tan was a hearty ivory, or someplace the freckles ran together.  “My God, you’re pale!” exclaimed dozens of nurses, whose own complexions ranged from good chocolate to maybe 2 shades darker than Kage’s own. “Are you anemic? Are you sure?” How the hell they expected her to tell from the inside I never figured out. But it always embarrassed her, and involved two or three more vials of blood.

“Wow, have you got thick ankles!” Yes – but very thin wrists; and what did either one have to do with treating her bronchitis? “Your hair is amazing – is it natural?” says a total stranger running her hands through Kage’s waist-length red hair – being a nurse doesn’t entitle you to handle a patient like a plush toy. I would watch the shudder run through Kage from her scalp to her toes; as the years went on, I made sure to always accompany her in doctors’ offices, and I was ferocious in stopping this kind of invasive crap.

As I have mentioned a few times before, Kage was an Aspie  (as she and Kimberly referred to it). She had Aspergers Syndrome, which can complicate  encounters as impersonal as sharing an elevator: you can imagine what it’s like in a doctor’s office. I started accompanying her to appointments when we were in our 20′s, and rapidly realized I had to be fierce and willing to speak up in order to keep things bearable for her. Kage had a will of iron and could get through an exam on her own; but why should anyone have to keep such a stiff upper lip that they then collapse in shaking distress when they get home? Why should the cost of a doctor’s visit include stress vomiting? It just should not.

Me, I have no more modesty than a cat. An interest in physiology and years in the theatre  have eroded what little demureness I may have ever had (couldn’t have been much …). I’m the sort of annoying patient who criticizes blood draw techniques and demands to know exactly what they are taking; who insists that the test monitor be turned so I can see it, and wants all the structures identified. I diagnosed my own gallstones and pointed them out to my doctor on the x-ray.

I metamorphosed into a remorseless demon during Kage’s last year of life. Nothing was done unless I understood it and had explained it to her. No one got to handle her roughly, and sometimes not at all – they could assist me in moving her, or watch. I assisted the resident who implanted her IV port – I showed the nurse who did not know how to hook up the IV for internal radiation therapy how the port worked. I removed Kage from the hospital AMA twice, when she couldn’t stand it there one more minute – the second time I had to bathe her first (no one had answered the bell in an hour), and only the necessity of racing for the EXIT kept me from making a scene at the nursing station.

I was not nice. Some of it, of course, was guilt that I hadn’t twigged to what was wrong 6 months earlier and dragged her into a doctor’s office … but there was no way to make up that initial hideous error, and all I could do was protect as she fought for her life. So I did.

Right now, I am waiting for a sleep test. I’ve been diagnosed with sleep apnea, because that is something that happens to people with congestive heart failure. My poor patient sister Kimberly sometimes listens to me breathe at night (or not) and is waiting anxiously for this test to be done and treatment to begin. Breathing is not something that should be indulged in on a sporadic basis, after all.

My test was scheduled for tonight – I’d already packed pretty pajamas, even. This morning it was cancelled, when the Sleep Center suddenly realized they didn’t take my insurance. A horde of questions arise from how they overlooked this – but they were so upset that I didn’t have the heart to yell about it. They’ve kindly re-scheduled me at an alternate facility for May 5th,  though I fear Kimberly will be ritually cursing them the entire 2 weeks until then …

See, this is how things work in this family. You always take along another brain in case yours cannot cope. And there is just no better co-brain than the ones you share with your sisters.

It’s a well-tested fact.

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Ginger Ale and Other Elixirs

Kage Baker was an experienced bronchitis victim. She had all sorts of DIY solutions to the periodic revolt of her bronchii. Most of them revolved around bed rest, books and ginger ale.

She had relied heavily at one time on wine coolers. However, I finally did some research, and discovered that while they might numb and cheer her, the tannins in the wine were wreaking havoc on her sinuses. So, regretfully, wine coolers were scratched from the list. She replaced them with ginger ale.

Ginger ale was high on her home cures list. She tried every kind she came across. For Kage, Canada Dry was the starting point, not the final solution; she actually found it rather weak. She loved Schwepp’s more – it was largely reserved for grown-up cocktails in our parents’ house, which made it even more desirable: that and its sibling Tonic Water and Bitter Lemon were High Caste Fancy Sodas.

Kage became a conniseusse of ginger ale. She adored fizzy drinks anyway:  Coca Cola was her daily tipple, while ginger ale was more of a medicinal brandy.  She liked Hansen’s Organic, when she was feeling mellow, but usually it didn’t have enough ginger. On the opposite end of the spectrum, she liked Cock & Bull Ginger Beer  but it was too strong.

Vernor’s was also originally filched from adult mixer shelves, and Kage preferred it to many others because it wasn’t too sweet. Seagram’s she ranked with Canada Dry, a mixer not really meant to be drunk on its own. Boylan’s made a nice one, close to a ginger beer original; and Kage could get it freshly brewed when we were in Marin.

She tried singletons, exotics and one-offs wherever she found them. Things with inexplicable names like Queen’s Blue, and Fever Tree and Buffalo Root ; and Sussex, that came in white-glazed ceramic bottles like miniature milk jugs. Lots of the micro breweries that spring up like faerie rings all over California also try their hands at ginger ale and root beer – she tried lots of pale gold glasses of mystery ginger ales,  in brew pubs where we stopped once and never again on the road …

Reed’s Ginger Ale she declared almost perfect, and  it provided an entire universe of gingered potables and comestibles. The Ginger Ale comes in 6 flavours – Original, Extra Ginger, Premium Ginger, Raspberry, Cherry, and Spiced Apple. The Extra Ginger Ale could probably be used to stencil designs on your soft palette. The others are just unspeakably scrumptious. But the company also makes Ginger Ice Cream, Crystallized Ginger (the best topping for molasses cookies), Nausea Relief (ginger root and B6 – stops hangovers in their tracks) and Ginger Chewy Candy. The candy is not only delicious, it’s a sure-fire cure for motion sickness.

Thomas Kemper became her final favourite, when the radiation and chemotherapy made everything taste weird and bad. It’s a small, wonderful soda micro brewery. They make root beer, vanilla cream, black cherry and of course: ginger ale. In her last year, she drank that damn near every day – I drove miles and miles in every direction but straight into the Pacific to find it for her. I’d have driven into the waves if there’d been a reliable liquor store down there … and I’m kind of surprised that, in weird little Pismo Beach, there wasn’t.  I did find it in the chandlery shop at the Avila Pier, along with boat cleats and transom jacks and charts. Everything needed, apparently, to sail into the west …

I find I can no longer stand the taste of ginger ale.

That makes it a little harder to get through the bronchitis this week, but Earl Grey tea also works wonderful well. And to me, it’s a huge comfort beverage; I quite live on it during Dickens Fair. It works miracles for bronchitis, too. So does chicken-and-variable broth, with which Kimberly has kept me well-supplied. I am still hacking out my lungs at intervals, but they are increasingly longer intervals – and I am still breathing, so obviously enough oxygen is making it through the oatmeal in my lungs.

I even went out on an errand. And I may stay upright and awake all day. So, even without the healing powers of ginger ale, I am getting better.

And now, I think – it’s time for more tea.




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Hack. Hack.

Kage Baker was, for most of her life, prone to bronchitis. It was her signature disease. After every Faire (hence, 2 or 3 times a year), during every winter, Kage developed bronchitis.

Even after she finally had her tonsils out at the advanced age of 31 – and boy, was that an adventure, Dear Readers; remind me to tell you – it only reduced her frequency. She knew all the tricks of lying upside down on beds and basically coughing her lungs into her throat; she could spell bronchiectasis and tell horrible stories about all the accompanying side effects of having your bronchia rot. She often said it made her feel closer to Robert Lewis Stevenson, who hacked dismally his entire life until he moved to Tahiti with the love of his life.

That, Kage reasoned, would cure anyone of anything.

Anyway, bronchitis was the disease that was her old friend. We all have one. They usually date back to childhood or at least adolescence; the protist companions who lurk in our interstices, and pop out when we get tired and run down to make us sick as dogs. Maybe yours is allergies, or mystery rashes, or tertiary fevers, or warts. Mine is kidney infections.

However, old age and the fact that I have inherited Kage’s life have played some pretty rank tricks on me. For all the decades of my life, I rarely caught colds. Had my tonsils out, passed kidney and gall stones, sprained my ankles monthly, even smoked a pipe for 30 years and still the simple cold seldom bothered me. However …

Presumably in honour of Kage, I have now developed bronchitis. With inhuman speed. Woke up yestreday with a sore throat; spent the night trying to sleep sitting up and coughing till I puked whenever I lay down. Harry has learned the very rude noises and now coughs back at me. Kimberly, wisely discerning that I did indeed have a DISEASE and not a simple ague, dragged me into the doctor today and got me diagnosed.

So I got to breathe Albuterol vapour through a tiny medical hookah for a half hour, and have been sent home to rest, drink a lot of fluids (that are not hot toddys, alas) and take interesting antibiotics. “Are you sure it’s bacterial?” I queried the lovely young doctor, who looked like Svnae – she rolled her dark eyes and promised me she was sure. Then she probably went out and yanked all the Reader’s Digests with Joe’s Lungs articles out of the waiting room. No point in encouraging us old farts and fartesses.

Anyway, that’s what I’m doing for a couple of days. Being bronchitic. Kage, I recall, used to self-medicate with wine coolers – but I can’t stomach those damned candy boozes she liked. I think I’ll stick to Earl Grey tea, and amuse myself by fishing for kittens with my cane. The little red Maine Coone kitty cannot figure out how things fall so fascinatingly from the sky …

Time to light a candle to St. Blaise and St. Bernardine, too. Just to be on the safe side.


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And Now, (Not) The News

Kage Baker hated the news.

By which, she meant the institutionalized, formulaic, on-every-day-at-6PM news that came between afternoon cartoons and prime time television. Also, the current events in the daily newspaper – or twice dailies, when we were kids and Los Angeles had morning and evening newspapers owned by people who actually lived in Los Angeles.  Kage hated Breaking News, and screaming headlines, and Special Reports in any format – what she hated was the soap operatic hysteria that is presented by the time-honoured traditions of The Press.

Mind you, she believed in the importance of information, and of being informed. She just couldn’t abide what is very rightly sneered at as The Mainstream Media; though the sneerers are too often short-sighted morons who simply cannot stand being contradicted, it’s true that a lot of that Media is indeed off-target, dishonest and prejudiced. The News is NOT information, not anymore. The News is a thing entirely separate, defined by nothing but itself, answerable to no truth or common sense; a vulgar, salacious, melodramatic form of lowest common denominator entertainment.

She got her current events information from a few bastions of respectability: the New York Times. The London Times. The BBC. John Stewart and Steven Colbert, whom she recognized as being classic satirists in the honourable tradition of the Irish brehon; bards who could destroy kings with deadly wit and mockery. In between comedic fits, though, both Stewart and Colbert manage to deliver more nuggets of actual news than any of the network programs.

She’d watch news for something real, and important: war breaking out. A natural disaster in progress. A baby down a well. She had a weak spot for car chases, mostly due to their black humour qualities. But ordinary broadcasts weren’t worth her time – not enough actual information-to-nonsense in the ratio. It was just all too depressing for Kage.

I learned not to read articles out to her from the newspaper – unless they were Company-oriented, or decent human interest stories. She was always interested in things like the world’s Largest Ball of Twine, and its specially-built display gazebo in Cawker City, Kansas.


Recipes were acceptable.  So were funny photos. But she never wanted to hear about historical buildings unless the story was about their preservation – the destruction of old buildings affected Kage like the deaths of children. So, ice hotels and corn palaces and hobbit playhouses, yes – urban renewal, no.

The Internet was a treasure trove for Kage, of course. Not only for its almost infinite dimensions, but because of the selectivity she could exercise over what she saw. If Kage wanted to, she could avoid photos or articles older than – 0h, 1940. Or 1918, when the great Ted Sturgeon was born. Or 1870, when silly cat photos were invented. She happily spent entire days in previous centuries, when everyone she loved was still alive and walking, in a world that had never burned a library or a saint …

Facebook, though, was not a benign miracle to Kage. For me, it has been a frequent pain in the ass – it’s the ultimate Agora, replete with idiots on soapboxes – but it’s also where I can get news of friends with whom I no longer share corporeal space. The problem for Kage, and what finally drove her to forbid me to pass on gossip, was that so much of the news was mortal. We’d reached the age where friends were more apt to die than buy a new house, and she couldn’t stand my recitation of the butcher’s bill. Not that it comforts me, but I find it better to know – Kage preferred to live in faith that they still breathed. If she suspected someone might have kicked the ol’ jam jar, she asked me: and then wrote them into a story.

I still pursue the news. Not avidly, but I have my sources that I check daily. It’s mostly for scientific and literary news, but I do still read current events – 12 years of training by grimly determined nuns is not easily shaken off. But … sometimes it gets to be too much. It’s the accumulation of emaciated dogs and malignant politicians, I think; I can watch the footage of tsunamis because, although it’s horrifying, it is also singular and important. I can’t save but a few hungry animals or bleeding children, and if I set out to eliminate politicos, I’ll end up shot dead and/or in prison. Like any moral person, I do what I can but it’s never freaking enough, and sometimes the pain is just too much.

That’s when I  knit, or re-read a favourite book, or bury myself in a treatise on the evolution of hummingbirds (they do that super-fast, too. Now you know.). When the world is too much with me. When everything that is happening, sucks. I don’t have an Editor Deluxe to keep the world at bay, like Kage did; but she left me the writing.

That’s the best distraction of all, really. Making your own news. And making it better.


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My Mental Plumbing Has Backed Up

Kage Baker liked the installation of new things to be swift. Simple. Involving as few moving parts as possible, and absolutely no adapters she had to learn how to use. And let’s be honest, Dear Readers – don’t we all pretty much prefer things that way?

But in this naughty modern world, that is an outcome more striven for than achieved …

Last week, I replaced the hard drive in my computer system. Now, despite the fact that every single individual piece of the desktop system has been replaced over the years, I still consider it the same system I originally installed in a trailer beside a pond in a Northern California oak grove. A lot of files have been translated over and over, but I’m still using some of the first gifs and jpegs Kage so happily downloaded.  That initial installation left us in the surreal situation of living in the woods with an actual outhouse, and a computer plugged into one end of the longest extension cord in the world.

This was so Kage could begin transcribing In The Garden of Iden onto those snazzy new 8-inch floppy disks. Back in those days they really flopped, man, and were made out of black felt and magnetized carbon paper, I think. Monitors have come and gone since then, hard drives ditto; in fact, I now have a main drive with an improbable terabyte of storage and an exterior spare drive with another 500 gigabytes. A wireless mouse. A wireless modem. I think it can have cross-fertile sex with all my phones and cameras. It’s a paradigm sitting right on my desk.

Unfortunately, completing the connection to the rest of the Intertubes has not been as easy to achieve. I  can set up a faux, virtual XBox (if I want to spend the cash) but for the last week I’ve been intermittently unable to connect here to Word Press.

Some of the problem is XP vs. every other Windows OS in the world. A few days ago, Windows XP became an orphan of the storm. No skin off my nose – I’d traded up from XP to Vista  years ago, and the jump to Windows 8.1 was easy enough. I don’t like the new OS, but it’s not hard to use and it works. However, it appears that multitudes of morons online hung on to their XP systems until just past the very last minute … all sorts of sites have been stalling, falling and crawling like snails, completely unable to communicate with my superfast slick new system.

And now, of course, another end-of-the-world virus has been found and alarm bells are ringing – NEW, with extra paranoia! – all over the place. Bleeding Heart, my aging derriere: all my first tier contacts seem to be fine, but the second tier sites are all smoking ruins of shattered confidence and wetting-themselves fear … which is making it hard to do research and get around  the outre places I like to visit each day.

I’ve been trying to send a new story to my agent for days; she’s using some aging version of Windows Office, which won’t translate my Open Office files. And the Office Suite file on my Windows 8.1 had to be activated before it worked and I could translate the story files – because Open Office somehow turns cannibal on my agent’s computers, and eats the files it delivers to her. Plus, her apparently senescent  Office program is reposting random items of her correspondence from 2013 as brand-new email, and I’ve been getting scary letters with dates a year old requesting resolution on projects I thought were finished months ago … and so is Linn, who is understandably wondering why on earth I’m asking her questions on a book contract that completed 6 months ago.

In the meantime, though, I still have to re-write the ending of the story a little. I hope I can send it to Linn again without it mutating into Swahili in a Cyrillic font, or something equally useless. Plus I got lazy and opted for Chinese food from a Panda Express outlet in a grocery store, and have been sweating and puking and accomplishing NOTHING since last night.

It’s been a very difficult week, Dear Readers. Aaaargh. Aaaargh, I say. But I am back at least on my knees, if not yet my feet – I can reach the keyboard, and so far things are working. Light a candle in the window for me, as I go back to hacking my feckless way through the jungles of Pointless Innovation and Installation.

It’s damned dark in here.

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Sunday Drives

Kage Baker loved Sunday drives.

When we were little, she adored going out for anything at all with Daddy or one of the many, many Uncles. If she couldn’t call shotgun, she at least got a window seat and made up stories about the inexplicable world rolling by outside. Strange creatures and entities would gallop, pace and fly alongside the car, telling her the tales of their peculiar lives and adventures. Some of them followed her all the way to the end of her life, and she shared most of their biographies with me along the way.

It never mattered that she (and a variety of younger siblings) might end up waiting in the car while Daddy bought paint, canvas and frames. Or while an impecunious Uncle pitched a little woo to some plump cocktail waitress while the kids waited in the car. The rewards might be only a roll of Lifesavers to be shared out among the crowd (Kage had perpetual dibs on the red ones), or an ice cream cone, or a Coke (never ice cream and soda, though, because floats made Anne throw up).   Kage was always perfectly  happy running down the battery listening to 50′s rock on the radio.

When we grew up,  she and I contrived extravagant car picnics on our Sunday drives: delicatessen sandwiches, imported sodas and beers, noodle kugel and Chinese food. Jam tarts. All the ice cream cones we could eat.

By definition, Sunday drives were leisurely day trips; we usually had to be home for work on Monday, after all. But the day was still ours, and a holiday. There was almost nothing Kage liked better than to take off on a Sunday morning, armed with carefully selected inspirational music and some story ideas, and see how far we could get before we had to turn for home.

How far along the road, how far into the stories, how far through the music – it didn’t matter. It was all movement, all progress. Something would rise up fiery-winged from the friction of tires against road and word against word. There might be a meal and a few beers along the way, which would only improve our metaphysical traction along the highway to Ideas.

To improve our literal traction, I was pretty abstemious: one drink, maybe two, and at least an hour’s stop to metabolize before I got behind the wheel again. But Kage would often get very merry and relaxed indeed. It took an astonishing amount of alcohol to incapacitate her. She didn’t slur, or wobble, or repeat anecdotes ad nauseum; indeed, concerning nausea,  she rarely even puked. With Kage, booze actually fed the fires of creation – up to the point of alcohol poisoning, she could wax poetic for hours.

Simply driving on Sunday, though, did not qualify as a Sunday drive. For up to 30 weekends a year, we’d be driving home on Sunday nights – from various Faires, with friends, family, extraordinary amounts of dust and hay and filthy clothes, and a parrot in a cage. Those were mad dashes and endurance runs; the idea was to get home before all the available drivers fell asleep or the car blew up. And we made it, usually. But aside from Kage telling me stories to keep me awake – at least, as long as she could keep her mouth moving – they bore no resemblance to the civilized glory of the Sunday drives. We were legging it for the border as fast we could go, through those Sunday nights, hoping the horses wouldn’t die in the traces.

No, the Sunday drives only happened in the off-seasons. We stayed clean. We ate in restaurants with cloth napkins and at least 2 forks – Kage’s minimum requirements for civilization. We bought souvenirs; Kage adored souvenirs, and would buy damn near anything to commemorate a pretty highway or an especially comfortable roadside bathroom.

The other thing we did on those drives was talk about the stories. Sunday drives were a major setting for brain-storming sessions. Sometimes we’d go out just to see if an idea could be conjured up as we sped along – Kage would just feel she needed to write, and so she had to find a plot. We’d drive until we found one showing us some leg at the side of the road, and then we’d take it home with us. Mendoza first appeared alongside I-5, in a simmering, seething copper  sunset. Gard, the Dark Lord, ambushed us on Mulholland Drive at night, where Kage was most strangely inspired by eating almond chicken in the dark with a wooden spoon.

I’m not sure any more where Ermenwyr came from – he seems to have been around forever – but if any  of Kage’s ideas would be found dropping trou  at the side of Highway 1, it would be him … And God, I miss that. I always felt her characters were in the back seat, making smart ass remarks as Kage fulfilled her duty as their amanuensis. Nobody talks in the back seat now but Harry. And while I love him dearly and he’s nearly as rude as Ermenwyr, it’s not the same.

Only the writing comes close. So I’ll head back to that now, Dear Readers. My agent Linn wants to see a rewrite of a story I sent her last month, so it behooves me to fire up the hacking clunker of my brain, head North into the empty lands,  and see how far I can get: before Sunday ends.






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Windows and Star Trek Movies

Kage Baker was sternly opposed to change just for its own sake. She liked novelty; but she abhorred its being pointless.” Improvements” to the things she used in her work and home were especially suspicious. Their only justification, in her eyes, was to make her buy more crap.

New and Improved, Kage often opined,  just means a new package and fewer uses. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.  And she pretty much felt that applied to everything from computer programs to peanut butter and laundry detergent. She was a natural market for retro products.

As a computer user, for example, Kage  fervently wished that Windows would just – you know, settle down. Her profession, as she had arranged things, required a lot of word processing and Internet use. She didn’t want to be distracted by her tools. They weren’t supposed to engage her imagination, which worked just fine by itself – they were supposed to do what she told them to do and not mutate all over the place.

Kage hated the changes constantly being made to Microsoft programs, and felt most of them were made just for the sake of slapping NEW! on the labels. Their Office programs drove her especially nuts; no sooner did she figure out the bells and whistles than a new version came out and had to be re-learned. It was one of the worst habits of the technological age, she believed: that urge to change things just because you could. Kage didn’t like changes; she also didn’t want to be continually educated in how to use what was, to her, merely an enhanced typewriter – it was a waste of her time.

Eventually, Office became essentially unusable for her. She couldn’t access her carefully customized  dictionaries, or use the controls for margins and font sizes; she couldn’t even find icons for saving and closing documents. And it had taken her so long to learn to remember to save and close in the first place! I think it was Office 6 that finally unhinged her mind. That was when I gave up and installed Open Office, which looked and acted like the programs she knew; and Kage turned her back on Microsoft Office forever.

By that time, the joke was already going around that Windows was like Star Trek movies: the even-numbered releases were good and the odd-numbered ones were crap. A corollary went that OSes with names instead of numbers were also crap, but I never really found that, myself. The original release of Vista gathered hideous reviews, but I’ve used it for 4 years now with no difficulties. I waited until after Kage was dead to try it, though, because she wasn’t about to take a chance that the stories were right.

Well, now I’ve just replaced my entire drive, and have been dumped willy-nilly into the unknown seas of Windows 8.1. According to cyber folklore, it ought to be one of the good ones. And I guess it is better than some of the OSes that have come down the line … however, it seems to have an extreme case of change for its own self – and a lot of the changes are annoying and pointless. Kage would never, ever, in a million years have been able to figure this thing out – and I am seriously worried about teaching it to Kimberly: who, while much better at computers than Kage, is sufficiently of a Luddite stripe that 8.1 is gonna make her furious. She doesn’t like having to argue with her system in order to use it …

Windows 8.1 is easy to use: for me. For Michael, too. But we’re the IT department for our household.  I bet it’s a pain in the ass for a lot of people, because it is not at all intuitive.  I’m using it with no problem, but for the first time I am seriously considering dumping the Windows OS and  trying something else.

Windows 8.1 gives me the willies, you see. The egregious use of large blocks of primary colours instead of simple text labels is ridiculous. The colour schemes remind me of kindergarten classrooms. The icons seem to have been designed by someone from Nickelodeon, circa 2000 or so.

And where the hell has the Start menu gone to? Or the Shut Down prompt? They’ve been replaced with position-dependent zones that have no directions to their locations and are invisible until you find them. Those two innovations alone are gonna drive older users and liberal arts majors up the freaking walls.

You could read the manual, of course – but it’s a sad fact that most people never do. By the time folks think to try that, their blood pressure will have gone up 50 points while they try to figure out out to turn their damned machines off.  Windows 8.1 is not well thought out for the majority of casual users.

None of this would surprise Kage, however – she’d recognize it easily, once she stopped screaming in rage and I took the mouse away from her.  She predicted this. Windows 8.1 is meant to be easier to be used by people who use phones and tablets like extensions of their limbs. People who communicate in photos and abbreviations and emoticons; people who never look at a newspaper, seldom look at a book, and would rather watch a video online that read an article.  I sense an underlying assumption that this is intended to be used by the semi-literate – on their way to becoming the not-literate-at-all.

Only clerks need to learn how to read, Kage prophesied; her readers took it largely as satire, more of her “wry wit”. It wasn’t. She really feared it might be true in the very near future. She hoped that emails would give literacy a fresh beginning – then the NewSpeak of texting began to evolve, and she began to worry again.

Windows 8.1 would not make her feel any better.


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