New Story Published!

>> Tuesday, May 24, 2016

My new story, "Second Life," is out in the e-zine "Just a Minor Malfunction" available now for a limited time at $0.99!

My story, "Second Life," is set aboard a space station so I get to use actual rocket science expertise and I allow a little bit of sleuthing for the biologically minded. With people trapped forever in space, finding yourself confronted with what might be an epidemic has got to be terrifying, especially since insanity comes with it. I hope you'll check it out

Chuck Larlham
is in there, too, and a number of other awesome science fiction stories. In fact, it's one of the best collections of hard science fiction I've read in a long long time, so I'm proud to be part of it. Something for everyone, folks!

It's a steal right now. If you like science fiction or just being entertained, well worth your dollar.

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Single Parent Appreciation on Mother's Day

>> Wednesday, May 4, 2016



So I was talking to my sister several states away and she was telling me about some of her Mother's Day plans, doing stuff that's good for her (which I applaud) and she said, "So, what are you doing?"

"Me? I'm likely hanging at home with the kids, mothering. What day is it even on?"

Now, don't think I'm complaining about my sister—I'm all for her having fun. She works hard with her kids (homeschooling) and does a jillion other things besides. She totally earns her fun. And, while I'm a single mother, I have a good salary and a job that is very flexible so that I can take care of them without serious hardship.

But it got me to thinking. Because it's different for single mothers, especially those with younger children you can't just leave the kids hanging around the house while you get your nails done. That's not anyone's fault, but, having spent some years being part of a pair of parents and some years being a single mother, the difference is easy to forget (I didn't think about it when I was married). And it's always a good time to remember.

So, that's what this is, a reminder for those of us who do have someone to share the burden with and even those, like me, that have it relatively cushy: single parents have it rough.


There are few jobs more thankless than being a parent. When she has a partner, he (or she) might appreciate what she does. Someday (probably far in the future) her kids might, as well. But, for single parents (and I include both mothers and fathers since they both have to do double duty) now, it's all hustle and bustle and jostling and rearranging priorities as challenges come her way and often she, herself, is perpetually at the bottom of the list.

When one is a single parent, there's no one else to load the dishwasher or clean up the cat puke or fold the laundry or run to the store. And, if she has to do the latter, she has to take the kids with her if she can't do it while they're in school. If one of her kids is sick, there's no one to take care of the other ones. Or if she is. She's a living breathing single point failure waiting to happen and no one knows it more than she does. When my son was in the hospital, I was in a world of hurt dragging friends in to help so someone could watch my daughter while my son was in the ER. And then the hospital.

Scary doesn't even begin to describe it.

A single parent is on duty or on call 24/7 and for many of you working minimum wage or with crazy shuffling hours, my heart truly bleeds for you. I literally can't imagine how you do it because it's all I can manage and I have it easy.

So, what's my point? First to say, thank you guys, for all of you single parents doing your damnedest with half the resources you need. Don't let anyone make you feel bad for those things you just can't do.

But, secondly, to those of you who *aren't* single parents but know someone who is, whether it looks like a struggle or not, this is a great time to help them out (actually any time is). Doesn't have to be money or expensive. Flowers are nice, candy, a card. By all means. But, if you really want to give her (or him) something that won't cost you much but will be more precious than you can imagine, donate the thing they need most. TIME.

Want to take her to get her nails done? Have your teenage niece watch the kids or stay and let her have the afternoon to herself.

Get her a massage and watch the kids while she's gone. Send her to the movies. Let her take a damn nap. Give her a few hours uninterrupted.

Take her kids to the zoo. Wear 'em out while she does her taxes or reads a novel or sits by the pool without kids around.

For those of you who have generally had someone else around to help (or never had kids) you literally can't imagine what a boon that is, what it means, what it's worth. Date night is often important for married couples—they need that alone time—we forget single parents need it, too.

If time is in short supply, drop by with a dinner she doesn't have to cook. Swing by for a half hour of adult conversation she hasn't had. Tell her what a good job she's doing.

Because, chances are, she often has a hard time believing it. Too many of us only see our flaws, especially when there's no one to point out our strengths.

So, this mother's day, if you know someone struggling alone, take a minute to remind them. And, hey, why not make it a habit all year round?

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So, I sold a short story to a new e-zine of hard science fiction

>> Saturday, April 30, 2016

That's independent to an unusual degree. But, you know, I'm pretty avant garde myself. Looks like I'll be in the first issue of Just A Minor Malfunction along with my good writing buddy, R. C. Larlham. So, fun will be had for everyone.

I'm actually rather excited as it's set in a science fiction setting I'd been planning (and am still planning) to write a novel in, only this is more a prequel. Thing is, I'm so in love with my characters in this new short story, Second Life, I may have to make room for them in the novel.

But then, I do love a challenge. If you're interested in reading my story, Chuck's or any of the other stories gathered, check it out.

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/just-a-minor-malfunction-sci-fi-short-stories--2#/

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Why I'm Voting for Hillary in the Primaries

>> Sunday, February 7, 2016


Photo courtesy of Hillary for Iowa
 

Before I get started on a political topic (which is always touchy), let me remind you of a few things: (a) this is my opinion and not a condemnation of anyone else's views, (b) favoring Hillary is not an attack on Bernie, (c) if you favor a GOP candidate, there's really nothing for you here, and (d) this a blog, not a democracy so if your comment isn't contributing to the discussion reasonably, I'll delete it without apologies. That includes bashing candidates in ways that accomplish nothing and bringing forth any conservative propaganda talking points. Be as naive as you want, but not on my blog. If you want to talk issues or my specific points, by all means, but I'm not going to take abuse, dish it out, or allow it to go on in my comments unchecked. This is not kindergarten. Grow up.

Before I get started, let me explain who I am and where I'm coming from. I am 48 years old. I have a background in science, rocket science, engineering and writing. Politics has been something I ignored far too long. I have long had liberal views on a number of issues, but I was never much of one for labels (I'm still not). When it came to voting (at a much later age than it should have), I didn't pay very much attention. That changed after I ignorantly and thoughtlessly voted for George W. Bush. It hadn't even warmed here in Houston before I was aghast at what we had wrought. My vote wouldn't have changed anything here in Texas, but I hadn't done research, hadn't thought it through, hadn't cared enough to pay attention and vote appropriately. I was part of the problem. I would not be part of the problem again.

What that means is, when people who have been working these issues (on the left) for decades, marching and caucusing and speaking out and making calls for what they believe in, say I haven't been there like they have, they're not wrong. And I respect that. It also means that I'm far more careful to pay attention and do my homework before I form opinions about issues and about candidates. Also, the argument that one can learn from even the most heinous mistakes of the past resonates with me because I've been there. More than once.

So, what do I like about Bernie Sanders? Lots of stuff. He's fighting for many issues that matter to me and he always has. Not all of them, mind you, but several. He's something of a purist and somewhat passionate and I'm cool with that. I totally agree that money and politics is a bad mix and I appreciate that, at least with intent, that's what he tried to do and tried to keep the focus on issues. I believe he genuinely joined in to get his message out without the intent to torpedo his own pet issues or jeopardize having someone liberal in the White House (and there are many who feel differently, but it doesn't change my vote either way). He appears generally true to his beliefs in many ways, even if he isn't the saint that some would have us believe.

But there are things I don't like. Some of the issues that matter a great deal to me appear to be low priority to Bernie (and won't be fixed with his inequality plans). I know he thinks those measures to improve the world for the middle class will fix it all given he tends to describe the post WWII years as if it was a utopia as the middle class grew in power and influence, but women and minorities saw very little of those benefits; they were, in fact, left all but behind until they took action themselves in the sixties. He may have forgotten that rather egregious oversight; they have not. I don't like his slow response on guns or his lack of expertise on foreign affairs (a substantial portion of the President's responsibility). Foreign policy is something a clever President can really use to our advantage as President Obama has demonstrated.

I don't like demonizing any group of people, even the filthy rich. There are clearly greedy assholes out there who care nothing for regular people but that is not true of all of them and it's misleading to do so. When people get passionate on the basis of hate, it makes me uncomfortable.  That's dangerous.

He has not been vetted and the very fact that he hasn't been raked across the coals at this point tells me two things: (1) we have no idea how he'll react to the kind of pressure and nastiness that both President Obama and, for far longer, Hillary Clinton have withstood (with poise, I might add) and (2) that the Republican slime machine either thinks he has no chance or is positive they can take him out without trouble else they'd have started in already. I hope we never find out, but, if we do, I hope their confidence is misplaced. I've noted, that, if I were a hard core Bernie supporter, I'd be very unnerved by the silence because the purer and more perfect he's seen to be (and some are already saying no one's attacked him because there's nothing to attack - which is desperately naive and almost certainly wrong), the harder he will fall if someone uses the right spin. Look how they swift-boated Kerry, using his own heroics to attack him. Substance is not necessary. After all, the GOP hasn't been a big one for substance for the past few decades, preferring inference, innuendo and boldfaced lying.

I am also disturbed by his tendency to act as though he's the only person who's been fighting for the issues he cares about, in government, in the legislature, anywhere. It's not like he's been alone in this, but you'd never know it to listen to him. And he's been pretty dismissive to the others fighting the same fight he has, including our current President and many Democrats that are his colleagues. Despite the executive nature of the Presidency, it really isn't a one person show and anyone who hasn't learned that from watching President Obama the past eight years really hasn't been paying attention. And, Bernie's agenda is almost exclusively legislative, which argues where he is (and has been) in a much better place to put it into action. If he could rally his fellow legislators. Instead, only two legislators have endorsed him, and that's a pretty telling marker to me on how well he will be able to able to push them to back his more extreme plans.    

None of this makes him a monster. But these are legitimate concerns about anyone who strives to be President.

I will admit also that, people of the liberal variety who are dismissive of what President Obama has done, distance themselves from him, and, most tellingly, show no sign of having learned anything from his presidency are unlikely to convince me their ideas will succeed where his efforts did not.

Which brings us to Hillary Clinton, a woman I was aware of but only peripherally prior to 2008. Most of what I'd heard, I'd heard through the media so, as you might expect, it was almost entirely mud. And, in 2008, I still wasn't digging in deep. I liked Obama almost from the start and never really looked past that (and I can't say I'm sorry I voted for him, though, again, it made no difference here in Texas). But, it was also the first contest where I saw the GOP slime machine in full swing first at Hillary and then at President Obama, not only during the election but afterwards, for what started as months and turned into years, never letting up. The insinuations and sneering were everywhere, but without anyone hating on him being able to come up with concrete reasons, just flimsy allegations of wrongdoing that I could debunk with a few minutes of research. I came to really respect President Obama, not just because of his tremendous accomplishments against non-stop ugliness and obstructionism, but because of how he never seemed to lose his love for this country or lose sight of what mattered most to him, how he remained true to himself, though I'm sure there are decisions he wished he hadn't had to make.

I learned.

So, when Hillary came in again, I realized that I didn't know much about her except the mud I'd seen, but, here she was, still strong. President Obama had trusted her in his cabinet and she had gone to help him, even after a tough and undoubtedly disheartening primary. Both those facts  mattered to me. So, I started slogging through the mud, finding out what, if anything had substance and I found out very little except a few votes she either regretted or I wouldn't have chosen (Obama and Bernie have them, too) and some choices her husband made that she gets dinged for. But I could understand how those decisions were made at the time. I tell my kids all the time, "You can't always get what you want." I don't know why anyone thinks it's different in the White House, especially after watching our President have to compromise again and again to get things done (with his own side, too, I might add. Dems aren't sheep or soldiers walking in lockstep).   

I watched her poise and good temper when the Republicans (who never really retired her slime machine), cranked it to full speed. It's not because I think she "deserves" the White House for all she's been through (I think the Presidency is a hell job, myself), but it says something about her that she can withstand it without losing herself or her principles. Many people (like Obama) we never saw tested. I read about her accomplishments, not just from her supporters, but by unbiased sources like votesmart and others. And I recognized many of the mannerisms required to succeed by strong women in her just as I've cultivated them in myself and other women of accomplishment in my field (where I don't think women take near the pounding they take in politics).  I've seen her take pride in President Obama's accomplishments, some done with her, and promise to build on them, a plan I admire. I've read about her crusades from before they were popular, when they only hurt her politically, that she never flinched from, and those that scarred her, but didn't stop her. Looking objectively at her past, I've seen her grow, change tactics, learn from her friends and her enemies, learn from President Obama (and probably taught him a bit). Fight smarter. I'm all about that, let me tell you.

I find it telling that, while many are cool and grudging on her public persona, the people who most admire her are the people who really know her. It's not always that way (as I discovered when reading about Bernie) and I think that says a great deal on who you really are.

She's not perfect. She's supported things, particularly in the past, I wish she hadn't. Made mistakes, changed her views on things, cozied up to banks and big business, made a show at least of being hawkish, and I'm pretty pacifist. But very few of those things are black and white. Being able to work with big business is far from a bad thing; it's being owned that's bad and that I haven't seen that. Some people are certain that she is, but I'm not convinced. And I won't be without hard data and I mean more than one or two data points, because there's a pretty impressive voting record that backs her and says she is more than all talk.  As for those data points, I know damn well I've made mistakes and learned from them. I'm not about to tell anyone else they can't. And it's pretty frickin' clear to me she's never stopped learning. I respect the hell out of that, too.

She gets that she's going to need legislative Dems on her side (and have locked up a large number of their endorsements as well as many governors'). She's also shared some of her campaign funding to help in other Dem races and that's damn crucial for whoever ends up in the White House. On the foreign policy side, we have no one anywhere running for President with a fraction of her expertise (not just experience, expertise). And it does matter that she's a woman, not just because women are under-represented (badly) in government but because women of accomplishment have an inkling of what it takes for women to get and keep power in a cutthroat world.

And I've seen that stigma that still haunts women, in people insisting she must be dishonest or unlikable based on her "tone." On Bernie getting tons of credit for not going negative and sticking with issues while she gets none at all for doing exactly the same thing and continuing to do so even when some of his troops and even he got a bit personal. Now that I'm looking for it, it's not hard to spot.

I will vote for either one that gets the nomination. I truly believe that either will try to do the right thing from that position whereas I'm confident that no one on the GOP side will do anything but amp up the rape and pillaging of our country and any other country that strikes them. The mind boggles as the potential harm.

But I'm voting for Hillary in the primary. For reasons I noted, but really because, in some ways I identify with both Bernie and Hillary, but not the same way. I identify with Hillary as a human being who cares, who has made mistakes and has learned from them, who is held to a different standard but still excels in her chosen field.  Bernie, I identify with as a purist because I'm rather one myself.  I am someone who, in the human space industry, distinguished herself as a safety engineer. And safety engineers are purists, focused ideally on safety and willing to stop everything else if it's just not safe enough. We have the luxury of not having to juggle schedule and cost and performance, and goals and crew time and limitations, etc. We get to focus on just safety and the program needs us to do that because safety can get lost when you're juggling so many things.

But.

You don't put us in charge because the safest place for a rocket is on the ground. And if you want to accomplish something, if you want to actually conquer space, you have to take some chances. You've got to juggle priorities and necessities, you gotta get your hands dirty and make tough choices, accept some risks, let some things go. You've got to hold tight to your goals, try to always work to the good while never letting all those important balls you're juggling drop.

The Presidency is not a purist's job.

So, with no regrets and no hesitation, I'll be voting for Hillary.
   

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Repost: And More of our African American Astronauts

>> Thursday, February 12, 2015

Reposted from my Today blog in 2009:

For those of you who were surprised how many African American astronauts there were, let me tell you, you didn’t know the half of it because I have eight more to tell you about.  If someone ever tells you black people can’t do the math or the science or handle complex concepts (as if Obama isn’t sufficient evidence to the contrary), take a good look at some of the talent NASA has been proud to accept into one of the most difficult and most elite technical jobs there are.  

As I mentioned on the comments on yesterday’s blog, most astronauts have multiple degrees, even multiple PhD’s.  Some are medical doctors, most are pilots (some are both).  And our astronaut corps is wonderfully diverse.

So, without more ado:

Frederick D. Gregory is not only a former astronaut, he is also a former NASA administrator (acting during the lag between Sean O’Keefe and Michael Griffin).  Another pilot and test pilot, he was accepted into the corps in 1978.  He was the pilot for STS-51B in 1985 (SpaceLab mission).  He was also the first African American to command a flight which he did for STS-33 (Department of Defense mission) and then commanded STS-44 (another DoD mission). He was also, at one time, my boss at HQ.  He led Office of Safety and Mission Assurance for nine years at NASA.  When I rocked the boat in 1996, he’s the one that backed me all the way to the top and made changes to how we fly that are still in practice.
Bernard Anthony Harris, Jr. set another first for African Americans in space.  A flight surgeon and a
clinical scientist, he worked on research for the effects of low gravity on people and countermeasures for it.  He was selected for the astronaut corps in 1990 and flight as a mission specialist on STS-55 in 1991 and flew again on STS-63 in 1995 where he was the first African American to go on a spacewalk (but not the last!).  Harris retired from the astronaut core in 1996.

  
Mae Carol Jamison was the first African American in space, but she had a pretty exciting life even beyond that.  She danced.  She entered Stanford University at 16.  She got a BS in chemical engineering four years later and her medical degree four years after that.  She worked as a Peace Corps Medical Officer.  Inspired by Nichelle Nichols, Jamison was accepted into the astronaut corps in 1987 and flew her only mission on STS-47 in 1992.  She retired from NASA in 1993 (to NASA’s dismay) and has the distinction of being the first real astronaut to ever appear on Star Trek (The Next Generation).  And she’s done much more besides.  Check out the link for more.
Joan Elizabeth Higgenbotham has multiple degrees and flew as a payload
specialist on STS-116, the first mission with two African American crewmembers (including Robert Curbeam from yesterday).
Leland Devon Melvin has degrees in Chemistry and Materials Science Engineering and played football as a wide receiver at the University of Richmond and even “drafted” by the Detroit Lions in 1986 (Yes, kids you can be athletic and smart, too.  Astronauts prove it regularly.), but repeated injuries killed that career. After working as an engineer at Langley Research Center, he was selected as an astronaut in 1998.  Since joining NASA he has been co-manager of NASA’s Educator Astronaut Program, no doubt inspiring children and reminding them about why we need a space program.  He flew as a mission specialist on STS-122 in 2008.

Robert Lee Satcher Jr . (born on September 22, 1965) is a physician, chemical engineer, and NASA astronaut.  He has an MD as well as a doctorate in Chemical Engineering, with experience in oncology and biomedical engineering.  He hasn’t yet flown, but he’s ready to go.

Winston Scott courtesy of NASAWinston Elliot Scott has a masters in aeronautical engineering, a 2nd degree black belt in Shotokan karate and plays the trumpet.  He’s also a navy pilot with 4000 hours flying 20 different aircraft, including helicopters, fighter aircraft and civilian craft.  Oh, and he’s also an astronaut, flying on STS-72 in 1996 where he performed a spacewalk and STS-87 in 1997 where he performed two more.  He retired from NASA in 1999.
Stephanie Diana Wilson is the second African American woman to go into

space.  She has a master’s degree in aerospace engineering.  Before becoming an astronaut, she worked for Martin Marrietta and then Jet Propulsion Laboratory on the Galileo spacecraft.  She was selected to be an astronaut in 1996 and has flown as a mission specialist on both STS-120 in 2007 and STS-121 in 2006, both ISS assembly missions.  She is currently training to fly on STS-131 in 2010.

As can be readily seen, there’s a wealth of talent and intelligence here, as well as countless hours of hard work.  And, in the end, that’s what you really need to be an astronaut.

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Repost: Some of our African American Astronauts

>> Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Report from former blog:

As a departure from the tragedies of the past week, I would like to embrace and celebrate Black History Month.  In fact, I’m all for celebrating the achievements of people at any opportunity.
I am not black and, to the best of my knowledge, I have no black ancestry.  It wouldn’t bother me if that were not the case, but, there it is.  However, I would like to take the opportunity to celebrate the achievements and accomplishments of those of African or Aboriginal (would some Asian races qualify?  Could someone clarify this?) throughout the world and throughout history.  I think it will be a journey for me, since Africa is perhaps the continent I know the least about.  I do want to know more.

This is an opportunity for me and I hope you enjoy the journey since I intend to share it with you.
In keeping with my rocket scienciness, I’m going to start by telling you about some of NASA’s African American astronauts:

First, as a sad note, Michael Phillip Anderson , the African-American astronaut to perish on STS-107 (Columbia).  Physicist, communication expert and pilot, he flew on STS-89 in 1998 (Shuttle-Mir mission) and was the Payload Commander for STS-107, where he perished with the rest of the crew on February 1, 2003. Ronald Ervin McNair courtesy of NASA On Challenger, we lost another African-American astronaut, Ronald Ervin McNair , Ph.D.  Another physicist, with a Ph.D. from MIT, Dr. McNair was a well-rounded individual with a fifth degree black belt in karate who happened to play the saxophone [Ed:  musical talent is actually fairly common among the astronauts].  Recruited by NASA by actress Nichelle Nichols (of the original Star Trek fame), he flew on STS-41B in February 1984 (also on Challenger) where he played the saxophone for posterity.  He flew again, briefly, on STS-51L and perished with his crew on January 28, 1986. 


Robert H. Lawrence, Jr . (Ph.D.) was actually the first African-American to be accepted into the astronaut corps.  With a Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry and a background as a test pilot, he was well qualified to become an astronaut, and was accepted into the astronaut corps in June 1967.  However, a tragic accident during a training flight with him as instructor ended in his death only months after joining the program. Guy Bluford, Jr. on STS-53 courtesy of NASA Guion “Guy” Bluford, Jr. (Ph.D) is the first African American* to go into space.  With a Ph.D. in aerospace engineering (and a minor in laser physics), 144 combat missions of flying experience in Vietnam, he became an astronaut in 1979.  He first flew on STS-8 in 1983, then flew three other missions,  STS-61A in 1985, STS-39 in 1991, and STS-53 in 1992.  He retired from the astronaut corps in 1993.

Charles F. Bolden, Jr . was a naval aviator that flew more than 100 sorties into North and South Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, in the A-6A Intruder during the Vietnam war.  Impressive enough credentials, one might think, even without the degrees in electrical science and systems management.  NASA thought so too and accepted him into the astronaut corps in 1980.  Between that and his retirement from the corps in 1994, he served as pilot on two missions: STS-61C in 1986, STS-31 in 1990 (Hubble Space Telescope launch) and commanded two other missions: STS-45 (first SpaceLab mission) and STS-60 (the first joint US/Russian Shuttle mission). He is now the Director for ALL of NASA. Yvonne Darlene Cagle, MD courtesy of NASA
Yvonne Darlene Cagle is a medical doctor and female astronaut currently assigned to the Life Sciences Directorate at JSC.  Apparently, she likes to write historical novels.  How cool is that?


Robert Lee Curbeam, Jr . joined the astronaut corps in 1994, another naval aviator with degrees in aerospace and aeronautical engineering, he has flown on three missions: STS-85 in 1997, STS-98 in 2001 and STS-116.  On STS-116 he set the record for the most spacewalks (EVAs) on one flight - four.  EVA takes a great deal out of one, so that’s no mean achievement.  I happen to have worked with Mr. Curbeam and it was a real pleasure - he’s talented, intelligent, pleasant and a pleasure to work with.  He announced his retired from the astronaut corps in 2007. B. Alvin Drew courtesy of NASA B. Alvin Drew is a Command Pilot with 3000 hours flying time in over 30 types of aircraft, including helicopters and fighter craft for both rescue and combat missions in the middle East. He also has degrees in both physics and aeronautical engineering.  Selected for the astronaut corps in 200, he has flown one mission, STS-118 in 2007.

But, wait, there’s more.  And tomorrow I’ll include the rest of the African American astronauts.  Note that the links are generally to Wikipedia because they link to many other useful places.  Revel a bit in the talent NASA has drawn.

*The first person of African descent in space was actually a Cuban cosmonaut,  Arnaldo Tamayo Méndez .  Recruited from the Cuban Air Force through the Soviet Intecosmos program, he was launched on Soyuz 38 with Yuri Romanenko to rendezvous with Salyut 6 on orbit in 1980.

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Dear Spiders . . .

>> Saturday, January 24, 2015

Dear spiders,

As a mature, well-educated, scientifically-minded and compassionate adult, I know that spiders are beneficial critters, beautiful, talented, dainty and deadly, largely to bugs which, lets face it, don't appeal much to me. As exoskeletal creatures go, spiders rank at the top for me. Logically.

Unfortunately, my response when unexpectedly faced with a spider is generally not driven by logic. So, in my best interest and yours (because, though you're talented and venomous, I have a weight advantage and am not afraid to use it), there are certain ground rules which, if you follow, will certainly serve your life expectancy well.

As a good host, there are places in my house that are well suited for spider occupation, both because of low traffic, but also because one is less likely to scare the crap out of me and get reflexively killed. However, I must warn you that spiders that I recognize as deadly venomous will not get a chance to plead the fifth - and I know what you look like, so you'd best find a more congenial host,.

For instance, my garage is fair game for any non-lethal spiders since I try not to go in there anywhere but the freezer and, if something else must be fetched, try to find someone else to do it. Also, the tops of my windows, which you'll be pleased to know are never cleaned, are fair game as they are out of reach of most of my cats and my children and are generally covered by window treatments. As my house is frequently dark (and is not high on bugs) that might be a good hunting place anyway. If you are so adventurous as to take out a wasp (a creature I loathe inside my house), and I see evidence of such in your web, I will actively work to preserve your life. My son's closet is another spot as he can't open the door (because a very heavy bunkbed blocks it and the far corners of the high ceilings in my room are also fine as long as you have the good sense not to drop on me or my children. You can also amuse yourself in my cupboard with wine glasses since I bought them with my ex-husband in mind and never use them.

Places I would avoid involve the pantry, since it's ill lit and I'm likely to freak out, on or around where my children sleep (which isn't safe for you anyway), anywhere you're likely to land on me or stationed in my bath or shower in such a way you land on me. The tiny spider that's taken up residence in the corner of the shelf is welcome to stay (though the bath you took earlier may change your mind) as long as you don't (a) grow to monstrous size, (b) turn out to be a baby recluse (since you're definitely not a black widow), (c) move somewhere where you might be tempted to drop on me or (d) hatch a million microscopic spiders and take over the shower stall.

I'm hopeful, with this understanding, we can all learn to live in harmony.

Sincerely,

Stephanie

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