Wednesday, September 30, 2009

My Spriggan Enchanter

My longtime fave, Beserkers, have a pretty easy life, all things considered, even though the latest Beta trims their power. I abandoned my last Demonspawn Beserker due to boredom.

For a change of pace, I adopted what seems like the opposite of a Beserker, a Spriggan Enchanter, one of the physically weakest races. There is much to love about Spriggans, although they are neither strong nor robust in hit points. Their inability to wear most forms of armour dissuades most players from even considering a feeble Spriggan.

Bear in mind, however, that no race is better at Dodging, which does compensate for lack of armour. Also, a Spriggan controls the terms of battle. If a battle is not going their way, Spriggans run away. They can outrun almost any monster in the game, including centaurs, and their competence in Translocations permits them to blink or teleport with comparative ease, once they have learned the required spells. Furthermore, a Spriggan grows so adept at stealth that he need not engage in prolonged melee with most monsters. With high competence in stealth and stabbing, a Spriggan can slay with just one swing of the sabre a Stone Giant. . .

or a Fire Giant. . .

or a Frost Giant. . .

Or a Golden Dragon. . .

or even, wonder of wonders, an Orb of Fire. . .

As you can see, Stabbing is nothing to sneeze at. The short sword may seem puny, but in the hands of an assassin, there is no better weapon. You might think that intelligent monsters are more resistant to surprise, but I even slew Boris the Archlich with a stab.

The Spriggan gets by on less food than other races, which means it can travel light, an important advantage for such a physically weak race. The ability to See Invisible means that unseen horrors are no longer a challenge, and the Elven Halls may be pillaged sooner.

Learn only those schools of magic that are easy for your chosen race. Avoid other schools in order to conserve XP. It makes little sense for a Spriggan to fool around with Conjurations, when it is far more competent in Enchantments. Better to let the XP trickle down into abilities such as Dodging, Stealth, and Stabbing. In fact, I recommend turning off training in Short Blades and Spellcasting and avoiding the use of missile weapons in order to master the critical assassin skills. No skills are more advantageous to the Spriggan than Dodging, Stealth and Stabbing.

My Spriggan learned just the following spells:

Note that I didn't attempt to get deep into elemental magic, conjurations or necromancy. That would be a waste, next to the potential of being a better Dodger.

And as for his thieving skills, he was quite the ninja. . .

Spriggans must conserve any vegetative food that they encounter, because they cannot eat meat. The biggest danger a young Spriggan faces is starvation. Your primary goal as a young Spriggan is to locate and plunder the Hive or find some other large supply of vegetative food. In fact, you must hurry about it, or you may die of hunger. Don't dally in the lower levels, but keep pressing on. Avoid activities such as spellcasting that cause hunger. Sometimes it is wise to leave regions of a level unexplored, in order to descend deeper into the dungeon in hopes of locating the all-important Hive--or a food shop.

Do not worship Feawn if you are a Spriggan. Her powers require vegetative food as a precursor. She is better suited for Mummies, who need never eat, or higher level characters that have already plundered the Hive. I renounced her early on, switching to Vehumet, who is more useful to a Spriggan spellcaster. Feawn held a grudge almost to the very end of the game, blasting my character with ice and ambushing my character with gangs of plants.

My Spriggan died several times, because I was accustomed to heavily armoured beserkers that can withstand massive damage in combat. With a Spriggan, if your hit points fall much below forty in the lower regions of the dungeon, then it is time to fly. A single well-aimed blow from a large monster can destroy a lightly armoured Spriggan. Dodging is never a sure thing and does not reduce damage, but only seeks to avoid it. A Spriggan must know when to run and when to be brave.

In the end, with moderate assistance from regen.bat, this Spriggan knew Victory. . .

Monday, September 28, 2009

I Mowed the Blog

The blog had gotten a bit overgrown, so I took the lawnmower to it the other day. About half the politics category has been weed-wacked. Other categories have been decimated as well, although not as much.

I have an uneasy relationship with politics. On the one hand, I have followed world news since the time I was small, cultivating opinions on just about every issue under the sun. Some people believe they should not be opinionated, but should be open-minded about everything. This is a mistake. Opinions are not bad, because they serve as a guidepost in life, helping to navigate around new issues as they come along. If you don't know what you like, you will waste too much time in testing.

On the other hand, I don't like the pettiness, bickering and tribalism inherent in politics. Too often, I suspect that the majority of liberals and conservatives are the same sort of people, only they belong to different tribes. Sometimes, it is mindless allegiance to the tribe that causes people to adopt certain positions. Politics is a slippery slope, and if one does not exercise caution, one could devolve into an ogress like Ann Coulter.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Dawkins in "The Week"

I read an article in "The Week" this month about Richard Dawkins. The writer was not a fan. He alluded to the "evidence" for evolution, putting evidence in quotes, as though it were no such thing, but mere hearsay. Then he quoted some kind of survey that showed more people were starting to doubt whether evolution were so.

Someone may want to write "The Week" and inform them that evolution is the basic principle underpinning all of the life sciences. They have not gotten the memo yet.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Advice for News Junkies

If you are addicted to reading and absorbing the daily world news, it may be helpful to employ the following technique. Before reading, make a mental note, prefacing each headline with the phrase, "Although the rest of the world was productive, harmonious, and good, we found the following unusual exception:", because the headline almost certainly contains bad news. I believe the media has a philosophy. News is not news unless it is bad. Bad news is, however, the exception, not the rule.

This technique should help counteract the overall negative impression of the world that is put forth by the media. The world is not so bad, dear old thing that she is. The common perception of the world is in need of repair. If you pause to consider the advantages, unique to our knowledge, of Earth, and of H. Sapiens, then the world is a grand and blissful place, akin to Heaven. Think upon the lot of the amoeba that know nothing save food and death. We perceive and sometimes understand, and that is all good.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Goal is Happiness

I think it is important for people to have the proper goal in life. Happiness is the proper goal. If your end is something else, like prestige, then that is a shaky foundation on which to build a life.

Forget popularity. Forget money and prestige. These are important, yes, but they are not the ultimate goal in life. There are rich people in the world--millionaires--that commit suicide because of a downturn in their fortunes. Ludicrous!

I knew of a man who was a successful business owner. He was the envy of many, although he also had many enemies, because he was hot-tempered and full of anger towards others, especially the ones closest to him. One day, he placed a gun in his mouth and pulled the trigger. I believe he did this because money, prestige, and power do not satisfy. What he wanted more than anything else in this world was to love others and to be loved, but he could not have this because of his anger, which tended to burn the bridges to the people that he loved most in this world. He never solved this problem. Despairing of a solution, he ended his life.

If he had known me and was willing to listen to me, then I would have told him to stop drinking altogether first of all. Nothing can change without that first step. Alcohol is toxic to the human brain and can influence nonviolent people to behave in a violent manner. But eliminating alcohol is not enough. More steps must follow afterward. Don't be greedy, don't be mean, don't harangue your employees, don't smash and destroy the equipment in your business. He once destroyed a cash register with a hammer because he could not understand how to operate it. A human being should always bear in mind that he is a human being, not an ape. What makes us special is our knack for patience, for cunning, for elegant solutions.

The reason people like him will not listen to people like me is pride. They think they are better than others. Pride is the barrier that seals them in their self-made dungeon, from which there is no escape. I remember a friend of mine who was miserable, completely down, agitated, and unbearable to be around. After asking a few questions, I knew why. He was accustomed to drinking several cups of coffee a day. It was the weekend, and as of mid-day Saturday he had not any coffee or tea in over twenty-four hours. I suggested that he drink some, but he bristled. He was no drug addict! It is funny that people refuse to recognize their addictions. Of course, he was suffering from classic caffeine withdrawal, but he persisted with his denials due to pride. Later, in private, he had his coffee and all of the agitation disappeared. He thought he was saving face by denying the problem to me.

If you're not happy, find out why. That's the key. Life is a work in progress, an engineering problem, if you will. Reduce that which makes you unhappy. Increase that which makes you happy. Some things cause happiness only on a temporary basis, but in the long run, cause misery. These things too must be avoided. Wisdom is that superb quality about a person that tends to promote happiness, both in one's self and in those around him for the long run.

Good relations with others is essential. However, some people are incompatible with others. Not all personality types can coexist. There are sadistic types in the world. Avoid these types, if you can. Treat them as anathema, because they will attempt to drain all the joy out of those around them, including you. The people you want for your friends are those that desire peace and harmony, with an avid curiosity for intellectual matters and an eagerness to learn new things. I once had to walk away from a lucrative job in order to free myself from psychic vampires that were determined to be unhappy, and moreover were determined to make those around them unhappy as well. It is not worth wasting the flower of life in a desolate environment.

The world has two general types of people, those that seek happiness, and those that seek pain and suffering. Thanatos is Sigmund Freud's explanation for the latter sort, who adhere to the dark side of human nature. Thanatos does have certain peculiar advantages, which is why it has persisted within our species since time immemorial, but it is not aligned with the good and the right, and is not the proper path to take. Associating with fools, one is liable to become as they are. Avoid fools, and seek out the wise, if you place a value upon virtue. Virtue is that goodness which not only makes one's self happy, but makes others happy as well, and makes the world a better place to live in. This is a solid foundation on which to build a life.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Mummy

One night I was trying to sleep once again when I heard a scratching at my window. I got a rusty butter knife and crept around the back to see what sort of infernal creature was pestering me this time.

It was an individual wrapped from head to toe with white bandages, or what most people would call a Mummy. It turned in surprise and moaned upon seeing me.

I said, "You know, I don't get many mummies around here. Mostly it's just the stray vampire or demon. Aren't you a little out of time and place? They stopped manufacturing mummies a long time ago."

The Mummy tilted his head, as if considering, and said, "Ten thousand apologies. You are correct, I am lost and trying to get home. If you don't mind, point me in the direction of Egypt, please."

I said, "That's a tough one. I know the general direction, but a slight variance in the angle of my finger could send you to South Africa, rather than Egypt. Besides, there is the small matter of the Atlantic Ocean. Not a good thing for your bandages."

The Mummy slumped its shoulders. "I just want to go home." It sounded pitiful.

I walked up next to it and put my arm around its neck in consolation, although I regretted this, because the Mummy had a bad case of body odor. I said, "Look, nowadays people just use Google Maps. You need to get on the Internet. But I can't let you inside my house. I don't mean to be blunt, but I don't know any other way to put this. . . frankly, you smell bad, and your looks don't favor you either. Go to Wal-Mart and buy yourself some clothes and deodorant. So many freaks go to Wal-Mart at night, they won't notice one more freak like you. Do you have any money?"

The Mummy shook its head sadly.

"What? Mummies always carry a little treasure stashed on their person somewhere. That's one of the good things about Mummies. Unwrap your bandages and look for gold amulets or scarabs. That will do the trick. I think they even have a jewelry store in Wal-Mart that buys scrap gold. Now I have to go. It's late, and humans like to sleep at night."

The Mummy bowed low, almost touching the ground. "A thousand blessings upon your house."

"Don't mention it. Wal-Mart is that way, by the way." I pointed to where I imagined it must be. Whether he (or she) ever made it, I have no idea.

Monday, September 7, 2009

The Mid-Life Crisis

I never imagined there was such a thing as a mid-life crisis. I think it is a product of modern civilization. Many of us are stuck in dead-end jobs and wonder whatever happened to our youthful ambition to make a mark in the world. We look ahead to the future and it may not seem as exciting as the stories that we consume on television and in the movies. We crave adventure, possibly even a romantic adventure. This is where folly begins. As for me, I became involved with a series of women, although at the time I had a long-term relationship with a man. I am not defending this conduct, only explaining a strange phenomena.

My motive was this. I was curious and wondered if a relationship could work between a woman and me, because I had never ruled it out with any certainty in the past. The concept remained a question mark to me. If I didn't try heterosexuality, how did I know it wouldn't work out? If heterosexuality worked for me, then my life would become easier in many ways, especially when it came to advancement out at work--politically, it is prudent. I could share my personal life with my conservative coworkers and conservative bosses if I were straight. There would be no conflict between the religions of the world and my personal life. Also, my parents would be overjoyed, not because they were homophobes, but because the prospect of grandchildren would be the answer to their deepest wishes. I was sure that my mother would like to have grandchildren. If I do not breed, then our family's line ends with me. I thought our genes should be transferred to the next generation, because the world would be a sorrier place without us. All of this may be true or it may not. It doesn't matter to me anymore, although it seemed to matter at the time.

I met the first lady in the park. We passed each other many times before she gathered up the courage to speak with me. I was in good shape and did not look all that bad, or so I have been told, and I wore gold on my person and made good money in my professional career. She was a liberated and intelligent divorcee in her late-thirties, and had one of the most beautiful voices I have ever heard. She sounded like an angel. Her appearance was not unlike an angel either, and when we were together, men would eye me with envy and wish to be in my place. When we went out to restaurants, any male of her acquaintance--and there were many--would go out of their way to say hello to her and engage her in conversation.

My relations with her went well in the beginning, because we shared many interests and she liked to confide in me about various issues. She said that I gave good advice, so there's an indirect recommendation for my blog. Unlike some people, I don't repeat confidences that are made, and all her secrets stayed safe with me and will always be safe.

Of course I had to divulge my secret at the earliest opportunity, even before our first date, because it would have been base to do otherwise. I told her I had a live-in boyfriend. This seems humorous, like the plot of a sitcom, now that I think about it. I am not sure how I ever thought a love triangle could work. This is what people mean when they talk about a mid-life crisis. She took the news with equilibrium and thanked me for telling her. She even consented to date me, because she was not sure just how serious my other relationship was. I think she wondered whether it was just a temporary thing, or whether I was trying to leave the relationship (I wasn't). Every kind of suspicion occurred to her after my disclosure, and relations deteriorated between us, mostly on her side. All that happened after that was foreseeable. After two or three dates, she declined to go out with me any more. I think she made the right decision for both of us. We remained on good terms, speaking terms at least. She married another man, and I wished her the best.

Another woman, a recent college graduate, I met through friends, which was worse, because our friends found out about it. Some cared, some didn't, but I stayed silent on the matter, speaking of it to no one. I asked her out on a date, and she, much surprised, accepted. She knew all about my boyfriend, precluding the need for an awkward disclosure. After a few days of reflection, she changed her mind, and told me that we should not get involved. Looking back, I have been most fortunate in selecting only good women, ones with high standards of conduct. With another sort, I might have gotten in over my head, at least in that vulnerable period of time.

After those two experiences, I looked up an old girlfriend from college that I had dated over ten years ago. She was displeased at my contacting her, and told me she didn't want to hear from me. She was an out lesbian now, not the bisexual young woman that I had known. She had no use for old boyfriends.

Next I joined an online matchmaker service and met with three or four young, attractive women, but in each case, things did not work out. For one thing, they were much inferior to my boyfriend. In fact, none of the women lit a candle to him. They did not have his intelligence, his manners, his talent, or his looks. This left me with insufficient motivation. A strong desire on the part of the man is necessary, particularly when wooing medium-to-high caste women. Women look for this spark of energy. I did not have enough desire to succeed.

In the end, I gave up, and lived happily ever after. I decided to accept being just what I am, which is gay and married. I am glad I don't have to work at trying to be something else. It is very hard work trying to be something else, and I have better things to do with my time, such as live my life the way that I want to live it.

These little affairs, sexless though they may have been, were unfair to my partner, and I am lucky he stayed around. He adopted a tolerant attitude, even going so far as to help me pick out clothes on a date. I think he foresaw that these dates would amount to nothing. They were just the experiments of a confused guy going through a mid-life crisis. I remained committed to him and had in mind a scenario where he would remain an integral part of my life in a kind of extended family of three, rather than two. Some people refer to this scenario as polyamory, but I was not even aware of the term at the time.

My plans were bunkum, but when you are in the middle of things, anything seems possible. The reason it could never work is that both he and I are wired for monogamy. I get jealous whenever he neglects me in favor of another. So it was with him as well. He has told me that I hurt his feelings with these affairs, even though there was no sex involved. It represented my greatest lapse in judgment. I think it was a case of wanting to conform to society's expectations and wanting to become perfect in every way and do everything that others have done, including raising a family. But that is not always in the cards. We must play the hand we're dealt. Otherwise, the game isn't any fun. It is not the destiny of everyone to have a family, to be like all the others. I required more time to accept this due to ambition, a sense that I could succeed where others have failed, as I have in other situations. Beware of pride.


Sleeping on the job was a minor epidemic at my last workplace, especially about an hour after lunch. I worked in a cubicle world just like the cartoon strip "Dilbert". Each section of the cubicle maze was a fiefdom under the control of a count or countess. Morning was safe, but after lunch, I could usually depend on catching somebody sleeping, if I happened to walk around without making too much noise. I never disturbed them, unless I needed something right that instant, in which case I'd knock on the cubicle wall or clear my throat to wake them up, without drawing attention to the fact that they were goldbricking. Usually, these little naps were of short duration, because folks were afraid of getting caught, just as I was.

I was guilty of dozing off several times each year. If I caught myself doing it, which was by no means certain, I would get up and walk around to fight off the drowsiness. I was loathe to get caught sleeping by a boss. That makes the worst impression possible. I learned to avoid heavy carbohydrate meals during lunch and to tank up on strong coffee throughout the day. Also, I found that exercise after work kept me in better overall condition and gave me greater resistance to daytime snoozing. But my golden secret was caffeine. If it were not for coffee and tea, I do not believe modern civilization could have evolved. Too many office workers would fall asleep on the job. It can happen to the best of us. I knew many hard working individuals that had little reservation about working overtime, but they too succumbed to the Sandman. It even became a running joke. If there were ever a loud noise in the office, some wiseacre would say, "That woke me up!" and then another would chime in, "Me too."

In the summer, the company cranked the air conditioning down low just to keep all of their folks awake. I am talking about 68 to 72 Farenheit. This is not a comfortable temperature for office workers that do nothing but sit in a chair for four to five hours at a stretch. However, it is logical and reasonable, because after all they are paying for conscious employees, not unconscious ones. I am not sure how else sleeping could be reduced, other than electrified seats that deliver a shock when the sitter dozes. Many wore sweaters to keep warm. As for me, I wore a tee shirt under my long-sleeved shirt and that sufficed. When the air conditioning broke, as sometimes happened, we were placed in the strange position of missing it, because the temperature could climb into the nineties, even with portable fans blowing out of the department and into the hallway. The result was that it was either too hot or too cold most of the time. However, if you wore your clothes in layers, you could adjust as needed, unless it got too hot.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Cat

I've always owned a cat, but the destiny of a human is to outlive his cat, which means I've had many. My current cat, after a campaign of complaining, managed to perch himself on my lap even as I type this. He is what I call an affectionate type of cat, which is the best kind of cat to have. He looks to me as an adoptive parent, although he's old enough not to go clawing for teats, for which I'm thankful.

The first secret to having a good cat is picking the right one from the animal shelter, the one that likes humans to begin with, and isn't too shy. Some cats are cat-racists who prefer to stay by themselves or by other cats all day. They are by nature not fond of human company. I don't want a rambunctious cat either, one that is going to tear up the upholstery. I just want a smart, friendly extrovert. This is my ideal. However, to each his own. Some people may prefer a different type of cat.

People think that the first priority of a cat is food, however, when I feed the two cats I own, one cat will stand around watching me and craving attention until I leave the room, whereas the other cat dives into the food.

My policy is to have an all-day kitty buffet, where I fill a large bowl. The bowl is placed in the garage upon a table, so that it has some protection against ants and insects. If it is ever empty, I fill it. The cats can eat as much as they like. After all, I enjoy an all-day human buffet. My cat and I both follow the same rule. When hungry, eat.

You may be able to keep your cat outdoors, but be mindful of the many cat diseases raging out in the world. I buried my last cat, an outdoor cat who succumbed to feline HIV and leukemia contracted from neighbors' cats. If in your location you have many cats wandering through your yard, then it may not be safe to let your cat outdoors. Wandering cats tend to fight, and fights bring infection. Worse are cars. I remember driving to work one day when I spotted one of my cats dead on the road. I suspect that some drivers go out of their way to kill a cat, or at least don't bother braking. There is not a high enough premium put upon life in the world today. Some guys think that it makes them more of a man if they kill an animal. You may not know how risky your location is until you bury a cat.

Cats are easy to train to use a litter box. That is the one area where they learn with rapidity. When starting potty-training, you can teach your cat not to mess outside the box by showing the cat the mess, saying "No" in a loud voice, and holding it while you clean the mess up. It should only be necessary to do this once or twice, at the most. Anymore, and you must be doing something wrong; making the cat think that he is being rewarded, for instance.

If, after a successful career in using the litter box, a cat stops using it and messes in the wrong place, then that is a sign of stress. You should not punish the cat, but instead address what is wrong with it. The most common problem is a litter box that is overfull. Cats do have standards. If the litter box is too nasty, they will not want to enter it. There is also the case of indigestion. If the food is making the cat sick, switch brands. Compost the bad food in the backyard. It is better to pay a little extra on cat food, rather than have a sick cat. I like the major brands over the cheapo brands which I have found make my cat sick to his stomach. I am not sure what they are putting in those cat foods, but some of the brands smell bad even before digestion.

Keep a collar on the cat at all times with a metal tag engraved with the cat's name and address, for the event when the cat escapes to the outside, which will happen, because the cat is faster and stealthier than you are. You will open the door many times, and the cat will be watching and waiting for his chance of escape each time. Nature calls him to explore the outdoors, although there are hazards waiting for the cat outside. The best and the cheapest collars and engraved tags can be found on E-bay. They are so cheap, it is ridiculous, and I don't see how the sellers make a profit. I prefer my cat's collar to be studded with gemstones or rhinestones to denote high prestige, a valued pet beloved by its owner. This gives it some protection against maltreatment, should he come into contact with strange humans. Not all humans agree that pets deserve to be treated well. There are angry people in the world that want to take out their anger on an animal. At least with the identifying tag, notice is served that a human protector may be displeased by any mistreatment. A cat with no collar and no identifying information may wind up in the animal shelter, and from there, the grave.

Flea collars don't work well, in my experience. They reduce, but do not eliminate fleas. To address the flea problem, I bought the excellent brand-name flea-killers that protect for thirty to forty days at a time. Four consecutive months of usage may suffice to protect the cat year-round, if kept indoors in a small house. I stop the treatment in winter, and resume in the Spring. This is both to save money and reduce the cat's exposure to whatever chemicals are in the insecticide.

It is important to treat the cat like a valued member of the family, if you want to have an affectionate and vibrant creature. Let it play, let it wander, let it explore. Encourage play with toys. A cat can benefit from having at least one cat companion, another cat to play with and be pals with. My cat has his brother for company. The brother is more of a reclusive type, although he can be affectionate in his own way and if the mood strikes him. They cooperate to a surprising extent. However, the brother is fonder of my partner than me. Cats do have their preferences. One cat prefers my partner, whereas the other cat prefers me. So we each have our own cat.

Listen to your cat, because it does have thoughts that it wishes to share. Lacking the power of the human voice, a cat requires a receptive audience in order to communicate. This means you must watch its facial expression and body language and listen to any sounds it makes to learn its will. In time, you may become adept at reading your cat.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

The Palm Reader

I had my palm read once in my life, at thirteen. The reader was a bright girl that I loved just because she was bright. She was also free and open, or at least, more so than anyone else in our school. The other girls loved having their palms read, but not so with the boys, who dismissed her palm-reading as medieval and "just for the girls." They didn't see what I saw. They were looking at her chest, but I was looking at her soul. I was the first boy who volunteered, no, insisted that she read my palm.

She knew I was a skeptic, because I was never shy about my opinions. She scolded me for my doubts and defended palmistry with favorable anecdotes selected from history. I retaliated with Science, my favorite standby, but she was having none of it. This surprised me a great deal, because I thought she was smarter than me, and expected her to be at least as scientific as I was. She asserted there was no conflict between palmistry and science. She had me promise not to laugh, but to treat the reading with the dignity and gravity that it deserved. I was scolded if I so much as smiled. She was afraid of embarrassment, I think. I swore upon my honor not to laugh, and I kept my word.

The touch of her hand was electric, and I think the hand-holding lured the other boys over, curiosity winning over prejudice. But I was the first, the trend-setter. As she studied the lines, I asked many questions about palmistry, curious about what had ensnared such an intelligent person. She told me the names of the lines: the heart line, the head line, the life line, the girdle of Venus, and several planets and other nonsense like that. She noted they were only indicators, a guide through which she performed her art. I am to this day unsure what her precise methodology was, and I'm afraid she did not know how to explain it. She admitted that it was a bit of a mystery.

She told me that I would have many lovers in my lifetime, and this proved true over time, but it is also true of many other people. She told me I would eventually find a lifelong "partner," but she never disclosed the gender. So I asked her--"surely it's a woman?" She said she didn't know, but I think she knew more than she cared to say aloud. She did not tell me anything that a sober observer couldn't have guessed from ten minutes' acquaintance with me. So I remained unpersuaded, both then and now, though her unambitious predictions have proven true.

Later in life, she built a successful business around palmistry. Women go to her for counseling, therapy, and guidance. I am sure they wouldn't pay her if they didn't feel they received something of value in exchange for their money. My guess is that she succeeds because of her charisma, insight, cunning, and personal magnetism. It would be a mistake to dismiss her based upon her chosen profession, although I have been tempted. I don't approve of witchcraft, because it seems like a throwback to the superstitious past. On the one hand, I wonder whether she preys upon the gullible. On the other hand, I fail to recall her ever doing evil in the time that we were acquainted. Just the opposite. She was good, to my recollection, and never harmed another person, save for the harm that cannot be prevented, such as when a boy fell in love with her, and the love was unrequited.

Now my take on palmistry is as follows. I think some people are prescient. It is possible to perceive many things at a glance and divine many things based upon scant evidence. I have done this, and so have you in all likelihood. Sometimes I wonder about that. It is a strange and curious power, I will grant. To the best of my knowledge, this power is not based in magic, but in the brain. I have watched experts at chess calculate moves faster than would seem possible by a human being. They are seeing into the future as well, often with the faintest of clues to guide them. So it is with the good palmist, the one who has the power to tell you your future. Do not underestimate the agility of the human brain. Much that seems like magic is the natural and scientific product of this wondrous instrument. But nothing is outside the realm of science, which is the language of the Universe. And I am not impressed with someone who claims to see the future based upon skin. There is something wrong with that, racist even. Palmistry is a case of diversion, where a great fuss is made about an irrelevant topic (skin), with the sole purpose of disarming the defenses of the one being read. The actual work involves observation, psychoanalysis, and deductive reasoning. That is all mundane and boring stuff, but it works, and it is not necessarily as cumbersome or slow as one might suppose, and may even be accurate enough to raise the hairs on the back of your neck.
techlorebyigor is my personal journal for ideas & opinions