Kage Baker was a hoarder of resources.
We grew up in houses lined with books, a great proportion of which were either structural supports or insulation, via floor to ceiling bookcases. We were stunned (and a little creeped out) to discover friends’ houses did not have book cases in the kitchen or the bathroom – and that our friends were likewise disturbed because ours, did.
The space immediately around Kage’s work area was always the Current Project Library. That’s where the books, magazines, photos, posters, found art, fossils, notes on cocktail napkins, and prophetic fortune cookie slips hung out while she wrote. Whatever was stored there was related, somehow, to whatever she was presently writing; it was a Bermuda Triangle for library books, and we had to troll for escapees at regular intervals in order to placate the Library Police.
One side was devoted to her own brag shelf – the ever-expanding shelves that held the hard copies of her published works. Because with every book, it got harder to remember exactly who said what to whom, and when, or if they had said anything at all or had she only said it to me? What had she named Joseph’s talky maternal aunt? How about the Residence Floor chambermaid in Gard’s fortress, and did she have horns or wings or both?
It would be nice to say that Kage worked out some brilliant method of keeping track of all these resources; but that falsehood would be so huge it would warp space. She continued all her life to work on the sedimentary theory of filing; the weight of the strata of information on her desk could also warp space. I once had wonderful study habits,from all the years of training at the hands of the Immaculate Heart nuns: but those ladies somehow failed to impress anything on Kage but a boundless appetite for primary sources … and now my desk area, too, is a labyrinth of references and resources.
And it’s all Kage’s doing.
You might also think that the use of the Internet would have reduced the drifting continental plates of data around Kage’s desk. But no! She wanted even the electronic resources right to hand, so her bookmark list was immense; she had to trim it at intervals because otherwise it had too many columns to fit on the monitor screen side by side. She usually had 6 tabs open at once, which she was shuttled back and forth between as she worked.
Personally, I think that after a lifetime of intermittent strabismus, Kage’s brain had actually learned how to process vision from each eye independently. I think she really could see more than one thing at once. I don’t want my own current vision nightmare to go on long enough to do that, but if it happened I would not complain … the vision of the doe, or the bee, or the mantis shrimp would be something wonderful to have.
In the meantime, I have to make do with the decaying binocularism of my species.; also with flat resources, whether they are pages or screens. I have made a real effort to prevent the accumulation of buttes and moraines and deltas all around my desk, though. One of the ways to make the reference piles less permanent is to dedicate a portion of every day to just checking my favourite information sites – dependable aggregators, reputable scientific magazines, and both the most and least sane of news outlets. I check the New York and the London Times; but I also check the Weekly World News and fark.com. It gives some balance, you know?
I also check out new ones from time to time, following hints of interest in articles I find in ordinary places. You never know when a microbiologist will inexplicably link to a nifty new book on neolithic land modification. New shades of blue and black have recently been identified in nanotube materials, but I found out about them on fashion sites! There’s a Fanta can on the bottom of the Marianas Trench, and it was Atlantic Magazine – pretty much a bastion of literary and cultural comment – that so informed me.
So I though it might be fun to share a few of the recent odd ones with you, Dear Readers.
Also from the Atlantic, here is an article on Bruniquel Cave, in France. It holds what may well be a Neanderthal ritual site – i.e., a temple, long before Home sapiens sapiens got into the act. Or it might be a rock garden. Or a playground. Or an exercise in OCD and symmetry; but in any event it is an example of abstract thought from a source unconsidered by most. Wow! http://tinyurl.com/hfwmvkq
Here is a nifty article from Ozy, which describes itself as “fresh, global, humble” and takes its name from the poem “Ozymandias”, which it interestingly thinks is an admonition to blow your own horn … anyway, the article is about a new club drug: theobromos. Apparently, cutting edge teens world-wide are snorting chocolate for a buzz. Kage would have hysterics; all a non-Operative is likely to get out of this is irritated sinuses and a nice taste at the back of their mouth. http://tinyurl.com/jp67tkp
Last, take a look at a charmingly insane and geeky site: Spurious Connections. Tyler Vigen uses mathematical wizardry to find correlations between unrelated topics: proving beyond all doubt that “correlation does not imply causation”. My favourite so far is the third graph down, correlating cheese consumption with those who die from being entangled in their bedsheets – because my sister’s Corgi always mummifies himself in his blankets whenever you give him cheese. Not dead yet, though. http://tylervigen.com
There are stories everywhere, kids. If you’re resourceful.