Mayday, Mayday!!!

May brings new projects, crises, joys, and oddities for Odin to share.

Mayday, Mayday!!!
Photo by Social History Archive / Unsplash

Hey friends!

Short intro today before I dive into what is actually a pretty meaty newsletter. I’d been planning to keep this one simple, but so-goes the best-laid of plans.

Anyway, I’ve got articles about fan-films and leadership, discussions of communications difficulties, thoughts on Covid, and more! Read on!


A Tom Gauld strip.
PANEL ONE: A person at a computer keyboard.
PANEL TWO: A person wearing a space helmet appears, and says: "I'm your future self. I've come back to warn you that the book you're writing will be a failure."
PANEL THREE: A second person wearing a space helmet joins them, saying: "Wait! I'm from the far future. The book was rediscovered and is now revered as a classic."
PANEL FOUR: A third person wearing a space helmet pops up, and says: "I'm from further into the future. The book is now considered so offensive that I've been sent back to stop you writing it."
PANEL FIVE A fourth person wearing a space helmet shows up, and says: "I'm from unimaginably far into the future and we don't allow censorship. Now, everybody go home and leave this man to finish writing his awful book."
PANEL SIX: Similar to the first panel, except the figure now has a hand to their chin, thinking.

Work on my novel is going quite well! On Thursday and Friday, I made some continuity changes that turned things around. Earlier in the week, I had been feeling pretty miserable about the last act, but, by altering what happens when, things suddenly popped into alignment. Then, on Saturday, I was working on an ordinary scene and stumbled across a number of fantastic links to earlier plot-points. Suddenly, the story felt like it was connecting to itself, becoming a holistic thing.

I often write with very little initial plotting. I want to learn to plot better, but I often find myself constrained and bored with what I’m writing if I’ve tried to structure it too much. Avoiding that structure leads to slower writing and more anxiety about my skills as a writer… (fun!). However, it also opens a space for real storytelling magic to occur. I never would have connected the plot in the way that I did if I’d set out intentionally to do so. It could only happen by happy accident.

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Round Table Writers

As an aside to the world of writing, the organization I co-founded, Round Table Writers, is forging ahead into new territory. I won’t go into it too much now, but the ideas are simple: A 2023 short-piece workshop (all prose forms welcome, from scripts, to fiction, to non-fiction — sorry, poetry folks). A new server somewhere on the Fediverse, hopefully between 2023-2024. A manuscript-length, invite-only workshop.

We'll see how that all goes. If you want to improve the likelihood of getting things off the ground, you can support us over at KoFi!


Back Pain? Gain Back Your Life: The causes and symptoms of back pain don’t need to destroy your happiness.

For this one, I edited a section from one of my previous newsletters, extended it, fleshed it out with links and references, and provided it as its own thing! I’ll be doing more of this sort of advanced cross-posting between Substack and Medium, going forward.

A Fan’s Guide to the Best Star Trek Fan Films

Stories from fans, for fans: the greatest Star Trek storytelling is right here.

Reflections on Leadership

Being a leader is not about control, it’s about fostering community.

Lessons in Communication

I recently found myself flamingly angry on a telephone call with an older relative. This is, I’m quite sure, an occurrence that plenty of you can relate to. As some of you know, I focus a lot on good communication techniques, building strong dialogues, that sort of thing. But, with this relative, all that training went out the window.

I’m reminded of a story from the Non-Violent Communications training book. Dr. Marshall Rosenberg recounted how one of the people in his workshop had an extremely intense encounter one day—was physically assaulted, in fact. She used the NVC communications method to talk her attacker down, de-fuse, and escape safely. But, when confronted with a simple argument with her mother, she completely lost her shit. Her training could work with a violent stranger, but not with her own mom!

In this case, I recognize my responsibility in the argument’s emotional component. But, I also had a sudden realization: this is the same sort of nonsense I keep having to put up with when I talk to members of older generations.

I have disagreements with age-range peers and family, but we usually find ways to talk out the problem, cool off, connect. Usually, in my experience, both sides are actively trying to communicate. This often changes when I talk to members of older (early-to-pre-GenX) generations. In this particular case, self-deception and an incredible ego were both on prime display, depressingly distorted through the fog of early-stage memory loss.

In the days since, I’ve pondered my experience with this call, and come up with a couple of conclusions. The first is that, like Marcus Aurelius, I need to remember that you can choose “not to be harmed—and you won’t feel harmed. Don’t feel harmed—and you haven’t been.”

One of my favorite passages from Meditations goes into this in more detail:

“When you wake up in the morning, tell yourself: the people I deal with today will be meddling, ungrateful, arrogant, dishonest, jealous and surly. They are like this because they can't tell good from evil. But I have seen the beauty of good, and the ugliness of evil, and have recognized that the wrongdoer has a nature related to my own - not of the same blood and birth, but the same mind, and possessing a share of the divine. And so none of them can hurt me. No one can implicate me in ugliness. Nor can I feel angry at my relative, or hate him. We were born to work together like feet, hands and eyes, like the two rows of teeth, upper and lower. To obstruct each other is unnatural. To feel anger at someone, to turn your back on him: these are unnatural.”

This has led to the second realization: I feel a great pity for this older relative. They have actively worked themself into a place in life where large portions of their family don’t want anything to do with them. They have let themselves become mired in self-deceptive thinking, unable to tell good from evil and right from wrong.

It’s a sorrowful tale, and a cautionary one. As Marcus points out—we all share characteristics with one another, including the characteristics that bother us the most.

The World

Total Covid cases"
United States Covid Data | CDC | Data as of: May 5, 2023 2:56 PM ET. Posted: May 5, 2023 4:10 PM ET

Obviously, one of the biggest pieces of news is that the United States has declared the Covid-19 emergency over. Well, if you’ve been following me for a while, then you’ll probably know how I feel about that.

I’m very glad that the disease is no longer the immediate threat to all our lives that it once was. I’m not glad that it’s still around, still evolving, still killing people: but, somehow, no longer a problem. This comes on the heels of the World Health Organization downgrading the situation as well.

Instead of ranting to you about my own feelings, however, let’s just look at what the World Health Organization’s Director-General has to say:

However, [this'] does not mean COVID-19 is over as a global health threat.

Last week, COVID-19 claimed a life every three minutes – and that’s just the deaths we know about.

As we speak, thousands of people around the world are fighting for their lives in intensive care units.

And millions more continue to live with the debilitating effects of post-COVID-19 condition.

This virus is here to stay. It is still killing, and it’s still changing. The risk remains of new variants emerging that cause new surges in cases and deaths.

The worst thing any country could do now is to use this news as a reason to let down its guard, to dismantle the systems it has built, or to send the message to its people that COVID-19 is nothing to worry about.

Keep in mind, in just three years, Covid-19 has claimed at least 20-million lives worldwide — that’s like wiping out the entire population of New York State.

The problem, as I see it, is that our fractured and unstable country is liable to do exactly what the Director-General warns against. We’re going to dismantle our already thin support systems, pull funding for vital tracking and research, and allow ourselves to pretend that such a thing as “normal” exists in this late-Anthropocene moment.

What comes next?


Well, for me, the answer’s simple. I’m still going to be wearing my mask when around other people. I won’t be eating indoors in public spaces. I’ll be staying on top of new vaccinations, even if this constantly evolving virus renders them less effective than we would all like.

I take immune-suppressing drugs for a chronic health condition, and this leaves me more vulnerable to disease than many. But, frankly, I don’t want to get sick with anything. Since masking up and taking precautions, I’ve hardly been sick at all since Covid-19 began. My high-functioning life appreciates the lack of disruption.

Worse, Covid-19 creates, in a worryingly large set of those who recover from initial infection, a whole host of secondary health concerns (termed “long covid”). We don’t understand these, nor do we have objective remedies for them. We also know that repeat infections increase the likelihood of Long Covid emerging. Are you pregnant, immune-compromised, elderly? You definitely shouldn’t let down your guard. But nor should anyone else.

At the same time, I’m going to continue to manage life as well as I can. I might start an in-person job this year, which means wearing my mask for long hours. I hope to spend more time at outdoor coffee shops, working on my novel. I still intend to spend time with friends in person, accepting the essential risk as reasonable because the joy of friendships is one of life’s few great sources of comfort.

Keep in mind, all of this is occurring at a time when Medicare in the United States is failing, private insurance is both terrible in terms of care and exploitative expensive, and general community stability is low across the board.

Bar Chart: Half of All Eligible Medicare Beneficiaries Are Now Enrolled in Private Medicare Advantage Plans. Medicare Advantage Enrollment as a Share of the Medicare Part A and B Population, 2007-2023. Bars grow incrementally taller, beginning with 19% in 2007 and ending with the tallest in 2023 at 50%. All of the bars are blue except the final one, which is red.

We’ve sold our souls to a world of private capital that doesn’t see us as anything more than batteries for the generation of profit. Don’t forget, just a few months ago, the companies that make our Covid-19 vaccines were excitedly turning their eye toward further profits… by selling the vaccine for a high price. Get that: vaccines developed for the public good, with public funds, returned to us at the point of a proverbial gun. Fun stuff.

This article delves into the situation with the WHOs decision in greater detail, if you’re interested.

“One of the greatest tragedies of COVID-19 is that it didn’t have to be this way,” Tedros said. The tools to detect and respond to pandemics better are available. “But globally, a lack of coordination, a lack of equity and a lack of solidarity meant that those tools were not used as effectively as they could have been. Lives were lost that should not have been.”


Your computer system is uniquely configured—and thus identifiable—even if you are using privacy-protective software. Learn more with EFF's Cover Your Tracks.

It’s pretty easy to get started with the basics of self-protection with technology, and there are a ton of resources out there to help you get started!

A slice of joy

Imagine being on a yacht with a broken rudder, calling for help, when THIS appears to rescue you.

A replica of an 18th Century three-masted East India Company sailing ship with sailes furled takes a modern yacht in tow.

The arrival of the Götheborg on the scene was rapid and surprising, as we did not expect to see a merchant ship from the East India Company of the XVIII century. This moment was very strange, and we wondered if we were dreaming. Where were we? What time period was it?”

And now, for something different and adorable, check this video out.

Found here.

Alright folks, that’s enough for today. <3

Go easy… and, if you can’t go easy, go as easy as you can.


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