The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben

If you’re a botanist, The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben is probably going to simplify things in irritating ways. It may anthropomorphize trees more than you’re comfortable with. It refers to trees “thinking”, which some botanists are going to agree with and others are going to be uncomfortable with because the term “thinking” makes it to easy for our primate brains to think that the experience of being a tree is closer to the experience of being a primate than it actually is. If you are determined to see faults in the writing here, as with all science writing, you’re going to find them.

On the other hand, if you’re the non-biologist who thinks trees are things that grow in the yard and fall on the house, well, this book is likely to very much change your view on trees. It certainly changed my view of trees, forests, sustainability, trees’ impacts on climate change, and a whole bunch of other misconceptions that I had.

Trees are social plants. They communicate. They protect and feed their young. Their lives are long, but also fragile. They get thirsty, they get hungry, they get sleep deprivation. (Now I know why my potted trees always died!) They rely deeply on the microorganisms that live in good soil, and they can’t just be dumped anyplace and expected to grow. They’ll rebuild both the soil and the air if given the opportunity, but they do both of those tasks best when they’re allowed to live in communities of their own creation.

This book made me want to live a thousand years so I’d have the opportunity to buy a plot of land and start a forest. It made me want to go outside and apologize to the ash tree I’ve been pruning violently for years. It made me want to plant more trees, walk in the forest, and think about life from a non-mammal point of view, however narrow and inaccurate my perception of that point of view might be.

Poems and short stories!

If you’re a fan of the short story “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”, a poem of mine called The Strange Case has just been published in The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: The classic tale and an anthology of twists, retellings, and sequels. The Kindle edition is $0.99 and the paperback is $10.99.

If you prefer science fiction tales of multiple universes, my short story “Three Minutes Ahead” is coming out very shortly in Young Explorer’s Adventure Guide Volume 6. This is one of my favorite stories because it’s based very loosely on true events and features a Jack Russell not too different from Chance.

You can preorder the Kindle version now or wait until the paperback comes out.

Day 665: Back still achy

Day 665:

I’m still mining, but much more slowly, as everything feels like it’s a giant knot.

I’d give anything for a hot spring to soak in right now. Even building a fire hurts. (And when it hurts, it’s a lot more risky to do.)

Pain medicine is definitely lacking here.

Pop Culture: Building a Better Tomorrow by Avoiding Today by Dave Kellett

The Sheldon series of comics features a young boy who accidentally became a millionaire with a dot-com. He lives with his grandfather, a talking duck, a squeeing lizard, and a farty pug.

He, like the author Dave Kellett, is a total nerd.

We know they’re nerds because Pop Culture! is 237 pages long and is wholly made up of comics about pop culture nerdery — as many as 3 per page. It contains sections like “Star Trek”, “Star Wars”, “Superheroes”, and “Nerdery of all types”.

Now, as I am also a total nerd, I enjoyed every single bit of this book — but be forewarned, it is not like the standard Sheldon collections where you get story arc after story arc merging together. It is more like Pugs: God’s Little Weirdos in that it collects all of the comics on this particular topic and puts them together.

So this book is light on the story arcs. (Pugs was, surprisingly, not as light.)

But you’ll still laugh your tail off.

And if you’re new to the comic, or just want some light humor without lots of plot, this is a great read.

Day 664: boring and yet painful

Day 664:

Today was:

  • mine stuff
  • haul stuff to the surface
  • replenish my tools
  • go back to mining stuff

Most days my back is perfectly happy with this; today it’s been mad all day. I don’t know if I just pulled something or did something more serious (finally), but it’s not happy. So I’m trying to take it easy.

I’m not very good at taking it easy. There’s always something to do to up the chances that nobody will kill me tomorrow.