In Which I Eventually Make It to a Recommendation

This is a post for all the female, female-identified, and female-presenting people out there, or for anybody else who has ever, for some reason, needed to buy and wear a bra.

If delving too deeply into Women’s Mysteries™ is not for you, read no further, and I’ll see you next post. But if you’re still with us, I’ll start by explaining a couple of things about bras that most bra-wearers already know.

The first thing is that bra sizes — for all shapes and sizes and configurations of bra-wearing people — are based on two measurements and two measurements only. One measurement is taken around the rib cage just under the breasts; that’s the 36, for example, in the classic 36DD bra. The second measurement, for the cup size, is derived from the circumference of the chest at nipple level on the bustline. (It’s not an absolute, because the D-cup in a 32D bra is not going to be the same size as the D-cup in a 42-D bra.)

That’s it. Those two measurements are the whole thing. Never mind the shape of the breasts in question (which will vary from one person to another for all sorts of reasons), or the placement of them (higher or lower; closer together or farther apart) on the rib cage, or the muscular development (or lack of it) of the wearer’s chest and shoulders. Two measurements.

Which leads us inexorably to the second thing that most bra-wearing people already know: You can’t just pick up a bra off the rack in your size and expect it to fit. You have to try it on, first. And it’s probably not going to work for you when you do — the cups will be the wrong shape for your breasts, or will be set too close together/too far apart, or they’ll fit just fine except for the internal seam that irritates you unspeakably; or the straps will slide off your shoulders, or cut into your shoulders, or somehow, in defiance of all common sense, manage to do both at once; or it will be your perfect bra in all respects, but will be the last one in the store and the manufacturer has discontinued the line.

So you can’t just try on a single bra when you go out bra-shopping. You have to try on a whole stack of them, and most, if not all, of them won’t fit.

It is, therefore, no wonder that shopping for bras is an experience calculated to make almost anyone feel — at best — like some kind of mutant alien.

Which brings me to the science-fictional part of this post.

We already have scanners and sensors that can map and image a body, either still or in motion — Hollywood uses them all the time. And we have 3-D printers that can spit out everything from houses to handguns. So how long will it be before some servant of bra-wearing humanity combines the two and comes up with a commercially-viable device that will scan you and then print out, in a comfortable material, a custom-made bra in your own personal size?

My guess? Quite a while, probably. Maybe not until we get enough bra-wearing people in STEM fields to make it likely that at least one of them will think that the problem is one worth tackling. And maybe even longer than that, because while handguns are easy (they were what the idea of interchangeable parts was originally developed for), bras — because people do not, in fact, have standardized measurements and interchangeable parts — are hard.

(Also, guns are a cool guy thing, and bras are girly. These things should not matter, but they do.)

Which brings me to a recommendation. If you’re a bra-wearing person on the east coast of the USA, check out Zoe&Company in New Hampshire or Rhode Island. They’re not just bra sellers; they’re bra fitters, and they’re damned good at it. Their store carries the full range of bra sizes, from AA all the way out to KK  (yes, the range is that wide), and they’re trained to help you find bras that actually fit.

Also, they won’t make you feel like a mutant while they’re doing it.

Marching in Lancaster

A couple of scenes from the Lancaster NH March For Our Lives (let it be noted that Lancaster, while the county seat for Coös County, only has a population of 3,507):

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“More Bears, Less Arms’

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“What Can You Hunt With an AR-15?”

Be it noted:  I’m not against guns.  Hell, I’m from Texas; my Daddy owned guns.  And I live in a part of New Hampshire where the question “Got your deer yet?” isn’t an invitation to an act of performative masculinity, it’s a serious inquiry into the state of somebody’s winter larder.  Fifty or sixty pounds of venison in the freezer is a not-inconsiderable number of meals you don’t have to pay for at the local grocery.  If you want to shoot a deer with a proper deer rifle during the proper hunting season while in the possession of a proper hunting license, I’m right there with you, and if you’ve got any venison to give away, I’ll happily take some and eat it with pleasure.

It’s gun violence that I’m not in favor of.

A Sonnet

My spouse and co-author waxes poetic.

Madhouse Manor

While streaking in my rocket ship through space,
Galactic empires seeking to destroy,
Subsonic signals hailed me with “Ahoy!
O spaceman launched from secret lunar base!
Turn back your craft at once!”  Sour was my face.
Switched off the signal; turned then to deploy
My proton missiles. With those I’d annoy
The surreptitious foes who’d marked my place.
When of a sudden, standing at my side,
A bearded wizard with a staff of flame
First tripped me, then, whilst stroking his goatee,
Gazed downward, as he called me by my name.
Quoth he, “Soft! Stay thy vaunted techno-pride:
This is not Sci-fi but a Fantasy.”

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Peeve of the Day

Because I have cabin fever, and cabin fever makes me peevish.

(It also makes me want to listen to Stan Rogers’s “Canol Road” on infinite repeat, but that’s another story.)

And my peeve today is this:  If you’re going to enrich your prose with Latin tags and Latinate derivatives, for heaven’s sake at least get the spelling right.  I’ve already blogged about the annoying practice of spelling the Latin phrase per se (“by itself; in and of itself) as per say – which is what it sounds like, granted, but which is still just plain wrong.  Today I’d like to rant for a little while about another couple of frequently-misspelled Latin bits: memento and in memoriam.  They both go back, ultimately, to an Indo-European root word meaning “mind” or “thought,” but after that they part ways.

Memento is by now a fully-acculturated English word, as it were, meaning “a keepsake or souvenir” – a thing that exists to be a reminder of something.  The original Latin form of the word is derived from the verb meminisse, “to remember”, and it is spelled memento-with-an-e, not momento-with-an-o.

In memoriam is a Latin phrase meaning “in memory [of something].”  It’s spelled memoriam-with-an-a, not memorium-with-a-u, because memoria is a first declension Latin noun, and first declension nouns end in -a for the nominative case (the form that is the subject of a sentence) and in -am for the accusative case (the form that is, among other things, the object of the preposition in.)

I don’t necessarily expect every writer in the world to remember this every time, but I’m afraid that I do expect it of every copyeditor, on the grounds that copyeditors are supposed to know these things.

Well, Damn.

Ursula K. Le Guin is dead.

As far as my own native field of sf/fantasy goes, she was one of the giants in the earth.  The Left Hand of Darkness was groundbreaking, and it’s the book that’s getting namechecked in the obits, though I personally liked The Dispossessed  better.  (She depicted the only fictional utopia I could actually imagine existing – not one that I would want to live in even if you paid me, but one that I could believe might be real.)  As for her fantasy – I read A Wizard of Earthsea during the summer between my senior year in high school and my freshman year in college, and it made the top of my head come off.

Good-bye, Ursula, and thanks.  It was an honor to share a genre with you.

It’s Been a While

So what have I been doing?

Shivering, a lot of the time:

The last week of December and the first week or so of January were brutal up here – a solid stretch of subzero temperatures.  (I lie a little; the temperature got all the way up to 3°F for about an hour one afternoon.)  Everything froze.  The electric baseboard heating did its damnedest, but was totally unequal to the task. I spent most of the time huddled in the office, that being the warmest room in the house, for values of “warm” that weren’t, not really.

Struggling with a crumbling household infrastructure, a lot of the time:

The plumbing, as mentioned above.

My elderly desktop computer, which was new in 2011 and by the end of 2017 was groaning under the strain of going from Windows 7 to Windows 8.1 to Windows 10, and which – just as the subzero cold was easing up – went in a few days from slow-but-functional to functional-in-name-only.  It was like watching a wall crumble, brick by brick.  Finally I gave up and moved my vital work and household programs over to my laptop, which is much younger and herkier than my desktop.

The auto, which went from burning oil a bit faster than we’d like to burning through all its oil and blowing the engine at shortly before midnight on Route 3 just south of Franconia Notch, while we were on the way home from what had been, all things considered, a pretty good Arisia.  We ended up spending two nights in an inexpensive hotel in Lincoln (Parker’s Motel, for whose whose kindness to stranded travelers I am exceedingly grateful), before ultimately getting a tow the rest of the way back to Colebrook so we could put the car into the hands of our local auto shop.

The dishwasher, which responded to the subzero weather by freezing up, and which now is refusing to drain.

The oven, which has a burned-out heating element.  That, at least, is a cheap fix.  I just need to order the part.  But the way life has been this month, I haven’t yet gotten around to it.  But I will, real soon now, because I’m tired of cycling through my stove-top, Foreman grill, and slow-cooker recipes.  I want to make lasagna, or enchiladas, or scallopped potatoes, or roasted chicken.

So that’s my month so far.  How about yours?

‘Tis the Season

Christmas Trees.jpg

December 21st — nineteen minutes old as I type this – is the Northern Hemisphere’s winter solstice, and then the sun comes back.  At least, it always has so far,† and we celebrate its return with gifts and lights and feasting in multiple traditions.

This is also the season for my annual Winter Holiday Gift Sale, where you can purchase a gift certificate good for one line-edit and critique of a full-length novel, as a seasonal present for the writer in your life (even if that writer is you!), at the reduced holiday rate of $1000 for a standard-weight novel.  The gift comes with a printable PDF gift certificate, suitable for printing out and wrapping up in a box or envelope for holiday presentation, and can be redeemed at the time of the recipient’s choice. For more information on what I do and how I work, you can read my About page.

As usual, this sale runs from now through Twelfth Night (January 5th, 2018) – by that time, we should know for certain whether or not the sun’s come back.


And that’s another thing I never truly appreciated until I moved up to New England. In lower latitudes, the change in the length of days is nowhere near as extreme.

 

It’s Advent…

…which means that it’s time for Gift Suggestions for the Writer in Your Life.  (Even if that writer is you.)

This first one is for musicians, not writers, but artists need to stick together.  Eric Owyoung, who’s a producer/composer with the band Future of Forestry, is offering $50 off on tuition for his Music Mentorship Program until Christmas.  This can be done as a gift, and you can find more information about the program on his web page.

And then there’s Levengers, purveyors of high-end writing and office gear; this year they have a lot of good stuff, including items below $50, such as this leather flash drive holder with a clip to buckle it onto things.  They’ve got pricier stuff, too, like a marble-based iPhone dock or a carved rosewood tablet and book easel.

Or you could just get your writer friend the best fruitcake in the world.  Other places may claim that theirs is, in fact, the best, but as far as I’m concerned, the Collin Street Bakery makes the One True Fruitcake, and that’s that.

And then there’s my own Christmas-through-Twelfth-Night annual sale, which I’m saving for another post because I wanted to talk about all these other good people first.