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Deal 1245: Quill

There is no pen like a quill pen. The feel of the freshly trimmed point as it moves across the page is not easily imitated. A quality fountain pen comes close, but has already begun to cross a line by being too easy to handle and needing too little maintenance.

No, I must stick to my guns and insist on nothing but a quill pen.

Typewriters are right out.

They steal all the romance from the written word, and replace it with legibility and speed.

You need not know the goose or swan that provides your quills personally, but it is good to collect them from a healthy bird. Freshly molted feathers are perfect, traditionally one of the three longest feathers from either wing.

Tempered, trimmed, split and cut to a point, you are invested in what you write with a quill.

That personal connection is key.

There is no pen like a quill pen.

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Deal 1223: Not the anti-Elvis!

The say that to take a recording captures a part of the performer’s soul.

Superstitious twaddle, of course. Nothing could be further from the truth.

After all, were that to have even a grain of truth, then there would be more Elvis soul scattered hither and yon than in Elvis himself. Elvis would be everywhere.

Everywhere except for the anti-Elvis, of course.

No, this simply cannot be.

It would mean that every popular recording was a sort of gilded birdcage, and the artist the canary trapped within.

Trapped, to sing on demand. Perform like a monkey with an organ-grinder.

It is far more likely that performers are a sort of vampire feeding on the blood and souls of their fans. Perhaps starting with their ability to think and reason. After all, explaining Elvis is one thing. But you also have to explain Beiber, who might well be the anti-Elvis.

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Deal 1198: Mars?

Mars was more than met the eye. On the surface the cold, bleak, rusty, and windy landscape was a challenge for any living thing. But find the way underground, and a different picture emerges.

The air is, of course, still thin. But the temperature is usually well above freezing, and several varieties of luminescent lichens keep the tunnels lit just brightly enough to permit exploration in relative safety.

The real surprise is the vast underground sea, filled with wonderfully weird creatures.

The lighting under water is always shifting as flocks of lightbirds drift in giant schools. These are large creatures, flat triangles with brightly glowing undersides and long trailing tails. We still aren’t precisely sure what they eat, but they don’t seem to threaten anything large enough to be visible.

The water is cold by Earth’s standards, but sufficiently above freezing to permit inhabitation. And most importantly, it has enough dissolved oxygen to breathe with only a simple gill structure to extract it. The first colonies were established with unmodified stock. And since then modifications both legal and illegal have been tried that give the colonists greater freedom of movement underwater.