If you haven’t read any of the other Johannes Cabal books then this isn’t the place to start. A Long Spoon is much more whimsical than the rest of the series but in a dark and disturbing manner. A trip in to Hell with a Devil? Sure, why not?
In short Cabal summons a Devil to help get in to Pandemonium by way of The Abyss. The Devil, Zarenyia, isn’t at all what he bargained for and honestly the rest of the story is overshadowed by their interaction which is masterfully done. Zarenyia really takes the cake in this one (but not the fishcake) and I’d really like to see more of her and luckily Howard leaves this possibility open. Hell I’d like to see a story or two involving her and different summoners.
As far as short stories go this one is really is a really fun romp. Hell it may be a novella because I can’t really tell the difference but whatever it is I really enjoyed it. You don’t have to know anything about the series to read this and enjoy it so it’d make a good starting point to Howard’s writing if nothing else.
Peter Grant is back with another case for The Folly. While it picks up really well I felt like the premise for getting Peter to the countryside was a contrived. It doesn’t take away from the rest of the story but it’s a bumpy bit right at the start. In this one we take a step back from the Faceless Man story arc and head out in to the country to investigate a pair of missing girls.
Peter has to rely on his own devices a little more than in previous stories and in doing so I think Peter gains some much deserved independence. His ingenuity shines in this story even though we are reminded, by his decisions in a couple of instances, that he’s still a young man and will act like it at times. There isn’t as much tension in Foxglove Summer as there has been in the other books and that’s fine with me. Lesley’s absence, or near absence is felt but not in a way that detracts from the overall story. I think that Aaronovitch set out to create a hole where Lesley used to be and does that quite well.
With a change of setting we end up with Beverly Brook playing a much larger role in the story and quite possibly a decision that may haunt Peter somewhere down the road. This also means that the supporting cast isn’t a developed entity and as such they take more of a back seat than they have in the rest of the books.
Overall Foxglove summer seems like a segue but, to what I don’t know. However I am looking forward to whatever Aaronovitch has in store for us. There are a couple of ways I could see a spin off for a character or two while Peter’s arc returns to The Folly hunting the faceless man. I am also looking forward to Lesley’s story being resolved. I have a theory on how that’ll happen but I’ll be keeping that to myself for the moment.
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The reason I am chronicling this is so I can look back and see what it took to quit. My weight loss is on track so there’s not much to write about that. I’m down another half pound and that’s slower than it has been but that’s fine with me. My main goal right now is to quit smoking. I just went over twenty-four hours without any nicotine at all and I am proud of that. I only had one little blow up and it wasn’t at anyone, I was alone and lost it just a little bit.
The secret to quitting is that it really isn’t hard, you just have to be vigilant. This morning I wasn’t. I had some asshead pull out of a parking lot in to traffic and almost hit me. It was morning traffic on Clay Rd. and if you’ve ever driven that you know I didn’t have many options on avoiding an accident. In fact I can’t tell you how I managed it. There wasn’t any room to swerve in the left lane without hitting someone and I didn’t think the other car could stop but lo and behold they did. The accident was avoided by inches. Afterwards I was shaking with rage and adrenaline so I bought smokes. I fell in to the old habit, which is harder to break than the nicotine addiction. Now I’ve got to start over. I’ll be starting over tonight, with my next last cigarette being the one I smoke before I go to sleep. I could have handled the stress this morning if I had been on top of my game and kept my thoughts in the right place but I didn’t.
The upshot is that I now know another situation to look for so I can keep these things in the front of my mind. I had fallen in to the ease of quitting and let my subconscious take over and I never even thought about it until I had one of those nasty things hanging out of my mouth. That’s the real trap, the physical habits, and damn if it didn’t get me.
You may be wondering why I say escaping the slavery of nicotine is easy, even after I failed to do so, and I can explain. All day yesterday my mind told me I needed a cigarette, it did this every few minutes. I simply reminded myself that I didn’t actually need one and that the little bit of stress I felt was the addiction and it really didn’t add much stress to anything and in a few days even that would be gone. I wasn’t bored any more than normal and I wasn’t freaking out. I didn’t need a smoke then and I didn’t need one this morning when I caved. Caving is a failure on my part that I can fix. I will free of this slavery and I will not give up.
You may be wondering why I am waiting to stop until tonight. For me that’s a pretty big deal, it’s a departure from how I do things. I have a weird quirk where I like to start things on Mondays. For me this is important enough to forego that quirk and stop tonight. However I know enough about myself that if I did it right now I would likely fail again today and that’s a lot of not being successful for one day. So I will chalk this morning up to not being on top of my game, get my mental state in order, and smoke my last cigarette tonight before I go to sleep and wake up tomorrow a non-smoker, like I was yesterday.
I’m mostly posting this for me right now, writing it all down helps me work through the why and how of all of this. Of course if it helps someone else that’s never a bad thing. We’ve got a big weekend planned, at least a big Saturday, and I won’t be smoking through any of it. I will escape this slavery to nicotine and I will not give up until I have done so. I deserve better and everyone around me deserves better.
At least that’s how I’m feeling at the moment. I keep getting up to go outside and smoke, only I’m not doing that anymore. I caught up with just about everything on Thursday so I wouldn’t feel stressed today at work and now it seems like that’s making more stressed because I don’t have much to do. Sure I could go take a pull or two on the e-cig but I don’t think it’s the nicotine I want right now. I just want something to do, but I know if I find something that I won’t want that thing to do. At least this only lasts a little while from what I hear.
I was going to write about how this picture demonstrates what’s wrong with the cops today:
but I can’t really be bothered. You see it was posted on Police One’s FB page. That’s a website for law enforcement officers and their families. Right now, in my head, if you can’t see what’s wrong with that picture then I don’t think my explanation will make any difference at all so I won’t even bother. I’m not exactly in a mood where I give humanity the benefit of the doubt. I’m just going to sign off before I turn this in to a rant about how a cop even considering posting that picture, much less actually posting it, in the context of current events, shows more about what’s wrong with our society than just about anything else I can think of.
So I haven’t mentioned something that I’ve been worried about. You see I’m a fat bastard that used to eat like so many other fat bastards. At one point in my life there was a Shell filling station on the way to work that had a 64 oz refillable cup. I bought on and would fill it with Mountain Dew on the way to work, again at lunch, and on the way home. No ice mind you, I wouldn’t be getting my money’s worth that way. Yes children, I drank a gallon and a half of Mountain Dew a day for the better part of six months. While that’s fifteen years in the past it serves as an example of the excesses I allowed myself.
What I’ve been worried about is Diabetes. You see it runs in my family, type 2 that is, and being a fat bastard puts me at pretty high risk for it. So over the past few days I’ve been testing my blood sugar. I’ve dipped a a couple of points lower than I’d like but I haven’t been over 120 at the magic two hours after eating mark. No this isn’t a fasting glucose test, it probably wouldn’t convince a doctor, but I’m not worried. The fluctuations are within the tolerances for normal and happen at the right times after eating. And I am allergic to giving money to doctors, I mean, I will if I need to but this seemed so simple since a coworker has a testing kit and made the offer.
I’ve finally started walking again, not enough to annoy certain people on Facebook but enough that it’s making a difference. I have to keep that up because one of my friends has just quit smoking and I plan on following in her path. She’s inspired me in much the same way I was inspired to lose weight after seeing someone else do it. Quitting smoking is technically easier than losing weight. There’s nothing to count and all I have to do is never pick up a cigarette again. I am wracked with fear about it. It’s part of my life for so long that I can’t imagine being without it. All of that is even though I hate the habit. It stinks, it robs me of my wind, it makes food bland, and a plethora of other things, not the least of which being the cardiovascular disease risk. Yeah, that runs in my family as well.
I have a three day weekend, as I do every other week, and I am going to lay them down, for what I hope is the last time, on Thursday night. I will smoke my last before bed cigarette and wake up smoke free. I know it’s possible. I can rattle off myriad friends who have done it and stayed quit. All I have to conquer is my own fear. I’ve come close a couple of times but never succeeded. This is the second most important thing to me, outside of losing weight, on the list of changes I want to make. Part of the reason I’m doing it now is because I know I can lose any weight I gain, if I do gain, during the process. That was my biggest fear, going from fat bastard to Jabba The Hut, and I can fix that now.
So if you’re the praying sort, say one for little old me, I’ll likely need it. On second thought, save that and say one for the family that’s going to deal with my quitting for the next couple of weeks. Every last one of them is supportive but I’m scared that I’m going to a real asshole for a bit. In fact that’s pretty likely but the pay off for putting up with it is they get have me around for a couple of extra decades, if I’m lucky. This may turn out to be a bigger change than losing weight and it may turn out to be easier than I thought. And no, I’m not switching to vaping, using gum, patches, or anything of the sort. I am quitting nicotine for good, period, cold turkey.