Archive for November, 2015

Storytime: Self-help.

Wednesday, November 25th, 2015

My grandma’s not so healthy these days. Nothing big, but lots of little things, if you get my meanings. Nothing quite holds together like it used to and that can get you down which means you should distract yourself with lots of hobbies and errands and so on.
Like gardening.
“Read this package,” she told me.
“That’s tomato seeds,” I told her.
“Read this package,” she told me.
“That’s canned tomatoes,” I told her.
“Read THIS package,” she said.
“That’s tomato ketchup,” I told her.
Grandma frowned. “I know I bought some other seeds in here somewhere. Or at least something that isn’t tomatoes. Or garlic.”
“Garlic’s good for you.”
“It makes me queasier than a bow-legged dog on a boat in the Baltic. You’d better not have let me get any or I’ll blow my top I swear. What’s this?”
“Tomato paste.”
She pulled out the last can in the grocery bag. “And this?”
“Kidney beans.”
“Hah, I knew I bought something that wasn’t tomatoes. I didn’t know they sold kidneys at the store, though.”
“Not kidneys. Kidney beans. You know, in a can.”
“You can use beans as kidneys? Well no-one told me that. What do we have a doctor for if he isn’t telling me that?”
“You can’t use beans as kidneys.”
“How do you know? You’re not even a doctor, so you’re not even fully wrong. Why don’t you put these on that shelf and get out of my way for a moment.”
I made my usual mistake and did what I was told and before I’d turned around again what had she done but opened herself up with her sharpest kitchen knife, clean as a whistle.
“Oh hush up and help me fit this bean in here. And go get my sewing kit, would you, dear?”
I ran to dial 911 instead, spent five minutes huffing and puffing around the house failing to find the phone, and ran back into the kitchen to ask grandma to find her finishing the stitches.
“Not a wink of help from you,” she said sourly. “Some grandchild. Some good you do me some days. First you’re not a doctor, then you don’t tell me doctors don’t know about kidney beans, then you go and leave me to fetch my own sewing kit. Don’t go asking for anything nice for your birthday this year, don’t you dare! Now give me a kiss and go home.”

Now I probably should’ve phoned the hospital after that. That’s what you should do, right? But grandma’s stitches were tight as a drum and she didn’t seem bothered and above all else I was a really phenomenal coward, so I didn’t do diddly. I did mention it to mom, though.
“Ah, well, you know your grandmother,” she said with a shrug. And that was that.

My grandma’s doing a bit better these days. A few sniffs and coughs and rattles like anyone else, but nothing that a few chores couldn’t keep your mind off.
Like going to the park.
“These are real good kidneys, you know. Better than the real deal. I haven’t had so much fun peeing since summer camp.”
“Kidney beans aren’t kidneys,” I told her.
“So you say, but what do you know? I bet I could out-piss any of these dogs.”
“Maybe that one,” I said. The animal I was pointing at was collapsed in the sun, squinting at the daylight and hiccoughing occasionally.
“Oh that’s a nice comparison to make. Real nice. I bet your mother told you to say that. She’d say you should say that sort of thing to me. Real nice. Look at that poor thing, it’s flat as a sack.”
The dog yalloped in a listless sort of way, then fell over further.
“Heartworms, I bet,” I said.
“Heartworms. You know, worms in-”
“Its heart is made of worms?”
“No, there’s worms in-”
“Its chest? My, didn’t know worms came so sturdy. They always seemed too squishy for work like that. All I’ve got is a murmur, I should try worms instead. So they just wrap around it and squeeze, right? Like an octopus?”
“They don’t-” but it was too late because my grandma had been walking while she was talking – marching, really – and she was up to the dog and had her arm up to its elbow in the poor thing’s throat. It wurfed indignantly around her shoulder, but she scratched its ear with her free hand and it seemed to settle down and wag a little.
“Good girl, good girl,” she said. “Aha! Gotcha!” And out came her arm, a little damp, a little sticky, and clutching the most surprised-looking wad of heartworms I’d ever seen in my life at that point. “Now, pass me my purse, will you?”
I did as I was told, from a position of moral weakness. “Won’t there be a mess?” I inquired, timidly.
“Nonsense,” she said, rummaging around inside it. “I brought Kleenex. And my sewing kit, of course. Ah, THERE’S the knife!”

The operation didn’t seem to be a problem for her – she didn’t even use a park bench. But the stitching got a little tricky near the end, when the dogs kept trying to stick their noses inside the incision. I was too busy shoving them away and throwing sticks to protest, and also of course I was much too meek to anyways. Instead I made my way to my mom, who I informed of current events.
“Oh well, that’s just how your grandmother can be,” she said lugubriously. And that was that.

My grandma’s doing okay most of the time. She has her off days, but they’re rarer than not, and she can get herself over the humps with a bit of exercise.
Like going shopping. Or, well, trying to.
“This is a fine mess, this is,” she grumped as we waited outside the grocery store. “Such a lot of fuss over a whatever this is.”
“Contamination alert,” I told her.
“Oh, it can’t be that bad. I shop here all the time.”
“The fish was full of parasites.”
“Ah, who cares? I don’t even eat fish. Fish is for people with bad hearts, and mine is fit as a fiddle thanks to all those worms.”
“Heartworms don’t help your heart.”
“Easy for you to say, you’ve never tried it. I feel better than I have in years, and you seem awful sluggish and soft. Maybe some heartworms’d do you good. We should get you fish, at least. Oh, there it is.”
The fish was being wheeled out of the building by men in severely white clothing. There were gloves involved and everyone’s eyebrows were at half-mast.
“Well, let’s get a bit.”
“It’s infested, grandma. Full of flukes.”
“Full of what? The flu? You’ve had your shots, who cares.”
“Flukes. Not flu.”
“Fluke whats?”
“Liver flukes,” I said, and I realized my mistake before she even said “oh GOODY!” and scurried over to accost the nearest cart.
“I’m really sorry,” I said to the man with the gloves, who was trying and failing to talk. “We’ll just be going now don’t mind-”
“I DON’T NEED the fish,” she said, using volume as rhetoric. “I JUST NEED the liver flukes. Got it? He doesn’t get it. Here dear, can you-”
I snatched her purse out of her hands.
“My, that’s quick, no need to be so hasty. But thank you,” she said, pulling the knife out of her coat pocket. “I’ll really need both hands to get at my liver.”

It was hard to say if that time went so smoothly because she’d had more practice, or if it was thanks to the frantic and angry hand lent by the man with gloves, who was a dab hand at threading a needle even through latex layers.
“Such lovely cross-stitching too,” my grandma told him. “Who taught you?” He hadn’t told us.
I stood nearby and made helpful noises and eventually slunk home under the glare of a half-dozen health and safety officers, sure that I was being written into some lists somewhere that would impede any career I cared to name. The most I could do to console myself was to drop by my mom on the way home.
“Eh, there’s no helping it,” she told me calmly. “You know how your grandmother acts.” And that was that.

My grandma’s in good health these days, always sunny-side up and walking faster than me most places. And she goes to a lot of places now, always on the move to see something new, or visit something old that’d slipped out of her mind.
Like the zoo.
“They’re asleep,” she said dejectedly. “Look at them, they’re asleep. How can they be so tired? It’s barely noon!”
“They’re crocodiles,” I said. “Ectotherms. They soak up heat in the morning.”
“Ectoplasmic? They’re congested? Oh, I can sympathize, I really can. But how did they get that way if they weren’t smoking?”
“They weren’t smoking, grandma.”
“I hope not. I wouldn’t ever come here again if the keepers let the animals smoke. Maybe they are and you just don’t know it; here, look at this one, he’s all out of breath too.”
I squinted at the tiny, not-quite-brass plaque. “That’s a lungfish, grandma. It’s meant to be like that.”
“A well now!”
“No, a lungfisohforgoodness’ssakeputthatDOWN”
The crash of the rock and the tinkle of glass slid away under the howling wail of the security alarm, and all the will to shout scream protest or even sigh slid away from me as she reached into the tank with one hand and her purse with the other.
“Needle!” she commanded.

I’m still not sure how we got home that day without being arrested. We walked right past the security officers like they were furniture – grandma was still wiping off the lungfish slime from her hands, and didn’t look up, and I was too frightened to look anyone in the eye – and the police pulled into the parking lot as we left. I went home with the shakes six times over and in the morning I phoned in sick and phoned out mom.
“Not much to be done, with your grandmother,” she advised me. And that was that.

My grandma’s fit as a fiddle and exactly seventeen times as noisy and energetic. She’s been everywhere in the city at least twice and at most thrice. Now and then she stops by my house and berates me until I go out with her.
“You’re much too frail these days,” she told me severely, as she towed me into the grocery store. “Week arms, noodly legs, swimming head, lidded eyes, and I expect you still have a weak heart because we never got you that fish.”
I mumbled protest.
“Speak up and shut up,” she said, stalking down the aisles with a predatory eye. “Now we’re going to get you something to eat, something to wake up with.” Produce started to hurl itself at me, my fingers fumbled and grasped and bent as I strove to catch it.
“A good soup or stew or something,” grandma muttered. “Tomatoes and beans and potatoes and onions and celery and carrots and garlic and-”
She stopped. Then she turned around very slowly, and held up a small bulb next to my face.
“What’s this?” she asked.
I squinted at it, eyes wobbling and watery.
“Garlic?” I ventured.
“Oh,” she said. “I thought you said that.”
She blinked, then hiccupped. Then hiccupped again, louder and faster.

My grandma’s recovering with surprising speed, and the hospital’s really quite impressed. They’ve got enough material for five or six research papers. Grandma’s happy enough too, seeing as they’re already trying to sign her in as a surgeon.
And I guess I’m doing okay, too. The stew turned out alright, and I had enough extras for the family – minus grandma. I dropped off mom’s last night, along with some news from the hospital. She was happy to hear it, and seemed no more worried than she’d been when I’d stepped out of the grocery store last week to find her waiting there next to an already-summoned ambulance.
“Nothing to worry about,” she’d told me tranquilly. “You know your grandmother. Just not quite as well as I do.”

Storytime: I am Extensive.

Wednesday, November 18th, 2015

I am extensive, let me count the mes.

I am garments. I am cotton and polyester and rubber and denim, sewed and stitched and woven together by a hundred hands in ten giant factories that are also basically prison camps, all for a low, low overhead and many bruised and scarred heads. I am double-layered occasionally and I am wind-resistant when necessary. And let’s not even get into the dying of things. Ten thousand years ago agriculture was created and its penultimate product is my pants.

I am education. A truly staggering amount of informal knowledge swamping and surging over the bows of a tiny half-a-raft of essays piloted by the shipwrecked rubble of a salty-faced professor who is cursing at the wider world. They’re dragging as much information as they can carry, and it’s not enough, and it’s in danger of cutting loose. Centuries of boiling and puzzling and confusing and lying, all lost before it even reaches port and a willing ear. Huge shoals of pop culture lurk just beneath the prow; somewhere, an irrelevant earworm breaches itself and swamps a lecture in meaningless froth.

I am hunger. I eat pigs that ate crops that ate land that ate water and it was all transported on the back of a beast that ate oil. Which, itself, is plankton that time’s gotten indigestion all over. When my stomach rumbles, I open the fridge and chew up half the world. When my brain whines, I turn on a computer and rip open the other half like a recalcitrant orange. In both cases, I’m just speeding up the heat and cooking us all, but iced cream and iced poles are treats for children. Not our children, though. They’re getting scorching sea levels and tsunamis for Christmas to celebrate the birth of El Niño, read the E-manuel for further information and despair.

I am biology and sociology. Arising from a random chance of parents that are a random chance pairing that each resulted from a random chance pairing on and down and on and down until we’re all someone’s cousin, cousin. Won’t catch me calling on you at Thanksgiving though, thanks. Nobody can buy that many presents so we’ve all agreed to care about different things and people so we don’t go nuts for birthdays; the trouble is that we don’t seem to have much left to talk about anymore and well you know how opinionated people get about holidays and the next thing you know cousin Jeb’s blown out a blood vessel and it’s all over but the screaming.

I am housing. I am a roof over my head and the concept of a roof and the associated valuation of this within my given society, which means timber and mining and indoor dining and asphalt and foundations and cement and electricians and plumbers and mailboxes and setting garbage out where the foxes/can’t get it.
The raccoons will, though. Can’t stop the raccoons. They’re too much like us to ever be stopped properly. We won’t let that stop us though.
Can’t do much about the fish, mind you. Poor fish. All carbonated like yesterday’s ginger ale, flat and lifeless. Just like we like our landscapes. Suburban.

I am extensive. Every single thing I do and touch has ten thousand years of human history (bare minimum) and involves things being shuffled around tens of thousands of units of measurement that I don’t understand and undergoing processes I’ll never know to put them into places I never see to do things I don’t notice. I am looking out every window I’ve ever remembered and the view is one that has been carefully put together for me, just me, by accident by people I’ve never thought of in times and places that aren’t there anymore.
I am extensive. And so are you. All seven billion and counting of you.

Storytime: Halfway House.

Wednesday, November 11th, 2015

It was a good dim grey evening of late fall-on-winter and it was a long walk from nowhere behind and a long walk to nowhere ahead when the little yellow light popped up next to the road.
Funny place for a light, I thought. Funny place. No buildings there yet, no homes. Just half-built suburbs, empty shells leaning on shells with gaping windows and unroofed foundations and garages that were just timber frames. Funny place to find any sort of light there. Loose plumbing pipes and empty unwired fuseboxes and no paint to be found for all the rice wine in America. All the workers had gone home already, left their butts and taken their cars. Funny place for a light after all the ashes had cooled off already.
So I walked up to the light on the last bits of my heels that didn’t ache and I knocked at the half-built door and they let me in.

There were there of them, all half-built themselves: a mother, a father, and a child, and they’d just been sitting down to supper. But it was no trouble, they said. No trouble. They could use another person at table anyways.
“Especially a nice full-bodied one like you,” the mother said. She was smiling, I think. It was hard to tell: she had no teeth and only half a lower jaw. No wounds, just gaps.
I told her it was no trouble and that I was happy to be here and it was a very nice house they had.
“It’s alright,” grunted the father. He toyed with his half-empty glass of water, twisting it between the three fingers of his left hand. “But I’ll be straight with you: it’s not what we would have wished for. It’s part of the deal.”
I wanted to ask about the deal, but he was distracted trying to swallow with a missing throat, and I was distracted by the child’s incessant drumming of the table, and the mother was distracted with scolding the child for incessantly drumming on the table, so it was all a wash and instead I focused on eating.
There was a half-glass of water, and half a baked potato, and a heel of bread. I ate some of all of them, to be polite. The child took my leftovers; it was a hungry little thing, and quick with a fork despite having only one arm and no eyes.

After dinner we sat down on two-legged three-legged stools in their living room, which had a roof but no ceiling, and they showed me their possessions and their pride.
“This belonged to my step-cousin-twice-removed’s half-aunt, before she was divorced,” said the father. He handed me a broken pipe; the stem was missing.
“And THIS was given to the family by someone who was very nearly our friend,” said the mother. She handed me a 500-piece jigsaw box that held 250 pieces.
I rattled the box experimentally and glanced at the child. It smiled, and waved a legless action figure triumphantly.
I told them I was very impressed that they were doing so well with so little.
“Oh, it’s no fuss, really,” said the mother. “You just have to remember that it’s half-full.”
“Oh, there’s nothing we can do about it anyways,” said the father. “It’s all half-empty, but that’s just how it is.”
We talked long into the night about uncertain and ephemeral things, like politics and tastes in food and whether or not things could get worse or better. Then, as the mother excused herself to visit the bathroom (which had no bath yet), I asked the father what the deal was.
“Oh,” he said. “That. Well, you know how much it costs for a house these days.”
I did.
“And you know how hard it is to get that sort of money these days.”
I did.
“So we put in half of it instead. Got a half-built house. And they said that was fine, but we’d have to do everything by halves as well. So we’re stuck like this.”
Really? For how long?
The father shrugged. “Until it’s finished.”
At that moment the mother returned and informed me that since it was so dark out and she half-thought she’d seen a coyote or two outside, perhaps I should stay the night.

I slept in a small room on short sheets and a couch, and I woke up to find some leftover breakfast waiting for me. Some eggs with no yolk and toast with no crusts and some skim milk. There was no butter, but there was plenty of margarine.
The mother was missing. “She’s at work,” the father explained. “Part-time, but it’s all we’ve got to get by on.”
The day was too humid and almost murky. We sat on the discarded lumber pallet that was the back deck and watched the child ride a saw horse, brandishing broken sticks at fearsome enemies like trees, dirt, birds, and the sky.
“It always does that,” the father said. He’d just finished brewing us some lukewarm tea in a shattered kettle that whined instead of whistled. It was a sluggish brown, but it tasted like grass.
“It’s made from grass,” he told me.

It was evening again after that. They had no afternoons there. The clouds hadn’t been installed yet.
“Same thing with weeks and months,” the mother explained to me. She’d been too tired to remove her Tim Hortons cap until she’d gotten home; it was hanging on the functional side of her chair. “It’s always a Tuesday here. Somewhere in November, I think. We don’t have a calendar.”
They did have one of those big sticks you make notches in to track days on, though; just like Robinson Crusoe. I checked along its length and sure enough, nothing but a long list of Tuesdays.
“What year is it?” I asked them.
The father pursed his lips: the only set in the family. “Does it matter?” he asked. “I think it was nineteen-ninety-nine when we moved in. It’ll stay that way until they’re finished.”
Dinner was half a pizza, cold in its box. Lots of leftovers, but the child ate them.

You can stay here if you want, they told me at breakfast.
I was a bit surprised to hear that.
You can stay here as long as you want to.
I was still surprised to hear that. But then I remembered that walk out there I’d been on and I decided no, no. That wasn’t anything to be in a rush for.
I could afford to sit down and let my time take itself.

I’m in the house next door these days. Well, it’s not much of a house. No roof, so I’m in the basement, and the plumbing, wiring, and paint aren’t in.
But at half-price it was a steal, and the neighbours are alright. And every half-built family needs a half-built family friend.
I’ve barely been here and already I fit right

Storytime: Tips.

Wednesday, November 4th, 2015

Hello, and welcome to life on/in/around/near BPNTV-5, the latest in a long and proud line of intertransdimensional colonizations and definitely the first successful one*. We understand that homesteading is a complex, tricky, and sometimes mildly worrisome business, but humanity’s had seven hundred attempts at this so far so we’re all old hands at this, eh sport?
Still, a little kind advice and care never hurt anyone. Especially since statistics (which never lie!) tell us that 98.2% of Earth’s population has no idea how to use any of the advanced technology that’s been dumped next to you in a big pile just now. Most of which, we modestly suggest, is basically mandatory for your surviving the next thirty seconds.
Read on! Quickly.
*Success not displayed at actual size

1. Taking a breath.
Expand your chest cavity by means of your chest muscles and so on, intake air into your lungs, and let it back out. Continue to do so in a calm, steady manner while reading the rest of this manual, so as to prevent hyperventilation, hysteria, involuntary shrieking, and/or attracting mawbats*.
*For more information on mawbats, see section 6-1(b).

2. Windmill installation.
Obviously you’ll need this up within the next five minutes. The collapsible windmill you have been outfitted with is durable, weather-resistant, tamper-proof, and fits together mostly using a package of little round plastic pegs. Those are in a small red bag. If you can’t find it, we kindly recommend you go home by the fastest means available*.
Set the windmill up in a good spot, don’t just pop it up where it’s been dropped. A clear patch of ground will prevent curious local plants from consuming its guywires. A strategically-placed pile of rocks will keep it standing upright and steady no matter how desperately you claw and scream at its base. A lofty location will provide it with the best winds and give you the greatest likelihood of snaring stray bluntpigeons in its rotors, which are among the healthiest of BPNTV-5’s local fauna when administered intravenously**.
Once your windmill’s set up, be sure to plug it in or you won’t get any wind. Common error, don’t feel bad. For this you’ll need the supplied universal socket, which you can plug into anything that isn’t moving too fast to be caught.
*Statistical analysis of a random sample of Earth’s last 672 intertransdimensional colonizations suggests that in 83% of known cases the fast means available consists of ‘don’t get off the landing pad.’ Since we only issue this manual once you’ve left the strip, we must gently discourage you from attempting it.
**For more information on bluntpigeons, see section 6-1(a).

3. Hurricane fencing.
Now that your windmill’s ready and plugged in, you should put up the attached bales of hurricane fencing immediately because if you don’t you may stand a very small chance of being violently hurled several kilometers away by its initial boot test. Don’t panic, mind you; this stuff tangles something fierce if you’re rushed, and trust us, the only thing worse than being launched into a tree at escape velocity is being launched into a tree at escape velocity with chain-link mesh wedged into every single crevice and cranny of your body. Just go back to section 1 and reread its instructions if you feel pressured.
Just read quickly, okay?

4. Verbal fencing.
A task of equal if not greater importance is providing some means of passive protection against rogue wordsqualls coming thundering out from the grammatic haze. It is strongly recommended that each settler spend around oneish hours a day (threeish if the homestead is illegally enormous) pacing the edge of their property while reciting as complex a list of nouns, gerunds, vowels, and synonyms as possible. This will boost morale and probably maybe prevent you from waking up one day with half of your vocabulary blown sixteen thousand kilometers away into an obscure creole.

5. Digging a welp.
Now that your person is about as protected as it can be for the moment, you should have a moment to rest. And once you’re done that, it’s time to dig a welp so you can have some water I guess.
The leftmost, largest compartment of your Settler-Duffle™ contains a collapsible shovel. Decollapse it forcibly using whatever extremity you deem fit and then use the following guide to find your nearest source of underground dampness or something.
-Low-lying. You want dirt that looks like it thinks a hillock is too much effort. If possible, find a spot where anthills can’t be bothered to stand up straight.
-Soft. Digging in hard, rocky soil is difficult, arduous, and really who cares.
-Apathetic. You get the idea okay.
Once your welp is about as finished as you think it can get, just sort of stop. Or whatever. Yeah.

6. Local flora and fauna.
BPNTV-5, like all known transdimensional locales, is a hotspot of marvelous, beauteous, and vexatious wildlife and wildflowers. Less than 0.0003% of its estimated species diversity has been catalogued, but don’t let that put you off! You can still get yourself an edge over your indigenous competition by reading this quick-start mini-guidebook.
6-1: Fauna
The fauna
(a) Bluntpigeon. As we all know, nothing is more delicious than a fat, stupid, slow-moving domestic pigeon. The bluntpigeon is no exception to this rule, seeing as it tastes mostly like feet. The best way to consume a bluntpigeon is to puree it into a fine paste, ferment it for no less than six days, then administer the residue via syringe into a deep vein. This will not nourish you, but the result psychedelic effect will probably distract you from realizing you just injected yourself with fermented bluntpigeon.
(b) Mawbat. Smaller and more leathery than they appear, yet also far more hungry. Flocks vary in size from something like three to three thousand. Probably. For information on dealing with mawbats, see section 6-1(e)
(c) Murderluffagant. A useful source of naturally-occurring luffas, which are absolutely essential if you’re planning on staying during Vrick season and retaining all or any of your epidermis.
(d) Piquant. Imagine a pickle. Now imagine an ant. Now imagine them combining. With any luck that sequence of thoughts will have distracted and sated nearby piquants, thereby dissuading them from directly consuming your brain and leading them to tolerate you as a moderately useful host species.
(e) Opassum. The only known animal with a furry tail and naked body. Don’t give it any attention or it’ll never let off. Just ignore it.
(f) Rex. Be reassured, homesteader-to-be! Despite its intimidating name, this creature is no dinosaur. Technically speaking, it’s a novatheropod. For information on dealing with Rexes, see section 6-1(h).
(g) Those. Words fail us. They’ll fail you too. If you’re confronted with the things we’re talking about, you’ll know it. Just don’t do the. The thing. Don’t do it. Do the other thing.
(h) Vrick. Like a flea, but eighteen times as big and with extremely large teeth and four jaws and possibly eight serrated limbs. The footage we’ve retrieved was heavily damaged, and we’re not really sure. For information on dealing with Vricks, see section 6-1(j)
(i) Wumbats. If you encounter a wombat nest near your homestead, we strongly urge relocation. Although their sub-audible snoring may initially seem to be a soothing hum, prolonged exposure has been strongly correlated with total bowel failure.
(j) Ziggy. Here is some practical advice: leave. Continue leaving until the problem isn’t.
6-2: Flora.
Don’t give them any attention. It won’t stop them, but it WILL encourage them.

47-4. Performing basic maintenance on your fiber-optic electromagnetic hyperkinetic calcium-enriched iron-fortified hardened-steel rubber-coated hyper-malignant all-purpose grater and combination knife (fork packaged separately).
(a) Open the rotochamber using the splange, and insert the freshly-charged gigavoltaic needle (be sure your goggles are still firmly fastened to prevent vivid hallucinations).
(b) Once the charge is fully-transferred (look for the third glint on the odometer), stop for a moment. Repeat section 1, then section 38(q), then continue repeating them until the hissing stops.
(c) Using your windmaul, violently slam the upper hilt and blade apparatus until it looks like what you wished it looked like as opposed to what it currently looks like.
(d) Unwrap and enjoy!
(e) Don’t bring into contact with anything you plan to put in near or around your mouth within the next sixty months.

13. Measurement and mathematics.
You may have noticed by this time that the ruler and tape-measure included in your duffle appears to be numbered somewhat out-of-order. This is no mistake or shoddy subcontractor’s error; BPNTV-5 has been scientifically proven to have somewhat unorthodox mathematical rules. Four, for instance, is the same as five, unless they’re both next to a three. This can happen surprisingly often. The full scope of BPNTV-5’s logical and numerical problematics is, sadly, somewhat beyond the capacity of this manual to illustrate, but we will illuminate a few of the most common herein*.
1: Comes after 0.
3: Comes before 4.
2: 2 before 3 unless it’s a tree.
4: Shifty. Keep an eye on it.
5: Reliable yet insubstantial; cannot be kept indoors.
9: You can’t leave the 9 with the 7.
8: You can’t leave the 8 with the 9.
7: And you certainly can’t leave the 7 with either of them. How do you cross the river, and how many trips does it take?
12: Avoid at all costs.
17: Avoid at some costs.
6: Friendly yet complicated, seeing as it contains 3 2s 2 3s 6 1s and sometimes a 5 and a 1. This is to say nothing of the 4s.
20: You’re not allowed to think about 20.

*Curious homesteaders wishing to know more are encouraged to purchase the limited-edition folio compendium I Have No Math and I Must Scream, by (former) award-winning physicist and public intellectual Dr. Jill Fobbles.

20. A word from the editors.
As all previously-published editions of this manual have inevitably ended up a torn, bloodstained mass of pages beyond this point, this print has economically omitted all subsequent pages. Be safe and prosper!