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Once upon a time, best-beloved, when I lived in a home-built log cabin in the woods of Fairbanks, Alaska, there was the Thip Incident.

I was a very small child, then, so small that I don't remember this myself, only in pieces and patches from having the story told so many times.

Living in a cabin in the woods of Alaska without a television, sometimes you have to make your own fun. My father took the top from a medicine dropper, squeezed the air out of it, and placed it on the tip of my nose and released it. The suction held it there.

He took aim with his thumb and forefinger, and flipped the top right off my nose. "THIP!" he declared as the top went flying.

This was great fun. So we did that again.

Mama was a potter. Mama had been casting in porcelain, little delicate round bottles to drip water or ink, perfect in form and function. She freed the little bottles from their mold and lined them up to finish drying in the little one-room cabin.


The top of the medicine dropper went flying across the room, right smack into one of Mama's precious pots. The little bottle bent and gouged most horribly, ruining it completely.

Mama was Not Happy.

That was the end of thipping for a while.
Gone away, gone ahead,
Echoes roll unanswered.
Empty, open, dusty, dead.
Why have all the Weyrfolk fled?

Where have dragons gone together
Leaving weyrs to wind and weather,
Setting herdbeasts free of tether;
Gone, our safeguards, gone, but whither?

Have they flown to some new weyr
Where cruel Threads some others fear?
Are they worlds away from here?
Why, oh why the empty weyr?

-- "The Question Song", Anne McCaffrey
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