Earrings of Switcheroo

Earrings of Switcheroo
This is a pair of earrings. They can look like any earrings, but they’re usually high quality, like all magic items. Why would you cast an enchantment on low-quality goods? The earrings, when commanded, will allow you to store a number of wearable magic items. Only wearable items will work: clothing, footwear, hats and the like, jewelry, etc. You cannot store non-magical items in the earrings. What you do is, you take the wearable magic item you want to store, touch the item with one or both of the earrings, utter the store command word, and the magic item will shimmer and disappear, leaving only the earrings. The item is now stored in the earrings. They’re not actually in the earrings, of course; they’re in an extradimensional space connected to the earrings. If the earrings are already storing too many items, the item you’re trying to store will not disappear, and you will know the earrings are full. This does not harm the earrings or the item.

When you wear the earrings, you will be aware of all the items that are stored in them. you can retrieve or deploy any of the items at any time. Speak the retrieve command, and the item will appear in your hand. If you don’t have any hands free, it will be placed on the floor/ground at your feet. Bummer if you’re standing in a river or sitting on a ski lift.

Speak the deploy command, and the desired item will appear on your person, properly worn and fully powered, conferring its benefits on you. If you are already wearing a magic item on that particular area of the body, the item will not be deployed, and you will know why.

When an item has been deployed onto your person from the Earrings of Switcheroo, you can send the item back into the earrings by uttering the restore command. The item will simply disappear off of your body and return to the extradimensional space, ready to be retrieved or deployed once more. If you remove the item from your body by some other means, you will have to touch it to the earrings and use the storage command again.

So. Four commands: store, retrieve, deploy, and restore. They’re almost always single words, easy to remember. Note that you can’t use any of the commands on more than one item at a time.

I would tell you the number of items that the earrings hold if I could, but it just depends on the particular earrings. “Cheap” Earrings of Switcheroo might store 1-3 items. Which is still quite valuable, and you’ll pay less money for them. Nicer ones can store more, usually around 4-9 items. The legendary Earrings of Reka Corbulo, which were lost centuries ago, were purported to be able to store 39 items, but this obviously cannot be corroborated.

About the Magic

Light Without Heat

Light Without Heat
A ball of light appears where you specify. It is spherical, about the size of a tennis ball. You can change the location of the ball by concentrating, but it doesn’t move very fast. It’s not feasible as a light that you can walk around with or whatever. It goes in one place, and you can slowly change that place if you concentrate. Or you can dismiss it and recast in the new location. You can use that method to use the spell like streetlamps. Cast it, walk along until it starts to get dark, dismiss and recast ahead of you.

The light can be however dim or bright you want, though it can’t be brighter than the sun. It can be any color or combination of colors you want. It can be muted or glaring, and anywhere in between. It can strobe, cycle through colors, etc. Just think about what you want it to do, and it’ll do it.

The ball has no substance; it’s just a light source. And as the title implies, it doesn’t generate heat. So you can throw objects through it or even put your hand through it if you want. It won’t hurt anything.

You can only ever have one at a time. It lasts until it is dismissed or until you die, whichever happens first.

About the Magic

Gurgi’s Water Bottle

Gurgi’s Water Bottle
This is a water bottle, say maybe a 1-liter capacity. Sometimes more, sometimes less. They are almost always very good quality, and rarely flashy or fancy. As with all the Gurgi items, Gurgi’s Water Bottle offers an endless supply of something; in this case, an endless supply of clean potable water. It never runs out. Drink as much as you want; when you tip it back, there is always something to drink. The catch is, it’ll only dispense water that you actually drink. What I mean is, it won’t pour water out unless it is into your mouth, and subsequently swallowed. You can’t even pour it in a cup and then drink it. And you can’t fake it out. The magic knows your heart; it will only dispense water that you swallow. Or that someone else swallows. Presumably this limitation is in place to prevent the bottle from upsetting ecosystems.

On the other side of the coin, you can’t pour anything into the bottle. If you try, the liquid will just deflect from the mouth of the bottle and run down the outsides. Also, if you submerge the bottle with the lid off, it won’t take on any of the liquid it’s submerged in. Non-liquids cannot be forced into the bottle either.

About the Magic

Smoke Hat

Smoke Hat
Wear this hat when you’re going to inhale smoke of any kind. You will suffer no discomfort or damage as a result of smoke inhalation when wearing the hat. Chemical transfer will still take place; you’re still gonna get fucked up if you breathe weird shit. You’re just magically protected from discomfort and physical damage.

Technically, any hat can be enchanted to be a Smoke Hat, so a Smoke Hat can look like any hat. You often see firefighter’s helmets so enchanted, for example. And people often keep Smoke Hats made from thin cloth caps in their nightstands in case of fire. And of course, Smoke Hats belonging to recreational smokers can be just as stylish and distinctive (or not) as any hat you can imagine. Cigar lounges, for example, tend to have interesting or noteworthy Smoke Hats available for rent. And many cannabis conventions hold annual “Toke” Hat competitions, and you really see some impressive Smoke Hats at those events.

As with all enchanted clothing, a Smoke Hat will not wear out through normal use, but it can be accidentally or deliberately destroyed.

The first Smoke Hat was enchanted in November 1883 by one Phineas Marshall after a friend’s daughter had been injured by smoke inhalation in a house fire earlier that year. Her name was Maria Smith. She ended up being okay, and never again in her life needed the magical invention whose creation was inspired by her ordeal. She always kept it in the nightstand, though.

About the Magic

Shower Idealizer

Shower Idealizer
This is a small doohickey. It can take any appearance; usually you’ll see them as a haphazard cluster of gemstones set in some kind of metal, usually something rust-proof. Most common color scheme is green, white, and silver. That color combo has culturally been the default color scheme for Shower Idealizers, at least here in the States. I’ve read that UK Shower Idealizers tend to be green, blue, and silver. But whatever. There are no rules; color schemes are used for doohickeys for the sake of convenience and ease of identifying, but that’s not a requirement for the item to function.

The doohickey will stick to most surfaces and won’t fall off until you pull it off with intention. I mean, a truck could shift it, but you’re unlikely to knock it off by accident.

When the Shower Idealizer is placed somewhere in a functioning shower, it does two things.

The first thing it does is regulate the temperature of the water.

A shower equipped with an Idealizer needs no warm-up time. The water will be the perfect temperature instantly. You can adjust the temperature up or down just by thinking about it, or you can think of a temperature, say 105 degrees F, and the water will adjust to the specified temperature. (The Shower Idealizer never confuses temperature scales, and always adjusts to the temperature you actually want. In the example above, you would not have been scalded to death if you had failed to specify Fahrenheit. It’s magic. It just works.)

The temperature changes take place gradually rather than abruptly. Depending on the temperature difference, an adjustment usually takes 5-15 seconds.

Throughout your shower, the temperature will remain constant unless you change it, at which point it will remain constant at the new setting until you change it again. The water is not magic; it’s the regular water that the shower would normally dispense. It’s just magically temperature corrected.

The second thing the Shower Idealizer does is purify the water.

Well, it’s not really purification. It’s idealization. It does purify the water, removing contaminants and toxins. But it also analyzes the water and can add minerals and whatnot to make the water better at being shower water. The result is a comfortable shower that leaves your skin feeling great.

If there’s a choice, you’ll want to not waste hot water and just run cold showers. They won’t really be cold, obviously — the Shower Idealizer sees to that.

Also. I almost forgot to mention. You can put the Shower Idealizer on a bathtub and draw an idealized bath. Water in the bath will be purified/idealized as it enters the tub. And water in the bath stays at or changes to the temperature you set mentally, just like when using it on the shower.

About the Magic


This is a thermostat. It looks kinda like the classic round Honeywell thermostat (without the branding), and if you stick it on the wall of a room (more on that later), it will control the temperature in the room.

Instead of graduations, the Thermostat has a blue-red gradient that you position the needle along. The temperature range can vary by Thermostat, but generally speaking, you’re looking at a range of cold fridge to hot sauna.

When you place a Thermostat and set it, the magic exerts energy to make the room’s temperature more in line with what the thermostat says. This works similarly to a conventional furnace/air conditioner. The magic detects the temperature of the room. If it’s too cold, the magic spends energy to warm it up. Too hot? The magic spends energy to cool things down. Just like with a real thermostat, it takes some time, at least a few minutes, for the temperature to adjust.

Other factors can affect the temperature of the room, of course. An open window is the easiest example. Things like that will make the Thermostat’s job harder, but it will persevere.

Regarding the sticking of the thermostat to the wall, it feels like a moderately strong magnet to pull the thermostat off the wall and stick it back on, but it’s not magnetic; it’s magic. When I say “moderately strong”, I mean stronger than a refrigerator magnet, but not so strong that it’s actually difficult to pull off the wall with your hand. The force required to remove a thermostat varies from person to person and room to room.

When you place a thermostat on the wall, you’re basically making a proposal to the magic. You’re proposing that the “wall” (whatever form it takes) is part of a “room” (whatever form it takes) that the Thermostat can affect. If you try to use the thermostat in a way that is not valid (like if it’s too big a room, or it lacks sufficient cohesion for the magic to consider it a room), then it simply won’t stick. Adjust your environment (or find a new “room”) and try again. It’s a case-by-case, and it’s not consistent across different thermostats. Some might work in some “rooms” where others might not. Some might consider certain areas to be a part of the “room” where others might not cover those areas. You’ll just have to try it and see. That said, it’s usually pretty obvious whether or not something is a room, and in nine out of ten cases, using a Thermostat is perfectly straightforward.

If there is more than one thermostat placed in a single room, only the first one placed will function. But then if you pull that one off, control passes to whichever of the remaining thermostats was placed first.

Temperature changes are magical rather than physical, so in a room with a Thermostat installed, hot or cold temperature shifts will not happen outside of the confines of the room. This can lead to abrupt temperature shifts when entering and leaving the affected area.

About the Magic

Four Aspects

Four aspects of a romantic relationship or friendship between two people. It might work for other configurations, but I doubt it. But I mean, I don’t know.

So! Four aspects. What are they? Keep reading.

This is how much you, well, love the person. I’m not going to try to explain what love is, because I don’t need to. Anybody who doesn’t already know, you can’t explain it to them anyway. Minds far greater than mine have tried to explain it; go read their shit.

Trust is basically when you think someone won’t kill you and eat you. Or otherwise fuck you over. This is a game-changer. If you firmly believe that the person isn’t going to eat you, that really opens up the potential for meaningful connection.

This is when you are glad the person is in the world, and you care about what they think, their opinions.

This is how much you wish to be physical with the person. Horndog doesn’t necessarily mean sex. It mostly does, sure, but it also covers physical affection of any kind. It’s when you like touching the person in any capacity. Or, if you haven’t touched the person, it can measure your desire to touch the person.

Great, four aspects. So what? So rate them on a scale of 1 to 5, of course! The rating doesn’t rate the relationship. It rates how strongly you feel that aspect. So each person will fill out their own rubric. If you want it to be worth a shit, plan on not showing it to your partner.

Here’s a list of what the levels mean.

1. Nope
2. Low
3. Medium
4. High
5. OMG OMG OMG holy shit

Once you’ve filled it out, look for any 1’s and 5’s. Those are a problem. Sometimes. A 1 in Horndog describes many friendships. But otherwise, a 1 is a problem that is not easy to fix. As for 5, settle down; you’re totally disregulated. Deep breaths. Consider therapy. The middle three values don’t really matter; it’s just, you have the info now; you’ve thought about it.

Why do all this? I don’t know. I just thought of it. And here it is.

Culture 36

Brian Henke performing “Salt Lake” in 2004. He’s local to me, so I’ve had the distinct pleasure of seeing him play on several occasions. He played a request for me once. Not this song. This song came up on shuffle today and I was inspired to tell people about it. His shit is available for download on Amazon. Go buy all of it. If you want to get just one, get Love Song For Terra. But this song is on Many Waters.

Tree Collar

Tree Collar
This is a band of what appears to be a canvaslike material. The band is maybe a foot wide and ten feet long. You wrap the band, or tree collar, I suppose I should call it, around the trunk of a tree. The tree collar must go all the way around the tree. If the tree is too thick for the standard ten-foot tree collar to go all the way around the trunk, larger tree collars can be created. Expensively.

Anyway, what is it all for? If you’ve got a tree next to your house, say, and you’re worried about it falling over and crushing the house, if you put a tree collar on the tree, that tree (or material from it) will never damage the house.

Installing a tree collar is easy. Just wrap it loosely around the tree as well as you can, and then utter the incantation, and the tree collar will act like shrink wrap, tightening up to cleanly wrap around the tree, all fitted up nicely and everything. Wind cannot blow off a tree collar, but pranksters or animals can remove them, so it’s a good idea to check the integrity of your tree collars periodically. You can get different colored ones to match your particular house.

A tree with a tree collar can still drop branches and fall over and die and stuff. It’ll just never damage the house.

About the Magic

The Beloved Quartet Writing Guide

Remember The Sky Was Full of Fish? I ran across the original notes I used as a guide for writing the beloved quartet, a gestalt entity containing four people sharing a single body. Usually smoothly. Sometimes they get crossed up, usually in times of high stress. There aren’t a lotta notes, but I thought they might be of interest to my teeming fans. The file was last modified on 9/30/2006.

Matilda: Maternal, caring, open. Healing.
Heather: Demonstrative, sensuous, affectionate. Pyrokinesis.
Sara: Shy, contemplative, thoughtful. Telepathy, telekinesis.
Gertrude: Aggressive, temperamental, impulsive. Strength, speed.