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Friday, August 29, 2014

The Friend Collector - Part III - fiction

College was a new world for John.


When the dark wave overcomes the mind and the soul is chained, left to drown, in the sea of loneliness all hope might be lost.

But there lies, at the bottom of that ocean, a cauldron of fire. An ember of pure hatred; a well of fiery passion.

This ember, when uncovered, pours hot energy into the sea.

The waters will churn and currents will flow.

The surface will ripple and twirl as the hot explosion of rage wells forth.

The tranquility of the many ships set adrift on the infinite expanse can only be disrupted by the rage that pours from the heart.

The rage that can shred perception and bring fury to the brow.
The rage that seeps out of the windows to the soul and can be a beacon of alarm to those around the body.

The rage is all consuming.

Inside the mind the rage grows in intensity; an ever-enlarging storm of passion.
The peaceful surface of the waters are gone and each lifeboat that was adrift before has shifted into a ship. The ships cease to represent individuals but, rather, the connections to those individuals.

The whirling waters strike forth and dash these connections into ruins.
The ships of the mind splinter and fracture; they creak and they groan. They explode under the pressures of the currents induced in the waters of self loathing by the engorged power of hatred.

The fires burn brightest when the skies are darkest.

When the sea of loneliness is a mirror in the dark, and the chains are pulling your lifeboat under: that is when the soul's coal will rupture the ocean floor.

The rage burns off the waters of sadness, leaving a dry abyss of cracked mud in the center of a whirlpool. A whirlpool with walls that go up forever. A whirlpool who, when the rage is gone, will crash back onto the weighted soul with a crushing blow, to tear at the soul in another cascade of ichor; another dark wave that will wash over it and baptize it in a sense of futility.

The rage is always there; it is always smoldering. It is always consuming the fuel that it is given. The rage is the antidote to the unbearable lack of purpose of existence.

But, the antidote is as bad as the poison it cures for the raging maelstrom of hate burns the soul. It brands it with each passing, leaves clear scars of all the angers it has faced. The brands tell the stories that the chains cannot and the chains; the chains, tell the stories that have quenched the fires.

As fire can, through its powerful conflagration, force water to steam and that steam can be harnessed as power so, too, can the waters flood out the embers.

The fire brings the currents, the currents whip and froth the surface of the polished ocean and rip the depressant tranquility out of existence. The rage burns its course and the seas once again extinguish it.

The cycle is forever repeating.

So long as the soul exists. So long as the focal point can perceive. So long as there is an "I" to feel the pain and anguish and rage. So long as there is a lone individual calling into the infinite night hoping someone in another life raft will answer.

So long as existence is so, too, will the cycle continue.

For now the ember glows quietly in the deep ocean of sadness. Lurking and waiting for the next spark to strike off an eruption.


Loneliness has nothing to do with being alone.
It has to do with being unattached to anyone or anything; to be left adrift in the sea of humanity.
Loneliness, a feeling nearly everyone experiences at some point, is the lone survivor of a shipwreck being set adrift on an infinite ocean. Alone, in a life raft. With every other person in the world in their own liferafts all around you.
Each boat is its own little bubble and each person is in their own struggle for survival.
Some people lash their boats to others in an effort to lighten their solitude while others suffer in silence.
Some seek the warmth of their companions but are shunned and disbarred from any relief.

Others, still, experience the sounds of those around them as a driving force: pushing them into insanity.

We're all alone in the world, all alone together.

Despite the permanence of loneliness having the loneliness accentuated by others is never a pleasant experience.

Seeing those whom you recognize and choose to call out to shunning you is always painful.
Seeing them group and bond at your own exclusion exacerbates the isolation of your singular craft.

Groups come and go; friendships grow and fade.

Watching the waning of a friendship is never easy; realizing that it was false is harder still.

The world is an unfriendly place and the friendly people within it can be as unintentionally cruel as those who deliberately inflict harm.

The cascade of ships drifting on the infinite sea is the best that we can hope for and, yet, it amounts to nothing in the span of time that is our lives. Our lives, in turn, are nothing to the time of society.

Our loneliness, each of us, is a tiny morsel of pain in the vast ocean of feeling and, yet, it controls everything about our lives.

The Friend Collector - Part II - fiction

John outlines that he spent the next few years in limbo. 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Friend Collector Part I - fiction

The article series was well researched. It wasn't merely a relation of the case facts; it was a study of the criminal behind the crimes.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Shattered Life - Part 2

When I decided to make the initial journey south I was at my mother's home. I was there doing my laundry so that I could make use of her hot tub while I waited. This was a not uncommon experience as, at that time, I was renting a trailer with two friends. They, as a couple, usurped much of the appliance time. Since I had the opportunity to utilize better appliances AND use a hot tub I was not shy about the half-hour journey to my mother's.
It was not far in the future from the initial meeting that this couple and I made a move into a full house. This, of course, required a lot of time and many trips hauling a great deal of stuff. This, of course, was best done when we were not at work; meaning evenings and into the weekend.

As I could not surrender my time to head southward she decided to surprise me and come northward.
We got to spend the weekend together and I got to work harder to free up my time for when she arrived.

It was a wonderful visit. Spock, her dog, came with her and we spent the weekend in my new home.
She and I ran out to the place I had just quitted and tried to recover the nice trash barrel that I owned but, we soon discovered, it was too stinky to transport in her nice car (or any space that was shared with a breathing entity) so it was left in the yard of the trailer that was being departed for the next individuals to utilize as they saw fit.

On Sunday we decided to breakfast with two of my closest friends; a couple whom I had introduced to one-another while I was dating the woman. Their attraction was immediate and unstoppable and, while I didn't like that I was edged out I understood that one's heart is not something one could control so I did not try to interfere with their relationship (Author's note: they are happily married with a seven year old). During the breakfast there was a great deal of pleasant conversation. I engaged in conversation with both of my friends and I felt that my new love was enjoying the meal as well. It was only afterward that her wrath rained down upon me.

The accusation was concise and very terse. I was told that I was still in love with her and that I could no longer be friends with them. There was no discussion. There was no opportunity for debate. My new love had seen what she saw and come to the conclusion that my friend was the enemy. I had always said, and still say, that if anyone ever made me choose between someone else and them that the choice would be easy: I would choose "them" because they would be the party who did not make me choose. I was surprised, therefore, that my new lady was able to put forth this ultimatum without actually making the ultimatum. To this day I cannot recall HOW she did it but the end result was the same: I was coerced into severing my ties with my two friends so that I could keep my love.

I should have known then that I was in for trouble. But I was too blinded to see it.

Instead, I surrendered that part of my life and started to build relationships farther south. I had already ceased my fencing practices in the norther region because they happened on a weekend and I was choosing to go south to spend time with my lady. I was then forced to cease my normal Wednesday night outing, where I went to a local restaurant to socialize with a variety of people near my own age, because the female half of the couple we had dined with was the one who convinced me to join that crowd and she, sometimes, was there.
My life was, after this northward visit, more in her control than it had been to that point but I simply was unable to see it nor was I willing to believe it.

As I became more and more entrenched in her life, by surrendering my own, we began trying to socialize more and more with her friends. Two of these friends, a couple, lived in an apartment in Portland and they invited us over for awhile for dinner and a visit.

Something that, through a combination of latent anxiety concerns and reinforcement by external sources (e.g. my lady friend) that provided me with a great deal of troubles was navigating in a place I am not familiar with. I've always been a bit uncomfortable with it but, until I started spending time with her, it was manageable. Her reactions in the car greatly exacerbated the underlying issue and created a situation in which confusion of roads could become overwhelming to me.

This was a problem that she was aware of. This was a problem she "helped" me with when we drove about together.

When we went to visit her friends I drove and she navigated.

The highways were, and remain, roads that I know well through the Portland area. As such I needed only have direction as to what exit I was to take and all of the steps after that point in the journey. On the way to the residence of her friends she provided the information as to what exit to take and then went about not giving me advanced warning on when I would need to turn for the upcoming streets. She provided the information as the turn was approaching, making it difficult for me to anticipate the turn; increasing my anxiety over not knowing what was around me nor where I should be going.

Prior to this point I had prided myself on knowing how to return to a place after visiting it once. The process of getting TO it and then tracing the steps FROM it were enough to ingrain the path into my mind. She also knew this.

The path to the residence took one highway to a particular exit and then followed an fairly major road in until it crossed with the road that her friends lived on.
This, however, is not the path she allowed me to drive to leave.
I have since learned all of the roads that we took and I can recreate the entire path I was taken on that day. I can say, with total clarity, that the path was not the most efficient path to take: neither to nor from this residence. Taking two different routes, neither of which was efficient, served no purpose other than to increase my anxiety and prevent me from learning the roads in greater detail.
In short, her navigation choices reinforced my anxiety and my dependence on her to navigate around the metropolitan area that was to become my new home.
Once again, I was unable to see what was happening because I did not know the roads well enough to see what she had done; it was only years later, when I saw the apartment we had visited, that I put all of the pieces of that day into their true context.

Like most people I have an appreciation for sweet things.
So, too, did my new lady friend.

Particularly she enjoyed Rice Krispie treats with butterscotch in them.
So I made them.
Nearly every weekend I made a batch of Rice Krispie treats or some variant thereof (note: substituting Fruity Pebbles for Rice Krispies is also tasty) and we would eat some of them during the course of the weekend and she ate the rest during the week.
This addition to her dietary consumption yielded an expected, but undesirable, side effect. She gained a small amount of weight. To me she went from hot, sexy and beautiful to being hot, sexy and beautiful. To me there was not change. To her, however, this minor increase in weight was a HUGE catastrophe that was my fault. I was screamed at and I was scolded. I was told that all of the treats I made were the cause and that, because I made them, it was my fault.
That weekend we spent some considerably time talking. Her outburst seemed, to me, to be completely unfair and it seemed to have a readily-available solution.
That weekend we avoided making any treats.
By mid week she apologized and said she missed having the treats to snack on.
I was asked to make them again the following weekend.
During the next few months I have a vague recollection of this exact scenario playing out a few times. She would be unhappy with how she looked at it would become my fault for cooking for her.
She would have a minor outburst and we would talk about it and reach a reasonable decision on how we could improve the situation. This would be followed by an apology later in the week.
Had I known then what I know now I would have known that this pattern would continue and could never be broken. That this behavioral pattern would escalate in amplitude of response while having a decreasing severity of trigger and an increasing frequency overall.
But, I did not know then what I know now so I did not choose to walk away.
I'm not sure, had I known, that I would have been able to anyway. I loved her too much.

There was a point where she started sharing stories of her exes with me. She had several, including a previous fiance. In retrospect the tales I am about to relate probably should have been a warning sign to me of some sort; but I knew I was not a bad person. I knew that I didn't match the pattern. I didn't realize that the pattern was not the men: it was her. I am sure, now, I am included in the wave of terrible men who have mistreated her when she tells others her tales. I, too, am sure that the story of the men before me is exaggerated well beyond the facts of the situations. Take those as a disclaimer as to the nature of these events for I cannot relate many facts about them: only what she told me.

My lady had had a growing career as an on-air personality. She was doing well and her reputation was growing. Then she got sick (more on that later). After her sickness she decided to start a new life and moved out to Michigan.

While there she met a man. I don't have many details on the story of their meeting but it seems to closely mirror my experience thus far. He fell madly in love with her and they had a whirlwind romance. He proposed and she accepted. She then decided she missed home. They moved back to Maine and got established. From her telling the story it seems that she then broke it off with him due to lack of passion in their life. She claims she loved him deeply but there was no fire or passion, especially in the bedroom. She kept the ring.
In short, she seduced this man and uprooted him from all that he knew to move back to Maine with her where the relationship was severed and she kept the main asset that had been a manifestation of the importance of the relationship to him.
Later, one night that we had ordered take-out from the local Amato's, I was texted from my car. She was in my car and this man was standing next to me in line inside. She slinked down and hid in the car when he left. Again, I should have interpreted this as a sign.

After, what I am sure, was a string of dating, a new gentleman caller entered her life. This man actually cooccupied the very same apartment she had been living in when she and I met with her. This man was a brilliant graphics designer and web programmer. This man had built a business doing web design, construction and hosting. This man taught his business to his beloved girlfriend so that she could work with him from home. She learned programming and the graphic arts programs. She rapidly understood the business functions.  This mad had a falling out with his business partner and reincorporated with his new girlfriend to make a new business.
Over the next couple of years, as she tells it, this man oscillated through phases of insanity. His brilliance in both design and coding was the result of some sort of schizm in his mind that made his an explosive personality. Through many events, as she tells the story, the relationship was ripped apart and she had to sever the ties with him for her own safety. In doing so she ran through a legal battle resulting in him being completely severed from the company that he had built, broken and reforged with her. When the ashes cooled on their relationship she had control of the apartment, the assets and the company. He was left with nothing, not even the business of his parents; whom had been customers of the company.
In short: she seduced this man and stole his livelihood from him, forcing him into a well of depression and financial ruin.

Again; this story should have been a warning for me. Instead it was a sympathetic narrative in which she was the victim of a boyfriend who went insane and tried to steal what she had contributed to his life.

I'm certain there were a variety of other men before she met the next man who was to be a steady boyfriend and, from some evidence, he was in the initial stages of moving in with her.
This man was bad news.  I love books and so did he. After his departure there were many boxes of books left behind. As I loved books they were given to me as he was not allowed to come back for them due to a retraining order. The boxes reiterated what the restraining order told: this man celebrated violence. The books were filled with gritty fantasy centered around violence and dark horror volumes. Normally I will not judge a person solely by the books that they read and choose to own but the volume of books included, and the singular focus of them was a bit disarming. Coupled with the restraining order and, what I was informed, the upcoming court date I knew that this person was likely to be a bad person whom would be prone to explosive violence. As the court date approached she related the story to me.
During their relationship this man had been a forceful and dominant individual. There were arguments that escalated to pushing and shoving. There were many instances of yelling and screaming. The culmination of this tumultuous romance was a physical confrontation. As she tells it he was physically assaulting her directly and through pushing her all around the apartment. As she tells it she picked up the wall phone and dialed 911 to ask for help. As she tells it he then ripped the phone off the wall and threw it across the room; disconnecting the call. As she tells it he threw her across the room and proceeded to continue his assault when the police arrived and arrested him. As she tells it that is the end of the incident and the end of the relationship. As she tells it that it the origination of the restraining order and the subsequent need to go to court to push the order forward and, later, a repeat court appearance to have the order renewed.
Many years later, due to a "Criminal Records Check" advertisement that was fed to me via Google I discovered a hint that there was more to this story. The line in the ad, for criminal records, showed fragment of a paragraph of a police log. In that fragment, which contained no complete sentences but, rather, appeared to be a small photo of the corner of the police beat column of a paper, where three words. Her first name, her last name, and the word "arrested." The context of the words implied, quite heavily, that she had been arrested but the fragment did not contain enough information to verify it. I Googled the entire sentence fragment and was directed to a paywall for the local newspaper's archive. I paid the $3 fee for access to the article and obtained a revelation. During the incident that she imparted to me the man had, in fact, been arrested and the home's state was much as she described.
The part she had omitted from her story, though, was equally important. The fact she omitted was that she, too, had been arrested. Both parties had been arrested for their part in the domestic violence. This means that the police did not believe that she was innocently being beaten nor that she was merely defending herself. The officers on the scene believed that she had been an active participant in the situation and had been committing as much assault as she had been receiving. This, had it been imparted at the time, MIGHT have made me reconsider the relationship. It certainly would have alerted me to the dangers of this woman and made me more aware of what I was about to go through as it happened rather than allowing me to be self-deluded into thinking that she was not insane.
This, as you will see later, would have been good foreshadowing had my story been a movie and the audience, without me knowing, been made aware of her arrest.

Then, of course, there was me. This is my tale and I am sure, from her perspective, it differs greatly. I'm sure that there is a chapter in her previous relationships narrative in which I am a villain and in which I was a terrible individual that abused her trust, tried to take her life away and threatened to destroy her in some way. because of what I went through, including the parts that have yet to be revealed, I am sure that my appearance in her tale is greatly exaggerated much as the appearances of these men has likely been warped and twisted to benefit her the most.
I feel sorry for the man who was uprooted from Michigan and forced to Maine to be abandoned.
I feel bad for the man whose livelihood was stolen from him.
I even feel bad for the misogynistic asshole who was prone to fits of assault; maybe I don't feel bad for him. His life deserved to be shredded.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Last Enemy - review

On its surface this story by H. Beam Piper seems like a simple science fiction action story set in the Paratime construct that Piper developed so well and with the main character used so thoroughly within it.

But this story tackles several ideas that are greater ideas.

This story tackles the ideas of ultimate capitalism versus ultimate socialism. It tackles the idea of hereditary control of wealth and power. It tackles the idea of the soul. It even touches on the idea of race in a passive-aggressive manner that gets your subconscious contemplating it.

It outlines a probably consequence of atomic proliferation and how resulting conflicts might change the way in which humans build their homes.

It even touches on some more abstract concepts such as the level of attrition that will occur if there is a singular guild of people who provide security, offense and defense to private individuals.

This story merely reinforces my lamentation that I had not heard of H. Beam Piper until recently and my desire to acquire everything he has written and consume it voraciously.

Firefly - The Board Game - review

I have now, after many months, had an opportunity to sit down and play my Firefly: The Board Game with a friend.

Prior to this I have had one abandoned game with a friend and a solo adventure.

This game is great!

It has the proper flavor of The 'Verse and the show.
It has enough varying mechanics to be interesting but none of them, even collectively, are terribly complicated.

The initial run through is difficult more because of the many pieces and card decks that have to be set up.

The biggest downside, aside from the setup time, is that this game takes up a LOT of space.

I used two 6' folding tables to play.

I recommend the game and I recommend playing it alone or with friends.

Now I need to try integrating the "Pirates and Bounty Hunters" expansion.

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Time Traders - review

Andre Norton's The Time Traders is an interesting story with an interesting concept.

It starts with a criminal who is given the option of rehabilitation or to join a top secret government project.

The project is the basis for the title of the novel and further discussion will damage the reader's enjoyment of the overarching story.

Given that this is from the early years of pulp science fiction I found it a good story despite the aspects of science that have developed completely differently from the predictions Norton created.
Some additional research is warranted, but won't be undertaken because I am lazy, as to whether some of the plot contrivances used in this novel were already cliched by the time Norton used them or whether they were somewhat novel at that point or, even, whether he invented them.

The disappointing, and yet great, part of this story is that it is the first of a series of novels. This, of course, is a fact I was made aware of at the end of the recording of the first book.

I look forward to finding the rest of the series even though books two and three may not be available in the public domain yet.

Recurrent Themes

I realize that I have some recurrent themes in my fiction.

I suspect, although in order to prove I would have to reread everything I have written thus far, that I may even occasionally write the same story without realizing I have done so.

If you're reading my stories and you read this and you discover a duplicate story that is not specifically labeled as such would you be so kind as to comment on it...


Chains and Weights

The chains are wrapped tightly; links coiling around and around like a venomous snake.
There are many chains, each intertwined with the others to make the roiling mass of cold, hard steel.
The links clink and clack as they layer over one-another to shield the interior from any light.

Their protection is perfect; light never reaches what is inside.

What is inside is the soul; my soul.

The chains constrict it and keep it safe in the darkness but enforce a penalty upon it in exchange for their physical protection. The penalty is that the light of happiness simply cannot penetrate to the depths of cold and impersonal metal that bind it in place. Even the brightest lights only generate the lightest flickers of illumination into the center of the mottled mass of steel.

On the best of days the chains are all there is.

But those days are few in number; those days are wonderful in comparison to the other days.

The days when weights are attached to the chains.

Weights pulling on the chains, forcing them to compress my soul and weigh me down.
Chains that make the slightest effort a challenge of endurance of my will.

Weights that can grow or shrink in mass without warning; weights that fall into the endless oblivion or nothingness. Weights that try to pull my soul out of my body and into that same oblivion.

The pain of such a weight is immense. It is crushing. It is tiring. It is constant.

There is no freedom or release from the weights, at least not within the mortal realm.
There is, however, one potential escape. Death might bring the release that allows the crushing oblivion to be silenced but, on the other hand, it might simply free the soul from the mortal realm to be dragged farther into the bottomless chasm of pain over which it is currently suspended.

The average day is merely tiring: the bad days exhausting.

There, too, are the worst days. The days where the weights are heaviest and the freedom to move about in the world restricted by the complete lack of motivation that arises from such a burden. Those days are nearly unbearable.... and then, sometimes, the misery begins to condense out of the air and dripping into an ever-rising tide from which the weights make escape impossible.

The misery flows from everyone to pool at my feet, and grow deeper and deeper.

Deeper until it threatens to drown me where I stand. Deep enough that the panic of the impending immersion sets in much the way one panics under water without an escape. The panic could lead one to a desperate act, an act that is an attempt to save the soul from the crushing depth of the misery that is flowing higher and higher above it.

A chance for continued existence at the expense of the body that is confined by the chains of misery.

When the misery level climbs the fear of unending pain can influence even the most rational of minds and force them to take a chance on swimming from the bottomless chasm of pain through the river of misery. Perhaps, if they are freed from the chains they will find the peace they need someone on the shoreline.

This far the waters have not reached that high for me, but I can easily imagine the level of panic that the sea of misery will one day bring.

I can imagine that level of panic and fear for what I might do when it is there.

And fear for what lies in the sea and in the chasm..... and what lies on the shores of that vast ocean of suffering.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Monday, August 18, 2014

Is It Plugged In?

Users are a magical resource; an unending fount of  challenges and puzzles.

An individual's level, aside from being a user, is completely irrelevant to whether or not they are a challenging user or not. It is also completely irrelevant as to whether they will successfully examine their own situation or not.

There are two initial questions that must always be the starting point of any technological troubleshooting:
1. Is it plugged in?
2. Is it turned on?

These are the logical first points of failure and they are asked because they are EASY to solve. These questions are asked not in a condescending manner and have even tripped up experienced technical individuals (the author acknowledges one incident of where each of these questions was the solution to his problem after considerable troubleshooting).

This is the story of one such situation.

It seems quite obvious, and was widely acknowledged, that no one in IT could assist a user unless they knew of the problem the user was experiencing. It was also quite widely accepted that IT did not have a magical clairvoyance that would allow them to know of the problems without them being reported. These axioms are the reasons that IT departments, and maintenance departments and, really, any service department, has a means to manage requests. The user who needs a service puts in a request and it is serviced as soon as it reaches the top of the queue. Many IT departments have a very strict means of submitting requests and others have a very lax manner of accepting requests; the important constancy is that they must get requests to be able to provide any service or support.

After a decent career as an IT monkey I made my way into a role as the entire IT department for a small school system. I held this job for two years before moving into a larger schools system where I became the department head of the IT department. Upon taking control of the department I went about the process of familiarizing myself with the helpdesk system that was in place and, through necessity, investigating the reason why no one would use it. After considerably examination of the administrative side I opted to examine it from the user side and my quandary was resolved. The previous director had made the system nearly impossible to operate from a user viewpoint. I corrected the issue and proceeded to campaign heavily for users to use the system while still accepting requests via email.

In a shameless effort to decrease efficiency and increase bureaucracy the Superintendent of this district required all department heads (including Principals) to attend a half-day meeting every other week. This meeting, which rotated around the schools, was designed to bring up items for discussion that were concerning to anyone in attendance. Most often the items placed on the agenda affected only the member who was discussing it and the Superintendent. With the exception of budget preparation these meeting were, primarily, a waste of time for me.

About a third of the way through the school year, long enough for me to have revamped the entire helpdesk system to be more user friendly and have had my campaign be heard nearly everywhere, I was attending one such meeting in one of the schools.

Moments after the meeting began we started around the room to address agenda items from individual users. That's when it happened.

The metaphorical bus was driven by an elementary school principal. It was driven hard and fast and it was driven true. It hit me with the force of managerial shame and stained my reputation in front of all of the principals and the superintendent. The bus took the form of a single question, asked in a sarcastic and snarky tone: "When are you going to fix my printer?"

"Did you submit a request for it?" I replied, attempting to hide my contempt for the manner of inquisition and working to retain an innocent and professional demeanor.

"Of course I did!" was the, still snarky, reponse.

"Oh, I see. Did you use the helpdesk system or just email one of us?" I asked, in an effort to narrow down my options.


"OK. While I look for it, could you tell me what it is doing?"

"It's not printing" was the only answer I received.

"I can't seem to find a ticket in my email, in the helpdesk or even in the emails of either tech. Let me just take a moment to go ahead and make this ticket for you."

"Well, I know I submitted it."

Closing my laptop again, as the Superintendent did not like them present in the meetings, I asked the first of the two questions, "is your printer plugged in?"

The reply was explosive. Based on the response one would have assumed that I had criticized the principal's ability to do simple arithmetic or tie shoes. "Of course it's plugged in! I might not be a technical person but I know to check THAT." Hiding behind the words were additional messages that that could not have been clearer had they been spoken aloud. "How DARE you question my intelligence in front of our boss with that question? How could you possibly insult me like this? Who do you think you are?"

Chuckling a bit I replied "It's the first question we always ask, the first thing we check. The next thing is whether or not its turned on. You'd be surprised how many times one of those is the problem; even when we're the one experiencing it. I'll pop across the hall during the break and check on it for you."

The next hour passed slowly. The principal spent the time talking about issues in the school or glaring at me for the perceived insult I had laid upon them in front of our peers. Invisible daggers were flying through the air and, as needed, I dodged them skillfully.

The mid-morning break rolled into being and I popped up "Let me see what I can do about that printer." I was pleased to get out of the room for a variety of reasons.

The office was, literally, directly across the hallway. I walked into the inner office and found the laptop, resting happily on the stand that was used to hold it. I noted that the power cord was plugged into the laptop and so were two USB cables: one white, one black. I noticed the printer, sitting quietly in the corner of the desk with its power light lit up green. One quick look over the top of it showed me an important clue: a transparent USB cable.

I reached out and looped a finger under the cable and gently pulled. Up, up and up some more: there was no resistance to my efforts. Moments, and about three feet, passed when the far end of the cable appeared from behind the desk, dangling in the air before my eyes.

Turning my head I found that the black USB cable that was plugged into the computer ran to a palm pilot docking cradle and the white to the keyboard. Examining the keyboard yielded two USB ports, one of which had the mouse plugged into it.

I simply unplugged the palm pilot cradle from the laptop and plugged it into the remaining port on the keyboard; replacing it with the USB able that ran to the printer.

Immediately upon the cable being seated into the laptop the printer woke and responded. It came to life and began to print a document. I took the moment to examine the printing queue and found that 57 copies of the same document had been sent to the printer (because, obviously, if the print command didn't work one should just do it again, and again, and again). I closed the print queue and grabbed the one page that had finished printing to take with me.

Crossing the hall felt good. I had solved the problem and I had the chance to redeem myself in the eyes of my peers and my supervisor.

I strolled into the room, the last to rejoin the group, and handed the paper to the principal whose office I had just quitted.

"Is this the document you were trying to print?" I asked, politely and nicely.

"Yes" was the short reply, "thank you."

"No problem. Glad I could take care of it for you. The rest is printing now."

I sat, ready to rejoin the meeting without another word but the snarkiness from the other side couldn't be contained. "Well, what was wrong with it?" I was asked, in an effort to corner me in the room with everyone watching; an effort to back the bus back over me after the earlier inflicted professional wounds.

"Oh, it was easy. It wasn't plugged in, as soon as I plugged it in it started printing. If you'll all pardon me a moment I'll just go ahead and close the case I opened for this in our ticket system."

I opened the laptop. I opened the ticket file. I changed its status to closed and applied the status to my laptop, too.

The meeting resumed with me trying to avoid smiling and with another party fuming so greatly that one might mistake them for an active volcano that is ready to explode.

No one in that district questioned my inquiry about being plugged in again.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Murder in the Gun Room - review

I recently consumed a reading of Murder in the Gunroom by H. Beam Piper.
This was a deviation from the genre of his work that I have already consumed as this is a post WWII crime story.
No time travel, no dimensional shifts, no aliens. Just a straight out murder mystery.

Despite the lack of the aspects of story telling that intrigue me the most I enjoyed this novel and am pleased I encountered it.

The story creates a fascinating character in the main protagonist (one whom I will not be surprised to encounter again as I traverse the works of Piper further) and sets up a solid situation in which there are many suspects each with motive, means and opportunity.

A quick-witted reader is brought along at such a pace that they can take the logical steps of the protagonist at roughly the same pace as the character itself, allowing for the excitement of prediction on the cusp of realization.

All in all, I highly recommend this novel, particularly in the form that I consumed it: as a Librivox recording.

You can find it here.

More Bible Thoughts

Continuing my review of the bible - I am still in Exodus.

God is a major jerk. He sent Moses to plea for the release of the Jews from Pharaoh but then "hardened Pharaoh's heart" preventing him from releasing the Jews. What this means is that God deliberately forced the hands of Pharaoh for the sole reason of reigning terror, plague, and vengeance down upon the Egyptians. Had God simply let Pharaoh decide on his own the Jews might have been released without the various plagues raining upon the land.

God is unforgiving and cruel for anyone does pretty much anything wrong shall be stoned to death
God is also a misogynist for women may be stoned to death based on the accusation of a single person; Men require at least two people to accuse. This means that the bible assumes that women's value is so low that the opposing word of a single person is all that is needed to put them to death; but, that a conspiracy of at least two people is needed to execute a man.

God outlines that it is ok to have slaves. This is a form of evil. It is also not only accepted, but expected, for people to view those of another land or race as inferior to their own. This, too, is evil.

[Note - the above was written shortly after consuming the passages.... the below was written from the notes several months later. There are bound to be misrecollections represented]

For some reason I took the note that "Aaron married another Levite" which means it must be a contradiction to something somewhere else.... but I cannot recall what or where.

The book has a tremendous volume of the number seven. Why?

The book has a prohibition against shaving one's head; which appears to have evolved in interpretation into the modern Hasidic Jew hairstyle requirements.

Accusers must be willing to throw the first stone in a stoning which, to me, seems a reasonable requirement. If someone if making false claims then the murder of the other party is entirely their doing.

Financial requirements are outlined in this book:
One must forgive debts to anyone of one's own race After seven years

The King shall not acquire too much wealth nor shall he acquire too large of an army.

Take care of the poor and widows

All three of these should be brought forth to anyone who is rich and in a position of authority that claims to live by the word of the bible.

The Lord has strong opinions on how to treat the lands and towns of those who are evil:
Towns or states that do evil in the eyes of the Lord must be eradicated and never rebuilt.

Plunder from evil towns is to be burnt in the center of town and never taken home

Yet the Lord preaches genocide against all Nonbelievers if they are in the land that the Lord's people want; which, to me, is pretty evil. Perhaps that is why the promised land was promised to be overflowing crops and yet that is not the reality of Israel. It is also stated that aliens are less important than people Of the Lord; meaning that foreigners have, literally, less value. These concepts are also pretty intrinsically evil.

Additionally it is outlined that the Lord gives the words to the prophets. If what they say does not come true then they are not his words. Those claiming to have the words from me falsely are to be put to death; those stating the word of other gods are to be put to death.
Couple that with the directive of "do not deviate from instructions" and there is a situation in which every clergy member who ever made a false prediction of anything must be killed as a false prophet.

The book outlines an extensive health code for food:
No pork. No shellfish. No birds of prey. No insects. No carrion.

How often do we see the no pork and no shellfish rules followed with vast protests surrounding anyone who consumes either of these types of food? Why are these explicit rules so easily ignored when others rules, mentioned only as often, are held to so strongly?

There are some serious property restrictions laid forth:
Firstborn is to be sacrificed to the Lord of all livestock.
Some of the people of the Lord are never allowed to own any property Nor are their children or their children's children ever; these are a specific clan.

Yet, with all of the capital punishment outlined it is explicitly stated that there shall be no human sacrifice. 

Thou shall never return to Egypt seems to be a good recommendation based on how the chosen people were treated... and given how that country is today it still seems a wise idea. 

An odd note, that fits no where else, is that sculptures are not allowed. This is interpreted to mean cast idols but it really seems to explicitly mean ALL sculptures are not allowed. It seems such an arbitrary prohibition.

You will one day forget what God did for your ancestors do not then become wicked

A Shattered Life - Part 1

Author's note: I'm far from perfect. These stories are all from my point of view and, as such, they highlight the faults of the other party. I am endeavoring with these stories to include, and acknowledge, my own faults in the situations; but, they are still from my point of view and, therefore, inherently biased. They are, to the extent I can make them, true stories.

The picture was black and white yet it conveyed everything it needed to. Beauty of features and solidity of stature. Long, flowing blonde hair and bright crimson lips. The black top, coupled with the jeweled pendant enhanced the fairness of her skin as it dangled just above a tasteful display of impressive cleavage. The photographer's technique had captured her beauty at its fullest and the lack of color only enhanced the reality of her appearance.
She was perfect. Gorgeous, sexy, intelligent, independent, and geeky.
The information on the screen was unbelievable.

What lonely man wouldn't click on the button to indicate interest in this woman?

The person I used to be had no idea that this would lead to his destruction.

After a lengthy online interaction we met for the first time on August 8th. I was doing my laundry and she outlined that I should come down and go out with her and her friends that evening. I did some quick mental mathematics and realized it was possible to complete my laundry and hit the road for the three-hour drive to arrive about the time she was heading out. So I did.

The drive was arduous with anticipation and yet, I don't remember any specific moment of it.
I remember speaking on the phone with her as I exited the highway and we crossed paths in the middle of downtown Saco. She turned around and I pulled over in front of a small brick building that was a dance school and studio. Her red RX7 pulled up to the curb and she stepped out, wearing shorts that showed her legs with the same gorgeous blonde hair reflecting the orange tinted street lights and the same crimson color to her lips that the her photo so clearly showed, despite the lack of coloring. All of this was, somehow, enhanced by the red wind breaker she was wearing.
We embraced, a friendly hug that was a prelude to a much greater adventure.

After the introduction was completed and the awkwardness of that first "meatspace" meeting was shaken I followed her to her apartment so that we could leave my car there. We went together to meet her friends.

For me it was an awkward evening. I have never been good with new people and I was much more interested in spending time with her to enhance the relationship we had already begun laying the foundation for.

After dinner, at which she had had a couple of drinks, she let me drive her baby home. This, I was assured, was not something she did lightly (later evidence fully verified that as I never drove that car again). She invited me inside and showed me her apartment, her dog named Spock, and her stuff. As an independent web designer she showed me her other baby, her computer, last. It was a marvel to behold. She rattled off the specifications and fired it up to show off the blue light that lit the interior while it was on.

I was lovestruck. I was luststruck. I had never experienced anything quite like what I was experiencing in that moment.

"I really want to kiss you" I said.

I don't remember the next few minutes; but, I do know that my plans to go stay with my brother that evening were canceled and I stayed with her.

Our relationship promised to be a thing of beauty that would complete both of our lives with a passion that I did not believe could exist. But that promise, and the person I used to be, were shattered by insanity; HER insanity. My body survived the experience but who I am today is very different from the man who met her on that August evening. The time we spent together destroyed that person, and consumed itself in the horror of what he endured.

There remain fragments of the time we spent together. These fragments are the worst of the stories that were burned into my brain. These fragments are the things I cannot forget; the scars that my resurrection into who I am today cannot leave behind. These fragments highly the sadness as much by their own stories as by the reality that they persist when tales of the good times are lost.

Part of the damage that was inflicted has forced these fragments to exist as independent entities. The continuum upon which they all hang has been shattered, along with the life that lived through that experience. These fragments remain as scattered memories. The me that I am now has tried, probably in vain, to order them in the sequence that they happened. The very reality of the situation has, likely, made an accurate ordering of events quite impossible; especially since some of the related components are interrupted by isolated events.

The distance between us limited our time together. Shortly after our meeting a routine began to emerge into our world. As five o'clock rolled into view on Fridays I departed my office and began the intellectually laborious journey southward.  The vast stretches of highway became my familiar Friday evening companions and remained so for nearly ten months. Ten months of counting off the mile markers on the way to her apartment, through the dreary desertion of space between Bangor and Augusta and continuing through the ever-increasing landmarks from Augusta southward.
Each Sunday we debated my return and each Sunday the idea of staying together defeated the desire to sleep close to work. Each Monday the reverse trek was initiated; starting with the densely packed southern region of the state and progressing ever farther into the rural landscapes of central Maine. Each Monday morning I watched the Sun climb into the sky through my own dreary sleepless mind as I contemplated the upcoming day and my eventual return to the south on the following Friday. Each early morning commute I relished the idea of being with my love full time, without the need for the weekly pilgrimage. Each Monday morning I lamented the reality that was the ever-more-boring northward progression as things other than trees became less and less frequent the farther I went.

We had the opportunity, and the technology, to remain in contact nearly all day long. We had broken conversations over the computer while we both worked and we followed them up with the obligatory ultra-cute couples phone calls in the evenings. Aside from our being apart everything was perfect.

Each successive weekend strengthened our bond and forced our desire to spend the remainder of our lives together to grow stronger. She was perfect and, as far as I could tell, she felt that I was, too. Even her dog, whom had been judgmental of boyfriends in the past, approved of me. 

This pattern continued, as I outlined before, for nearly ten months. In that time a future home for both of us was sought and purchased (more on that later) and I continued my relationship commuting. The fuel cost grew and the toll on my endurance was taxed. At one point, in an effort to alleviate some of my burden, she came to me rather than forcing me to join her at home. This effort; however, proved to be a singular event for a variety of reasons that varied in ultimate legitimacy and was never repeated.

Thursday, August 14, 2014


My brain works differently from others.  I carry a diagnosis that has been eliminated with the release of the DSM V. That diagnosis was rolled into a broader category. That diagnosis was Aspberger’s and it has rolled into Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Many people consider this an illness or a deficiency and, for many people afflicted with abnormal brain architecture, it is a deficiency that prevents them from leading a functional life. I, on the other hand, am perfectly capable of functioning within society and being self sufficient. Autism has inflicted a trade on my mind that makes comprehending social queues and motivations difficult for me but it has given me greater processing power that has, over the years, allowed me to build a facsimile of “normal” through raw analysis. Many people do not understand what they do and why; I MUST understand what people do and why so that I can blend in. As a general rule my emotions are suppressed and limited when it comes to everyday life. I don’t consider this a detriment to my life; it is an asset.

I do; however, suffer from dyslexia. This disorder is not officially diagnosed and I see no reason to bother to get it done as I know I could walk into any qualified professional and tell them why I believe I have this disorder and I would walk out with the diagnosis. There is no point to this, however because there is nothing that can be done about it. I will remain in a position where b, p, and d (specifically in lower case) give me no end of trouble and in a world where I am constantly turning on the incorrect burner on the left hand side of the stove top. I accept these facts and deal with them.
But this post is not about those things; they are merely a relevant preamble to the real issue at hand. They frame a larger context that is my world. They reinforce some of the points that are part of the larger issue.

Monday brought dreadful news to millions of people.

Robin Williams, beloved actor and comedian, had committed suicide.

This, naturally, brought forth an array of commentary about mental illness and about the very nature of suicide itself. It called forth some of the worst commentary humanity can offer and some of the best.

It also brought up questions.

I, too, suffer from depression. I am not depressed. Being depressed is a damper on one’s life related to an event or traceable source. Robin Williams’ death will make many people depressed for some time; they will get over it. Depression is different. Depression is an ominous and damp cloud that weighs down the soul. It has no external source. It has no reason. It is not fleeting. It merely is. It’s a heavy anchor that inflicts a terrible burden on those who suffer from it.

Always. Without mercy. Indiscriminately.

Nearly a quarter of the population suffers from some form of mental illness. These illnesses, while rooted in some physiological point within the brain, are not considered the same way physical illnesses are. This is because they are invisible. Their pain cannot be seen. Their pain cannot be extrapolated. Their pain cannot be understood by ANYONE other than the one who suffers it. Even identical and blatantly obvious physical inflictions carry different weights of pain on different individuals; so how could it be remotely possible to determine how an invisible pain relates to another’s?

Robin’s suicide prompted one newscaster to call him selfish on the air. This has prompted an array of articles and blog posts to be created by individuals, many of whom admit they do not suffer from depression, decrying the insensitivity of calling a suicide victim/perpetrator selfish. This issue is very important to a lot of people. To the extent that when I asked one of my friends to explain to me how it is NOT selfish I was answered with a statement that I would be unfriended and blocked if I mentioned it again.

Here are some examples of these articles:

There's Nothing Selfish About Suicide

Stop Calling Suicide Victims 'Selfish'

The Death of Robin Williams, And What Suicide Isn't

And even some that have been around for a longer time such as:

Suicide is NOT a Selfish Act - It is an Act of Desperation by Someone in Intense Pain

They are all wrong.

If you put “define: selfish” into a google search pane you get

        (of a person, action, or motive) lacking consideration for others; concerned chiefly with one's own personal profit or pleasure.

Depression meets this definition fully. Depression IS selfish. Depression lacks all consideration for those who suffer from it. Depression, given that it induces pain and pushes those that suffer from it toward self-destruction without eradicating itself, is the very definition of selfish.
There have been times when my depression has been so severe that I have contemplated taking my own life. Times when the sheer weight of existing was so great I could feel my very soul being crushed into oblivion. Times when it felt that continuing through another day would destroy who I am just as effectively as terminating the metabolic functions of my body would. This pain is very real but it is also a lie. This pain is some defect in the brain trying to kill me. This pain IS, without a doubt, selfish.

Depression is one of the most selfish things out there but those who suffer from it are not. As one who constantly fights the pain of depression, despite the medication I am on to manage it, I can say that those feelings of self destruction are not ME; they are not MINE. They are something else that is trying to convince me to kill myself. Those feelings, and not me, are selfish.

Suicide, on the other hand, is surrender. It is a weakness of character. It is succumbing to the lies that the demon of depression whispers deep in your mind. It is allowing the disease to overwhelm free will and dominate.
The pain, as horrible as it is, is less severe than the net pain that will be inflicted upon the world if the depression wins. This is hard to believe, nearly impossible at times, but it is true. One need only look at the response to Robin Williams’ death to see that the net pain inflicted by his passing MUST outweigh any pain he could have been experiencing on his own. To willingly inflict that pain on the world as a cost to terminating one’s own pain, too, meets the definition of selfish.  And the emotional net-pain-infliction is just the very tip of why suicide is selfish. There is more, each component of which is more quantifiable than the one before it.

To outline this I will use myself as an example.

If I were to die today of natural causes I would avoid the unfair infliction of pain on those around me of having killed myself; but, the sadness would still exist. I cannot quantity that but I CAN quantify some things.

  • Were I to not report to work tomorrow my coworkers would have to absorb my portion of the workload until a replacement could be found and trained. This would be a real, and quantifiable, result of my death.
  • My fiancé is in school and I subsidize her education as an investment in our future.  My death would end her hopes and dreams that she is currently working so hard to obtain. This would be a real, and quantifiable, result of my death.
  • I own my home and my fiancé lives there while she is in school and will continue to live there when I am gone. Were I to die the agreement between ME and the mortgage company would terminate and the balance would be due in full. My fiancé would be unable to pay this and the home would be foreclosed upon. This would be a real, and quantifiable, result of my death.
  • My fiancé and I have a lot of animals. Finding a place that she could live in that would allow them would be a terrible endeavor that would, likely, end in having to re-home many of the animals. This would be a real, and quantifiable, result of my death.
  • There is debt on both of the cars. My fiancé, in her current schooling condition, would be unable to pay the payments on either of them. If she were lucky she would be able to sell one to pay off the loan on it and use the remainder to pay the loan on the other. If she were unlucky she would lose both vehicles. This would be a real, and quantifiable, result of my death.

I have life insurance. Life insurance will mitigate all but the first of those points should I die through an accident or illness. This insurance, however, would be null and void were I to commit suicide.
I, as a sufferer (and “suffer” is truly the right word) of depression, proclaim that the disease is selfish. I, as someone who has contemplated eliminating my pain through the only means available, suicide, feel free to call that action selfish.

And it is that level of selfishness that has saved my life.

Each time I have contemplated the escape I stop and look at how, in very quantifiable terms, my action would negatively impact the world and how it would not just spread my pain around but, also, multiple it. The very selfish nature of the situation has saved my life each and every time. The selfish nature of suicide, and the very unselfish nature of myself, has caused me to bear the extent of pain through the peaks of what depression has thrown at me to survive another day.

Each and every time.

Calling Robin’s action selfish does not upset me. What upsets me is the very real situation that someone whose positive impact on the world was measurable in many ways, each of which is more significant than the sum of what impact I could ever impart, could still feel so desperate and alone as to take that path toward freedom from the pain. What bothers me is that Robin survived for so many years more than I but ended up in the state that he had to end it all. What bothers me is whether or not my pain will continue to grow to the point where I feel that it is no longer so selfish that the selfishness is not a deterrent to me. What bothers me is not the selfishness of the act of suicide but, rather, the level of pain that might drive someone to do it despite it being selfish.

If Robin Williams felt such a dark and terrible shadow consuming his life, despite the adoration of millions and a family that loved him and financial security, what possible hope do I, and those like me, have of surviving this terrible disease?

Instead of condemning those who decry suicide as a selfish act perhaps, instead, we should focus that energy into trying to help preventing those for whom the selfishness of the act is the only reason they have not yet done it. Perhaps we should focus our energy on trying to prevent their pain from growing beyond the threshold where they no longer care about the selfishness of it.

I think a lot of people view labeling a suicide as selfish as a means of slandering the one who died. It isn't. When someone is driven to such a selfish act to escape a pain that is so severe that they cannot handle it any further is the epitome of tragedy. The fatal flaw of their person being some tiny malfunction deep in the brain that forces them to end their own existence rather than enjoy another day of life. Robin Williams' suicide, while a selfish retreat from pain at the expense of everyone left behind, is that much more of a tragedy because of it. The greater the level of falsehood imparted by the disease the greater the tragedy that such an act brings.

I, a nobody to the eyes of the world, would only be able to create a minor tragedy if I were to succumb to the same fate. But it would be no less selfish of me to go that route.

 To me, the only aspect of this that is open for debate lies in the semantics of free will. Depression sufferers commit suicide without free will because the disease forces the desperation for relief onto them. This lack of free will, might, to many minds, make the act not selfish. And, from a certain point of view it isn't. The victim of the act was not selfish, but the very real, although misguided act itself, still is.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Librivox Short Science Fiction Collection 018 - review

This collection consists of ten stories.

Belly Laugh by Randall Garret
This story routes us through an alternate reality in which the Cold War between the USSR and the USA exploded into a hot fury. It is a potential future that we could still experience based on a number of current events and the items contained within the story.
The narrative is framed in an interesting and, to me, somewhat novel way. In fact, this short story resembles, in many ways, my writing style and the manner in which I portray small glimpses into the realities that my characters are presented with.

Breakaway by Stanley Gimble
An interesting prediction on the potential for the first space launch.
It is easy to imagine that something similar to this took place with the first astronauts before their launch.

Cully by Jack Egan
This is an interesting short that presents the horror of consciousness gone awry from the perspective of the person affected.
As is obvious from the fiction I write this theme is a strong one in my imagination and this story handles it in a way that is intriguing and frightening and presents a plausible scenario in which one might accept the horror until they are not longer able to accept it.

Earthmen Bearing Gifts by Frederick Brown
A fascinating story outlining the plight of the people of another world.
There is not much I can write about it without ruining the story for the reader/listener.

Mex by Laurence M. Janifer
This story is a metaphorical tale of bullying and avenging against bullies.
It's only marginally interesting to me in that vein and also only marginally interesting to me in the fantastical context.

The Putnam Tradition by Sonia Dorman
This story outlines how a fantastic family tradition can be overwhelmed by the encroachment of the modern world. It seems, to me, that this is an allegorical tale about the problems of modern society destroying the traditional family life that existed before electricity and telephones permeated the countryside.
From a metaphorical stance this is an interesting study but I did not care for it.

Some Words with a Mummy by Edgar Allen Poe
I am surprised I have not encountered this before.
The way the story is framed well and the concept behind it is fascinating to contemplate.
The ending is fantastic and harkens to the innovative mind that Poe possessed. His way of thinking was obviously in the same vein as some of the great science fiction and fantasy masters who were his contemporaries and those who followed.

Summit by Dallas McCord Reynolds
The summit refers to a conference rather than the peak of a mountain.
This is another story that portrays a world in which the "cold war" exploded into a heated fury.
It presents a disturbing look at politicians from the inside of their inner sanctum; a picture in which the face they present to the people they lead is completely different from the face that they present to each other in closed doors; a reality which may very well already exist.

The presentation is relatively straight-forward but there is an interesting twist at the end of the story that I found worthwhile.

This is Klon Calling by Walt Sheldon
I think this is now one of my favorite short stories.
The main character appears to be the type of character I would enjoy spending time with and the secondary character appears the type of character that I have spent a lot of time with.
The joke seems plausible and as one that I could see any of one group of friends playing on any from the other group.
The way the joke plays out is what makes this an interesting story.

Two Plus Two Makes Crazy by Walt Sheldon
This story is fascinating to me, as it highlights a prediction that is recurrent in science fiction culture but, since this work is in the public domain, it is likely one of the very first examples of the prediction of computational power becoming dominant and self-serving with a human rebellion against it.
This, in some ways, strikes home as I have an outline for a novel I hope to write that has this as the core theme.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

The Hive Mind - fiction

We didn't realize how much the colder climate was saving us from the rest of the biosphere.

Old Man Tommy - fiction

He'd lived in the house longer than most of the town had been alive.

92 Seconds - fiction

92 seconds.
That's all it took in 1989 for an entire Canadian province to have their power wiped out.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Supply Mission - fiction

Her ears were ringing with the echoing rapport as it bounced around the chamber along with the bullet it heralded.t to work admiring her new gun as she cleaned it up.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Vacation? - fiction

I've been on vacation for a few days and have several more to go.

And Then They Came for My Reese's - fiction

It's no secret that the last four generations have seen a geometric increase in fatal allergies.

Death spiral - fiction

The first of the craters was, of all places, in Siberia.

Hunters - Part II

Patrick was smart. Smart enough to realize he did NOT want to be late to the practical training session.