The semester is ending. Hallelujah and bring on the summer. I’m not looking forward to the hot summer, but a break after the semester is most welcome.
Monday, April 28, 2014
Friday, April 25, 2014
One of the items tucked in Max’s stash was described as an action figure. My old partner didn’t describe things very well. I opened the box to see a rough shape, which might be considered a foot tall action figure, except it was made out of clay and had indistinct features, especially compared to today’s artistry. It had a pair of eyes and mouth, but its arms and legs ended in rounded stumps instead of hands and feet.
Wednesday, April 23, 2014
I have a degree in political science. I got it at a time when I contemplated putting my skills in writing towards political purposes. I was a quick study, doing fairly well in those classes, managing to splice the concepts in with my writing skills quite easily.
But here’s the thing. I learned about politics, but I didn’t enjoy it. The maneuvering and positioning of people’s own interests before that of the public got to me. It’s difficult (near impossible) for someone to do any real good when it comes to politics.
I wanted a career largely politics free, so I went into teaching.
Silly Rabbit, Trix are for kids.
Monday, April 21, 2014
I’m excited. Nervous, but excited. This always happens with change. I’m nervous over the uncertainty, but excited to do something new, something that I might enjoy. It’s a reinvention of myself. It could fail. It could succeed beyond my wildest imaginings.
Okay, that’s not true. Anyone who knows me knows that my imagination is anything but tame.
Anyway, fingers crossed.
Friday, April 18, 2014
I pumped my arms as I ran, a futile effort to catch the ones in front of me. They moved inhumanly fast, but I still kept them in sight as they hopped a low fence and went down the hill. That slope went down to Quick Creek, one of the tributaries to the Rush, and it lived up to its name. I might be able to corner them. If I’m right they can’t cross the water, and the nearest bridge is five miles away. God, I hope they don’t try to run it.
Wednesday, April 16, 2014
It’s a term that any computer programmer instantly recognizes. It’s fundamental to creating a program. I’m—barely—a rookie at this, but I see two parts to this process. Dealing with errors that show up as a regular course of the program and attempting to anticipate future errors. It’s an exercise in critical thinking and in trying to foresee the types of people who will use your program.
Writers have another term for it: revision. Check for your own weaknesses as a writer and anticipate the needs and questions of your audience. So while I’m relatively new at programming and error handling, I’m used to the rigors of editing. I just need to shift gears a little bit.
Monday, April 14, 2014
Friday, April 11, 2014
Ask any of the fleet captains, and they will all tell you that a captain’s relationship with the ship is intimate. Deeply so, in fact. A ship is as much part of the captain as a spouse. In fact, ask any spouse of a fleet captain, and you’ll here there’s a bit of jealousy, that the ship often gets more attention. It goes beyond the captain, though. Most members of the crew take pride in their ship. She’s family, and there’s not a fleet engineer out there that wouldn’t treat the ship like his own flesh and blood child.
Wednesday, April 9, 2014
Monday, April 7, 2014
Friday, April 4, 2014
The Rearing Stallion Inn had everything he looked for, a well-painted sign, the smell of good food, and a crowd loud enough to be heard from across the street. The weather helped, too, as most people would rather put a pint of ale in them than be out in the rain. Me, too. Falaren hoisted his pack a little higher on his back, and made sure his cloak covered his satchel and case, protecting them from the moisture.
He walked into the inn and quickly negotiated with the innkeeper. He couldn’t spend coin here, he had to earn it. Falaren’s prospects dimmed upon seeing not just a pair of dancing girls, but a man with a flute who accompanied them.
“I’ve already got entertainment,” Horil Luthain said as he filled a stein from the ale tap.
“I’m better,” Falaren said confidently.
Horil looked skeptical, but gave him a try. “You get what the crowd tosses to you, but you still share the stage with them,” he pointed to the flute player and dancers.”
Falaren smiled and took to the small platform, stowing his belongings in the corner, then pulling out his fiddle case. He had a flute as well, but there was no reason to pull it out and compete. Falaren plucked the strings, tuning them by ear even in the din of the common room, and prepared his bow. He smiled at the flute player, and nodded to the man to pick the next song.
Falaren spent five songs playing the typical tavern favorites, the funny, even bawdy tunes that got the crowd jeering and singing along. Falaren stomped along to the tunes while he played, and walked around not just the platform, but the entire common room, dancing among the patrons. This earned him some coin, but he did it for another reason, feeling out the acoustics of the room.
After that the flute player and dancers wanted a rest, so Falaren chose a song to play. He began, and many of the patrons in armor and weapons recognized The Battle of Tangari Pass by the first notes. Falaren didn’t attempt to sing the words, he wanted to focus on the playing, the music, but the patrons began to sing along. When Falaren got to the part where King Nyamedes led the charge, he began to use his gifts. The fiddle, the entire fiddle, vibrated in his hands with sounds it shouldn’t have been capable of making. His fingers flew on the strings both pressing and plucking to get all of the notes he wanted. He moved about the room to make the notes resonate the proper way. His instrument gave its all, and more as Falaren turned it into the heart of an even bigger instrument. At the beginning of the second verse he stepped into the acoustic center of the room; the timbers of the common room began to resonate. No longer did the patrons listen to the music, they were part of the music.
No one sang. No one moved. The entire room fixated on him to the exclusion of everything else. Food, drinks, games, and carnal pleasure carried out in the corners, went unattended as they listened to Falaren play. The music recalled the entire battle, somehow giving everyone a sense of being there. There was no illusion magic or other enchantment involved. People could not see or hear the battle itself, but the music still evoked those feelings.
Falaren’s fingertips began to ache with the strain, and he felt himself draining into the experience. The catgut strings began to fray on the fiddle, and the horsehair in the bow broke in several places. Falaren could feel the joints of the instrument struggled to hold together under the pressure of the music, but he kept playing.
When he finished the last verse, Falaren was soaked with sweat. He managed a bow, but he couldn’t put any flourish into it. For several heartbeats, the room continued in silence as the timbers settled. Then, one warrior got to his feet and let out a great cheer, tossing a bag of coins to Falaren’s feet. The strings came loose, spilling silver coins out. This was the first as more followed. Not all gave purses, but plenty of coins rained down, mostly copper, but quite a bit silver, and even a few pieces of gold.
I’ll need them to repair my fiddle.
The excitement over the song translated into a renewed fervor in the room itself. They ordered more drinks, more food, more of everything. Many called for another song, and Falaren smiled, settling into a common room favorite with the flute player and dancers again as the inn sang along.
Wednesday, April 2, 2014
I remember talking to a friend of mine as he was working on his Ph.D. in microbiology. We had been friends for years with similar interests in movies, video games, comics, and more. He said to me he was a little tired of where he worked because of the people there couldn’t seem to clock out. Even in their off-hours they would talk only about microbiology and science.
Since I’ve been a teacher, considerable time has been spent talking and thinking about teaching even in off-hours. Conversations with friends—particularly those who are teachers—almost always revolved around our profession.
But that’s changing.
In a recent phone conversation, a friend remarked that we’re not talking about it as much. We are moving away from the profession. It’s a thing we do in order to survive, but deeper meaning isn’t there, and we would rather spend our time thinking and talking about other things.
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