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Friday, December 30, 2016

F3 New Year's Diner

            Most people with any sense were either home or at some party to celebrate, probably up in the Heights, but not me. Eva and I were at a diner with the cook and two winos nursing a bottle in the corner.
            It was that kind of diner.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Storytelling Science

            Okay, Sherman, set the Wayback Machine for seven months and change ago. It’s the end of the spring semester, when I get an email from a former student and friend who invited me to see Neil DeGrasse Tyson, live. I kind of geeked out at the offer. The guy is one of my heroes. I will meet him in person and thank him for all the work he’s done not just in science, but in education, and, well, the world.

Monday, December 26, 2016

M3 GoT Old Gods

            These opposing forces are mythologically based, an interesting blend of the faerie and Norse mythology. The fae—as they are also known—hold a summer and winter court, which informs on the seasons of the series.
            The two courts are each ruled by a queen, popularized by Shakespeare’s plays A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Romeo and Juliet. In these we meet Queen Titania of the summer court, and a reference to Queen Maab, the sovereign of the winter court. These two courts struggle with one another for ascendancy, but it’s always inevitable that one gives way to another as the seasons progress.

Friday, December 23, 2016

F3 The Wait

            “Come in, Nikki,” I said. It didn’t freak me out to invite her into the office, anymore. The fact that I didn’t freak out was beginning to freak me out, but that was another matter.
            My invitation popped the invisible bubble of the consecration, and Nikki walked in. She took off her sable coat, hanging it on my tree in the corner with my hats. She wore a dark green blouse and pencil skirt over hose and heels. She looked like she was there for business. She sat down in one of the two chairs in front of my desk, and looked at me.
            “What?”
            “Nothing,” she said.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Scientific Possibilities

            I’m now reflecting on the criticisms I gave to my beloved science fiction shows. I stand by them. It would be easy to berate myself for taking it too seriously—it’s all fiction, after all, right?—but the thing is, that in doing my research, I’ve discovered something important. I’ve entertained a lot of weird ideas for my own sci fi. Some of which had to be shot down because it simply wasn’t feasible. But almost always when that was the case, I would learn about something else that was more feasible, and had more story potential along the way.

Monday, December 19, 2016

M3 The Fire & Ice Gods

            It’s no secret that George R. R. Martin examined several religions and mythologies when creating his world in the series A Song of Ice and Fire—and the Game of Thrones HBO series. What is fascinating is how he blended these particulars together, and use them in plain sight to enrich the series.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Time Shenanigans

            The timeship glided effortlessly back through the hours. There’s no hurry. Torin thought. Plenty of time. Besides, what good is it being able to travel in time until you’ve decided when you want to be?
            “What if we make Mona Lisa a redhead?” Pau’lo said.
            Torin shook his head. “What are we, twelve? Come on. We need to be able to do better than that.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Booze & Sci-Fi

            I’ve been revisiting various sci-fi franchises, and I’ve noticed a common thread in many of them: alcohol. Cultures of the future, and even alien races, love their booze. I don’t personally indulge, but I find it fascinating. Not about their love for it, but by the impracticality of it.
For one thing, almost always, the booze is still stored in nicely fragile glassware. Given the frequency with which the space-faring vessels are struck by explosions and energy blasts which repeatedly throws the crew across the room, this adds up to a lot of broken glass and loss of product. Why are they not stored in metal bottles (props to Klingon Bloodwine for doing this)?
And while it’s possible that these are futuristic materials, I don’t buy into it. Unless it’s specifically stated, then it’s ordinary glass, especially because nearly every one of these franchises has a moment where the glassware is broken in dramatic fashion. But, okay, it’s a maybe.
Now, the big one are the stills. Battlestar Galactica and Stargate Universe both feature stills. For BSG, it’s a very poorly guarded secret, but it seems to be tolerated. For SGU, it’s actively encouraged. Given the dire straits both shows face, that of being stranded and low on supplies, this doesn’t make sense. Creating alcohol uses up a lot of otherwise serviceable food in order to make a little bit of booze. This doesn’t even account for the energy used up. Moreover, where are they getting the fermenting bacteria?
I know, too much thinking about this stuff. But I think these stills are more about capturing the feel of rebellion that Prohibition America represented. The rules say no alcohol, so no alcohol. The enterprising (no pun) American would simply make his own, sticking it to the Man. But, practically speaking, it makes more sense for a spaceship simply to load up on booze at a nearby port then to try and make it themselves. Of course this rules out both BSG and SGU, but shouldn’t that be part of the drama? Why do they make mention of not having coffee (or coffee ground from algae) but still have plenty of alcohol? I think those offer more interesting plotlines than the stills do.



Monday, December 12, 2016

M3 Twilight of the Gods

            This is it, the end of the worlds as we know them. Despite all of Odin’s efforts (and there are more covered in some of the heroic sagas), Ragnarok will arrive. Loki, of course, is the primary mover and shaker, here, who breaks free from his bonds, causing earthquakes and other destruction. Next comes Fenrir, with more of the same. All of this destruction isn’t just in Asgard, but throughout all of the nine worlds, particularly Midgard, AKA Earth.

Friday, December 9, 2016

F3 The Interview

            Nina sat awkwardly, trying to figure out what to do with her hands while the sound technician wordlessly adjusted the boom microphone in front of her.
            “Live in three, two, one,” the man in the sound booth said.
            “And welcome to Science Talk. This is Linda Heinz, your host. We’ve got a good show lined up for all of you, today. We’ve got Duncan Thomas, an astrophysics professor from Columbia, who will explain how the Tyson deep space array is able to capture not just images of other stars, but allow us to peer back to the origins of the universe in ways that the James Webb telescope could only dream of. But before we get to Professor Thomas, we have here Dr. Nina Elsbeth who works for ISA’s Extra Solar Conditions Group. Welcome, Doctor.”

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

BSG Water

            Continuing my critique of sci-fi shows, I’ve gone back to Battlestar Galactica, the reboot. The two-part arc of how the Galactica loses and regains its water is what I’m looking at here. In the first episode, “Water” a bomb blows one of the water tanks, spilling the water into space.

Monday, December 5, 2016

M3 Nature of Norse Fate

            Ragnarok looms on the horizon of Norse mythology at every turn. The story of Fenrir is not done, even after his chaining. We’ll even set the scene.
Fenrir took the hand of Tyr. Though noble Tyr willingly sacrificed his hand to chain the monster, the gods retreated. Fenrir lashed about trying to break the silken band. The earth did tremble, and the band quivered, but its strength proved the greater. In fear, the gods retreated. There, on the peak, did Fenrir calm himself, hunter’s eyes did narrow on the last of the gods. “Flee from me, Aesir. I will bide your time, and in the end of days will I break my chain and have my revenge.”

Friday, December 2, 2016

F3 Theft

            (This will have tie-ins to a future Flynn book)
            Commander Jane Hutchins contemplated the steps that led her to command of the station, wondering if she had offended the stars or celestials in some way that she ended up in a dead-end command. Four Winds Station carried a certain amount of prestige, certainly, but it was the prestige of a dead career. Since Jump drives were invented, there was less demand for a sailing fleet, and the station to service that fleet.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

NaNo Energized

            The end of Nano always energizes me. Even though I’ve pushed myself to hit the word count, and feel utterly exhausted, I feel infinitely accomplished. The reality, however, is that I have to go back to teaching, which always interferes with the energy, and keeps me from pursuing a writing schedule, even an easier one, to finish out the semester.
            Still need to work on this part, but at least I have felt the energy again.



Monday, November 28, 2016

M3 Hand of Sacrifice

It’s one thing to make the Gleipnir, but it’s another to get it on Fenrir. The wolf is not dumb. The previous chains looked weak enough for him to break, and his strength had grown, but he’s suspicious of how thin Gleipnir is, and is wary of some hidden art that makes the ribbon stronger than it appears. However, in steps Tyr, who still has both hands at this point. Tyr offers to place his hand in Fenrir’s mouth as promise that they will remove Gleipnir. If they don’t, Fenrir gets a free hand.

Friday, November 25, 2016

F3 Fairy Tale Fowl

            Potatoes were easy to come by, as were eggs—though I didn’t know if I would be able to devil them. I found some small carrots, and got some yeasty dough balls from the baker I could make into some dinner rolls. The problem, though, was the bird.
            “Turkey,” I said.
            The woman looked at me like I was a moron, which I was. “Tis a strange word, Shamus. What manner of fowl be that?”
            “Well, it’s got kind of brownish feathers—”
            “Like a hen?” she grabbed a chicken, which squawked like crazy.
            “No, not a chicken. Bigger than a chicken. A lot bigger.”
            “Do you mean a pheasant?”
            Hell if I know.
            “Um, well, no. I mean, well, I don’t think so, but maybe they taste the same?”
            “Who’s to say? I don’t come by the king’s table, do I?”
            “Oh, it’s for rich people, huh? Well, no. Not pheasant, then. Do you have anything else?”
            “A duck? Maybe a nice goose. I like a nice goose, meself.”
            Probably as close as I’m going to get.
            “Um, goose, I guess. Um, can you, you know, get it ready for me?”
            “Need to get yourself a wife, Shamus, can do all the women’s work for you,” she gave me a grin, suggesting she might just be that woman.
            “Right, I’ll have to look into that.”
            Okay, so no turkey. Who knew that the Fairy Tale Realms didn’t have turkey? Gonna be a lousy Thanksgiving.



Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Religion in Space

            Okay, taking off again on the B5 thing, one of the more interesting themes it explored was religion as it transitioned into the stars. Whereas most of the alien races had a single religion, humanity still had as many as we do today. But would this be the case. Would religion remain a static thing, or would the realization of interstellar travel change things for these tenants?
            Would a new religion emerge? Would religions begin to set aside their differences in favor of a more unifying religion like what the alien races of B5 demonstrated? These are interesting questions I think worth exploring, and I intend to do so with Flynn.



Monday, November 21, 2016

M3 Breaking Chains

            As we saw with the Death of Baldur, the Norse Apocalypse has a lot of stories that come before it; these are the little check boxes that Odin is seeking to prevent from being ticked until the last possible moment, and one of the more significant of those is Fenrir.

Friday, November 18, 2016

F3 Retirement Party

            On the ten year anniversary of Zhen He’slaunch, Jim Macomber retired. He smiled at the party they threw for him, but mostly he was relieved. The cajoling with Congress, the endless meetings, and, most importantly, the nail-biting stress over satellites light years away, were someone else’s problems.
            “So, Jim,” Walker asked, “how are you going to spend your retirement?”
            “Golf,” he grinned.
            “Really?”
            “No. Can’t stand the sport. No, I’ve got my grandkids a lot of the time, now.” He patted Alicia’s hand on his arm. “And I’m going to just enjoy. Catch up on my reading. There’s a lot of good sci-fi out there.”
            “Not as good as the real thing, though,” Peterson said with his characteristic scowl.
            “That’s the fun, at least for me. I get to lose myself in it instead of worry about logistics and funding. That’s someone else’s problem, now.”
            Nina Elsbeth sighed. “Speaking of which. . . .”
            “Go get ‘em, tiger,” Jim smiled.
            “You’re not out of this yet, old man,” she grinned.
            She set aside her drink, then went to the front of the conference room.
            “What did she mean by that?”
            “You’ll see,” Walker smiled into his drink.
            Peterson had the exact same, smile. “Nothing less than you deserve, Jim.”
            “What’s this about?” he asked his wife.
            “No idea, dear.”
            “Can I have everyone’s attention, please?” Nina said.
            After a few moments, the din of the room subsided, all eyes on Nina.
            “Thank you. We are here to honor Jim Macomber, the pioneer who helped us realize the dream of faster-than-light exploration. We have expanded our reach beyond our solar system, though we don’t fully understand how everything works, yet. But we’ve got one more way to honor Jim before he leaves for retirement.”
            Nina touched the screen on the wall, which flared to life and displayed a large animation of a probe with sails. The animation showed its projected mission out of the solar system to target Alpha Centauri.
            “I’ve just gotten budgetary approval for our latest probe, an exploration of Alpha Centauri. This will be our largest probe ever built, with an expected mission duration of twenty years to survey the entire star system.”
            Applause erupted and some cheers, but Nina held up her hands for more quiet.
            “It gets better. We’ve gotten approval for the name.” It flashed up on the screen now, with Nina reading it out. “The James Macomber Deep Space probe!”
            More applause and cheers, and Jim felt a tightness in his chest. He smiled and sniffed as tears rolled down his cheeks.



Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Me Day

            Today is my birthday, so I am taking the day off, without further explanation or ado.



Monday, November 14, 2016

M3 Bye Bye Baldur

            Armed with the knowledge that mistletoe can kill Baldur, Loki sets out to have some fun. His brand of fun, anyway. He collects the mistletoe, forms it into a dart, and approaches the God Hodur (not to be confused with Hodor of Game of Thrones fame).
            Here we begin to see Loki’s sadistic sense of humor truly emerge. He pretends to show concern for Hodur, wanting to know why he’s not participating. Hodur is blind, so can’t see where Baldur is, and likewise has no weapon. Loki to the rescue! He makes the mistletoe into a . . . well, translations can’t agree. Some say dart, others say arrow, and also spear. I’ve seen pictures of mistletoe, and I find it hard to believe that someone can form a spear out of it. Whatever it is, it’s a thrown weapon. Loki generously offers to help Hodur line up the shot, and, blammo, Baldur is struck. Dead. Instantly.

Friday, November 11, 2016

F3 Twenty-Two Minutes

            “Zero three seventeen hours. Requested Alarm time,” the computer announced in Flynn’s quarters. “Zero three seventeen hours. Requested—”
“Dismiss alarm,” Flynn said.
“Alarm dismissed,” the computer confirmed.
Flynn was already awake, and had been for hours.
Don’t know why I keep setting the alarm. Not like I can ever forget this day.
He was beyond the early stages of replaying what happened in his mind. Now he was hearing the transmissions, the sounds of what happened on board the battleships. The hulls shook, the captains issued orders for maneuvers and firing solutions. Then the explosions started to happen. And the screams.
A knock on his cabin hatch, somewhat urgent, brought him out of the memory.
“Take it to Eltie, today,” he said.
“Sir, it is Eltie.”
She knows that today is. The rest probably do, too, well, except for Ann and Doc.
Flynn stood, setting the folded bundle from his lap on the bed. Still dressed in pajamas, he went to the hatch.
“Eltie,” he began, but she held up a hand.
“I know, sir. I won’t intrude, not today, and neither will anyone else. But I would like to have one drink to their memories.”
“Am I even worthy to do that?” he mumbled.
“Yes, sir, you are. It’s your duty.”
Duty. I suppose so.
He stood aside, letting her in. She wore her usual fatigues, and surveyed his quarters the way a gunnery sergeant would, but said nothing. She stood with hands clasped behind her back, and said nothing, not even about his pajamas.
“Pick out a bottle,” he said, closing the hatch behind her.
She opened up his small liquor cabinet, chose a bottle, and poured them each a drink in a metal tumbler. A shatterproof transparent ceramic glass would have been preferable, and what he would have had if he was still in the Alliance Fleet, but metal would suffice.
From the aroma, it was the spiced, Antares bourbon. They spiced it because that was the only way people could wash the rotgut down.
She handed a tumbler to him. He held it up in salute. He should say the words, but he couldn’t get them to his lips, so Eltie said them.
“Remember Semnos.”
They both drained the drinks in one gulp.
Flynn closed his eyes, hearing the transmissions again.
He dropped the tumbler, holding hands over his ears. It didn’t stop the memory. More screams, explosions, over and over. Worse, silence. No more transmissions. No more ships to transmit.
Flynn scrubbed tears away from his eyes. Eltie was gone. The tumbler had been picked up, and the hatch was closed as if she had never been there.
“Time?”
“Zero three thirty-nine hours.”
Eighteen minutes for the battle, three minutes of silence. Twenty-two minutes on the dot. Another year gone by. Only three. Will this happen for the rest of my life? Do I deserve for it to go away?



Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Gunports in Space

            So I was watching Babylon 5 again (I’m still saddened by the loss of Jerry Doyle), when I noticed an interesting line “Their gunports are open.” I can’t remember which alien craft they were referring to, most likely Centauri, but the idea is fascinating. Gunports are for a specific purpose on ships at sea. The doors are necessary to keep the ship watertight. Since gun decks are below the main deck of the ship, they are naturally closer to the waterline. Sometimes there are two gundecks, which would allow for a lot of water to get into the ship, presenting a danger of sinking, or at least slowing the ship greatly due to the increased weight.
            The ports also keep water out of the guns themselves, which would be a bad thing as, one, the cannons are iron, and two, they rely on combustion within to propel a cannonball. A pocket of water inside the canon would flash to steam, which might cause the cannon to explode as it expands, though more likely, the cannon wouldn’t fire because black powder doesn’t like to be wet.
            Neither of these conditions apply in space, so I thought it was a silly idea to be included. After all, there’s no danger of water getting into a ship in space, and most weapons in space would use an internal airlock system if it used munitions. Energy weapons would be free of such restrictions, though, and could just be out all the time.
            But then I started thinking about it a little more. In my own sci fi book series, my main character’s ship has retractable turrets. This is not for surprise purposes, but to make the ship more stellardynamic—it’s a word in my book—keeping the ship’s speed up. But another consideration is that of cosmic dust. Even small atoms pack quite a wallop at speed, and we are talking about astronomical speeds and distances here, so perhaps gunports would be necessary to protect the weapons from these atoms. Not only that, there’s radiation to consider. While atoms may be rare, radiation is everywhere. High energy gamma rays probably would not react well to sensitive hardware such as might be found in a particle cannon or other direct energy weapon.
            Even within our own solar system, there is plenty of radiation and magnetic fields to screw with systems on space stations and probes. The ISS crew must take refuge in special compartments during solar flares, and the Juno probe had to have a special vault to preserve its electronics from Jupiter’s intense magnetic fields.
            So maybe gunports in space are not a bad idea. Maybe this was a detail that J. Michael Stracynzski put a lot of thought into before adding it to the show.
            Or it might have just sounded cool.
            Either way, they at least deserve consideration in a space opera setting.



Monday, November 7, 2016

M3 Norse Oathkeeping

            We’ve been hitting the Greeks pretty hard with these spotlight posts, but now it’s time to lighten things up with the apocalypse. And who better to start things off than the Norse?
            One of the more important aspects of Ragnarok is to understand what led up to it. Odin has been trying to delay the start of Ragnarok thanks to gaining knowledge from the Well of Mimir and his sacrifice on Yggdrasil, which means that certain checkpoints will either hasten or delay the onset, and the biggest of these is the death of the god Baldur, who is loved by all of the gods.

Friday, November 4, 2016

F3 Alternative Medicine

            Peter Flynn stared as the airlock opened to reveal Connor Reese, Eltie, and Doc. Connor and Eltie supported an additional person between them, who limped in with a bloody bandage tied around two spots on his leg. He looked barely conscious.
            “What happened? Isn’t this our contact?”
            “Indeed,” Reese replied with his characteristic grin. “This is the first time I’ve ever been privy to, shall we say, marine haggling.”
            Flynn looked at his first officer. “Eltie?”
            “Not me, Captain.” Eltie nodded to Doc.
            The petite woman stared up at Flynn, defiantly.
            “Explanation, Doc?”
            “This flaring starshiner was trying to string us on the price. He wanted to charge triple for basic medical supplies.” Even angry her voice carried that musical accent.
            The five of them headed deeper into the ship, towards the sickbay.
            Feel like I’m missing something in this.
            “And so?”
            “So I shot him.”
            “Twice,” Eltie put in.
            Flynn got ahead of them, then walked backwards, casting confused looks to all three. “What?”
            “I believe the intent was to demonstrate the necessity in doctors being able to acquire adequate medical supplies,” Reese said.
            “What happened to do no harm?”
            Doc shrugged. “He’s alive; I can fix him, so there’s no permanent harm.”
            Flynn pinched the bridge of his nose and let them pass. He felt another headache coming on. “Patch him up, and hope we never have to do business in this system again,” Flynn said.
            “I daresay, Captain,” Reese said cheerfully, “that this alternative form of medicine might be very useful in some of the venues where we need to negotiate a price.”
            “Reese. . . .”
            “Perhaps now is not the time for such discussions.”



Wednesday, November 2, 2016

That Time Again

            It’s NaNoWriMo again. I have been waffling back and forth in previous years, but not this year. I’m in. All in. Sure, the pace is grueling, but I haven’t been able to be a consistent novel writer in the past few years without this push, so I’m taking it. And the more time I spend writing this post, the less time—



Monday, October 31, 2016

M3 Diana & Witchcraft

            For this Halloween, I wanted to do something special. I’ve already talked a bit about the history of Halloween, but now I’m going to delve into the history of witchcraft. To be clear, this is not about Wicca or any kind of Neopaganism. Rather, this is about the beginnings of how Medieval Christianity perceived witchcraft, and the connection to mythology.

Friday, October 28, 2016

F3 Power and Intimacy

            Another Halloween where Nikki suckered me into going out. We arrived at a masquerade ball, I in a tux and she in a white ball gown that was decidedly reserved for her, keeping the neck and thigh line fairly modest. We danced a simple waltz along with all the other guests. After that, we didn’t even use formal steps, she clung to me like it was a high school dance, her cool voice in my ear.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

W3 Platform Spotlight: Freemium WordPress

            Freemium WordPress, I’ve so named it because of the pay features, is nearly as good as it gets. We’re talking about slightly limited cosmic power at this point. The only way you get more power is by coding the page by yourself. WordPress simply makes it easier to get widgets and content by having material that’s been previously coded.

Monday, October 24, 2016

M3 Blade's Weakened Vampires

            Blade is one of the older successful superhero films, appearing at a time when people had renewed interest in vampires. But there has always been one thing that bothered me about the portrayal of vampires in Blade: They were weak.
            Much of the fear regarding vampires relies on the idea that they are nearly unstoppable forces requiring groups of people to dispatch even one, but the opening action scene of blade shows a club full of hundreds of vampires easily dispatched by Blade using an arsenal of weapons. Yes, the weapons are specially designed with vampires in mind including stakes, silver bullets and blades, ultraviolet lights, and garlic-infused “mace.” Read more on Criminalelement.com

Friday, October 21, 2016

F3 Solace

            I’ve been in the Planes, as they call them, for many months, now, enjoying my time in the City of Doors, and working with the Sensates. I’ve been endeavoring to find a group of fellow adventurers that I might go out and experience more, but it has been difficult finding compatible companions.
            But I have been going on errands on behalf of the Society, and on once such trip, I went to fabled Bitopia, which I had seen through the Sensorium’s eyes, but not my own. To look up into the sky and see another landscape staring back at me was one of the true great joys of my life.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

W3 Platform Spotlight: Free WordPress

            I need to talk about the history of WordPress for this one (okay, I guess I don’t have to, but I find it useful to do so). In the Great Blog Wars, two giants rose to the field, Blogger and WordPress. And in this titanic struggle, WordPress won.

Monday, October 17, 2016

M3 Angelic Will

            The show Lucifer begins with a major, yet subtle, assumption regarding angels that has far-reaching effects. Angels in the Bible are often depicted as servants of God, carrying out specific tasks such as guarding the Garden of Eden from Adam and Eve’s return, stepping in to avert a sacrifice (Isaac’s), destroying wicked cities (Sodom and Gomorrah), heralding births (Samson, John the Baptist, Jesus Christ, and others), among other tasks. But are they simply automatons carrying out God’s will? Read more on Criminalelement.com

Friday, October 14, 2016

F3 Aftermath

            “Can’t believe that worked,” I said.
            “Ayup,” Jack agreed, staring at the pancakes on the end of his fork.
            I took a bite of my own, but I was slowing down. I might only have one or two more stacks in me.
            “At least it’s over,” Kate said, sipping her coffee. Her plate looked like a maple syrup war zone.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

W3 Platform Spotlight: Blogger

            I like Blogger. I know many people swear by WordPress, and I’ll get to them in due time, but for now I want to go over the perks and drawbacks of Google’s mighty blog engine.

Monday, October 10, 2016

M3 Lucifer's Wings

            The show Lucifer is pretty popular with its swaggering, English-accented devil, which drives renewed interest in angels and the Bible. So, how accurate is its portrayal of Lucifer? Let’s take it in pieces. First on the list is what I found to be one of the most striking visuals of the series’ first season: Lucifer’s wings. Without a doubt, the production on the prop wings is top-notch. They are gorgeous.
            The thing is, nowhere in the Bible does it state that angels have wings. There aren’t very many appearances of angels in the Bible, and what we do have is sparse in their descriptions. Cherubim are set to guard the Garden of Eden from Adam and Eve sneaking back in, but no description of them is given. There is a flaming sword, but it’s not clear if the cherubs are holding and spinning the sword. An angel visits Abraham regarding the sacrifice of Isaac, but, again, there’s no description.
            The best description of an angel actually comes from the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. Two angels go in undercover to assess the wickedness of Sodom. Lot, Abraham’s cousin, approaches, asking the two if they have a place to stay. Since they don’t, he invites them in. Throughout the entire encounter, the men in the city and Lot only refer to the angels as men: “Where are the men who came to you tonight?” (Gen 19:5), “do nothing to these men” (Gen 19:8), and “the men seized [Lot] . . . and left him outside the city” (Gen 9:17).
            While there is no actual description of what an angel looks like, they can pass for human with no difficulty. There is no mention of wings, no mention of flying. In fact, if we look closely, Lot, his wife, and his daughters were taken “by the hand” and “brought them outside” (Gen 9:16-17), suggesting an escape on foot is more likely than one by flight. Sorry, fans of Christopher Reeve’s Superman, but flying with someone outstretched and held by one hand just isn’t practical.
            If the undercover routine isn’t enough proof, we can page back to Genesis 6, before the flood, “when the sons of God went in to the daughters of humans, who bore children to them” (Gen 6:4). Since there’s a differentiation between humans and the sons of God, we have to infer that these would be angels. Not only do they look human, they have to have compatibility with humans in order to sire children.
            So, yes, Lucifer gets points for Lucifer and Amenadiel appearing and passing for human. But the wings are not in the Bible. The closest we come is that angels have a habit of appearing suddenly, such as they did to Abraham or in their appearances to Mary and heralding the birth of Christ. But these are simply sudden appearances. Nowhere does it mention the power of flight.
            So where did this whole thing come from? Angels really came into their own during the Middle Ages as the Catholic church sought to explain things in more detail. There sudden appearances had to be explained as flying, how else could they move so quickly? Moreover, angels come from heaven, which is above the earth. They would have to fly in order to go between heaven and earth, right? And how do things fly other than to have wings. Combine this with passages such as the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and it paints a very vivid picture.
The wing thing gets expanded on as great thinkers such as Thomas Aquinas start differentiating different categories and an entire hierarchy of angels. One of the distinguishing features of higher and lower ranked angels? the number of wings. The higher the rank of the angel, the more wings it has, with Seraphim having the most with six wings (three pairs).
Lucifer, as the highest of angels, would have been a member of this order. So, if angels did have wings—still not supported by the Bible—Lucifer would need more than two wings to denote his (once) high station in angelic hierarchy.
But Hollywood didn’t go with this; that’s fine. Popular belief is that angels have wings, and that the number of the wings shall be two. But it is interesting to see what other corners may have been cut, and while they might have missed this mark, they nailed some of the others, such as the fact that Lucifer can—and frequently does—have physical relationships with human women, just as the passage in Genesis 6:4 stated angels could do. At least, at that point in the Bible. There’s evidence to suggest that the view on angels (and demons, for that matter) evolved throughout the Bible over time, but that has nothing to do with wings.



Friday, October 7, 2016

F3 Staying Behind

            “You don’t need me for this,” I said, adamant.
            “Matt, don’t pout,” Kate said.
            “I’m not pouting, I’m stating a fact. You don’t need me. If anything, I’d be a liability.”
            She did that thing, scrunching up one side of her mouth and looking at me like I was stupid.
            I’m prepared to agree to that if it means I get out of this.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Multimedia Book Experience

            I know multimedia is coming to books. I’ve heard tell of augmented ebooks with videos and sound clips added to them. These are especially useful to textbooks, but not novels. Maps and diagrams would be useful, especially in a convenient pop-up so readers don’t have to flip back to the beginning of the book, but I think there can be one better.

Monday, October 3, 2016

M3 Mythology and Copyright

            When I presented on fairy tales at Desert Dreams in April, and when I went to Comicon in June, I was surprised by the number of questions asked about the copyright status of myths and fairy tales. So let’s get into it.
            First, I’m not a lawyer, I don’t even play one on TV. So nothing I say here can be taken as absolute gospel. If you want that, hire a lawyer. Better still, go the free option and talk to a local librarian. They love to talk about this stuff, have been fully trained in it, and will not charge you for saying hello to them.
            Aside from that, this is what I can say. Myths and fairy tales are old enough to be considered in the public domain. The stories we’re talking about date back hundreds if not thousands of years, and copyright didn’t exist. (The concept of authorship really didn’t exist, either, but that’s something else.)
            Here are the caveats. Translations are copyrighted to the translators. The translators work with the original text, which is not copyrighted, but their translations constitute their own original work, and is protected by law. The only way you get out of this one is if the translation is older than copyright law (a number of sources out there qualify since they were translated in the 1800s).
            Caveat number two is to look out for companies that have changed the stories and created copyrighted entities. The seven dwarves are part of the original Snow White story. They’re up for grabs. However, Disney named them, and copyrighted those names, so do not touch. The best way to avoid this one is to dig up the original, public domain source. If it appears in that version, you can use it. If it’s not there, someone probably made it up and copyrighted it.
            Again, if you have doubts, go to your local librarians. They’ll be able to help you make sense of the often confusing copyright situation, and help you find good mythology books at the same time.



Friday, September 30, 2016

F3 More Style

            Jack Dailey had actually been the one to teach me that Storm Riders had to have a degree of discretion. It was best if people didn’t know that there were those who could control the weather in the world, kind of like the Men in Black—the ones from the movie, anyway.
            But now we had to break into a museum, steal some old clothes, and get away before the cops arrived. Jack had complicated that with this thunder punch stunt. Now he and I used arcs of lightning between our hands to act as plasma cutters, which actually wasn’t as easy as it sounded. I had to keep laser focused on keeping the ionized channel strictly between my hands instead of allowing the lightning to ground out on the steel security gate.
            “Jack,” I gritted my teeth, “you are so going to owe me for this.”

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

W3 Speed Limits

            Despite Jeremy Clarkson’s insistence of “Power!” those of us making websites can’t count on users having the latest and greatest hardware. Mobile browsing is also up over data connections that don’t measure up to the speeds of Google Fiber. So, we have to be the ones to check the speed limit on our websites.

Monday, September 26, 2016

M3 The Sacred Text Archive

            The Sacred Text Archive is my favorite source for myths online. They’ve been very thorough to dig up and store myths from nearly every culture that’s ever been on the planet. The site can be a little daunting at first, but they’ve got an extensive list to browse through, and their in-site search is pretty thorough. With a little practice, it should be no problem to find any kind of myth you need.
            My only caveat is that it does include a fair bit of articles and commentary. Again, with a  little time it shouldn’t be hard to sort those from the actual stories. They even offer the entire archive on DVD-Rom and flash drive (for a price). Although, I’m thinking about asking for an SD card or purchasable android app offering.



Friday, September 23, 2016

F3 The (Sort of) Heist

            “I’m telling you, it’s not going to be like Ocean’s 11,” I said to Natalie.
            “Come on, it’ll be fun.”
            “I’m not denying that. I’m saying it won’t be like that.” I cloudstepped down to the parking lot.
            “Why not?”
            “Because we have Jack Dailey on the team.”

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

W3 Unlikely Powerful

            Blogs, are generally limited websites. The range of features they offer have a cap on them compared to hosting your own website on a private server. Even WordPress is limited in comparison to what professional web developer can do on a private server. Read more on
 Author Web Guide

Monday, September 19, 2016

M3 Myth Websites Overview

            Researching good sources of myths online is like researching anything. It takes time and dedication, but I can give some tips. Look for:

Friday, September 16, 2016

F3 The Plan

            A night in a decent hotel with a spa and a buffet did wonders for recuperation. Natalie’s arm was still broken, but would be healed in a week, less if we could swing by the Great Lakes and meet up with Maddie and convince her to heal us. The others wouldn’t go for it, but I had been extra persuasive to Nat last night.
            I went into the PI’s office. His secretary, a young woman with her light brown hair in a ponytail, smiled at us, then nodded for us to go back. Inside Matt’s office, we saw Kate standing next to Matt. Another woman stood to the side with a bundle of papers. A few years older than the one in the outer office, she looked a lot more confident than the secretary did.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Time Machine

            In revamping my site, I went back through a lot of my old posts, particularly my flash fiction. It was quite interesting to see the evolution of my style and ideas. I can see the origins of ideas that have become fully realized concepts. I laugh at the early flashes of Reilly and Jack as Storm Riders. I cringe at my early concept of Peter Flynn as a complete criminal. And Sam, well, is still Sam. By the time I started the flash fiction, Matt’s voice was pretty realized.

Monday, September 12, 2016

M3 Apollo's Diverse Portfolio

            Apollo’s diversity is unique among the Greek gods. Aside from music, hunting, and prophecy, he is also one of the sun gods (Helios is the other, and actually is the sun). Apollo is attributed as both a causer and healer of diseases, thus giving him domain over medicine. Since he possessed the gift of prophecy, that lent him to becoming the patron of colonists, who sought his oracular insights to guide them in their colonies.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Cheating Your Website Demo

Arthur says "Hi" from Fanfiction Fest 2016.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

M3 Special (Conference edition) Genesis 1

To all of my conference friends, I hope you enjoy this humorous, special edition of the Genesis Creation . . . Facebook style.


Friday, September 9, 2016

F3 Midnight Oil

            I had to send Jessie home at eleven; her parents had her on a curfew after one too many long research nights. They did it more to flex their muscles than because of what she was doing. They would rather she be out working for me than getting into trouble again, but they had to maintain their authority somehow. It was their last chance to do so as she would start college in the fall.
            Jen, though, was a trooper, and, as I though, had managed to bribe the librarians into letting us stay. Kate was the only Storm Rider to stick with us. The others, hopefully, went to recover from their injuries. I was just glad not to have them nipping at my heels.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Conference Time Again

            I’m heading, once again, to Connecticut for CTRWA’s Fiction Fest conference. This time around I am presenting two workshops, one on web design, and one on mythology. It promises to be very interesting.
Any news reports coming out of Connecticut should be viewed with a grain of salt. Also, I’ll have an alibi.



Monday, September 5, 2016

M3 Apollo's Daddy Issues

            Out of all of Zeus’s divine children, Apollo is the one trying the hardest to be like his father. The birth of the world and what happened to his great grandfather and grandfather would have been well-known to him. It’s a matter of record and right that the son replace the father, and Apollo intends for that son to be him, despite the prophecy that it would be a son of Metis and not Leto.

Friday, September 2, 2016

F3 Not Sherlock

            I finished writing, and looked it over. Kate and her friends had rambled on about the fallen angel’s appearance and abilities, but there was nothing here about its personality, which worried me.
            “So, who is it?” The one on the couch—Reilly?—asked.
            “What?”
            “Who’s this guy?”
            “You’re kidding, right? What do I look like, a supernatural Sherlock Holmes? I don’t have all the answers at my fingertips.”

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

W3 Graphical Word

            You don’t need Adobe Photoshop (and its hefty pricetag) to make good looking graphics. You can use GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) which is comparable to Photoshop, but the sheer number of features and tools can be intimidating (as can Photoshop’s). However, most of us have all the horsepower we need to manipulate our graphics in MS Word. Read more on
 Author Web Guide

Monday, August 29, 2016

M3 Apollo's Bedpost

            Apollo’s competitive nature extends to the bedroom as he attempts to follow Zeus’s womanizing ways. He’s not married (thankfully), but he does try to chase several goddesses and mortals. The emphasis is on try; he’s successful more than not, but he’s still far below Zeus’s scorecard, and Apollo is one who would want to keep a scorecard.

Friday, August 26, 2016

F3 Not the Usual Clients

            Kate rattled off the names of her companions to me, but my mind was mostly on their condition. More than one sported broken bones and large bruises. One guy, in a suit, showed off burned and bubbling skin underneath where the suit had burned away. My stomach did a backflip with a twist when I looked at that skin.
            “You’re not my usual clients,” I tried to lighten the mood.
It didn’t work.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

W3 Kompozing

            Editors come in free and wildly expensive. Because we are authors on a budget, we’ll opt for a free editor called Kompozer, available at their website http://www.kompozer.net for Windows, Mac, and Linux.

Monday, August 22, 2016

M3 Apollo's Nature

            Artemis’s baby brother Apollo has his own particular issues when it comes to Zeus. Whereas Artemis is trying to slam on the brakes to forever remain Zeus’s little girl, Apollo is trying to step up. He wants to be just like dear old dad. He does this by being a Jack-Of-All-Trades. Whereas most gods have one or two areas in which they are the absolute master, Apollo spreads out with a variety of different domains in his godly portfolio.

Friday, August 19, 2016

F3 Bad Weather

            The sky drizzled out my window, the afternoon sun hidden by thick, grey clouds. It was a typical summer day in Belport. Business had been slow, so I gave Jessie and Jen the afternoon off. Not for the first time, I thought about closing the office for the day. No one needed my services on a day like today.
            Well, more on today than on a bright, sunny day.
            My phone rang, the cell instead of the office. I expected Nikki, but it wasn’t her ring tone.
            “Kate?” I answered.
            “Hi, Matt.” Her voice sounded strained.
            “Hi.”
            Way to go, Matt. A plus for wit, there.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Chicken Little

            No, this isn’t a folktale post. This is me freaking out because “The semester is coming! The semester is coming!” I put off preparation for the semester because I wanted (needed) to focus on other projects, which I don’t regret at all. But now I need to get everything wrapped up and good to go for teaching. Hopefully, the ideas I have had here and there over the summer will help ease the teaching burden.
            Here’s hoping that I don’t get crushed by a piece of the falling semester.



Monday, August 15, 2016

M3 Artemis's Modesty

            Modesty is an interesting concept, usually associated with very conservative societies, which the Greeks certainly were not. They admired the human body and embraced sexuality, as we ‘ve seen with their creation myths. Yet here we have Artemis who has turned her back on sexuality to embrace modesty. Does this make her prim and proper? Hardly. She spends her time in the wilds, hunting. She would most certainly be called a tom-boy by older generations.

Friday, August 12, 2016

F3 Licking Wounds

            “Okay, I’m in charge by virtue that, one, I ordered the pizza, and two, that I can still stand,” Wally declared to the conference room.
            “Order more pizza and I agree,” someone said.
            “Seconded,” came from several people, including Natalie and me.
            “Already done,” Wally said, wincing and grabbing for his side, but he stopped shy of the blistered skin.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

W3 Tag, You're It

            HTML relies on a system of tags to instruct it on what to do. Tags are letters/words/code inside of less than and greater than signs < > that the language will recognize as instructions. Tags tell computers when to begin to do something and when to end, much like capital letters begin a sentence and a period ends one (always have an opening and closing tag). An opening tag will only have the signs and the code, like this: <i>. Closing tags include a slash / just inside the less than sign, like this: </i>.
. You can also use more than one tag at a time, but tags must nest inside one another like matroshka dolls.

Word Processor
HTML Tags
I’m disgusted by the jar of pickled pigs’ feet.
I’m disgusted by the jar of pickled <i>pigs’ feet.</i>
I’m disgusted by the jar of pickled pigs’ feet.
I’m disgusted by the jar of pickled <b><i>pigs’ feet.</i></b>

            For the most part, don’t worry too much about this. Most blogging sites have their own editors, and will check to see if you have the HTML tags, but you don’t need to interact with the HTML side much. You can just use the text editor. Better still, we can use a WYSIWYG editor to create our HTML. We’ll get to that in a couple of weeks.



Monday, August 8, 2016

M3 Actaeon's Punishment

            Artemis, as we have already discussed, has a bit of childishness to her nature. Okay, more than a bit. She literally sat on Zeus’s lap like a little girl asking for gifts from Santa, and Zeus was all too happy to indulge his (spoiled) little girl. The next story really isn’t that surprising, given that childishness, her insistence on remaining a virgin, and her decree that all who serve her must likewise remain chaste.

Friday, August 5, 2016

F3 Safe Harbor

            We didn’t ride lightning in; that was too conspicuous. We glided in while cloudstepping under the cover of night. Fortunately, there were no crowds, so we didn’t have to worry much about being spotted.
            Natalie and I landed, the jolt sending fresh pain through my thigh and hip, and it felt like my stitches popped again. I reached a hand over the wound, and felt at them. Two stitches had come free, but the rest held, and I didn’t start bleeding again.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Becoming the Antagonist

            I’ve been thinking a lot about the bad guys, recently. Rather, I’ve been thinking about emerging trends in fiction and movies, and I’m a little disturbed. Villains are dastardly, I get that. But we’re seeing a new trend with the heroes in that they are adopting the same methods as the villains.
            In looking at the original fairy tale of Snow White, I was horrified when I read that Snow White locked her wicked stepmother into red-hot iron shoes and forced her to dance until she died. However, at the Comicon panel, the panelists were quite gleeful that the stepmother got what was coming to her.

Monday, August 1, 2016

M3 Artemis's Chastity

            So, here we are again, tackling the question, why does Artemis need Zeus to ensure her continued virginity?
            Before we address the question directly, we need to examine the nature of gods and their ages. They do not follow human standards. After all, Athena emerged fully-grown and armored (we mustn’t forget the armor!) out of Zeus’s skull. Artemis, immediately after being born, helped her mother move to Delos and acted as a midwife. Clearly, physically, she is not an infant. Even when asking Zeus for these favors as a three year-old child, there’s the sense that child is not referencing her physicality. I have been around a lot of kids, and I can say with some authority that a toddler is not much help as a midwife, and would be no help in helping a pregnant mother move around.

Friday, July 29, 2016

F3 Sandbars

            Nina, Jenny, Walker, and Charlie sat at the conference table. The projector, which had at first displayed the galactic map with positions of the stuck nanosats—there were fifteen, total, in different parts of the galaxy—now displayed a picture of the Incredible Hulk punching the shockwave of a supernova, which somehow worked and saved the spaceship he was standing on.
            “See, because the Hulk is powered by gamma rays,” Walker was saying, “the supernova’s gamma rays actually served to power him up way beyond normal, so he—”

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

W3 The First Big Secret

            My first big secret when it comes to this site is that I type up 100% of my blog posts in Microsoft Word. Then I copy them straight over. Word plays well with all of the major platforms, so it will create html code automatically to make your post look as much like MS Word as possible. Notice the bold and italics. Those were made by Word. I didn’t have to code them or use my blog’s text editor to make them.
See how this paragraph began? It’s indented. HTML hates indents. They’re not easily made. They don’t’ have an intuitive way to do it.  Word, however, copies your formatting directly. It works. And that’s what we care about. Yes, we will get some of what is called junk code, but this is a simple text post. We’re not programming in javascript functions, and the page will still be rendered quickly. So we can deal with some junk code when it makes our posts easy to create and look how we want them to look.
So I say start your site’s content with something familiar, your word processor.



Monday, July 25, 2016

M3 Artemis's Nature

            Artemis and Apollo are twins, the children of Zeus and Leto, the daughter of the Titans Coeus and Phoebe. Zeus, as always, had an affair, which caused Hera to resent Leto, and had her chased by the Python. Hera further decreed that Leto could not give birth on any place where the sun shone. Obviously, Leto found a spot, and promptly gave birth to Artemis. Immediately after being born, she helped her mother move to a new location, and aided in the birth of Apollo, some nine days into labor.
            Yes, nine days. My mother has frequently complained over the hours of labor for my own birth, so we can respect Leto for toughing out for nine days. This is actually relevant, too, and reveals the nature of the gods. Artemis’s birth was easy; moreover, she immediately helped with the birth of Apollo. Apollo is obviously very troublesome (and this will be borne out with his own analysis later).

Friday, July 22, 2016

F3 Run Aground

            Nina stared at the spreadsheet. Many people envisioned that astrophysics was all about gazing through the eye pieces of telescopes, or looking at images downloaded from satellites. To be fair, that made up a bit, but it wasn’t the bulk of everything. Most of astrophysics came down to spreadsheets and numbers.
            Radio, x-ray, and microwave telescopes worked more by data than images. The numbers could be applied to images, and even the radio signals could be hooked up to speakers to produce sounds, but a lot of it was number-crunching data through spreadsheets and databases.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

W3 Looks Worse Than It Is

            I promised this would happen wayyyy back, but I never specified when I would actually begin it. I was wrestling with exactly where to begin. So I’ll begin with me.
            I’m not formally trained as a webdev. I don’t have a degree. All of the HTML, javascript, and CSS I know is self-taught. And that’s fine. If anything, this should put it in perspective. Anyone can dabble in this and get good results.

Monday, July 18, 2016

M3 The Tales and Legends

Drilling down further, we have fairy tales. As these are stories, all fairy tales are essentially myths, though fairy tales appeal to a broader culture instead of a highly-specific one. Fairy tales have been stripped of their specific place and character names to appeal to as wide an audience as possible.
Urban legends share a lot in common with fairy tales, though they can reclaim some of the specificity with actual names to be more mythic. The urban part is more of a reference to to the time period. These are modern-day stories. The terms urban legend and urban myth differentiate these stories from ancient cultures, and show that the ancients are not the only ones with culturally relevant stories.

Friday, July 15, 2016

F3 Galactic Weather

            “Congratulations on your promotion, Dr. Nichols,” Jim Macomber said as Jennifer walked into the conference room.
            “Thank you, sir. What promotion?”
            The others from the Hermes, Odyssey, and Frontier satellite control teams were already there. Nina, Walker, and Charlie all grinned. Peterson, as usual, looked sour, but it was less sour than his normal expression. Interns and others lined the walls.
            “You are now the Director of Extra Solar Conditions,” Macomber said.
            “Wow, that’s, um, what does that mean?”
            “You’re the galactic weather girl,” Walker said.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Know Your Audience

            There’s obviously a writing connection to this post, but I’m actually thinking more of teaching. See, writers know their audiences pretty well. There’s mystery, fantasy, sci-fi, romance, horror, western, etc. Sure, there are subgenres, mixed genres, and even tight niches, but we have a pretty good idea of who would want to read our books. We write for them.
            But with students . . . we don’t know. I was talking with some teacher friends, and we’re at a loss to understand this particular audience. We used to. But over the past few years, it’s changed. We’ve all experienced the students who stop showing up. We could deal with that. It’s easy, we either withdraw them or we fail them. No problem. But we’ve got a new type showing up, now. They attend all classes, but never hand in assignments.

Monday, July 11, 2016

M3 Folklore or Mythology?

            We have a better understanding of folklore (which took far too long), but what is the difference between folklore, mythology, and all the rest? Well, this is actually simpler. All mythology is folklore, but not all folklore is mythology. It’s like those logic problems from the SAT: All squares are rectangles, but not all rectangles are squares.
            Myths are stories, and while stories can and do accompany the majority of folklore in the world, they are not the absolute limits. Some aspects of folklore do not come from a culture’s mythology, but from practical necessity. A specific festival might have a mythological story behind it, explaining the cultural reasons for the festival, but specific traditional dishes served at the festival might not be part of that story.

Friday, July 8, 2016

F3 Power Problems

            Peterson glowered. The group of engineers he met with—he hadn’t bothered learning their names, instead calling them by names from The Fellowship of The Ring—had brought him power calculations for various batteries, none of which would meet the power requirements necessary for what Jim Macomber wanted from the nanosats.
            “It can’t be done,” Boromir said. “We could probably get a battery that could meet the power requirements for half an hour, and hour at most, but to get in the four to six hour range that you need, is going to mean more cells. More cells means more mass and a bigger form factor. And if the director wants an entire day’s worth of transmitting power, over those distances, we’re talking about another New Horizons probe.”

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Summer of Reruns

            It’s summer, and I’m going back through some old favorite TV shows. Since Castle ended, and I wasn’t impressed by season 8, I figured I’d start there. I have to say, season 1 is amazing. And as I’m going through it, I’m trying to figure out what happened. What’s different between 1 and 8. Why did 8 become such a flop, and 1 was so spectacular.
            First, Castle the character is better. He morphs over the course of the seasons to be goofier, who launches into the patently absurd. Yes, he’s a believer of the absurd, or at least a hopeful believer, but what made him so good in the early seasons was that he was smart, and knew what made for an excellent story when it came to crime.

Monday, July 4, 2016

M3 Folklore, Myths, Fairy Tales, Legends?

            I was going to do a post on American mythology, but my recent experience at Comicon has alerted me that the terms of this branch of study are not clear. What is folklore? How is that different from a myth? What about fairy tales? And of course there are urban legends, too; what about them?

What is Folklore?

            Imagine a football game, which is relevant cultural knowledge. Two teams face off on opposing sides of a field. Each team consists of players in different positions on the field, who primarily play offense or defense. The team with the ball tries to drive the ball into the goal of the opposing team to score. Players move the ball by passing it to teammates or dribbling it to the other end. Once at the other end, it becomes a matter of kicking the ball past the opposing team’s goalkeeper into the goal. . . . Wait, did you think I was talking about American football?

Friday, July 1, 2016

F3 The New Frontier

Dark Winds
            Walker Andrews looked at the data from Frontier’s nanosats in his presentation one last time. It was phenomenal, to say the least, and it really resembled a map of wind patterns across the globe, spread out over the galaxy. Well, a very small part of the galaxy, anyway.
            The nanosats had quickly gotten out of range to transmit their data back in a timely manner, if the signal even could make it back to earth among all the galactic interference. But what they had discovered was impressive.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

One Down

            One month of summer is already gone. Why is it that time seems to move faster outside of the semester? I’ve still got plenty of work to do. Fortunately, I can say that I have chalked off plenty on my to-do list, but there’s more to go. Well, back to it.



Monday, June 27, 2016

M3 Eternal Athena

            Athena, like most of the Greek gods, reveals herself to have some complexity. Being the goddess of wisdom does not gain her automatic entry into sainthood. She has her moments, as we saw with Arachne.
            For one thing, Athena is very competitive. Even barring Ovid’s version of the Arachne story with its direct contest, Athena judges Arachne as if in competition. Athena bests Poseidon to win Athens. She competes against both Hera and Aphrodite in a beauty contest. The aftermath of that contest becomes the Trojan War, where she, in a symbolic fight against Ares, demonstrates that she is more skilled in battle than he is. Her involvement in the fights of heroes, to have them triumph is also part of her competitive nature. She not only wants to win, she needs to win.

Friday, June 24, 2016

F3 Customer Service . . . Again

storm riders
            I was almost out of patience listening to the muzak on the phone, but it did finally give way to a person.
            “Thank you for calling Milpack Customer Service. My name is Debbie, how can I help you?”
            “Yeah. I need to send my backpack in for some repair.”
            “Can I have your name, sir?”
            “Reilly Hawkins.”
            “H-A-W-K-I-N-S?”
            “Yep.”
            “I see you have two of our backpacks. Is this the charcoal or the navy?”
            “The navy.”
            “I see. Can you describe the damage? It might be covered under our warranty.”
            “Heh, doubt it. So there’s this real douchebag takes a disliking to me. A Hothead who was showing off with his flamethrower, and he got it too close to my pack. Entire front is roasted, almost gone.”

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Re-shifting Focus

            It’s hard devoting myself to my own projects. I struggle every week, going back and forth. I’ve got this ever-present threat of the semester looming, and part of me wants to work on it, to cross it off the list. Another part of me still can’t bear to face it, so I only cross off simple stuff instead of working on the meat of it.
            I think I can finally put it aside until August, putting my own projects front and center, which is where they should be. I’ve got a lot to do, and I actually want to get this stuff done. I feel like I’ve been away from it for too long.



Monday, June 20, 2016

M3 Arachne: Athena's Jealousy

            The story of Arachne tells the origin of spiders, and is a story that only gets more tragic the more I read it. It also shows a disturbing side of Athena, who, up until now, has been an admirable goddess. Full of wisdom, the inspiration and protector of heroes, on the surface she seems ideal in every way. Her ability to get the best of Poseidon is not a trick, but a reflection of who she is. With the story of Arachne, though, we begin to see another side to her.

Friday, June 17, 2016

F3 Date with a Storm Rider

            I was apprehensive as Kate and I sat down. I had never been to Ben BBQ Boulevard, probably because it was in Wyoming. Of course, that was only a few terrifying, life-screaming minutes away as Kate hauled me behind her as she lassoed a lightning bolt.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Dust

            I’ve been planning some overhaul to this site for a while, never getting very far with it, but that ends, now. I’ll be tinkering with the site all summer, trying to decide, exactly what kind of look it’s going to be. I’m also flirting with another website, focused solely on providing a service for authors, but I might just fold that into this site for the time being. Keeping things separate might be good, but then it might hearten other authors to know that an author can design and implement a website independent of paid templates and services.
            Anyway, excuse the digital dust as I play with some things.



Monday, June 13, 2016

M3 Athena's Birth and Nature

            Athena is a favorite of many people, and it’s not hard to see why. She’s the goddess of wisdom, crafts, and battle strategy. She can kick some serious butt all on her own, but she’s also the patron of heroes. Perseus, Odysseus, Diomedes, and other heroes frequently receive her aid as they go about trying to make the world a better place. But she’s more than just her titles. She has layers of personality and complexity. So let’s get to it.
            Most people are probably familiar with the basics of Athena’s birth. Zeus had a splitting headache, so they decided to actually cut into his head. Athena flew out, fully grown and armored. But this is only part of the story, a story which reveals a lot more about both Athena and Zeus. So, we go backwards, when Zeus found out about a prophecy. His son by the goddess Metis would one day overthrow him.

Friday, June 10, 2016

F3 The Fight for More Funding

Dark Winds
            Virginia Meyer scrunched her forehead as she pored over the pages, feeling a migraine whenever she tried to understand the words. Next to her, Terry Sandhurst, the Chairman of their committee, did the same. Finally, she closed the 300 page proposal for Frontier.
            “Just tell us, Jim, why do you need a second Argo launch?”

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Summer of Productivity

            The semester is well and truly behind me. Thank goodness. Now I can focus on my projects, and I’ve got a full plate to work on. A good chunk of this is going to be evaluating my own productivity and setting up new habits that will carry on even after the semester begins.
            I recall a time when I was able to teach 4 classes, write 1000+ words a day, and keep up with my blogging. I should be able to do it now.
            Part of this will be reevaluating how I grade, how much I grade, and how to reserve time for my projects. But I will be finishing at least one manuscript this summer, hopefully, two, and work on some websites, as well.



Monday, June 6, 2016

M3 Knowledge Myths: Norse: Odin's Quest

            The majority of knowledge myths detail how mankind comes by knowledge, always at some price. The gods, or God, has knowledge already, but mankind is completely ignorant. The Norse, however, have a knowledge myth where the gods seek out knowledge.
            We begin with Odin, who knows about Ragnarok, which will destroy not just the world, but all of the gods as well. This is fated to be. It will happen. No one can change that, not even the gods. However, Ragnarok doesn’t have a set tour date. It can be postponed. And that is Odin’s quest.

Friday, June 3, 2016

F3 Frontier Specs

            “What do you mean it’s bigger, now?” Jim Macomber scratched irritably at his grey beard. “We don’t have the budget for bigger. Frontier is already pushing the boundaries of everything we’ve got. We already scrapped Icarus to merge it into Frontier by using the gravity engine. Bigger means more mass, more mass means more fuel, and . . . you know this already. The elevator won’t be done for ten more years, and you don’t want to wait on this.”

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The Next Adventure

            I’m going to Phoenix Comicon this week to fully indulge in my geekiness. I already indulged my gamer side with PAXEast, and now my comic book geek is going to take center stage.
            This could be an opportunity for me in other ways as I see there is a panel on mythology and folklore. Perhaps I can begin expanding my horizons to speak not just at writer’s conferences, but these events. I will be making some inquiries to be sure.



Monday, May 30, 2016

M3 Flood Myths: Bible: Noah: Ending the Deluge

            Okay, so we’ve established that the ark is not capable of supporting the entire animal population of the world, nor is it capable of holding all of the necessary food. Likewise, Noah’s family wouldn’t not have been able to feed and remove the waste of that many animals. So where does that leave us?

Friday, May 27, 2016

F3 Appropriations

            “Director Macomber,” Senator Benson said with his trademark Southern drawl. He was from Newfoundland, but fancied himself a Texan. “You are asking for a substantial appropriation from this committee, money—frankly, and I’m sure my colleagues would agree—that could be spent on more concrete matters. How can you ask this august body to throw money on research that will never benefit the human race?”

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Conference Reflections Go Forth

            I’m a tech guy. I have multiple laptops, game consoles, and all manner of electronic devices around, but the one place I don’t readily focus on tech is in teaching. Sure, I use it when it’s available, but I don’t rely on it. I can always get by without it. And that’s because the tech will flake out at the wrong moment.

Monday, May 23, 2016

M3 Flood Myths: Bible: Noah: Which Animals?

The Biblical Flood, like the creation of humanity is represented twice. Specifically, there are two versions of which animals to take. The first, and more commonly reference, is found in 6:19 “And of every living thing, of all flesh, you shall bring two of every kind into the ark, to keep them alive with you; they shall be male and female.” It goes on for birds, animals, creeping things. However, in 7:2 we have something different: “Take with you seven pairs of all clean animals, the male and its mate; and a pair of the animals that are not clean, the male and its mate.” Again it goes on to talk about the birds.

Friday, May 20, 2016

F3 Wrong Assumptions

            “Okay, I’m ready for the explanation,” Macomber said.
            Ed Carr stood and threw his slate’s display to the table’s projection system. The simulation of Odyssey 1’s voyage went up, Ed’s revised version instead of the one they had sold to Congress.
            “Okay. Odyssey 1 established contact on Day 112, instead of the 30 days we had expected. According to the system dump and Odyssey’s own logs of what happened, all systems deployed as normal. The sail was jettisoned exactly on schedule. All sensors, including the gravimeters registered almost exactly as Hermes did.”

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Conference Reflection Part Trey

            At both conferences, I noticed some last-minute cancellations. Presenters couldn’t make it, became ill, had to leave early due to emergency, or something. This leaves those who have planned the conference in something of a lurch as they want to provide workshops for the attendees. Likewise, attendees want options. One workshop cancelled is usually surmountable, but two at the same time can be devastating.
            However, since I carry most of what I’m doing in my head, I could easily do another workshop on the spot with little difficulty. In the future, I will inform those putting the conference together that I am ready to fill-in for any workshop cancellations. As long as I have access to a business center where I can get some copies made, I can readily print my handouts for the workshop.



Monday, May 16, 2016

M3 Flood Myths: Bible: Noah: Logistics

            So, this is the obvious one. The ark measures 300 cubits by 50 cubits, by 30 cubits (Genesis 6:15). A cubit is not the most precise measurement. Many ancient cultures used them, each with their own version of how long it was. Most used a human measurement, somewhere between the length of the forearm measure from the elbow to the tips of the fingers, or from the elbow to the wrist. The Biblical cubit is generally thought to be roughly 18 inches. The Egyptian cubit is longer, but not by much, and since this is a biblical story, we’ll stick with 18 inches (mostly because it makes the math easier. This puts the ark at around 450 feet by 75 feet, by 45 feet.

Friday, May 13, 2016

F3 Phone Home

            The plan had been simple, send up the Odyssey satellite. As it crossed through the bow shock, it would deploy a simple, square sail made from the same platinum and cobalt metal as the mesh on the Hermes. After one hour, it would cut the sail free, which the team expected would drop the Odyssey back to normal speeds.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Conference Reflection Part Deux

            My actual presentation went well again, this time, and I burned through the material I had quickly, allowing for a lot of time for questions, which is intentional. I would rather answer questions and have a discussion than listen to myself drone on; I am fully capable of droning on when it comes to these subjects. I don’t want to over-prepare and become like some of the other workshops that run over questions because they have to fit the whole presentation in. Questions, especially with fairy tales and mythology, are important. Dozens or hundreds of people will be able to answer format, query, and submission questions, but usually the only expert in my subject area at these events is me.

Monday, May 9, 2016

M3 Flood Myths: Bible: Noah: Morality

            With the Nephilim out of the way, it’s time to get down to it. The reason behind the flood has been established, that people are wicked and violent (and making Nephilim babies). This clearly indicates that God favors certain behaviors over others.

Friday, May 6, 2016

F3 Reduction

            Peter Lee tapped his foot nervously while Jim Macomber and the rest of his team looked at the design on their slates.
            Jim let out a sigh and scratched his nose.
            Peter swallowed hard.
            Charlie Nichols, across the table, caught his eye, gave a brief nod, and a smile.
            Easy for him, his expertise is navigation. But then, this whole thing was his idea.
            Macomber cleared his throat. “So, it’s about the size of a microwave oven?”

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Conference Reflection I

This was the second conference I’ve ever presented at, and it was a lot different from the first in terms of logistics. It’s given me some things to think on, and how I should better prepare future conference presentations.
            First, I had assumed that the program would hold a description for each presentation and bio for each presenter. They had been required for the application, after all, so I thought it naturally followed, but that wasn’t the case. So on my end, I think it would be well to provide my own little insert or tiny flyer that can be slipped into the program guide in the event that these features are missing.
            Likewise, providing my own sign for outside the door with the same information (but in larger, easier to read font) wouldn’t be a bad idea.
            Since the only description of my workshop might be confined into a schedule table in the program, I should come up with a much shorter, snappier title for the workshop.



Monday, May 2, 2016

M3 Flood Myths: Bible: Noah: Nephilim

            Noah is what people would consider the de facto flood myth. It is surprisingly straightforward in many ways, but there are some interesting twists we can examine.
Now, before we got in too deep with the flood, we have to make a note of something else, something that many people skip over because it’s so sparsely detailed. Apparently, humanity is not alone. There are others, the Nephilim. “The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went in to the daughters of humans, who bore children to them. These were the heroes that were of old, warriors of renown” (Genesis 6:4). Now, the word for Nephilim has also been translated to mean giants in various editions. However, what is remarkable is that this word is so sparsely used in the bible. We have no further explanation about them. Moreover, we have no definite idea on who the sons of god are. Are these the descendants of Adam and Eve? Are they angels? We really don’t know definitively.

Friday, April 29, 2016

F3 Design Problems

            Charlie Nichols was getting tired of the current argument.
“We need power,” Peterson said.
            “Too much mass,” Walker shook his head, pointing at the fusion reactor.
            “The fuel to mass ratio is the best we’re going to get for the size,” Nina said.
            “But we’re talking about one of the largest vehicles we’ve ever sent out. To encompass a fusion reactor, we’re talking bigger than an Apollo module, and you want to send it out of the solar system,” Walker said.