Saturday, May 22, 2010

Deep space.


The blinking lights on the console did their nightly dance. Geof just ignored them. He already knew the ship's drive needed repairs and that the overall ship ammo was starting to run low. And that there were no known stars in any direction.

Desperation makes a man enter warp without checking the math. Desperation makes a man stupid. So now he sat out in deep space like he had for the past 40 years of his life checking the ships systems and praying that the next warp would take him to a star with non-hostile life.

He had been twenty three when the swarm hit his system. Twenty three when he scrambled to his ship with a crew of equally desperate fools. They had just grabbed any ship and his was the closest. A hundred and thirteen passengers and Geof. They went into deepsleep and had stayed there. He woke up every year for a day, did the math, picked a new star, uncloaked and warped to it. If there was nothing there he just recloaked, started to refueled off the star and went back into deepsleep for a year.

If he counted those sleeping years, no better to only count the years he was awake. Forty years one day at a time. Never finding anything safe. He had found life at over a score of planets. Every time it had attacked and he had fled. Usually though he found empty dead space around a fuel giving star. Over 14,000 stars with nothing. All because of one panic stricken moment. By now no one he knew was alive. Heck, humanity was probably gone. You were only supposed to deepsleep at most a year. But his passenger's vitals still showed up good and other than the madness of a lonely man he didn't see any change in his own vitals.

He laughed at that thought. Someone owed the engineer who designed the deep sleeper machines a major raise. Who would of thought the equipment would last 15,000 years?

Ah, well, hopefully that unknown engineer lived a happy and long life with many kids. Geof grimaced into the cup he was holding. Bad thoughts. Need to focus.

He checked his equipment one more time and then walked back to his gel bunk. Without even thinking about it his hands punched in the settings for another year with the caveat; wake if needed.

An hour later his vessel was quietly sleeping again.

There are a lot of places to go with this story. My very first one went something like this:

"If Geof had manually checked the equipment instead of just looking at the screens perhaps he would have found the severed wire. The wire that connected the star mapping computer with the sensors. But he didn't. And as he slept yet another Terran Federation probe flew by his cloaked ship unnoticed."

Another other was to have him finally find something.

Another was to have him reach the end of his life and have to wake up one of the passengers and teach them everything while telling them that they've been sleeping for fifteen millennium.

I'm sure there are more but thats what I had for this time.

Friday, May 21, 2010

There be too much history.

For the past couple of weeks Damm and I have been faithfully spending an hour each day working on our respective summer projects-he on his writing and me on Spanish and history. I had previously mentioned wanting to create some sort of series that I’d work on throughout the summer. I did a bit of brainstorming and decided that I should write essays on bits of fun and fascinating history. Then I started thinking up topic ideas and realized that I didn’t have enough time to randomly pick subjects, research them, and then write entertainingly. So I decided to pick one area of focus. It came down to either Modern Russia or the Civil War Era, since these are the two history courses I’ll be taking in the fall. I chose the Civil War. And even then I have not narrowed my focus enough. The essays one could write on the American Civil War … the possibilities are endless.

And so I’m in the process of redefining what I will write/research. I’m in the midst of gathering info for a short fact sheet on the Civil War: important dates, important people, etc. And I consulted with my dad and I have a couple of generals I’d like to write about. All that’s good-but I don’t think I can deviate from the facts just yet. I shall be simply presenting facts, albeit in my own unique manner. I would like to write about cause and effect, the import of issues, why certain things happened. I’m just not there. I haven’t been exposed to enough history. And of course my munchkins demand most of my time so I can’t read much history outside of my class readings.

Good news? I’m already thinking like a grad student. I’ve been researching colleges that offer Masters in history online, since my focus will shift towards homeschooling the Orclette and Miniorc after I get my BA and school for me has to be flexible. I’m giving myself up to 5 years to complete my Masters. Anyway, I was reading the course objectives one college gave for their Masters program, and everything I’ve been wanting to do this summer aligns with their stated goals. So, patience grasshopper. I’ll get thereJ

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Another idea that floats through my brain on occasion.

"The monsters swarmed into the throne room, striking down the guards like they never were. His Majesty stood resolute, resplendent in his fury. He struck out, and the dragon fell. He lashed out and the wolf was thrown back. And then a simple page, trusted and cared for... the vile b------, struck from behind. A poisoned dagger deep into his neck. And his Majesty fell. And all was darkness."

The bard glowingly recited the most shocking and famous story of the age, the death of King Manuel Theodren the fifth. It happened ten years ago at the height of the King's power. The assassins were never caught. The King's baron's created a council in light of the lack of a heir. And all of the world heard the story over and over again. Mothers told their children stories of the killers to make them obey. Fathers swore by their names.

The Dragon, The Wolf, The Rats, The Page, The Firehawk, The Mage, The Snake, and The Fox.

At least they got that part of the story right.

I know them differently.

The Dragon was Maria Melendez, a sweet and caring woman with a heart for orphans. I miss her still.

The Wolf was a large bald scarred man with a cookie for any kid brave enough to ask. His name was Luis Moreau.

The Rats was Thomas Lee, a quiet booklover with a soft smile.

The Firehawk was a dashing vibrant young man named Messaih Omand. Messaih could dance like no one ever and all the ladies wanted to twirl with him.

The Mage, was a short brunette named Susan Graves. She and Thomas were an item. She always had a good word for others.

The Snake. Aleksandra Tarasov. A sharp tongued beauty filled with passion and life.

The Fox. Fernando Guerra Gomez; a grey haired captain. Hard eyes and a firm mouth. Still, he had opened his camp to me. And that was more than most had.

And The Page. Myself. And I was never accepted by the late King. Never trusted. I was just deemed the least threat. And the others had distracted him enough for me to get behind him and bury my dagger cleanly into his throat. Freeing our world of his sorcerous tyranny.

I just wish I had aimed a bit better... because as his life blood leaked out he still had words in him. And with his death breath he cursed us.

"The world will hate you, the world will blame you, I will have your glory. You will have my shame. And the story will never be told as long as you live."

We didn't really pay attention. I think only Aleksandra and I were close enough to hear him anyways. But when we left the throne room and re-entered the world we had saved we found out how true his curse had flown. In the inn where we had stayed the night before; that night we'd been toasted as heroes for challenging his evil. The afternoon of his death there were death warrants up on the walls and men were cursing our names.

We fled in fear taking Maria's body with us. We buried her privately in a hidden grave for fear of her final resting place being desecrated. And then, we hid. Disappearing to private silent lives. Every time I run into others I have to listen to that murdering fiend's praises and to my comrade's good names being destroyed. So, secretly and with much care I have prepared this document proving our case... and hidden it deeply in every library I've found as well as in a few other well placed locations around the world. So that when our lives end, the sacrifices of my friends and their families in the war will be known. So that the freedom won in that final gamble will be valued. And so that a vile king's legacy will have the light of truth shine on it.

A short intro to a story that is far from being.

They just keep on coming. Nothing has stopped them. I watched my brothers struggle against them. I have foreseen my sister’s fall. I watched Fourth go mad. What he did… is unforgivable… madness cannot excuse all. They will come for me, even if I am last. I will not wait. I will not let them eat us one by one until we are no more. My children deserve better. I will meet them at their gates not mine. The maker, The God as my witness I will stand. His favor to me, I will prevail.” – said to the wind

The Picovian Empire is not a new thing. It isn’t something that hadn’t happened before. Empires come and empires go in the world that is. But for the ten cities… the empire has been devastation. A new and horrible threat. The Forest which had so threatened the rest of the world could not make it past the Mountains of God’s Palm. The River refused passage to its west bank; referencing an ancient promise. And until the Picovians no one ever saw value in marching armies down through the northern mountains into a land of sand and wind.

The ten cities are nothing and everything. They are nothing to the world outside their sandy rivers. They are everything to those inside it. Nothing can be built anywhere but the cities. Some deep ancient words had been spoken into this place. Foundations would not stick. People would not stay. But the cities were there. Refuges to any who traveled this land and a meeting point of incompatible worlds. They trade briskly with The River, The Forest and the northern peoples. Safe from The Forest they do not mind accepting its gifts and goods and in passing them on the cities cleanse them of the forest’s lure. The only path from the north to the river they are a portal for The River’s endlessly gathered goods.

The Picovian armies were the first to solve the mountain’s puzzle. They marched south laid siege to the First, a city that had never known open warfare. Surprisingly the city refused surrender, refused to kneel. Predictably they crushed the token resistance, pierced the city walls and laid claim. Even then the cities denizen’s refused to submit. Eventually they simply sacked the whole city. Every native to the city died. Only then with a deep and resounding silence did the city die and finally in death submit.

Undisturbed, reconciled to the violence of their trade the Armies of Pico never even noticed. They began importing their own merchants/populace into the dead city and moved their camp to the next city in their path.

Third. Having seen what happened to its northern brother third had a little more preparation. A little more planning. But two seasons is not enough time to turn a city of merchants into a city of battle hardened soldiers. The Picovians rolled right over the resistance. And again found themselves forced to kill everyone to the man.

They crossed the waters that lay as a boundary between Third city and Fourth and swarmed towards their third victim. Fourth city saw them coming and in despair and madness the citizens made a pact. They accepted defeat and preempted the invading army. The city killed itself in a single horrible night of blood and weeping. And the land refused them. A dark shroud ripped from sky covering the city… as if heaven itself refused to see the city any longer. No the Picovian’s would not have that city… but what it had done was so horrible that nature would not accept its presence anymore. Since that day a never ending shroud of fog covers the city and surrounding lands. The invading Empire stopped on the doorstep of the fog and paused. Scouts never came back. Patrols failed to return. Finally the Armies simply built a series of outposts to guard the edges of the fog and turned their eyes east towards Sixth.

Ah, Sixth, Gem of the land’s heart, beloved of the desert. This is her tale. This is her story, and with her… us all.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Fast thought for the night.

20,399 people have died in Mexico's war on drugs since 2006.

1777 people have died in Afghanistan due to the war there since 2001

At least 100,000 people have died in Iraq since 2003, as the site I linked only seemed to count civilians.

But what shocked me was the mexican numbers.

Some more un-finished works.

The woman turned, blood still on her hands. "He refused the gift. He challenged the river. I have but granted him mercy." The rest of the train, erupted in angry shouting and surged towards her. Those that could get past the dying man on the floor snatched at her as she backed up towards the next compartment, but every grasping hand failed to reach her. She made it to the door and opened it, then bowing apologetically closed it in their faces while triggering a safety override that would lock it securely behind her.

She turned, and bumped right into the train marshal. Surprised she jumped back but had no where to go.

"Now, why don't you drop that knife and come quietly", he snarled, energy pistol aimed at her head.

She laughed, a sparkling giggly laugh like a brook in spring. "Child of Earth, you have no idea of why and what I have done."

With that she threw herself off the train.

And instantly connected with a tree that had grown too close... there was a wet splash and no scream.

The Marshal stood staring... shock freezing him in place. The wet smell of a lake beach washed over him waking him from the shock. He stumbled forward unlocking the lock to check on the dead body.
Meh. That came as I was driving to work. The song "Don't say my name" by someone.

I would love to put in here a great story from a protoss perspective but I just haven't figured out the voice for them.

Oh speaking of voices. I've been practicing dialog in a number of different places. I'm pleased with myself because now at least my mind's eye can add dialog. I used to just have action because I didn't know what to have people say. I guess I had not paid enough attention to what was said previously.

And speaking of Protoss. I've changed my main race from Zerg to Protoss after a few days of playing the latest edition. The reasons for this are as follows:

1) Most important: the wife didn't like the bug look. :P

2) I couldn't really get a grasp on how to play Zerg properly. I knew the units and had a vague idea of how to use them but every game I found myself destroyed by a terran or a protoss player. At least with the Protoss when I've lost for the most part it has been slower and I've been able to instantly know what I did wrong. And with the Protoss I've WON games. Winning is a big incentive.

3) With the Protoss I know the options I want to take after I gain access to T2 units. With the zerg I was never quite sure what to use to counter what.

Currently though my Protoss play is n00bish. For those of you who played SC1... lots of things are the same... LOTS of things have changed. I'm using a variant of the zealot rush, followed by what the circumstances dictate.

My favorite game was the one where me and this terran player fought it out and both generated almost 200 point armies without either of us creating a single air unit and then fought it out. It was pretty epic.... I think I only won because of first strike initiative.

Anyways... I'm up to my lowly copper rank 8. (Copper is lowest tier for online multiplayer yes I suck bad).


We decided between the two of us that this summer we would make sure to spend at least a tiny bit of time continuing to work on things we want to improve.

Wulfa wants to improve her Spanish and I want to improve my writing.

So we allocated an hour a day(excepting Sunday's which are craziness) for each of us to be kid free and able to disappear into our room and work on the subject of our choice.

There are some things I've learned from my time doing this.

1) Writing is a lot harder when you don't already have a story in your head. Forcing yourself to work past the "I-don't-want-to"'s is just as painful in writing as it is in exercising or studying. And just as rewarding the next time you do it.

2) There is no such thing as I'll just look at [x] for a minute. If you stop and read or web browse or play a game then you are giving up your entire allotment of time. Focus is key and sticking to it despite the distractions.

3) I don't have long term focus in my writing currently. I'll write a scene(700-1000 words). Or at most two scenes and then I get bored with the story. This is why payment never completed and a big reason why I've never been able to complete a story or even attempt a novel. I have several full stories in my head that I've walked from beginning to ending and none of them have ever been written.

4) Because I see my stories as movies... and it takes a lot of work to portray them in words. I visualize the hero "leaping off the roof into the throne room to decapitate the evil false king" but that is as far as my mind goes. And it takes generally a lot more words to describe that in a readable fashion that doesn't sound like a gamefaq's plot summary. Heck, the scene in payment... that was "dragon guy walked into the ballroom, shoving blustering noble after blustering noble out of his way, approaches the duchess and bows before her servant, swearing fealty to her and saying he is payment for her missing mother". If you read my thousand word post you'll see that the actual scene is much bigger.

5) Authors are way underpaid for the amount of work they have to put into this. Even if they are able to write it all in a month or something nuts like that... their skill is being able to write it/ proof it/let other people not like it and that is a lot harder than most people give credit. Just like engineering is a lot easier than most people make out... both jobs sets require that the apprentice apply him/herself continually and do a lot of boring work so that in the end someone is amazed at it.

So I'm not giving up but I am finding that I will need to polish and buff and scrub a lot more on my skills before I can even say that I write short stories :P. But at least I can say I write eh? Heck, look at Howard Taylor. Compare this and this. See how far he's come? All through continual application of practice. I can only hope for such an improvement 10 years from now.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

What I am thinking about

I am thinking that watching the kids while Wulfa is at work is very very rewarding. I get a lot of stuff done cleaning wise and in general I think the kids and I have a lot of fun.

I am thinking that in the pbp dnd game I'm playing right now I'm really really not liking one of the characters recently introduced. Which means I guess that he's rping the stuckupness pretty well? Yeah. Except my character is kinda over the top odd like Kruppe. So I'm trying to figure out how to express his dissatisfaction and anger about being looked down on.

I'm thinking that it is rather amazing that Wulfa's my wife considering how talented and hard working she is and how much she pushes me to be better.

I'm thinking that the smile and laugh of a 9 month old is delightful.

I'm thinking that my daughter singing and dancing for me is also delightful.

And thats about it.

p.s. the picture is one of the things.