Thursday, December 31, 2009

Final Thoughts of 2009

So I have only a few minutes of 2009 left, only a few minutes left of the Double Aughts (00's). These are my final thoughts for this year and decade.

I've been thinking about New Year's Resolutions. I like to make resolutions and occasionally I actually do accomplish them. They do give my years a purpose and goal, so I'll continue for next year (later, in my next post).

I want to have my family make a Family Resolution. I checked out "Making a Family Mission Statement" from the library. It's from the Franklin Covey people, but I doubt I'll get my family to sit still and listen to it. Maybe if we have a common goal we will work together better.

I'm not saying that I am dissatisfied with my family, I am very happy with my family. In this first decade of the new millennium we increased our nuclear family by our youngest member. I've been very happy and proud of them.

In this decade I lost my maternal grandparents. I will miss them very much. Now I have no living grandparents, maybe that makes me an adult. I'm going to try my best to keep their memory alive, and to make sure my children and grandchildren know about my grandparents.

I started working for my current employer in 2001. It's been good for the most part, but most importantly it has been the longest time I've worked for one place. In that it has been entirely successful, because that was why I moved to this employer.

In this decade I left North America, first to go to Ukraine for about 3 weeks and then to go to Afghanistan for a year. Combined with the month I spent in the New Orleans area to help with the Katrina recovery, I had some very enriching experiences and memories. I left the National Guard in this decade and I have very mixed feelings about that. I miss being a part of an important team, I miss the service to my country, and I miss the special knowledge I had, but I don't miss leaving my family and I don't miss all the silliness and non-sense that surrounded it.

Well, I only have about 15 minutes left and I want to get ready to be with my family. I will write again next year.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Day 6 - Da Races

Ok, so this is going to take me longer than 30 days since I can't post daily, but here is what the exercise has for Day 6:
"1. Spend 10 minutes figuring out what people who evolved in each major area of your world would look like. Then spend another 5 minutes asking "2. what if this group encountered that group?" Would they fight? Trade? Both? Inter-marry and blend their genetic types? Would they remain largely separate, with pure strains of both racial groups co-existing (not necessarily peacefully)? How would that encounter be brought about in the first place?" [I added the numbers]
The land is called Wispolill (the exercise says not to name things yet, but I need working names). It's the purple continent in the top right corner. It has three areas, that northeast peninsula (Goldland), the northern half of the mainland (north of the tan, desert - called Forestland), and the southern land (Desertland).
1a. The people of the peninsula are the golden people. They are blond, from gold to platinum. Their hair is generally thick and wavy. The men almost never go bald. They have gold to bronze skin. They have gray to blue eyes and long straight noses. They are tall and slender build.
1b. The people of the northern mainland are forest people. They are shorter with dark, thin, straight hair. They have brown eyes and tan skin.
1c. The people of the desert and the southern end of the mainland are very dark skinned with nappy hair. The are tall and athletically built with swimmers' physiques. They have dark eyes.
1d. Gray land mass doesn't have a name yet, but the people of the northern part live in the fjords in small villages like the Vikings used to. The people are barrel chested with thick short limbs and fingers. They are exceedingly tall with round heads, flat, round faces. They're eyes are shades of green from hazel to deep sea green. The have very high foreheads with thin, straight black hair. Their noses are thick and wide, but flat to their faces.
At the time of the story the people of Wispolill are about to spread to other lands, being the only people with a well developed magical system they are poised to conquer.
2a. The people of the northern forest people of Wispolill have had off and on relations with the fjord people. They have fairly easy trade relations.
2b. The Golden people have always dominated the forest people. They look down on them. The forest people developed agriculture, domesticated animals and even mechanical magic first, but the Golden people always exploited their developments.
2c. The southern people have always kept to themselves and prided themselves in their nomadic history. They had trade relations with the lands to the south and the forest people, but they avoided the Golden people. The Golden people tended to treat the southerners as animals and hunted and killed them when they could. The southerners first developed flying machines, airplanes and dirigibles.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Day 5 - Da Map

"Draw out the physical contours of your map, and then identify at least three places that your people might live. You don't need names for them yet-- we'll worry about names next week, when we give our people language. Just draw a dot on the map or maybe sketch a little "house" symbol to indicate that people have settled that area. "

This is the world map for the Heavy Magic story. The actual map is really much clearer. The red dots are the cities. The tan areas are deserts. The white at the top and bottom are the ice caps. Each square is 50 miles by 50 miles.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Day 4 - World Building Scars

The instructions: "Jot down some of the Really Big Land Features you want in your story and just think "what if that were made by...." Write down a couple of causes for those features and scars."

Heavy Magic:

  1. The world is 1/4 the size of the Earth and 1/4th as old (about 1 billion years). The year is 400 days and the days are 24 hours long.
  2. The three moons were made about 250 million years after the formation of the planet by an asteroid collision. The largest, furthest out is Yellow Moon, which orbits ten times a year. The next is the White Moon, which orbits once every ten days. The smallest and closest in is the Gray Moon, which orbits four times a day. The moons all align on the Spring Equinox so that's new years. There are ten months in a year and four 10 day weeks in each month. You can also tell time at night (or on certain clear days) by the Gray Moon.
  3. Cenotes and circular craters were formed from asteroid and meteorite strikes. There was a great slew of them between 50 million years ago and 10 million years ago.
  4. Aliens landed about 100,000 years ago. They colonized Brownland and brought with them many species that eventually became dominant over the natives. They genetically engineered the people of the Great Old Empire on Yellowland.
  5. The Great Inland Ocean was formed when the mega volcano blew about 10,000 years ago. This destroyed the civilization of the aliens and buried it. Almost none of their artifacts have ever been found. Many of the people escaped, but a very few sailed east and west to establish themselves on Fjordland and Wispolill. None of those people have any memory of the original alien civilization.
  6. About 100 years ago a broken comet struck and started an ice age[strikeout], and also released the energy that would end up being magic.[/strikeout] It caused the Great Old Empire to go into decline, especially on Yellowland (north). Before the ice age the polar caps only touched land in the winters.
Seekretya (the name of the country in the children's fantasy)
  1. Seekretya was once a ley line nexus where powerful magic accumulated. When the scientific method was developed, about 1000 AD in the Muslim world, it started driving magic creatures, items and magic itself along the ley lines. As time went on Seekretya became the ultimate sinkhole for all things magical. The more modern society developed the more it drove things there. Specific events included:
  2. 1492 - When the new world was discovered it forced all the magical animals into Seekretya.
  3. About 1600 - Galileo's work forced all magical races into Seekretya
  4. 1687 - Newton's Principia forced all magical items, the last of anything magical into Seekretya, which at that time became the last refuge of magic in this world.
  5. 1880 - Tesla's work with electricity, and the spread of electricity, led to the collapse of Ley Lines. With the Ley Lines gone, no magic could ever get in or out of Seekretya by magical means.
  6. 1950s - The use of atomic weapons super-charged the magical energy in Seekretya, giving it enough power to avoid detection, and travel by any means. This also prevents any electrical devices from operating correctly in, above or below Seekretya.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Day 3 Mood and Setting; A New Look

Continuing on my world building journey, I'm at day 3.

I actually did this last night, but I had trouble because I have so many fantasy worlds swimming around in my noggin that I couldn't really decide which one to use.

I tend to get an idea and then stories grow from there. Whole stories blossom from tiny acorns of ideas. The trouble with this exercise is that it's a whole tree full of acorns and I was having trouble with whole forests of stories cropping up. I hate to thin.

My other problem is MOOD. This drives stories more than anything else. When I'm in a mystery mood I want to write a mystery. My trouble is, how do I maintain a mood long enough to get the story out?! This is a real problem for me and the main cause of my waffling and not finishing stories.

The first parts of this exercise were taking me all over the mood-map. I couldn't get settled. I have a couple of ideas/moods I wanted to keep and use, but I was being tossed around in the moody sea.

This morning I realized that I was trying to use this exercise to pull me "outside the box" and make me think of things in a new way. The trouble with this is that I have no trouble coming up with ideas, and often they are all very different. What I need is focus and decisions. Sometimes it feels like I'll loose something if a choose a certain path. I want to go down all paths at once.

I think I need a new way to approach these exercises. I have two fantasy story lines I want to pursue: "Heavy Magic" and a children's Christmas-y/bedtime story line.

Heavy Magic is a story line I've been stewing over for a while. I want the flavor, or mood if you will, of Richard Corben's Den; and Conan and Burroughs as imaged by Frank Frazetta. Basically I want to write a fantasy story with lots of sex and magic, a story that has all the eroticism of the old pulp sword and sorcery, but told in a modern way and with a more favorable view of magic. It has gritty realism without wallowing in the blood. It's mysterious, dark yet hopeful.

The children's story is a lot different. I want that to be warm and fuzzy, lush and rich, homey and inviting, teaching and challenging, difficult yet attainable.

With all that in mind I'm going to move forward on those two paths for my world building, to make a world for each of those story lines.

BUT FIRST, I'm going to post what I did last night when I was originally thinking about this exercise, then I'll post what I think using this new approach.

From 30 Days of World Building:

"Write down four words that fit into that feeling: two adjectives, a verb, and a noun. Now return to the page with your list of climates and emotions. Do any of them match up? If they do, you have your climate. If not, try to find closest-match words.

If you spend 10 solid minutes thinking about this and still can't decide, pick two climates that express moods you like. You can make up your mind later, and you can even build your world with both climates containing equally probable sites for your story."

And this is what I came up with (again, this is without regard to my story lines):
1. ADJECTIVES: Mystery, frustration, challenge
2. VERB: Grow
3. NOUN: Quest

1. Temperate Rainforest/Far Eastern Beaches, Great Plains, Great Lakes
2. River
3. Temperate Rainforest

Alternate (totally random):
South Atlantic Seaside / Desert

Here is my new version:

Heavy Magic
  1. ADJECTIVES: Sexy, Dangerous, Magical, Larger than life, Erotic, Powerful, Action-packed
  2. VERB: Swashbuckling
  3. NOUN:

The climatic responses are:

  • High desert
  • Arctic
  • Temperate rainforest
  • Nordic fjord (they aren't all from my previous list, but if I go from the feeling to the places that's what I come up with).

Children's Fantasy

  1. ADJECTIVES: Cuddly, warm, fuzzy, lush, rich, inviting, homey, difficult, attainable
  2. VERB: Teach
  3. NOUN: Challenge

The climatic responses are:

  • Green valley
  • River
  • Smokey Mountains
  • Temperate forest

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Day 2 - Baby It's Cold Outside

"Your exercise for today is to jot down ten plot devices that relate to weather, and what you think they do to the story." From 30 Days of World Building.

The phrase "plot device" makes me cringe, but here goes:
  1. Blizzard - slow the heroes down and isolate them, blind them
  2. Monsoon - make the roads impassable, make the heroes put up tents, flood the caves and dungeons. Will the river flood, can the heroes stop it?
  3. Sunny day - make travel quick, make the heroes yearn for adventure
  4. Tornado - (rash of tornadoes) make the heroes dodge them, try to use the weather to their advantage and as a weapon against the enemy
  5. Hurricane - Make the heroes anxious, batten down the hatches, be they on land or sea. In the eye they try to hurry to get things done or reinforce what has shown to be weak.
  6. Tsunami - Make the heroes run to higher ground, maybe make the bad guys take advantage of the confusion. The heroes will come back and try to help those caught in the wave
  7. Sudden Thunderstorm - cut the plans short, allow short bursts of vision as the bad guy tries to take advantage of the situation and the good guys try to find shelter
  8. Freezing Rain - makes everything dangerous by degrees, slowly icing things up so that they don't work, will it end or will the heroes find shelter soon enough or will everything go bad?
  9. Fog - Quiet and foreboding. You need a friend in a fog that knows the area well enough to get around blindfolded. Can the friend be trusted? Can you move quietly enough to get past that guard?
  10. Heat Wave - Don't move a muscle, maybe it will be cooler that way. Everything slows down, need shade. Travel at night, hunker down under shade in the day.
(I gotta get me a new photo from the blizzard of '79)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Day 1 - Turn Left to Go Right

There are some among you who will cry, "Stick to ONE thing and finish it!"

Seeing as it's the Christmas season, and Winter Solstice today particularly, and everywhere is lush with the MAGIC of the season I can't help the pull of wanting to write fantasy.

I know I haven't finished my mystery novel, but I have plotted it all out, the characters have been very friendly and helpful to me, and I really do want to write it and love ready mysteries. I know I can and will return to it, it has no insurmountable flaws (do you hear that The Larch, I'm thinking of you now).

Anyhow the Fantasy Muse has mugged and kidnapped the Mystery Muse so I'm going to have to obey her (and secretly enjoy it). I have a two pronged plan. I want to write children's fantasy so I'm going to be writing and sharing short stories here with that bend. I feel guilty about not telling my youngest the same type of stories I made up for her older sisters anyway.

The other prong, if you will, is driven by a site I found today, 30 Days of World Building. I'm going to be following the advice and exercises there and post the results here. To show you my earnestness, I'm going to post Day 1 here and now:

Climatic Zones and the Feelings They Invoke:
  1. Temperate Rainforest - mysterious and magical
  2. Rocky Mountains - beautiful and cold, distant and unapproachable
  3. Smokey Mountains - hidden meaning, ancient and guarded, wise
  4. Great Plains - vast, open, boring
  5. California Seaside - surf fun, dangerous
  6. Southern Atlantic Seaside - gentle fun, old
  7. Far Eastern Beaches - exotic and mysterious, longing, wishful
  8. Low Pacific Islands - sandy, warm, crystal, pure
  9. Great Lakes - surprising and helpful
  10. River - stretches off into the unknown distance, but helpful
  11. Swamp - hidden danger, soggy and sad
  12. Dry Riverbed - disappointment, broken promise
  13. Desert - Hot, uncomfortable, unwelcome, lost
  14. Tropical Forest - tiny close danger
  15. Arctic - wet cold but full of life
  16. Antarctic - desert cold almost unimportant
  17. Open Sea - vast with many pop-up surprises

Monday, December 14, 2009

Not Firing on All Cylinders, or Dancing with the Muse What Brung Me

I'm missing days. I write on some and not on others. I'm still working on The Boys of St. Leonard's, but I can't get to it every day. I WILL finish it, but it may take longer than I expected (or planned).

I did figure something out about myself. I'm mostly interested in antique mysteries. I'm not talking about historical mysteries. Those are stories set in the past. No, what I'm interested in are stories written a long time ago, but that were contemporary at the time. Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, Nero Wolfe, and M. Dupin are all favorites of mine.

I had flirted with writing an historical novel this November, but I went with the Boys. I think next time I'll write the story I was thinking about with a detective that is a WWII vet.

I'm guilty of writing some of it today, so the least I can do is share the snippet.

Captain Thomas Selfridge – WWII Disabled Vet Detective

"So, glad to be home for Christmas, Tom?" Uncle Vernon sipped punch with a ridiculous smile on his face.

Tom Selfridge grunted as he shifted his weight on the kitchen stool, "Not really. There's still a war to be won."

"But Tom, you did your duty, you gave an eye and your right arm." Vernon grimaced, he was not drunk enough to see that he had offended the veteran.

"It's just my hand, and that doesn't really matter to all those boys who lost and are loosing their lives does it?" he stood. He was a tall man who had grown lanky in the service of his country. He was sun-leathered almost as dark as the uniform he wore. He insisted on wearing a mustache, even though it came in too blond and sparse. He eyed his uncle with his remaining pale gray eye. Then he softened.

The older man was round and soft from good living, but he had a good heart and loved his family. He had never known war, nor hunger, but he had worked honestly and earnestly his whole life.

"Merry Christmas Uncle," Tom patted him on the arm and moved away to gaze out the window at the snowy Chicago street in his own anguish.

Friday, December 04, 2009


I missed a day yesterday, I was thinking about the Boys, but I didn't actually write anything.

I took off Monday through Thursday with the idea that I could finish the book and get some Christmas decorating done, BUT I ended up painting and stuff because our first floor renovation isn't done YET.

We are THIS close to being done enough to bring up the tree and stuff, but I still have some things to do and now I'm back at work.

None of this helps the book.

Let me give you the first chapter and let me know what you think.

The Boys of St. Leonard’s

Chapter 1 – The Nightmare

The screaming woke Clovis Murphy from a sound sleep.

He heard it again, glanced at the clock, 2:00 AM. He was out of his bed and his room like a shot. He crossed the dorm suite common room in a single stride and opened Nick’s bedroom door. The window was closed and the light was off. Clovis turned it on and saw Nick sitting bolt upright, staring straight ahead and panting.

“You okay buddy?”

Nick’s breathing slowed. Clovis looked down where he thought Nick was staring, at the stumps below his knees, but Nick was just staring straight ahead. He was covered in sweat.

Clovis sat on the edge of Nick’s bed, “Buddy?”

Nick took a deep, ragged breath and glanced up at Clovis, then looked forward again.
“Was it Iraq?”

Nick breathed out forcefully. “I’m okay.”

“You want me to do something, make you some tea?”

“You make tea?” He laughed.

“Well, if you don’t want…”

“No, that’s fine. Thanks for coming over. Sorry I woke you. I’ll make some tea. You want my special herbal?”

“If that’s what you’re having. I can start the water boiling.”

“Boiling? You don’t boil tea.”

Clovis gave him an angry look.

“I must be fine if you’re mad at me. Hand me my feet, would you?”

Clovis smiled as he handed Nick his prosthetics and went out to get the tea set out. When he went into the common room there was a knock on the door. It was Juan Vega the seminary student who was their floor RA.

“You guys alright in here?” He was in a ratty green robe, tee shirt, boxers and slippers.

“Fine, just nightmares.” Clovis answered as Nick walked into the common room.

“Oh good. I didn’t know with you guys, I mean, I mean you guys have been doing some strange things, I mean with the investigating stuff, you know.”

“I know.” Clovis said.

“I’m making some herbal tea, would you like some Juan?”

He took a step in the room and threw himself in one of the lounge chairs even before he said, “Yes please.”

Before the water was ready La Bamba started playing from somewhere inside Juan’s robe. He struggled to find his phone, wriggling his bulk in the chair until he found his pocket and phone.

“Juan Vega, yes. Yes. What? Now, I mean now? Yes ma’am. Ok. Right away. Ok, thank you.”

“What is it?” Clovis asked.

“You guys know Chet Reese?”

Before Clovis and Nick could answer, Juan blurted, “He’s been found dead!”

“Dead?” Clovis asked.

“I have to go down and identify the body, do you guys want to go with me? They’re still at the crime scene. You guys investigate stuff, maybe you can help the cops.”

“I don’t think so.” Nick said.

“What?” Clovis turned to his roommate who was leaning near the electric tea kettle.

“We weren’t invited, and we don’t investigate death. Death isn’t a game or a tourist attraction.” He turned away.

“Still, I would really feel better if you guys would go with me. I’m kind of nervous around cops, you know it’s a Latin thing.”

Clovis gave him a cockeyed look.


Clovis raised his eyebrows and pointed at his ebony face and short dreadlocks, “Don’t try to play the race card with me.”

Nick chuckled over the kettle as it whistled.

“Ok, right, well, you guys know the campus cops and they found him on campus. Would you please come with me?”

“Okay,” Nick said, “at least let me put together some travel mugs first.”

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Stay on Target, Stay on Target

I have a serious itch to write a fantasy story. I need to finish my mystery story, but the Christmas season and our new decor in our house are driving me towards fantasy. My muse is dressed all in yuletide garb and is dancing to a carol. How can I write a noir-ish mystery with all that going on?

Monday, November 30, 2009

NaNo NO!

Funny that this comes after a post on Oxi Day. I'm not going to make it, I'm not going to get 50,000 words done this month on my book.

I have my excuses all lined up, I was renovating my entire first floor, Dad with cancer, wife got the flu, kids' concerts and games, computer at work crashed. Bottom line is, I'm not going to make it again this year.

The good news is that I like the story. I'm going to try to write an hour a day until it's finished. At that rate I should have about 70k words by the end of the year, which is probably a better length for this work anyway.

I've really enjoyed creating the characters, town and the college (University of Senachwine in Illinois). There are still lots of blanks to fill in on the map and they aren't screaming at me, just calling seductively.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Happy Oxi Day

The Greek Old One, Cthulhu wishes all of you Hronia Pola!

Oxi Day is a Greek holiday celebrating when the Greeks told Mussolini to stick it in his ear. It was quickly followed by the Italian army invading Greece, which was quickly followed by the Italian army failing to capture Greece, which was quickly followed by Hitler and his boys coming to their rescue.

It is a very Cthulhuloid sort of holiday, an ancient alphabet, impending doom, denial, bloody resistance, mountains of death, Nazis, screaming death from the skies, muha ha ha ha!

BTW I can't use Greek characters, but it is pronounced like Oh-khee, not ox-ee (the second letter is a khee, not ksee).

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Getting My Game Face On

After an overwhelming majority (5 to nothing) I am tossing my computer in the ring and have signed up for NaNoWriMo 2009. Wish me luck.

I'm going to be writing a mystery this time round. I talked about the main characters before. The story is tentatively called The Boys of St. Leonard's.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Cthulhu Sunday

I got the Call of Cthulhu silent movie from the library and it put me out of action for days.

I highly recommend it.

PS. I'm going to go to go to work on Friday as a Superfan for Halloween.

Five reasons the Bears lost to the Bengals today:
5. At least we don't have to live in Cincinnati (it's not a reason for the loss, but at least it cheers me up)
4. The Bears just gave an excellent clinic on how you cannot win NFL games with no O-line, no D-line and no special teams. Did everybody pay attention, we don't want to have to do that again.
3. The team was out all night last night celebrating Da Coach's 70th birthday
2. Whatever happened to Lonnie Anderson and WKRP. Lovey and Ron were so busy trying to find the radio station that the game just got out of hand.
1. What're you talking about? The Bears didn't play the Bengals, that's just crazy talk, they're an AFC team. Forget you.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Strange Weather

Fifth coldest October on record so far, but we puny humans have been keeping records for a measily hundred years.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Nightmares of Katrina 4 - The Arrival

I need to write while I can, but I’m arguing with myself. I need to write, but, I don’t really want to write about, that incident. I have to write though and I have begun to tell the story so I really need to finish, whether I like it or not.

When we arrived in the New Orleans area things were very strange. People had a glassy look in their eyes and their faces were blank. The damage didn’t look too bad to me, but I had been jaded. I hadn’t been too long out of Afghanistan and you just can’t compare any place in the United States to the primitive and deprived conditions there.

We skirted south of the city, far from Lake Pontchartrain where the land was higher and the carnage inflicted by the Lake’s release had little or no direct effect. Still, there were small signs here and there of damage and destruction caused by the Hurricane herself.

The chief indicator was the people. They looked spent and were all headed out of town. Most of them had come back into the area to check the damage and to retrieve what they could. A few who had official duties had come back to help in the rescue efforts. While their own houses were underwater they were helping others.

In Belle Chasse NAS itself, things were even more chaotic than outside. Every state and territory with a National Guard had sent supplies, food and soldiers to support the relief efforts, but none had been coordinated. Units arrived by air and land with no instructions or orders; and with no one expecting or prepared for them.

I have been in the National Guard for over twenty years and I have seen the confusion that happens every month as civilians slowly, staggeringly and sometimes painfully change themselves into military personnel. This was beyond anything I had ever seen. There were regular Army, Navy and Air Force people there who were just as confused. It was almost as if there were some outside force affecting us, causing everyone to be even more confused and uncoordinated than they possibly could have gotten by themselves.

General Honore famously said we were, “Stuck on stupid,” but I don’t think it was stupid we were stuck on, and I don’t think it was all our fault.

An example of the confusion was how supplies were flown into Belle Chasse. The C130s would land, the supplies would be shoved out the cargo door and the planes would leave. The airfield would become quickly and irrevocably disorganized. Any unit with forklifts was employed to move the supplies off the airstrip, and more would land. The situation deteriorated to the point that yellow Post-it notes were used in lieu of ANY military forms.

No one seemed to see a problem with this while the inexhaustible stream of equipment and food continued to flow. The entire month we were there, it never did dry up.

We too, seemingly came out of no-where with no usable assets or skills, but we couldn’t be sent back. As far as the people in Belle Chasse were concerned, we were of no use without trucks or forklifts. The ideas of just-in-time supply, efficient logistics, planning and coordination were just foreign gibberish. We were raving lunatics of no conceivable use.

We spent three days trying to convince someone that we could bring some order to the logistic nightmare if only we could be allocated several rooms, computer and phone connections. As the Group Signal Officer it was my responsibility to make the connections. In the entire month of September that we were there, I never, never found anyone who would admit that they were the Senior Signal Officer in the AO (Area of Operations). Everyone was in charge of something, but that one over-all, coordinated, unity of command, as far as signal was concerned never materialized.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Cthomputer Cthulhu Cthaput!

My work computer died the other day. Unfortunately that was where I had all my Cthulhu stuff (and some writing stuff).

The IT folks at work said that the hard drive was completely wiped, absolutely empty, like it didn't even exist. This smacks of some malicious intent (and not on my part or maybe even not on the part of anyone of my species).

SO, I'm really scrambling to put my external "brain" back together.

The up side to all this is that I found Propnomicon. I was very excited until I realized that the "prop" in the name is referring to stage or RPG props. Oh well, we do share a sort of kinship.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Weekends with Cthulhu

Boy, hangovers are really bad when the Great Old Ones are involved.

Sorry I fell behind on my Cthulhu posts.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Cthulhu Help Me

Note that I have changed Nightmares of Katrina 2 and moved the information that was there to a new post (Nightmares of Katrina 3).

Please excuse the way I've been relaying the tale of my experiences in New Orleans after Katrina. It is a very painful and difficult memory and rather like scrubbing an infected wound to try and dredge up.

Please understand that I am struggling with a way to convey the information in a way that will serve as a warning, rather than simply as a story to entertain, or gods forbid, for anyone to try and follow.

I could never forgive myself if anyone tried to find the places I'm describing in these posts. I am going to give enough facts so that you will believe me and heed my warnings but please do not attempt to find the specific streets or buildings I'm going to tell you about.

I would be most happy if everyone abandoned New Orleans entirely, but I understand that it is home to some good people. For them I hope the best. For the rest of us, if you do not have to go to New Orleans or Louisiana at all, please don't.

I know I won't be going back.

Nightmares of Katrina 3

On the way down from North Riverside in the Chicago area we stopped off in Alexandria, LA near Fort Polk.

Fort Polk is the home of the Joint Readiness Training Center. It's the equivalent of the National Training Center in California, except that the NTC is mainly for training armor in a desert environment, JRTC is mainly for training infantry in a third world, tropical environment. If I ever wanted to choose a place in the US to represent a third world country it'd be Fort Polk.

At Fort Polk we were billeted on a parking lot. We waited two days as our OIC (Officer in Charge) was flown to the New Orleans area to find out what exactly our mission would be. He returned only having succeeded in determining that we would be stationed at Belle Chasse, New Orleans Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base (NAS JRB). Our mission was unknown, our facilities were unknown, our billet ting was unknown, the situation was unknown.

We left Fort Polk at first light. Somewhere just past Baton Rouge along I10 the expressway was closed for everyone except military, police and fire vehicles. The LA State Police had road blocks up and turned every civilian vehicle away. The road was ours alone. It was a bright sunny day, but we only saw a few ambulances heading southeast, nothing headed the other way. A lone HMMWV (Hum-Vee) on an unknown mission.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Lord's Day Cthulhu

So, I was in church yesterday. There was a Sunday School open house for my youngest. I sat in while they did some studying and then played a game of answering questions. My brilliant daughter stole some answers from the other team, knowing, among other things, the name of the censor (the thing they burn incense in and bless the congregation).

In honor of that I put this image.

Interesting that Acts 16 talks about what happened when
Paul went to Athens. He was invited to debate in the Socratic style. Predominately he was laughed at and ignored.

The church makes this point to show how special Dionysus was to accept the Word and become the Bishop of Athens.

I don't remember hearing this story before, but if I did I never realized that even back then, when you apply logic and reason to the Bible, it falls flat. Now that I'm thinking Deistically I see that as the real point of the story. I think our responsibility as sentient creatures is to use our God-given brains to the best of our ability, not to turn them off and follow blindly.

Anyway, it has nothing to do with this month, but Cthulhu is fun.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Cthulhu Icon?

For Halloween I decorate my cubicle and I was thinking this time to make a Cthulhu icon.

My wife and kids are Greek Orthodox and they're big on icons. We, like all good Orthodox are supposed to, have a space in our house that is set aside for the icons.

They are usually called Icon Corners or Icon Tables. Here is one.

They look very mystic and I think it would look extremely creepy if it were dedicated to the Elder Gods.

I am planning on printing an image of Cthulhu and decoupaging or varnishing it to a board to be my icon. I'm also going to get some of those battery powered candles. What else do you think I could have in my Blasted Icon Corner?

Friday, October 02, 2009

Photographs of Cthulhu

Wait a minute, did that say PHOTOGRAPHIC, as in from a photo of the Great Old One? Well bust my britches and buy me a new white jacket with extra long sleeves, but this here site claims to have made posters from photographs.

I think there may be a certain Inspector LaGrasse that might want to look into that one. Either that's false advertising or something else sinister. I hesitate to say more sinister, because what could be worse than expecting true revelation from one of the elder gods and finding that it's a hoax perpetrated by just one of Cthulhu's many followers, bent and twisted as they are? Huh, I ask you.

BTW, I don't know why I switched into a kind of affected country accent just then.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Let Cthulhu Month Begin!

It's Cthulhu Month again, hurrah! This is the third annual one. That's right, I've been posting daily Cthulhu images two years already.

This year I'm going to try to get some unique images that can be found no where else on the net. I've seen my share of uncanny and unearthly things, I know things that shouldn't be known. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately for your sanity and mine, I never seem to have a camera when I encounter strange things.

If you have strange images, or know of someone who does, please contact me I'd like to put them on the blog. Hey, insanity loves company, right?

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Nightmares of Katrina 2

Army National Guard units belong to two masters. They are part of the US Army, but they also belong to their state and must obey the lawful orders of their governor.

When a National Guard unit gets sent on a federal mission (to Afghanistan for instance) they are alerted months ahead of time (usually), sometimes at weekend "drill." When a unit gets put on state active duty the alert is usually a phone call, in my case it has always been when I was at work. Some one calls you and tells you that you have a certain number of hours to report to the armory.

Usually there is some event that you are watching closely and hoping that you won't be needed, won't be called. I've been on state active duty for riot control, flood abatement and hurricane relief. Every time when the phone rang I knew exactly what it was.

When I was called up for Katrina there were only a handful of us that had the early call. LTC John (then MAJ John) was already at the armory when I arrived. He had actually been there a day before I had to report, but he didn't go with us on that faithful drive south, into the storm ravaged land.

We would have reported to our home armory on North Avenue and Kedzie Avenue in Chicago, in the corner of Humboldt Park. The armory was built in the 1930s when America had thought they had seen the last of war, thought that National Guard service was all fun and games. It was years before the shock and horror of Pearl Harbor, and a millennium separated from the devastation wrought on our own land on a sunny day in September.

On the sunny day in September which I was to report our armory was closed for some badly needed repairs. Walls and ceilings were being rebuilt, windows replaced, electricity and phone lines run. The things they found, bricked away for decades would be another story. For this one, we reported to the armory at the North Riverside Maintenance Center and Training Site.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Nightmares of Katrina

You know, it's hard to believe that Huricane Katrina hit LA, MS and AL just over four years ago.

I was called into active duty to help with the victims. I left Chicago with the advanced party from my Illinois Army National Guard unit (108th Sustainment Bde) just two days after Katrina had plowed through the gulf states.

We drove a hummer down and I ended up spending all of September 2005 at a Louisana Air National Guard Base in a suburb of New Orleans called Belle Chasse.

We had only been back from our deployment in Afghanistan since April 2005. In fact we were the most recently deployed unit sent there (besides the LANG units who were recalled from Iraq to come home and help).

There were things I saw there that I had never seen before, strange things that boggle my mind and keep me up at night. I think I may be far enough removed from the events to relay them to you know. I'm not sure, but we'll see. I'll write the stories to you in the next couple of posts, if I can manage it.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Investigator Marshall Team 199

This is the first scene of a story I just started working on. I've been thinking about it a bit, and a recent L&O, CI got me to thinking about my Dad's carreer as a Chicago Cop. BTW 199 was his Captain star number in the CPD.

"I don't think you're particularly wanted here Marshall." Vega Iggallos folded her massive arms and looked down at the uniformed man.

The holographic face on the blue and red box on the man's left lit up and turned to the Amazon, "Technically, his title is Senior Investigator, and his name is Harris Cerwin, Leader Iggallos."

"That is KUC-42-LAGY, or Lagy for short, and this is EJB-82-RECO or Reco for short, and they are the only things I'm senior to. You're world is a signatory of the Asteroid Belt Conglomeration Accord, gaining the benefit and burden of the Conglomeration Security Marshalls."

Iggallos' neck veins pulsed and the overdeveloped muscles in her jowls tensed. "We expected that the Marshalls would police the SPACE between worlds. The whole point of ninety percent of the worlds in the Belt is for the people of those worlds to live the way the want without the interference or judgment of others."

Cerwin, in his formal navy blue uniform betrayed no fear of the woman who stood twice his height and six times his mass. Neither his firearm nor his uniform provided any real protection, the knobots who were his partners were some protection, but it was really his knowledge that a calm demeanor, reason, and dedication to purpose were enough to persuade all but the furthest gone psychopath.

Showing no fear and having no fear were two very different things though. Cerwin had to fight hard to hide the fear in his throat and the pounding of his heart. His efforts to meet the intensity of the Leader of the Amazons with his own cold, professional, law enforcement intensity were hampered not only by her overwhelming power, but also by the fact that Iggallos wore only a loin cloth, and despite her muscles she was the most feminine person he had met in over a year. In fact, she was absolutely a stone cold hottie.

Her skin and hair were perfect, her muscles, though massive were well proportioned and gently curving rather than angular. Her face, far above his, if he could see past her massive, naked chest, was heart shaped with natural color and a button nose that managed to somehow seem not incongruous with the size of the rest of her. There were some Amazons who looked like a badly cropped photo of a model's head onto a male bodybuilder's body, but not Iggallos. Her blue-green eyes sparkled from her lovely face, even when she was at her most intimidating, like when she was staring down the new Marshall sent from "The Glom."

"Ms Iggallos, I did not choose to come here, nor, I assure you, did the Marshall Service intend to interfere with internal governmental functioning. My presence here, as with most single Investigator Marshall Team's is to provide additional resources for you use and to ensure that Conglomeration are upheld."

"What was that noise?" Cewin turned toward the apparent sound of gunfire.

"Rifle fire." Reco stated, Lagy concurred instantly. Iggallos looked embarrassed.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Busy Busy

I just had to check in because I said I would, but an avalanche of work has fallen on me at work, we're remodeling our entire first floor, the girls have volleyball, I've got my country's 500th anniversary to plan, my wife to murder, and Guilda to frame for it, I'm swamped.

I'll have more tomorrow because it's Friday, but I'm thinking about: female detective set in a fiction town of Ecophilopolis (known as Dam City), a middle aged male detective who solves crime during lunch time at a big business, and a Solar System Marshall who solves crimes in the Asteroid Belt with his two companion "kno-bots."

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

NaNo or No NaNo

I've done NaNoWriMo four times now and actually managed to "finish" my novel twice. Both times I got to the required 50,000 word count which qualifies as finishing, but both times I got to about 40,000 words and had to truncate the end so I could finish on time. They should have probably been 75 or 100k novels.

SO, they both need heavy editing, which I was never really very good at, and it never really moved me to spend a lot of time on.
I know the responsible among you will say, "Don't write another one until you fix the ones you have," or something along those lines, but I just can't bring myself to spend that kind of time to disassemble and reassemble those novels.
So that's not on the table as a choice.
Table, what table? Well, I'm putting up a poll and I'm going to let my visitors decide whether or not I should attempt NaNoWriMo this time or not. I know some of you are more aware of my schedule situation than others, but that's fine. Sometimes it is the busiest people who are the busiest because they can get the most done.
The poll will be a simple Yes or No, but PLEASE feel free to add comments on the posts as we go along.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Happy Autumnal Equinox

Happy Autumnal Equinox everybody!

I've been remiss in posting here and I think it's one of those snowball things. I didn't post for a while, then I was too embarrassed to post with out something meaningful to say, then I had some good stuff to say but I didn't have time to type them up well. You know the story.

With Autumn upon us, it is almost Cthulhu month, so you know I'll be posting daily then, but I think it may be more of a habit thing. I need to get into the habit of posting, then it will work better.

One of my colleagues here at work took the day off for Autumnal Equinox. He said he was just going to walk around. I like that idea. Every now and then my Dad would take us out of school and we would go for a walk in the forest preserves. He said that sometimes it was more important to have days like that than to be in school. In retrospect, these days may have been after particularly harrowing days at work (he was a Chicago Cop), but I only remember them as great little hikes, usually in the fall.

I really like the idea of communing with nature that way, just getting out and being. I try to remember and observe the solstices and equinoxes because I think in modern life we have alienated ourselves so much from nature that we forget that if the sun and earth didn't play nice this way, none of us would be here. School starts well before Labor Day and ends with no regard to Memorial Day (the traditional bookends of summer around where I live) and work just goes on and on with absolutely no regard to season, day or night, we'll just adjust the HVAC and Daylight Savings Time. The celestial holidays are REAL. We can hide in our buildings and ignore them, but they are happening, and we should pay attention.

That's Demeter in the picture, by the way, the goddess of the harvest. In Greek mythology this is the day that her daughter Persephone returns to the underworld and her husband Hades for the winter months. It was sort of a plea bargain after Hades kidnapped Persephone was that he would share her with Demeter, thus giving us the seasons.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Tomorrow Is Talk Like a Pirate Day! Get Ready!

My pirate name is:
Iron William Roberts
A pirate's life isn't easy; it takes a tough person. That's okay with you, though, since you a tough person. Two things complete your pirate persona: style and swagger. Maybe a little too much swagger sometimes -- but who really cares? Arr!
Get your own pirate name from
part of the network

Friday, June 12, 2009

Good Night Dear Lady

My Dad called me yesterday at about 9:15 to tell me that my maternal Grandmother (Bushia) had passed. She was a very special lady and with my Grandfather they were the role models for our marriage.

She had been in poor health, but there was nothing particullarly life threatening yesterday. We think she just decided that it was time to go be with Grandpa.

We will miss her very much.

Friday, June 05, 2009

The Queen of the Blues Has Left the Building

Koko Taylor died yesterday at 80. I didn't know her work well enough (I had seen this performance when it was on TV though), and in truth (I'm ashamed to admit it as a Chicagoan) I only started appreciating Blues a few years ago. I guess you do have to live before you can sing the Blues.

Well, I will be making a trip to the library today and get some of her albums in tribute.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Listen to Bellwether!

There is a lovely podcast called The Cthulhu Podcast. He has been kind enough to read "Bellwether's Asteroid" in two parts.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Building a Bridge of Faith

I realized that I have actually always been a deist, and always will be a deist.

This is important because I have been in a crisis of faith for almost a year now. In July of 2008 I really started doubting the existence of God. In fact, I was pretty sure that there could be no God. The part of my model of the universe that was held up by faith had been blown away.

My model had always been predominantly built on scientific facts. Most of my "path" was on solid ground. There was a very small gap that faith had to span, but the banks of that chasm had shifted and the span had collapsed.

I had to rebuild, but the material I had once used was not strong enough anymore (a modified Catholic catechism with no Hell, no Devil, the bible as allegory, sin and evil as shortages of goodness, God the creator, the Holy Spirit as the spirit of God with us, Jesus Christ as a physical manifestation of God, heaven for those who mold their souls into something compatible with it, the universe and mankind as creations with a purpose, the supremacy of Love, the authority of the church handed down from Christ, the ability of God to perform miracles, and the ability to communicate with God through prayer). I searched and am still searching frantically for material for which to build my bridge of faith. I may use some of the old material yet.

What I have realized as I searched for material to build my bridge is that deism is not material from which the bridge is built. Deism is the tools, knowledge and skill with which I have always, and will always build my bridge, or bridges.

This goes hand in hand with thinking skeptically (or free-thinking), but where skepticism is negative, deism is positive. Skepticism helps sort out the bad material, but deism helps build good material into something useful.

This is very comforting. There is a storm raging in my soul, but no matter how bad things get, I will always be able to build that bridge because I will always have my deist tools.

Well, that's one less thing that I have to worry about.

Saturday, May 16, 2009


I played Rugby today for the Lake County Gladiators against Fox Valley Maoris. I didn't start but about five minutes in the starting Loosehead Prop went down with a badly sprained calf. I went in and played the rest of the match.

About half way through the first half we were at about the five meter line and there was a ruck forming (I don't think it had actually formed yet, which was why this worked). The ball came out and went past me. I heard the Ref (I don’t know why people call the ref, "The Sir" it seems strange to me) say, "Play on."

I turned around and picked up the ball expecting to be hit in the back, but I wasn't and I turned toward the goal line. Most of the other players looked confused. They weren't confused enough to do nothing, but too confused and worried about going off-sides that they hadn't hit me yet. I saw a gap and hit it. Several members of the other team tried to tackle me, but they had been caught flat footed and they managed to bring me down with my head and shoulders in the In Goal area. I reached out with the ball as I went down and downed the ball half in goal. I moved it forward immediately to make sure it was a try, but the ref called it as soon as I had downed it the first time.

It was strange because I think I've only ever scored four times previously, the last time in 2005. In '05 I was really pumped and jumped up and screamed. This time I got up and walked back to midfield. I got a lot of hand slaps, but nothing really that impressed. I guess it was because in the game in '05 mine was the only score for our teams (I think we played three matches that day) all day.

Today we won 57-12. The other Bill on the team (Number 8) scored three times. It got to the point when the forwards were asking whose turn it was next.

Anyway I scored today, number five in my life, so I am really happy. I had to preserve the story for posterity.

This week, I'll be very happy to tell people, "I am a Rugby player."

This isn't actually me, and I had a lot more resistance when I scored, but I kinda dived this way.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Happy BirthdayYou Two!

200 Years ago today two of the most influential men in history were born. Happy Birthday Gentlemen. We are forever in your debt.

I would be remiss if I did not make a post today.

I must say that as someone who holds a degree in Anthropology I agree with the Theory of Evolution and applaud the work that Charles Darwin did to advance it.

Also, as a man who holds a degree from the University of Illinois, I am proud that we have adopted Mr. Lincoln as our own and that he made our state his final resting place (though the events of the last two months have most likely had him spinning endlessly, for joy and then in embarrassment).
For a very long time I was in units of the Illinois Army National Guard (in which Lincoln could be said to have served as a young man while a member of the Illinois Militia) that had as a unit patch a shield with the silhouette of Mr. Lincoln. I was very proud to wear that patch and upset when people did not recognize the same image that adorns our pennies (one person actually thought it was Jay Leno). Today is also the 100th anniversary of the Lincoln penny (to mark his 100th birthday).

Also for a very long time I carried a copy of the Gettysburg Address in my wallet. I now carry it in electrons in my Palm PDA. I cannot fathom or conceive of a greater speech ever made in the history of men, because if it's message and its brevity.

Please take some time today to think about, read or watch information about the works and thoughts of these two men. You will be enlightened and uplifted.

The images are of Mr. Lincoln in Chicago in 1858 and Mr. Darwin as he appeared while on the HMS Beagle. I'm sure they need no further introductions.