Sunday, February 24, 2013

Goal Report and "Gone Daddy Gone"

Although in great pain in my left knee I've completed Week 7 of P90X.  That ends the hard part of Phase II.  Next week is a "rest week"  of just cardio and yoga and such.  That's good, because it will hopefully give me a chance to let my knee heal.

What has me just as concerned is that my viewership has gone down steadily this year.  From a peak weekly average of about 11 views per day, down to 3 per day last week.  I guess I can say anything I want now because I know no one is going to read it.  This is quite frustrating.

I don't know if it will help, but I did promise some fiction and I did write a story.  I guess now is as good a time as any to share it.

Gone Daddy Gone

The snow was coming down in buckets; buckets of slush that would taste like oily Slurpee if one were to put a straw to the streets. In less than an hour the nightfall would turn it into freezer-burnt ice cream.

Monica could almost hear the soggy snowflakes smacking the window. She hugged herself as she took a drag from her clove cigarette and thought, "Good, they won't come today."

She had to take them if they came, that was her vow, her vocation, but no one would come on a day like this. Still she had to be ready, standing there letting the power flow through her in a dribble, as little as possible, but ready to open the slue and flood over her.

The dribble tickled, warmed and dulled her. The longer she kept it flowing the worse it would get. She dreaded a useless hangover. If she could just know that it would all be worth it, she could stand it.

Just a quick peek, a glimpse, like downing a shot of tequila, then she could go to bed and sleep it off.

She breathed deeply, closed her eyes and let the visions wash over her.

The day blurred in swirling, darkening gray, a fast forward of the whiteout turning to night. A dark shape exploded into existence, she slowed it until it became a man, stooped and slogging.

He made his way past her yard. When he came level with her gate another figure appeared, taller, more mobile even in the thick white. He came up from behind with a full hand; something glinted in the feeble light.

"No," she reached out, but that was not hers to command. She could not stay the execution simply with her hand. She tried, she drew in the power, drank it deep, felt her head swim, her acuity slipping. She swung the power like an overcharged fire hose.

She slowed it, got herself under control before she lost it. The man took the other and left him slowly staining the snow with his life, then he ran off into the balls of yellow light that struggled to guide him through a dark and white night.

This did not, would not happen for hours she guessed. She had time yet to help him, to stop it.

The thought was a small child lost in the raging tempest of her drunken mind. She slipped and fell to the floor wet in nothing but her tears while she drowned in the power.

"Stupid," she cursed herself. She lay still gathering her thoughts, letting the room spin and concentration not on herself, but on the problem.

Suddenly she retched, jumped up and vomited from her hands and knees. Three full heaves and she steadied herself. It helped, she could stand.

She let the mess stay on the hardwood. She staggered to her desk and retrieved the amulet and let more run out of her, into the device. She walked to the bathroom and splashed her face with cold water three times before grabbing her coat from the hall hook and going out to the garden gate.

She went to where he would be, where the act would take place. She stood there shivering, but if she were there it couldn't happen THERE, it had to happen somewhere else and maybe not at all.

Her feet started feeling wet in her thin boots, her coat got wet, the scarf on her head soaked. The shivering crawled its way to her bones. She hugged herself tighter and stamped the slush; always watch from where he would come.

How long? When? She had to know. The cold was just too much. Her mind wasn't fully clear yet, but she couldn't stand there for hours, she'd die of hypothermia.

She grasped the amulet tightly and let some of the power slosh over her weakened levees. It was a careful, calculated measure.

There was the street in the dark storm in a different time, in his time. The man was there, a few feet away looking down, fighting through the storm and whatever pains of his own.

But, the time? She looked around to see how long she would have to wait for him. Something was wrong, suddenly she realized: the street signs were different.

The Chicago street signs had been white on green since she was a child, but before that they were black on yellow, same as the one she now looked up at. She hadn't looked forward, but back.

The man looked up and saw her, just in front of her, their eyes met.


She stood frozen.

He reached out, in his hand her amulet.

The other man struck. He was on the first, his knife struck as the amulet passed to her hand. The old man fell at her feet.

Just before he turned to run she looked eyes with the killer, "Father?"

"The amulet must pass in blood, I had to, I promised your grandfather. Now you must make the vow."

She drank the power deeply, her grandfather pouring it down her throat, "I swear."

He took a breath and ran off into the night as she returned to the now and collapsed into the unstained slush.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Goal Report (P90X Mostly)

I'm done.

I'm done with week 6 of P90X.  There was no problem with that, but now I'm part way through week 7.  I had shied away from the Plyo because I had hurt my calf doing it when I was doing my first attempt at P90X.  I had figured I had waited and been doing Cardio as a substitute for long enough.

I did Plyo yesterday and today I couldn't walk on my left knee.  Well, of course I could, but only with extreme pain.  Well, I guess that's it then.  I have to find another high intensity cardio workout with low impact.

I have not done the Girl Scout training yet.  That's bad and I have to fix it.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy VDay

Happy Valentine's Day!  You know here in Chicagoland we don't only think of Saint Valentine and romance on the 14th of February, we also think about organized crime.

This is the anniversary of the St. Valentine's Day Massacre.  I'm sure you've heard of it.  They made a move about it called, Some Like It Hot.

This got me thinking.  What do you think of when you think of Chicago?  I've heard that many people only think about Chicago as a place where prohibition and Al Capone still reign.

Do you think of crime and violence?

Do you think of food, pizza, hot dogs, italian beef, etc.?

Do you think of architecture; Prairie style, skyscrapers, Sears tower, Chicago School of architecture, etc?

Do you think of sports teams (and losing); Cubs, Bears, Bulls, Michael Jordan, Walter Payton?

Do you think of neighborhoods; the Loop; the El?

Do you think of the museums and universities; Field Museum, Sue the T Rex, Shed Aquarium, Museum of Science and Industry, Art Institute; Adler Planetarium, University of Chicago, Fermi Labs, Argonne National Labs, etc.?

Do you think of movies; Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Risky Business, Blues Brothers, Flatliners, Breakfast Club, 16 Candles, The Fugitive, The Untouchables, etc.?

Do you think of music; Blues, Jazz, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Muddy Waters, Chicago, Smashing Pumpkins, Fallout Boy, etc.?

Do you think of comedians; Second City, Bill Murray, John Belushi, Julie Louise Dreyfus, Jack Benny, Vince Vaughn, Del Close, Harrison Ford, Bernie Mac, John C. Reilly, Harold Ramis, Bob Zemeckis, Adam Baldwin?

Do you think of riots and disasters; Haymarket riot, 1968 Democratic National Convention, Fort Dearborn Massacre, Chicago Fire?

Do you think of Oprah?

Monday, February 11, 2013

P90X eX-Xvi

Going to take up cycling around Miami?
I have completed week V of my P90X work.  I completed week IV but that was a cake walk because it was the resting week.  Week V started Phase II with some new routines and a slightly different pattern.  It was a bit tough because of scheduling.  I had to skip Tuesday and I didn't get to Friday or Saturday until after 10:00pm (2200).  It is done now though and in the books, now to continue with Phase II.

If you are wondering about all the roman numerals it is because I found out this morning that today they confirmed that Pope Benedict XVI is going to retire at the end of the month.  RETIRE?  I didn't know they could do that.  Wikipedia says the last time a Pope retired was in 1415 (that's before there WAS an America (the continents I mean, not just the country (and by this I'm sure you know my tongue is firmly plastered to my cheek)))!  I wonder what the deal is exactly and when the College of Cardinals will meet up to elect a new one.  I'll have to keep an eye on it.

I'll let you know right now that although I consider myself a Secular Catholic and a Deist, if I'm elected, I WILL serve.  It has always been my contention that if the College of Cardinals sends up the white smoke and comes out with MY name then the hand of God must be in there somewhere.  Who am I to question the will of God?

My Girl Scout goal is to get Outdoor Training.  I have yet to reschedule, but I do have new emphasis and reason to get off my thinking place and do so.  Our troop is planning a camping trip in April and next month is March, when I have to get my training.

On a Chicago Lincoln Avenue Trail note.  As you know my goal is to develop and write a fortnightly podcast of Chicago History to reinforce and compliment the CLAT work we're doing.  This afternoon I'm meeting with part of the steering committee to do a little steering.  We are going to work on writing a proposal for prospective Eagle Scout candidates so that the project to work on the CLAT with us is within the guidelines of the requirements for the Eagle Scout project.

Monday, February 04, 2013

January Poll February Poll

January's poll was a total bust, well almost.  There was one vote only a couple of days before the poll closed.  Someone voted that they would like to go back to  more than a 1000 years ago if they could.  I don't know when exactly or why.

That was disappointing to say the least.

So now it's February and I have a new poll.

I recently listened to a podcast that included an interview with Alfred McCoy the author of Four Scenarios For The Coming Collapse of The American Empire.  Although I don't like to get political and I don't consider the USA to be or have an, "empire" as a (somewhat aspiring) Science Fiction author I am always interested in the future.

After listening to this I have been seeing signs of the predicted collapse and the failure of the lights at last night's Super Bowl was just another indication to me that the USA is indeed faltering.

There are other articles like thisthis and this that talk about the USA falling from superpower status.  The NSA has agreed with Mr. McCoy that the final collapse will occur between 2025 and 2030.

I always knew that all governments eventually fail, but until listening and reading this material I really didn't think it would happen in my lifetime.  Now I'm fairly convinced that 2025 is probably a good guess.

Here are the  four possible outcomes of the USA falling from superpower status given in US Intelligence Analysts: American Power is in Terminal Decline:
(numbered bullets mine)
  1. "...the US would withdraw inward, allowing globalization to “stall.” "
  2. "...“fusion” and describe as the “most plausible best-case scenario,” would see an increasingly economically dominant and militarily powerful China joining in an era of cooperation with the US."
  3. "a “genie-out-of-the-bottle” world in which growing inequality leads to explosions in many nations, while climate-change and population-pressure driven shortages of water, food and energy, lead to increasing international conflicts, with the US no longer able to act in the role of “international policeman.”"
  4. "a weakening of nation states, as new technologies allow non-state actors, such as mega cities and shifting coalitions of non-state actors, to become leaders"
I think the best possible scenario is that nation-states evolve into something more peaceful and stable.  I wouldn't mind the collapse so much if that is what will rise from the ashes.  I'm not convinced it will, but I'm a hopeful person.

The question for my poll this month is this:  When do you think the USA will slip from superpower status: in the next 15 years (by 2028); by mid-century (2050); within this century (2001-2100); sometime after the 21st century; or never.

Remember I'm not talking about the USA going away, we still have Britain, but it is no longer the preeminent nation it was in the Victorian era.  That's the kind of collapse and new status I'm talking about.

Please discuss here.

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Καλό μήνα! February Late

Boy-howdy do I have a lot to report.  I may have to do it in a couple of posts.  I need to tell you about last month's poll and this month's poll.  Also, I need to tell you about my January goal review and what's coming up for February

I will go in order of priority:

  1. When I do my yoga today I will have completed my first month of P90X and everything is going fine so far.  The only problem is that I'm hovering around 231 lbs.  I would really like to get below 220, but I don't seem to be losing really.  I know my waist is getting smaller and I'm getting bigger, but in the past by this time I'd be starting to go down steadily.  We will see how it goes.  I don't really have enough time to add additional workouts so I'll just have to be better about my diet.
  2. For Greek I have been studying almost every day with flashcards.  That's good, but not good enough.  I need to get some sort of immersion and pronunciation guide.
  3. For Quarterly dates I was supposed to calendarize them by now, but I haven't.  I was also supposed to make some reservations, which I haven't.  No excuses; this is my third priority goal and I need to get this done.
  4. I'm also supposed to report weekly about my Girl Scout training, but I haven't done any yet this month.  I am behind on that and I need to get on the stick.
  5. Get a new job.  This is a bit complicated.  As my last post showed, the wheel of meat missed me by that much.  I do still have a job thanks to random chance.  I have left off my search until that was over.  I have contacted my mentor and he wants to continue.  I'll start looking again this week.
  6. Gold Commissioner JtE points is hard to judge right now, but we are recruiting in the right direction.
  7. The history podcast is kind of directionless right now.  I partially blame you readers because I have gotten no response to my post to discuss format for this.  I have been looking into Chicago history, gotten DVDs and listened to history podcast.  All this is good, but without a good solid plan it will go no where and that's where it is right now.
  8. Learn the trees has been postponed until spring and when it comes back I want to learn the trees in a way that will tie in with my 9th goal.
  9. Participate in an Archaeology activity.  I've chosen learning to start a fire in the traditional way.  It seems that the hand-stick method was almost universally used by Amerindians.  I'm going to learn to do that and I'm going to experiment with different woods from different trees (see how that ties in) and try to see what types of woods they would have used.  It's going to wait until Spring too though.
  10.  Join a club is the lowest priority and I've put it off for now.  I'm short on a lot of the other goals and need to bring them up to speed first.
This looks like I'm just complaining about myself.  The truth is that I've been very busy, but I DO need to buckle down.  I will try to make a better effort in February.

I will talk about my plans to make all this happen and my polls in the next post...