Monday, December 28, 2015

13 Worldbuilding Questions: Numbers 7 & 8 continued

  7.  What's the predominant culture?
  8.  What's the current form of societal normalcy?

In the previous post I explained how I measure the alien civiliations (and ours).  In this post I want to tell you about the most significant (aka predominant) cultures.

I've described the Originator Race in previous posts, but according to the scales I just established I thought I should include their rating.
SQ:  +25
CL:  8d

The Deific Race is just slightly younger than our universe and only slightly less powerful than the Originator Race.  They're purpose is to destroy the current universe adn install a new one of their making.  They want to make something like stargates to collapse our existing universe, bringing about it's destruction and releasing the energy for their own purposes.

The DR are a community intelligence that uses spore-like devices (not purely physical or energy, but bundles of information and intelligence) to reproduce and infect.  They interact with races like Homo sapiens when one of these spores comes in contact with some human at least at genius level.  Anything less would destroy the infected mind.

The DR are almost beyond time, having learned to bend and manipulate it to their own devices.  They don't know death and can take any amount of time to do things.

The DR make use of all the most advanced forms of communications.

SQ:  +20
CL:  8c
KS:  V

The Puissant Race (PR) are another transcendent race who have moved beyond their physical bodies, but are not a communal intelligence.  Because of this they will probably never reach the level of the Deific Race and they know it.  This makes them bitter and envious.  They have turned their concerns to controlling everything in this universe.

The entity Aachiang in "Bellwether's Asteroid" is a member of this race.

SQ:  +18
CL:  8b

There are aliens who frequently visit earth, but they are so powerful and alien that we don't recognize their present.  These are the Extrinsic Aliens (EA).  The EA are a galaxy-wide presence and force, not limited by time or set physical bodies.  

They have individual personalities within their communal intelligence, able and needing to create physical bodies to act as avatars to interact with the physical universe.  

They are capable of creating portals, or stargates.  They can even use these to move data directly into someone's mind, with a similar affect of psychic powers.

SQ:  +16 
CL:  7c

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

13 Worldbuilding Questions: Numbers 7 & 8

  7.  What's the predominant culture?
  8.  What's the current form of societal normalcy?

What is the predominant culture in the universe?  I suppose that depends on your definition of predominant.  Obviously the most dominant is the Originator Race.  On the other hand, they are so powerful and intelligent that they don't normally interact with humans, at least not in a way that is understandable to humans.

There are several other very powerful species and some are even in our galactic neighborhood.

Before I do it would be best if I introduce several methods of measuring intelligence.

The first is the Sentience Quotient (SQ).  This describes just how quickly information is gathered, interpreted and a decision can be made on.   Per Wikipedia, it is, "the relationship between the information processing rate (bit/s) of each individual processing unit (neuron), the weight/size of a single unit and the total number of processing units (expressed as mass)."  Homo sapiens SQ is +13.  All earth animals are within a few points of this while earth plants are around -2.

The next measure of the civilizations in my universe is the Cognizance Level (CL).  This is how the civilization interacts with its environment.  Each level is divided into four letter levels:
a.  Awareness of the environment at that level
b.  Being able to respond at an individual level
c.  Manipulating the environment
d.  Understanding the environment fully

The overall levels are based on the description, scope of the environment:

  1. Immediate Environment
  2. Extended Environment (outside of senses)
  3. Community
  4. Self
  5. Time
  6. Cosmos
  7. Physical Ability
  8. Meta-Cosmos
Humans are probably a 4c.

The last measure of the civilizations is the well known Kardashev scale (KS).  Simply:
0.  (Carl Sagan addition) A civilization capable of using a mega watt
I.  A civilization capable of using all the available energy of their planet
II.  Using all the energy of the home star
III.  Using all the energy of the home galaxy
IV.  (questionable addition) Using all the energy of the universe
V.  (even more questionable, but probably necessary for my universe) capable of using all the energy of several universes

Humans are at about 0.724.

I think I should break it here and talk about the individual civilizations, or races in a second post for these questions.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

13 Worldbuilding Questions: Numbers 5 & 6

  5.  What's the linguistic situation on this world?

Math is the language of the universe, and math is the universe, and the universe is math, and the universe speaks in math.

Seriously.  There are physicists and mathematicians who claim that the universe is math.  Personally, in real life, I think math is the language of the universe, but not the reality of the universe.  In my stories however, it is all.

This is partially because it frightens me that the universe may not actually be a thing, but rather a mathematical probability, or collections of possibilities.  The universe is real, it is a thing, we are all things that really exist in a real universe, don't we?  Don't we?!

  6.  What's the primary means of communication?

Quantum communications is a thing in my universe and it is the primary means of long distance communication for those intelligences great enough to make use of it.

There is another means of communicating that involves alternating the universe itself.  This is akin to traveling using a warp drive, similar to that found in the Star Trek universe.

This universe warping communication is so difficult, complicated and power hungry that only the most advanced of the most advanced races can use it.  They, however use it at a whim.  They don't care how much power it requires.  It's a trifle to them.

They can and do put thoughts directly into our neuronic systems without a moment's hesitation.  In fact, they can warp time as well, so that a even a moment is not a moment.

The lowly races such as ourselves communicate through electromagnetic radiation in the form of radio waves.  Those a little more advanced than us have learned to keep their big mouths shut.  To announce to the universe that you are a life baring planet with intelligence to exploit, abuse, enslave, destroy, crush, and subjugate is pure folly.  They've learned there are races in our universe what would love nothing better than to revel in the dispiriting, disheartening and  demoralization of another intelligence. 

Sunday, December 13, 2015

13 Worldbuilding Questions: Numbers 3 & 4

  3.  What happened here before?
  4.  How does its history influence the present?

In the previous post I did start talking about what happened before.  The godlike Originator Race created our universe after destroying their own.

The key influence this has on our present is that our entire universe obeys their laws, and/or whims.

Panspermia is the concept that life on Earth was seeded from other places in the universe.  H.P. Lovecraft plays with this idea in At the Mountains of Madness and "Shadow Out of Time."   In fact his Old Ones are the ones who created humans as a joke or mistake.

In my universe this isn't true.  Life developed on Earth just as our scientists say it did.  Was it influenced by aliens?  Were there monoliths as described in Arthur C. Clarke's 2001 and 2010?  In my initial concepts there was not.

Aliens are very powerful and intelligent.  For the most part they don't care about us at all.  They would not make an effort to "uplift" us as the aliens in Clarke's work.

Panspermia is out.  It is possible that aliens interfered in our past and could interfere with us in our future, but they are not benevolent.  This is horror after all, but why should they hate us?  They don't.  They are indifferent and unsympathetic.

This would be a good time to discuss the Great Filter.  This is a concept borne of the Fermi Paradox.  Given the number of possible worlds and the age of the galaxy, the purely random chance of life should have yielded many, many worlds, prompting physicist Enrico Fermi to ask, "Where is everybody?"  one day at lunch.

Since we have no evidence of any other life in our galaxy there must be something that keeps life from either developing at all, or if it does develop it must never get to the level of using radios and being detectable by our SETI efforts.

The thing that keeps life from developing or advancing is called the Great Filter.  There are several candidates for the Great Filter:  berserkers, self-destruction, cosmic destruction, etc.  None are very good, all are great horror story fodder.

In my stories all of these may brush against us, threatening our existence, threatening the existence of not just mankind, not just life, not just the earth, but our entire solar system.

We are also rarely and disastrously come in fleeting contact with the insanely powerful alien races that inhabit our galaxy, our universe and neighboring universes and even dimensions.  None of them is as stupid, weak and ignorant as us.  We are defenseless, like a swimmer when a great white shark decides to find out what the strange not-seal is and with casual curiosity bites off her leg.

Sunday, December 06, 2015

13 Worldbuilding Questions: Numbers 1 & 2

I said I was working on 13 Worldbuilding questions, so here is the first installment of the answers.


  1.  Where are we?
  2.  What's the natural environment like?

Of course you are asking yourself, and me, where are we?  What world is this, what stories is this the world for?  What sort of stories will take place in this world.

I'm focusing on horror stories.  I have written and intend to write straight up horror.  My brand of horror is cosmic horror, like H.P. Lovecraft.  I also intend to do mash-up horror, like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.  I haven't written any yet, but I've wanted to do it a long time.

The mash-up horror would still be cosmic, but I would mix in some other element.

For this "world" building I would keep both these ends of my story telling spectrum in mind, perhaps leaving off some details that are as yet undecided, spoiler-ific, or are outliers specific to one of the story types.

Where are we?  We are in our universe, for the most part.  There are some things about our universe that are unknown to science.  This world does not violate any known scientific laws or facts, but does play a bit in the unknown edges.

My universe is part of a multiverse.  Faster than light travel is impossible, but teleportation is possible.  Travel into the past is impossible, but travel to a parallel universe in which time moved more slowly (thus giving the illusion of backwards time travel) is possible.

Probably most importantly, our universe was created by aliens.  A race from a previous universe became so powerful that they decided they wanted to create their own universe.  Our universe is the result.  

This is not a species as such, because they are beyond reproduction, or physical bodies.  I've called them the Originator Race (or OR).  This race knows nothing of us, nor do they care.  The difference between their intelligence and ours is greater than the difference between our intelligence and a tree.

There are races of intelligent beings in our universe far older, intelligent and powerful than us, but they too are to the Originator Race as we are to ants.

2.  What is the  natural environment like?

There may be pockets of our universe where the physical laws are not the same as they are here.  The physical laws may be subject to the Originators whims, machinations, or ulterior plans.

The universe is vast and mostly cold, and uncaring.  There are parts of the universe that are incredibly hot and uncaring.  The universe is on the brink of collapsing in on itself.

Life is not real.  It is nothing but a very complicated set of chemical and electrical processes played out in what is really mostly emptiness.  There is no good and evil because good and morality do not exist, they are just a lack, or minimization of bad.

Math is reality.  There is no free will.  Love is a chemical reaction.  Death is final.

Frightened yet?

Sunday, November 29, 2015

13 Worldbuilding Questions

I'm working on stories again.  This is not just an idle threat, in fact I have written all 13 posts in this series before I posted this one, so you can tell I'm writing ahead and I'm serious.

I recently found Veronica Sicoe's article called "13 Worldbuilding Questions."  This is quite a bit shorter than the 30 Days of Worldbuilding I've done before (for Howlina), but I hope it's just as interesting.

The questions are grouped, and they are:

  1.  Where are we?
  2.  What's the natural environment like?
  3.  What happened here before?
  4.  How does its history influence the present?
  5.  What's the linguistic situation on this world?
  6.  What's the primary means of communication?
  7.  What's the predominant culture?
  8.  What's the current form of societal normalcy
  9.  What are some core moral values of this society?
  10.  How do their values affect their mentality on a personal level?
  11.  What is this society's most ardent need?
  12.  How does it go about satisfying this need?
  13.  What would it take to disrupt normalcy on this world?

Confused?  Intrigued?

Me too.  Stay tuned for my first set of answers.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Happy Cthulhu-ween!!!

No sooner had I posted that I didn't want to do any derivative Cthulhu pictures, and therefore I would not be doing Cthulhu month, the next morning I came downstairs to the family room to find this:
My lovely and talented youngest did this.  I asked her why and she said she drew a crazy eye and then this face just sort of happened to go along with it.  "Just happened" eh?  I'll bet not, but I won't disturb her with what might be the real inspiration.

I asked her if she couldn't have done that earlier, and suggested a few others to help me with my writing.  She is 14 so she laughed at me and took a nap.

Anyway, thank you SEL!

I was looking back at last year and I found that I had published two posts last Halloween.  In one I said I had made a mistake in putting Cthulhu pictures on Flowers Of Mundelein.  Indeed that was a mistake that wouldn't be repeated because I shut that blog down.

In the other I reported that I had submitted a story for publication.  It is a long time in reporting here partially because it took a long time to hear back from the e-magazine I had sent it to.  It was rejected. They suggested some other publishers, but they are no longer taking submissions.

The story is called, "Figurine in the Box."  I don't have plans to publish here because I still want to get it to a publisher, but I will let you know how that goes.

Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 30, 2015


I don't know if anyone out there was anxiously awaiting and bitterly disappointed at the absence of Cthluhu Month here on Illini6.

The past few years I've tried to post a daily Lovecraftian picture or photograph.  I realized that was almost entirely derivative.  Since others were doing better, or at least more original work I decided not to do that this year,

I thought about trying to write a scary fiction story to post each day, or maybe spread out one story over several days, but sadly my production is not up to speed, at least not at a "live" pace.  I should have started months ago.

Finally I thought about how I intended to mix in my Afghan stories on this blog.  I could tell scary Afghan stories, but really nothing got me as frightened as I had expected to be.  I had been attacked, many times actually.  We heard and felt explosions intending to do us harm, and we did take causalities on our base which was only about one and a half miles East to West and no more than half a mile North to South.

I've decided to tell you the story of the first time we got attacked.  It was our very first night at FOB Salerno, Afghanistan.  You can decide for yourself how scary it is, and how scared we should have been.

I was sent to Salerno to be the Base Operations Commander.  That's similar to a hotel manager, except you are supposed to make sure the hotel perimeter is safe as well.   The base had been the home of an Infantry Battalion and a regional hospital, with about 800 soldiers and contractors stationed there.  They had plans to expand.  They expected to get to 1500 - 2000 occupants during our tenure there.  So they sent me (the most junior Major in the unit) with a staff of six others to oversee, coordinate, and control the buildup.

Normally a Base Operations staff is Company sized, and in Afghanistan all the other Base Ops were 25 soldiers or more (Kandahar, Kabul, Bagram and one in Uzbekistan) all run by Lieutenant Colonels (LTC or O5).  They had all been culled from our Area Support Group (ASG) Headquarters Company.

Our staff was so small that we couldn't "charter" a separate flight for just us and out gear.  We had to wait until there were enough slots available.  Finally after waiting a week we flew out on the first week of April.

The day we arrived at FOB Salerno they were having a USO show.  The camp was very bare bones, with no PX, a ratty tent for a gym, and another for a chapel.  For mail and banking service all the smaller bases (of which Salerno was one) had to wait until once a month the Finance and Postal people to fly in and set up a table to take care of these things for them.

There were 4 computers available on the camp for soldiers to connect to the web.  There were only 6 more that were for official business.  They were all located at one end of the base.

There was only one real building the Army was using on the base.  Worst of all, there were only enough bunkers for less than 400 soldiers.  There were about 800 people living on the base, and Base Ops and the civilian contractors were on the opposite end of the base from all the bunkers.

The whole camp was surrounded by fencing and concertina wire.  There were six guard towers build out of three steel connexes each.  Within the wire was a ring road and within that were about half dozen large square sections surrounded and divided by Hesco walls.

Hesco is a metal mesh, lined with burlap that folds flat.  When you fold it out they come in blocks 8' x 8' x 8'.  These get filled with dirt and rocks to form walls.  There was at least one layer of these walls around most of the camp.

Our staff was replacing a one man show, Major O'Boyle.  O'Boyle had done a great job in the six months he had been assigned there, finding replacements for almost all the tents, getting a new Dining Facility, (DFac), he got two new latrines and contracting for four more.

Major O'Boyle showed us around the base and got us settled in our two tents.  One was an office and directly adjacent was our sleeping tent.  These were GP mediums, enough to sleep a dozen so we weren't cramped, but having us all in one tent was a bit, conservative.

We noticed there was a large open area filled with concrete barriers and preformed bunker sections.  We asked about that and they had been arriving for a couple of weeks, but there weren't enough forklift drivers to emplace them around the tents and set up the bunker sections to form bunkers.

We had two forklift drivers so that was priority number one the next morning.  For the time being we were told that at our end of the base when we got attacked the procedure was to get our gear on and stand next to a Hesco wall.  This would provide protection from at least one side.

That first night we all went to bed in our sleeping bags, on our cots.  We had our body armor and helmets hanging off the end of our cots.

The night was full of strange, new noises.  There were explosions; helicopters taking off and flying overhead, testing their weapons as they went; aircraft flying off in the distance; intermittent fire missions from the mortars and the 105 mm howitzers; and sporadic gunfire off in the distance.

It probably wasn't quite as noisy as my description indicates.  It was quiet enough to sleep, but those noises were there, sometimes louder and sometimes there was a break with silence.

Then a particularly loud sound made us all sit up in our cots, in the dark.

"Was that incoming?"  Someone asked.  We had been told that you can hear the difference between incoming and outgoing, but we hadn't been sure of any of the noises that night.

"I don't think so," I think I said, and we agreed to lay back down.

There was another similar noise a few moments later.

"I think that may have actually been incoming," someone said in the dark.

"You may be right," someone agreed.

"How will we know for sure?"  another person asked.

Suddenly someone stuck their head in the front flap of the tent.  They had a headlight on their helmet.

"What are you guys still doing in here?  We're getting attacked!"

We scrambled into our gear and got out of the tent.  The Hesco wall was only about twenty or thirty yards from the tent.  It was a clear night with a full moon.  We ran over to the wall and stood with our backs up against it.

The civilian contractors were there against the wall as well.  We stood there, looking up into the night and wondering about the continuing noises.

The attack was several 105 mm rockets launched from the hills surrounding the base.  They called for helicopter support and the attack helicopters flew off in the direction the rockets seemed to be coming from.

I called the combat headquarters and told them we were all accounted for and fine.  After a while the noises died down and we got an all clear.

I don't know if it was just our ignorance, but it didn't seem all that scary.  I think some of the rockets did land inside the base, but they didn't hit any of the tents, equipment or people.

This was our first night of the better part of a year we spent in FOB Salerno.  In the end our first night and last day we got attacked, as well as many other attacks throughout the year.  They would get more scary as we went along.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Επέτειος του όχι!

Happy Oxi Day!

The title of this post is actually translated, "Anniversary of The No."  It's the annual celebration of the defiance the Greeks showed the invading Italians in 1940.  When the Italian ambassador told the Greek Prime Minister, Metaxas if Greece didn't allow Italy to occupy portions of Greece it would mean an invasion and war.  Would he allow the occupation?  He said, "No!"

This was certainly a proud day for Greece, for standing up in that moment and for backing it up with more resistance than Italy could handle.  Italy got so deep in trouble that they needed to be bailed out by Germany.

Germany found Greece no easy task either.  Hitler said, "For the sake of historical truth I must verify that only the Greeks, of all the adversaries who confronted us, fought with bold courage and highest disregard of death.. "

Churchill said, "Hence we will not say that Greeks fight like heroes, but that heroes fight like Greeks."

I won't quote that rat bastard Stalin.

Georgy Constantinovich Zhoucov, Marshal of the Soviet Army said, "If the Russian people managed to raise resistance at the doors of Moscow, to halt and reverse the German torrent, they owe it to the Greek People, who delayed the German divisions during the time they could bring us to our knees."

FDR said, "On the 28th of October 1940 Greece was given a deadline of three hours to decide on war or peace but even if a three day or three week or three year were given, the response would have been the same."

The Greeks resisted for 219 days against Italy and then Germany.  That's longer than Poland and France combined.  I will admit that Germany was kind of concentrating on Poland and France a bit more, but still.

Greeks should be proud of this historical day and use that pride and spirit to guide and embolden them in the future!

Friday, June 26, 2015

War Stories

I realized today that I have Papa Stories to tell my father's stories, an effort to ensure they are not lost in the mists of time.  I have been very negligent, however in relating my tales, as they may be.  I'm not sure why; I mean this blog is called Illini6 because of my deployment, and it was previously named "Major Thomas and the KBR Fairies."

I checked and I have less than 10 posts on the military and/or deployment; and half of those were from when I was supporting the 108th Sustainment Bde's deployment to Iraq as a member of the Family Readiness Group (FRG).

Did I ever tell you about the largest
Green Bean coffee shop in "The Stan?"
I looked back through those posts and I see that my very first poll resulted in several readers wanting to see more "war stories"  but I have only ever related one here.

I think it might be time to change that.  I still want this blog to be about my writing, but it is also time to share some of my stories.  It's been over ten years since I returned from "The 'Stan" and I've been telling my stories since then, but not writing them down.

I lost my journal early in country and never picked it back up, so my memory is almost all I have, and that's been growing, let's call it embellished over the years.  Please forgive me if any facts are corrupted, changed or forgotten.  I assure you it is all in the name of improving, "The Story."  Feel free to chime in if you were there and remember it differently.  I may not amend my story, but I will acknowledge you and have a scoop of ice cream in your honor.

I'm not going to add a tag for, "War Stories" because I don't want to pigeonhole myself; some of these stories may technically be training stories or humanitarian deployment stories.  I am going to change my background image however.

You know the difference between a fairy tale and a war story?  Fairy tales begin, "Once upon a time" and war stories begin, "I shit you not."

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Singular Gender Neutral Pronoun for English

Wow, that's a long post title, but I wanted to be specific.  This is a fairly hot topic lately and somewhat charged with emotion.

I know there are many people who are struggling with societal gender and sexual roles; descriptions; and labels.  I had been thinking about this for a while and I had originally gone to the Wikipedia page for it.  I recently found an old blog called The Gender Neutral Pronoun Blog.  From there I found there are several facebook pages (here, here and here for instance).  This issue is very hotly debated, deeply personal and potentially a raw nerve glaringly exposed by the ubiquitousness of social media and the internet.


I had originally come up with three reasons I wanted to decide on what singular gender neutral pronoun I wanted to use:

  1. Spiritual discussions and my search for a definition for; as well as a convincing argument for the existence of a GOD.
  2. For use in my Science Fiction and Horror writing
  3. To use on the internet when I'm unsure of a person's gender or they have identified themselves as non-binary in their own gender.
I've decided, based on visiting the facebook sites above, that I will leave off #3 entirely.  A particular post caught my attention and I realized that a person should be able to choose their own pronoun.  When I am out and about on the net I should stick to what I've always done, use their web ID as a proper name and make no other assumptions.

My search for a word for GOD that neither diminishes what I hope is the Ultimate Consciousness was what originally made me think of this.  The decision process was fairly long and specific for this particular application so I won't go into it here (maybe a future blog post).  Suffice to say I decided on "GOD" as the spelling of the name and "G" as the pronoun.

Neither of these is appropriate for self-aware artificial intelligence, aliens that don't fall into our gender structure, or genetically modified humans that would populate my stories and need pronouns.  I went back to the drawing board.

Am I overthinking this?  Of course I don't think so, but additionally, seeing all the talk on-line regarding this subject I thought I could make available a detailed explanation of my decision that others could use when making their own decision.  Or not, it's completely up to them.

Possible Letters

In building this pronoun I want to use letters that evoke the other pronouns, are unambiguous when sight-read, and are more rare (because I want to balance out the letter use).

Candidates consonants based on letter frequency are:  Z (0.074%), Q (0.095%), X (0.150%), J (0.153%), K (0.772%), and V (0.978%).

Z has an advantage in my mind because "she" and "they" both begin with a digraph, which Z can be pronounced as well. 

The two least used vowels are U and I.  Unfortunately I is ambiguous to the extreme, being pronounced like |ee| or |i| or |I|.

U is too guttural, making it sound masculine to me.  It's also too big sounding for what I want to be a short word.  O has this problem too.

I'm leaning toward E over A only because it is more recognizable as part of a pronoun (he, she, they, we).


I'm going to rule out the use of "they." I already feel that English is at a disadvantage because we use, "you" for both the singular and plural second person pronoun.  I don't want to see, "they" end up this way also.  I believe in maximizing the information communicated efficiently.  I think we are missing out on an opportunity if we use, "they" this way.

If I may digress slightly; I'm certainly not a grammar nazi, but I am a communication nazi.  I don't mind when words are added or changed; or when definitions are stretched.  I do mind if they become more confusing, more redundant and/or convey less information because of the change.

I know language changes, especially English; but I want that change to be for the better, to grow the communication or clarify it.  Not all change is good.

That's also why I'm ruling out, "Xe" pronounced as |zee|.

Using a table based off the one in Wikipedia and The Gender Neutral Pronoun Blog:
He called him on his phone, which is his.  He likes himself
She called her on her phone, which is hersShe likes herself
It called it on its phone, which is itsIt likes itself.
They called them on their phone, which is theirs.  They like themselves.
Suggested Gender Neutral Singular Pronouns
(Sasha Newborn 1982)
Hu called hum on hus phone, which is hus. Hu likes humself
Ne called nem on nir phone, which is nirs.  Ne likes nemself.
Ey called em on eir phone, which is eirs.  Ey likes emself.
Ve called ver on vis phone, which is vis.  Ve likes verself.
(German based)
Ze called zem on zir phone, which is zirsZe likes zemself
(Foldvary, Fred (2000))
Zhe called zhim on zher phone, which is zhersZhe likes zhimself
My Suggestions
(replace he with ze)
Ze called zim on zis phone, which is zisZe likes zimself
(replace she with ze)
Ze called zer on zer phone, which is zersZe likes zerself
(like a noun)
Ze called ze on ze's phone, which is ze's.  Ze likes zeself.
Iz (or Iq or Ix)
Iz called iz on iz's phone, which is Iz'sIz likes izself [it breaks down with the possessive for any of them]

Gender-Neutral Pronoun Blog had a good rating system based on three criteria graded on a five point scale: 
  • Ease of pronunciation
  • Distinction from other pronouns
  •  Gender neutrality

Based on this rating system the blog rated Ne/nem/nir/nirs/nemself as the best.

I'd like to do the same, however my criteria are a bit different (I will rank each candidate against each other, except Short):
  • Ease of pronunciation (actually pronouncing the word)
  • Distinction from other pronouns
  • Gender neutrality
  •  Ease of sight-reading (guessing the correct pronunciation and ease of identifying as a pronoun)
  •  Letter usage (use of rarely used letters and or phonemes)
  •  Easy rules to remember
  • Short (graded by total number of letters used in all forms)
    Green are the top, or "best" grades and red are the bottom or "worst" grades. 
As you can see, my own invention had the lowest score, and lowest was graded as best.  I was probably biased, of course.  I don't see that as a problem, since there is no convention and it is a personal choice.

The numbers and my rationale are there so anyone can use it and make their own decision.

Based on this, I'll be using "Ze" as a singular gender neutral pronoun in my fiction writing.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Just What Did Indy Jones Accomplish in Raiders?

I've seen it argued in two very different places that Indiana Jones was completely ineffectual in Raiders of the Lost Ark.  Had he not been involved the outcome would have been the exact same.

But this was predated by What Are you Doing Movie (formerly Down in Front):

"Once the Nazis get the Ark, if Indy went home, it would turn out the same way. … Now, if this was a Vin Diesel movie, he would kill all the Nazis and then he would punch God back into the box."
— Down in Front,
Raiders of the Lost Ark @0:04:40

So here is my take on the concept.  I agree that Indy did not affect the action surrounding the Ark (other than killing and maiming many people, who I am sure felt that he was quite influential in the movie of their lives).

But actually, what he changed was himself, and his relationship with Marion.  He had a character arch in which he changed.  The Ark didn't change, the fate of the world didn't change, but there was a personal level of change.  This isn't what we expected and maybe it's not what some wanted, but I do think it was worth the movie, and better than Amy's dismissal.  What do you think?

Also, this was one of the experiences that influenced who Indy was when he searched for his father in Last Crusade.  Did he affect the world in that one?

Let's talk about it.

BTW:  I remember my Dad loved two specific parts, first was when he complained that he hurt everywhere and Marion could only kiss him on the forehead (just before he fell asleep), and the second one was when he put on a stolen Nazi uniform and it didn't fit.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Happy St. Patrick's Day 2015!

Every year I try to write a leprechaun joke, or at least an Irish joke in honor of St. Patrick's day.

This year I came up with a simple and clean one:

If St. Patrick had not driven all the snakes out of Ireland, what kind of snakes would be living there now?

Erin Co-bragh
Ha Ha Ha Ha, That's so funny!
If McDonald's had their way they would be Shamrock snakes!
Not a snake and not really Irish

Ireland forever.  Happy St. Patrick's day!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Identity Crisis (or GOOOOAAAA er no, no goal)

This blog has had an identity crisis.  I've tried several approaches and I thought I had settled on making it a professional product where I could share some of my fiction writing and opinions.  I thought I would share some of my writing goals, trials and triumphs.

Other things kept creeping in.

I realize now, I have about 5 loyal readers, but they are all family and friends.  Why do I have only 5.  I think it is because of all that creep, the identity crisis.

This is really no place for my personal goals.  Those 5 people care, but no one else.  This is no place to whine, or talk about family; not if I want even only 5 other readers.

In June and July of 2014 I rededicated this blog to writing, changed the background and pledged to make it more professional and writing oriented.

Then I went astray.

In December 2014 I promised my goals and I never delivered them.  I talked about my Greek goals, but the only people who care about those are those 5 readers I have and other people who study second or more languages.  Those language people have their own forums and since I'm not providing any insight on how to do it (possibly how not to do it) then they don't need this blog.  I can go to those sites dedicated to language learning if I want to share.

This blog is for writing, my fiction and non-fiction.  The only goals this blog should cover are any writing goals I have.  I don't particularly have any this year.  I've got so much other stuff on my plate that I didn't and couldn't make any writing goals.

That's okay for here.  I don't need writing goals, at least not now.  What I do need is to write.  That's what you are going to get.  In December I said it might be messy, and it certainly will be.  What it won't be is personal, non-writing related goals or issues.
I know, I know, but non-goals in Rugby are difficult to picture
and can never feel as sad as this image.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Over the Limit

If it's not one thing it's ten things.  I've gotten myself into another fine mess.
Don't tell them how much he
weighs, Stanley

I weighed myself and I'm over my own self imposed limit.  I told myself I should never go above 250 lbs, and now I have.  This is unacceptable so I began an exercise program yesterday.

This is health related so I'm going to have to make Greek study a 1B priority.  Speaking of which, I should have been reporting on my progress.

I read on Lifehacker and am trying a program of habit sprints.

Here is the habit plan I set up on 19 Jan 15:

  1. What is the habit:    STUDY GREEK 90 MINUTES DAILY
  2. What is the trigger
  3. Reminders:
    1. TooodleDo reminder
  4. Accountability
    1. Tracking sheet
    2. Weekly Blog Reports (for report review)
  5. Consequences
    1. Positive
      1. Ice Cream
    2. Negative
      1. undecided

You are supposed to do a weekly review and adjustment.  I failed to do that, but here is the one for this week:

  1. How many days did you do the habit?
    1. 8 (out of 46) x 90 min
    2. 38 x <90 min="" span="">
    3. 3 days at the beginning with no study at all
  2. What worked?
    1. Anki flashcards
    2. Recording spreadsheet
  3. What got in the way?
    1. Daily prompt on day planner
    2. Remembering the exact number of minutes
    3. Doing a weekly review
    4. Can't have ice cream with new exercise routine
  4. How can you adapt your plan to overcome your obstacles?
    1. Pimsleur CD to and from work
    2. Record minutes by pen in my notebook
    3. Get Skype to work and have Skype conversations
Here is my plan for this coming week:

  1. What is the habit:    STUDY GREEK 90 MINUTES DAILY
  2. What is the trigger
    1. Driving
    2. After exercise
  3. Reminders:
    1. Not needed
  4. Accountability
    1. Tracking sheet
    2. Record minutes in notebook
    3. Weekly Blog Reports (for report review)
  5. Consequences
    1. Positive
      1. If I get 90 minutes in a day = IDK
      2. If I have a skype conversation = IDK
    2. Negative
      1. undecided

My Greek study has had very slow progress and I really think what I need to do is engage in conversations.  That is the main thing that will really get me going, and I'd better get going because the rest of my life can't wait any longer.

I've got to find a workout program that only take about 30 minutes a day.  Also, SEL and I are signing up for pool access at our park district.  It's the exercise she wants to do.  I'm going to have to do more.  Any suggestions?

Did you see how slow this guy's Greek study is going?

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Hate Hiatus?

Now I'm conflicted.  In my last post I asked if you all wanted me to continue posting the story, "Hate to Say I Told You So" and I would know if there was enough interest by getting 10 likes, pluses and/or comments.  I got five.  That's more than I've ever gotten before, which is something in itself, but it's only half what I considered to be a reasonable audience.

I also got a comment emailed to me that I should write just for enjoyment, and shouldn't care what others think or want.  This is true to some extent, but it's more complicated than that.

Why do I write?

I write because I do; I tell myself stories in my head all the time (ALL the time) so it seems much more productive to write them down rather than just keep them in my head.  I also write because I have to; I'm compelled to.  This all means that I can, will and do write for myself without regard to others.  All well and good.

I also love to tell stories.  I tell stories about myself, about people I know.  I embellish, I practice (in my head and with others), I pantomime.  I like telling stories so much that I want more to tell, so I make some up.  I don't want to tell the same old tired stories so I write them down to keep better track of them, to help remember and improve them.

There is the rub.  Writing is storytelling, storytelling is writing, and storytelling needs an audience.

I would love to get paid to write.  I want to be able to devote as much time as I could ever want to writing.  I want to go on tour to talk about my stories.  Telling stories about stories is almost as good as telling stories, oh heck, it is as good as telling stories.  I know that those who are that successful are very few and far between.  I can hope for it, and work for it, but shouldn't expect it.

So really, I can't just write for my own amusement with no regard to audience.  I can write with no regard for PAY, but I need to know that there are people reading the stories, and the bigger the audience the better.

I'm juggling a lot of stuff and I actually have far too many balls than I can handle right now.  The only way to get better at any of them and to be successful juggling is to decide which balls to juggle and which to keep on the ground, nearby.

I can't help but tell stories, so that ball is always going to be in hand.  I can get more bang for the buck (yes, I know I'm mixing my metaphors) if I actually write those stories and have an audience.  Let's say this is a torch I'm juggling and have to juggle.  As long as I'm going to juggle a torch I might as well light it (there, my metaphors match).

Here is the problem with "Hate..."  It take too much time.  It was intended to be fan-service for myself, but I got into this thing with the songs and now in order to have a chapter title and any magic I need to find an appropriate song.  Sometimes that can soak up close to an hour of searching and thinking.  If I don't have a pretty big audience clambering for it to continue then I don't think I can spare the time.

I can't juggle a flaming chainsaw.  It's just too much.  I am putting "Hate to Say I Told You So" on hiatus.

For all you who have been reading and enjoying "Hate..." I am not totally abandoning it.  I have the outline.  It will take about 14 chapters to complete (much more than I originally intended).  Someday when I have more time and the ability to move this up in priority (like when I'm not trying to spend 90 minutes a day to learn Greek) I will return to it.  I absolutely do not want to leave a partial story out there.  That is unacceptable.

I will probably switch to another, simpler story, if that is any consolation.  Also, with the shutting down of "Flowers Of Mundelein," I'll be posting my progress with learning Greek here, and anything else I need to share.