Bright Be The Light That Brings You Home

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From: Erhlif - DepositPhotos.com

From: Erhlif – DepositPhotos.com

Shortest day of the year is upon us.  Unless you’re lucky to live near the equator, winter is more dark hours than light, nature of our celestial place in the cosmos. Before the grumbling begins about old man winter, we’ll revel in the season with lighted decorations, lots of edible goodies, cheer, and the warm embrace of family and friends.  Through the years, my life’s journeys have carried me far from home shores, often for long periods, with coming-home-itus acute. No one feels this more pointedly than men and women in active military service.

Longing to come home is integral to the human spirit. Waiting is the other half of this longing; people on opposite ends of an invisible string pulling toward each other.

Deep is the darkness that falls down on me
Long is the long night ’til morning will be
Bright be the north star to shine constantly
‘Til winter brings you home safely to me

Lyrics from one of my favorite songs, “Hymn to Winter, by the famous Norwegian singer, Sissel, capture this thought.  If coming home is the bedrock upon which we define the holidays, those who anxiously await, are the lighthouses to ensure our loved ones find their way. An adaptation of the Post Office service creed might read:  “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night will extinguish our light for those who strive to find us.”

Still is the valley, no bell to be ringing
Silent the harsh frost that crushes the tree
Frozen the heart with no song to be singing
‘Til winter brings you home safely to me

I’ve been blessed is so many ways, the foremost being part of a large, warm and loving family.  Plenty of lights in the darkness.  I’ll be heading out west to spend time with my daughters. Though we’re separated by many miles, I give thanks for modern transport that carries me there in a few, small hours. This year, I celebrate a new milestone in my life.  I became a grandparent for the first time.  A new light in our family, one I can feel from a great distance, for my grandson’s beacon is in my blood.

I’ll let Sissel finish it for me.

Blessed be the west wind
Blessed be the wild ‘fall
Blessed be the ocean to carry you home
Blessed be cold winter, its storm and its sea
Blessed be the true love that brings you to me

May your holiday season’s lighthouse burn brightly and bring all whom you love, home to you.

 

 

 

If you wish to revisit past holiday messages, you can find them here.

Thankful

Til We See the Light

A Little Progress On My Wish List

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From: DepositPhotos.com

From: DepositPhotos.com

Last year about this time, I waxed curmudgeonly on Things I’m Still Waiting For, like interplanetary ion drives, flying cars, hover boards, to mention a few.  Time magazine’s recent Best Inventions of 2014 review, has some interesting items for consideration.

First out of the chutes is a real-life hover board, not unlike the one I drooled over in the movie Back to the Future. Not exactly the fly anywhere version Michael J. Fox used, but it’s a start.  We’re still shooting objects into space via 1950’s style ballistic missiles, but it’s getting cheaper.  India just parked a satellite in Mars orbit for the paltry sum of $74 million.  Hell, that’s less expensive than retiling the old Space Shuttle.  Fossil fuel sourced energy is more popular than ever, but Lockheed’s development of a High-Beta Fusion Reactor, just might get us closer to the holy grail of nuclear fusion.  Molecular X-Rays (images of body at molecular level) might bring Dr.McCoy of Star Trek, back in vogue. The humanitarian invention of the year is a filtration system that scrubs Ebola virus from the blood stream.

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Are You Going To Eat That?

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From: DepositPhotos.com

From: DepositPhotos.com

Diehards nationwide are lining up to run in the holiday Turkey Trot.  Imagine a marathon of a different kind.  Participants hop about like caged rabbits on too much caffeine, flabs of steel barely contained by Kevlar reinforced spandex. It’s a record crowd of sumo wrestler contestants with tattooed contest numbers emblazoned on their foreheads, waiting for the starting gun for this year’s Blubber Trot.  First hundred finishers get to be first in line at the communal Horn-of-Plenty table.  Those who don’t finish, have to watch Hunger Games 3 without popcorn. Paying spectators will be allowed wander the leftover carnage and ask, “Are you going to eat that?”

It’s my annual humorous take on what I blithely refer to as the advent of blubber season (see last year’s article, Tis the Season to be Gluttonous).  The holiday season is like no other time of the year.  We dust off the George Bailey personality left in a drawer from last year, greet everyone like family, and gorge like our prehistoric forbearers did when they felled a mammoth.  Would you like leg meat or trunk? 

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The Apocalypse Beneath Our Feet

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National Geographic - Aug 2009

National Geographic – Aug 2009

For those of us who write dystopian/apocalyptic fiction, doesn’t seem to be any shortage of theories on what could steer humanity (and other life forms) toward the extinction exit ramp. Current scare of the year is pandemic disease, aka Ebola, and any evil progeny that mutates. Modern NASA satellite tracking hardware has made us more aware of the many PHAs (Potentially Hazardous Asteroids) with our name on it. Anders Sandberg has an “existential list” compiled of Five Biggest Threats to Human Existence, number one being the ever-popular nuclear war jitters.  I found his fifth candidate interesting, if not thought provoking; – unknown unknowns – or something deadly out there that we have no clue about.

I have my own list, which includes that which bubbles beneath our feet; – millions of tons of molten Mother Earth, looking for an exit. No finer example of it is right here in North America, a super-caldera beneath Yellowstone National Park.

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Just Ctl – Alt – Delete Me

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From: DesignPicsInc - DepositPhoto.com

From: DesignPicsInc – DepositPhoto.com

“Grandpa, No. Double click the Internet Explorer icon, then download the updated App. That should fix it.”

 

This is supposed to be the time I help the younger generation, drawing on lessons from decades of life experience. Unfortunately, I’m too busy trying to keep up with ever changing technology, code words that come with it, and service websites that have become minefields of ineptitude.  Synchronizing the new TV to the internet requires a college course on WiFi gobbledygook. My cell phone is about as intuitive as programming a satellite launch. Passwords now require mixed characters. Took a month to set up my website, and I used a preexisting template on WordPress, but why do I have to learn HTML code?  Don’t get me started on widgets.

I know, we’ve been down this road before (see Texting – Conversational Spam), but technology and the software it comes with, is supposed to make life easier, not drive us to excessive use of pharmaceuticals. No, it’s not a sign of my age, wishing for a simpler life.  It’s that embarrassing call to kids still in diapers, to sheepishly ask for advice when things go haywire.

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The Good, the Bad, and the Scantily Clad

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From: Pinterest.com Legend of the Cryptids - applibot

From: Pinterest.com Legend of the Cryptids – applibot

In setting up my web site graphic, Searching for Light in the Darkness, I put a lot of thought into the graphic art to fit the brand (translation: burned-up days surfing the internet for artists and sites).  It was by pure luck I stumbled on Lori Nix’s “The Library” (thank you Google Search).  I get numerous positive hits on my profile page on about.me because of Lori’s unique dioramic photography.

I put the same amount of effort when working on characterization for my stories. I’m always on the hunt for that perfect face to fit a character; that unique combination of setting and portraiture that might even make a good book cover.  Sites like Pinterest, DeviantArt.com, and other graphic artist sites offer a plethora of ideas. When I find one I like, I collect them on my Pinterest Characters Board for future reference.

I’m in the middle of rewriting a fantasy; contemporary gal crash lands in a dark-ages alternate world, almost hanged as a witch, has to fight an ancient darkness, death, dismemberment, general mayhem – good wholesome fun. In my search for concept character art to fit the story setting, I discovered a disturbing trend.

What is with graphic art portrayals of warrior women in outfits befitting a harlot?

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Bacon – Won the West, Men’s Hearts, and maybe the Apocalypse

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From Wikipedia Commons: Bartolomeo Passarotti – The Butcher Stall

From Wikipedia Commons: Bartolomeo Passarotti – The Butcher Stall

Bacon has seen a resurgence of popularity in recent months (not that it hasn’t been a durable headliner for those of us who enshrine smoked meats). Our local AA baseball team is hosting Bacon Days Friday and Saturday, September 19-20, a celebration of America’s favorite artery-clogger, to start with a 5K run that includes a stop to eat bacon.  You can read about it in the Morning Call, but I’ll venture a guess the event won’t be mentioned in Runners World.

I’m an enthusiast of foods we might see in the aftermath of apocalyptic events (see my earlier article, Expiration – Never). The cured and smoked belly of Sus scrofa domesticus, better known as the domesticated descendent of the wild boar, has been a part of ancient societies for thousands of years.  Along with flour, beans and brown sugar, it kept people alive when pioneers wagon-ho’d to the Wild West. You could say bacon is a founding food. It’s a national treasure, like the bald eagle.

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Going Off Grid for a Human Touch

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From: CursedSenses - DepositPhoto.com

From: CursedSenses – DepositPhotos.com

Been a while since my last blog post (a phrase hauntingly reminiscent of my parochial school years), but I have a really good reason.  I’ve reached a new phase in my life, grand-parentage. Took a few weeks off to trek out west, where daughter number one has brought into the world an amazing baby boy.  Though I brought tools to write on the road, the creative keyboard went untouched in favor the simple act of belonging.

I wrote about such silence last year in Going Off The Grid.  That incident was less voluntary; influenced by geography and lack of signal.  I remember it being inspirative; separated from the noise of media input. My senses rekindled a childhood when social media used voices and a high tech communication device called a telephone.

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Your Brain’s PnP Driver Has Been Hacked

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From: vectorguru - DepositPhoto.com

From: vectorguru – DepositPhoto.com

In science fiction, we love the premise of enhanced brainpower. Wouldn’t you like to be Lucy, the main character in a recently released movie, who overdoses on a synthesized drug and ends up stimulating access to over 90% of her brain capacity to become a superhuman?  Or how about Gabriel Vaughn in the TV series, Intelligence, an operative with a super-computer microchip in his brain and the first human directly connected to a globalized information grid.

We’ve been tinkering with the brain for centuries. Ever since cave dwellers discovered certain plants instilled feelings of euphoria, mankind has been on a quest to unlock the mysteries of our human processor, find ways to upgrade its abilities, repair and improve upon original sensory input devices.  A recent article on the future of “wired” brains had me wondering if we were pushing a concept destined to backfire on us.

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Robert A. Heinlein – YA Science Fiction Pioneer

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Robert A. Heinlein - Tunnel in the Sky

Robert A. Heinlein – Tunnel in the Sky

The writer who instilled my love of science fiction is the incomparable Robert A. Heinlein. As a child of the fifties, I was voracious reader in a time of Tom Swift, Hardy Boys, Boy’s Life magazine, and comic books like Strange Adventures, Tales from the Crypt, and Archie (where Betty and Veronica wore scandalous cheerleader outfits and bikinis).

But Heinlein took me to the stars.

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