About Me

My photo
Family and Friends is my everyday journal. Captain's Log is where I pontificate on religion and politics.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

WC 072920

Todays topic is: Stuff on my bucket list.
1. Golf at Saint Andrews in Scotland. 
2. Visit England, Scotland and Ireland.
3. Take tour of Italy and Greece.
4. Tour Paris and spend a week at the Louvre. 
5. Visit Boston to travel the path of Samuel Prescott, who actually made the trip to Lexington and Concorde. Then Bunker and Breeds Hill, where William Prescott stupidly fought the British.
6. Finish A Private Pain, now serialized on this blog.
7. Write a fictionalized history book on Matthew Fontaine Maury  My wife's maiden name is Maury, and he's a prominent figure in her family tree. I've found his life fascinating.
8. Live long enough to see my first great-grandchild. Eldest grandson just turned 18, maybe...
9. Pay off my mortgage.
10. Live to be 100.

Monday, July 27, 2020

TTT 072820

Todays topic is a FREEBIE.

I'm going to offend some people here. I know that sex, politics and religion are taboo at a party and in a way that's what TTT is; a party of book lovers. To all the members who live outside the United States, I apologize. To all who are offended and support the money grubber in chief, my pleasure. 
There's a book I read 16 years ago that rings true today more than then. Back then it was a warning of what was happening by a man who was on the receiving end of Karl Rove's dirty tricks. Jim Hightower was publicly arrested for embezzlement a week before his reelection in Texas. The week after the election the charges were dropped. He lost the election. One of the many ways the Republicans have been gaming the system to win elections.
The 2017 tax law, that none of the members of congress were allowed to read before voting on it, raising taxes on the working class and gave the wealthy trillions in tax cuts, the pandemic relief bill that gave the average tax payer $1,200 dollars and major corporations got billions, many received funds like the cruise lines that aren't U.S. corporations.
Today with Portland being invaded by Trump's storm troopers and now Albuquerque has 35 of them, when we aren't even having protests. It's spot on. The title says it all.
As Hightower says it's time to get rid of the Congress Critters.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

A Private Pain Chapter 3

But Behold!
As I lay down to die
Hunters from space I did spy
They entered my cave
Trying to be brave
I tried to fight,
But my strength was light.
With all strength spent
Humbly along I went
To their hideous city
Where they showed no pity.

They put me in a secluded room
Where I waited my doom
They cursed me with warmth and food
Until my health was normal and good
I wondered and my thoughts did pause
On those who killed us without just cause
Should bring me back to life
When I did not wish to live without my wife.

# # # # #

Planet Able was over twice the size of Terra Prime. Doing an in-depth survey of the four continents wouldn’t be easy. One thing the ministry of reclamation hoped for was a spot or spots that hid and supported life.
 Scanners were sent out to search out any tiny spot where vegetation still existed. North Able, South Able, East Able and West Able were thoroughly plotted and scanned. Possible sites were pinpointed, and search parties dispatched.
On West Able halfway up the planet’s highest mountain a valley was discovered showing greenery. Commander Maury led the expedition. He wanted to see for himself if life still existed and could be used to resuscitate the planet.
The shuttle craft was buffeted by 120 mile per hour winds and thick sand. Nearly half the planet’s surface was in the air swirling in the high winds. Maury felt despair. Writing in his log: How can we even attempt to make this planet habitable again under such conditions?
A thousand feet below the valley the winds died down. The dust and sand abated. The valley was ten miles in length and five miles at its greatest width. A pin prick on the planet
 Landing in a lush meadow with a flowing stream the area was missing farmers. Crops were near harvest, trees were plentiful, flowers bloomed. The air smelled fresh and sweet. Small animals, insects, fish and other life forms were present, but none of the sentient inhabitants or farmers.
The scientists started taking samples of all the life forms, hoping that they would discover the needed nutrients to revitalize the planet. Some fanned out to photograph and catalogue what was left of life on this planet. Others started exploring the mountain above the valley and below it. There were thousands of caves.
A month later reports came in that there appeared to be indigenous life forms inhabiting the caves in four different directions. “They appear to be hiding from us. As we get closer, they flee.” First Sergeant, Shanika Aziri, one of the explorers told the commander,” She rushed up and blurted it out not respecting protocol.
Three months later came bad news. Captain Mahmoud Jabbar reported, “We discovered the remains of six farmers. Their tails were intact. From indications they died around two weeks ago from dehydration.”
Maury looked at the body bags, they can be cloned as are the other species presently growing in artificial wombs, but they needed live ones to explain their special needs and educate the children.
Openly weeping, “I don’t blame them,” Maury spoke to the assembled group. “They were hunted down to extinction like the Spikers on Orion Prime, the Uberkise on Taurus Prime and other species all over this galaxy. We in the Prime Command thought this problem was under control, but somehow it still plagues us.”
Jabbar spoke, “Sir, give us a few more days, we might still find some alive.”
“Are all the other teams finished with their assignments?” Maury asked.
Raj Digingi, the second in command nodded, “Yes, commander.”
“Major, he addressed Raj, “Pack up and send the shuttle back with all your specimens.” He looked at Jabbar, “Captain you have one week to find one of them alive,” he paused, “If you can’t find one by then it’s too late anyway.”
Thermal scanners penetrated cave after cave. Some were little more than a hole in the limestone while others went thousands of feet into granite. The explorers were two days from recall and leaving the area forever.
“I found an image,” Shanika radioed base camp. She fired a flare marking the spot and entered the cave. Crawling on her stomach for ten feet through a narrow spot she emerged into a large chamber. Lying to her right was a dead farmer, but recently deceased as decomp hadn’t started. Another one was holding arms around the dead one and shaking.
She moved towards what appeared to be a female as there were enlarged breasts. The farmer quickly swung its six-foot ivory tail lashing it out at her. Shanika backed away feeling air whizzing by her as it narrowly missed.
The farmer fell, sides heaving and looked like it spent its last reserves of energy with the attack.
Speaking into the com, “Have found one farmer still alive, need emergency response team ASAP.”
She took out her water bottle and slowly moved closer to the farmer. There wasn’t a mouth. A head with eyes, breathing holes, but no mouth or ears. She stopped perplexed. Small hands rose to the bottle and snatched it from hers. The lid was already open, and the liquid spilled onto the farmer’s body. It was immediately absorbed into its fur. She could see the farmer take a bigger breath.
Lifting the bottle higher is poured half of it onto its fur, then moved to the dead one emptying the bottle on it. There was no reaction.
The farmer threw the empty bottle at her and started to swing the tail again. Its hands were flailing about and the eyes were staring daggers at her.
Backing away she could hear the rescue squad trying to crawl through the bottleneck. She went back where the opening enlarged, “Don’t try to crawl through,” she said. “It’s only ten feet long and limestone, bring in laser cutters and enlarge it.” Pausing for a second, “Slide me four or five water bottles.”
The bottles came through and she took off the lid of one and extended it to the farmer. Their hands touched. It was like being struck by an ion storm. She felt the anger and hate expressed by eyes. It burned into her arms and legs settling into her stomach making her retch. Breaking contact she went back to the opening to catch her breath.
Feeling the heat of the laser cutters she went to a neutral spot of the cave. She saw the farmer try to hydrate the dead one to no avail. Again, it shook and focused all its hate on her. She slid the other bottles towards it. The farmer twisted the top off of the next bottle and poured it onto its fur. She could see it gain strength.
“Hurry up guys, this thing is starting to recover and it’s looking at me like I’m lunch. I guess I’m lucky it doesn’t have a mouth and teeth, at least that I can see so far.”
With a crack huge chunks of Limestone melted and dropped on the cave floor. A ten-foot tunnel was now open. The farmer shrank back to its dead mate and quivered.
“Be wary of the tail,” Shanika told them. Even nearly dead it is quick and powerful.”
Surprisingly the farmer didn’t put up a fight. It left the other one and walked toward them. It reached out and touched Shanika.

I know you mean me no harm.  

She stood absorbing the thoughts of this man. Turning to the group, “They communicate by touch. I can understand his thoughts.” Shaking her head. “His name is Niqmiepu, he may have tits, but this one is male, He is called “the nurturer.” The other one is Ishme. She’s the mother.” Pointing at the closest member of the rescue squad, “Treat her with respect when you bring her down.”
Niqmiepu went with them, but Shanika needed to touch him again to convince him it was safe to enter the flyer that would take them back to camp.
The female was bound in a sack and placed in back of the flyer. Niqmiepu sat next to Shanika. They held hands and he told her of the years they hid in the meadow. They were content until the flying boxes started flying overhead and forced them into the caves. The boxes flew day and night not allowing them to return to the meadow for food or water.
The farmer was transported to HQ on Able Moon Alpha. He cried upon seeing the desolation of the entire planet. Shanika comforted him as much as she could by holding hand and letting him know that the Federation would, with his help, turn his world back to what it was. She imagined in her mind that Ishme and the others would return and many more, not only farmers, but merchants and hunters as well.
Niqmiepu’s mind went blank. He wouldn’t believe her lies. He was the last of his kind.
At HQ other scientists looked him over, touched him and tried to communicate. He was shut down. Water revived him, but none of the food they placed by him would he eat. They brought some of the plants and animals that were in the meadow, but he refused them.
“From what information we can gather,” Shanika told Governor Maury. “The farmers mature in a year and have a life expectancy of ten. We’re cloning the seven that were with him in the meadow.”
“That won’t do us much good if Niqmiepu dies,” Maury said. “There will be no one to teach them how to farm.”
“We’ve put him in stasis. When the others come out of incubation, we’ll revive him and upon seeing those he’s familiar with, especially his wife, he should be willing to teach them. From there we can expand the program.”

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

WC 072220

Character names in books I can't pronounce.
First year teaching 7th grade literature and the book has a short story entitled: Popocatepetl and Iztacc√≠huatl. In the story they were shortened to Popo and Istla. They are the names of two volcanos that surround Mexico City.

Try Russian history. I once had to give a report on the Prime Minister under Alexander II, Constantine Pobedonostsev. For the life of me I couldn't get it right. I had some Laotian students that were doozies too.
The Gulag Archipelago by Alexander Solzhenitsyn had some really difficult names. It was just glance and go on. Same for his Cancer Ward, and Ninth Circle.
Berthold Gambrel in his science fiction stories thinks up some unpronounceable ones.
Isaac Asimov and Harlan Ellison, in fact almost all Sci-fi writers start off with characters with more consonants than vowels.
Try reading all the begats in Genesis.  

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

TTT 072120

Today's topic is : Book Events/Festivals I’d Love to Go to Someday .

In 2000 I went to the Southwest Christian Writers Conference in Glorieta, NM. At the time Glorieta was a Southern Baptist Conference Center between Santa Fe and Las Vegas, NM.
It was $80 to attend for a Friday, Saturday half day on Sunday. It was $200 to stay in their dorms. It was an additional $20 for meals and $20 for ten minutes with an editor from one of four publishers.
I chose to drive up and back from home instead of staying overnight. There were numerous seminars all three days on various topics led by established Christian authors. I was working weekends at the LifeWay  Christian Book Store in Albuquerque and recognized most of the authors leading the seminars.
The Seminars were enlightening and it was fun meeting and greeting a number of friends from over the years from various churches I'd attended.
What I really went there for was that ten minutes with an editor. I had the specified ten pages of the manuscript and a brief synopsis. All they wanted.
I'd been working on Optimus: Praetorian Guard for six years and thought it was ready.
I signed up for the editor from Zondervan. He read the first paragraph. Told me there were too many Latin names that would confuse the reader and to start over. I needed a hook. He was done in three minutes.
They were the most profitable three minutes of my writing career.
I went back and completely rewrote my first chapter. He wanted a hook, and by God I'd give him one.
This is what I wrote and is the hook for Optimus.

“Battering ram! Don’t fail me now!” Optimus raised his fist punching the wall above his head. The girl beside him stroked his broad shoulders kissing him passionately. There was no response.
In frustration he looked at the woman it took a night’s gambling to bed: pale blonde hair—real blonde, not dyed. Like spider silk when he followed it with his hands all the way down to the middle of her back. Eyes the brightest blue he’s ever seen, with arching eyebrows, the kind of eyes that a man could look at for an eternity. Skin almost translucent, the palest white; a small button nose and red thin lips. Truly this was a face that could cause wars. Why do my loins refuse to be stirred?
She shifted her body to rub up against him in another attempt to arouse the sleeping. He felt her youthful round breasts and smelled the rose water in her hair. Such a smell and touch would normally make him rigid for an hour—tonight nothing. Sweat fell off his upper lip into his mouth; he could taste the effort of trying to be a man. Thundering, “Jupiter Optimus Maximus, what is wrong with me?”
“Master, the drink,” she whispered in her native tongue. “We sleep now, try again in morning.”
He gently hugged the beauty; still a virgin the tavern owner promised, yeah right. Accepting defeat in his efforts to penetrate sitting up against the wall he stared at the girl’s beauty: She brought back memories of Germania and a girl he married while scouting across the Rhine. Those happy memories blurred into his current nightmare. Suddenly the girl’s face shifted. The hair turned an auburn color, the eyebrows flattened over dark brown eyes and he was looking at a woman he loved. Tears streamed down as he gripped the girl in his arms tightly trying to ease the pain constricting his aching heart. The frightened girl thought he would squeeze the life out of her, but after the initial tight hug he merely sobbed into her pale fine hair.
She held the sobbing and heartbroken soldier for nearly an hour when movement on the other side of the curtain to her cubicle caught her attention. Slowly the drape was drawn aside and a man with a sword entered. She tensed at the sight, and in an instant the giant holding her was on his feet grabbing the intruder by the throat.
Another man came up from behind and struck him on the back of the head with the butt end of his sword. The big man crumpled. A third came in to help drag him away.

The story is about a Roman soldier saved by the Apostle Paul. Paul didn't save choir boys.
Optimus had to be at rock bottom to be reached. There is nothing more rock bottom than being impotent.

A few years after I went to the SWCWC they moved from Glorieta to Ghost Ranch and were twice as expensive. A few years after that and it died.
I would love to go to another one of those kinds of meeting now. Wouldn't it be nice to have another ten minutes with an editor from a publishing house again.

Click here.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

A Private Pain, chapter 2


On the fourth planet of a red sun was fertile land with lush vegetation. Teaming oceans filled with aquatic animals. All life centered on the warmth of Buzi, the water, both fresh and salt, soil, and the tillers.
The oceans, rivers and streams developed life similar to all other planets with similar atmosphere and abundance of water and land.
On land the vegetation grew giving life to all other forms of life. Insects crawled and buzzed. Herbivores ate the vegetation. Predators: reptilian, avian, mammalian and other types feasted on the plants, insects, and herbivores and each other. Primates, the apex predators, lived off all the abundance.
There were three types of primates. The hairy Prails stood around five to six feet in height. They had hands with apposable thumbs making them capable of using tools. They discovered fire and its use. They built houses to live in, married and had families. They had no tails. The four to five-foot, smooth skinned Drails were hunters. Their arms ended in sharp ivory spikes. The males were round with a sharp point, used for stabbing their prey. The females were thin with a sharp edge used for skinning, slicing, dicing and chopping their food.
The Prails and Drails fought over the sources of food for centuries. The Prails used tools such as bows and arrows, spear and clubs. The Drails were deadly with their ivory arms. The Grails or tillers were left alone. Other predator animals culled their ranks, but the Prails and Drails left them alone. The tillers made all land life possible. The nutrients in their tails made the soil fertile.
The six to seven-foot tall Grails didn’t eat or drink. Their skin absorbs moisture and they feast on the nutrients in the soil they till. They were covered in a thick coat of smooth hair, not like the course, curly fur of the Prails. They had eyes and ears for sight and hearing, but no mouth. They were mute as there was not need for speech. Their communication was by touch.
They were not male and female as the other primates. There was the mother, the one who gave birth, and the nurturer, the one who fed their young. The mother had an abdominal orifice through which the child birthed. The nurturer had breasts to feed the child for the first season.
They tilled the soil during the dry season close to the equator, In other climes, during the warm season. From sun up to sun down they left furrows in their path. The mother with the thin sharp-edged tail that cut the soil, walked in front, The child with soft tail was behind mother carried by the nurturer. The nurturers’ larger round tail dug the furrow. For months they walked in a straight line following the path of the herd beasts that left the ground barren. For the whole season they tilled the plains, meadows, valleys and sides of hills and mountains.
When the seasons changed, they huddled in groups of a hundred. They sought shelter from the weather under trees and other large leafed plants. Upon finding their spot they planted their tails in the ground. The mother’s tail fit into a slot in the nurturers and they remained bound together and to the soil for the whole season. Midway through the season the mother began the life of another child. The one they guarded while tilling huddled beside them and would find a mate during the next tilling season.
The season of rest was the most dangerous. All animals left them alone during tilling season. Should any avian or ground predator try to attack them they found the ivory tails deadly.
 During rest season they were tethered to the ground and unable to protect themselves. The older pairs took their places on the outside of the huddle. They were least likely to survive the next seasons planting and their place would be taken by the young couples. Of the hundred pairs, by the next tilling season they would be down to sixty, but there would be that many new pairs from the previous season’s young.
For millennia life remained the same over the entire planet. There was a delicate balance of nature and all life prospered and thrived. Then the hunters came.   

Federation Control

Matthew Fontaine Maury and his team arrived at Able corporate headquarters one hundred years after landfall. His vanguard was fifty Federation operatives. Twenty were special forces and well-armed. Ten including himself were administrators. Ten were auditors and the others were scientists.
 The hundred years of plunder was at an end. The corporations were pushing the boundaries of known space and frontiers and this always created chaos and anarchy. The Federation gave them a hundred years of unfettered profit, then they established law and order. Maury and his team were the vanguard responsible for civilizing the David System.
Virgocorp. HQ was still on Alpha Moon Able. Maury thought, by now they should be well established on planet Able. A huge red flag.
Being greeted by VC executives his group were given quarters and allowed to rest since it was Able Moon Alpha’s midnight.
Maury met with the team. “Each of the scientists take a guard and explore this complex. Find an observatory and look at planet Able. Why are they still headquartered here? Report in two days.”
The team reassembled. Maury pointed at the person to his right. “For the last ten years noting has been able to grow on Able,” Audrey Smith, the biologist, said. The whole planet’s sterile.”
Maury gave her a double take, “How is that possible?”
Juan Esteban, the anthropologist, answered, “When the planet was first discovered there were numerous indigenous groups. Two distinct species of sentient life. One group were merchants the other hunters. They existed off a third group that farmed. The merchants resembled great apes, the hunters more monkeys with their forward arms made of very sharp ivory. The farmers didn’t speak, build tools or use fire. They gathered in small family clusters. All species are now extinct.”
Maury was impatient, “How did they farm without tools?”
“It’s rather strange from what’s been documented, they could never determine the sex of this species. One of the pair had a tail of ivory around four feet in length that was thin and sharp edged. The other one had an ivory tail that was six feet in length, but it was six inches in width with a sharp point. The first one would lead, and the tail would cut into the ground. The other one holding the first from behind would dig the furrows.”
“I’m sure you find this fascinating,” Maury said, impatiently, “How did these species become extinct?”
“I think I know that sir,” Janice Pullman the head of security answered, “The farmers didn’t follow the rules of being sentient beings and were considered game. They were hunted for their tails and meat.”
Getting a little exasperated, “And???” Maury blurted out.
The biologist answered, “When the farmers were wiped out, corporate farmers began tilling the soil. For the first decade they grew respectable crops, but then the soil became depleted. The two sentient species adapted to our food, but when all our methods of fertilizing the soil failed Virgocorp shifted manufacture of food to the moons. There wasn’t enough to feed the indigenous population and most of them died of starvation.”
Shocked at the horror of what he’d heard, “They wiped out all sentient life on this planet?”
“Not quite, sir” Audrey said. They’ve set up a preserve on the smallest continent and preserved embryos to bring back the sentient species from extinction.”
Looking at the biologist, “Can you explain how an entire planet became sterile?”
“Sir,” she lowered her head, “The conclusion of the biologist working for Virgocorp concluded that the ivory in the tails of the farmers provided certain necessary nutrients for replenishing the soil. When they became extinct the soil became sterile.”
Maury thought of something, “What about the oceans? The planet is 85% water.”
“Records indicate,” Nathan Williams, the historian, said, “Virgocorp completely depopulated the oceans, lakes, rivers and streams of all edible aquatic life in the first twenty years.”
Maury exploded, “They did what?”
“Virgocorp leased the extraction of aquatic life to Orioncorp who has a high demand for sea food,” Williams answered.
Maury started pacing to calm down, “I’d like to talk with this corporate biologist.”
Audrey responded, “The man was fired and sent back to Virgo Prime five years ago. He left hidden files that only I could access, sir.”
The captain raised his right eyebrow.
The biologist continued, “It’s not the first-time corporate scientists were fired a few years before Federation personnel arrived. We’ve developed a way of accessing their research that corporate can’t delete.”
“That’s a lot of information to digest,” he waved them away. “Go get some rest, good work all of you.”
Since developing the technology for space exploration at light speed and interdimensional transportation a pattern developed. It took money to pay for the long-range exploration ships to reach solar systems and set up the ITD’s. All mineral and non-sentient life were exploitable for this time period. The only restriction was on sentient life forms. Those who could manipulate tools, the ability to speak, build fire, create cultures, villages, towns, cities. They were to be left unharmed.
If the planet or planets were civilized, they were encouraged to become trading partners. If capable of space flight they were encouraged to join the corporation as junior partners.
The maxim established on Terra Prime in antiquity still held: When two cultures intersect the more technological dominates.
For ten thousand years as the Terran Federation has cleaned up the mess the corporations left after a hundred years of unfettered control of a solar system. The indigenous populations didn’t take kindly to being invaded and their resources plundered. Entire species of sentient life were exterminated until the Federation imposed punitive sanctions on the Corporations.
The corporate officers were removed and replaced to set an example. The hardest part of making people accountable is that by the time the Feds discovers the problem the ones who were responsible were either in old age or dead. The current corporate leaders claim innocence.
 The corporations took a page out of American history for indigenous peoples and set up reservations. Once the corporation removed all extractive substances, they began using the solar system for colonization and transportation centers.
The Feds stepped in and restored order. The indigenous population was given a planet or terraformed moon to live their lives without interference. Those that wished to assimilate were encouraged, enculturated, educated and brought into the alliance fold.
Virgo Corporation stepped over the line on planet Able. A mere fine isn’t going to be near enough to restore the damage done. If it can be undone at all. It’s not feasible to feed a planet twice the size of Terra Prime, much less a whole solar system with hydroponics and aeroponics. It would be cost prohibitive to feed the system through ITD’s.
“With every breath in my body I’m going to make sure the David Solar System is confiscated from Virgo Corporation and placed under the protectorate of UFA.”
Going to the DTD Maury transported back to Virgo Prime. Two days later he returned with a thousand scientists and two hundred thousand security personnel.
Immanuel Groves, the Governor of David met Maury at the DTD. The personnel he brought was already through and heading to a reserved module.
“Inspector Maury”, Groves addressed him with a supercilious attitude. He wasn’t used to being ignored by anyone. “Your actions are very rude. “You leave without meeting me and return with an invasion force.”
Maury felt like slapping him in handcuffs and sending back to Virgo Prime to face charges of genocide. I just might, if he keeps acting like an ass. “Governor Groves, Virgocorp has in the time allotted them to exploit the natural resources of this solar system turned the one planet capable of supporting life into a barren rock and murdered the sentient indigenous population. Those sentient beings, who if not left to starve, might have become a welcome addition to our alliance.”
Lifting his hands in a placating manner, “Inspector Maury I inherited this condition, this is how I found it. I was the one who set up the cryogenic labs to salvage sentient life once the planet becomes sustainable again.”
Giving the man a look of total disdain, “Locusts couldn’t have done this much damage.”
Puffing himself up, “What do you intend to do, sir?”
“I’ve already turned in my report. For the first time in over a thousand years Virgocorp will be brought before a corporate tribunal on Terra Prime. If found guilty of these and other charges we’ll discover, your charter will be revoked, and the Ministry of Reclamation will be given control of the David system.”
“Then we have nothing further to discuss,” the man said turning around and leaving.
“Colonel,” he said to the highest-ranking member of the security team near him. “Arrest that man and all the corporate management team. Have them transported to Terra Prime within the next three days.”

# # # # #

Maury gave a press conference that was broadcast throughout the David system.

 “This is the dictate of the United Terran Alliance Judicial Review Board:
·       The David solar system is under Alliance quarantine.
·       All exploitation of the system is to stop immediately.
·       All trade will cease.
·       All Virgocorp personnel not deemed essential to the continued function of all the stations on the planet and elsewhere within the system will be evacuated.
·       The alliance will begin replacing those left here within a year.
·       A full investigation of the genocide against the sentient indigenous population will be conducted with the possibility of punitive measures taken against Virgocorp and its officers for the past one hundred years. Current corporate officers will be charged with negligence for not cleaning up the mess.
·       The ministry of reclamation will begin the process of repairing the damage done to all the indigenous species that were present when the system was discovered.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

WC 071520

Today's topic is: Things I collect.
The obvious answer: Books. I still have college textbooks from 1972-76. Love those Norton Anthologies.
Other stuff: LP's, 45's, CD's music, DVD's movies. I didn't intend to collect them, but somehow when a favorited item comes out and it hits the shelves they add up. My wife has over 50 Elvis albums, and that was before we got married. I'm not the only pack rat in the family.
Odd stuff:
Hats, when I was golfing I bought a hat at every golf course I played at. I also got a number of PGA U.S. Open hats by being a member.
Tea sets, I've got a china hutch full of different sets. I'm a tea drinker and love making a pot of tea and sipping out of a cup having a lovely conversation with friends.
Old cameras. I didn't collect them, they were Dad's and I inherited them. I have an original Polaroid, and about six of the old box cameras that you look down to sight the target. They make great slides. I also have antique 35mm cameras from the 40's and 50's.
Slides and pictures. Again I inherited my parents, in-laws, grand-parents. I scanned all the slides two years ago and digitized them. 90% I tossed because my mother didn't know who the people were, and I sure as hell didn't, or they were scenery: mountains, lakes, city streets. I still have a tub full of the ones I kept. 

Anne Littlewolf's paintings. We went to college together and were good friends. Twenty years after we graduated we got in contact with each other and she's a well known painter in these parts. I have two of her works hanging on my walls.
She's moved to the Monzano mountains and before the pandemic we'd get together and raise a little hell at some poor dining establishment.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

TTT 071420

Today's topic: Books that make you smile. I'll let the titles speak for themselves.

Monday, July 13, 2020

Part 1 of a Private Pain

A Private Pain
By Patrick Prescott

I shiver huddled in a lonely cave

I shout, I rant, I rave.
The game of life has been played
Though I don’t know how I strayed.
The ache within my chest
Will give me no peaceful rest
Oh God
Oh God
I hurt.

I am Niqmiepu of the farmer Grails
We farmed with the ivory in our tails.
We sowed the ground in a single pass
Now all around me is not a single blade of grass.

Hunters from the sky
Came to kill and we didn’t know why
They traded with the Prails
And allied with the Drails
To chase us down
For slaughter in every town.

It was the ivory they sought,
Too late we vainly fought.
With all the farmers killed
None of the land is tilled
As fallow our soil does lie
The Prails and Drails now die.

Finally there was only Ishme
Who was my wife, and me.
We hurriedly fled
Our feet sorely bled
Till we rested by a tree
There was no one we could see.
Ishme, my wife was hurt
And her face was covered in dirt.
We holed up in this cave
Where for food we began to crave.
She grew thin as a rail
And as white as her tail.
While in a fever I perspired
Ishme’s breath gradually expired
Panting on her side she did lie
Slowly I watched her die.

I buried her with dust and tears
She was the last of my peers.

Come sweet death
Take my lonely breath
My race is lost
At tremendous cost
My tail I kept
My eyes have wept
For those who died
And for those who tried
To save my race
Now there is no place
For us to live
And no love for me to give
Come sweet death
Take my lonely breath.

# # # # #

Moon Fall

Mater observed Yeoman Lotz stir in the stasis tube. The beginning of thawing. She whispered softly to the 25-year-old woman, “This will be over soon. You’ve been in stasis for ninety years.”
Yeoman Lotz never heard the computer. She was in cellular rejuvenation and as each cell in her body thawed it stimulated the central nervous system which broadcast the sensory overload to the cerebral cortex. Unfortunately, the brain was not sufficiently thawed to release endorphins to lessen the pain.
Slowly Izzy Lotz became aware of more than the excruciating pain. Memories came back of boarding the Virgo Exploratory Ship Arrow. Being put into the stasis tube. It felt like only a few minutes before the burning began.
A year before graduation from the Virgo Corporation Exploratory Academy, she was placed in stasis for a month. It was painful upon awakening, but that was a pin prick in comparison to being skinned alive.
The stasis tube extended and the top opened. Hands reached down and lifted her onto a gurney. The sheets she rested on were warm and the ones placed on top of her were even warmer. Slowly her eyes opened to a dark room. There was just enough light for her eyes to focus on a shadow hovering over her. 
Something was in her mouth. A tube was forcing air into her lungs. She tried to lift her hands, but they as well as the rest of her body was in restraints.
“Yeoman Lotz, can you hear me?” A soft voice asked. “If you can, blink your eyes.”
She blinked.
Mater continued, “Commander Corbin is going to remove your breathing apparatus. Do not struggle or try to speak. Do you understand?”
Izzy blinked again.
The shadow reached down and pulled out the tube. Warm air rushed in causing intense pain along her airway and each alveoli filled it intensified the agony. The restraints kept her from thrashing around and the apparatus that held the tube in place held her vocal cords firm so she couldn’t scream which would have shattered them.
Don’t struggle, the stupid computer says, she thought. Does she think I’m made out of wood?
Once the strain against the bindings eased up, the hands started pulling out the apparatus. The hard rubber stopper secreted fluid before sliding out and the pain was minimal.
Mater observed Yeoman Lotz start moving her jaw. The computer slowly started loosening the bindings. The lights began to brighten so Izzy could see Commander Corbin hovering over her.
Lieutenant Commander Judy Corbin slowly lifted the young girl to a sitting position. “The first times always the roughest,” she said.
Izzy tried to say what she was thinking but with her vocal cords still stiff and tongue not any better, it came out as “AGGRRRRAAARRRGGAAAA”
Judy smiled at her, “That’s what we all say upon awakening.”
She helped Izzy into a warming robe and supported her from the gurney to an anti-gravity chair. Taking her to the IOWS (Internal Organ Warming Station) the hatch opened. Helping Izzy through the hatch and into the webbing, she took the robe and left.
Scientists found centuries earlier that the extremities warmed up easier than internal organs. Once the lungs, heart and circulatory system became operational the stomach, intestines, liver, pancreas, spleen, and gall bladder needed time to function fully. In emergency situations time was something they didn’t have. The scientists found that sexual intercourse helped jump start the other systems, but the body wasn’t capable of vigorous coitus on a bed even at ¼ G, thus the IOWS.
* * * *
Captain John Dennedy was in the engine room running diagnostics with Petty Officer Qupidic Ergoxinj. He’d been awakened two weeks earlier and was getting the feel of the ship before Qupidic and Corbin went into stasis.
This was his third and last voyage. Like all recruits he left on the first mission at age twenty-five. He was now in waking age fifty-five. It was over three hundred since he was born by the Federation chronology.
Every voyage the crew were awake and working on the ship for around twelve years. It took a hundred years to reach their target solar system. All crew worked the year before landfall to get the ship ready for landing. It took another year to build a base camp and erect the Interdimensional Transportation Device or ITD, but everyone called it the “Portal.”
That’s if everything went well, but that seldom happens. If something goes wrong and more hands are needed on deck the crewmember or members proficient in fixing the problem could be active for a year or more and then put back in stasis. On the second voyage he was awake for a year on two occasions and this trip he was needed off and on for five. By the time Arrow reached their destination he’d be over sixty.
As captain of the ship he commanded the last ten years of the hundred-year trip. Protocol dictated that he would spend the last ten years with the least experienced female member of the crew. The perk here was that he got to interview all the recruits and take his pick. It wasn’t an easy choice. The recruits spent ten years learning everything about an exploration ship and were accomplished in every aspect. They were also twenty-five and very healthy.
Looking over their folders and recommendations he was saddened that the demands of an exploration ship prohibited children. All explorers sacrificed reproduction and were sterilized.
He interviewed five of the ten applicants. He chose Izzy Lotz. As they went into stasis and the ship left their last solar system, he had no regrets.
Yeoman Lotz was assigned to replace the previous captain and as protocol demanded they lived together for six weeks to get used to each other as they would be mated for ten years. Any issues of incompatibility and the recruit was rejected. During that time, they would use the IOWS three times. The crew referred to it as the “Coitus Chamber.”
# # # # #
Mater announced, “Yeoman Lotz is in IOWS, Captain.”
“Thanks, Mom,” he said.
Patting Qupidic on his elongated neck (there wasn’t a shoulder) he smirked, “Once more into the breach, dear friend.”
Izzy waited. The webbing was designed for zero G, and until Captain Dennedy arrived it abraded her super sensitive skin. She recalled the six weeks they lived together and the three previous zero G sessions. John was a kind and generous man. He was handsome and his experience helped her overcome any shyness due to her youth and inexperience.
The hatch slid open and she saw him enter. He’s aged. Must have been some problems and he’s been out of stasis.
She helped him enter the webbing and it tightened. The room started spinning and soon they were in zero G.
“Captain Dennedy,” Mater said as the chamber returned to ¼ gravity. “Yeoman Lotz vital signs are now in acceptable parameters.”
“Thanks, Mom,” he said. He gave Izzy a lingering kiss, then climbed out of the webbing.
Mater continued, “Commander Corbin has entered stasis. My sensors indicate that we are currently on course with all systems in operational order. You have the next six hours for rest and recuperation.”
“I’ll take it under advisement, Mom,” John said.
For the millionth time he wished the nerds that designed ship computers didn’t choose a bossy female voice. Some psychologist told them that the sound of a mother’s voice would make the crew respond to its dictates. To him it was just nagging. What he learned on his first voyage, though, was don’t piss off the computer. Mater could make your life a living hell.
“Yeoman Lotz,” Mater continued, you’re scheduled for hydroponics. Petty Officer Ergoxinj is waiting to brief you on the status of all your duties.”
“Noted, Mater,” she croaked. Her voice hadn’t been used for ninety years.
VES Arrow was five hundred meters long and one hundred meters wide. It was built seven hundred years earlier in a zero-gravity shipyard. Its superstructure was a metal frame with thirty square spaces designed to house a fifty-meter squared module. Above the superstructure were six additional modules for living quarters and living sustainability. Under the superstructure were six modules for propulsion. 
A year before reaching the target solar system all crew members were awakened and preparation for landfall began.
It took five weeks, but all twenty crewmembers were out of stasis. Six months later science officer Tupac Mupac found the moon most viable for landing. 
“Captain,” he said. “The fourth planet from red star CV145789 is inhabited.”
“Parameters, Mister Mupac?” The captain asked.
 Lieutenant Mupac replied, “Class 2 in size at roughly 60,000 kilometers in circumference. It has an oxygen, nitrogen atmosphere, four continents and is 85% water with polar caps comprising 30% of the water. There are three moons the largest 20,000 kilometers in circumference. Trace amounts of water in frozen form are in the bottom of impact craters. The other two moons are 8,000 and 6,000 kilometers in circumference. All indications are that the moons are undisturbed in mineral extraction. They are pristine.”
“What of the planet's inhabitants?” Dennedy asked.
“Captain, they are at stone age level. They rely on combustibles for heating, but there’s not any indication of metallurgy.”
“Commander Corbin, make your heading for the largest of the moons. We’ll set up shop there,” Dennedy directed.
Looking at the rest of the crew, “We’re six months from landfall as Mr. Mupac mentioned. Let’s put our heads together and come up with more acceptable names for this system than 145789.”
Four days of intense poker resulted in Levi Goldman getting the right to choose the names. CV145789 was named Samuel, the largest gas giant: Isaiah, Second largest gas giant: Jeremiah, Third largest gas giant: Ezekiel. The eight solid planets were named in order of distance from the star: Adam, Eve, Cain, Able, Seth, Methuselah, Noah, and Javan. The habitable planet was Able.
Arrow entered orbit around Alpha Moon Able. The bridge and the skeletal frame would remain in orbit. Thirty modules landed and the process of building a base camp and the portal began.

# # # # #

Four months and the deaths of three crewmembers from accidents; the portal was operational. Erecting the habitats in hostile environments was dangerous.
The coordinates of Virgocorp’s Staging Area a hundred light years away were entered into the computer and Captain Dennedy stepped through the portal. The device sent him to an empty dimension and then to VCSA in a matter of seconds. He didn’t even need oxygen.
He entered an empty room. Sensors picking up his movement triggered an alarm and heavy footsteps converged on his location. He was quickly surrounded by weapons he didn’t recognize.
It’s been a hundred years, they’ve made improvements. Raising his hands, “Captain John Dennedy of VES Arrow. We’ve made landfall.”
One of the armed men approached. Dennedy handed over the data files which included the coordinates to CV-145789 now named Samuel.
He was escorted to a holding cell until the data was analyzed. This was his second time being processed. Those who processed him back in that day were long dead and these are their great-great-grandsons and daughters.
The portal started emitting a warning of incoming traffic. Sixteen of the twenty original crew of the Arrow stood in their space suits waiting for corporate arrival.
The first suited men came through running and fanned out in a circle with weapons pointing in all directions. The crew were quickly forced to their knees and under guard.
A delegation of ten emerged. All went to the command module which was the largest of all the modules and the living area. For the next week the crew were debriefed on the last hundred years. What they said was compared to their logs and computer records. Once Virgocorp was convinced, they did not have contact with any of the other thirty corporations in the Terran Federation they were placed back in stasis.
A steady flow of men and material flowed through the portal. Structures were erected and pieces of vehicles were assembled. Hydroponic and aeroponic greenhouses began the process of providing food and producing oxygen.
Captain Dennedy returned after a month long debrief with four new crew members. Two of the crew members who died were men. Yeoman Lotz was the other.
He turned the new crew members over to acting Captain Corbin and returned to Virgo Prime for his well-earned retirement. She had two men to choose as her mate. He knew she'd make the best of it.

# # # # #

One hundred and two years later Captain Corbin passed through the portal to tender her first report after a successful voyage to the next solar system in the Arrow’s path.
She expected to be surrounded by armed men, but these didn’t wear the uniforms of Virgocorp. They were Federation Marines.
“Your name and ship.” The man walking towards her demanded.
“Captain Judy Corbin of the VES Arrow,” she answered. She put out her hand with the data chip of the voyage.
The man in full battle dress took the chip. “Captain Corbin, Virgo Corporation no longer exists. The Federation has confiscated all properties. You will remain here for interrogation; your crew will be brought back here. The ship and all it’s contents as well as the solar system you’ve entered are now under Federation ownership.