If A Tree . . .

We’ve all heard that philosophical question about the tree falling in the forest, and the many collateral humorous twists made using the same format. And of course, there is no way to truthfully know if a sound is made or not since we are not present at the time. Yes, one could place a recording device and present a proof from there – but would it be? After all this device would simply be a substitute for us and thusly invalidate the data. Yet, this opens another whole line of reasoning that can leave one in doubt of so much.

The one thing a philosophical question shows us is that we are each individuals who see what is happening from our own personal view of this world and the events that happen within it. So overall the purpose of philosophical questions is to make us think, and not necessarily find an answer, since most of these types of questions have no true or correct answer, and no way to get proof. So does this make them something we should ignore because there can never be any answers? No, not really. Because it forces us to think outside our normal channels, forces us to consider other possibilities that could exist, and possibly change the way we look at life around us – be it positive or negative.

I’ve heard it stated that a rut or groove is nothing more than a coffin with the ends kicked out. And that can be looked at as an interpretation that there are only 2 directions in life – forward and backward. Either you’re learning and continuing to exercise that brain, moving forward, or you’re going backwards and losing what you may have learned. Now these ideas opens a whole new can of worms and can make us question our very sanity. So let’s think about this (And I cannot claim to be the first to put forth this thought. In fact I’ve dealt with it for at least 40 years of my life.)

We are living in the present, but because we are thinking creatures we are always looking forward to what our future may be. This is only natural, since our goals in life, while usually personal, only come to fruition in the future. Or if we have reached a goal in the present it was one we had set in the past to reach at some future time, which has become the present. Whether fact or fiction, it is said that we are the only truly thinking creature on this world that can plan for the future. One can argue that squirrels and birds do that when they hide food for a future time. Yet in these cases it is believed that it is instinct and not thinking that pushes these species to perform such acts.

Although it has been shown that crows are highly intelligent and pass on to their offspring the knowledge both personally gained, and gained by the flock. Whether this shows true intelligence or again is an imitation of such is unknown. Since we have yet to discover how to truly communicate between species, we really have no clue, and all is conjecture. That others, other than the human species, have the ability to remember has been demonstrated. Again to what degree this exists is only guesswork. So we fumble around with our supposedly higher intelligence feeling superior to all other species out there.

Then we face the fact that many plants imitate animal. Touch-me-nots come immediately to mind. Or the many plants that trap insects or small rodents, needing the nutrients that is lacking in the soils that they are living in. And the largest living plant turns out to be an aspen, which shoots out new trees from its root system, tying the whole back to that single original tree. And if it is environment and the pressures that it puts upon species that make them more intelligent, why is it that we appear to be the only ones that have reached this pinnacle of intelligence? After all those pressures have existed in one form or another for all species throughout the history of this planet.

Of course, when one looks at the negative side of us, we see corruption, murder, torture, subjugation, and so many other really  bad things pointing to who we are. Flip that coin, and you find just the opposite – compassion, love, sacrifice, the reaching out to help others. So which side are we? Have we advanced far enough from our primitive must survive selves to actually congratulate ourselves on how far we’ve come? Or, when we look at our dark side realize that we have a very long time ahead of us before we can consider ourselves truly civilized. The one question that can come from this is this: Will we, because of our violent nature, ever to learn to grow beyond?

At this time in our growth this is unanswerable, since we destroy as much as we build. If one does a lot of reading, eventually you see authors projecting a time where this growth may happen. Still, one can ask – is all of this wishful thinking? And because of our individuality, do we see it in the same light, or are we interpreting it very differently? Is there a racial or species specific conscience? It’s truly hard to say what is the true answer. So as a writer one tries to look at much that is going on in this world, with very few answers in the end. If one writes in science fiction, then we try to project those trends that we see into the future and think how they may play out. It is amazing how much of what we have today is the result of those early science fiction writers who did just that.

But, did what they had envisioned come out in the way the saw it in the end? Again, who knows, since many of these early writers are no longer with us. We cannot ask them personally, and we can only interpret what they have said in the dim light of dusk or the time of no light in full darkness. So what we are and who we are to become is ahead of us sometime in the unknown future. That leads one to this; is your glass half full, half empty, or just a half glass? If that tree does fall and no one is there, does it make a sound? I leave you to answer.

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Published in: on March 30, 2013 at 8:14 am  Leave a Comment  
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2013 A Year of Editing

As a writer, editing is probably the most critical step in making what has been written into something that can be read. Normally, one faces editing  a couple of manuscripts, and numerous articles and posts over the year. So this is something that is ongoing and required, whether we personally do the editing, or have a professional editor perform the task for us. I fall into the former, since I do not have the income to cover professional editing. Yet, why would this be a year of editing since it is something we must do anyway? Last year I edited two manuscripts, which I released as part of a series. One in the first half of the year and the second towards the end of the year, and it isn’t unusual to only have a single manuscript requiring edit. Besides the weekly post for this blog, short stories that I create, this year I have three completed manuscripts to edit and revise.

For any who follow this blog, you know that I retired in 2006. I know that all of us look forward to that day when can retire and walk out that door for the final time. I can remember being on the far end of that goal with retirement being so far in the distance that it was more myth than possibility. So I know where many of you stand since you are at the beginning of your careers and that magical time when you no longer have to work, but become voluntarily unemployed is just too far in the future to consider real. Yet, to my surprise, those years just flew by and suddenly I was among, again voluntarily, the unemployed. I probably should have remained working a couple more years, but physically I was beat up from the wear and tear of the job, and really needed to leave.

In 2003 we, like many in our area were burned out by the wildfires, leaving us with close to a total loss. No insurance was available because of where we lived. So for the next three years we lived in an old motor home – which was cold, or hot, leaked in the rain, was cramped, uncomfortable, but livable. Then in 2006 we moved to where we are living now. Since this was a completely different part of the country we spent the first couple of years adjusting and making our residence a home. This required much work, and an ongoing landscaping project that is all self done. With the time and not the money it happens as the weather and finances allow. Of course there are always other issues that develop that takes one away from the main thrust or project, such as water heater failures, fences falling down, and such. Also my wife was able to find new employment which created its own problems.

Still the facts out there show that if one becomes a couch potato after retiring the outlook of surviving past a couple of years is almost nil. So one must keep their minds, spirits, and body active and motivated. Again, as any who have been following this blog is aware, I always had a desire to write, but time and circumstances had never allowed it. Again, as most do out there, I’ve written poetry, a small play that we performed as boy scouts, actually composed music (alas all was lost in those same fires), was a story-teller a time or two, and thought about a time when I could become published.

So with much of this behind me, and things settling down on the home front I decided it was time, once again to try my hand at writing. As is usually the case, I went into this naive, and by not studying the changes since the last time I had attempted this, found that the ways things were now done within the industry had completely changed. I picked a subject that has been dear to me for most of my life and sat down to write my first book, and when finished moved on to book two in the same series, started a third, but realized that I needed to do some serious research. So I copyrighted them in 2009 and 2010 and tried to figure out what  and how to handle them. I had a couple of friends look at them and they became lost in the story, so I knew that both needed work.

So here it is 2013, with six books written, and around 115 posts to this blog, with numerous other projects still going on, including an update to my web page, and an existing Facebook page – all a learning experience. Of these 6 books I have self-published three: The Woman in the Snow, Time of Isolation, and Desperate to Survive. I just finished first draft on A Taste of History Past. Now comes the work that makes a manuscript a book, editing. Still I have those first two that I’ve written: The Ones Before, and Discovery.  I’ve set my goal to make those first two – books, which means serious editing and rewriting before they can be released. I also have hope of releasing “A Taste of History Past”.

While each of these three projects are of shorter duration than a David Weber book, all three are over 100,000 words long, with the longest being 165,000 words. Again this was something that I learned as time passed by me, that it is word count and not pages that is looked upon for a manuscript. According to the size of the page, the size of the font, and other factors, a page in a published book can average between 300 to 500 words. So using this we can see that these manuscripts could be between 300 to 500 pages in length. So there is much work ahead of me.

My goal is to release all three this year, and to begin my next novel. Whether I reach that goal or not will only be determined by reaching the end of this year. One of the amazing things that comes out of looking back on some of your earlier work is the realization of how far you’ve come since the beginning. And all of us probably need to do that very thing from time to time. It gives us something to measure our progress, or lack thereof, and should help to give us impetus to move forward in our lives, as well as our goals.

Published in: on March 23, 2013 at 9:24 am  Comments (1)  
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Excerpt 2 – A Taste of History Past

(Or, That’s Another Fine Myth You’ve Gotten Me Into)

As stated in the title, this is the second excerpt coming from the completed first draft of book 3 in the Survival Universe. As is always the case with first drafts, there is a greater chance that this will change before the release of this book in the second half of this year. In this excerpt we are following Sabohl, the antagonist of this story. He is awaiting a response from others in his field of study, which is history.

Sabohl left his home early. It was to be a busy day since there were tests for his students, and the anticipation of a response from, well he’d guess that he’d give them a grudging nod as being near the top in their area of teaching, but in his heart he knew that they just did not match up to both his intellect, and his ties that he held that allowed him to remain as the only one on top. Let the rest fight, scratch, and crawl for those few positions that were below. No one could touch him, and with his spy network, and the power that he welded he made sure that it would remain that way. It had galled him that he had to stoop down to those underlings. But even with the size of his network, there was only so much he could do, and he suspected that this time he would need their help, and their networks to be successful and keep things status quo.

He lived on the grounds of the higher learning center but had other shelters in many of the villages, and while the breezes this morning were somewhat chilly, they held a promise of a warm day ahead of him. At times he wondered how it was that one could come to that conclusion, yet time and time it had been proven accurate. There must be some inborn sense that could predict this, but had never figured it out, and in reality never truly cared anyway. History was his passion, and the weather could do what it wanted. After all nobody had figured out how to control the weather, but with his iron grip he had controlled the view and understanding of their history. Part of his persona he had developed was one of tolerance and acceptance to new ideas in his field, but behind this façade it was far from the reality of who he was. Walking through the doors into the learning center he smiled at the underworker who took care of the many small tasks that kept the center operating. Today Nacy, a female sat at the desk working whatever it was that she did. He really didn’t know, and he really didn’t care. He smiled and said as he bowed, “Ah good morn to you, Nacy. I would guess that it will be a warm day today, and is all well with you?”

Smiling back, although there was no feeling in it, as she understood where she and any of the other workers stood with this one she responded, “Yes, you’re probably right, and it is a busy time for all of us. I see that you’ve arrived early today. I’ve just finished the sorting of the incoming letters for the staff here, and there’s one for you that just arrived from that other learning center that you told me to be on the lookout for.” She got up turned around to a sorting cabinet, and grabbed a handful of sealed letters and papers, turned around and handed them to him. “I do hope that whatever it was you were looking for is there.” At this point after he had taken the pile she had handed him, she sat back down and returned to her work ignoring any further contact, which was fine with him.

Trying to keep an air of unconcern and normality he headed for his small office, just off the space where he did his teaching, entering the office, he closed and locked the door. He didn’t need anyone walking in on him at this moment. Putting the stack aside he took the one letter that held the seal that this group used and opened it, reading it quickly, and when finished felt anger rising, but with his iron control quickly squashed it. He then sat down and reread the letter once again.

Sabohl, it has been so long since you’ve even acknowledged that we existed. It really must have been difficult for you in your high station to reach down to us commoners, the ones that you’ve always held in contempt. And how, time after time, you’ve let us know exactly what our place is in your world. Yet now you are reaching to us for help. We must admit that this has come as a complete surprise, and we will take into consideration what you are asking, but at this moment that is all we will do. You have provided this group very little facts, and since this can be taken in any direction, again since we only have your word for it, we will await further proof from other than you. Yet, if what you have stated in your letter to us is proven to be fact, we indeed will be able to possibly assist. But, as you must be well aware, since you seem to know all, we have many projects operating at this moment and have no one we can spare.

Still if what you are intimating is true, there is still plenty of time to end whatever imagined threat that you are seeing here. After all our history wasn’t written in a day, nor have the discoveries and the writing of our history as we now know it written in a day. So with this in mind we feel that there is time on our side, and we can continue with those stated projects. It is something, from your letter and the tone it implies, that may at some time require our attention, but that time is not now. If you have more information that you would like to pass on, we eagerly await your response. And please, if you do respond, please provide more than just your word. Since it is easy to twist the words to say only what you want someone to hear and see, hiding the true meaning and truth from all. As always, your fellow learned, we are eager to hear back with such proof. Signed Jaie, temporary overseer of the historical learned.

Sabohl sat silently for a while staring out at nothing. He was furious, how dare they ignore his summons to action? He was sure that they would jump at the chance to assist in this endeavor, one that he was sure would keep them exactly where they were – the leaders of their field. But obviously he had been mistaken. Rereading the letter once again, it again set off his anger, and looking for something to take it out on, he found a hapless drinking glass sitting empty on his desk, which he then grabbed and flung against one of the walls, shattering it in small pieces from the energy of the throw. So they’ll wait until I can provide more proof will they. They had their chance, now it will be me, and only me who will do this and take the credit in the end, putting out another of the many fires that have threatened our positions over the Cycle of Seasons. We’ll see who will win this in the end.

Published in: on March 16, 2013 at 9:22 am  Leave a Comment  
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Inventions, Most Important?

There’s always programs on TV that list what they consider the most important inventions of all time. Sometimes we agree with this list, and sometimes we don’t. And that truly isn’t a surprise since all have different views on what we consider important, or what had been invented that most influenced us and our lifestyle. And as such, my choice that I’ll be posting will probably be contested by many of you. But let’s look at ways of looking at this so that you can see how I came about my conclusion. I’m sure that there are many other inventions that would qualify by using the same set of parameters. So with this, let’s begin to think about it, and maybe if we consider something like this item that is used constantly and, at time, we do have a desperate need for this invention and as usually happens, we have a difficult time in finding it.

First off, there’s not necessarily a time limit as to when this was invented, although in this case I’m limiting it to 2 centuries. (After all if we included all time, then such things as language, writing, the developement of agriculture, the domestication of animals would all qualify, and rightly so.) So with this limitation that would mean anything from 1800 to 2000 would qualify. After all this was during the heart of the industrial revolution and many products were invented that we take for granted today. Again such things as the tin can, the cotton gin, steam to internal combustion power, electricity, the discovery of radio waves, and the CRT, which since has been replaced by LED’s are common. And, in many ways, all of these would qualify. Because they have changed the world, our lives and the way we live. And probably one of the most hated of these inventions (not really) is, the alarm clock.

Next, this invention has to be so prevalent that we don’t even see it or consider it, making it appear to be unimportant and commonplace. It must be something that is used almost everyday, and in almost every part of this modern world. It must provide a service that without it would make things so much more difficult to perform. And while there has been improvements made over time, these improvements have been small, but the benefits large. It must be able to adjust to the needs, and be available in whatever size and configuration is required, and it must do its job well, and cheaply. Hmmm, that does narrow the field somewhat. After all, the telephone, cell phone, smart phone, lap tops, and desktop computers come to mind, but these aren’t necessarily cheap, even though this modern society couldn’t live without these modern conveniences, and they are infinitely configurable, still, they don’t quite fit. And much of what we are seeing now and take for granted, was written or created in those early Science Fiction novels (Who would have thought that would happen?).

Now look around and see how many items could fit into these suggested categories. You’ll find this invention at home, in your workplace, retail establishments, definitely all government offices, and you can easily include the military, and almost every if not every country in the world. This item is used and reused and when it finally cannot be used any more is generally recycled and new ones are made from the recycled materials. So not is it only very handy but it is good for the environment and is reusable. Almost sounds like a miracle invention. Yet, none of us consider it so.

Here are some facts: This item was invented in the year 1817, and the only major improvement came almost a century later. Originally that improvement wasn’t used for what it is commonly used for today, but did its job well. the original item was invented in England and the improvement patented in the Unites States of America. And that was all that was required to make it the versatile item the we take for granted today. And, of course, when I reveal this, I suspect there will be a letdown since what you came up as the answer will be different from mine – and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. But think about my choice and see all the places it’s being used, and I think, at that point, you’ll see why I picked it.

So have you figured it out? Guess it’s time for the letdown – after all I’m sure that this wasn’t what any had in mind. The lowly cardboard box. This society, this world would be lost without it. Almost anything you can think of is shipped, handled, moved, packed, and saved in these things. The greatest improvement was the addition of the corrugations or corrugated with 2 sides of paper which added strength and flexibility to the container. The corrugated box can take heavier items, and better protect them, and according to the corrugations actually handle a great amount weight making it quite flexible. And when you move from your apartment or house to a new location, one desperately tries to locate as many of these things as they can. When I began this post I looked around the different rooms in this house and found boxes everywhere, being used for a multitude of purposes. Here’s a link to a little history on the subject:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cardboard_box

So why such a subject? I’d like to be able to write something thought-provoking every time I post, but I know better. So sometimes it’s fun to just put something out that is light, and still make one think. There are so many other things around our homes that we take for granted and don’t even think twice about. Items that we’d be lost without. Some have been mentioned here, but there are so many others. So look around your home, the place of your employment, and see with new eyes what’s around you and thank those inventors who over time brought all of this to you. To you in such a way that the item is so common, so familiar, that you truly do not notice it, unless you have a need.

Published in: on March 9, 2013 at 8:45 am  Leave a Comment  
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Time and Distance

In a sense history is very impersonal, unless you are living it at the time that the event occurs. Yet, as time and distance separates us from that event, its impact becomes less and less, and begins to enter the realm of myth. The costs involved, the misery created, lives lost, the damages that resulted, all lessen with the passing of time. Maybe it is one of the reasons for our failure to learn from our past, and why we are doomed to repeat it. For example – In my lifetime I lived through the Kennedy assassination, both, the Martin Luther King assassination, Watergate, and the resigning of both, a President and Vice President, the first time in American History that we had an unelected president, the attempted impeachment of a president, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the fall of the USSR. All of these were pretty large events at the time and are marked in our history.

Still, like the Muslims who are pushing to remove the holocaust from history, stating that it never happened, it is easy to begin to dismiss such events, as the ones who lived through it, and the generation that witnessed it passes away. Thusly revisionist history is born, making history say exactly what the ones in charge want it to say. And if one doesn’t stand their ground then such important world-changing events disappear to our detriment, and we are very much doomed to repeat such things over and over again. So when we look at monuments created in the ancient past, with a time, in some cases, of thousands of years between the building and we who are in the present day observing, it is easy to wonder at the beauty and forget about the human sacrifice, the suffering it caused, and death that went into creating such a place. Again, as it has been stated: History is written by the victors.

And so it is with this nation’s history. As time and distance separates us from our beginnings, it is easy to dismiss the sacrifice that the common citizen made. It is easy to forget how close the British came to winning that war with their colonies. We were defeated time and time again. Our government, at the time, was weak with no power to enact anything. The money created for the beginning of this country was next to worthless, and promises made to support the war effort were rarely fulfilled, corruption was rampant, and profiting from others common. The men and women who fought for our independence were strong believers in God, and the rights of the individual. So who are we to rewrite, to revise, their sacrifices, hardship, pain and suffering? We seem to take our freedoms so lightly that it is nothing to give them up, and that can apply to our individual rights also. Yet, because of that time and distance we forget that any right or freedom we give up, that most likely, we will never see or get them back again. So be careful what you wish for – since the distance between being free and being oppressed is very small.

We overlook the millions that were killed by their governments just because they may have been against what that government represented or just happened to be in the way. This has taken place in recent history in the nations of China, USSR, North Korea, Vietnam, and commonly in the middle east as religious wars rage throughout the region. Yet because of distance and because this did not touch us personally it becomes just a passing phase, nothing to concern ourselves with. After all, those countries or remnants, are still here aren’t they? And who misses those who died anyway? After all it is the way of man to destroy each other. Just look at history – it’s all there for you to see. This does seem to be the attitude that one sees in today’s world, and since most of the governments in this world, are trying to control the citizenry of each country, making themselves the supreme ruler, the ones with the power, whose very word can mean the difference between you living and you dying, it makes one wonder why any would give up anything. This has always been the struggle, and history does bear this out. But again that darned time and distance thing, once again, comes into play and we say, “It is the past, it has nothing to do with us now.” Yet how far from the truth this really is. We are what our past made us. We can ignore it, but somewhere, if we do, it does come back and will bite us, usually when we least expect it.

In this country, and in many other places we have fought to keep people free, out of the hands of dictators, to remove a repressive government that is killing their citizens, to bring liberty and individual rights to these oppressed people and to ourselves – with so many of our own having died for this ideal, hoping for a better future for all. So here we sit throwing all this away and into the faces of the ones who died to support our freedoms, our way of life, this trust, as we give away what they gave the ultimate sacrifice to maintain, to protect, and we think nothing of it. Time and distance has removed us from Vietnam, Korea, WW I and II, the Mexican-American War, the Civil War, the war of 1812 with England again, the Revolutionary War that created this nation, and so many others that aren’t mentioned here. Millions have died in those wars, and yet from the way we act, their sacrifice is of no consequence, has no meaning. After all texting, social media, entertainment are so more important than our individual rights and freedoms. So, why not give them up? Let big government be mommy and daddy, and who cares about the consequences of this or the sacrifices others made. After all, it is all in the past, it is in another time, it is far away, and it means nothing to me.

Let’s not allow that time and distance thing destroy us or this nation. It is difficult to remember that it is we the people who put these people in power. It is we the people who pays their salaries, it is we the people who ultimately allow the government their power. Let’s respect those sacrifices, let’s honor what they represented, and let’s require this government and every elected official to do as they swore to do by an oath of office. That is to obey the laws of the land, rule by the Constitution, and to defend that document, the people within the nation, and the nation itself. If not then they should not be there and should be removed, by the very laws the swore to uphold, but refused to do so.

So, as future generations look back on this time, look back and study their history with their time and distance separating us from them, what will they find? Will it be the failure of the people to make their representatives do as they are required, and thusly see one of the greatest nations fail, or will it be the way it should be, with we the people holding them to the very laws that they are now ignoring and allow this nation to continue as a beacon to freedom, and the rights of the individual for the world to see. Whatever that future reflects comes down to us, at this time, at this moment in our history, and how we respond.

Published in: on March 2, 2013 at 8:32 am  Leave a Comment  
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