Just Some Random Thoughts About Music

I guess in a way I can claim to be a writer since I’ll be releasing my tenth novel in September. And on that subject I have a tentative release date of September eleventh of this year. Still I know many wonder where the inspiration comes from, and I guess for each of us the answer would be different. And while this particular post isn’t necessarily about any particular subject I really do have a direction I’m heading.

Music has always been popular since whenever it was invented. Even the most primitive tribes perform music. So it must be a part of what makes us human. For any of us what we enjoy and what we remember from the past again will be different. Yet all of us have one aspect that shows the power of music. Still I’d say there are other things that can trigger this as well, but I believe that music would qualify as producing the strongest associations. Yes a certain smell, or a particular day with the way the air feels, or even seeing a particular scene can do much the same.

And I suspect that remembering this as a writer would be a great way of presenting a way to look back to a character’s past since it is so powerful here in the real world. I watched the movie, with my wife, I Can Only Imagine, and found that later I was playing the song in my head when it pushed me into a different direction when another song from my past which was similar replaced it. And I have to admit that I’ve always loved this other song. The Song Remembers When, came out in the late nineties and shows, through the lyrics, this power that music has.

You can find the song on You Tube and the singer Tricia Yearwood who released and sang it. I believe that it does an excellent job of describing what an old familiar song can do when we hear it in the present. Suddenly we pause as the melody and lyrics take us back to that moment in time and in that instant we leave the present and almost relive that memory again.

At times it can be so powerful that we are literally there seeing it all again. And as the song ends and as we return to the present what we, many times, find is that it has left a profound effect upon us. And yes there are other things, as I stated above, that we come across in our lives that can do much the same thing. Personally I find that the power of music brings forth the most vivid imagery and the reliving of my past.

Still what can we say? It has been proven that our memories aren’t necessarily accurate. So is what we see in our mind’s eye, the feel, the sense, smell, imagery, or taste, is truly what happened, or has our minds rewritten that past so that what we remember is a more romantic or maybe safer version of the actual events? Who really knows? For there is no way for any of us to return to our past and be observers, to record what is there and to see what actually happened. So it then becomes the responsibility of our memories to answer those questions. And we already know that those answers won’t necessarily be correct.

So, next time one of those favorite songs from the past takes you on ride, time traveling to your own history, smile and appreciate what you feel and see, because we do have the rare ability to look back. And in my personal opinion that is special.

God Bless F. D. Brant (https://fdbrant.godaddysites.com/)

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Published in: on August 11, 2018 at 7:39 am  Leave a Comment  
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A Few Thoughts

Before I get into this week’s commentary I’d like to say that here in the USA today is Halloween. So as dusk approaches children will be out in their costumes going door to door saying those words that really have no meaning to them, “Trick or treat!” They know that by saying such they get a treat. And for those first timers, the really young out on their first foray into this magical night it always brings a smile when the light goes on, and suddenly with those two small words, on this one night, they can get these small gifts or treats. Watch out for them as they sometimes do not pay attention and will dart out into the streets. Let’s keep it a time of joy and magic for our young, and not a time of tragedy. And now on to the commentary:

Very few? As we get close to wrapping up this series of short stories or episodes I felt I would like to add a comment from my point of view as the author. Of course for those who have followed the series to this point know, these episodes are actually part of a book. I’m still looking for a home for the story, and have queries out. I’ll also be looking at Amazon, and #PITMAD which will be open for one day on December 4 of this year.

While all my works, or books are fiction, they do reflect our world. In this latest, Unexpected, Unplanned, and into the Unknown, I’d love to say that what we are reading is no more than fiction, and once we are finished and heading off into the real world that such doesn’t exist or happen. Unfortunately this is not the truth. We live in a world where violence is the way, and the wish for peace is great. Regional wars rage, warlords and their armies terrorize, rape, and murder, and we see much the same with the crime syndicates. Of course we can’t leave many governments, radicals, extremists, and terrorists out of this mix. It makes it appear that there is more of them, those prone to violence, than us.

Unfortunately when they destroy, many times, they create others looking for revenge, to get even for the atrocities committed against them, their families, and their homes. And in a sense who could really blame them? So it is no surprise to see Jay, and later Elsa wanting to bring heavy payback to the raiders who do this kind of thing. Tit for tat so to speak. Does such actions mean they are wrong? Does such actions mean they are right? For any of us on the outside it is easy to rationalize what we would want to do, or criticize those who face such tragedies when their actions are towards violence. And it seems it is more so (rationalization) for those who have suffered at the hands of others such as the ones stated above.

Again, as our population continues to grow on this small planet, and resources become less and less, eventually there will be fighting over what is available, and what is remaining. Since a region can only support so much, so goes a planet. And we are rapidly approaching a time when that limit will be reached. It’s not to say it will happen, as the trends appear to show a slowing of the growth.

This is one of the many reasons that writers like myself look to the far future, writing science fiction, reflecting one of the infinite futures that could lay ahead of us, which in the end may or may not become reality. In a past post I stated that the real problem we truly face isn’t the world around us, or the unknown obstacles that lie ahead, but we ourselves. We can always leave, change our location, explore space, find new worlds, but we will always be stuck with us.

Those tendencies of mankind, of cruelty, of selfishness, of hate and anger, or revenge seem prevalent. It’s not that we don’t have redeeming qualities because we do. Compassion, love, the helping of others, reaching out to strangers we’ve never met and giving all we can including our time, and many times our very lives are strong within us. It has always been a balancing act as to which side of us, as a species, will dominate. And for me I’ve always hoped it would be the side of good, of compassion, as stated here in this paragraph.

Yet, with the headlines, radio and TV, or the internet screaming terrorism, torture, murder and death, it is hard, at times, to realize that this other compassionate side exists. Still if we do not bring an end to our dark side then in the end it will not matter, because we will not be here. When we look to the universe, and its immense size, it becomes obvious there are others who have risen to intelligence on their worlds. And with the length of time that the universe has existed, again it becomes obvious that many have risen only to become extinct. We’ve seen large die offs, and extinctions here. So it is only natural to push what we’ve witnessed on our local planet, to the universe as a whole.

So as we follow Jay, Elsa, and yes even Ed, we can see our own world reflected through their eyes, through their reactions and actions. We can see the strengths and weaknesses that inhabit each and every one of us who exist now, have ever existed, and will exist in the future, until we are either no more, or have inhabited the stars. Spreading mankind’s seed to worlds throughout the milky way giving us a chance to become more than what we are presently.

Maybe to a time in the future where earth, our birth home will become no more than myth. And maybe this would be a good thing. I know from reading other sci-fi writers from the past that I’m not the only one who has looked to the far future and saw this possible outcome. Still as a writer we write our stories, and all such stories deal with the human condition. The worlds, the towns and cities, the countries, the wild lands are nothing more than the backdrops, the dressing, a simple place for these stories to be told as they have been for thousands of years.

So in a sense all of us who write fiction, who write novels, are taking from the many before us, making all of us plagiarist’s, since we are writing the same stories of adventure, love, loss, the fall of man, and his redemption from that fall. In other words our condition. And is this wrong? No. I say we need these stories to entertain, to inspire, and sometimes when the stories are dark, maybe grow. Grow beyond our infancy away from the mentality of villages – us against them. So here’s to the future – our future, and may it be great.

May there always be story tellers, weavers of myth and beauty, and yes even of our dark side. Otherwise we will end up with an old statement from our past when facing that unknown future: “There be monsters!”

* * *

Next week we begin the last of the episodes or short stories that constitute the book, Unexpected, Unplanned, and into the Unknown. In comparison to the previous episodes it is rather short (only 4 parts). Part of the reason for this is because I plan on submitting the manuscript to a publisher instead of publishing it myself as an indie author. I presently have 4 books published as an indie, which are listed on my website. Even though this one is actually the 8th book I’ve written, for it to be considered by a publisher as a”debue or first” novel the word count must be kept down. It meant that I had to shorten the story somewhat and reduce my word count by roughly 30,000 words.

Does the story suffer because of this? No, it is complete as it stands. Still by doing this I’m taking a chance that it will work. There are many areas in this story that would have had fuller explanations, more depth, and more experience for our two main protagonists. Still I am happy with the outcome and direction the story took. And I even can be satisfied with the way it ends. In some ways it begs for a sequel, a second book. And believe it or not I have actually started one. Still it is sitting on the back-burner, so to speak, as I work on another titled, A World Apart, which is a little over half way written –  this being the first draft, of course. Once this one is complete and the editing done, I will probably move back to the sequel, presently titled, The Keeper of the Knowledge.

Still, in the end, time will tell, as I have 2 additional manuscripts started besides these two mentioned in the previous paragraph. They have titles of, And the Rains Came, and, Dreams. So if nothing else I have many stories and ideas to keep me busy for years to come. Still, as I have stated a number of times, I’m in my 60’s, and some day the creative well will dry up. At least I can say, even if it took retiring, I have been able to reach and accomplish one of my dreams or goals. And I have made my original goal of writing 8 novels, so what more could one ask, other than having readers enjoying the stories? Have a great week and see you here for the first part of the final episode titled, Reconciliation. God Bless! (fdbrant.com)

At Loose Ends

Keeping it fresh! Well good luck on that. I’ve posted over 170 posts on this blog and the one thing I’ve learned, since most are close to 1000 words,  is that there are times where the ideas flow and it’s easy to have a number of posts in the works, or waiting in the wings, and other times when the well is dry and I’m scrambling to come up with something. Presently I’m at the latter and not the former as I search my feeble mind for interesting subjects to comment about. Obviously, as a writer, I try to keep much of what is here towards that craft, the books that I’ve written, and ideas of how to make it all work.

Yet, among all of them (my posts) are opinions, short stories, some political commentary, and probably some off the wall stuff. One of my gifts is teaching. So much of what I put forth is with the idea of trying to pass on what I’ve learned. Am I a perfect writer? Of course not. In fact an English major would probably tear it apart.  After all, if we went back to those days in High School (I know, before the Civil War), one would learn that I flunked English (college prep) twice. So I guess like Bruce Willis in The 5th Element, I can say I write (although he said speak) English and bad English. Yet, when one reads a book, unless you are there to criticize the book and the author, you are doing it for the story and what’s happening within.

While the sales of my books are small, and the people willing to post a rating or review is even smaller, what has surprised me is two of the three books have had a 5 star rating. Now I realize that there is no way that every rating I will receive would be this high. But, as a new unknown writer, to get ratings this high is something to be proud of, yet not really expected. I felt that I would feel good if I received 3 stars. Still, as a self-published writer, I reach a point of, where do I go from here? I mean, as far as my writing, do I begin my next novel, or do I just work the 4 I’ve completed in first draft, edit them, and get them prepared for publication? Do I continue to work the social media sites, self promotion, or who knows what, to become better known? Is there some simple thing that I’ve overlooked that could help? And there, like this post, are so many other directions and questions left to go and to ask.

Of course, the obvious answer is: Edit the ones I’ve already written. After all they do not help my career, or give readers a chance to know who I am as a writer, if I do not have books out there to read – point taken. So part of my goal for this year is to get all four of them edited and available. Still the thought of not writing my 8th novel kind of grates. It is easy to get out of the habit of writing, so I must continue writing while I edit. The rest of the questions will eventually find their answers – at least one can hope. So maybe one of the directions to keep the creative juices flowing, so to speak, should be my short stories that I post now and then on this blog, or maybe push towards that 8th novel.

Getting back to the editing for a moment; it is necessary that the editing get done. In the recent past I posted a comment on editing. Here I’d like to add something else about that once I realized, after reading what I had posted, that I left out something important. When I was at a conference, in one of the classes that I attended, the instructors stated that it is necessary to print out your book, and then work a final edit from those printed pages. Because, only then, will you find obvious errors that you didn’t catch when you worked over the book on your computer screen. Truthfully, I couldn’t see the difference, but after working through a book a number of times on the computer I went ahead and printed it out, and surprise upon surprise they were right. I found error after error that had been overlooked on the screen edits – lesson learned.

As far as starting a new book or manuscript, I have some ideas and images in my mind and a couple of different stories that are cooking there also. And, to be truthful, one really has no idea where the next bit of information may come from that could lead one to the subject for a short story or that next great novel. So we must always be aware of what is happening around us. You know, those daily happenings such as that car that just ran that red light, or the children crossing a street early in the day, as they head for class, or so many other normal day-to-day happenings that we take for granted. When we see these events, where can we take them, how can we project where a story might lead, and one never knows the trigger to that next great writing idea.

Habits of writing: As in most things that happen in our lives, we must develop habits of writing. Here I refer to developing a time of day that you find to be most creative for your writing. Once discovered, then you must consistently write with a word goal each day. For me I try to write every morning, and if I’m writing my next manuscript to have a goal of a minimum of 1000 words. Here, each and everyone, must find what is a realistic goal for them personally. If I’m working on a short story, the goal is the same, and this is done during the work week. Leaving the weekends free to be with my wife when she’s not working. Although, as you are aware, I post on Saturday mornings so I do the final edit for that post then.

Of course during the week I add to, revise, and work on these posts. Saturdays are a final check before I send them out into the world. This is beyond the specific creative writing goals that is talked about above. I work on these posts and other ideas throughout the day. And, of course, so does all the required editing to my writing, which can replace the morning writing sessions. After all what began on that page and then ends up in print are two vastly different animals.

In a sense, this post is just as the title suggests – At Loose Ends. It has gone in many directions, never remaining on one particular subject or idea for very long. In a way this is just like those conversations that we have with friends, coworkers, and family. We start out on one particular subject, but once finished, are somewhere else completely, with the original subject forgotten. With this in print, where it started, trying to keep things fresh, and here where it is ending, talking about the craft, will remain, unlike our conversations, which for the most part are forgotten, simply because this is in print. Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedules to either continue to follow, or to visit this blog for the first time. After all, knowing how hectic modern life is, taking time out to read this means that maybe I’ve said something that touches you in passing, humbling this writer, knowing that there are so many other writers that one could read and follow, and for a moment in time, you’ve chosen me.

Published in: on January 11, 2014 at 8:34 am  Comments (2)  
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Blog Extra – Pressure

Opinion. Our fight against our representatives is far from over. The pressure is on and we must keep the pressure upon them to de-fund Obamacare. Do not allow them to say and pass “just 1 year of funding” for this bankrupting act. They know that if they can successfully fund it for one year then it will never be defeated and they will have won. Be aware of the rhetoric that is being put forth by the ones who want to either fund or remove the funds from this act because if one listens closely some who seem to be on the side of we the people may truly not be. Because if you listen to what they are saying it is only that Obamacare (the affordable care act) is not ready for prime time. Not ready for prime time, what does this really mean? This makes it sound as if, in the long run, they want it to pass. Put them on the spot and find where they really stand on this issue.

We all must remember that politicians are very good at words, and probably would be great fiction writers with all the fiction that they spout. It is easy for them to turn a phrase in such a way that what it seems to mean, and what it actually means are two different things entirely. Our fight against this act is a long way from over. Do not allow this government to make an issue or statement; “that it is this act and the ones who refuse to fund it”, as the reason for the possible government shutdown that can happen on the first day of the new fiscal year. This is all a smoke screen, along with all the scare tactics that they are using. It isn’t the first time this has happened and surprise, surprise, we are still here, we still have a government overspending, and there has been no failures or compromises to our security (other than the ones that this government has created), no shutting down of the public sector. So it is indeed these scare tactics which needs to be ignored. After all it is just another tactic or weapon from their large arsenal that they employ to make we the people believe them.

Besides, let’s be honest here. It might do some of our representatives good to be without a job, although we all know that this will never happen unless we take responsibility for our mistakes and vote these non-representatives out of office, and get the ones in there who will do as we the people ask. We need to eliminate the ones who seem to ignore the people’s will that they supposedly represent and once in office, do as they please. We need to know the Constitution of this country so that we can hold our representatives accountable when they deviate from this document. If we had been so informed in our past, then we wouldn’t be in this situation, this mess, this power grab by most of whom are in office.

Keep the emails and the calls coming. keep the pressure on – let them know how we really feel. There’s still a slight chance that we can change the outcome of this and de-fund this act, giving we the people time to remove this blight from our nation. This blatant attempt to make this country Socialist. And if we are successful in the end, we can say that we the people were finally able to begin the steps necessary of taking our country back and bring an out of control government back in line to what our forefathers envisioned and created.

Published in: on September 30, 2013 at 9:37 am  Leave a Comment  
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Socialism, Really?

Opinion. Why does it seem that this is the form of government that the world is pushing? I’d really like to know. After all in almost all attempts it has failed and failed miserably. Yet countries continue to return to this form of government. I guess if this proves anything it’s this: We are not learning a darn thing from our history, or our past, and we are doomed to repeat it forever, or so it seems Let’s look at the rhetoric that Socialists put forth. If one really thinks about it, and truly gets beyond the fantasy that is projected, it becomes obvious that this just will not work. And that leads to at least one question: Why would this form of government be touted as the best form out there?

Let’s be honest here, and of course any of the Socialists out there will deny what I state, but the facts are there and whether they try to deny them or not is a mote point. It is easy to brush it under the rug, but if one really wants to see the truth it can be found. Socialism is about two words – control, and power. Not some idealistic view that all are equal and all share in the bounties. Look to any Socialist regime and you will find that the ones at the top require all below them to live in the ways of socialism, but they themselves do not. After all, it is for others not them personally. And if one really thinks about it this is the crux of the problem – it is always  for others and does not apply to anyone personally.

We can look, to this country at this moment, and see how it really works, since the Socialists now control this government. Everywhere you turn you see them breaking the laws of this nation – the IRS scandal, the NSA revelations, the Benghazi fiasco, the gun running to the Mexican Drug Cartels, the refusal to prosecute obvious cases of intimidation at the voting poles, and one could go on and on, but this shows that the laws of the land do not apply to them, but to everybody other than the leadership. You see corruption and favoritism everywhere, and wherever they have their interests. And if any oppose, try to uphold the laws of the land, they are attacked, isolated, belittled, and made an enemy of the state. While those who are with the program are given a free ride (Occupy Wall street comes to mind) .

In our own history we’ve seen the resignation of a president and vice-president for less than what this present administration has already been caught doing illegally. We’ve had an attempted impeachment of a president for lying to congress, and yet this present administration has yet to tell the truth, continually lying to both the congress and the American people. With all that has transpired under this administration one wonders why they haven’t been brought before the American people as the traitors that they are? Too strong a word? Not really when you consider that they disobey the very laws of this country, this nation, this government, laugh at them, and continue to be caught in so many illegal activities it leaves one to wonder what hasn’t been found or is still hidden from the public. Any other administration from any other period in our history would have been gone if only one tenth of what has been revealed had come to the attention of the people. Will anything come out of these revelations – probably not. Yes, Socialism at its finest.

So you who are in school listening to the professors spouting how great Socialism is, step back, take the time to go beyond the classroom. Look at the real world applications of this failed system, and realize that it is something that will never work because of who we are as a people. If you want corruption, the selling and buying of favors, if you want a government that does not abide by the laws of their particular nation, yet at the same time will prosecute you to the fullest if you do the very same thing that they do, if you want an elitist government that expects to be treated as if they were royalty from the middle ages, then by all means take on this form of government. And watch as your few rights disappear, as they apply their social justice their way and however it works to their personal advantage. Back to those of you who are in school; if you find what I’ve stated to be correct, do not counter your professor. Smile, shake your head in agreement, but keep your ideas and research to yourself because it is your professor who has the power, and he or she will wield it for any who counter their views – yes Socialism at its best.

Oh let’s add one more thing to these facts – if you believe in honest elections, where you have a choice as to who will win that political office, good luck under Socialism. These last two major national elections were full of fraud, collusion, and by this allowed the Socialists to win. Under this type of government you are seeing the return to strong-arm tactics to suppress any dissenting voice, and anywhere where their voices (Socialists) are failing, supporting them and pushing new regulations on those successful dissenting voices to force them out so that only their Socialist rhetoric will be heard. Here is a link to a cartoon created in 1948 that gives an overview – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oz9fX_HfsXA&oq=cartoon%20%22ism&gs_l=youtube..0.5j0.4277.11443.0.17679.12.10.0.2.2.0.140.969.6j4.10.0.eytns%2Cpt%3D-30%2Cn%3D2.1.0.0…1ac.1.11.youtube.p8ACGSv6COY Pay close attention to the last-minute and see if this sounds like what we are facing today.

So, if you are looking to be controlled, if you want “big brother” to watch everything you do, if you want that stipend to arrive every month that makes you a slave to the government, stealing monies from the hard-working families just trying to survive, if you want an elitist government that does as it pleases, if you want corruption to run rampant, if you’re looking to have every aspect of your life under their thumb, if you want to fear the secret police that now exists in this country (of course they are not called that), if you want to see shortages in this land of plenty, then by all means keep the Socialists in power. Their history is there for any to see. Don’t listen to what they spout or shout, but instead study the true history, not the history that they’ve modified to their way of thinking, and see where this could easily end. If you do not do any of this, then you can only blame yourself, when it becomes transparent.

Published in: on June 22, 2013 at 8:26 am  Comments (3)  
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Ego, Oh My

Opinion. Let’s be honest, ego is important. It’s the part that gives all of us confidence to do what we need and to tackle projects that we’ve never attempted – so it can be a good thing. But too often it begins to dominate and blow our personal view of ourselves so out of proportion that nobody can stand to be around us. Many of the areas where we see egos out of control is – sports, politics, higher education, the arts and scientific inquiry. Many of these individuals are so into themselves, their abilities, their pet theories that there is no room for anyone or any competing idea or theory. It has been said of the academic and scientific that changes, movement, and theory only advance one death at a time.

Sometimes because of jealousy and the domination of a system, others endeavor to make changes to overtake and destroy this other system. It is always easy to come up with logical reasons as to why this new system is better than what is presently being used, and has been used with convenience and knowledge for a very long time. After all the old adage “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” has a lot of truth to it. Not that it’s unimportant to advance our knowledge, because if we did not we would probably be claiming that the earth is both flat and still the center of the universe.

Yet, it is easy when ego comes into play, to find logical and valid reasons as to why “my ideas” are the best out there, and to find ways of insuring that they become the accepted method, or thought, or idea, or direction of study. And to be sure that once accepted, it overrides, and overrules what was before, followed by making the conversion to this new system as difficult as one can, punishing the ones who are so crass as to remain within the old system. What brought this to my attention, and to the forefront of my thinking, leading to this post, was a comparison of 2 competing systems – one old and one new. Although both are not new, as just arriving here in this century. At the time of the rise of the newer system there was one country or nation that controlled much, and the rest of the old world really did not care for this. So they developed an alternate to what was being used, and by using logic and their egos of course, stated that it was better than the old and should thusly be adopted by the rest of the world, which, by the way, is close to happening.

Yes there are some things about the old system that are awkward, but does that mean that there’s nothing awkward with the new? Of course not. Especially if you were one who had grown up under the old system and now were required, not asked, to convert to this new one. Then, when you really looked at it, you could see the ego in that system, crying out that it is better, and so what if there’s nothing in common with the old, after all it is unimportant. So get with it and learn. You can see it plainly that there’s much in this new that defies understanding. After all if one truly wants to make something better, then in a humble way, one would look at the old, see its weaknesses and find ways to improve, leading ones who would adopt this new system an easy, simple way to convert or change and easily accept this improvement. Now I ask you as we view where I’m heading here, and tell me if this is actually happening, or if there appears to be a deliberate attempt to completely destroy what has been before and make those who must change to their view feel somewhat inferior and frustrated.

So let us look at the table of weights and measures – inches verses centimeters, yards verses meters, miles verses kilometers, pound verses kilo, fahrenheit verses celsius, and so on. Tell me, do any of these measurements convert easily into the other? The simple answer is no. 1.6 kilometers to a mile, 3.78 liters to a gallon, and you need to use an algebraic formula to translate temperature. And in a sense, the claims made as to why this newer system is better because it happens to be based on base 10 is really humorous. Because if you truly look at it within this modern society, we use so many number bases that it really means very little. Computers use base 2, to write in the higher languages for computers you use both base 8 and base 16 ( so when you see one of those weird numbers that have letters you know we are dealing with a base higher than 10. For example base 16 adds the letters A through F.) And on a side note I ask this: If the ones who had created this new system were so desperate to convert everything to base 10, then why not change the way we record or keep track of time?

Had the ones who established this new system been humble they would have created a system, even if it was base 10, that would make it easy to convert the old to the new. But by its very nature it is not, showing us that their egos got in the way, and be damned, it was going to be their way or the highway. They can claim that they based it on this atom or that molecule, but with the amount of different atoms and such out there it makes one wonder why that particular one? Oh they can come up with all sorts of logical, scientific reasons as to why, but it is just as easy to come up with counters to these arguments – such is scientific theory and study. Finally, lets admit that air pressure, temperature, gravity, and such, changes the weight that anything may be based upon. So no matter what is used, it will never be consistently the same base weight or measurement.

The old system was based on the British system who were the owners of the sea and as such the dominant power. The rest of Europe really didn’t like this circumstance, since many had been in the position that the British held. When America became more of a British colony than any other country, their method of weights and measurements came with them. Then America broke away taking with it the same system. Truly the rest of Europe could not abide by this. After all they had their chance in glory, so there had to be a way to undermine this power. And tell me, what better way to destroy the basis of any country, throw it in turmoil, but make them change their way of weights and measures? And here time didn’t matter, since we still presently have both systems, although the metric system, because of the pressure of the majority of the world that uses it, is slowly winning out. Is it really better? Probably not. But like in any war there are winners and there are losers. So any of us when we present our side of any argument need to step back and see if it is pride and our ego that is pushing us on, or are the facts we are presenting accurate and in fact just and correct. After all most of us are like the words in the Simon and Garfunkel song the Boxer – A man hears what he wants to hear, and disregards the rest. That ego thing I guess.

Fictional Stories and Books – In a Word

Whether we are dealing with a short story or one that stretches on into what seems sometimes like eternity, there is a common thread that all have. What I thought about as I was out and about is this very thing. It really doesn’t matter the genre, whether we are talking about an individual, a family, a small group of people (or aliens), a tribe, a village, a city, a district, a state, a country or nation, or even a planet. This can apply to plants, animals and whatever else the writer may create in their fictional worlds. It goes beyond the boundaries of politics, religion, invention, abilities, and is still applicable. What I will attempt here is to boil all of this down to a single word. Even though there will be close to a thousand to describe or lead up to the revelation. Once you see it, stop, think about it, look at what has been said, and see, if indeed it fits into the context of what is being revealed. First a little history.

Stories go back as far as language and has been used from the beginning as a way to teach, and even at the beginning before writing existed a way to entertain, or to make a point. Every tribe or clan had a story-teller, and most of the time they were also responsible to maintain the verbal history of their particular tribe, clan, culture, and the holder of what other information was deemed important enough to be passed on to the next generation. It was considered a critical position, and one which held high esteem within the society. Yet not all had the capability to perform this function and many times this remained within certain families that had the abilities necessary to memorize and pass on the information in a dramatic way to reinforce what they were speaking. From these early beginnings we saw stage and theatre develop, and as soon as the written word became a reality then stories were written down leading to the beginnings of the writer and of books. And once the printing press was invented in the 14th century then slowly over time illiteracy disappeared. Because if one could not read it left one vulnerable to the ones who could.

So over time the ones who had been the verbal story tellers became the writers. And as more stories became available they were eventually moved into the different genres, making the titles easier to understand and at least, gave one a general idea as to where the story would lead. Whether we look at a Stephanie Plum novel, or a historical novel like The Pillars of the Earth, there is a common thread that is driving all the characters be they the protagonists or the antagonists. While each of these actors within the world that exists and where they live have their own goals, thoughts, and reasons for wanting to achieve what they’ve set out to do, there still is a single underlying word that can describe what it is all about.

Science fiction generally deals with this on a much grander scale since this genre takes in all of the universe putting this species in its humble place. Trying to either tone down the ego of our species, or showing that as much as we believe we are special that somewhere out there in the vastness of space we are no more than primitives that have just begun to look up at the sky. Even the formula romance novels dealing with that tragic heroine and her flawed love interest boils down to this in the end. Who’d have thought that it could be this simple? Really, I didn’t. After all stories can be very convoluted, with many twists and turns that lead one to dead ends, followed by branches and directions unexpected – even though hinted. Or it could be simple enough that within the first paragraph you already know how it’s going to end, but because of the way of the writing will continue on until the conclusion anyway.

So think about what you read. Think about what your friends read. Begin to look beyond the words, beyond the arc, beyond the outline, beyond the beginning the middle and the end. Look beyond the flow of the words and how the characters are acting and reacting. Begin to look from above and see the whole story, and compare this conclusion with any and all that you’ve read no matter the material, the genre, and you will begin to see one thing common to all. And really it’s not  that subtle, so it isn’t hiding. Yet, it has been shown that many times the best place to hide something is in plain sight right there where all can see. By doing this it is considered common, and as such not worth looking for or at, or considering giving it a second thought. After all if it is important then it must be hidden.

If you are a writer and haven’t thought about this then peruse your own works and I think that you’ll see it there, and it might surprise you. Again if you think about it then it makes perfect sense. Again whether any of us want to admit it, this is something that lies deep within ourselves and within our subconscious. After all if it didn’t, then, most likely, I wouldn’t be here to write this post, and you wouldn’t be there to read it. And this is probably the strongest hint I have given yet. If you are still with me at this point and haven’t left this post heading back out on the net to find something else, you should now have a good idea as to what this word is. Of course I could say that one of my series is named this.

Have you guessed it? Of course many of you have. That word is survival. When it struck me I thought, no that cannot be right. Yet, as I considered it, began to look across much of the reading I’ve done in my life. Looked across the different genres, all of them pointed exactly in this direction and to this word. Everytime I tried to find some fact to disprove this, I found that I couldn’t. So I throw this out to you, to give you time to think about it. After all, I’m only a single individual who hasn’t read everything ever written, or have exclusive and overpowering knowledge. So I leave the final answer to you the writers out there, and you the readers who support we humble (most of the time anyway) writers by buying our works, which allows us to create more. After all we must do this to survive.

Published in: on April 13, 2013 at 7:26 am  Leave a Comment  
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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.

Published in: on March 30, 2013 at 8:14 am  Leave a Comment  
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Compassion . . . Really?

I was sitting here at home recently when an old favorite song came on the radio by the Hollies – He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother. It got me to thinking that the full truth is that we are all sisters and brothers, even if time has made this a distant fact. Again once space flight had been accomplished and we could see our planet from space that this would have led to a better understanding between all of us. Yet, if one looks at the world, all of this has been for naught. For a world that supposedly has entered the modern age we act more like tribes protecting our territories from each other, demanding that it is our way or the highway. I suspect that honestly, it will be generations before the hate and passion that drive us apart ends, and we as a race, the human race, begin to act sanely and live and work as we should.

For this to happen it may take something outside of this planet to bring out the compassion for each other that we should be showing. Maybe a cosmic event such as a meteor, or comet strike, or at least a major near miss. There has been enough written over the centuries about getting along with each other, and I guess in some ways this is just repeating that plea. And for you out there who advocate a World Government, forget it. That is the last direction that any of us need to go. All one needs to do is look at existing governments and know that if there is one common thread among all of them is that they fail at what they are supposed to be doing. With corruption, control, and people feeling that they are elite and outside of the very laws they create, feeling that they have the right to do as they please – creating more problems, havoc, and oppression. And if individual governments do this, it would be multiplied ten-fold for a single worldwide government who would have vast amounts of power and control. Total power and control, corrupts totally.

In every generation there are radicals, extremists and such. Unfortunately many times they become elected, or through violence overthrow the present government and finally once driven out of office, if they can be removed, it takes untold years to correct the problems they have created. Is the suffering and destruction and loss of life that is happening throughout this world worth the price? We are limited on just about everything but hate. Why is this so? Many of these so-called governments have murdered millions of their own citizens, leaving a void, and a distrust that will probably never be overcome. At the rate that we are going, this direction does not look promising or have a promising future. We are really heading towards extinction, and if we do it to ourselves then we only have ourselves to blame. And in the end what would be our legacy? And would anybody that found our dead world really care? Their archaeologists would do their digs, do their research, and in the end just shake their heads, wondering how a race could be so stupid.

Life is precious, but is tossed away as worthless. We will always have politicians, the flim-flammers, the salesmen, the ones who want to control, the criminals, yet if we really are honest they are in the minority. Still by who really knows how, they, much of the time, are the ones who control the vast majority out there. The majority trying to keep food on the table, shelter over their heads and pass on to their children good family values, and a true compassion for their fellow-man. Still, if one was to look around, much of this is fading, as manipulation is everywhere, and the destruction of the core family is the target. It has been shown, in history, that if one can destroy the family unit, then eventually the empire, or government, or country where this has been successful will fall. So what are we seeing everywhere today? The destruction of the family unit right before our eyes. So if this trend continues it will only be a matter of time. As the family goes, so goes a nation.

Published in: on March 10, 2012 at 9:12 am  Leave a Comment  
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Time Compression

This is something that is used often in our entertainment media – whether written, spoken, or visual. Whether the story is fictional, based on fact or stated to be true, to keep a story moving, a story that captures the participant and holds his or her attention and interest, then time is compressed, skipped, and the gory details of day-to-day life is left out. So, as one is involved with the story they see only the highlights, with the lowlights missing or ignored – it can, in the end, not give justice, or a true picture of what the protagonist has really lived through to reach these moments that changed their direction, or life. (The Rabbi speak of Divine Poetry as black letters resting on the frame of the white empty spaces. It’s the white fire that gives the black fire its foundation. In fact the spaces in the Torah take up twice the amount of places as the actual letters, perhaps indicating that at times it is of greater importance. The complete article can be found with this link: http://www.hir.org/a_weekly_gallery/8.16.02-weekly.html )

While it is very important to do this, leaving out or skipping of history, it can lead to misconceptions from the reader, viewer, and so on. For example if one reads the Bible and Genesis about Abraham, the feelings you get is that he talked to God all the time, and God responded back to him all the time, thusly, making it easier to keep faith in God. But this view would be incorrect. Yes Abraham probably did pray to God all the time, but there could easily be years before God would respond to Abraham. Making a meer humble herder show more faith and strength through both the good times and bad times, giving us a complete different view of this man.  So instead of a constant two-way conversation it, most of the time, went from Abraham to God, with silence being the only response. This raises an interesting question about oneself, would you have that kind of strength, that kind of faith, and that kind of belief to continue? Now I am not trying to make this a religious statement or blog this week, or one on religion, but this example is one of probably thousands of similar situations that one can find.

Another great example for Americans is how George Washington is portrayed, especially in the educational system, and how this representation is so far from the reality of the man, and what he did to help establish this country. So here we see generations of people not really seeing George Washington for who he really was. As in the life of another larger than life person, Abraham Lincoln who overall had the same treatment, so it is more important to understand that what is not said, changes the truth and lives of these individuals, and what is being taught or shown in the educational systems are only  pale reflections, leading to misconceptions and falsehoods. The failures and tragedies, the many white spaces that hide the reality of these men and what they accomplished – so many are blatant because of their silence.

And as you ponder what you have read, or viewed, and your conclusion is that this person really had it easy in life, remember those white spaces that are not revealing their story or history but are there, and because they are, it allows you to see and understand, yet remembering what has not been said may be more important than what is, and it may then lead to you rethink  your conclusions and come closer to the real truth or the reality that is hidden but truly there.

Published in: on March 3, 2012 at 9:32 am  Leave a Comment  
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