Website of Daniel Boyd – Author and Blogger

Welcome!  

There is only one thing of potential interest here... my blog.  Formerly I was preparing a teaser page for my then upcoming sci-fi novel, but I have suspended all work on that project and currently have no solid plans for what project to pursue next.  For now, please take a look at my blog posts and comment if you wish.

Recent Blog Posts

Hostage or Family Member?

Hostage or family member?  What do you feel like when you become a participant in a giant group text that stretches over days, weeks, or even months?  I’ll have to admit that I’ve felt both ways, sometimes in the same group text.  What is it about these incredible curiosities that make us feel like we are a loved and appreciated family member, or that we are Michael Corleone being “pulled back in” over and over, much to our chagrin?

Every time I mention it to someone, especially someone who uses one of those phones with a picture of compromised fruit on it, they ask why I don’t put that text on ignore.  My first and immediate thought is, “but what if the next text is really important?”.  It is this same reaction that makes my wife frown every time she asks why we can’t throw something out (usually something of mine).  “But what if I need it right after I throw it out?” rings in my head like giant carillon bells that are slightly out of tune.  The effect is precariously close to debilitating.  I break into a sweat at the thought of needing something right after disposing of it and then having to track down a replacement.

But back to group texts.  I have to say, the group texts I am currently a part of give me the feeling of being loved and appreciated.  I know I feel closer to the people involved in those texts.  They usually share something that is challenging them or about which they wish others would say a prayer for them.  If it is not a prayer request, it is usually passing along something interesting or humorous they saw or read, which again is a way to open up and strengthen relationships.  A group text becomes a fascinating ecosystem for learning about each other.  It also tends to be a safe place to put something out there without fear of being “liked”, “followed”, “pinned”, or “snapped back”.  None of those are generally appealing, at least to me, with the exception of “like”, and maybe “followed” (I am on Twitter, @quietlypassing, mainly because there is less room for people to annoy me with the limited message size).  Facebook really nailed it with that “like” option.

I am still amazed at how quickly we’ve become enamored and even dependent on the ability to type something once and put it on front of multiple people, who are possibly nowhere near each other physically, all at the same time.  This capability was unheard of a decade ago.  I know that in a lot of cases, our smartphones tend to only give the illusion of connection, particularly in regards to the use of social media, but I believe that group texts can be (in the right hands) a notable exception.

A friend commented today how people have grown accustomed to expecting to receive an answer to a text immediately, and also how we tend to feel the need to answer a text quickly, even if it is inconvenient at that moment to answer.  I find it humorous that this completely asynchronous form of communication has by convention become almost synchronous.  We humans readily adapt to our changing world, sometimes in useful and good ways, and sometimes in destructive and terrible ways.  I’m not passing judgement on group texts or even texting in general, but it has become so entwined into our everyday routines that I feel we should sometimes step back and evaluate if we are efficiently using our time by immediately answering every text we receive.  Technology is supposed to make out lives easier, not more complicated or hectic, but it seems that no matter how fast we can communicate or search, we always need to do it faster.

To conclude, I just want to say that bonding with group texts is a remarkable, very 21st century phenomenon and while I can’t recommend it in every case, it sometimes is a wonderful way to connect, support, and love on people.  Gotta go, I’ve got five texts to answer.

This is post 24 of 28 in my February blog post challenge.  I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.  Have a great and blessed day!

 

What’s Harder Than Writing a Book?

What’s harder than writing a book?  I’ve been at this book writing thing for five years now, with nary a completed work to show for it.  I’ve written and submitted a short story to a contest during that time, but aside from asking for critiques from other writers on one of my online writing communities, only my wife has seen the bulk of the incomplete results of my endeavors.  Even she has not read my two most recent works in progress.  My two posts a few days ago introducing Anya and Johnny constitute the most public publication of my writing since I started.  I didn’t even tweet to my meager Twitter following about Johnny’s scene.

But now I think I have found something even harder than writing a book – writing a song.  If you ever get me started, you’ll find I tend to talk too much.  If you’ve ever read any of my writing, you know this tendency carries over.  Fifty thousand words is around half a book these days (well, around a fifth of a book if you are George R. R. Martin) and a song gives me maybe two hundred words to get my point across.  What a constraining limitation!  My fingers ache to type more, but what I see on the page is not yet coherent, nor does it rhyme, which is generally important, unless I want to put my songs into the Contemporary Christian Avant-Garde Hipster Beat Poet category, which I am sure doesn’t exist (yet).

Two hundred words to convey praise to my Maker, my Redeemer, and my Comforter feels way too confining (although I’ve seen the lead sheets for some fabulous P&W songs that use half that).  How do I put my verses on a diet?  How do I focus my worship like a laser to cut away the chaff that clutters my lyrics?  And on the flip side, how do I find the exact words to properly express the overflow of my heart?  These are not rhetorical questions.  I’ve found online thesauri help, along with rhyming dictionaries.  Rhymezone.com is a great one, very simple to use.  Put a word in the blank, click “Search” and there you go – a ginormous collection of words that rhyme with your source word.  It’s cheating, I know, but I need all the help I can get.

So writing a song is hard (maybe even harder than writing a book) – many of you know that already, and I’m not even talking about trying to compose and arrange music for it.  That is a feat I’ll have to leave to someone else, a Rodgers (or group of them) to my Hammerstein (not that I’m comparing ability, only area of concentration).  For those who have completed this task, either because you were persistent and worked through the tedious, grinding process or you were inspired by or lived through something and simply wrote it all down, I salute you.  I hope that I can follow in your footsteps and write something that someone wants to “put on repeat” because it inspires, touches, or motivates them to want to praise their Lord in song.

This is post 23 of 28 in my February post challenge.  I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.  Have a great and blessed day!

Watching The Storm

I was asked to describe the open, fresh, big feeling of air before a storm.  This is how I would describe that feeling.

The woods crowded in close on both sides of the trail, the leaves caressing my jacketed arms as I walked.  Trees stood in wild ranks, like the first few seconds after a military formation breaks, except the soldiers here were thirty or more feet tall.  Around their feet ferns huddled for cover from the pending storm.  The tops of the trees swayed back and forth in the wind, at times creating a dark, unbroken arched ceiling as they leaned in to touch each other, at other times splitting wide to reveal the darkening sky, lead gray in color.

Occasionally, the gap was illuminated by a blanketing white light, followed seconds later by a low, insistent rumble.  I pulled my jacket around myself, leaned forward, and picked up my pace.  The trail led uphill to a wide open overlook.  I hoped that the storm would hold off until I could get to the overlook.  It was promising to be a raucous, even violent, affair.  I could just see where the trees opened up to the clearing.  It was less than fifty yards ahead, and I jogged the rest of the way.  The lengthy wall of trees came to an abrupt end.

Soft grass and leaves gave way to bare stone just ten feet outside of the woods.  The edge of the cliff was still thirty feet away and on the eastern side there stood a stone formation taller than the trees.  On its face there was an alcove hewn from the solid rock of the mountain, seemingly by God himself.  It was tall enough to stand fully erect in and wide enough for five or six people to occupy side by side across it, but it was only three feet deep.  The cliff dropped precipitously from that point and made an abrupt turn northeast, leaving the view completely uninterrupted.

I walked to the edge of the cliff directly in front of me, which was free of garish safety rails or the even more hideous coin-operated binoculars so popular in locations like this one. No, this precipice was still just as God had made it, with death inches away from my current location.  I closed my eyes and held out my arms and felt the wind whip at my face and invade the collars of my jacket and shirt.  It blew into my sleeves and chilled my arms.  It smelled like rain, though the ground was still awaiting the first kiss of moisture from the building clouds.  The fury of the wind filled my lungs and then stole my breath.  Over and over I breathed, in and out, my lungs seeming to get larger with every respiration, my chest fighting to contain them.  The air was damp, but not cloying, fresh, not sour, clean and light, not soiled and heavy.  It was the kind of air that encouraged, no, that demanded, deep breathing.

I eventually opened my eyes.  From this overlook I could see no trace of man.  There were no lights, no buildings, no smoke from fires, no trace of pavement or concrete.  From here, there were not even power lines visible.  It appeared to be pristine, unsoiled nature.  I reveled in its virginity, its cleanliness, its untouched beauty.

I looked to the west and watched as the wall of water approached.  It appeared suspended from the mass of dark, ominous clouds that exploded with lightning every few seconds.  When the first drop of rain splashed my cheek and the next drop darkened my sleeve, I walked to the alcove for shelter.  I watched in awe as the fury of the storm broke against the overlook, the torrent of rain washing across the naked rock, discovering the cracks and fault lines of the stone and following them to the edge of the cliff, where it fell into oblivion in long silvery cascades.

Lightning freeze-framed the falling water, exposed the outlines of the thick clouds and brought with it cacophonous thunder that not only assaulted my ears, but pounded against my chest with relentless might.  The storm crescendoed until the rain drops morphed into solid sheets of water that smothered my vision.

But eventually, this storm, like all storms, came to an end.  By the time I emerged from the shelter of the cliff, the clouds were moving away like giant elephants in the sky, still spreading their fury across the landscape.  The sun tip-toed out of the morass of high-flying clouds and attempted to clean the mess left behind.  I strode to the trees, immensely satisfied with the wrath I had experienced and especially with the open, fresh, big feeling of the air before the storm.

 

This is post 22 of 28 in my February blog challenge.  I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I did writing it.  Have a great and blessed day!

Roku and Plex – Multimedia Bliss

As I geek, I have found my multimedia bliss and it is composed of our new Roku 3 streaming device and the Plex media server,  attached to our main TV in the living room.  I’m going to tell you about our first day experience with our new toy.  I’ll share what we like (almost all of it) and what we don’t like (mostly things our Roku can’t help with).

Our Roku 3 arrived today and I wasted no time in attaching it to our living room TV.  The first thing I tried was streaming content off of my private server using the built-in Roku Media Client.  While it could see my server and even pull frames from the content as a preview, it could not play any of the videos that I tried.  A quick Google search turned up nothing useful.  I use the venerable ps3 media server (ps3ms) software on my private server and it works well with most everything I have used it with, but the Roku refused to play anything.

Since thee Roku has a Plex client, I thought, why not install Plex and see what happens.  Plex’s base requirements are a bit steeper than ps3ms, but my hesitance to use it in the past didn’t really hinge on the server requirements, but the client requirements.  Using Plex, I would have to put another device at the TV to be a client, but with ps3ms, both our smart TV and our Blu-Ray player could both see and play most files from the server.  It was in a plain-Jane, very basic interface, but it worked and I could organize my files carefully to optimize the experience.

Now that we have the Roku, I have a great Plex client, complete with remote.  With Plex media server, I don’t have to be so stringent with my folders to help make it easier to find things on the server, because Plex looks at my files, pulls in pertinent meta-data, and allows me to search in a very user-friendly interface.

I had to install Plex on the server, which was a one-line command to install the previously downloaded package.  I then had to access the server using a web browser to create libraries, by pointing the program to my existing files.  I also had to modify some settings to keep the load on the server at a manageable level.  Once I had done that, I installed the Plex channel on the Roku, pointed it at my server, and dove into the beautiful Plex interface.

So far, so good with the Roku.  The interface is great, the Roku 3 processor is beefy and the response to remote commands is quick.  I was a little worried about that, because I had worked with a Roku stick previously and it was not snappy when responding to the remote.  I knew that if the interface wasn’t good, the Roku would be shipped back the next day.  The most annoying part of using the Roku to “cut the cable” is the disparate places to get content, especially major network content.  CBS has a separate “all-access” service, but other networks do not and finding access to them is challenging.  This is not the Roku’s fault and I will keep updating through my blog posts on my progress in obtaining these other networks.  The goal is to find all of our programming without spending as much as we would on cable or satellite service.  Challenge accepted!

Meet Johnny

Johnny is a critical character in my upcoming book The Daedalus Solution.  He will be a primary antagonist and while this scene may show him as warm and fuzzy, with a conscious to boot, I promise he will not stay that way.  I can’t tell you much more, so please enjoy this brief introduction to Johnny.

***********************************************************************************

Johnny carefully pulled his jacket off and laid it down, glancing at the hole that marred the rough, worn leather. It was a shame he didn’t stop the bullet before it damaged his jacket. That corporal was fast and accurate. He wouldn’t be surprised if he found that Monroe McDaniel was gifted in some way, probably hyperkinetic, just not aware of it yet.
Between the captain, who was definitely telepathic, the pilot, Ray, who was also probably hyperkinetic, and Corporal McDaniel, he had just run into the most gifted Ring Police Force squad he had ever encountered, and none of them were in training yet.

“Slipping some?” a voice mockingly asked him.

Johnny turned to find his brother grinning widely at him as his eyes slid over the damaged jacket. “Took me by surprise is all,” he retorted sharply.

“Sure. You still can’t keep it all running together properly. If you use one gift, you lose control of the others. I’d figured you’d have outgrown that by now.”

“Stow it, Marcus, I’m not in the mood-”

“But I am in the mood, Johnny. I’ll be honest, I need someone to kick around right now before I go out and do something rash.”

“You mean like set another building on fire? Kill a few more people?”

“Yes, just like that,” Marcus answered gleefully.

“You realize that I nearly died today because of your little stunt? Did you ever consider the possibility that your actions put me in harms way?” Johnny’s voice rose in pitch and volume.

“You were sloppy and got spotted. Don’t blame me for your incompetence.” Marcus shot back.

“Fine, avoid any responsibility for your actions, just don’t come to me when the RPF picks you up and wants to jettison you for murder.” Johnny glared at Marcus, wondering what their conversation looked like from another person’s perspective. Their faces, one livid with anger and the other smirking, eyes flashing, were identical in every way, as if he were arguing with his reflection.

“You’re a fine one to talk about responsibility. You’d be dead by now if I hadn’t taken care of you after Mom and Dad were killed.”

“You make it sound like they were innocent and undeserving. They murdered over a hundred people, including children, when they shot that transport down.”

“That transport was heading for Earth with dozens of people who would do nothing but destroy and pollute her. They deserved what they got.”

“Mom and Dad got what they deserved-“

Marcus’s punch hit him, hard, right on the chin. He fell backward, knocking over a chair, but he caught his balance quickly and launched himself at his brother, who calmly dodged him. He knew he needed to calm down and get control of his gifts, but his anger took over and he wildly attacked Marcus again and again was avoided.

He stopped and took a deep breath. Turning back toward the object of his anger, he lashed out with his mind and Marcus flew backward through the air, striking the wall hard enough to knock the breath out of him. He crumpled on the floor, blood trickling from a cut on his head.

Johnny ran over to help him, but as he bent over, Marcus stood and swung with all his might. His fist just missed Johnny’s chin again, but Marcus followed all the way through and Johnny felt his brother’s elbow strike his chin. He was focused this time and manage to absorb most of the energy.

“Finally, you’ve managed some control!” Marcus cried almost joyfully. “This should be interesting!”

Their fight continued for another ten minutes, with both of them battered and bloody by the time they were through and many items in the room around them broken and disturbed by the boisterous activity. This time though, the damage to each of them was roughly equal instead of Johnny taking the bulk of the hits. Finally, when Johnny was exhausted and Marcus was satisfied, they retired to their own rooms to nurse their battle wounds.

As Johnny walked through his door he heard Marcus yell, “Thanks, brother! Love you, man!” He shook his head and closed his door behind him.

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I don’t yet have a publication date for The Daedalus Solution, but I hope to publish this year.  I hope you enjoyed reading this excerpt as much as I enjoyed writing it.

This is post 20 of 28 of my February post challenge.  Have a great and blessed day!

Why, O Why, Trump?

At the time that I write this, Donald Trump has won South Carolina’s Republican primary by a comfortable margin over the likes of Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio who are virtually tied for second.  Why, why, why do so-called conservatives want to support Donald Trump?  He is not a conservative.  His views on healthcare, abortion, and gun ownership are nowhere close to conservative thought.  I get that people don’t want an establishment candidate, but for crying out loud, have you even read anything about Ted Cruz?

Ted Cruz, if nominated, will curdle the milk of any establishment candidate champion.  He has stood against the Republican party on a number of issues – I have mentioned this before on my blog in my post about my pick for the Republican nomination.  I don’t understand at this point why he doesn’t have more support from real conservatives.  He is a far better candidate than Trump, especially after I read over Dana Loesch’s post about why she is not behind Trump.  Give it a read, it will remind you of some politicians that generally tread on the left side of the issues.

Other, similarly conservative commentators have their own reasons why Trump is not the man to back.  Watch Scott Ott from PJTV explain his disdain for Trump or read why Victor Hanson Davis feels that Trump is not the right guy, and why the other candidates would do well to analyze the origin of the enthusiasm of his supporters.  Cal Thomas from Fox News does an excellent job explaining why he can’t get behind Trump.  All of these better known conservatives can explain it much better than I can.

My biggest issue with Trump is that he sees everything from the perspective of business.  While that might make sense for some issues, it doesn’t in many of the hot button issues on the agenda this election cycle.  Trump’s approach could get us another highly ineffective “assault weapons ban” or worse, a national database of gun owners.  It could result in no change in the current sad state of affairs concerning the (Un)Affordable Care Act, or worse, based on Trump’s comments in the past, spiral downward to a single payer system that would mean the end of decent healthcare in this country.

Add on top of Trump’s business approach to everything his rampant narcissism and we could potentially put (and I never thought I would write or say this) an even worse president in the White House than we are saddled with now.  Trump’s use of “I”, “me”, and other references to himself rivals that of our current president.  It’s a horrible thought to think that Republican voters could put someone in the White House more self-absorbed than the current resident.  Please conservatives, back Cruz or Rubio and forget about “the Donald”.  He will be an unmitigated disaster and could cause the Republican party long-term damage in the form of years of Democratic presidents.

And by the way, John Kasich, Ben Carson, and Jeb Bush, it is time to call it quits and endorse one of the top three candidates.  The longer you wait, the more damage you can do to a candidate’s chances both in the primaries and the general election.  Hop out now and throw one of them an endorsement; who knows, it might get you a VP nod.

UPDATE: I found out after I clicked “Publish” that Jeb Bush has dropped out.  I applaud him for being logical and putting the country ahead of his ego.

This is post 19 of 28 in my February posting challenge.  Have a great and blessed day!

Meet Anya

Anya Ballard is a primary character in one of my works in progress.  The title, when it eventually gets published, will be The Daedalus Solution, but I call it Heartache right now as I am writing it.  There are a few times in the book where the reader is inside Anya’s head, and since I haven’t even finished the first draft I can’t guarantee that this scene will be in the final product, so this might end up as bonus material.  I hope you enjoy this scene, which will introduce a number of plot themes and characters, all from Anya’s point of view.

At this rate, she was never going to be ready for the party.  They were late already and she could hear Baz  in the living room tapping his toe and drumming on his desk with his fingers.

“Are you ready yet?” Sebastian called for the third time.

She decide to give him the same answer she gave the first two times.  “Almost!”

“Hurry, babe, we’re late, and beyond fashionably.  Can I help you with anything?”

She could hear that he was right outside the door.  “Don’t come in yet!”

“Gee, Anya, I wish you had let me help you dress, this is worse than our wedding. At least I saw you before the ceremony that day.  I haven’t seen you all day. You’re really going all out to impress your mother,” he teased her.

“I don’t want you to see me until I am perfect.”

“You’re already perfect, what more can you do?”

Anya looked in the mirror and considered her answer carefully. Yes, it would have been simpler to just wear the costumes they already had, but something about how her mother had challenged her that day she asked about their costumes had rubbed Anya the wrong way. She did want to impress her mother, badly.

It was bad enough that she wasn’t a captain yet. She was the same age as Sebastian and he had been a captain for two years now. All she needed to do was schedule the exam and interview and she would have her own Rogue to command. But she didn’t want to leave Baz. That was the main reason she had not moved up in rank once she got to lieutenant. But she wasn’t telling her mother that.

Commander Barbara Shields would consider that base heresy, to lag behind in advancement just to stay with a man.  She had never signed a contract with a man for longer than two years herself.  Anya was the product of her third husband, and originally took his surname, but the split between him and her mother had been less than amicable and her mother had Anya’s name changed back to Shields, her maiden name.

Currently, she was not married at all, instead focusing on running law enforcement for all of the Ring.  It kept her busy enough; late hours at the office and social functions to fill up the rest of the time.  Anya believed she was happy, but worried that she was missing out on experiences.  Anya had tried to talk about her concern with her one time and her mother waved her off, saying she was much too busy to bother with another spouse.

Anya sighed.  It wasn’t really her gown that was slowing her down, it was her mask.  She had purchased three because she could not decide between them.  She had them spread out on top of her cloak on the counter.  One was a simple colombina mask with jewels and gold accents that showed most of her face. The other two were black as night, both of them the full face volto style.  One was exquisitely detailed metal and had a tall filigree on the right side that kept the hood of her cloak from falling down over her face.  The last one was black silk with a wave of clear jewels on the left side and a coordinating black tassel on the right.

She sighed again. She was going to have to ask Baz which mask she should wear. Then she got an idea.

“Baz?” she asked.

“Yes, Anya?” he answered impatiently.

“Want to play a game?” she said with the most suggestive tone she could muster.

“A game?” Baz sounded slightly exasperated. “We don’t really have time to play a game, we’re going to be late and give your mother something else to dislike about me.”

“This is important, Baz.”

“OK, sweetheart, if it is important.”

Anya could hear the sarcasm, but ignored it. “Help me!” she thought silently.

OK,” came Baz’s soothing reply in her head.

Reverting to speaking, she said, “I can’t decide which mask to wear. I want you to see them, through me. Think you’re up to it?”

“I’ll try,” he replied. “Are you sure you want to take the time right now?”

“Might as well,” Anya said, “this is a perfect situation to try and hone your skills.”

“Just so we’re straight,” he insisted, “this was your idea, if Barbara asks, right?”

Anya huffed. “Yes, it was my idea! Now, focus…”

“OK.”

“This is different, right? Pictures are harder to read than thoughts?”

“Right, because people see things so differently.”

“OK, give these a try.  I am going to focus on the first mask and the first mask only.”  She stared at the beautiful colombina mask.  Moving from top to bottom, she examined and pictured the encrusted jewels and the gold accents in her mind.

“Pretty.  And if you wear it, everyone will know exactly who you are.  Do this; put it on and look in the mirror so I can see it on you.”

“OK.  Hang on.” Anya picked up the mask and held it up to her face, holding it there by the ties. She looked in the mirror and saw her reflection.  She stared at the image, picturing it carefully. “How’s that?”

“Perfect, now the next one.”

She picked up the black metal one and held it up.  It was lined with velvet on the inside. Concentrating, she again pictured the image in the mirror in her mind.

“Wow, that is some more decoration on that mask. It is pretty, but it covers all of your face and I don’t think the filigree will work well with your hood.  Next?”

“OK.  Last one.” She placed the last mask on her face and looked in the mirror.  The black velvet contrasted richly with the light of the bathroom.  The jewels on the side glittered brightly.  Her green eyes shone through the eye holes, accentuated by the soft glow of the velvet.  After a few seconds, she couldn’t contain her curiosity. “Well?”

“Now I can’t decide between the first one and the last one.  Put the first one back on.”

Anya dutifully exchanged the masks.  She waited impatiently, but kept silent.  Finally, Baz decided.

“I’m going to have to say the first one.  I can see your luscious red lips and that pretty chin of yours.  Since this party is not really about anonymity, the fact that everyone would know who you were wouldn’t be a big deal.  I want you to wear that one.”

“I have a pretty chin?”  She almost giggled at the thought.  “Are chins actually pretty, or do they require the rest of the face to be labeled pretty?”

“A chin can definitely be pretty, but without the rest of the face eventually it would just be weird. Thankfully, I can see your big green eyes also and the mask completes the face, even if it is not exactly right.  But we really have to go now.”

“OK, OK, let me get this on and get my cloak and I’ll be ready.”  She tied the mask into place and draped her cloak over her arm.  Walking out into the living room, she saw Baz was already in his cloak.  He was facing the window.  When he heard her come out of the bathroom, he turned.

Anya gasped.  His mask was a very baroque Bauta with a white base and massive decorations across the eyes, on both sides and on the top.  The chin was left bare, the smooth point aimed directly at her.  She might have been a bit uneasy if she didn’t know it was Baz.  The severe, over-sized features of the Bauta mask were a bit intimidating.  His cloak was off his shoulders, most likely his attempt to assure her that he was actually dressed.
He was not only dressed, but dressed well; his tuxedo was immaculate.  He pulled his hood up and grabbed his tricorne off the desk.  Settling it on his head, he went to Anya and took her cloak off her arm and held it up.

“Thank you, sir,” she murmured politely as she turned her back to him shrugged into it.  She turned to face him and he lifted her hood and pulled it onto her head.

“Ready?” he smiled at her.

“Ready,” she replied.

“We should have kissed before I we got dressed,” he complained.

Anya flushed at his comment, her excitement for the masked ball increasing her normal desire for her handsome and attentive husband.  She could almost see the grin that was undoubtedly hiding behind his mask.

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I hope you enjoyed reading this peek into The Daedalus Solution as much as I did writing it.

This is post 18 of 28 for my February blog post challenge.

Have a great and blessed day!

Random Thoughts Of The Day

This post is mostly going to be about random thoughts I’ve had today.  I had originally scheduled an amazing how-to article about installing a free LetsEncrypt certificate on this site, but as I have been buried in technology for the last twelve hours, I’m going to postpone that article and present it later.

I mentioned that I have been buried in technology for the last twelve hours.  Unfortunately, like most extended IT sessions, there was plenty of downtime as I waited for files to copy and for programs and updates to be installed.  I spent more time today waiting for the server I was working on to install updates than I did installing anti-virus software on ten machines.  Every time that I rebooted after an extended session of watching the progress go to one hundred percent, then stay at one hundred percent longer than it took to get there, there were more updates.  Just install the stupid things and quit stringing me along!  This is why I despise server work.

During some of that downtime, I browsed the news.  I saw where a career military serviceman was waiting to find out if he was going to be unceremoniously ejected from his chosen profession of serving our country because he stood up to a pedophile.  I find it sickening that this man who has decided to devote his life to protecting our country might be prevented from doing that very thing.  Just goes to show how PC our military has become under our current commander in chief.  The attitude really does trickle down from the top.

I saw where once again Kanye West has made a fool of himself.  I didn’t think I could find anyone who was more of a narcissist than our current president, but Kanye has proven me wrong.  I’ve never seen such adolescent behavior from a grown man.  He really must have mental problems if he believes half of what he spews from his profanity-prone mouth.  He’s unbalanced, and if I had been on the crew of Saturday Night Live, I would have let him walk out the door and worried about keeping my job later.  Check that- if I had been on the crew, I’d have probably dragged him to the door by his enormous head.  The only thing bigger than his ego is his debt.

I saw op-eds on both sides of the current Apple hubbub around unlocking the San Bernardino terrorist’s iPhones.  I have not read the court order, so I am not sure where I stand.  If in fact the order simply demands that Apple unlock that particular phone or phones, then they are decidedly in the wrong on this one.  This is not wide scale surveillance, this is unlocking the phones of terrorists, and could potentially save lives.  My understanding is that Apple has had no problem doing this in the past, to the tune of about seventy phones.

However, if the court order demands that Apple put in a back door to every iPhone so the government can take a peek, then they are in the right.  The government can’t even keep their own servers protected, especially when they allow government officials to run their own private email servers to skirt FOIA requirements.  If the government gets a back door into everyone’s phone, it won’t be long before others have access to it.  Call me cynical.  I really need to read the court order.

Last, but certainly not least, I read where the president will not be attending Justice Antonin Scalia’s funeral, but will send Joe “Both-Barrels” Biden in his stead.  If he does this he can probably kiss goodbye any chance of appointing a new justice to the Supreme Court.  The fact that Press Secretary Josh “Less-Than” Earnest was evasive when asked if the president was catching a round of golf Saturday is probably indicative that whatever is on Barry’s schedule would not be considered adequate reason for missing a Supreme Court justice’s funeral.  I’m not surprised at his behavior.  He and Kanye are kindred spirits.

This depressing and snarky rant is post 17 of 28 in my February challenge.  I must be really tired to be this snarky.

 

Two Goldfish Stories

Here is a funny little post about goldfish; two different goldfish who have been anthropomorphized to shed some levity into a somewhat dark week.  I hope you enjoy it.

Man, it’s dark in here.  It feels awful crowded, too, and there is a seriously strong odor.  What’s the deal?  If I could only have some light, I could figure out what’s up.  The last thing I remember is being somewhat uncomfortably warm, then it all went dark.  I must have passed out.  Now I’m here, ow, with something all around me.  That strange smell is even coming from me.  And what is all this powdery stuff all over me?

Wait!  I hear a noise.  It’s a rumbling whir, like some strange constant buzz.  Oh, it quit.  Ahh, I’m falling!  Ow!  I wish I could see what was on top of me.  And under me.  And pressing in on all sides of me.  Oh, moving again, I think I’m going to be sick.  What?  Light?  Somewhere up above me there is a light.  Now, what can I see?  Oh, I’m in some kind of container, with lots of things that look just like me!

Whoa!  What just happened?  I’m laying on a wrinkled surface with three of four of these clones of me.  Wait?  Where did that one go?  Oh, those giant things took him away.  Now they’re returning!  They grabbed me!  Oh no, this doesn’t seem like it will end well…

Thank goodness Goldfish crackers don’t have minds of their own…

Or this…

I’d sure like to know where I am.  Just a few minutes ago I was sitting right beside Goldie.  She was a beauty, all gold and stuff, at least what I could see.  She was a little fuzzy.  I was about to make my move when, whoosh, I felt myself moving and now all I’ve done for the last few minutes is swing back and forth.  Sometimes I can’t breath, and the times I can I am thrown against some kind of barrier, then I swirl around, trying to right myself.

Finally, I seem to have stopped swinging back and forth.  This is better.  Ah!  That barrier is pressing against me, really tight!  Can’t move!  Whew!  That’s better, more room to move.

I’ve been gently swaying for a few minutes now, every now and then kind of swinging against one barrier, then another.  Ugh, now I’m swinging again, and what’s worse, I’m bouncing up and down.  This is too much.  I’m not sure I can survive it.

Whew!  I’ve been sitting still for a few minutes now.  This is better, but I seem to be alone.  No one is in sight.  Whoa!  Where am I?  Oh, look, there are rocks down at the bottom of this place.  And a cool sign, but I don’t know what it says.  There’s some kind of plant here, but it doesn’t taste right and it is real chewy, not edible at all.

Food!  I see food, or at least I hope it is food, because this plant is useless.  Ah, good, it is food.  It just appears up above me and floats down real slowly.  Yum!  That is the good stuff.  I think I’ll take a nap now.

What was that?  There’s something waving around in here!  It looks rather dangerous with those sharp claws.  I’ll have to avoid that thing.  Ahh!  I’m falling!  I can’t breathe!  Just a little bit of oxygen.  Oh no, nothing again.  Everything’s going black…

Ah!  Sweet, sweet oxygen.  And there’s my sign, and the rocks, and that silly plant.  This is much better…

After 187 days of living here, things have changed a little.  Everything has a tinge of green to it, I’m not sure why.  The plant and the sign both have actual dark green plants growing on them, which aren’t bad to eat.  It is a little difficult to breath nowadays, but I’m sure it will get better, someday…

 

This silliness makes up post 16 of 28 for my February challenge.  I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it!

The Mind Of A Writer

Here is a little insight into the mind of a writer, at least, the mind of this writer on a most particular topic.  Today’s post was supposed to be an explanation of the parable of the wheat and the tares, and I had a marvelous explanation for the parable all planned, but then… my writer’s mind said, “Do you really have all of this figured out?  Are you basing your explanation on sound research and reasoning, or are you just winging it?”

So began a journey through some core material on the ideas presented in the parable.  I read about Arminianism and Calvinism, unconditional election, free will (or its absence), and a huge number of other ideas, all claiming some substance in scripture, or claiming some other reason for being, like Greek philosophy.  My mind was at once in awe and at the same time blown away by the sheer amount of agreement, disagreement, and abject mystery.

How do I put all this onto paper?  Can I make sense of the jumble of thought, the clash of ideas, the opposition of theory?  Is there an absolute reference for all of this?  Of course, the Bible is the absolute reference, but there is a huge difference between simply reading and properly interpreting.  How do I internalize the command to evangelize the world, when I can plainly see in some scripture that the whole world is not savable AND that in fact is part of God’s plan?

As a Christian, I tell myself that I do not question God’s sovereignty, but I do it instinctively when I read in scripture that there are people who exist in this world, created by God, because he is the creator of all things, that will never hear his voice or have their hearts opened to receive him.  How can these people be called children of Satan, when Satan did not create them?  God created them, and according to several interpretations of scripture, some he predestined to be the “elect” and some he did not.

With these questions shrieking in my mind, I was forced to dig deeper into the mystery and ask myself some scary questions, not only for the sake of the blog post, but for the determination of what I believed as a Christian.  I am willing to dive as deep into the material as required for me to satisfactorily answer the questions.  This will take time, though, and will delay the completion of my blog post on the parable.

This in turn bothers me, because I had asked for ideas for my blog posts to complete my February challenge, and my friends obliged me, so the editor and publisher (and promoter) in me wants to complete the post as soon as possible.  The writer in me, however, wants to put down on the metaphorical page the most accurate and complete prose I can muster, which takes time; time to draft, time to revise, time to check and recheck, and time to let it go and be published.  With that in mind, I will “kick the ball down the hall” on the explanation of the parable and provide this post, a look into the mind of a writer, in this case a nonfiction writer.  In a future post, I will take a look into the mind of a fiction writer and how that differs sharply from the mind of the nonfiction writer.

This is post 15 of 28 in my February challenge.

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