Monthly Archives: October 2012

Frustrated

As I use this portion of my site as both a first publication forum and as a personal venting platform, I do not feel bad about the following mental diarrhea.

Today, while chatting with a dear friend and fellow blogger and author, the blogspot.peevishpenman.com, my computer completely blanked out.

I could see my desktop background, and hear the audio coming from the speakers, but nothing else. I could not click a link. I could not pause, mute, or close windows. In short, I thought I’d lost everything we’d been working on. I thought I’d lost my computer.

I nearly had a panic attack.

Thankfully, the issue resolved itself by the time we got around to looking at it (I’d already commandeered my dearest spouse’s computer until he could arrive to save the day; it’s handy being married to a tech Super Hero) and it turned out I lost nothing more than peace of mind and valuable time learning from and with my friend who is currently halfway around the world from me.

So, with renewed hope and vigor, I look forward to my next visit with my friend, The Peevish Penman herself.

Oh! And no more frustration. Tomorrow is another day (my husband of nearly 17 years’ birthday! :D) and I will have plenty of opportunities to be productive after the sun rises again.

I just had to quiet the writing monkey on my shoulder and vent a wee bit of frustration. Thanks for listening.

🙂

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Kaliah Chapter One Post Four

After a small meal of roasted fowl and bread, with sweet wine to quench her thirst, Kaliah met Sindai Tarzia at the front entrance. The other woman, whose long brown hair was pulled back into a tight knot at the back of her head, handed her a tiny package along with Kaliah’s freshened cloak.

Slipping the package into her waist-pouch, Kaliah bowed courteously and slipped the bar on the front door. The disdain on Tarzia’s face had left her with an unexpected chill, and Kaliah was absurdly grateful of the heat of the midsummer sun. One of the twins reached past her and pulled the door shut, prompting her to jump forward as his arm brushed her back, a heated blush staining her cheeks.

Her face set in an intimidating scowl, she set off, pulling her hood up to shield her skin. It was red enough from embarrassment, she didn’t need to add to it with sunburn. Now that the food had been cleared from the tables which had been stacked along the left Temple wall, the main square of the village was crowded with people jostling about on their various errands. Sometimes, it felt as though she never had a moment of true silence. People seemed to be everywhere!

Sidling close to the buildings lining the lagoon, Fisher’s Row, as the locals pretentiously called it, Kaliah kept to the shadows as much as to ease her passage through the crowds as to keep out of the sun. Finally, after long minutes avoiding, dodging, and accidentally brushing against her fellow villagers- who, whenever she made contact, spat a little to the side and made the sign of the Protection Ward in her direction- she finally made it to the Jeweler’s Court.

From there, finding Master Volster’s establishment was easy. The brightly tiled doorjamb of his shop shone like a beacon as the sun glinted from the various colors and filigree imbedded in the oak. It was by far the most elaborately decorated storefront on the street. Perhaps in the entire Court, though Kaliah had no intention of loitering long enough to make a comparison.

The interior of the building was cool, thanks to the thick stone walls, and brightly lit from reflected sunlight streaming in from windows set high in the walls and glinting off strategically placed mirrors. The clever arrangement offered light with an absence of heat that was much appreciated by shopkeep and customer alike at midsummer.

“Welcome. May I interest you in a choker to adorn your throat? Or perhaps some earrings to frame your undoubtedly lovely face?” The young woman, no doubt Volster’s clerk, spoke from behind a table of jewels, her eyes leaving the display well after the words had left her lips. When she did lift her eyes, they widened as she blanched at the sight of Kaliah’s white hair.

Lifting her chin, Kaliah stared down at the shorter woman with her customary icy reserve. “I am here on Temple business to see Master Volster.” Her voice sounded unnaturally loud in the silent shop, and she winced at the slight echo that came back to her.

“Master Volster is not here presently. Perhaps you’d like a jeweled belt? We have a fine collection of them.” One small hand gestured at the arrangement draped over the table in front of her. “I’m sure we can find something you like.”

Kaliah had a moment’s shock; the girl was one she had known in school before she became Mishrey. They’d never passed a civil word between them, and now the other girl was behaving as though Kaliah was no different than anyone else in the village, as though her visit were not an off-putting event. Even the color had come back to her cheeks and a sparkle positively lit her eyes as she held one belt after another against the fabric of Kaliah’s cloak.

“Master Volster is the only thing that I am looking for at the moment. When will he return,” she asked, frustrated and more confused than she’d like to admit.

Categories: creative writing, Excerpts of longer work, hobbies, Kaliah, writing | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Education, not fabrication, please. . .

O.K., fair warning: this is a rant and likely to be a long one. However, it is one that I think may find some chord of resonance in whomever reads it. So, thanks for reading. . .

Something’s been bothering me lately.

Specifically, a video I recently watched, that can be found at this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wAeKXdLZhOg

And, if you’d rather see an official trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qoeMm0Tm95M&feature=related

My first problem is this: how can we expect our children, our future contributors to society, to be competitive in a globally connected marketplace when they must undergo the reversal of 12 years of brainwashing before they can be productive members of a modern society? Let me tell you, undoing one’s brainwashing is difficult, even when you did it to yourself.

My second problem is this: I have children, the oldest of which just turned 16. How is he supposed to respect his peers and not wonder when the crazy is going to slip out when he knows that most of his peers have their actions governed by a mythical, mystical sky-Daddy?

My third problem is this: we need more hard science graduates. We need to keep students engaged and excited about the actual reality of life around us and building the infrastructure we need, learning the math we need them to master. How can they be expected to do this at a collegiate level if the scholastic learning in their formative years was based on a curriculum that was modified in such ways as substituting one genre of music for another, or telling impressionable children that dinosaurs were on the Ark (not that the Ark should be being discussed at public school in the first place, but I digress. . ..)? They will be reeling from the betrayal, from the complete and utter dishonesty that was perpetuated by every  (or nearly every) trusted adult in their lives up to that point.

Believe me, I’ve been there. Sometimes, I still am.

Here is a delightful, if long, article that details the biggest problems with attrition in hard science fields: https://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/06/education/edlife/why-science-majors-change-their-mind-its-just-so-darn-hard.html?_r=2&pagewanted=all& Now, having read that, and watched the two clips above, do you begin to see what I see?
Since my associate’s degree is in Early Education, I suppose it comes as no surprise that my last link in this chain of future hopelessness if things continue as they are currently progressing should be an article detailing the problems with keeping children in younger grades interested in science, too. Too long has science labored under the titles of “uncool”, and “for geeks only”, and other disparaging titles. http://phys.org/news/2012-04-students-science.html this article has some great ideas. I hope that future- read, near future- educators can employ some of them to help our children grow and maintain a fascination for science.

How else are we going to help our planet, progress our species, and possibly colonize our near space neighbors, such as the moon or Mars?

‘Cause I’ll tell you what, my family and I have already discussed it and as soon as they open colonization of one or the other, we’re off this rock. I will be one of the first anthropologists in space, baby!

😀

Categories: education, humanities, science, writing | Tags: , , , | 8 Comments

A Long Due Update

I have a passion for the Mars Curiosity Rover. I have been denying that passion, for fear that anyone who stumbled across this blog may find it boring to read about a robot, remotely piloted, on Mars, while it’s drivers are still on Earth.

I know!

How could I be so silly?!

🙂

This is my latest favorite photo from Curiosity.

Whether the item in question turns out to be from Curiosity itself, and thus likely made of plastic, the scientists are thinking, or if it turns out to be something phenomenal from Mars itself, I simply do not care. It is amazing to me that we can have presence, and control of a machine ,so far from Home.

I think the image should be shared. I think people should see that we can “lay eyes” upon the surface of a world far, far, (farther than most people can actually conceptualize) far away.

The item just to the left of center screen is what Curiosity is currently investigating.

Categories: education, hobbies, NASA, science | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Kaliah Chapter One Post Three

Kaliah watched as the acolyte disappeared down the corridor that lead to the laundry rooms and the Temple baths. Still sweating from the heat outside, Kaliah took a step toward the bath hall before she could stop herself. Duty warred with desire as she brought herself to a stop. The High Priestess was not such an understanding woman that she would forgive Kaliah’s frolicking in the baths when she should be attending to her duties and waiting for her next errand.

Closing her eyes, she fell into the meditative trance than she had been taught to achieve here at the Temple. Within moments, she felt the anger and hostility draining from her body, leaving her calm and centered once again. Her hands laced lightly together in front of her waist, she made her way quietly down the carpeted hall leading to the Sanctuary. Just beyond it, through a narrow, crooked hall that was once merely a crack in the stone wall, were the High Priest Cassandran’s private quarters.

No one ever went there.

Turning her attention from that hallowed hallway, Kaliah surveyed the Sanctuary with a critical eye. As Mishrey, ultimate responsibility for the Sanctuary was hers, in addition to being the High Priestess’ personal errand runner. The two occupations kept food on her table, clothing on her and her mother, and afforded her a treasured bit of independence.

The Sanctuary was quiet, deserted, though freshly lit incense wafted up toward the ventilation hole in the ceiling in tight little eddies of smoke. All the acolytes and students were at midday Services. No doubt the room would fill in another hour, as the most pious of the residents would come for devotional time before evening Services. Kaliah herself would be home by evening Services; Mishrey’s were not required to attend Services more than once a week.

Plucking wilting petals from the wildflowers on the altar, Kaliah made a mental note to pick some fresh ones when she next found an opportunity.

“I trust that there were no problems with your last delivery, Mishrey.” Though it was not a question, Kaliah knew that Cassandran, High Priestess of Ishlia Temple, was expecting an answer as though it were.

“There were no problems, my Lady. Merely a delay, as I was forced to seek Caffran at his Farm, as he was not at his shop at the appointed hour.” Kaliah kept her manner subservient as she reported, and her eyes trained on the floor. “He bade me to give you this,” she said, withdrawing a small paper-wrapped parcel from the pouch sewn into her wide belt. She presented it in the flat of her palm, lifted above her head as she knelt on the floor in front of the priestess. She’d assumed the position as soon as she’d heard Cassandran’s voice, though she’d never lifted her gaze to confirm the speaker.

She kept herself from flinching, barely, as the soft scrape of the other woman’s nails tickled her palm as the package was taken from her. The first and most important duty of a Mishrey was trustworthiness. She must always demonstrate impeccable trustworthiness. No Mishrey ever knew what they carried to and from the Temple. Kaliah was very careful to never set eyes on even the wrapping of the packages and missives she carried. Her fingers had become very deft in the two years she’d been serving as Mishrey.

There was the sound of crackling paper, then silence. Evidently, the package from Caffran contained a message. Anyone with common sense could deduce that, Kaliah thought with a touch of scorn. Just because she never knew what was in the packages and parcels didn’t mean she didn’t speculate. She was only human, after all.

Just when she thought she’d been forgotten and was about to indulge herself in a little harmless fantasy, Cassandran spoke. “Sindai Tarzia will have a package waiting for you at the door after you’ve eaten. You will take it to the jeweler, Master Volster. After that, the rest of the day is yours. I will not have need of you tomorrow, either, so return the day after.” Cassandran swept away, presumably back to her private quarters and Kaliah slowly rose.

 

Categories: creative writing, Excerpts of longer work, hobbies, Kaliah, writing | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

A wee bit o’ difficulty

I’ve been working on Kaliah’s first draft for the past few days and I must say that it has taught me a lot about the writing and editing processes.
I wrote Kaliah, originally, over 10 yeas ago.

The first draft sat, for nearly 5 years, before I added chapters 2-10.

Chapter 10 was added nearly 5 years ago itself, which brings the years invested (Gods, but it is time for a new keyboard; typos suck!!!!!) to 10, roughly. 🙂 Wow, that is a long time and I’m not even done yet!

I haven’t worked on it since, as there was a massive plot shift that  I (still haven’t resolved. I promise that I am trying to rectify it, though] that I need to work around and fix.

I have to change the nature of the “Mishrey” 🙂 . Please extend me your patience as Kaliah makes her own personalty known to me. Thanks!

🙂

Categories: creative writing, hobbies, Kaliah, writing | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Kaliah, Chapter One Post Two

Even when things had been their most dire, she and her mother had never found themselves standing in the beggar’s line. When her mother had no longer been able to function as an adult and Kaliah had taken on the role of head of household, she’d never considered asking for help, though there were times when cabbage soup and brown bread were all they’d had to tide them over. For five years, since the hateful day she’d turned ten, she’d provided for her mother and herself. She’d become the parent, and struggled to live up to all the responsibilities that entailed.

She’d found ways to put food on the table for both of them, mostly through the labor of her own two hands. Her troubles and hardships had made her intolerant of the laziness in her fellow villagers. If a child could survive without charity, she thought indignantly, so could the adults who crowded around the tables in the midday heat.

Disgust lit her amethyst eyes and curled her lip as she raised her chin and stared down her nose at the “beggars. Sweeping the cowl of her cloak off her head, she stood a little straighter, thrusting her chest forward just a little more than she was wont to, and shook her head so that her hair flowed down her back in an icy curtain.

The shocking white color that filled most of her neighbors with superstitious fright would serve her in good stead now; she’d be able to reach the door unmolested, since the way was now clear. The guards saw her and uncrossed their spears. The Temple was never closed to her, no matter what time of day. She was the High Priestess’ favorite acolyte and personal errand-runner.

The twins guarding the door stood a little straighter, their spines a little stiffer than they might otherwise have been, as they watched her approach. Their heads nearly collided as they both hastened to open the doors to the Temple for her.

The villagers might despise her for her oddities, but the Guards knew better.

With the slightest possible inclination of her head, she swept past them. Identical down to the freckles on their noses, they were quite familiar with her moods and knew that when she’d cloaked herself in this particular haughty demeanor that they would be wise to tread softly near her. They bowed as she passed, fists to their hearts, and kept their teeth tightly clenched behind closed lips.

As Mishrey, she was accorded the highest honors within the bounds of the Temple, though she was not the Sindai, the High Priestess’s successor.

“Good afternoon, Mishrey Kaliah. Peace be with you and upon you.” A young acolyte, her hair shorn close to her scalp in a stubble in devotion to Cal and Lea, the supreme deities of Ishlia, greeted Kaliah with downcast eyes and outstretched hands. Still cloaked in the haughtiness she’d donned outside, Kaliah swept her cloak from her shoulders and laid it in the arms of the waiting acolyte.

“Good afternoon to you as well, Devoted” Kaliah replied, her voice as cool and remote as an arctic wind.

“The High Priestess bids you welcome and asks that you wait for her in the Sanctuary.” The acolyte’s eyes never left the floor as she delivered her message. “I will have your cloak cleaned and waiting for you when you are ready to leave for the day, Mishrey.” Having said more in the past few minutes than she normally did in a full day, the young acolyte turned and walked quickly away without waiting for a reply.

Categories: creative writing, hobbies, Kaliah, writing | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Rant, warning. . .

If I never again see or hear a religious reference uttered by my (meaning the ones who run the country) politicians, I will be happy.

Separation of Church and State was written into the Constitution for a reason.

Kindly remember that this country was founded by Protestants escaping England due to religious persecution. Not because they wanted a nation of Protestants but simply because they wanted a nation where they had the freedom to worship without persecution. They desired a safe haven in which to live their lives as they saw fit and while they may not have been perfectly upstanding people, their descendents at least had the foresight to know that religion and politics do not mix here in America.

At least, they are not supposed to.

Well guess what?

I want the freedom to NOT worship without persecution.
Mr. Romney scared the bejebus out of me.

I do not believe he will let me worship or not, as I will.

I do not believe he will let me love who I will (being bisexual, a goodly portion of the population- and I’m fairly certain Mr. Romey is in this group- thinks I’m sinful just by existing).

I do not believe Mr. Romney knows what it is like to see the box of food from the government sitting on the front porch as you get home from school.

Nor do I believe he knows what it is like to raise a child on less than $1000 a month.

In short, Mr. Romney has his eyes on the prize- the “planet Kolob” eventually- and has no place in his worldview for the realities of life below the silver-spoon level.

Give me a president who knows what it is like to come from a home that is not Americana perfection, one who knows what adversity and hardship really are.

For now, that means, give me Barack Obama and his family. That is who I feel connected to.  That is who I believe.

Of course, the second term for any president is their most effective term, but I honestly believe that Mr. Obama remembers what life is like for the majority of Americans- hard, living paycheck to paycheck- and that he cares about what happens to us, even if he hasn’t been as effective as most of his constituents want. What do they expect, I wonder? Do they expect him to buck the trend and set new precedence in terms of Presidential effectiveness?

If so, they are silly.

Everyone knows- or should- that the President is largely ineffectual (in terms of his campaign promises) the first four years in office. That time is spent trying to ensure that he can get reelected for a second term (gosh, but I can’t wait until it is “he or she” instead of “he”), when he knows he’ll finally be able to effect some of the more important and controversial changes that he wants to effect. Even if that knowledge comes only because he knows he cannot get elected for a third term and thus can institute the policies he truly wants to.

We have a chance to see what Mr. Obama really can do.
Do we want to throw that away for a Mormon politician whose end goal seems to be the oval office solely because it is something to do? I don’t feel Mr. Romney has America’s best interests at heart. I feel he has the Romney family’s best interests at heart and nothing more.

But that is, of course, simply my opinion.

I just needed to vent after catching the last half of the debate tonight.

Categories: writing | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Greece, Oust the Golden Dawn!

I want to go to Greece.

I want to teach there, to research there, to live there for six months or more, repeatedly. I want to base some part of my academic life there.

Yet as long as the Golden Dawn terrorizes immigrants, I will not risk it.

I saw an article today about an Afghan immigrant beat and left in a shipping container at this link, www.tnr.com/article/politics/magazine/108848/the-terrifying-rise-greeces-nazi-party

that made me nearly weep. I love Greece and have long wanted to study the Minoans (they are, in fact, the culture that finally prompted me to study anthropology, even if they are extinct). I will not and cannot risk it so long as bigotry and hatred such as that embodied by the Golden Dawn is still rampant.

 

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The Internet Is No Place For Learning,

no FREE education

. . . according to Minnesota, anyway.

As someone who has, until this very term, earned all of her college degrees and pursuant education online, I find that very notion upsetting. As someone who values the fact that MIT and Harvard, I believe it was, are teaming up to bring education- via the internet in many ways- to 1 million people who previously didn’t have it, I find it incredibly irritating and annoying.

But when I find out that it is simply because any higher education institution who offers Minnesota residence an education in the state- whether online or not- has to register and pay, annually, to the Minnesota Office of Higher Education, it pisses me off. 😡

Don’t believe me?

Here’s the link: http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2012/10/18/minnesota_bans_coursera_state_takes_bold_stand_against_free_education.html

UPDATE: the decision has been reversed. See this lovely blog post, which is where I first read it www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2012/10/19/minnesota_coursera_ban_state_won_t_crack_down_on_free_online_courses_after.html

Categories: academics, adult student, education | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

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