Monday, September 07, 2015

All my message fic is short...

“I’m going to give them a piece of my mind!”

Tully sent a worried look toward his sister.  “They have security.  What are you going to do?”

“Something no one else has the stones to do.  What are our elected officials good for?  The police?  I’m going to tell those thieving monsters what the people really think is what I’m going to do.”  Bellit stuffed her arms into a ragged jacket to ward off the dock-side chill and checked the coins in her pockets.

“They have immunity, Bellit.  They could just shoot you.”

“That’s exactly the problem,” Bellit snapped.  Tully followed her out of their appartment and waved his hand over the lock to secure the door.  

Bellit called out to friends and neighbors, “If you’re tired of being taken advantage of,” she shouted in a ringing tone, “come with me!  The Jaholoway merchant ships just landed.  They can intimidate our governor but they can’t intimidate us!”

The size of the crowd that Bellit gathered wasn’t apparent unless one knew the usual patterns of traffic on the dock-side streets.  The size was also disguised by frequent forays down side roads and into shops.  There were Jaholoway crew members in groups of three and four on the sidewalks.  Inhuman faces and strange gaits marked them as surely as their identical-except-for-rank ship uniforms.  Neither Bellit nor any of the others following in her wake would recognize the Jaholoway commander by sight, though she’d been prominently featured on the news programs, but they all knew that her uniform would have three starbursts on the collar and gold braid on the cuffs.

They found the commander on one of the higher end side streets, naturally, about to enter a pricy restaurant.

“The People,” Bellit shouted in her impressive voice, “have something to say to you!”

The Jaholoway commander turned slowly, one hand raised palm down in a gesture to her body guards.  A local fat-cat started toward Bellit before cowing and retreating at a mere glance from the visiting merchant lord.


The oxygen seemed to leave the street.  The pink of the sky burned into Bellit’s memories of the moment.  The crowd that had dogged her steps coalesced around her, blocking traffic.  Everything stopped.

“Indeed.” The commander repeated.  

Bellit gulped and then firmed her shoulders.

“You come to steal from us,” she said, “to steal our labor, our goods.   We give.  You take.  People here need the food that will be loaded onto your ships.  Our people are starving and you’ll take what little we have.  And you refuse to follow our laws, as if you’re better than us!  You’re not better than us.”

“Is that what you think?”

“It’s what I know.” Bellit had reached her stride and pounded her chest on the word know. “They made the announcements so that we would all know the evil deal you forced on our governor and on the port.  You could shoot me, kill all of us, and never pay.”

“And yet,” the alien commander purred in perfectly understandable dockside patois, “here you stand.”

“My sister is very brave,” Tully announced.

The commander’s strange yellow eyes turned to rest on him.  He shivered.


“You admit it’s true?  You don’t have to obey our laws?”  Bellit took a step forward and thrust her chin toward the alien.

“That we don’t have to follow your laws?  We have our own laws, child, and I’ll not allow my crew to walk the streets of a strange port defenseless to the whim and caprice of the locals.  Would you?  Do you know how many ports would arrest you for what you are doing this moment?”

“They are dictatorships and horrors,” Bellit said with a snap.  “We are a free nation that respects the rights of all citizens to speak!”

“But it would seem, not to be educated.”  The commander betrayed agitation, or so it seemed to the humans present.  

“We have universal education!  And that is why you can’t deceive us with pretty words about how it’s actually good for us to be stolen from.”

“I have contracts.  Goods to deliver and goods to load.”

“To line the pockets of fat cats like him?” Bellit sneered and spat the ground in front of the cowering local.  “Thieves doing business with thieves.  You should all go home!  And he,” Bellit snapped at the human in his fine clothes, “he should actually contribute to the community instead of taking from it.  Do you see anyone here dressed as well?  He lines his pockets with other people’s wealth.”

“I see.”

The alien merchant commander turned to one of her bodyguards and launched into a series of alien words.  The bodyguard gave a very human nod and turned away, repeating much the same sounds into a radio.  The commander turned back to Bellit and stepped within a few inches of her.  One gray hand came up to cup the soft human cheek while yellow eyes searched human gray.

“You will receive your wish, though I suspect that even then you’ll blame me for the consequences.”

And then they were gone.

The commander and her entourage melted into the crowds.

“What just happened?”  Tully put a hand on his sister’s arm.  Bellit blinked a few times.

“I think we won.”

Not an hour later the Jaholoway ship cast off its moorings and thundered into the sky.

Aboard, the commander gave orders to navigation for a large port on a small continent on the other side of the world.  She retired to her office for a cup of tea and to wait.  The call came in before she had a chance to finish her tea.  The human official that appeared on her display was flushed and disordered.

“You can’t mean to default on our agreements on the word of a loudmouthed activist child! We gave you everything you wanted.”

“Of course not,” the Jaholoway commander agreed.  “But upon returning to the ship I reviewed records other than our own communications.  You seem adept at giving people everything they want.  I applaud you.  However, it makes doing business here impossible.”

“We’ll arrest the girl.”

“I’ve no doubt about that.”

“Return to port, we can work this out.”

“No.”  Gray fingers caressed the edge of the tea cup and yellow eyes searched the face of the human governor.  “You’ll arrest the girl to cover your own failure.  You’re the one who gave her an enemy, someone to blame for the poverty I saw on your streets.  You deftly turned her discontent outward in exchange for her vote.  For your political position, to put it bluntly.  Can I do business with someone who sells the future in order to win office?  You’re a skilled speech giver.  The girl is as well.  She’ll come out of prison to take your place, eventually.”

“We. Need. Your. Business.” The human leaned forward toward the video pick-up until his nose enlarged and his face distorted. “Those poor people need the goods you brought.  They need what trade will bring us.  We need the outside capital.  You’re making their lives worse.  If this port doesn’t become an active trade hub, the whole region will suffer.”


“You’d hurt all of those people out of spite?”

“Ah,” this time the alien actually smiled. “You should go with that one during the next elections.  I anticipate your success.  Good evening, Governor.  I have some dirty nasty commerce that requires my attention.”

With the touch of a button the connection closed.

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Saved for future reference.

Saturday, May 02, 2015

"... but I don't trust humans in general..."

I'm putting this here so I can find it back.  This was part of a comment from someone arguing for gun banning.

"... but I don't trust humans in general ..."

See now, this is what is sad and this is why we lose our freedom.  This is how laws are passed that assume that adult people are really children and need to be controlled.

The most salient fact of the existence of the 2nd Amendment is that it declares all citizens trustworthy adults who the government MAY NOT decide are too untrustworthy to be armed.  

Throughout History, in every culture on every continent, those deemed trustworthy go armed and those deemed untrustworthy are disarmed.  Full citizens in one culture after another signify their full citizenship with weapons.  The very names of some cultures are those of the weapon that full citizens carried. (ie, Saxons).  Subordinate people, serfs and slaves, were disarmed because (and for good reason) letting them have weapons was dangerous to the ruling class.  A significant portion of Asian martial arts are directly derived from people learning to fight with things that were not weapons, but mere tools, because the common people were systematically disarmed.  The rulers?  The rulers always have weapons.

The primary "message" of the gun control in major US cities is... we do not trust law abiding black adults.  This lack of trust is a direct statement that the people subjected are subjected and therefore a threat.   Now maybe in other countries people are used to having rulers and a ruling class but we're not supposed to have rulers here, and our whole society and philosophy, the whole notion of democracy, is that citizens are trustworthy.   When we treat the average law abiding guy as a threat... we've violated that idea of equality and self-rule in a fundamental and profoundly damaging way.

Sunday, March 22, 2015


Who'd have thought that "underground" involved so much UP!

We climbed about 600 feet, not counting the down and back up parts, to nearly 7000ft at the top.  In between we crawled (part of it was crawling) into the Galena King Mine.  I went on this trip last fall, too, but this time I got better interior pictures of the crystal bands above our heads.  The pretty blue is Fluorite.  I'd been asked by someone to look for Wulfenite and the bright orange *might* be, but it was too far above my head to see for certain.  The only minerals of interest to our class (and to long ago miners) were the Fluorite, Galena, and Barite.

looking up... men could stand
on those logs, and did.
The blue is fluorite, but what is
bright orange and pink?

Pretty darn good for a phone camera.

Outside, 7000 feet up.  "Nellie Mine" shaft in the middle
distance.  They dug up a lot of nothing and left a hole.
 Mt. Taylor in the far distance.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Esty Store - Cute By Coo

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Baby Phalanopsis

I finally got my orchids all repotted.  Poor neglected things.  It's been too long.

Remember my Phals?
 This is what they looked like last winter.  This is a good window for them.  It's north facing so I've got a four tube fluorescent shop light above them.  It's really hard to find the sweet spot for sunlight in windows anyway, so this is ideal.  It also gets really chilly next to the glass once it starts getting cold out.  This says "Hey, bloom now!"

You can see that they're growing right out of the pots.

 My friend gave me this phal because she didn't know what to do with it.  Phalanopsis sometimes grow keikis (babies) on the bloom stem.  These had roots so I just cut them apart.  I considered putting them together in a pot with the parent plant, but changed my mind.

 The next three pictures show how badly my phalanopsis needed to be repotted.  After I took this one out of the pot I decided  to cut the plant off at about the level of the top of the pot.  Then I removed about four or five leaves from the bottom because I wanted to get the roots between them down into the pot.   I put all the phals as low into the pots as I could so they'd have room to grow upward for a year or two.

This is the only one of mine that had a baby plant.   I didn't try to separate it from the parent plant.  I put them both in a pot slightly on their side so that the plant crowns would be next to each other and have room to grow.  Both already had bloom spikes growing.

Monday, November 03, 2014

Joy Cometh with the Mourning

"Dave Freer is a former Ichthyologist (Fisheries Biologist) who turned author because he heard the spelling requirements were easier. They lied. He is happily married, with two great sons, two lovely daughters-in-law, and now is bracing himself for grandchildren. He and his wife Barbara live on remote Flinders Island, off the coast of Tasmania. He dives, fishes rock climbs, lives a chaotic experiment into self-sufficiency, including making his own bacon, from his own pigs, and writes novels. Some have even blundered onto best-seller lists before being kicked out by respectable literature." (Bio from Amazon.)

Dave Freer is one of my pretend internet author friends and exceptionally skilled writer. He recently moved from South Africa to Flinders Island, about as near the back side of beyond it's possible to manage and still be on Earth, and has written this book and is dedicating all proceeds from it to his new little parish church. Many of his books are science fiction and fantasy. He also has some literary YA books out. But THIS one is a "cozy". It's a comfortable murder mystery (a *cozy*) which he assures us that "your conservative mother will like." The heroine is a timid priest sent from the city to serve a country parish after the old priest had died.

Dave says: "I wrote this book for one simple reason (and, of course being me, several complex ones). I have given the entire income from it to my little Church on the Island. The Island is at least as nominally Christian as the US – which I see comes in 76%. (...) But in the meanwhile, Sunday to Sunday, it’s a very small group. Most of them are old. The church is important to them. They don’t have enough money to have a priest, or even to fly one in regularly to take mass. That is important to them. It’s important to me. They’ll take dawn service on ANZAC day, on Remembrance Day, and I’ll be there while I am still breathing, to pay my respects to the fallen, and honor those who served. They’ll bury me here, one day… if there is anyone left to bury me. They’ll be the ones making teas and comforting the grieving, as they do now, regardless of creed or color or background, or if you ever came to church."

As it's time to start thinking about gifts for our Conservative Mothers, I thought I'd share.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Calcium Carbonate

Growth rings in an exposed CaCO3 outcrop.
The whole thing looked a bit like a stump.

Actively forming rock.  The spikes are about 1cm across.
The source of the dissolved CaCO3 is the Madera Formation.

Another view of the first rock.  The whole thing was full
of funnels or tubes, from these big ones to
about 2mm in diameter.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Book cover art.

 This is meant to be a wrap-around so imagine it folded in half.   I put my name in the lower block but don't have anything in the back cover block yet.  It's pretty neat, I think.   It's slightly cartoony but  I don't think so much so that it won't work.  The story itself is plenty appropriate for younger readers anyway.

Monday, August 25, 2014


 Guadeloupita Mesa. The orange layers (starting at the bottom) are the Abo Formation, Lower Yeso, a little bit of the remaining Upper Yeso which has been eroded and topped over by the Bandolier Tuff which is all of the buff colored rocks.

The other side of Guadeloupita Mesa. Starting at the bottom is the orange Lower Yeso (the Abo doesn't show at all) a complete Upper Yeso which is the fine layers of darker red.  The Glorieta sandstone is the light and dark, relatively chunky layer about half the thickness of the Upper Yeso.   Above the Glorieta sandstone is layer that is eroded and looks like a bit of a slope with vegetation, that's the Moenkopi formation. (I looked up how to spell that.  The last dark sandstone/conglomerate layer is the Chinle Group.  Above that is the Bandolier Tuff. 

In between the two pictures is fault displacement of maybe a 100 meters.  On the left everything above the Upper Yeso is gone, eroded away before the mega-volcano covered it all.

 This view is from the top of Sandia Crest and shows the Madera limestones.   These are actually *below* the Abo formation at the very bottom of the mesa in the first pictures.  But they've been uplifted to the very top of the Sandia mountains.

Purple asters on Sandia Crest.  And another picture of the layers of limestone and the weathered granite below.  The exciting part (I am assured) is that the granite is 1.4 billion years old and the limestone laying directly on top of it is 300 to 318 million years old.  There is 1.1 billion years of rock that is missing between them.

Another shot of the Abo formation... the one that would be directly on top of the Madera and I suppose if a person dug a deep hole they'd find it there.  The Abo is a lot of mudstone and flood plain rocks with layers of sandstone between and breaks up sort of easily... the pillar is impressive, but probably won't last for many more years.

And last, more flowers.  Apache plume.

Also... I realize most people don't care AT ALL what names go with layers of rock, but I'm going to have to remember all of this so I'm mostly repeating it all for my own benefit.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Why the movie Transcendence Sucked....

Transcendence is a 2014 movie starring Johnny Depp, who was incredible as always.  Rebecca Hall also did a great job, as did Paul Bettany.

I note that on IMDb it lists "Warner Brothers" after "written by".   Frankly, "written by committee" explains a whole heck of a lot.

The idea of "transcendence" is relatively standard in science fiction.  In essence the "essence" of humanity is uploaded to the cloud and we leave our physical limitations behind.  Sometimes this is expressed as the "singularity".  I'm not at all fond of this particular sub-genre, though my husband prefers it to other science fiction sub-genres.  He agrees with me about this movie, which he should have loved.

The movie opens with the aftermath... there is an implication of a police state, food shortages, and the absence of technology, even refrigeration.  This situation would be utterly horrific and involve the death of millions... or so I would assume, since you know, reality.

So back we go... an anti-tech domestic terrorist group kills a bunch of scientists at Lawrence Livermore who are working on artificial intelligence (except for Morgan Freeman who was too busy working to eat his cake) and blows up some random college students surfing porn and shoe blogs... I mean, doing homework... in computer labs at a number of Universities.  A crazy person shoots Dr. Will Caster after a TED talk and then blows his own head off.  Will Caster survives but the bullet had traces of radioactive stuff on it and Will Caster will die of radiation poisoning in a matter of weeks.  His wife, Evelyn, is desperate to save him and convinces him to try to upload himself onto a computer, because someone had previously done so with a monkey (and thus spawned the terrorist group).  He loves her, so he agrees.  Their partner Max Waters also loves her so he also agrees.

It works.  Max freaks out and wants to turn it all off.   Evelyn is desperate to save her husband and drives him off.  He immediately gets kidnapped by the insane terrorists to use his phone to back track to the old school where they had set up their lab to upload Will.  But they are too late!

As I'm describing this it's clear that Evelyn is driving what is going on.  In the movie this was not clear.  In fact, Evelyn spends almost the entire movie mindlessly doing whatever Will asks her to do.  Which was undoubtedly on purpose because it was a bait and switch.  We're supposed to think that the uploaded Dr. Caster has run off the rails and wants to take over the world.  Max gradually gets "turned" by the terrorists as he recognizes the danger.  But even at the very beginning of his captivity he never ever (and this was my first instance of WTF) throws the fact in the lead terrorist's face that SHE caused all of this directly through her own actions by poisoning Will so he was dying.  The "third smartest person I know" according to Will Caster and Max is passive in his captivity.

So the uploaded personality of Will Caster turns into a terrifying, slave creating, power consolidating fearsome thing and everyone bands together with the terrorists... the military, the FBI, Morgan Freeman who apparently doesn't recall all of his dead friends... and they're going to destroy the monster.   Then at the end we find out that the uploaded AI really was Will Caster and that he was just trying to fulfill Evelyn's dreams of curing disease and saving the planet... which no one knew and Evelyn didn't know, because evidently in approximately three years she never actually had a conversation with Will about what he was attempting to do or why.

Which is why this movie sucked.

They never had a conversation about their goals.  They never had a conversation about how quickly and in which ways to release new biomedical information or other breakthroughs to the world.  They never had a conversation about how to ease people into accepting this frightening thing.  Will can rebuild people, make the lame, walk, and the blind, see.   Yet they apparently never sold a patent.   Will even figures out how to create a new body for him to be inside (instead of controlling people, which he also does) and he doesn't tell her that he's working on it, that he can be a person again.  Evelyn, who we assume is the "second smartest person" that Dr. Will Caster knows, spends three years never asking a question.  About anything.

And that's why this movie sucked.

It's Evelyn Caster's story.  She's the driving force behind the decisions that her "transcended" husband makes and everything he does.  But if she had been active past the point of "saving" him, the plot would have gone in different directions than it did.  So the result is that the whole movie lacked focus... and then it ended with what I'm now coining as a "spinning top" moment in honor of that execrable movie "Inception".  Are they dead or aren't they?


Friday, August 15, 2014

Caught in the Act...

I caught the last caterpillar in the act of turning into a chrysalis.  (Video in the post the follows this one.)

 The last picture is a bunch of the older chrysalises.  About half of those have already hatched.

Not much chance I'll get a job as a videographer.


Black Swallowtail Butterflies

Nine butterflies so far.  I should have at least this many more before they're all hatched.

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Saturday, August 09, 2014

Larry Correia lays some smack-down on NPR

I do so appreciate some Larry Correia snark.  I don't think he could fail to be entertaining if he tried.  However, his smack down of NPR "looking to manufacture some outrage" over the under-representation of Hispanics in film is not precisely *funny* which makes me think that Correia just might be slightly, actually...  annoyed.
 "When NPR says that some of the Latin actors aren’t “easily recognizable” that means that they aren’t conforming to accepted liberal suburban Ivy League stereotypes. NPR wants Latinos to play beaners in sombreros, hotel maids, or gang bangers… "

When NPR bases their argument on the fact that Jennifer Lopez is not easily recognizable as Hispanic in a movie, you know they've thoroughly jumped the shark.   OTOH, you probably already knew that, seeing as we're talking about NPR here.

Larry Correia fisks NPR.

Especially mindboggling... the part where NPR complains that Zoe Saldana played the part of a black person in Star Trek.

More Larry... as I said, he's a compulsively funny guy, but I think he's just a wee bit P.O.'d too.
"Yes, Latinos, NPR just called you stupid. How DARE you enjoy movies and be entertained? You should totally boycott them to salve some white suburban liberal’s white guilt!
Annoying twits put their perpetual outrage ahead of their enjoyment. Everything has to be filtered through their obnoxious white guilt. Meanwhile the rest of planet Earth is throwing piles of money at a movie with a sentient tree and a talking raccoon."

Monday, August 04, 2014


No dear, you weren't talking too much about yourself.  You weren't going on and on and boorishly promoting your latest book.  You were, in fact, talking about other people.



In the foyer.