Well, it had to happen sometime. Some year where I didn’t meet my goal of writing thirty stories in thirty days. The reasons I didn’t make it this year are several. The first three years I did this, I spent several weeks to a month preparing; coming up with story ideas and thinking them through, almost writing them in my head. (Which is okay, given the rules I made up for this.) But this year, it was almost the end of May when I realized, Oh yeah, I’m doing my thirty stories thing next month. So I was less prepared than I had been in previous years. There was also a period early in the month where it was very hot and I just didn’t feel like doing anything. Then, I quit my job and am in the process of moving. So I’ve had to spend time with packing, and cleaning, and six hour drives. And on top of that, I’ve also had some personal issues. All together, it just added up to me not having the energy and my heart not being in it this year. But still, nineteen stories in thirty days is still pretty good. I know I still have a couple days to write eleven more, but I’m tapped out, so I’m stopping early. In a few days I’ll get around and write up my thoughts about this year, and the change I’m planning starting next year.
Archive for June, 2011
“Scan local radio frequencies.”
“Why even bother?” Larrg asked.
Jiaj clacked her beak. “You’ll never know what you’ll find.”
What they found was a screech that ruffled both their feathers. Larrg muted the system. Shaking himself he said, “Is there any sector in this galaxy that isn’t polluted with Zy’glog?”
“Apparently,” Jiaj replied, “it sounds a lot better if you listen to it under water. So blame all the aquatic species.” She then told the system to find the next frequency.
This turned out to be – once it was run through translator – a call to worship some deity named Bcp. Larrg’s beak hung open. “I almost prefer the Zy’glog to this nonsense.”
Jiaj didn’t reply, and just told the system to search again. The third signal it detected played a slow, stuporous melody.
“This is something Sigaow’s close to death listen to,” Larrg stated.
Jiaj folded her wings and turned the system off. “Maybe we should just stop at the next sector market and buy a couple Jikols.”
Larrg smoothed the feathers on his head. “Now you’re talking.”
I keep track of how many words I write each day. My goal for the year is to write 50,000 words. Well today I passed the 25,000 word mark. In fact, I’m 25,114/50,000th of the way to my goal in only 174/365th of the time. If you’re quick with math, you’ll see that I’m more than halfway to my goal in less than half the time! Hopefully, I can keep this up.
Land of the Dumb
As Jeff rolled to a stop at a red light, his wife Ann laughed. “Look at that,” she said, pointing out the window.
“What am I looking at?” Jeff asked.
“Those two signs on the telephone pole.”
Jeff studied the two signs people had tacked to the pole. The top one read “Gutters cleaned” and a phone number, while the bottom one read “I buy houses” and another number. But the big difference was the gutter cleaner had printed their sign on stiff paper with a deep red ink, while the house buyer had just wrote on a regular sheet of paper with a black marker.
Jeff chuckled. “I guess the house buying business isn’t doing so well.”
“I know,” Ann said. “I mean, a handwritten sign is good for kids selling lemonade, but for an adult buying houses? Who thinks that would be a good way to advertise?”
“Whoever put that sign up.”
Ann punched him lightly on the shoulder. “You know what I mean.”
Jeff smiled and patted her thigh. “I just wonder why you’re surprised. Ninety percent of the news is about politicians or celebrities doing something stupid. Why should John Q. Public be any smarter?”
Did You Think Otherwise?
A young boy walked around the corner of the building. Half of the soldiers pointed their weapons at him, while the other half covered them. The boy raised his hands and called, “I mean you no harm.”
Lieutenant Harkin lowered his weapon, but the rest of his platoon didn’t. “You speak English?” he asked.
The boy nodded. “I do. The men you seek are not here.”
“Is that so? I suppose you expect me to just take your word for it.”
The boy smiled. “I speak the truth. You must decide if you believe me.”
“Okay,” Harkin replied, drawing the word out. “If you don’t mind, I think we’ll still search the village.” He then gave orders and his men spread out to sweep the village.
Once his men were off, Harkin walked up to the boy. “You said the men we seek aren’t here. Do you know where they are?”
“In the mountains,” the boy replied, pointing to the north.
Harkin looked where the boy pointed and asked, “Could you be a little more specific.”
“So you could go kill my uncles and cousins?”
Harkin turned to the boy, but almost immediately looked to the ground. “War is hell,” he muttered.
“Then why do you go to it willingly?”
For several seconds, Harkin debated how to reply to that. In the end he gave a grim smile and stated, “I wonder that myself everyday.”
The boy smiled.
Over the next few minutes, his soldiers reported in that there was no sign of the enemy in the village. At last, Harkin said, “Okay, let’s move out. Leave these people in peace.” He looked around to say goodbye to the boy – who, he realized, he had never asked his name – but the boy had disappeared.
Once the soldiers were gone, the boy’s mother found him by the well. In the local dialect she scolded him, “You need to be more careful with the Americans.”
The boy shrugged. “Why should I treat them any differently than the Romans?”
With the pounding beat of The Poison Figs in his earbuds, Eric bounced across the rocky terrain on his dirt bike. The GPS Navigator in his visor was leading him to Station #17. Just as the Navigator flashed “You are nearing your destination” on his visor, Eric topped a rise and saw the fluttering marker flag.
He slowed down and came to a stop a dozen meters from the site. He turned off the bike and waited a minute for the song to finish. When it did, he turned off the player and got off the bike.
Walking towards the flag, he said, “Play,” out loud.
A pleasant female voice came out of the earbuds. “Welcome to Station #17 of your self-guided tour of the battlefield of Tora Bora. The centerpiece of this station are the remains of a Soviet-era ZPU-4, an anti-aircraft gun. This gun was destroyed by an American AGM-65 Maverick missile in December 2001.”
“Pause,” Eric said. The voice stopped and Eric took a minute or two to walk around the rusted pile of twisted metal. He took a picture of it, then said, “Play.”
The voice returned with, “The gun would have been operated by a crew of five men. All the crews would probably have lived in nearby tents.
“The original purpose of such guns were to keep aircraft – and their missiles – away from high value targets, such as the entrance to the cave complex at Station #18. However, when aircraft can fire missiles outside the range of the anti-aircraft guns, this is the result.”
After a slight pause, the voice said, “Please proceed to Station #18.”
His Navigator flashed a map of how to get there on his visor. Eric got back on his bike and began to follow the map. At the top of a rise, he turned to look at the rusty scrap heap on the rocky ground. Turning his back to it, he started the next track of The Poison Figs and gunned his engine.
The Time Will Come
“Birth” of a new species?
Oslo, Norway – For those of you still uncomfortable with the notion of people uploading their thoughts and memories to live immortal virtual lives, you may not want to read any further. Researchers led by Doctor Stian Stang at the Norwegian School of Information Technology have announced that they have written a program that would allow two – or more – Uploads to conceive a “child.” Much as a flesh-and-blood child inherits traits from each parent, these Upload children contain a base program derived from those of their parents. However, unlike human children who need years to grow into independent beings, an Upload child can grow to “adulthood” in a matter of hours. Doctor Stang reports that three such children have already been created, but their names and those of their parents won’t be released for privacy reasons.
A Papal spokesman – who wished to remain anonymous until the Vatican could release a formal response – called the announcement worrisome. “This is yet another example – in a long line of cases – where science has been used to diminish what it is to be human. And while some want to treat these programs as people, let me restate the Vatican position that no matter how advanced and complex a computer program is, it will always lack the spark of the divine.”
James Secord – who was Uploaded six months ago – had this to say: “Since the last Homo neanderthalensis died some 30,000 years ago, Homo sapiens have been alone. Now, a new species has developed, Homo narratus. But we don’t want to supplant you, instead we see Homo sapiens and Homo narratus teaming up to explore the galaxy together. Why are so many frightened by that?”