“Star Trek: Alderamin” or “How A Text Message About Karl Became A Story Idea”

A friend and I were chatting last night about how Star Trek: Discovery is to the Star Trek Universe what Frank Miller’s “Dark Knight” is to Adam West’s “Light Knight”. Both the same character, same city, vastly different and equally enjoyable. I went on about my personal theory about the spore drive, cloaking technology, the Klingon treaty, and the Kobayashi Maru.

Friend: “Star Fleet never had cloaking tech in Karl’s day but the Romulans did.”

Me: “Who’s Karl?”

Friend: “Stupid spell check and I was tired. Kirk.”

And then that is when, after a bunch of back and forth, a new Star Trek franchise was drafted.

Let’s call it “Star Trek: Alderamin”.

Captain Karl is a captain of the cargo ship USS Alderamin, delivering equipment and supplies throughout the far reaches of the outer rim of the Alpha Quadrant. She is escorted by a early model Defiant Class starship, USS Cepheus for protection. This is set maybe twenty, thirty years after “All Good Things” and this is Cepheus’s last tour before being decommissioned and the captain retires.

One of the signature food stuffs that the Alderamin carries is cheese. Sure, you can replicate a block of cheese, but a slice of the good stuff reminds you of home.

He’s a career cargo captain. Loves his job. Loves his family. All around great guy.

He has a small bridge crew and a dedicated engineering team. Three characters stand out for me right now.

The first officer is a Kelpien. I think much of the crew will have herd like qualities. Either I will find them in-universe or I will make them up. He is okay with his position because he knows how to manage herds and flocks. He will be important, later. His name is Tabar.

The chief engineer is a race I would have to appropriate from Star Wars – it will be a cross between a Gamorean and a Ugnaught (the guys that work in Bespin. They tore down C3P0 for parts). His name will be “Ace” Fener.

The navigator is an undetermined race of people that has a unique physiology – they feel the effects of inebriation from dairy products. They have four stomachs that ferments it like a vat. And I think somewhere in the story it becomes apparent that he has a substance abuse problem.

Now, the famous cheese is grown from a specialised culture of yeast – which is a form of life (something that Starfleet protects, right?). And the warden of that yeast – the steward of the cheese – is a mycologist and that mycologist is the Captain’s wife, Mercy Hamilton.

He has two kids – a boy and a girl. The girl is a frail thing – she was infected with ‘Barclay’s Protomorphosis Syndrome’. While she was cured, some lingering effects remained, one of which is a preternatural sense of danger like Picard had. Call it a ‘spidey sense’. And, as such, she ends up forming a kind of kinship with Tabar, my Kelpien. He becomes her mentor and guides her. Because she does not want to be a captain of a supply vessel – in her view, it’s little better than driving truck in ‘Ancient America’. She wants to join Starfleet. Her name is Olivia.

The boy is the scientist type. Precocious. He works mostly with his mom and wants to be a biologist when he grows up. He wants to deal with life on the larger scale. He talks to the yeast when no one is around and that is his imaginary friend. He kind of gazes into it and imagines that the yeast creates the rough outline of a face and talks back to him and it gives him comfort. His name is Wilbur but his family calls him “Toot”.

At some point the ship comes under attack from smugglers from the outer rim. They want to reconfigure the vats, destroy the yeast culture, and use it to make alcohol to be sold to the colonies. So, they get the prefix code for the nearly decommissioned USS Cepheus, disable it, and board the USS Alderamin.

There’s a pitched battle but it’s useless. The crew aren’t trained in combat. But Tabar is ready. He is always ready for an attack and has a plan for nearly anything – as a prey type creature would be – its how they survived. And when the attack happens, he and Olivia hatch a plan to use the transporter to go over to the Cepheus and regain control of the bridge and save the Alderamin.

Only, they are ambushed by the smugglers and have to fight their way to a secondary transporter – the cargo transporter that is not guarded because it is not configured to transport organics. “Toot” hotwires it so it can, Tabar guards the door while Olivia transports first, but as the transport is complete, she sees Tabar get shot. The smugglers are former miners and they illegally modified a digging tool – it’s a solid phase weapon. It doesn’t stun, it fires a bolt of energy. And it goes straight through Tabar’s chest.

As a consequence of the ‘Barclay’s Protomorphosis Syndrome’, our Olivia has developed a hyper ability to multitask in the face of danger (something that Tabar knew and was training her on, without her knowing). So, with the help of the computer, she is able to regain control of the Cepheus, destroy the smugglers ship (not killing any of them, though), and save the Alderamin.

When it is all said and done, and everything is sorted out, it turns out that Tabar was never in danger – his heart is located in a different spot and that shot merely went through muscle and tissue – not so much as touching his spine. He will fully recover.

The mother wants to carry on with the mission and transport food and equipment. She makes sure that the yeast will survive. The father wants to retire. And there are no more openings in Starfleet. So, Olivia is transferred to the Cepheus to the Operations department to begin her training for Starfleet. When the ship is decommissioned in a year, she will transfer to Earth to begin her training.

That, friends and neighbours, is a Star Trek Story. And I think I want to write it.

Meditation

I started meditating about a year ago. I don’t remember the exact day, but I do remember it was a last resort.

First, it involved sitting still and breathing. Just focusing on my breathing. The sensation of air coming in, and the feeling when it was released. Over and over again. First ten minutes, then twenty. Now, I can get to 40 minutes and need to set a timer so I don’t lose myself.

Second, it involved listening to an audiobook from Audible. First, it was free, offered as one of their ‘channels’. Then the sneaky bastards took it off the channel, forcing me to buy it with credits. That was okay. Worth it. It was one that focused on creativity – purporting that if I did it every day for 21 days, I would feel bursts of creative energy. I don’t know if that’s true, but I always felt better afterwards.

Third was another audiobook from Audible (more on my audiobook addiction later), this one called “The Mayo Clinic Guide to Stress Free Living”. It didn’t give me any new meditations, but it did give me the tools to start relaxing.

And now it’s to a point where it is my go-to solution when I need to clear my head. It also helps with pain management.

For example, I’ve suffered from headaches all of my life. I would like to say it started around ten or eleven. Went to a neurologist and their only suggestion was medication. Next time I get a headache, they told me, just take four extra strength Tylenol.

“If that doesn’t work, take five. But no more than six.”

And that was my solution for headaches. I did it for years and years and soon enough, the headaches went away. Well, not away. Less frequent. I would get a doozie a couple times a year, but that was it. Recently, they came back with a vengeance and decided to make up for lost time – lasting not for hours or days, but weeks. The last one ebbed and surged for two weeks. My family doctor tells me that they are ‘cluster headaches’ and usually don’t respond to medication. I can attest to that last one, although sometimes aspirin did dull it through the day. He did suggest some high oxygen therapy, guiding me to a site that sold oxygen bottles used by pilots when at high altitudes. I don’t rule that out as an option, but what I have done is modified my meditation routine to help with it. Oh, the pain is still there, but in the background while I focus on other things. I have to meditate more often through the day, usually in fits and bursts of ten minutes every few hours and maybe one long one before bed. I actually woke up with one this morning and I spent about forty five minutes going through my routine.

I’m not sure if it’s pure meditation or if it conforms to some standard, but it works for me. Depending on what I want focus on changes the meditation a little and sometimes, I put on headphones and play the sounds of the ocean in the background to help me concentrate. It’s also a modification of the ‘creativity’ meditation I first learned. So, apologies to Val Gosselin in advance.

I start by sitting on a chair or couch, back straight, head up, and begin breathing. I keep my head up to remove any kinks or obstructions in my airway. I breathe deep, hold it for three seconds, and release, touching my tongue to the front of my mouth, just where my top teeth meet my gums. I do this for about ten or fifteen breaths, then focus my attention to the top of my head, running down through the major muscles of my body, relaxing them. I find I hold a lot of tension in my jaw and shoulders and focus on those. I do this with my neck, shoulders,  arms, fingers, waist, buttocks, all the way down to my feet. Being aware of them as parts of my body, looking for aches and pains that might not have been there before, and soothe them. Just be aware of them.

Then, when I feel I have begun to relax, I envision me lying on a bed in an open room at the top of a two story building. The wind from the ocean is blowing the curtains softly and I get up, and imagine the sensation of the cold, marble floor on my feet. I leave the room, walk down the hall and down a wide staircase. In the lobby there is a large, semi circular desk with an attendant. The attendant is different every time, sometimes a man, sometimes a woman, of different ages and appearances. They always say hello and I nod.

I walk out onto the beach and I feel the sand under my feet. The light of the sun on the horizon is diffuse in the fog that hangs over it and while I can hear the ocean and smell the surf, I can’t see it for the fog. I’m happy, though, because I know it is there. What I can see, is a dock with a row boat moored to it.

I continue to feel the sand beneath my feet – the soft sand of trillions of crushed sea shells – and walk to the dock. When I step on it, I can hear the schlup-schlup sound of the water around the dock and I can see the boat jostle up and down. I get into the boat, unmoor it from the dock, and begin to row out into the middle of the ocean. It’s an old boat, weathered wood and you can see the ghost of red and yellow paint along it’s hull. I sit on a padded seat and just begin to row and row until I can no longer see the house or the dock or the shore. Then, I am in the middle of the ocean.

And I go through my relaxation exercise again, checking all of my muscles for tension and letting them release. And I know that once I have relaxed, my island will show itself. If this is a short meditation, I will stay in my boat and never get to the island, but that’s okay, because for the short ones, I want to stay on the water and just feel the ocean waves and smell the water. Again, listening to the sounds of the ocean on headphones works, too.

But, if I need to go further, I reward my relaxations by bringing the island into view. The sun has now warmed the air and the fog has lifted and the ocean guides me to the beach of my island. I get to just before the shore and I roll up the cuffs of my pants and jump out, pulling the boat up onto the shore. It has a sandy beach and the trees are the trees of my childhood. The trees from my Grandma Rinne’s backyard, the trees from my Uncle Bill’s Cottage, the threes that surrounded the creek where my cousin took me when he saw that I was getting bored being around people who had nothing better to do but smoke and drink and curse. The island is all of those tress and none of them. I admire them and take them all in, sometimes, touching their bark, other times just listening to the sounds of the birds and the electric hum of the cicadas (which my dad always told me were tree frogs and I never believed him and he countered with telling me who to believe, some book or someone who spent their whole life in the bush?).

As I enjoyed the beach and the memories of the trees, I try to bring to mind good times I had. Getting lost in the forest and admiring the white-green moss that collected on the big rocks in the forest. The delicious feeling of fear, not knowing what I might find or what might find me. As I walk around the perimeter of my island, a path will always show itself. It’s always the same path, but never in the same place. It makes itself known to me once I am ready for it. The path is the one I took through the bush from Grandma Rinne’s house to my uncle’s cottage. But when I take it now, it brings me to the middle of the forest. A pool of clear, pure water.

It is surrounded by wood and detritus from the forest, but not a leaf or a bug or anything is inside it. I sit by the edge and test the water, but it’s always the perfect temperature. I enjoy the sound of my hand through the water and the sensations of the forest. I let this happen for a little while and then I undress, unafraid of being naked and defenceless in this forest of mine. Then I step down into the pool and float there.

I got through the relaxation exercise a third time, but this time, I let the water wash over those muscles and take away the pains and aches I felt before. It is a healing water and I stay there for as long as I can. I don’t move a muscle, and while the water heals me I go deeper into the meditation and let my thoughts wash over my mind, not owning them, just letting them come to me, and I look at them for a while. Sometimes it’s a fish like a Koi or any one of the fish I’ve keep in tanks or maybe a bird. I admire them for what they are, where they came from, and if I like the idea or the thought, if I think I can create something from it, I keep it with me. If it’s a thought that will harm me, or make me angry, or make me sad, I remind myself to feel happy that I have had experiences that give me the strength to let those go.

And then, depending on the vibration alarm set on my watch, I will slowly bring myself out of my meditation. When I am leaving this state, I tell myself, that when I do this again, the person in the pool is dreaming of a room in a house on a beach, and when I wake up again, I will be in that room, and every version of me is going deeper and deeper, relaxing more and more.

Yeah, sometimes I need to take a pill or four to get rid of the gonzo whoppers of headaches – the ones where you see auras and actually have short term amnesia for a while. But for all of my other aches and pains, my little house and my tiny island have come to help me quite a bit.

Stream of Consciousness Commute

“Joe, I’ve had enough fun for one day. I’m bugging out. You coming in tomorrow?”

Keep my lunch bags out of view. Behind my briefcase. Black with orange piping. Got it in Houston. Best Buy. Great trip. Sorry I miss out on it next week.

“Uh, no.”

“Then I will see you week after next.”

I get to go again in September, though.

“Yeah. Have a good vacation.”

Not after this vacation, but my other one.

Rena is at her desk.

“Seeya. We will talk more tomorrow. Have a good night.”

Oh, my arms. My legs. Burning a little. What to listen to on the way home? Music? Or my lectures? Let’s get hip with today’s new music. The Top 10 Songs You Need to Hear This Week. 7260 steps today and a peak heart rate of 90. Attach mount to phone, mount phone to air vent, clutch, first gear and I’m on my way. Ugh. Socks are wet. Oh, looks like the paving they did during shutdown didn’t take so well – there are already divots from the downpour this afternoon.
Sorry Not Sorry was one of those that played this weekend and Elena said it had bad language. Meh. Not so bad. Skip. Skip. Oh? Who’s Jack Johnson? Has a folksy pop feel to him. Not bad. Kinda like it. Skip. Skip. Coldplay? Nope. Not even. Nine Inch Nails? Man, haven’t listened to them in forever. Hurt is a great song, but Johnny Cash took it for his own. Didn’t Trent Reznor cry when he heard Cash’s version?

Whup! Gotta do ramp speed, Rob. Maybe a little faster. Feels better now. Shifting okay. These are great tires. Think of Josh every time. Hope my shoes under my desk don’t smell. Should bring Febreeze to work. Third gear, forty five hundred rpm, doing about eighty. Shoulder does hurt just a little. Why do I always lean to the right on these tight curves? Sit up straight, shift into fourth, fifth, sixth and settle into the outside lane doing an even 120. Set the cruise control. Stupid Cortana won’t respond to voice commands. Used to able to shout ‘Hey, Cortana, remind me’ and she would remind me. Shut off this horrible music. I am not hip with the times. Gotta fix that somehow.

Audible. The one course about writing fiction. That’ll do. Bought it, might as well listen to it. Audible subscription is amazing. Can’t give them up, or my Office 365, or my Groove Music. Whatever happens, we keep those. And the ROM membership. That, too. Stayed off the 407 for half the week, but I want to take it today, only to the 400. It’s early and it’s not Friday, traffic will be light.

Did he just say evocation? Is he talking about spells or something? Fiction is so much easier for an audiobook – non fiction and courses are hard to follow. Maybe I should put on some music. Gotta be careful. No more tickets. Speed ticket last year and one a few years before that. I hope Cam can get me out of the other one next year. I wasn’t even on the phone, just checking the GPS on my phone. Only glanced at it. Cop wasn’t hearing anything of it. Raining that day. Didn’t want to cop to get wet. So much water today, though. All through the warehouse. No lunch either. That’s too bad. Don’t know when I’ll get another chance.

Oh, shit. Switch lanes, gear down, no clutch and feeling cool. Why is that cop’s lights on. He just pulled someone over. I don’t want to be the next one. Why is everyone stopped? How far does this go? Oh, shit. What’s going on now? Switch to radio when he starts talking about character development and Miss Dalloway and Ulysses. Read the one, not the other. But I’ve started it a bunch of times. Ulysses is my favourite but I always feel like bragging. My copy is safe and sound on my bookcase at work. Top shelf. Not getting wet there. Hands still hurt. Should have worn gloves. Gonna get a blister. Doesn’t hurt when I shift. This traffic isn’t getting any lighter. It usually frees up around here.

Allannah Myles. Rockinghorse. Great song. Maybe I will listen to that. Listen to this first. When does the traffic come on? I need a traffic app. Never listen to the radio. Who’s texting me now. Ignore! Ah, man. Gotta wait in silence while the phone asks me again because Cortana doesn’t ever get it the first time. Why don’t they fix it? I should sign into the feedback app and explain my problem. Bet it’s simple. That’s a nice car. Ignore! Thank you. Christ that pisses me off. Telsa. Didn’t look like a Tesla. Did a work instruction for engineering changes. Hope they liked it. They promise an update on the traffic in a few minutes, but before get to that, they want everyone to know to avoid the highway. Paint thinner spill. Highway is closed and I’m ten kilometres from an exit. Aw, fuck. Shut off the radio. Hate it anyway. Well, in traffic like this, maybe a course is what I need. I really should read Miss Dalloway. Is that a blister on my hand.

What? Where you going? Get off the goddamned shoulder. Stay in traffic and suffer with the rest of us. You don’t get any special passes. What about is? Oh, man, poor bastard. Broke down on the side of the road. Driver’s side flat. Oh, shit buddy, wish I could help. Can’t see him, he’s looking over the bench seat of his truck. Someone is stuck behind him, too. Fuck you, buddy. Serves you right. This is what the shoulder was meant for.

The chick in the black Mercedes looks like she means business. Very serious look on her face. Is there anything left from my lunch? Apple and two oranges. Pork chops with rice and Brussel sprouts, too. Depends on how long I’m out here. Oh, God. How long? GPS doesn’t show distance to target. Could I change it to how far it is to the next exit. Can’t be bother. Not going to leave the apple core in the car. Roll down passenger side window. Won’t throw it over the bridge. Wait until there is grass for me to throw it in. Bite into oranges, leave the peel in my lunch bag. Got juice on my hand. Don’t think I can throw it as far as an apple. There! Maybe an apple tree will grow. Always wondered about that. Seeds grow in the belly. But they have cyanide. Didn’t know that then, but trees in the belly was a good image for a kid.

Another douche and his canoe trying to paddle up the shoulder. I don’t think so. Orange wedges arranged on my thigh, popping them in my mouth, savouring the juices. Had doesn’t sting. No open cuts. They’ve been in my lunch bag all week. Been eating granola bars and crackers instead. Seeing them in there makes me feel healthy. They taste good. Should eat more of them. Get off the fucking shoulder. Oh, no you bitch, you stay right there. Hey! Hey! Don’t let him in front of you! I don’t care if he spoke to you through an open window. What kind of a sob story did he tell you? I would’ve liked to hear it. Might have made me a good story.

Hope they like my story. Happy about the one. Need to read the critique on the other. Didn’t see it until today when I sent it to someone else to read. Rob? Abramovitch, that’s right. Great guy. Hit it off with him. Feel bad I can’t do more business with him. Up to Joe. Not my money. Yet. A boy can dream.

Holy fuck. An hour to go a kilometre. Dear God, I am getting off at the next exit, but I’m following to lines. The goddamned lines. There are rules for a reason. What if an emergency vehicle needed to go along the side? Mell said that, didn’t mean it, almost cried when they wouldn’t let the ambulance through. Cried at the ROM, too. Horrible exhibit. Very stark. She’s too good for me. Has a wonderful heart. Follow the fucking road assholes. Oh, no. Oh, no you don’t.

“Get in line, motherfucker.”

Oh, dude. Dude. You’re driving on that wheel? You shouldn’t it’ll fuck up the rim. Oh. That guy. They guy behind you was helping? He’s driving behind you with his hazards on. Good man. Well done. That’s what the shoulder is for. What if that was your husband, lady? Yeah. You don’t even think.

“Oh, no. No, no, you fucking bitch.”

If only my car had a roll cage like a demolition derby. I’d take these fuckers out. Show them a lesson. Oh, shit. I’m going to die on the highway. Still 90. But no. It won’t be a heart attack. It’ll be from stab wounds, after I get out of my car and try to throw a punch at a huge man in a deceptively small car.

“Fuck you!”

Was that loud? Felt like it was loud. Stupid lesson or course or whatever. Wasn’t listening. Maybe check Facebook. Didn’t you get a ticket for that? Court date next month. I was checking my GPS. Nothing on Facebook. What about Reddit? Oh, that’s always good. r/all. If I get convicted it’s like five hundred bucks to say nothing of insurance. I should take a motorcycle lesson next year. Val will hate that, but Damnit, I want to ride on. I can borrow Raj’s. He’s a good guy. Wonder how high my insurance will go if I’m convicted and get motorcycle insurance.

Praise Jesus, the line to the off ramp is moving. One alcohol, please. What was that? Nothing. How are you? I’ll be better in thirty seconds. Thirty seconds? That’s about how long it takes to pour me a nice, tall beer. Longer if you keep talking. No, sounds good in my head. Not happening. Still, would love a drink. Any beer at home? Cherry Coke and scotch? That’ll do, too. Before or after lunches? After. Well, maybe before. Kids can play games. I need this drink. 85. Getting better still want to murder someone.

“Get off the fucking shoulder. Oh, fuck no. You are no getting in my lane.”

Keep it in second and floor the accelerator. Oh, damn. Need to change my socks. Engine is revving high, but I am getting off the highway. Oh, look. He’s got a good jack. The kind my dad would use, only for all four weeks as a kind of hoist for working on cars. Mopped floors all day in the flood. Reminded me of him. Arvin was with me. He knew how to mop floors. First job was mopping floors in a warehouse and driving forklift. Fifteen thousand square feet. Current one is over three hundred, but that’s still a lot of mopping. I was seven or maybe nine. Nine when he showed me how to sweep and mop and how it would be the most important thing to learn because I would never be out of work. Thirty five years later and there I was.

Moving slow but off the highway and closer to home. He’s bearing down on those good and the guy in the car looks like his son. Hope it’s his son. Hope the rim isn’t fucked up and he can get a tire on it. Does he have a spare? Trunk looks pretty equipped. I don’t feel all that religious although I did learn about halal today. And the other one, I just don’t remember what it was. Either way, I hope that’s guys okay.

 

Read. Play. Write.

Read.

Read everything. Read what you like. Life is too short for bad books, so if the author doesn’t grab you in the first 2500 words, they weren’t writing for you. That’s okay. There are plenty more to choose from. Read to see how other writers get the job done. Admire their words and celebrate for them. Pick out the hidden bits like they are diamonds in a coal mine. You know how you sometimes insert things into a story that are just for you? So do they.

If you want to read something new, don’t give up because it’s hard. I love ‘Ulysses’ and read it every few years – I read at least an episode every June 16th, because, well, it’s June 16th. If you don’t know why, that’s fine. Because there are dates from books that appeal to you, too. I couldn’t tell you Harry Potters birthday, but I imagine there are a great many who could. All that aside, I will not recommend ‘Ulysses’ to anyone unless they are looking for a dense, incomprehensible read that requires a second book just to begin to grasp what is going on (‘James Joyce’s Ulysses: A Study by Stuart Gilbert) not to mention two other books to get something of a background. I wouldn’t do that to you any more than I would recommend reading ‘Finnegans Wake’ – which also requires a second book just to kick things off (‘A Skeleton’s Key to Finnegans Wake’) before you go down that rabbit hole of a novel. For the record, I own a copy of Giambattista Vico’s “The New Science” and have read it but don’t pretend to understand it but I do get a sense of how it applies to the ‘thunder’ in ‘Finnegans Wake’, nor do I grasp how each of the thundering translates. But I do love the line ‘riverrun, past Eve and Adam’s, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by commodious vices of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs.’ and I will for the rest of my life. Why? Because I love to read and I remember the things I love. Reading does that to you.

Play.

Play with words. Play at games. Play at work. Play at home. Play with your kids. Play when you walk, play when you talk. Play, play, play.

It excites the mind and stimulates you. It’s a kind of meditation. You lose track of time and focus on the moment. It humbles you and shows you that sometimes you do take yourself too serious. It grounds you in a way like nothing else can.

I have two silly references for you.

Remember that episode of Friends, where Rachel is avoiding Phoebe in the parts because of the way she runs. Rachel has this measured pace, with the heaving breathing and the panting, while Phoebe runs like a fool, arms flailing, legs splayed. Rachel is embarrassed for Phoebe. Phoebe doesn’t care. She asks Rachel, “Do you remember how you ran when you were a kid? How much fun it was? Why do you run if it makes you unhappy? Why do you have that serious look on your face?” Rachel then proceeds to run like Phoebe and realizes the wisdom of her words – then for comedic effect, she runs into a police horse. But besides that, Phoebe was right. Run like a kid. Run because it’s fun, don’t run because it’s works.

Reference two is an example my son gave me the other day. He plays with abandon. Whole worlds are built and crumble when he plays. And every chance he gets, he wants to share that with me. I get involved as often as I can (which is not as often as I’d like – chores and work tend to get into the way from time to time) and we have epic wars that span the whole house and I find my mind wandering into all of the wonderful things I can have these toys do. I’m not worried about grammar or sentence structure or what someone might think of the ridiculous story being played out in the living room, I just want to have fun. How often can Brainy Smurf be the major domo of a crime organization that includes an enforcer group made up of undead dinosaurs? This does not happen in any work of James Joyce, Umberto Eco or Salman Rushdie that I know of.

Anyway, the updates Reido gave me while I was cleaning the kitchen and making dinner and doing loads of laundry included:

  1. A unnamed Sith Lord used The Force to compel one HALO Spartan to chop off the arms and head of another HALO Spartan.
  2. The HALO Spartan then became a Jedi who then used The Force to turn the other HALO Spartan into a Force Zombie so they could get back at the Sith Lord

Am I the only guy who sees a novel right there? And that’s all from playing.

So, I implore you. Just play.

Write.

I’ve already said this in another post, but it bears repeating. I write every day. Every day. 500 words minimum. I must admit, it is not always a story, but sometimes it is. It is not always good, so I don’t always share it. It’s not always happy, so I don’t always keep it. But I write. I write because I have to. It’s the monkey on my back.

The more you write, the more you want to share. A compulsion builds in you. And then you end up showing it to someone you love and trust. And that’s the first step. Some don’t get further than that, and that’s okay. Because writing should be done first and foremost for love.

Then you show it to friends. These are the people in your writer’s groups. These are the people you hang out with from time to time. Even people at work. And from here, people sometimes want to see more. Even if it’s 10 or 11 people (like the kind people that follow this blog), you end up doing it for fun.

Finally, once you have shared with the one you love, and then did it with friends for fun, you then have the desire to try and do it for money. This is the hard part. Because there are many more people out there who are already doing it for money and competition is fierce. You may have to settle on never getting paid a dime for what you do, but there is other forms of payment. Recognition from a contest of your peers, a few free copies of a magazine, a complete stranger reading your stuff and saying ‘not bad, not bad at all’. That’s payment. But you have to be prepared the form that payment might take.

But if you don’t write, if you don’t do it every day, you won’t get there. How do you know what to write? Where do you start? Well, you can start with reading something you enjoy….

Writing Every Day

Writing every day means you will always have something to write about.

I’ve patted myself on the back pretty good over the past few weeks. My output hasn’t been this great since I was a teenager.

In those days, I carried around my zippercase – a plastic binder that could be sealed shut with a zipper. I loaded reams of three hole punched lined paper into that thing and I would write all the time. This is not an exaggeration. All the time. Some of it – hell, let’s not mince words – most of it was typical teenage angst that grew into adult anger issues when I turned twenty and then it just went away, dwindling until it was a few hundred words written every day about whatever hit my fancy, notes on what was going on in my head.

About six weeks ago, Facebook and the Writers Community of Your Region ‘conspired’ to get my attention – a mini National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo for those of you are cool like me). You didn’t have to write a novel, just make a commitment to write every day for the month of June, to commemorate Canada’s 150th birthday.

“What’s the worst that could happen?”

Well, I didn’t write every day – the month was not that kind – but I did hit my target of averaging 500 words a day. And I felt great. I imagine this is what normal people feel like when they exercise and start to feel fit. I didn’t want it to end. I found myself checking Facebook every day to see how everyone was doing, to offer encouragement, to see what else was going on that I could be part of. I made a friend and I created a shared folder on my OneDrive account and got to read some seriously good prose. Prose that I could never write. Prose that would exhaust me if I kept up that level of skill. Everything was so amazing, but June was coming to a close and it was going to be over.

“It can’t end,” I thought.

Then the moderator of the WCYR NaNoWriMo Facebook page (is it just me, or is that a mouthful?) took the trouble to make the page not just for the month of June but to make monthly commitments for writing – you make your ‘pledge’ at the start of the month and then post as you see fit. And then I’m write (sic) back at it.

For the past few days, though, I’ve managed over 2000 words a day. I feel like a rockstar. I have to make a conscious choice to stop and walk away or I get lost in it all. Where is all of it coming from? It’s made up from old story ideas and snippets and thoughts collected over the past thirty years or so – that notion of having been at this for most of my life is daunting and I will leave it be for now.

Even today, I wanted to sit and make notes on what I wanted to write for the next 10 000 words or so and I caught myself slipping back into writing mode. That’s when it struck me – the reason I have something to write about is because I wrote every day for the past thirty years.

“Hey, you know what. I think I’ll post this to WordPress.”

So I did, if only to tell the 11 fine people that follow me to keep writing every day. And if you aren’t, then today’s a good day to start.

Mulligan

Mulligan
Miss this big guy

Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed.

Those are the first lines of my favourite book of all time, Ulysses, and the inspiration for this guy’s name. He went to sleep for the last time this past Thursday, surrounded by his family and his best friend, Reido.

Before the kids went to school on the Wednesday, my wife and I explained that he might not be coming home from the vet. So, Reid brings down all his stuffies and puts them around Mulligan.

He wasn’t able to walk much and hung around his food and water bowls. I carried him every so often to his litter box to see if he would go to the washroom.

Reid went right down to eye level and talked to Mulligan and I asked what he was doing.

“All my stuffies have known Mulligan at least as long as I have. He’s known Monkey just as long as I have. They all want to say goodbye.”

If I had to mortgage the house to save this cat, I would have signed the papers right then and there. But money wouldn’t fix Mulligan. He was just old. Fourteen years old – almost as long as Mell and I have been married.

Mell and I agreed to treat him for 24 hours and see if he would stabilize. After that, it would be just maintaining with diet and medication. No problems there. Like I said, no matter what the cost. I wouldn’t be able to face Reid if he asked me if we tried everything.

It sounded good in the evening when I called, and again in the morning. He might be turning around. But, in the afternoon, when the doctor explained that the kidney disease had turned to kidney failure and it was time to say goodbye and I turned into a blubbering mess.

 

When it came time to make the final decisions about the urn, Reid and Elena decided what to get. Reid wanted to make sure it matched the colours in his room, because “that’s where he’s going to go, right?”

Finally, the attendant asked if we wanted to be there for the whole thing. Meaning the euthanol injection.

“Fuck, no,” was my first response. Then Mell stepped in. It was Reid’s cat, she said. And he was. The two were together all the time. If Reid was playing, Mulligan sat with him. If Reid was on his tablet or doing anything, Mulligan wasn’t far away. And the stuffies.

We asked him what he wanted and he wanted to stay with his friend. So, we all gathered around, took a few last pictures, and Reid petted and held his friend until the doctor put her stethoscope to Mullie’s chest and said that she couldn’t hear any more heart movement. He just went to sleep. We stayed with him a little while longer and then just said goodbye.

A bouquet of flowers came today from the vet’s office – a very pretty arrangement. And we should be bringing home his ashes before the end of the month and they will be going straight to his buddy’s room.

I’m going to miss the little bastard. Swear to you, I felt his nose on my shin as I was typing this evening. I do want another cat and I think Reid does, too.

“It doesn’t matter what pet we get, Daddy,” Reid explained. “Because whatever we get, Mulligan is going to come back as part of it, right? Right, Daddy? Just like that movie about the dogs. Mulligan can come back as a dog, right?”

“Absolutely, Reido.”

And you know what? He’s right.

 

Why I Am Not An Atheist

*n.b. This is a repost from almost 5 years ago and it seems worthy of repeating*

Atheism is an exclusive school of thought. It excludes. It says what they don’t believe in.
I prefer Humanism. It is inclusive. It says they believe in human beings.
I am inclusive, too. This is what I believe.
I believe no one should ever attack anyone else’s belief system. Everyone is entitled to their own doctrine, even if it is demonstrably wrong.
I believe everyone has a thirst for wonder.
I believe nature is better at wonders than we are.
I believe everyone makes mistakes. To err is human.
I believe the way to reduce the mistakes is to remain skeptical.
I believe experiments reveal truth.
I believe that if I were to stand at the edge of a Focault pendulum, put the 500lb bob to my nose, and let it go, that when it swung back towards me, it would not hit me in the face.
I believe we should examine and correct and experiment to verify every hypothesis.
I believe there are no privileged frames of reference.
I believe no child should leave grade school without a complete understanding of “The Bullshit Detection Kit”.
I believe in Occam’s Razor.
I believe an agnostic is an atheist without the strength of his convictions.
I believe Jesus Christ to be an admirable, historical figure.
I believe the Sermon On The Mount is one of the greatest ethical statements and one of the greatest speeches in history.
I believe “Love thy neighbour” is a long shot solution to world peace.
I believe the world needs an inspiration.
I believe Jesus Christ was a great, brave man with insight’s into unpopular truths.
I believe Jesus Christ was just a man.

via Studio for WP app.