Monday, November 30, 2009

I Only Missed One Day

I'd hoped to post something here every day as part of National Blog Posting Month, aka NaBloPoMo, but I missed a day in the middle. It was kind of silly to miss because I was posting "Sundancer's Fairy Tale" and all I had to do was a little copy, paste and make a few words italic. Oh well, I did post the other 29 days, and I did better than October when I missed three days.

Sometimes, especially after I finished the story, I found myself stuck for something that intrigued me enough to blog about it, especially these past few days (except for Saturday, when The Thistle & Shamrock was such a good show).

I'd thought using StumbleUpon would make it very easy to come up with something each day, but a lot of what I see tends to get repetitive. Lots of photo collections, humor that isn't always that funny or intelligent, just less than I thought I'd find, I suppose. Also, I haven't wanted to get into politics or religion.

I guess I'll come close with politics on this one, though. It's Sen. Al Franken doing a freehand drawing of the United States, and he does pretty good at it. He does it state by state and it all fits together quite nicely. I have always loved maps and could probably do a fair job of it myself, but I doubt it would look nearly as good as Al's.

Now that I've gotten through November, I'm still trying to decide whether I want to keep up with posting every day or just when something truly interesting comes along.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

A Little Extra Cash Would Be Nice

I was chatting with a friend earlier when he asked me about being an Amazon Associate. At first I thought maybe he was thinking of becoming one, but really he wanted to know how it worked, then said he was thinking of buying something somewhat pricey and if he gets it through Amazon he'll click on one of my links. I let him know that clicking on any of my Amazon links doesn't commit you to having to buy the item the link takes you to. Once you get there, anything you buy counts.

I've seen some pretty strange things show up that I've gotten commissions on both in my Associates page for stuff that are direct links from me, and also on some of my Squidoo pages where some of the items, all of them on some pages, er, lenses, and none on others are links that mean Squidoo gets half the commission and I get the other half. That actually works out better for me most months because I don't get all that much action on my links and half of Squidoo's commission is a little more than I'd make if I put in one of my own links with my Associate ID. The more items an Associate sells in a month, the better the commission, and Squidoo of course makes top commissions.

So, if you're thinking of getting anything from Amazon, I'd appreciate it if you used one of my links here in this blog. This link to will take you to their main page and you can take it from there.

You should know it doesn't cost you anything to get to Amazon through my links. You get the same deals, same prices, everything is the same as if you'd just gone there on your own. I'd appreciate it if you'd keep it in mind.


Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Thistle & Shamrock

I just listened to this week's program of The Thistle & Shamrock, the NPR program hosted by Fiona Ritchie. While it was probably one of the least Celtic shows, it was one of the more memorable ones as Fiona traveled to the home of Pete Seeger, who spoke of his life and music. Fiona interspersed his reminiscences with songs he wrote and/or made famous sung by people such as Dick Gaughan, Nanci Griffith, Sweet Honey in the Rock, Bruce Springsteen and of course Pete himself.

There's three possibilities for listening. One would be to catch it as it airs on your local NPR station. Another is to check the ThistleRadio website to find it's list of streaming radio stations to find when you can listen online at a time convenient for you. The third is to check back to the website's main page and click on the Listen Again link.

Pete Seeger turned 90 last May. He's a living link to the history of American folk music from the 1940s on to the present day. I had a chance to see him live once when he appeared at a benefit for some workers in Gardner, Massachusetts in the 1980s.

If it's at all possible for you to catch this edition of The Thistle & Shamrock, I think you'll find it's an hour well spent.

Friday, November 27, 2009

A Town by any Other Name

...probably wouldn't be as interesting.

I've always been fascinated by places with odd names. This site tells about 21 of them. Of course, I know of quite a few more, and I was pleased to see at least one favorite: Lake Chargogagogmanchaugagogchaubunagungamog in Webster, MA.

I live not far from Boring, Oregon. One of these days I'll have to find out how it got its name.

My friend Dick Ford lives in Mize, Mississippi, which isn't all that far from Hot Coffee.

I've wondered if there's a trash disposal place in Pahrump, Nevada. It would be the Pahrump Dump.

Up in Washington along the Puget Sound there's Pull and Be Damned Road. I encountered the name during one of my phone jobs and later looked it up on Google Maps.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Linux: It's Not Windows

OK, that title seems to be stating the obvious, but a lot of people seem to expect Linux to be so much like Windows as to make no difference. But of course, Linux is quite different. For one thing, it's free open source software, so you don't have to pay for it. For another, it was not developed by a for-profit corporation that provides paid technical support.

Recently someone in the Go Firefox! forum on Delphi linked to Linux Is NOT Windows, written in 2006. Since then Linux has gotten easier to use for people who aren't all that geeky.

I'm a little bit geeky in that I did take a couple of courses at Boston University ten years ago for building computers and Windows NT. As part of that, I ended up learning quite a bit and did installations from DOS up through Windows XP. I can often figure out things, or at least find web sites that will explain stuff when I run into problems.

But there are limits to my geekiness, so when I decided to try Linux again I looked for something that would pretty much work right out of the box. Of course, there was no box, so I did have to know how to download an .iso file and burn it to a disk so it would boot, and I had to do that using Windows.

The article does a very good job of explaining the differences between Windows and Linux without getting overly technical. So many people have grown up with Windows that they may expect Linux to be very Windows-like without appreciating why is isn't and why the differences are good things. The article explains, again without getting overly technical, how Linux started and how and why it was developed and why the open source way of doing things is better once you accept certain things.

Realizing that open source software like Linux and the many applications that run on it are developed by volunteers who don't owe users anything is pretty important. If you have a problem, you can ask for help, but you have to realize people aren't being paid to help you, so it's best not to expect or demand instant gratification. I didn't have any problem with that in part because I'm used to the helpful information sharing I find on Delphi Forums and other places. Delphi's Go Firefox! forum is a place where people can ask for help with problems and people volunteer their knowledge to help solve them, but nobody's getting paid to do that.

I have to disagree with some points made in the last couple of paragraphs of Linux Is NOT Windows, and that probably has a lot to do with improvements in Linux over the past three years aimed at newer users. The author suggests if you want an operating system that does just about all of the heavly lifting for you, stick with Windows and make sure you've got a good firewall and good security software in place, or get a Mac and use OS X. Now three years later I'd be willing to bet that many people who might not have been good Linux candidates then would do very well with Linux Mint. At least, it was my choice. There are other versions out there that other people may find more to their liking, especially if they like playing around with geeky stuff more.

Linux Mint 7, aka Gloria, is the most up to date official release as I write this, and Mint 8, aka Helena, should be released very soon. I found that right off the CD Mint worked just fine for me. One thing I had to do was install a Dreamweaver substitute, Quanta Plus, so I could make some changes to my home page, a graphical web page of linked icons that resides on my computer, not on the web. I had to learn a few things to do that, but to me they didn't seem too terribly geeky. Anyone willing to search and follow instructions could do it.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I Was Ahead of the Bad Astronomy Blog

Yesterday's entry here was about a site that shows the Solar System to scale, with one pixel equaling a thousand kilometers. Today while checking my Bloglines feeds, I saw that Phil Plait, the astronomer who does the Bad Astronomy blog on Discover Magazine's website, featured it.

Of course, Plait has something I don't: thousands of readers every day. It's a pretty interesting blog if you have any interest in space and science in general. The site is called Bad Astronomy because Plait often takes to task people who misuse astronomy or just get it wrong. Needless to say, he thinks, correctly, that all the nonsense about Dec. 21, 2012 is a bunch of hooey.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Solar System to Scale

I think I've found what just might be the widest graphic on the Internet. It's the Solar System with the Sun and all the planets shown in a scale of 1 pixel = 1,000 km. It's not just the Sun and the planets out to Pluto (I think this was made before Pluto was demoted to dwarf planet status). It includes all the space between as well.

To get some idea of how big this is, I started on the left side and began scrolling by holding down the right arrow. At first it didn't look like anything was happening after the Sun scrolled off the left of the screen, but eventually a small image slid into view. It was Mercury and since it's to scale, there's not a whole lot of detail. I kept going and eventually Venus slid into view. More patience, then Earth and later Mars. After Mars I had to pause while I listened/watched with Klara McDonnell.

When I got back to the Solar System and resumed scrolling, I figured it had taken about 20 minues scrolling time just to get out to Jupiter. That's only about 1/7th of the way across, meaning it would have taken close to two and a half hours to get all the way over to Pluto. WikiAnswers says Pluto averages 328 light-minutes from the Sun, so that would mean the scrolling speed on my computer is about twice the speed of light. I guess that's pretty close since WikiAnswers says Jupiter averages 43.8 light-minutes from the Sun.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy has this to say about space:

"Space," it says, "is big. You just won't believe how vastly hugely mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space."

When you spend 20 minutes scrolling at twice the speed of light to get from the Sun to Jupiter, you begin to get an idea how big the Solar System is, and that's far less than peanuts compared to the galaxy, which is immensely tiny compared to the universe.

It would take over two years of scrolling at the scale of the Solar System graphic to cover the distance to Alpha Centauri, by the way. I think my finger would get tired.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Memories of a Disaster

While using StumbleUpon, I came across a little page showing a brief online chat conversation between an AT&T customer and a customer service representative. I spent a little less than a year on the phones as a Cingular/AT&T CSR, a time that went wrong pretty early on.

I have a blog over on Delphi Forums that I started about three years ago. I pretty much stopped using it last May since for some time I'd been writing posts here and copying them over to the other blog. When I started blogging here again in late September after a few months of not writing, it didn't make much sense to just copy stuff over, so the only entry I've made there since starting up again is one explaining I'd only be using this blog.

Delphi changed things around at the beginning of November and since then their My Forums page, which shows an index of the forums I've visited and includes the blog, has been showing I have over 300 blog entries, including "25 new to me," indicating I haven't read them. For the forums I visit, all I have to do is read a message on a forum, then when I go back to My Forums I'll see the number of unread messages has cleared.

That hasn't worked with the blog. As with forums, I thought calling up the blog page and reading would clear the "25 new to me." It didn't. Even the post about not posting didn't clear it. So yesterday I looked back at all the messages I'd posted on that blog right back to the first post in 2006.

There were a lot of posts about my time at AT&T in there. Let's just say I can sympathize with Darlene.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Avoiding Apostrophe Catastrophes

Apostrophes are handy little marks that are usually used with possessive nouns and contractions. The rules seem deceptively simple at first. Then you run into the exceptions. Once you realize there are exceptions, it's easy to get confused.

For instance, I just used "it's" as a contraction for "it is." That's simple and follows the rules for contractions: if you leave out some letters, replace them with an apostrophe.

Then there's the word "its" without the apostrophe. "Its" is a word that is used as the possessive form of "it." Usually when indicating possession, the normal rule is to write the noun and make it possessive by adding an apostrophe and an "s." The word "its," which shows something that belongs to "it," is an exception. To show that "it" possesses something, you leave out the apostrophe. This confuses a lot of people, and I used to be one of them. Then I got tired of being confused about using or not using an apostrophe with "its" and "it's" and looked up its proper use.

People get confused about the apostrophe and "s" when indicating possession, especially when the noun is plural, like "men." You'll see signs in some establishments indicating the "Men's Room." Some establishments with that sign have a corresponding sign for the "Ladie's Room." "Men's Room" is right; "Ladie's Room" is wrong. Many places have signs that just say "Men" for one and "Women" for the other, avoiding confusion, but a few places still like calling women "ladies" so they have one sign that says "Men" and another that says "Ladie's." Nice try.

Then there's our way of writing about decades using numbers. Possible choices are "the 60s," "the '60s," "the 60's," or "the '60's." The second one is correct. The apostrophe takes the place of "19" and the "s" indicates the plural nature. Of course, you could avoid the whole thing and write "the Sixties."

Recently, while using StumbleUpon, I saw a page that lays out the proper use of the apostrophe. It's a handy page if you find apostrophes confusing. It was long after high school before I felt confident about using apostrophe's apostrophes correctly.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Sundancer's Fairy Tale - 19

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Sundancer's Fairy Tale - 18

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Sundancer's Fairy Tale - 17

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Sundancer's Fairy Tale - 16

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Monday, November 16, 2009

Not My Day

One of the first things I realized this morning was that I'd managed to not post to this blog yesterday, which means I'm out of this month's NaBloPoMo competition. Blah! I was doing so well, too, posting a new bit of "Sundancer's Fairy Tale" every day and occasionally something else. Guess I'm too easily distracted by stuff on the computer sometimes. OK, maybe a lot of the time.

So I was reading the Bad Astronomy blog this morning and today's shuttle launch was mentioned. It was set for 14:28 Eastern time, or 11:28 Pacific time. Great, I thought. I'll watch Klara McDonnell on from 10 to noon (6 to 8 p.m. GMT) then tune in an hour and a half later for the launch.

You see the problem, of course. I'd misread 14:28 as 4:28 p.m. so I thought the launch was two hours later than it actually occurred. I never realized it until around 1 p.m. when I went to and saw immediately that I'd missed out. Double blah!

Oh well, at least I got LiveIreland's stereo feed set up on Rhythmbox Music Player on Caristiona, the second computer, so I can listen and see the song titles just by turning my head instead of changing windows to Rhythmbox and back again.

A few days ago I'd moved Caristiona out of the bedroom back to where the computer cart had been for years until I decided to try setting up a computer in the bedroom by running two 50-foot cables, which required taping cable across the rug at the bedroom door and again at the entrance to the two closets that flank the bathroom entrance, along with hiding the cable in a couple of cord covers that gets the cable for TV across both entrances to my little kitchen area.

It was a nice little experiment and it worked, but I realized with a little reorganizing I could put the computer cart back, this time without all the junk it had accumulated, with Caristiona all set up.

In the process of moving the cart around, I did a lot of rearranging. I realized there were a whole lot of things that had sort of accumulated, accreted, grown, etc. on top of and behind my main computer desk. I had power strips all over and had lost track of what was plugged in to where. There were several power transformers still plugged in for stuff I no longer used and two or three computer power cords plugged in to the strips but not into computers. Once I started looking at that, I found so much stuff to unplug that now only two power strips are left. One of the emptied power strips was plugged into an extension cord that has three outlets. Rather than get rid of the cord I plugged my Vonage box and the phone into it.

Sileas, the main computer, used to be on the floor at my feet under the desk next to Caristiona, with enough space for me to put my feet. I moved her up to the top of the desk's hutch and discovered she had accumulated an awful lot of dust while sitting down there. With that cleaned out she should last a bit longer.

I've got a big upholstered chair behind where I sit for using the computer. The idea in putting it there was to have a more comfortable place to sit while watching videos on the monitor. The trouble is, a chair has horizontal surface above floor level, and with me that means junk tends to accumulate. Working through those layers is a little like archeology as I discover stuff unseen for months. I came across some CDs I decided to put in my 300-CD changer. While messing about with that, I realized my dual-cassette tape recorder hadn't been plugged into the stereo receiver for a long time because I rarely play tapes any more. So I plugged it back in and discovered that a 24-year-old tape of the Short Sisters (Kim Wallach, Faye Baird and Kate Seeger) still sounds OK even after sitting in the car for several years. It was nice to hear them again.

Sundancer's Fairy Tale - 15

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Saturday, November 14, 2009

Sundancer's Fairy Tale - 14

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Friday, November 13, 2009

Sundancer's Fairy Tale - 13

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Star Wars Meets The Godfather

Help me, Obi Wan Cannoli, you're my only hope.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Sundancer's Fairy Tale - 12

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Sundancer's Fairy Tale - 11

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Sundancer's Fairy Tale - 10

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Monday, November 9, 2009

Sundancer's Fairy Tale - 9

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Sunday, November 8, 2009

Sundancer's Fairy Tale - 8

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Saturday, November 7, 2009

Sundancer's Fairy Tale - 7

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Friday, November 6, 2009

Sundancer's Fairy Tale - 6

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Thursday, November 5, 2009

The ThinkPad Lives!

Just for fun and because I've heard Linux can work on older machines, I tried installing Linux Mint 7 on my ancient ThinkPad 1400 from 1999. It has a noisy fan, but it does run, although I need to use AC for power. Mint didn't work. After chugging away for a long time, it finally told me the kernel needs "cmov" and my CPU doesn't have it. I don't really know what it is. All I know is it's needed and the ThinkPad doesn't have it.

I looked that up online and found I'd have to look for a small distro that works on older machines. After some research, I tried SimplyMEPIS 8, but that needed the cmov thing too. After more research, I downloaded Puppy version 4.3.1, the latest one. This looked more promising. It didn't take nearly as long to go through the black screen and it allowed me to make some choices for language, country, time zone, etc. Eventually it got to a graphical desktop, which looked quite nice except for one thing. The mouse pointer wouldn't move.

I dug out a trackball and plugged it in, then tried again. Same results. I was using a PS/2 adaptor on the trackball, so I took that off and connected to a serial port. Unfortunately, that didn't work either. Back to the intertoobs, where I saw a post on a Linux forum where someone had chosen "test" for video. There was a "change mouse" option and I chose a serial mouse. This time, on the very primitive screen that came up, the mouse pointer moved, so I went on. Got to the desktop once again, and the mouse pointer wouldn't move.

More research. This time I read about someone saying things changed between versions 4.2 and 4.3 regarding mouse choices. So I downloaded version 4.2, burned it, and stuck it in the CD drive on the ThinkPad. This time I went through everything and when I got to the graphical desktop, the mouse pointer moved. Success at last.

I ended up burning three CDs from downloaded ISO files and Mint's CD burning software, Brasero, made it so easy. The download window allowed me to chose to save the file in the burner software, and then I was informed that because the file was an ISO file, it could be burned right to disk without a lot of fiddling around. It was so simple. I was initially skeptical because I've made wrong choices with ISO image files in Windows and ended up just burning the file to disk instead of creating a bootable CD, but that didn't happen this time. They burned and they booted.

Usually I don't need a laptop, having two desktops that run fine, but now and then I might be able to use it. It would be handy to look at pictures I take at Faerieworlds next summer. All I'd need is someplace to plug in the ThinkPad and I'd not only see the pictures much larger than they show on the camera viewscreen, but I could share the viewing with friends there. I'll have to take a few pictures of something and see how feasible that idea is.

Moving a Computer

About a week and a half ago I rearranged my bedroom, and it created more space at the foot of the bed, which is now in one corner of the room. I have a rolling computer desk about four feet wide and a 19" CRT monitor. I hadn't been using either and the desk was cluttered up with all sorts of junk.

I went to Frys on Monday hoping to pick up some super cheap stuff to resurrect one of the older desktop boxes, but didn't see stuff as cheap as I'd hoped and decided against getting components. Instead I got to thinking about moving Caristiona, my older machine, into the bedroom. So I got a new trackball for Sileas, a card reader that can read SD cards and Compact Flash along with other types, and a network cable coupler. I knew I had two fifty-foot cables around and while it would have been better if one were a 25-footer, I didn't want to buy another cable.

This morning I began cleaning junk out of the rolling desk, then I got it moved into the bedroom. Next I had to figure out which wires went to which set of speakers and get the speakers separated from the tangle of wires that's proliferated over time. I also took out the KVM switch because I'll only have one computer in the main area which is usually used as a dining area. I also needed to find different outlets for some stuff because I wanted to take one of the uninterupptable power supplies to plug Caristiona and components in. In the course of all that I spotted several wires for stuff I'd once had but wasn't using any more. There were things like USB cables, wires to power transformers that weren't being used. In short, a mess, but now it's a little simpler.

Eventually I got all the necessary stuff into the bedroom and hooked up except for the network cable. The computer worked, although I had to reset the date and time. Then I ran the cable, which included taping it down where it crossed the bedroom entrance and the entrance to the bathroom. The network setup didn't work right away. I had to unplug the router and plug it back in, but once I did that, Caristiona connected to the intertoobs.

My next project is to try and get a version of Linux on my old IBM ThinkPad 1400 from 1998. It still runs although the fan is noisy and it needs to be plugged in to AC to run. But it does run, so perhaps I can find uses for it if I can get stuff set up with Linux. I've learned I need to find a distro which doesn't use something called "cmov" which is not on the ThinkPad's CPU. I'm thinking I might be able to use it to look at photos at Faerieworlds next year.

Sundancer's Fairy Tale - 5

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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Sundancer's Fairy Tale - 4

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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Ashokan Farewell

More than once in "Sundancer" and "Sundancer's Fairy Tale" I mentioned "Ashokan Farewell," a fiddle tune by Jay Ungar. It's very familiar to anyone who has seen Ken Burn's great documentary The Civil War, where it was the major theme. It's also the only modern piece of music Burns used in that miniseries; all other music is from the 19th century.

In this YouTube video, Jay Ungar talks about how he came to compose the tune, then he plays it accompanied by his wife Molly Mason.

Here's a version played by Mairead Nesbitt of Celtic Woman:

I'd heard the tune before it was used in The Civil War, most likely at the Old Songs Festival in Altamont, New York, which is perhaps an hour's drive north of Ashokan. Jay Ungar probably played at that festival, since it is local for him, although I don't specifically recall. I went to Old Songs every year except 1988 from 1985 to 2000. It's where I got my first bowed psaltery in 1987. I've learned to play "Ashokan Farewell" on it, although I'm sure I subject it to considerable folk processing. That's a fancy way of saying I don't play it exactly the way Jay Ungar wrote it, although if you heard it you'd probably recognize it. I sometimes think of my version as "Ashcan Farewell."

After I first posted this entry I clicked on the link for the Old Songs Festival just to be sure the link went to the proper place (it did). I spotted a link to a review of the 2008 festival by Nova Scotian Jeff Doran. There were a number of things I liked about his review aside from the memories it brought back. Like me in 1985, he got lost trying to find the festival site. He mentions doing a capella versions of "What Shall We Do with a Drunken Sailor?" to the tune of "Greensleeves" and vice versa. (Yes, it really works.) He also mentioned you can sing Robert Frost's poem "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" to the tune of "Hernando's Hideaway," something I hadn't encountered since it was mentioned a long time ago in one of the Whole Earth Catalogs.

Sundancer's Fairy Tale - 3

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Monday, November 2, 2009

Sundancer's Fairy Tale - 2

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Sunday, November 1, 2009

Sundancer's Fairy Tale - 1

Brewer, who runs the tavern in Sunrise Harbor along with his mate Weaver, has written the story of my first cycle (two and a half Earth years) on Dahroona, the planet I wanted to call home. The story’s name, "Sundancer," is my name too, of course. I think he did a pretty good job of it, and if you haven’t read it, you probably should before you go on with this story. He tells how I came to Sunrise Harbor on the southeastern Quastrana coast, became a part of that community, then almost lost it all to keep one of my lovers alive.

The day I was told I could remain on Dahroona was both a very happy day and a sad one. I was happy because I would be able to go back to Sunrise Harbor. But before I could return, I’d have to sail halfway around the planet, and I’d have to do it solo aboard my sailboat Wind Dancer. I knew I could do it, especially with the help of my star cruiser Sileas, but it was going to take around sixty days, and that was sixty days without the company of Harper and Midnight, my two dahroonae partners. I would sorely miss their love and their music. I loved dancing to their harp and whistle at sunrise and sunset, loved playing fiddle with them at Brewer’s tavern in the evenings, and of course, I loved loving them. I knew they’d miss their Sundancer, but at least they had each other in my absence.

Judge Bluestar, who had presided over the hearing on the Orbital Tower and who ruled that I could stay on Dahroona, was very firm. I was allowed to return Brewer, who had been the only Sunrise Harbor resident to be at the hearing, back to his tavern, but I could not set foot on the planet at that time. After the hearing, Sileas took us to Sunrise Harbor, which was on the opposite side of Dahroona from the Tower. Part of the reason I’d chosen Sunrise Harbor to live was because it put the whole planet between the Tower and Sileas, who took up a geosynchronous orbit south of the town. We flew in low at close to midnight local time so Sileas could transport Brewer into the patio area at the back of the tavern. It was a beautiful night, with Brin, Dahroona’s larger moon, high in the sky. My heart ached at seeing Sunrise Harbor and knowing I couldn’t go down there.

“We’ll see you soon, Sunny,” Brewer said as he hugged me. “I know you’ll get back here as soon as you can.”

“I will, Brewer,” I said, trying hard not to cry. “Tell Harper and Midnight I love them and miss them. I’ll miss you and Weaver too!”

I stepped back from the transporter pad, Brewer straightened up, and Sileas activated her transporter. Brewer faded out, and on the viewscreen that showed the tavern patio, he faded in. He waved, then went inside. I’d told Sileas not to include sound. Harper and Midnight were playing in the tavern. Hearing my loves’ music would’ve been too much for me.

“We should go, Sunny,” Sileas said. “The sooner we get over to the area off Marathoona, the sooner we can get Wind Dancer in the water and you can start your voyage home.”

“Of course, Sileas,” I said, tearing my eyes away from the screen. “Let’s do it.”

Sileas rose as quickly as she could without breaking the sound barrier and disturbing the folks in the town. As soon as she’d gained enough altitude, she headed off toward a point off the coast of Arralta near the Orbital Tower where it was close to highsun. The plan was that we’d put Wind Dancer in the water just over the horizon from Marathoona, and I’d sail in and pick up some supplies. Marathoona was an old port town - it was old long before Dahroonans went into space and built the Orbital Tower. The tune “Leaving Marathoona” was the one Midnight had first played on a whistle when Harper, Brewer and I had taken her to Luthier’s instrument shop in Sunrise Harbor. She’d played it so wonderfully everyone within earshot stopped to listen, and Harper and I knew we’d gained a new musical partner. After my stop in Marathoona, Judge Bluestone’s plan was for me to sail to the Candara Isles and spend a few days there. Then I could really do what I’d claimed I’d done a cycle ago - sail halfway around the planet solo to Sunrise Harbor.

When I had first arrived in Sunrise Harbor aboard Wind Dancer, nobody knew I was from another planet. When I left Earth, I was a short green-eyed redhead with an artificial human body. My body looked, felt, and, to outward appearances at least, performed like any human body, but people knew it was artifical, and there were a fair number of people who had a problem with that, just as they had a problem with the T’Gungans, the aliens who had intervened in human affairs to keep us from totally screwing up our planet. Those humans also had a problem with the Peacekeepers, the young humans who had been selected by the T’Gungans, partnered with star cruisers, and helped make war into a nonviable option.

One of those Peacekeepers was Rhiannon Davies. Rhiannon was a six-foot, two-inch redhead who had just graduated from the University of Vermont with a journalism degree and was about to start a job as a reporter in Burlington, Vermont when the T’Gungans, in the person of Niaria, showed up and recruited her to go off to T’Gung and return as a Peacekeeper. As part of the partnering process with the star cruisers, the T’Gungans wanted to make a copy of each Peacekeeper’s mind in case of any problems. Rhiannon volunteered to be the first of the humans to undergo the partnering process, known as Integration. The T’Gungans weren’t expecting any problems and thought the copying process was just a precaution. But they’d never copied a human mind before, and while Rhiannon remained in her own brain, the copy, stored in a T’Gungan computer, gained awareness.

That copy was me, and let me tell you, my first few mirns (a mirn is a Dahroonan measure of time roughly equivalent to a minute) of existence separate from Rhiannon’s brain were no picnic. I was totally deprived of any sensory input. Even though I, as Rhiannon, had never believed in an afterlife, I thought I was dead. Scared doesn’t even begin to describe how I felt. I’ve been told the T’Gungan technician monitoring the computer I’d been fed into was pretty alert and was able to provide me with rudimentary sight through a lens, hearing through microphones, and speech through a speaker. She did it within mirns, but it seemed a whole lot longer.


[Edit November 29, 2010] Originally I went on to post the rest of this story. I've removed the other posts because I'm interested in publishing this story, along with "Sundancer," possibly with Amazon for the Kindle and Barnes & Noble for the Nook and other .epub devices. At this point I'm not sure how long it will be before that actually happens, but I didn't want to leave the story here for free when I'm hoping to make at least a little money by e-publishing it.

A Quiet Halloween

For the first time in several years I got some candy to hand out in case any trick or treaters showed up. There's never been a lot of activity around here. There are a lot of apartment complexes on the road I live on (the MAX light rail runs along it and limits street crossings). I live on the second floor of a two-story building.

The city of Gresham was promoting 3:00 p.m to 5:30 p.m. as the time for trick or treating - daylight, in other words. I didn't even know that until nearly 5 o'clock. Heck, I didn't even start getting things ready until nearly 5. I decided to wear my wizard costume from Faerieworlds, the one with the black robe with the silver leaf trim, plus the wizard hat with all the stuff on it. I wrapped a red T shirt around a small lamp with a compact fluorescent bulb that doesn't get too hot. The light was near the door. On the bookcase behind the door I burned a stick of incense early, then lit a couple of apple-scented tealights set on upturned coffee cups on the bookcase, where I also put the little sitting faerie figurine that's usually on top of my monitor. I had my wizard staff by the door and the candy was in a basket.

I cued up my collection of Faun, the German Celtic/medieval band that was at Faerieworlds. At 6 I switched to The Thistle & Shamrock on public radio, then played more Faun for a while. After 7:30 I didn't think anyone was going to show up.

After the first group of three kids at 7:50 another group of three showed up abut 20 minutes later. That was it. I'm glad I bought candy I like because now I have enough bite-size Milky Way bars to last for several weeks.