Vacation, Walking and Plants and Words

Due to the way my day job figures out vacation time, I usually take the week of July 4th off. So, I’m currently on vacation.

Even on vacation I make it a point to get my walking in. Someday I may ‘graduate’ to running. HR at my day job had a one-week program to promote health telling people that they should get out and walk a minimum of 10,000 steps that week.

When I thought of how small a number of steps that is for one week, I decided to do 10,000 steps per day. That’s not a lot, it’s only 5 miles per day. Even with a ‘sit-down’ job like I have, I would normally get 4 to 5 thousand steps without any special walking session.

Now to the plant part.

My normal walking trail around my neighborhood is just over 2 miles long in a nice big loop of all sidewalk. When I get up to Fairway Drive, I would pass by a house with an unusual plant outside. Take a look a the pictures below.

This looks like a tropical plant and, if I remember correctly, there was nothing in that place during the cold weather. Which meant that this plant either grew up quickly or was transplanted. It was there last year during the summer but then absent during the winter.

Anyone know what this is? Personally I think it’s pretty cool to have something like this stuck in among the normal bushes and hedges.

Finally, Book 5 of Raven of Iskandar is coming along great. I’ve assembled a number of the chapters into one file and the total is now over 32,000 words. I have at least that amount, pre-written, that needs to be added. Of course, at this point, I’m not sure at what point I’m going to end this book.

The Grave of the Secret Porpoise

Maybe I do have a knack for finding the bizarre. This is a link to some discussion (and bizarre humor) about the grave of a porpoise found in the ruins of a monastery found on one of the smallest channel islands. The Youtube channel is called ‘Ask a Mortician’ and hosted by Caitlin, who, when she found out that her degree in Medieval History resulted in low job expectations, turned to mortuary. She also runs a funeral home.

Covid-19, Target: Earth, Coming Attraction

Now that things are beginning to return to normal, I think back to what I saw right at the beginning of the lockdown. My day job was considered to be a critical business (putting us on the level of a grocery store), so work continued.

The first workday after the lockdown, I drove over a mile and a half before I saw another car. There weren’t any people on the street and very few cars. It reminded me of an old B&W movie I’d seen on TV as a kid.

After all these years, I was able to track it down. Of course, there was a little bit of chagrin as the movie doesn’t seem to be exactly as I remember it. Or maybe I mixed up movies in my memory. I did what a lot of the old Sci-Fi movies!

The movie is Target: Earth and it begins with a woman wandering around a big city (I think it’s supposed to be Chicago) all alone. Water and electricity are not working, streets are empty, nobody is around. Sound familiar?

She eventually runs into a man who is just as clueless as to what is happening and they journey the city to try and find out what was going on. They inevitably run into another couple who, also not knowing what is going on, decided to visit all the nightclubs and drink up all the alcohol (this is the fifties).

Eventually, you run into scenes outside the city that tell you what happened. The movie is available for free from dailymotion. Be warned, however, that dailymotion is horrible for advertisements.

In addition, there was a sci-fi story that did sort-of predict what we take today as everyday…the wearing of masks. The story is called ‘Coming Attraction’ by Fritz Leiber. I was recently re-reading the Science Fiction Hall of Fame Volume 1.

In the story, a British man in America experiences some ‘American’ culture the dominant feature of which is that all women are wearing masks. The premise being that the center of sexual attraction has progressed from the thighs to the breasts and finally to the face. So the face is covered up.

“Her voice came shudderingly from behind the sleek black satin mask. I fancied her teeth must be chattering. Eyes that were perhaps blue searched my face from behind the black gauze covering the eyeholes of the mask.”

At least we haven’t gone so far as to cover up the eyes. It’s nice to see eyes.

Raven of Iskandar Trivia and Book 5 Status

A couple more bits of trivia:

In the last chapter of Raven: The Call from Central, Raven opens up her Necris Bible and reads Psalm 103, although her favorite is Psalm 92. It might be pretty obvious that Psalm 92 is the author’s favorite Psalm.

Along with that, while her teammates remark that you never get between Raven and shrimp, that’s also my favorite seafood. My wife makes amazing stuffed shrimp.

In Raven: The Call from Central, you first meet the team manager of Iskandar Prime, Francona Epstein. The origin of that name should be very familiar to New Englanders. It’s a composite of Terry Francona and Theo Epstein, the Manager and General Manager that led the Boston Red Sox to a World Series Championship in 2004 after a drought of 84 years.

Book 5!

The writing for Book 5 has been proceeding and since I’ve already had inquiries as to when it is coming out, here’s the status.

The two possible titles for Book 5 are either Raven: The New Season (Do I seem like I like colons too much?) or Vysse: Bestmartin. The main event of the book was already written probably 2 years ago and both Raven and Vysse are in the center of it.

When I write the first draft, it is always separate files for each chapter and the second draft consists of putting all the chapters into one file and then making them all fit together. The first draft is not done, but I have the first draft of 42 chapters, which looks to be about a third of the final book length. I don’t expect Book 5 to be as long as Raven: The Triballi Incident, but the characters may have other ideas.

Trim Your Rose Bushes

Several years ago, we transplanted several rose bushes into our front yard. We have a live-in contractor (best way to go!) and one of his customers wanted the rose bushes gone. So he brought them home.

Not all of them survived the transplant.

Two years ago, I had the task of trimming them down and when I was done each bush only had 10 to 12 inches left. This year, with the weird spring we had, the roses took their time coming up, but when they did, wow!

Pardon the front steps, they really need to be repainted.