We'll see if I can write an entry every day in July for the 30DBC.
|An attempt to get my muse back to working with me|
PROMPT July 27th
Write about a time you were caught off guard, surprised, or had the rug pulled out from under you. How did you recover?
The one time (there have been many, believe me) that stands out in my mind happened while I was in the Navy.
I was on my first shore tour. Now my impression of a shore tour was that it would be easy, since life on a Submarine for a 'Nuke' was never easy. Except there was one small problem. I was assigned to a department that supported the Nuclear Reactors on Submarines! Essentially, it was the same as being on a boat, but worse in some ways. You know, working 16-20 hour days sometimes. The same testing we experienced on the boats, the same rapid qualification pace, etc.
I had qualified with no problem at all, up to what was known as a Radioactive Controls Monitor. Sounds impressive, and it is in some ways. The last position I needed to qualify was as a Radiological Controls Shift Supervisor (RCSS). A person in this position would supervise evolutions that occurred in day to day operation, as well as the response to any accidents that occurred. (The only accidents I saw happened during drills, and they weren't accidents, it was all a part of the drill).
To complete qualification, you had to pass a written test. One hundred questions, all essay. The Nuclear Navy did not use multiple choice questions because those don't really test the depth of your knowledge. I passed of course, my score wasn't great, but it wasn't poor either. After the written test came an oral interview that consisted of two qualified RCSS individuals, and the department's Radiological Controls Officer. My interview was going well, very well. I answered every question they asked, and elaborated on certain points as required. Then came a question about a casualty occurring, and I jumped into describing the actions I'd direct.
I got through it initial process well, and was pretty proud of myself. But despite the actions I described, my group hadn't found the cause of the alarm we were responding to. I went through everything I could think of, they kept throwing small curves to me, and I wasn't getting anywhere. Finally, I had a person check one thing, and they gave me an answer I wasn't expecting. I realized I'd been combating the wrong casualty the whole time. (For any who are interested, an Air Detector had alarmed, so I'd followed all the protocols for fighting an airborne problem. Except, the Detector alarmed due to a high radiation level).
I was sure that they would fail me because I'd done everything wrong in trying to determine the cause of the alarm, and told them so. At that point, they ended the oral exam, and failed me. Except they didn't fail me for not doing the right thing! They failed me because I didn't continue taking actions to fight the real problem, because in essence, 'I gave up'. I learned a lot in that interview, and had to undergo a second oral exam, which I passed easily.
The lesson I learned is, you can never give up. Never. Ever. This experience has led me to be who I am today, for better or for worse.
PROMPT July 26th
What food would you like to judge in a Cook-Off?
Simple Answer? Chili. Better answer? Any kind of Pie. Quite a difference, huh!
Let me explain as I listen to 'Emerson, Lake, And Palmer' - "Karn Evil 9". Chili because I do love spicy food. However, there's a caveat there. I like spicy food, but not too hot that you can't taste the flavor of it. I've seen stuff that would melt a plastic spoon. No, that's not for me. But I do love a good, flavorful chili. So that's a natural.
However, I have a sweet tooth a mile wide. I've gotten away from chocolate, even though I really have a weakness for it. (I have a KILLER chocolate recipe for you choco-holics out there). So, lacking chocolate, I love pies of almost any kind. Especially Banana Cream, which I can't have any more, I'm allergic to Bananas! But I can taste them at least, just can't overdo it. So pies, yes.
There's one MAJOR problem with all this. I've lost my sense of taste! No, it's not COVOD-19, I lost it over Christmas last year, and have not regained it. I can taste a little, but my sense of taste is not very sensitive anymore, so maybe I should opt for being a supervisor of judges, and taste only because I want to see what the judges see....
PROMPT July 23rd
You've been given a full budget and creative license to bring a book you read to film. What book would you pick and who would you cast as the characters? If you choose a book with an existing movie adaptation, what changes would you make?
I'm going to go out on a limb here, and convert a book I read long ago to film. I bet most of you have never read much written by this author. Author: Fred Saberhagen (I met him in 1976 or so). His book? "Empire Of The East". This is a fantasy/Sci-Fi story that became a much, much longer story in other novels. Each novel stands alone, but at the same time, are linked by the characters. The Empire of the East is three books in one, and a sort of prelude to those other novels. For those interested in Fantasy or Sci-Fi, the novels I'm referring to are his "Book Of Swords" series.
In brief, a change has come to Earth. Technology no longer is the mainstay of humankind, Wizardry is. A major war was going on between two great powers on Earth, and a super computer averts a major nuclear war by temporarily causing a modification to the laws of Physics, making the use of Nuclear weapons impossible. However, the enemy has a similar device, and when the two expanding wavefronts of The Change collide, the effect unexpectedly becomes permanent. Following The Change, most technology ceases to function, while magic now works. Magical beings are also created. Demons are born from acts of violence at the time of the change; the most powerful is Orcus, a nuclear bomb caught at the exact moment of exploding.
Now you know the basic setting of the novel(s), I'd love to see this converted to a movie. Main characters?
Ardneh (Voice Only): Who else but James Earl Jones
Duncan: Ben Affleck
Rolf: Matt Damon
Orcus (The Most Powerful Demon) (Voice): Vin Diesel
John Ominor: Adam Driver
Wood (A powerful Wizard): Liam Neeson
Ardneh is the super computer, Orcus is the demon created when a nuclear explosion is halted by the change at the moment of exploding. Hence the voice only for James Earl Jones and Vin Diesel.
PROMPT July 19th
Besides writing, tell us about a hobby you have. How did you discover it? How long have you been doing it?
Hmmmm, hobbies. Photography. I've been interested in that since I was a child. When I was nine, I sold newspapers on a street corner and saved up money to buy a Brownie Camera from a Ben Franklin store. (It cost me $7.00 if I remember correctly.) I loved that camera, and over the years, I've own many kinds and models. In 2004, I bought my first digital camera, and never looked back. To me, the photo's are here for when my mind forgets details of places I've been. It documents where I've been, amuses me when I want to see places, and keeps the memory sharp. Not sure I have other hobbies, unless you count music as one. But I won't write about that again tonight...
PROMPT July 18th
Have you ever boycotted a company or product? If so, tell us the story. If not, what would a company have to do for you to boycott its products?
Have I ever boycotted a company? Yes, a couple of them actually. The first would be the NFL. I realize why Colin Kaepernick took his knee, and I understand why others followed suit. I just think, and this is my opinion, I know what it's worth, that he (they) could have gone about it a different way. To truly understand my viewpoint on this, you have to have served in the US Military, and appreciate what those who serve go through. Seeing them kneel is a slap in the face to those who have given their all to defend our way of life, and to those who took that oath and were willing to do the same, but fortunately didn't have to.
Let's not stop with the military either. I know they are protesting police brutality, and it does get out of hand. I'd like to see a statistic of the percentage of encounters that do end up wrong. I've never been a police officer, never rode in a police car, but having worked with the techs when I teach class, I can appreciate a little of what they go through each shift. Those who live in 'nice neighborhoods' where little ever occurs that requires a police presence will never understand this. To them, life is 'perfect', and nothing ever goes wrong. Those who live in marginal neighborhoods, or see rotating lights near their homes on a regular basis might appreciate it. But like our military, the officers who work a shift on the 'shadier side of town' put their lives on the line every night. They never know when the tide will turn against them. When a routine call will go the other way, and suddenly, they are the victim. You don't see them taking a knee over them, or a co-worker being attacked every night, do you? I guarantee you that happens at least once every night in a medium-to-large city. So seeing 'Millionaires' who have been given the chance to make that kind of money playing a sport most men would give an eye-tooth to play take a knee really bothers me. If they want to see the whole story, go live a few nights in those neighborhoods. Spend some time with the people. Then spend some time with a police officer patrolling those same neighborhoods, and see if they minds are changed a little. As I said, the police officers efforts do get out of hand, and needs to be corrected. I think they are better ways to go about it than kneeling during the National Anthem.
My other boycotts? Red Lobster and Olive Garden, and really most any national chain of restaurant. I'd rather eat local, support the local community than a national chain that has millions of dollars on hand. Why did I single out those two? They are (were) owned by the same corporation, I worked at 2 Red Lobsters. I know how they prepare their food. Believe me on this, while the food is good, and prepared properly, it's nothing more than McDonalds. Everything, and I do mean everything, is parceled out. An easy example is Red Lobster's Shrimp Scampi. When the prep those plates the night before, a heart of the house worker (that's what the kitchen staff is called in house) carefully places the shrimp in that circle you're familiar with, then inverts the plate over their hand so the shrimp are in the plate just right. Then they brush the scampi sauce (butter and herbs) over it, and put it on a tray. There are no Saute' pans in the kitchen. The Crab legs are in a steamer most of the day. They just pull out a bag to fit a plate. When you think about it, that's what McDonald's does with the burgers and chicken patties. Dine at Red Lobster, and you pay a higher price for the food, plus you tip the server. I've never worked in an Olive Garden, but I know it's the same. Pasta is in a plastic bag, carefully weighed. It's microwaved in that bag! Then placed on a plate, and the sauce in a cardboard container is heated in a microwave before being poured over the pasta. Rant over.
I've not boycotted any place else really, but knowing how a large chain runs their restaurant really turned me off on going there all the time. Do I not visit major chains? No, I do, once in a while. But I will not dine at a Red Lobster or Olive Garden, and the same goes for Burger King and McDonald's.
PROMPT July 17th
How important is the role of music in your life and in your creative process? Do you write to music? If so, what kind and why do you think it helps?
Music has been a part of me since the 5th grade, when I started playing the French Horn. You might wonder why I chose that instrument to play? Well, my parents couldn't afford to buy me an instrument (you know I had the Trumpet on my mind), so we had to rent one from the school. Choices were limited though. I'd seen or heard of all of them, except for the French Horn. So I chose it. That's sort of been my 'mantra' throughout my life. Take the unknown so you can figure out what it is.
As I progressed through school, I was interested in every other instrument, but mainly the brass. So I taught myself how to play each of them. I was never very good on the trumpet though. My embouchure was never strong enough to hit the high notes. However, I quickly realized that if you knew the 'fingerings' to play the Trumpet, you could play the Baritone and Sousaphone also. The Trombone and its slide was another matter. Again though, I wanted to play in the Stage Band (a Jazz band in a way), and played French Horn in it. It just didn't seem right though. The French Horn is more of a classical music type of instrument, not jazz or semi-rock. So in the 11th grade, I taught myself how to play the Trombone, and played well enough to play it in Stage Band. You all can't know how much I long just to pick up a French Horn again, and see if I can play it at all....
So band shaped my music knowledge. I can still read music, I still remember how to play the French Horn, and with a little practice and review, I could play the Trombone. My early music influences were bands that had a lot of horns. Blood, Sweat, and Tears, Chicago, Bill Chase, while in high school. Afterwards, any group that really played music, not just strummed a guitar/bass, or beat drums. Electric Light Orchestra, and today, Trans-Siberian Orchestra. I can write while listening, or remember a song, and write humming/whistling it. I think music helps because it lifts me, lifts my soul. With music, all is right in the world for me.
PROMPT July 16th
NEOWISE comet: “Enjoy it while you can. The frozen ball of ice won’t return to the inner solar system for 6,800 years.” Talk about it! https://www.nytimes.com/article/neowise-comet.html
Since I'm a fan of anything to do with Ancient Aliens, it's only natural I'd be interested in this! I've known what a comet is since I was a child, and was always by them. I know it wasn't a comet, but that interstellar visitor ʻOumuamua really caught my attention. I read 'Rendevous With Rama' years ago, and this reminded me of the spacecraft in that novel.
Since I'm traveling to Florida this weekend, I'm hopeful I can snap a photo of it. Obviously it will depend on timing, cloud cover, and whether I'm awake or not. Things like these two objects just show you how far we have to go when it comes to space travel.
Suppose comets are a form a spacecraft created by aliens? Suppose there's a spacecraft hidden by the accumulated ice and debris on its journey through space? You might wonder why an alien race would do that. Look around you some. Do you ever wonder why certain animals act the way they do? Why not? They're not human after all. Neither are aliens. We can't judge what they would do or how they would act, because they are not humans. They may not even be humanoid in shape either. We like to think all intelligent species would be because of the shape of our hands and bodies. I hate to sound like I'm preaching here, but you can't judge an alien race by applying human standards to them! So be prepared for an alien to have most any shape or form....
PROMPT July 15th
Describe your sense of humor. Is it dark, sarcastic, slapstick, silly, or something else? Do you have any favorite comedians? What always makes you laugh?
I think that if you wonder about my sense of humor, all you have to do is visit "Smile! (Groan?) You Know You Love These!" . That will tell you a bit about it.
But I do have a decent sense of humor, it's definitely not dark, though it goes there at times. Nor is it Sarcastic, I'm not sure I can ever do that in humor. Silly? Maybe, especially with the puns I post. Slapstick? That it was, when I was a young man in his 20's. I love almost any movie with Madeline Kahn, Gene Wilder, and Marty Feldman. I was known to laugh embarrassingly loud in theaters at their movies. Young Frankenstein, The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes Smarter Brother, and of course, Blazing Saddles. Surprisingly, I am not a fan of today's slapstick stuff, especially anything that has Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly together. I am most definitely NOT a fan of Monty Python. So what's happened to my sense of humor? I don't think I've lost it, by no means! Would you call it 'maturity'? I'd like to think not. I just don't think I can relate to most comedians of this time.
Other comedians I love, and this may tell you more about me. Carol Burnett, Tim Conway, Foster Brooks, and Red Skelton. I can listen to Tim Conway's Elephant story over and over, and laugh each time. Of course, these comedians are all from my time or even before my time, when I was a young man. Which should tell you I don't really care for any host of a late night show right now. Nor did I care for them in the past either. They aren't that funny, they have a skilled set of writers if you ask me. Do you hear me Jimmy Fallon? Jimmy Kimmel? Conan O'Brien?
So back to my sense of humor. I think it's eclectic. What makes me laugh? It all depends on the moment and my mood. But what it isn't, is Dark or Sarcastic. Anything else is up for grabs.
PROMPT July 14th
If you won a free trip to any foreign country, all expenses paid in your own private jet and had the time to go (and there were no travel restrictions due to a global pandemic), what is the first foreign country you would visit? Who would you bring with you? What would you spend your time doing?
That's a really tough question for me. So let me tell you where I've been in my life thus far, and despite all the places I've been, there's so many more I want to see. So, I've been to the following:
1. Guam - Seven Missile Submarine (FBM) Patrols out of there from 1974 through 1978
2. Philippines - 1979, for about a month while on a Western Pacific (WestPac) cruise on a submarine
3. Hong Kong - 1979, Just a week there, with little time to see things. Same WestPac
4. Tokyo - Again, a week, with little time to see the sites. I did get to visit a Buddhist Temple. Same WestPac
5. Kuwait - Three weeks there in 2004 delivering classes for Motorola. Loved it there because I do love a desert landscape
6. Melbourne Australia - 2004. Only a week, and I saw very little, and remember even less probably.
7. Frankfurt, Germany - 2018. Just a week there while delivering a class. It was right before Christmas, so I saw the German street festivals in Frankfurt. Also visited Frankenstein's Castle.
8. Bangkok, Thailand - 2019 - A place I'd love to have had a lot more time to see.
9. Mildenhall, England - 2019 - Only a week there, I wanted to visit Stonehenge so badly, but didn't have the time then either.
10. Algiers, Algeria - Jan/Feb 2020 - What can I say? I love the Mediterranean area and the diet they enjoy.
11. Canada - I've been in every province that connects to the United States. I've seen a lot, including the famous 'Bay of Fundy' with it's 40 foot tides.
12. I've been in all 50 States, but that's not a foreign country, is it?
So where would I go first? I guess it would be Scotland/Ireland. I've long wanted to visit both countries. I have a little bit of each country in my blood. Loch Ness calls me, I could swing way south and see Stonehenge after all, and Scotland? Well, the bagpipes, the culture of both countries. I love seeing the culture of any destination I'm sent to. I don't mind 'playing tourist' (as I call it), and by all means, you (I) have to 'eat their food', nothing American at all! Who would go with me? There's only one real choice, isn't there? My other half of course. We would not spend much time in hotels, we'd be driving (or driven if we couldn't handle driving on the other side of the road Even when I travel on business, I try to see all the sites I can, so if I was there on a true vacation, it is mandatory to see those sites, huh!
There are many other places on my list to visit too. South America with Machu Picchu in Peru, the Nazca Lines, and of course the Amazon Rain Forest. Australia again, visit Uluru, and also visit Tasmania and New Zealand since I'm in the area. Almost any South Pacific Island chain. Fiji, Samoa, Galapagos Islands, Pitcairn Island (only because it's Pitcairn, home of the mutineers after all), Antarctica, India, South Africa, all of Europe, Russia (Especially Moscow). Guess I wouldn't be satisfied until I'd visited about most of the countries here on Earth. After that? There's always the Moon, and Mars. But most of those places, I'll see in my dreams. I really wish that those of you who long to travel as I have, do get that chance.
PROMPT July 13th
Write about your favorite summer activity.
Favorite Summer Activity? What if I said I don't have one? I don't take vacations, yet I travel the country, and sometimes the world, for work. I get paid to do that, and they cover my expenses while I travel. A lot of times, it's like being on vacation. True, I work an eight hour day, but look at the benefits I get! My hotel room is paid. My flight to get there is paid. My meals are paid. Oh wait, there is that work thing.... Remember this saying though, "Give a man a job he loves, and he'll never work another day in his life." I've thought for a long time that Confucius said it, but there is some doubt about that (in today's world, of course it would be doubted). Anyway, I live that saying every day, and even work during a weekend at times!
But if I'm pinned down to write about a 'real' favorite summer activity, I'd have to say it's something that you can do year round. Most of us do it, especially here on WDC. I absolutely LOVE to read! When I was a child/teen, it was not unusual for me to read 10 books a week. We're not talking about short books either. I know in high school, I read 'When Worlds Collide', and 'After Worlds Collide' five to seven times. I also loved reading about WWII, especially about the Navy (submarines especially). Is it any wonder I joined the Navy and served in submarines? Sadly, most of my reading is now done on line. I have a lifelong love of books, and own several old copies of books. None are worth a lot of money, none are first issue prints. Sadly, my prized possession is in a plastic bag to preserve it. It's a copy of Tarzan Of The Apes, printed in 1917. But the backing is (has) fallen apart, and some pages are loose. I really enjoy going to garage sales, and always go just to see what I can find in the way of old books. Another prized possession is a copy of the complete works of O'Henry'. I had two, so I gave one to a good friend.
So yep, reading is, and has always been, a passion for me. Don't get me wrong, I played outside (and inside) with friends too, but if they came by, they usually had to pull me out of a book. Often, I lived in the story's I read. Science Fiction was my first genre to love. I've learned to love fiction in general, and as a young man, I found 'the Master of horror, Stephen King. My favorite authors changed over the years. As a young teen, Andre Norton and Edgar Rice Burroughs. Somewhere along the way, I found Marion Zimmer Bradley, Larry Niven, Philip Jose Farmer, Fred Saberhagen, Stephen King, and so many more. You want to have a good time in the summer, or any time of year? Get a copy of 'The Empire Of The East' by Fred Saberhagen. Once you read that, and meet 'Ardneh', read his 'Lost Swords' series, and marvel at the whole timeline he created. If I could write like that.... You get my drift.
Side note here. I met Fred Saberhagen in Albuquerque while home on leave once. I purchased a copy of 'Empire Of The East' which he signed. Sometime later, I loaned it to a friend so they could enjoy it, and never got it back before leaving Hawaii. Broke my heart, and I still kick myself for loaning out in the first place.