Friday, May 18, 2018

The Great Platypus Hoax

Based on a story prompt from my friend Ruth Hougey Riggan...

"That can't be," said Dr. Braun, looking away from the video.

"I took the video myself," Tt. Janya Lorin met his eyes, then looked at the video again.

Dr. Braun touched a control and the screen froze, showing the face of his colleague Dr. Nuftin, smiling as she opened the cage and set a breeding pair of platypuses loose in the unpolluted wilderness of the Quaternary period. "Linda would never..."

"Linda?" asked Tt. Lorin. "Dr. Nuftin is well-known for her quirky sense of humor."

Dr. Braun squeezed his eyes shut, then chuckled. "So the platypus really *is* a hoax, as its European discoverers originally thought."

"Well... not a hoax, exactly. The species clearly exists. I've checked the logs on Dr. Nuftin's lab time as well as her timecore access, and I don't think she even engineered them. She appears to be taking members of the existing species, and carrying them back in time to make sure that the species will exist."

"What?" asked Dr. Braun, aghast. "But that's ridiculous! That have to come from somewhere. If they don't evolve on their own, but aren't engineered and taken back either, it could create all sorts of paradoxes. The potential effects on the timeline, on reality itself, are incalculable."

"We're aware of that," said Tt. Lorin. "That's precisely the sort of thing that Timeline Oversight was created to prevent."

"Well," said Dr. Braun, after a moment. "Dr. Nuftin should be in her office now. I suppose you'd like me to take you there?"

"Not necessary," answered Tt. Lorin. "We already have her in custody. Given the potential severity of this matter, we've had her in custody since before she began this project. This is just a courtesy visit, to inform you that we've arrested a senior member of your research staff."

"I... I see," Dr. Braun replied slowly. "Then you don't need anything from me?"

"That's all," confirmed Tt. Lorin. "I'm sorry it happened like this, but there's nothing else we can do. I hope the rest of your afternoon is more pleasant."

"Thank you," he said, and watched as she turned smartly and let herself back out of the cluttered confines of his office.

That was it for today, he decided. He wasn't going to get any work done after this. An evening sitting on the couch, watching murder mysteries while his pet jackalope Snuggles cuddled beside him, sounded like just the relief he needed.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Abolish ICE

So, one of my wife's students has been arrested by ICE, because he's one of the DACA kids. And apparently they have until close of business tomorrow to submit letters attesting to his character. Odds are good that he's going to be deported regardless, and by "deported" I mean arbitrarily exiled to a country that he's never so much as visited before. This is what "justice" looks like in Modern America: somewhere along the line, we've decided that the Gestapo had the right idea.

(And yes, I'm aware that justice in historical America is frequently no better.)

I mean, clearly this is the only way, right? We can't let him get away with, well, being a good student and a leader in student organizations and a contributing participant in American society and civic life. That would just be wrong, wouldn't it?

If this is who we are, then we are absolute shit: morally shit, socially shit, politically shit. And make no mistake about it: this *is* who we are.

I firmly believe we can do better. I firmly believe we can *be* better. And we have to start now.

Abolish ICE. Defund them. Dissolve their charter. Whatever it takes. And then hold its leaders responsible for their human rights violations.

Leviticus 19:34 if you're scripturally inclined.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Boys & DnD Session Nine!

Secondborn was distracted by a video game, and Beautiful Wife was taking a nap, so Firstborn got a solo run this time. His Druid/Barbarian went to scout ahead, and followed the passage to a large, circular room. The walls there were polished smooth (by contrast to the rough stonework behind him, and instead of the usual glowing lichen the place was lit by eight stone bowls set at regular intervals around the walls, each holding a tall fire. The ceiling was a dome, carved in elaborate bas relief, but its subject wasn't immediately obvious and he had other things demanding his attention. The room also served as a sort of crossroads, with his passage continuing on the far side, and another passage connecting in from his left and right.

On the far side of the room were two large, hideous stone statues... and Firstborn (whose Spot check was 30!) found himself deeply suspicious that the one on the right was alive. About two-thirds of the way across the room, a gray-skinned humanoid dressed in rags was bent over the body of a dead goblin, and appeared to be eating it. Firstborn takes a moment to double-check his impressions, then boldly strides into the room. When nothing reacts to him, he walks quietly up behind the ghoul, which only hears him and whirls around at the last possible minute.

Ghoul 19
Gargoyle 19
Firstborn 11

Firstborn moves first (surprise round) and rolls well; the ghoul goes down immediately.

Firstborn considered this, then steps around the fallen ghoul and inches closer to the gargoyle. Finally, when he's close enough and it's incredibly obvious that he's identified it as a threat, it takes a five-foot step forward and attacks. It hits with a claw for 6, bites for 7, and tries to gore him but misses. Firstborn makes his own attack, hits, and does 22 damage. (Ouch.)

The gargoyle attacks again, but only one claw attack gets through, and it only does 3 damage. The gargoyle is obviously a bit woozy from the beating it just took.

Firstborn attacks again, and does 11 damage. The Gargoyle manages to claw and gore, and does 11 more damage.

Firstborn makes a heroic attack, and takes it down. Which is good, because he was getting more than a bit low on health. But the gargoyle is defeated, the ghoul likewise, and Firstborn is heading back to rest with everyone else again.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Peer Pressure

Firstborn was wearing four gold stars -- stickers, one on his forehead, one on his nose, and one on each ear -- when his mother picked him up today.

"Did you wear those all day?" she asked.

"Of course," he replied.

"Have you ever heard of peer pressure?"

Firstborn looked thoughtful. He's eleven years old, in sixth grade, in his first year of Middle School. "I don't think it applies to me," he said.

The important thing about dealing with peer pressure is to understand who your peers really are.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Mother's Day

I had a hard time with Mother's Day this year.

My mother died about two years ago. I don't remember it being an issue last year, but it seems to have caught up with me this year, and every "Get Mom ___" advert had me yelling expletives at the screen.

But it's over now, and in any case the next two weeks are about to be insanely busy. So: a little writing, a little reading, and then sleep. And the rest of this week is just going to be devoted to keeping everything moving. I've got stuff lined up for later in the week -- Monday, Tuesday, and Friday -- but the week after that is likely to be empty, because my whole work schedule has changed except where it hasn't and I'm still trying to navigate my way through the new (lack of a?) system.

Here's hoping everybody else had a better time of it than I did.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Pocket Dimension

Congratulations! You have your own little world. Not just your imagination - this is a physical reality, and you can step into it at will. Maybe it's a pocket dimension, or your own private little corner of the Fay Realms. Whatever it is, it's yours. So...

1. What does your realm look like? Is it indoors? Outdoors? A cottage on a deserted shore? A crumbling castle at the heart of a dark forest? A broad lake with a waterfall at one end and beaches around three sides? Something else entirely?

2. Do you keep it to yourself, give a few friends access to it as well, or open it to anybody?

3. Does your realm have its own inhabitants? What are they like? Do you ever bring them across to our world?

4. Does entering your personal world change you? Do you dress differently, speak differently? Are you someone else when you're there?

5. Is time the same in your realm as it is out here? Is there a steady differential, like three days there pass in only an hour of our time? Or is it stranger than that?

6. How do you get to your world? Do you have to visit a specific place? Speak a certain phrase? Or is it just a matter of will and desire?

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Ode to a Head Cold

Beloved art thou, O head cold
Who bring'st thy gifts in measure full
Thy presence fills me with awe
Courageous and unrelenting

Your treasures do not grow old
They continuous fill my skull
At the back of my throat they gnaw
Might trepanning offer some venting?

Study Questions:
Highlight under the questions to see suggested answers.
1. What do you think is the theme of this poem?
We must appease the head cold gods so they will leave us alone.

2. What rhyme scheme is the author using?
Cryambic Whinetameter

3. What literary technique is the author using?
Sarcasm. Also, antihistamines and decongestants.