Monthly Archives: April 2011

Steampunk Writings

In addition to the time travel novel (Breathing Ghosts) I’m writing, I’m also working on a steampunk urban fantasy.  It is yet unnamed, but I’m piling everything I think is cool about steampunk into it.  In addition to the goggles, airships, and steam-powered machines, it will also contain magic.

I have this idea for a Lovecraftian world of ancient monsters and magic – basically the place where all our world’s legends began.  Victorians have managed to create a Gate into this world, and colonized/subdued it with brick, technology, and social mores into a semi-civilized place they call “New London”.  They are happy to use the inherent magic as another sort of power/science.  But when the Gate unexpectedly closes, the people trapped on New London discover their transported science and technology is dying, and the ancient magic of the world beneath New London is rising up against them….

There will be no vampires or werewolves here.  I like the idea of digging out lesser-used creatures, such as the vodyanoy and the banshee.  There will be magical bartitsu, sewer krakens, criminal masterminds, and more-than-slightly-cracked inventors.  There might even be a pair of zombies (but only two…no zombie plagues in this book, sorry!)

I *think* I will post chapters online, but I haven’t quite decided.  In the meantime, I came across this picture of the real Victorian London, by Gustav Dore.  I’ve just ordered a book containing all his London drawings, because this is my image of New London:

I just love how cramped and…brick…it all is.  If you were an ancient Lovecraftian beastie, wouldn’t you rise up against this?

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Gardening with Chickens

Now that the weather is finally Spring-ish (we hit 60+ degrees yesterday!) I’ve been weeding/pruning the garden.  The Girls – my six gorgeous hens – could see me from their coop, and wanted VERY MUCH to come out and help.  They know that my trowel turns up more worms and bugs than their feet can.  Ellie, my Welsummer hen, was particularly demanding because she knows she is “my baby” and she’s spoiled rotten.  She kept running back and forth in front of her door, yelling for me to come and get her.  She’s so spoiled that she knows her name, comes when called, and has a favorite place to sun-bathe – my lap.

So finally, I let her out to garden with me.  I’d tried having all six Girls out in the garden at once last summer, when they were very young hens.  It hadn’t worked out too well, since they promptly scattered in six directions.  This wouldn’t have been a problem, except that I didn’t want them in certain parts of the garden, digging up my more fragile plants, and I can’t watch six hens AND garden at the same time.  Molly (my Rhode Island Red) had a particular knack for going exactly where she shouldn’t be.  But I’d taken one hen out at a time, and that was perfect.  Ellie, Antoinette (my Delaware), and Josie (my Barnevelder) were great at sticking right beside me, and providing conversation and spider control for their arachnophobic owner.

So Ellie was allowed out.  But then, of course, the other Girls could not only see me, but they could see her.  And they didn’t approve of such special treatment.  Sophie (my Silver Cuckoo Maran) was especially vocal, standing high on her perch and delivering a constant stream of arguments for why this wasn’t fair.  So then Sophie was allowed out too, and then Molly, and then Josie (to distract her from being broody), and then….before I knew it, all six were out.

But they were good!  They stayed close to me, working industriously, and it was only after they’d been out several hours that Molly started doing her disappearing act.  When I put them back in their yard (except for Ellie and Antoinette) they were contented.  And Ellie and Antoinette were soon tired too, and mostly wanted to sit on my lap while I weeded.  They love to squeeze in tight against my chest. and reach their heads up under my hair so that their beaks are against my neck.  We call this a “chicken hug”, and sometimes they are so happy while hugging and being petted that they actually purr.  Antoinette has a very growl-y rasping purr – it can be startling when she puts her beak close to my ear and purrs without warning!

One benefit of the chickens helping to garden is that almost all of our slug population seems to have vanished.  My friends who live nearby are complaining about having to put out slug bait, and I’ve barely seen a slug since we got the hens.  For the first time EVER, my violas are blooming without being eaten!  I love my chickens for so many reasons!

Trustworthy

There are three secular standards historians apply to ancient documents in order to test for authenticity and accuracy:

1) The number of surviving copies (for sake of comparison)

2) The age of the earliest copies (how close to the original)

3) Consistency between the existing copies

When you have several different copies (whether complete or partial) from different locations and generations, you can discover a lot.  Let’s look at three secular manuscripts that modern scholars have no reluctance treating as both authentic and accurate:

A: Plato’s Works (400 BC):  7 copies and 1.200 years from earliest fragment to original.

B: Aristotle’s Works (350 BC):  49 copies and 1,100 years of “gap”.

C: Homer’s Iliad: (1200 BC):  643 Greek copies and 900 years of gap (the most copies of any ancient writing outside of the Bible.)

D: The quantity of New Testiment material is almost embarrassing in comparison with other works of antiquity: 24,000 copies and the earliest fragment has a 30 year gap!

There’s simply nothing else like it….or even close.  The Iliad has 643 Greek copies; the New Testament has 6,000 Greek copies AND 8,000 Latin copies AND 10,000 copies in other languages; from various locations and generations to be compared and cross-referenced.

The consistency between the 24,000 copies is staggering: only 1/2 of 1% variation.  They are virtually, unbelievably identical!  the .5% variants are easily accounted for by comparing them to the multitudes of samples that don’t contain the typo, the single word omission, or the double word repetition.  And these minor issues never affect the central content or the message of the Gospel.

Our Bible has an unequaled reputation of fidelity.

– Bruce Wersen, Pastor of His Place Church


Heaven and Earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away.

– Matthew 24:35



“There is a growing mass of evidence from archaeology that the Bible accounts deal with real people living in real places…..If the Bible was false, we would expect new archaeological discoveries to (disprove) this.

“In fact, there is no known case where archaeology decisively disproves the Bible. This itself is strong evidence for the truth of the Christian message.”

http://www.facingthechallenge.org/arch2.php

-David Couchman

Eternalism & Time Travel

One of my writing works-in-progress is a time travel novel called Breathing Ghosts.  It’s interesting writing it, because I’m getting to explore my real, actual beliefs regarding time travel – and time itself.

I’m an Eternalist.  I believe that time is a dimension, the same as space is a dimension, and that all points of time (the past, present, and future) exist simultaneously.  Theoretically, according to Einstein’s Law of Relativity, this makes time travel possible.  The only catch is that, this also makes time travel fairly pointless –  if the whole reason you want to time travel at all is to change something from your past.  I’ll talk about that later; first I want to explain time as a dimension.

Everyone accepts that space is a dimension, and that all points of space exist together, and simultaneously.  The fact that you might be living in New York  doesn’t mean that Cairo, Russia, and Milwaukee don’t exist.  You can’t see or experience those cities  from your New York apartment, but if you hopped a plane, you could change your location to wherever you wanted to be.

If time is a dimension, then all moments in time exist at the same “moment” – no matter whether you can see or experience any other moment but the one you’re experiencing now.  The day you are born (Paris) is as current as the day you die (Cairo), and so is every other moment of your life.  If you had a machine that could transport you, you could travel back and forth between moments, and each and every one would be “now” for you.  There is no logical reason (other than our subject “feeling”) that any one moment in your life is more current or “valid” than any other.  Every moment you live feels to you at that moment as the “real” moment.

So let’s say you have that time machine, and now can travel between moments as easily as you can travel between places.  And let’s also say, that, like the main character in my book, something terrible happened to your parents when you were five.  Can you go “back” in time and save your parents?  Let’s say you can.  Presto, your parents live, and nothing traumatizing happens to you.  So, if nothing happened, why would you later go back and try to stop it?  There would be nothing to stop.  So of course you wouldn’t go back, and since you didn’t, who saved your parents?  That’s a time paradox, most commonly referred to as “The Grandfather Paradox“.

The Eternalism view prevents time travel paradoxes.  If all moments in time exist simultaneously, than all moments are happening simultaneously.  Right now, you are being born, visiting the dentist for the first time (and every time – scary thought!) attending school, reading this blog, and dying.  Everything that has or will happen to you is happening to you now.  We can only experience one single second of it, but just like Paris is existing through we can’t see it, the past and future is happening, although we can’t experience it.

And because time is happening all at once, all of our decisions, all of our free will, is happening all at once, too.  We are deciding to run that red light three years ago.  We are deciding to continue reading this blog (or not!).  We are attending the Olympics in 2014.  We are putting on the socks we are wearing tomorrow, and we are going to bed last night.  It’s all now.

We know our past.  We know the date we were born, we know the things we remember really happened.  We don’t fear that suddenly the facts of our lives will scramble, that suddenly instead of going to public school, we’ll be homeschooled, or that we’ll suddenly own a dog instead of a cat.  The past doesn’t change.  However much we wish we could go back and erase that time we embarrassed ourselves in public, it’s never erased.  It always happens, because it did happen.  If Eternalism is correct, what we call the “future” works the same.  What “will” happen, has happened – it’s just that the “you” reading this blog doesn’t remember it, because that “you” is always trapped in the moment you’re living.  The future only seems full of endless possibility because you can’t see it, or remember the decisions you’re going to make.    You can tell yourself that you could win the lottery tomorrow, and find that a comforting thought, but in reality, you have already either won or lost.  I think that’s why we were created not to able to remember the future as we do the past – if we knew the entirety of our lives from beginning to end, how could we have any drive to live them?  Knowing how we either succeed or fail would mean that we wouldn’t take the chances that would create that success or dare the risks that sometimes lead to failure.  And that, folks, could create a whole SLEW of paradoxes.  Time only works if we have this linear impression of it, of time “passing” from past to future.

Everything that has happened, or will happen, is happening.  You can’t go back and kill Hitler before he killed anyone, because those people did die.  You can’t go forward and kill (unknown horrible person) before (unknown horrible thing happens) because that horrible person is already alive and because that horrible thing is already happening.  On the other hand, it’s possible you did go back and kill Richard Snodgrass Baudelaire’s mother, before he could be born, grow up, and kill fifteen innocent people.  Who’s Richard Snodgrass Baudelaire, and who are the people he would have killed?  Since you killed his mother before he could be born, we’ll never know.  He never existed, he never happened.  There’s only one way history – either of the “past” or the “future” – can be affected, and that’s through your normal everyday decisions.

Tuesday, April 20, 1999

Too Awesome for Words

This is just mind-blowingly beautiful!  I can’t even describe it; you just have to watch!

Savoring

Last night was the monthly meeting of my writer’s group, and one of the ladies introduced us to something none of us had ever experienced: Mochi ice cream.

It was delightful, and once I googled it, I found out how incredibly easy it is to make, so I will definitely be attempting that once summer arrives.

But I really found it interesting how differently I reacted to tasting this new food, compared to the other ladies.  I’ve noticed this before: I am a supremely sensual/tactile person; I haven’t “seen” something until I have touched it, and while certain noises (like nails on a blackboard) drive other people crazy, sounds don’t bother me.  It’s certain touches that set my teeth on edge: I cannot, for instance, take the cotton out of a medicine bottle with my bare hands.  Even thinking about doing that makes me cringe.

I am all about the touch.  Other people don’t seem to notice most of this, but they do notice how I eat (maybe because of the general touchiness about weight/eating disorders/obesity that we have in the States.)  They notice that I take longer to eat than they do, and that I seem to eat less (and I use the word ‘seem’ because they don’t see how I’m constantly eating, all day long.  I don’t confine myself to three meals a day – I think I have Hobbit blood in me).

The reason for both those things is simple: I am tactile, and I savor my food the same way I savor everything good in life.   I don’t understand how people can just pop something in their mouths, chew it up, and swallow it down.  How can they truly enjoy something that takes them seconds to consume?  When I ate my first Mochi, I wanted to do more than just taste it.  I wanted to see how the rice coating felt against my tongue, and how it turned from stiff and cold and powdery, to soft and sticky and sweet.  I wanted to test the texture of the ice cream as it melted, and how the different stages of rice coating and ice cream melded together and made a constantly changing array of sensation.  I wanted to see how it felt to lick it, to bite it, to roll it inside my mouth and let it become ephemeral as it melted away.  I could have spent three times as long as I did, eating that first Mochi.

I eat everything the same way.  A handful of M&Ms take me half an hour to eat, because it would be such a waste not to play with them, to discover how many different ways there are of eating an M&M.  My current favorite is to hold two under my tongue until that perfect moment when the chocolate inside is melted, but the candy coating is still hard.  Then I break each one apart in a lovely soft crunch and splash of warm chocolate.

This world delights me too much not to take my time with every moment…even things as everyday as eating.