Back from Vacation

OK, I’m officially back. The cat has been ransomed from the boarding kennel, the laundry is done, the cleaning is at the cleaners, the books have been sorted (I can stop any time, really. And those are for research. Yes, they are. Pinky swear) and the spam-traps have been emptied (phew! That stuff rots quickly.)

I’ve gotten enough material for the stories needed to finish the set I’m releasing in mid-July, plus ideas for a three-part novella set about the period from the departure of the Romans to the return of official Christianity into what is now Styria and Carinthia (roughly between the years 300-800).

I’d like to say a word of thanks to those of you who have left reviews of my books at Amazon, B&N, Kobo, and other places. I really appreciate your taking the time and effort.

OK, now back to working on stories and drawing up lesson plans and exams.


Which Half is the Dragon: HalfDragons in the CAD Universe

HalfDragons are curious beasts, or so Rada Ni Drako would tell you, as long as Joschka is not around, that is. A hybrid of True-dragons and humans, HalfDragons are fascinating in that they are not sterile. Joschka could have offspring with Zabet, for example, as well as with Magda. Had Magda been a HalfDragon, their children might well have included a True-dragon as well as humans. Some people aver that HalfDragons capture the best of both species. Depending on her mood, Rada would agree, or grouse about having to deal with the stubbornness of the True-Dragon, and their lack of regard for the past, as well as the frenetic energy of humans and their insatiable urge to fiddle with things. Rada came by her opinion honestly, because HalfDragons are the backbone of the Houses on Earth, and Rada ends up crossing paths with a fair number of them will she or nil she. Continue reading

Sappy Cat Blogging

Due to a jet-lag related lack of functional brain cells . . .

IMG_0089Behold, the Greater and Smaller Catechisms.  (Yes, I was a little surprised that she didn’t evaporate when she came in contact with the book. It is The Small Catechism by Martin Luther, in English). Obviously Athena T. Cat is not impressed with the imposition of Lutheran orthodoxy onto her nap.

Sauntering through Time (or Vienna, Part ??)

Americans look at the Liberty bell, or the ruins at Mesa Verde, and say, “Wow, that’s old.” In Santa Fe, NM, and a few places on the East Coast, we have cities that date back two hundred, at most four hundred years (not counting those unintentionally built on the top of older Indian camps or settlements). Vienna is two thousand years old. There’s something a little mind-blowing for someone conditioned to the time-scale of North America when they go through a cafe, down a flight of steps, and find themselves in Roman ruins. That was my introduction to Vienna.

Wilkomen nach Wien. St. Stephen's Cathedral in the background, the Karlskirche is the green dome.

Wilkomen nach Wien. St. Stephen’s Cathedral in the background, the Karlskirche is the green dome.

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Over the past few weeks, OK, months if you really push it, I’ve been immersed in guidebooks. They range from the DK to Blue Guides to Cultural Guides to general “what to see in” volumes, some with pictures, some without, in German and English. This isn’t the first time I’ve done this, and I’m starting to get some very strong feelings about what I want (and don’t want) to see in “Ye Random Penguin Purple Guide to Someplace.” Feelings that I fully intend to inflict on anyone who reads farther on. 🙂 Continue reading

Civilizing Missions

A mildly rambling meditation on improvement, empires, history, and fiction . . .

“Bringing enlightenment to the heathen,” is my father’s tongue-in-cheek description of teaching. It also describes the stated goal of some empires, both historical and fictional. Back in the “good old days” when might made right and expansion of imperial power just happened because the emperor wanted it, conquest needed no justification. I suspect the conquering generals explained it to the survivors as “our gods are stronger than your gods,” or ” then you shouldn’t have looked funny at the messenger we sent,” or some other explanation, but no one felt the need to record for posterity why expanding their area of control and dominion was necessary or beneficial (the Comanche certainly didn’t.) I think it was the English (later British) and Spanish who started the trend. And it continues into science fiction. Continue reading

Looking at Streams: When Poetry Hits Engineering

A lovely stream dances and sparkles down the side of a mountain meadow. Sunlight glints off the wet rocks in the cold water, and in a few still, tree-shadowed pools, the flash of a shadow hints at the presence of trout. A few water striders scoot over the surface. Farther downstream, the little brook slows and spreads gaining the title of River and picking up a little silt, no longer cold and diamond clear but a touch muddy, especially after rain. It winds slowly, starting to meander across the plateau that sits between the mountains to the west and the broken, mesa-capped plains to the east.

Or I could say that the stream went from a Rosgen Aa2+ in a Type II valley to an A/II and then a G4/VIII.

Which description is better? It depends: are you a poet or an engineer? Because both paragraphs mean the same thing. Continue reading

Book Review: Climate of Rebellion

Sam White The Climate of Rebellion in teh Early Modern Ottoman Empire    Cambridge University Press, 2011. (Kindle Edition)

With the 100th Anniversary of WWI and (among other things) the Armenian Genocide, attention has turned briefly to the history of the Ottoman Empire, and the current leader of Turkey’s attempts to recreate a form of it.  Those of us in the West tend to skip over Ottoman history, in part because as Dr. White points out in the introduction to his fascinating book, very little has been translated from Turkish and Turkish is not an easy language to learn. His work sets out to shed light on an especially troubled period in Ottoman (and world) history, and to bridge a gap within the historiography of the global environmental history. He succeeds in both with a scholarly but very accessible work. Continue reading

Eight Hundred Years of Liberties – Magna Carta

Eight hundred years ago today, the barons forced King John to sign Magna Carta – the great charter – a document confirming the limits on his power and the protections guaranteed to free-born Englishmen.

Not much to look at, as founding documents go, is it? Continue reading


Trees make me nervous. Not individual trees, or even a nice orchard or a row of trees in a park, say, but massed trees. Call it arborological claustrophobia if you will, because the inability to see from the zenith to the horizon makes me acutely uncomfortable. I discovered this when I was a teenager and the passing years have only served to confirm my quirk. Without sky at eye-level, my world becomes a most unhappy place. On a beautiful day in April, I got to savor a happy and beautiful world, driving along the southern edge of the Canadian Breaks the day after a cold front’s passage. Blue and white, tan and green, and sweet sky as far as the curve of the earth allowed.

Look everybody! Water in the River!

Look everybody! Water in the River!

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