Absolute Normality

A school field trip wrapped up around six PM on a Saturday. Since the return trip would be at least two hours, and for teenagers, going without food for eight hours (and not being asleep) is a near eternity, the bus stopped between two fast-food places, with a third across the very busy street. Strict orders issued forth that NO ONE was to try to cross the busy street to get to the other burger place. Apparently we had to return with the same quantity and quality of students, and flattened freshmen are a challenge to pack. Do you put them in with the baggage, or strap them to the roof? As careful as the driver was with her bus, I suspect neither option would have been welcome, especially since there is no baggage area on a Yellow Dog. Continue reading

Dain Bramaged

Got back very late from an alllll day school chaperon thing. Graded papers all day Friday.

Sorry, no coherent post possible. I’ll try to have something for tomorrow.

Teaser Trailer: Renaissance

From Renaissance, the second Azdhag prequel, coming in early March.

Chapter One: Timber, Tales, and Tails


“Look out! Wild log!”

Reptiles scattered in all directions as the enormous tree trunk tumbled off the pile. Bark chips and sawdust flew as the log rolled over four others, thumping to a stop against a tree. The loggers watched the rest of the load from behind cover. One log shifted but the others stayed in place.

“Anyone hurt? If you’re dead, speak up.” The loggers emerged and Beeltal, the work-pack boss, counted muzzles but found no one missing.

“Get those rails up now,” the load boss, Peelak, ordered. Four Azdhagi rushed to ram metal poles into the corners of the transport trailer, stabilizing the wood until they could get the straps and chains fastened. “Right, fun’s over. Get that storm-caught, furbearing, mate-stealer back where it belongs so we can go home before sunset.” Four more Azdhagi took pry-bars and worked the runaway log away from the tree, then rolled it to where the lifting claw could pick it up.

Tartai scrambled up the log pile, dragging one of the security straps. Shleek climbed more slowly, ready to jump clear if anything shifted so much as a talon-width. As soon as the lifter lowered the big log into place on top of the trailer, Tartai and Schleek jammed the ends of their straps together. Shleek ran a fuser over the ends, sealing them into a single, very strong strap. Two more of the crew did the same thing at the other end of the load, stabilizing the wood before hauling the safety chains into place. Tartai waited until everyone else had clambered off the load before descending, giving each log a little wiggle with his hind legs to make absolutely certain that they would not shift. Continue reading

Movie Music – Live!

Well, it can be almost as physically jarring as some rock concerts. I sat in the balcony and the percussion hurt during Howard Shore’s “Fellowship of the Ring.” One of the percussionists covered his ear, the one closest to the bass drum, and I don’t blame him. Even with shields up, a la the brass, the drums still rocked the house. But then so did the music.

Continue reading

Three-Quarter Time

The Amarillo Symphony had a pops concert this past weekend, and featured movie music, some very familiar, some not so. (No Mancini or they would have hit all the biggies, but there was a limit to concert length.) One thing I noticed, or I should say really paid attention to, for the first time was just how much movie music is in 3/4 time. I knew “The Black Pearl Theme” from Pirates of the Caribbean was, because watching the Flat State U marching band rehearsing it for the first time on the marching field reduced me to tears of laughter. Marching to a waltz is a bit challenging, especially for the first time, with a new piece of music. It was also hilarious to watch, from a safe distance. Continue reading

Fruit Basket Upset! A Flying-ish Story

All events and individuals are fiction and none of this ever happened to anyone I might possibly know, living, dead, or in between.

It started out about as normal a day as you can have in an air ambulance company. Of Mercy Flight’s four King Air fixed wing aircraft, one was en route to Kansas City with an infant, one was in Omaha waiting for the pilot to pick the med crew up from the VA, and two remained parked in their hangars. The helicopter hunkered on its pad at headquarters, plugged in and ready to go. Dispatch issued the (disgustingly cheerful) morning test call, then settled back to chaos as usual. In addition to Mercy Flight, they also dispatched for one major hospital and the county EMS. Greg and Diane made notes as the Mercy Flight pilots on call checked in, then got coffee refills and continued work.

Pretty soon, Mercy Flight Two reported airborne, departing Omaha en route to its base at Grand Island. At nine thirty, amidst the ground ambulance traffic, a call came in to launch Mercy Flight Four, the helicopter, to pick up a patient in York and bring them to Capitol General. In other words, things flowed routinely, and Greg took the lull as a chance to unload the coffee and stretch his legs. Diane sent out two ground ambulances, took M.F. One’s report of leaving KC, and updated the status board of who was where. She also looked at the thermometer outside the window – ninety degrees already! Yuck.

The first hint of a disruption to the flow came when Four landed at Capitol General. Continue reading

Too Much Community Service?

This popped up in my news feed Saturday AM: Brown Students Complain Homework is Interfering With Their Activism.

Now, whatever you think about the cause for which they are working, the idea of university students complaining because their coursework is getting in the way of protesting and other activities should cause a few eye blinks and a little concern. Why do you go to college, if not to go to class and learn something? Why is protesting anything more important than education? As I mulled those questions over, I started to wonder if perhaps, universities’ emphasis on “leadership” and “community service” isn’t part of the problem. Continue reading