Donate to the Cause

If you like what you see here, and you’d like to see more of it, please consider donating some spare change to the cause. Your donation helps me to pay bills, which in turn, allows me the time to write more interesting blog posts.

You can donate at the following link using any funding source accepted by PayPal:

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Thanks!

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Upgrading the Site

You may have noticed the sticky post at the top of the front page entitled “Donate to the Cause.” The reason that is there is so I can raise the funds to upgrade this site to a premium site. To do that, I need the $180 to cover the next two years.

If you’re of a mind to help, please consider doing so. You can donate to the site at the link, above.

Thanks.

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The Start of a Time Travel/War Story

Persia
477 B.C.E.

I sat down on a rock and looked around at the others in the caravan. Like them, I was dressed in a flowing white robe to ward off the days heat. Unlike them, I kept my face covered and I was wearing heavy leather boots made from 33rd Century materials. So far, no one had commented on my footwear, though I noticed most of the caravan had looked them over at least once.

I glanced around to see if anyone was paying me any attention. They weren’t and I checked my wrist computer. It was an old 24th Century model, but it still worked for what I needed it to do. My computer implants had stopped working, not just for the lack of networks to connect to in this Bronze Age world, but I was getting no information from them at all, a sure sign on damage suffered from the temporal jump. The wrist computer at least let me keep track of where I was, the time of day, the temperature, and so forth.

Concealed under my arm was a snub-nosed submachine gun. I only had three 60-round magazines for it, so I had used it sparingly since I arrived three weeks ago. I kept it well concealed from the others. I also had a .25 caliber pistol with two magazines and two K-Bar knives for close in work. So far, I hadn’t needed to use any of the knives or the pistol.

It was nearing midday and, according to my map, there should be an oasis not far from here. Maybe another three hours to go before we arrived there. I surveyed the landscape ahead of us using my goggles’ built in telescopic lenses and saw nothing of any note. I briefly considered switching to infrared to spot any concealed threats, but gave it up as a bad idea since it was nearing midday and everything would be warm.

It was habit for me to check all spectra since my job as a Ranger was to find and destroy enemy units. Old habits are hard to break, as the old saying goes. Well, old to me, anyway. I’m not sure its even been invented yet, considering where, and when, I am.

A soft buzzing noise altered me to a possible problem. A communications signal! I looked around to make sure not of the locals heard the sound, then quickly checked my computer. Sure enough, there was a tracking signal coming from the east about two miles from my present location. I scanned the route ahead and carefully chose a location where I could quietly break away from the caravan to go check it out.

A few seconds later, another buzzing caught my attention, this one internal, as my implanted computer suddenly came to life. It immediately interfaced with my wrist computer, and after three long seconds of handshaking, beeped that it had updated itself with the new information the wrist computer collected after my implants had shut down.

I breathed a little easier since with the implants, I could access information quicker and quieter than with the wrist model. I put the wrist model into standby, which activated its passive sensors. This would automatically feed information to my implants and wold kick back into full “awake mode” if my implants failed again.

I stood up as the caravan began to move forward again. I hung back automatically dropping into the tail end Charlie position out of habit, but also necessity. I needed to be able to slip away and this would be the simplest way to do that once I reached the optimal distance from the signal’s source.

A short walk later and I slipped away from the caravan unnoticed, as I risked using a few percentage points of power in my combat harness to slip into chameleon mode, temporarily taking the coloration of the surrounding desert.
Once I was far enough away from the others, I turned the device off to conserve power. I had 83 per cent power left to power a full suite of combat and survival gear and the chameleon circuits drained power faster than any other system, save rocket jumping.

The signal lead me to a small range of hills and I approached them cautiously. No telling what, or who, was behind the signal, though I was hoping beyond hope it was a beacon to get me back to the 33rd Century.

I climbed a small hill and when I neared the top, I dropped to my stomach to get a better view and to not present a tempting target for anyone who happened to be watching in my direction. I peered over the summit and saw a large crate. Or, at least, that’s the first thing I thought of when I saw it.

It was box-like, deep blue in color, and appeared to be marked with a series of numbers: 144B-5571.

The numbers were meaningless to me. I was more concerned with the signal coming from it, which was strong. It was an Alliance distress signal. This signal would penetrate deep into the space/time continuum and could be heard by all Alliance member states, as well as our own Protectorate forces.

I scanned for life forms and found none. With any luck, I could alter the signal and get rescued by Protectorate forces before any Alliance goons showed up to harass me or claim this prize. Running a life form scan a second time, paranoia is a way of life these days, and finding nothing, I slowly made my way down the hill towards the blue crate marked 144B-5571.

* * * * *

A short while later, I had managed to alter the signal enough to send it to a Protectorate frequency. Now I just needed to wait until someone showed up to get me. I didn’t bother to try to open the crate, since I probably couldn’t get into the actual crate itself. The best I could do was to get to the electronics outside to alter the signal, so I didn’t even try.

I dd notice that the crate had a recharging port, so I used it to recharge my suit to full power. Once that was done, I concealed myself in the foothills not far from the crate and waiting until the rescue party showed up.
I hadn’t long to wait, it turned out, but the people who arrived to “help” weren’t the ones I wanted help from.

Persia
477 B.C.E.

Harjiniar. A minor faction involved in the temporal conflict, though not an insignificant one. Harjiniar are a race of humanoid serpents who are mean, xenophobic, and utterly without compassion. They generally wear heavy metal armor constructed of layers of titanium alloy mixed with several other elements no one has identified as yet. The armor was tough. Tough enough to withstand my own rounds, which were depleted uranium armor piercing rounds. They simply flatten against their armor, though the kinetic energy isn’t dissipated, which means I could knock them around for as long as my ammo lasted, but unless I hit a weak spot in one of the joints, or the face shield, body shots were out.

There were five of the creatures in the squad. Three of them, I could see, were low ranking enlisted, probably equivalent to privates or private first class in our own system of ranks. One was a corporal and one a sergeant. The sergeant rasped out a sibilant noise and the others quickly moved to obey.

One of the Harjiniar placed a flat box about four inches on a side with three large buttons on it on the blue box and pushed the central button. It glowed and angry red and I could just make out the sibilant tones of a countdown in progress. My implants helpfully translated the Harjiniar language into English. I had about two minutes until the box, a beacon for a retrieval unit, whisked the blue box back into the future.

I activated my chameleon circuits since the Harjiniar sensors have trouble picking up our combat suits if the chameleon circuits are active. The sergeant of the squad barked out a series of orders in quick succession quickly and effectively organizing his squad in a defensive perimeter around the box.

I switched my fire selector switch to semi-automatic and took careful aim after checking my power readings. I was already down to 92 per cent power. I had to end this quickly or I would be vulnerable. And I needed that box.

Unfortunately, the sergeant, easily the most dangerous of the five, had placed himself out of my immediate line of fire. So, I settled my reticule on the closest Harjiniar soldier. I controlled my breathing, let my targeting computer steady my aim, and squeezed the trigger.

I expended a round.

The submachine gun coughed once, a sound barely louder than someone quietly clearing their throat, and the depleted uranium round bore through the hardened glass visor of the soldier closest to me with a barely audible “plink.”

A moment later, nor more than a millisecond, the explosive round detonated inside the skull of the Harjiniar soldier forcing the shattered skull, his ruined brain, and bile out the only way it could exit: the ruined face plate. His body hit the ground with a soft thump and a rattle of heavy armor.

The remaining soldiers, alarmed that one of their own was slain, started shouting and the sergeant quickly got his troops under control. I was impressed. This Harjiniar knew how to command his troops quite well.

As I moved away, still under chameleon cover, I checked my power levels: 88 per cent. The sergeant, not willing to risk another quick kill shot, ordered what the military on Earth in the 20th Century called a “Mad Minute.” The principal was to fire at anything and everything in a one minute span that looked questionable, suspicious, or threatening.

The Harjiniar took full advantage of the opportunity to spray down the surrounding area with jacketed anti-protons, the energy weapon of choice of the Harjiniar military.

This was bad for me for three reasons: one, the energy beams could destroy whatever conver I had rapidly; two, the anti-proton emissions interfered with the chameleon circuits, which means I would be detectable to their sensors, and three, if they managed to hit me, I’d be vaporized in less time that it would take to explain it.

As predicted, I started getting failure alerts from the computer about my chameleon circuit, so I made the choice to conserve power and simply shut it off. If I didn’t, it would probably back feed into the rest of the suit and cause life support failure or catastrophic systems failure. Either would be bad, especially the life support, since I was vulnerable to various pathogens and illnesses of the era while I carried the potential for disease the likes of which Earth wouldn’t recover from for a long time to come should they get out.

I snuck a quick look at my power readings: 82 per cent and holding steady after the chameleon circuit was disabled. The mad minute ceased and I popped up, fixed a target in my sights, and squeezed the trigger.
I expended another round.

As before, the targets head was demolished when the round struck the target. I quickly ducked back down behind cover and slide down two hundred feet as the large boulder I was hiding behind ceased to exist above me.

I moved laterally trying to find another boulder to pop up from to take another shot when I heard more orders from the sergeant below. The retrieval beacon was nearly ready and the two remaining soldiers were to cover the sergeant while he entered the final code to steal the crate, and them, back to their own time.
More firing from the remaining Harjiniar as I wound my way to another boulder. I risked a short hop, no more than fifty feet up to the ridge line and, thankfully undetected, took careful aim, this time on the sergeants faceplate.

Unfortunately, the sergeants head was turned away from me so I had no clear shot. Instead, I took careful aim at his hand as he reached out to enter the final code. I quickly controlled my breathing, checked my sight picture, engaged the targeting computer, and squeezed the trigger.

I expended another round.

The outside, or the back of the hand, of the sergeants glove was as tough as any other part of his armor. The inner side, the palm of the glove, had to be more flexible, and thus more vulnerable to my bullets.

His had exploded. Severed to the wrist as he reached out for the controls. He screamed obscenities while clutching his bloody stump to his chest, doubling over in pain and shock. The corporal, seeing his leader was stricken, made the fatal error of running to his side and looking back up towards where he thought the round came from.

I expended another round.

The corporals faceplate exploded outward and his body slumped to the desert floor. The remaining unwounded Harjiniar frantically started firing into the surrounding area. Thankfully, he seemed to be in a panic and was firing well wide of where I was. I took careful aim.

I expended another round.

The private fell to the ground with a ruined face and skull, his frantic firing stopped permanently.

As I was about to finish off the sergeant, another group of Harjiniar arrived at the same instant a squad of Alliance troops arrived. The two groups starred at each other in shock for a moment, then started firing frantically at each other.
The Alliance weapons were on par with the Harjiniar and both sides were quickly cut to ribbons. I didn’t see what happened to the sergeant who’s hand I had ruined, but a quick scan with my sensors told me there were no life forms in the small valley below.

I cautiously made my way down to the blue box, none the worse for the wear despite taking several stray shots from both Alliance and Harjiniar weapons, and recharged my suit.

I fiddled with the Harjiniar homing beacon and managed to set it to the 33rd Century. After a careful clean up of the battlefield, using a series of RFID tags, I activated the beacon and felt the pull of the temporal vortex whisk me back home.

Posted in Entertainment, General, Writing Exercises | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Why Rose Tico is the Mirror Star Wars Fandom Needs

Kellie Marie Tran, the actress that portrays Rose Tico in Star Wars: The Last Jedi was forced off of social media due to fan backlash, much of it directed towards her race and gender.

I contend that Rose Tico is the mirror Star Wars fandom needs to find itself again. I will explain.

RoseTicoTLJCollector'sEdition

When we first meet Tico, she’s doing her job in the bowels of the Rebel ship as it tries to make its escape from the First Order. She catches Finn as he tries to slip away and reminds him, as any true believer to a cause should, what he’s fighting for.

You see, Tico wholeheartedly believes in the way things were much like the fandom believes that only the original trilogy is truly Star Wars, even though all the movies are truly Star Wars.

Star Wars is more than Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Chewbacca, Princess Leia, and Jedi Knights. It’s more than one story arc, which is what we’re seeing in the Episodes, what Disney refers to as Saga Films.

(Rogue One and Solo aren’t considered Saga Films even though they tie directly into the events (Rogue One) and characters (Solo) who are in the Saga Films.)

You see, Rose Tico wants Finn to be a hero. As the audience does. She expects him to be a hero by virtue of his presence on the Rebel ship. She wants a hero of old, like a Luke Skywalker, like a Han Solo, to help save the day and fight the First Order.

One of the unfair comparisons I’ve seen from fandom is how Finn doesn’t stack up to Han Solo or Luke Skywalker, chiefly because of his skin color. That is, of course, the laziest of reasons to dislike a character in existence. I’ve also seen such comparisons between Harrison Ford’s Solo and Oscar Issac’s Poe Dameron that are just as unfair.

Rose’s idea of what a Rebel fighter should be have been colored by the stories that she grew up on. (That WE, the audience, grew up on, as well) of what a Rebel fighter should be. She epitomizes fandom in the Star Wars universe.

Rose Tico is the mirror held up to fandom, a fandom that railed and attacked Star Wars: The Force Awakens for a multitude of reasons, not the least being Finn, the Black Stormtrooper (lazy reasoning from racists), Rey, the so-called “Mary Sue,” (I see their point. I don’t agree with it.) and the plot which was an almost straight rehash of Episode IV: A New Hope. (Agreed).

I feel Rose is there to remind fandom that, while not everything, or everyone, is exactly like it was when we were kids, there is enough of those elements in place to keep Star Wars really special to all of us for long time to come.

Give Kelli Marie Tran a break will ya? She did a good job. If there are faults with The Last Jedi, it comes from the script and not her performance. Leave her alone and stop being dicks to people.

Posted in Entertainment, General, Movie Reviews | 2 Comments

WOW! A New Post! WHA. . . . ?

Yep. A new post. Wow. It’s been over a year since my last post and I just want to say, sorry about that. I’ve been away doing Goon stuff and all that and blogging has taken a (far) back seat to my life.

Not that I wanted it to, but it just has, sadly. I hope to be back on a regular schedule at some point and reviving my Open Thread Thursday feature, as that seemed to be a popular thing around here. (Thanks for that, by the way).

So, WordPress has changed its interface for making posts probably more than once since I stopped blogging on a regular basis. That’s the nature of things, I suppose, to always evolve and this is especially true of software and online platforms like WordPress or Facebook.

In any event, I’m back for however long it takes for me to get pulled away by life, again. We’ll see.

Thanks for coming back and reading this update. In short: I’m alive. I’m not well, but alive. (I’ll talk more about that later).

More soon!

Posted in General, GLBT, Open Thread Thursdays | 2 Comments

The American Finale: 2016 Edition

The series finale of the United States of America is tomorrow night. I hope it’s a good one and they resolve all those hanging story lines. “Loose ends make my ass itch,” just like Sgt. Abraham Ford (Michael Cudlitz) in The Walking Dead.

In all seriousness, though, tomorrow is November 8th, which means it’s election day in America. By tomorrow night, we’ll have elected a new president. It will either be Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. Tomorrow we will either step boldly into the future by electing the first woman to the office of president, or we will step backwards 200 years and elect a racist, narcissistic, xenophobic, homophobic, transphobic bully with delusions of godhood. In other words, the white guy.

Kidding. Not all white guys are all those things. This particular one is, though, and it is my fervent hope he disappears after tomorrow night into the obscurity of the rock he crawled out from under.

I’ve been quiet all this election season here on WordPress, mainly because I didn’t really see a point to adding to the din of the election prognostications here on the intertubes. I would just be one more voice in the electronic wilderness screaming about which candidate would make a better president (Hillary) and I don’t see the point of doing that, honestly. (Hillary).

So, whomever you cast your vote for, be it Trump or Clinton, head to the polls and cast your vote. A full three quarters of the American population doesn’t vote because they think their vote doesn’t count. If all three quarters of those folk vote, along with the one quarter that already do vote, imagine what we can do. We can change the country. We can vote out those who we feel aren’t doing a good job and try to elect those who we feel will do a better job. Isn’t that the point of voting? So, go vote.

Please vote.

And, I know it’s your choice, but I hope you vote for Hillary Clinton. We need someone in the White House who understand leadership in the governmental sense and not in the business sense.

Alright. That’s it. That’s my Get out the Vote screed. Go read something else.

VOTE!

Posted in General, Politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Expectations and Reality

I thought I was moving to Cleveland, OH. Turns out the company I had applied to chose not to even talk with me after first calling me and trying to set up an interview. It’s kind of soul-crushing to have an opportunity come your way, then have it wrenched from you a second later, you know?

It’s damn infuriating.

To top all that off, I had finally gotten an appointment with an endocrinologist on the books to set up getting an estrogen prescription to start HRT (hormone replacement therapy), a needed first step before gender confirmation surgery.

Of course, that fell through, too, because of lack of funds. I have a job where I get paid when the job is done. (I work construction). We do a lot of work with the local school system and they’re notorious for taking weeks at a time after the work is done to pay for said work. As a result, I have to wait sometimes weeks after a job is complete to get my paycheck.

(Someone out there will eventually say, ‘well, be thankful you have a job at all.’ This isn’t even close to the point I am making, so please do not bother saying it).

I need to get paid on a weekly or bi-weekly basis like virtually everyone else on Sol III does.

It’s just damn frustrating to be this close to a lifelong goal of living authentically and then having it ripped from your fingers for lack of money.

Posted in General | 8 Comments

Thoughts and Things

So much is going on in the world, right now. ISIS. The US presidential election, climate change, Aleppo, the Kardashians are still somehow popular, and other calamitous happenings.

It’s hard to know where to point your attention in the cacophony of “news” flooding the airwaves. What draws my attention in any given day is probably not anywhere near important in the grand scheme of things.

Most days I just want to avoid getting murdered or not murder someone. Pretty simple, really. Though I try to learn something new everyday and help someone, too. I don’t always succeed, but I try.

It’s easy to get frustrated at all the wackiness in the world. All the raw hatred and violence out there. The thing is, the trick, if you will, is to not let it get to you. I know, I know, easier said than done, right? Right. I agree.

So how do we insulate ourselves from this level of whackadoo? For me, and your mileage may vary greatly here, I read about fantasy worlds. I read about drow heroes like Drizzt Do’Urden. I read about Alias of Westgate and her Saurial companion, Dragonbait. I read about other Harpers like Lander, Airlyn Moonblade and Danilio Than. And, of course, Shandril Shesair, Narm, and crotchety old Elminster (who would turn me into a newt if he heard me call him crotchety).

[Not a newt. That would be too good for thee. Perhaps a kobold, though? ~Elminster]

*GULP!*

Anyway. (Wow. This turned strange quick, didn’t it)?

I guess just try to focus on something positive, something you enjoy to avoid going nuts with all these dire predictions of destruction and fear mongering in our political process. Yes things are grim, but we are Americans. We got through tough times before, like the popularity of Jersey Shore and we can get through this, too.

Stay strong.

Posted in Entertainment, General, Philosophy, Politics, Social Observations | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Saying Goodbye

My friend died, yesterday. We’d known each other since 1987 and for a lot of years, we saw each other three-to-four days of the week. I counted him as one of my best friends.

His loss is still raw, still hard for me to take in. To think, this man who was only a few years older than I, is gone. He died of a heart attack.

This is such a surreal moment in my life that someone I have known since I was 16 is not here on this earth anymore. I miss him dearly, even though we’ve not spoken in many years, life being what it is.

Yesterday, not only did I lose my friend, but I lost my cousin, too. He also died of heart related trouble. In his case, it was expected. He had been born with his heart on the opposite side of his chest, essentially reversed from everyone else. His condition, whose name escapes me at the moment, is a rare condition which is usually fatal within the first 10 years of birth, held off on taking my cousin until he was 46.

Dealing with his death is easier, I feel, because, even though he’s blood, I knew it was only a matter of time before he passed. With my friends death, we had no such luxury.

It was sudden. And it hurts.

I have cried more today than I have in quite a long time. I have broken down twice and ugly cried both times. I know dealing with his death will get easier, I guess, with time. I know I have regrets for not making more of an effort to reconnect with him, after having lost contact.

I know such regrets are illogical and I should accept that this is just how things are. I cannot change it. As much as I want to.

I feel a void in my life. A serious loss that will not soon be recovered from.

My friends name is Ashley Lovins. My cousins name is William Thomas. I will miss them both immensely. These two men, both of whom inspired me in their own ways, will be thought of often.

Rest well, Ash, my brother from another mother. Rest well, Billy, my cousin. Both of you have earned your rest.

~WonderGoon

Posted in General | 3 Comments

2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 550 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 9 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Posted in General | 2 Comments