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Saturday, 4 July 2015 16:15
dr_phil_physics: (us-flag-1776)
First, on this Fourth, is a comment on the Third. Two years ago, I heard about an attempt to create a British holiday, Independence Eve, celebrating the Third of July as the last day of British rule in the Colonies. I am amused by this, but it turns out to be a marketing campaign:
British brands, understandably, don't have much to say around the Fourth of July—until now. Newcastle Brown Ale, among the cheekiest of U.K. marketers, has turned America's most patriotic holiday to its advantage by inventing a new, completely made-up holiday: Independence Eve on July 3. The idea of the tongue-in-cheek campaign, created by Droga5, is to "honor all things British that Americans gave up when they signed the Declaration of Independence," Newcastle says.
I remember mentioning this to someone last year. I may be the only person in America still talking about Independence Eve. Though I will point out that in 2015, the Third of July was a Federal holiday. (grin)

Second, yesterday on Independence Eve, we heard a rebroadcast of a Diane Rehm Show about Danielle Allen: “Our Declaration”:
For the Fourth of July: A fresh reading of the Declaration of Independence, and how ideas of freedom and equality have been interpreted over the years.
One of the points Prof. Allen raised was the addition of a period in some of the printed versions of the Declaration -- and used in the Archives transcript I've been using on this blog for a number of years. The handwritten copies do not have this. Early printers did a lot of editing, just as Adams and Jefferson fought over "inalienable" versus "unalienable" rights -- a point made with some amusement in the movie 1776. (grin) I have made the "correction" as I see fit in the text below, as I think the text flows better without it. The period is removed right after "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness". ***

We will have to dig out the DVD of 1776 for its annual viewing tonight. Alas, Netflix doesn't have it listed, which would be easier than looking for where we put the DVD. (grin)

So, without further ado...

_______________________


Meanwhile, in a sweltering hot Philadelphia, a Continental Congress did meet and through rancorous debate and terrible compromises, did finally solemnly swear together, unanimously...

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Button Gwinnett       William Hooper       John Hancock
Lyman Hall            Joseph Hewes         Samuel Chase
George Walton         John Penn            William Paca
                      Edward Rutledge      Thomas Stone
                      Thomas Heyward, Jr.  Charles Carroll of Carrollton
                      Thomas Lynch,Jr.     George Wythe
                      Arthur Middleton     Richard Henry Lee
                                           Thomas Jefferson
                                           Benjamin Harrison
                                           Thomas Nelson, Jr.
                                           Francis Lightfoot Lee
                                           Carter Braxton

Robert Morris         William Floyd        Josiah Bartlett
Benjamin Rush         Philip Livingston    William Whipple
Benjamin Franklin     Francis Lewis        Samuel Adams
John Morton           Lewis Morris         John Adams
George Clymer         Richard Stockton     Robert Treat Paine
James Smith           John Witherspoon     Elbridge Gerry
George Taylor         Francis Hopkinson    Stephen Hopkins
James Wilson          John Hart            William Ellery
George Ross           Abraham Clark        Roger Sherman
Caesar Rodney                              Samuel Huntington
George Read                                William Williams
Thomas McKean                              Oliver Wolcott
                                           Matthew Thornton



The 1823 Stone engraved version of the Declaration of Independence
at the National Archives


*** Last year I noted:
I'm not sure I noticed before that in the first line, "united" is not capitalized. A Ken Burns moment, as he had noted that before the Civil War we said "the United States are..." while after we spoke of "the United States is..."
We can still learn from our history. Happy Birthday US.

Dr. Phil
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dr_phil_physics: (tomb-of-the-unknown)
Memorial Day (Observed)

Memorial Day weekend. Big noisy movies in the cineplexes. War movies on cable, including Kelly’s Heroes and Rambo III. The 99th running of the Indianapolis 500. PBS shows the National Memorial Concert with Joe Montagne and Gary Sinise. Picnics. Beach. A day off. One whole Facebook post which showed a red poppy on a hat. 10pm Sunday night and someone has just set off some fireworks… in the rain.

This morning the Sunday Grand Rapids Press had an article about two little girls who started something in April of 1862. And there is where my story comes from.

“Memorial Day-IV”
by Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon

Friday 31 May 2943
West End Cemetery
Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA, Nordamericano, Earth (Sol III)
     Wsh-sh-sh-sh-sh-sha.  The eight o’clock superslide from Chicago 
to Detroit passed by on the elevated techcrete track.  It was already slowing 
from 450 kph for Kalamazoo.  
     The old man was eighty-five.  He didn’t move so fast these days, but 
that wasn’t stopping him.  This section of the cemetery had opened in 2880, 
the year the war with the aliens began.  He took his time, pulling the weeds 
from around the black grantex markers.  One, two, three.  He used to count 
them.  Now he just looked to see how many rows were left.
     Wsh-sh-sh-sh-sh-sha.  The nine o’clock superslide from Detroit 
to Chicago passed by accelerating to 450 kph having just left the downtown 
Kalamazoo station.  
     Number 47 was always the hardest.  PAUL J. KUYPER (2858-2883).  They’d 
gone to school together, enlisted in the Fleet Marines together and even both 
shipped out on the cruiser USFS Kalamazoo (CCH-733).  Paul was the only man 
in this cemetery he personally knew.
     Wsh-sh-sh-sh-sh-sha.  The ten o’clock superslide from Chicago was 
arriving in Kalamazoo.  
     The old man had finished the weeding and was walking back to the start.  
He gathered his pack with the flags in it, preparing to cross an American and 
a Michigan flag to the left of each marker, and a Unified flag on the right.  
But on the grantex base of the first marker were a couple of early spring 
wildflowers with their stems twisted together.  And the next.  And the next.  
Five markers in all.  They hadn’t been there before.
     He looked around, but didn’t see anyone at first.  Then he spotted the 
two girls coming from the open fields to the west, bearing whole armloads of 
flowers.
     Donna, 8, and Theresa, 11, often came to the cemetery park.  They’d ride 
bikes up and down the paved paths or wander through the fields looking for 
bugs or frogs or turtles by the pond.  They’d gathered up bouquets of 
wildflowers this morning to take back to their mom.  But when they spotted 
the old man cleaning the base of the stones, they’d shrugged their shoulders 
and started putting their flowers down.  They quickly ran out and ran back 
for more.
     They stood and watched the old man start to plant the flags.  He didn’t 
touch their flowers.  So they went and did eight more markers.  And when 
they started heading back to the field, the old man wordlessly handed them 
a cloth bag with a handle so they could carry a lot more flowers at a time.
     Wsh-sh-sh-sh-sh-sha.  The eleven o’clock superslide to Chicago 
sped up out of Kalamazoo.  
     Wsh-sh-sh-sh-sh-sha.  The noon superslide arrived in Kalamazoo.  
     The girls’ mother followed the tracking on her own bike, to get them 
to come back for lunch.  She found them quietly placing flowers while the 
old man placed flags.  No one else was about.
     The mother joined the girls in gathering more wildflowers.  The old man 
rested from his labors, waiting for them to come back so he wouldn’t get ahead.
     Wsh-sh-sh-sh-sh-sha.  They paid no attention to the one o’clock 
superslide streaking by the cemetery.
     But they kept on laying flowers and planting flags at the bases of the 
newly weeded markers.

"Memorial Day-II" for Memorial Day 2010 (DW) (LJ).

Dr. Phil
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Crossposted on LiveJournal

Easter Sunday

Sunday, 5 April 2015 20:51
dr_phil_physics: (Default)
Nothing says Easter like March Madness. Wisconsin-Duke set for the men. Notre Dame just squeaked out a win against South Carolina by one point -- early on they had led 15-3, were ahead by 12 some seven minutes to go, then they were behind. Maryland about to attempt to go against UConn -- that's one tough road on the women's side.


Mrs. Dr, Phil made up a shared basket for us and had posted some pictures from her Kindle Fire HDX on Facebook.
©2015 Mrs. Dr. Phil (All Rights Reserved)

It's family tradition that one is not only allowed to eat chocolate before noon, it's the law. So we had some Ghirardelli squares -- milk chocolate with little dark chocolate Easter basket medallion inserts. Yum. But can you believe the store DIDN'T have bags of black jelly beans? What is wrong with people?

Amazon Echo has just added Pandora, so Mrs. Dr. Phil had a Pandora channel nattering on in the background while we read the Sunday paper.

We didn't dye any new eggs this year -- didn't need to. We're getting brown eggs from someone at GVSU these days and so already had some pretty brown hard boiled eggs. (grin)


Little permanent egg display on a kitchen shelf.
©2015 Mrs. Dr. Phil (All Rights Reserved)

And then there was dinner:


Braised lamb shanks in Moroccan spices, leeks sauteed with tomatoes and black olives, couscous, garlic. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2015 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

Yum. Hudsonville vanilla ice cream with brandy for dessert.

Meanwhile the peepers out back are roaring up a storm. It was 55°F today. Rains this week. The daffodils at the edge of the garage are poking up their little heads out of the ground, according to Mrs. Dr. Phil. Spring has arrived.

Easter. Rejoice.

Dr. Phil
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Crossposted on LiveJournal

A Quiet Write

Saturday, 3 January 2015 01:11
dr_phil_physics: (xmas-plot-bunny)
This last week has been pretty quiet on the great YA novel writing project. Except, not really.

As mentioned last week, I finally pushed my first little darling out into the world, providing a short story A Christmas in the Lost Kingdom (DW) -- also in a PDF.

This week I delved into the next week and delivered A New Year's in the Lost Kingdom (DW) -- also in a PDF.

Right now those are pieces of Chapters 9 and 10. I intend to read from Chapters 1 and 2 for my reading at ConFusion (DW) in mid-January. And that should be it for sneak peeks at The Lost Kingdom for a long time.

So, lots of writing, a bit of web publication -- and virtually no feedback from anyone so far. Sigh.

Also this week, I had to finish my WOTF 2015 Q1 submission and get it submitted before the new year steamrolled over us. And I just spent the last couple of days reviewing all my available Invenstory and printed out the whole list of short story markets from Ralans, as I gear up for another big assault on all the markets and work on any number of projects. Plus the YA novel -- not forgetting that. But I deliberately put almost zero time in anything else since September, since I didn't want to be distracted by space stories and other plot bunnies while I made a big effort on The Lost Kingdom. And finished my two classes. A good plan and well executed. The plot bunnies had much fodder with The Lost Kingdom and stayed in the 21st century and left the 22nd and 29th centuries alone...

Researches were scarce for this project: a lovely website with 1000 Danish surnames and the 1927 lyrics to "Skuld gammel venskab rejn forgo" (check out the New Year's story and sing along) (and Wikipedia reports "Aakjær translated the song into the Danish dialect Jysk, a dialect from the Danish peninsula Jutland, often hard to understand for other Danes." Just to get it to have the right feel.)

The other researches had to do with other stories -- and given the blind submission to WOTF, I shan't let you in on what I needed for my new story.

Since I haven't yet integrated the two holiday short stories back into the trilogy, I won't break it down by volume, but instead just give the shiny counter for the total:

The Lost Kingdom Project YA Trilogy Version 1.06


This coming week will be all about the writing, well, mainly about the writing. The week after is when Western starts back to school, so I'll start including my textbook project during part of the day.

Dr. Phil
Posted on Dreamwidth
Crossposted on LiveJournal
dr_phil_physics: (seasons-best-kate)
Update: You can now view this as a PDF file, formatted for e-readers, here.

Two New Year's Eves from now in a place you've never heard of...

            “New Year's in the Lost Kingdom”
               by Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon

Saturday 31 December 2016
21:55 CET (GMT+1)
Sommerhus, Eisbergen

     According to the media, much of the world was spending New 
Year’s Eve drinking  - if sixteen-year-old Crown Princess Daniska 
Elsinor believed the media.  That might be true.  It might even 
be true for her Eisbergen.  But not for all.  Some people had to 
work, if not for a living, then for the good of a kingdom.
     In the barn’s dim light she scraped the shovel against the 
floor and deposited another load of cow dung in the wheelbarrow.
     The main door to the west barn screeched open and a rough 
voice called out in the old Ur-Danish, “Who’s there?”
     “Me,” Daniska replied.  This was her kingdom.  She really 
had no one to answer to except her father King Henrik VII and 
God  - in some order she never felt she wanted to debate.
     She kept shoveling until the intruder came around the pens.  
“I saw lights on...  What the hell are you doing shoveling the 
shit at this hour, princess?” Klaus Jønsson asked, irritated at 
her as usual.  The middle-aged farmer used the word princess as 
if it was a taunt, not an honorific.
     “Could you shut the doors?  You’re letting the heat out.”
     Klaus might not have liked the royalty of Eisbergen or how 
they ran things.  But he did know and care about animals  - and 
was famously frugal  - this was a request he responded to, even 
if he acted grumpy as usual.
     “You haven’t answered my question, princess,” he said when 
he came back.  He stood 6’5” and solidly sturdy  - she straightened 
up to her slender 6’4” height so they stood eye-to-eye in the 
barn.
     “There wasn’t time to answer you  - and I wasn’t going to 
shout after you like you were a servant or something.”  Daniska 
didn’t know why she felt she had to needle him as well.  “It’s 
New Year’s Eve.  There is going to be a lot of drinking in Eisbergen.  
And the livestock needs to be attended to, no matter what day 
it is.  Everyone is going to be moving slow in the morning.  
I’m just trying to lighten the load.”
     “You’re going to smell to high heaven if you keep up at 
this,” Klaus said, grabbing an old iron rake and starting to 
pull some of the sodden straw out of the stalls.  One of the 
cows moved out of his way.
     “Too late,” Daniska said, pausing to wipe the sweat on her 
brow with the back of a glove.  The jeans she had on were old, 
as was the tattered and faded University of Oslo sweatshirt.
     “Well, it’s good to see you working for a change,” he 
grudgingly acknowledged.
     “You have no idea what I do,” she replied calmly.  “You’re 
too busy running your farm or trying to rile up the citizenry.”
     “Hmph.  Well, you may be right about that.  It certainly 
looks like you’ve shoveled shit before.”
     Her iPhone rang before she could come up with a rejoinder.  
“Yes?” she answered on speaker, after waving a hand over the 
camera.  It was her sister.
     “Dani, where are you?  It’s almost ten o’clock.  You have 
to get ready.”
     “I’m almost done.”
     “Done what?”
     “Cleaning out the barn.”
     “You went out there two hours ago.”
     “You didn’t come to help.”
     “Not fair  - I had baking to do.”
     “I’ll be there,” Daniska said, waving her hand again - 
the handsfree app she’d written disconnecting.  “Still think 
that all royals are worthless leeches on the backs of the workers?”
     Klaus glared sourly.  “You should go, princess.  I can 
finish this.  I don’t want Marcellus or one of his Romans to 
come and get me.”
     “They wouldn’t be after you,” she said, finally putting 
one last, large shovelful in the wheelbarrow.  “They’d be after 
me.”
     Grabbing the old coat that lived in the mud room off the 
back of the kitchen at Royal House, Daniska bundled up and headed 
out.
     “Don’t you stay up so late here, either, Klaus.  It’s New 
Year’s Eve.”
     “Ah-hhh, bah,” he waved a hand at her in annoyance.  “And 
shut that damned door behind you.  Don’t let all the heat out.”
                                ***
     New Year’s Eve  - twenty minutes to midnight  - in the 
warmth and light of Royal House.
     “Anaulka  - are you dressed yet?” Daniska called up the 
stairs.
     “I’m coming,” the girl responded.  And indeed, within a 
minute she emerged from their bedroom and came clattering down 
the stairs.
     “Are those my shoes?”
     “Yes.”
     “They don’t quite fit you,” Daniska sighed.  Anaulka wasn’t 
one to give up.  “I heard you all the way down.”
     “Urrrrgh.”  Anaulka kicked off the chunky white heels.  
“I can’t wear your really high heels anyway.”
     “Not yet.”
     “And I don’t have any women’s shoes.  All I have are little 
girl’s shoes.”
     “We should correct that then.”
     “I’m thirteen,” Anaulka insisted.
     “There you are,” their mother Queen Joelle said, coming 
out of the kitchen in an elegant royal blue evening gown, her 
short dark hair contrasting with the girls’ long blond hair.  
She kissed the top of her younger daughter’s head, noting that 
without shoes, she was her height for once, almost 6’1”.  “I 
was beginning to be think you’d never make it, Ani.  Now, both 
of you  - turn around.”
     Daniska was three inches taller than her sister anyway, 
but since Anaulka was barefoot, she towered over her.  Both 
princesses wore loose, full-length white dresses with embroidered 
square necklines.  Their waist long blond hair was free tonight, 
partly pulled back  - Daniska’s by a 12th century silver Viking 
comb, Anaulka’s with a black velvet bow.  The comb kept slipping 
against Daniska’s unruly wavy hair, threatening to fall out every 
ten or fifteen minutes.  She’d rather braid it and forget about 
her hair.
     “You both look lovely.  But no shoes, Ani?”
     Anaulka pointed at the shoes lying in a heap near the bottom 
of the stairs.  “They didn’t fit.”
     “She can’t just wear my things,” Daniska told their mother.  
“Don’t let that tomboy attitude fool you  - you’re growing another 
woman in this house.  Another princess.”
     “Yeah,” Anaulka said.  “You’re neglecting me, Mother.”
     “You’re not helping.”
     Anaulka stuck her tongue out at her sister.
     The queen sighed.  The girls were right about one thing - 
she didn’t spend enough time with them.  Both were growing into 
lovely young women.  And from what she heard, the kingdom liked 
their princesses.  The sad thing was she wasn’t likely to change - 
Dr. Joelle Lund liked her academic world south in Oslo far too much.  
The kingdom and her girls was just some place she visited.  
Infrequently.
     “Someone bring the herring and the champagne glasses.”
     “Herring!” Anaulka called and went to get the two platters 
of pickled herring, plain and with cream sauce.
     “Henrik  - it’s time,” Joelle called to her husband.
     “Yes, yes,” he replied, emerging from his study.  Amazingly 
he carried no papers  - Daniska wasn’t even sure he had his iPhone.  
Indeed, the 6’7” king was, for once, elegant himself in full 
black tails and tie.  His dark blond hair was cut short and curled 
in the old Roman way  - his beard fierce and Viking.  The king 
and queen looked every bit the royal couple they were.
     The elaborate grandfather’s clock in the parlor began to 
chime.
     “Four... three... two...” Anaulka counted out loud, her 
eyes sparkling with anticipation. “TWELVE!  Midnight everyone - 
Happy New Year!”
     The two princesses kissed and hugged.
     “Happy New Year, my dear,” Henrik said to his wife and they 
embraced and kissed while the girls stood by smiling.  Anaulka 
elbowed her sister.
     They heard a series of cracks outside.
     “Someone has firecrackers,” Anaulka observed.  “Oh, and 
happy birthday, sister.”
     “Yes, my little Y2K bug  - Happy Birthday,” Joelle came 
over and kissed Daniska.  Then the princess was kissed by her 
father and her sister.  Blushing, Daniska went back into the 
kitchen.
     New Year’s Day 2017 A.D. in Eisbergen.  Seventeen years 
ago, 1 January 2000, at 2:32 in the morning, Daniska Elsinor 
Raphaella Rachel had presented herself to the world and the then 
Crown Prince Henrik.  She didn’t remember it, of course, but 
the world had survived the calendar rolling over from 1999 to 
2000 without catastrophic computer losses.  Anaulka joked that 
it was the source of her sister’s superior computer coding abilities 
- an omen.
     Daniska came out carefully hanging two bottles of champagne 
in elegant black bottles by their necks in one hand and a tray 
with four tall champagne flutes in the other.
     “Two bottles of champagne, Father?” Anaulka asked.  “You 
are about to sink one, are you?”
     Henrik frowned.  “I’m not sure what you mean.”
     “She’s teasing you,” Daniska said, setting down the tray, 
then the bottles.  “Sinking is ordering two bottles of champagne 
and pouring one down the sink to protest some silly Swedish law 
against spraying champagne in a public place.”
     “This is not Sweden, my dear, or have you forgotten?” Henrik 
said to Anaulka.  “There is no law against spraying champagne 
in Eisbergen  - only common sense enough to know not to waste 
any precious product.”
     “But it’s Swedish champagne.  HATT et SÖNER Prestige 2005 
Le Grand-Père,” Anaulka said, picking up one bottle and reading 
the label.  “So I thought, when in Rome, do as the Swedes do?”
     “That one doesn’t even work,” Daniska said, shaking her 
head.
     “We are Rome,” Anaulka said helpfully, and as Eisbergen 
was founded in part by a Roman Senator as one of their three 
crowns in 460 A.D., it was true.
     “The company may be owned by Swedes, not Frenchmen,” the 
king explained, “it is still French champagne.  Otherwise under 
all those arcane EU rules and regulations, they couldn’t call 
it...”
     “Henrik,” the queen said.
     “Quite so.  The new year is precious seconds old  - and 
we have not yet poured and toasted.  And,” the king said, pausing 
to remove the wire cage from the first black bottle, “I am not 
averse to popping the cork on these festive occasions.”
     Bwoop!
     “Ah...”  The ladies all applauded as the cork sailed up 
almost to the sixteen-foot ceiling of the great hall and bounced 
on the stairs.
     “There’s four of us  - and two bottles,” Anaulka said, as 
Henrik began pouring into the tall thin glasses.  “Is that half 
a bottle each?”
     “No,” Daniska said.  “You have two bottles in case one is 
a dud.”
     “Or unexpected company arrives,” the king said.
     “It’s midnight in the most secretive country in the world,” 
Anaulka frowned.  “Who could possibly come unannounced?”
     “You never know,” Henrik said.  “Everyone has a glass?  
Yes?  Then Happy New Year to all of us and our kingdom.”
     “To the New Year.”
     “God grace the king,” Daniska added.  The others immediately 
replied and Henrik nodded.
     “And a very happy birthday to my Princess Daniska,” he answered, 
which began yet a third round of toasts.
     They had barely started on the black bread and the pickled 
herring when the front door chimed.  The girls looked at their 
father, who had a mischievous smile.
     “Who could that possibly be at this late... er, early hour?” 
he asked.
     Taking his wife by the arm, they advanced to open first 
the inside double doors and then with a flourish, Henrik pulled 
both of the outer doors at once.
     “General Marcellus,” he greeted the Roman Centurion standing 
on the porch, the slowly falling snow glistening on the full 
ceremonial armor.
     Marcellus saluted, fist out.  “Your Majesty, Your Grace - 
Happy New Year.”  He held out a small stoneware crock, wrapped 
in a towel.  “I bring fish soup to give you good luck throughout 
the year.”
     “Come in, come in, old friend.”
     The sixty-year-old Roman carefully stepped over the threshold, 
planted both feet and handed the king the crock.  It occurred 
to Daniska that this was a ceremony of some sort.  The first 
visitor of the new year?  She would have to look it up.  It seemed 
that her father was also not averse to reviving old customs.
     “Daniska  - we shall need more glasses.”
     Behind Marcellus on the porch, were the part-time Steward 
of Royal House and his wife Greta, their part-time cook and housekeeper.
     “Now it’s a party,” Anaulka observed.
     “Happy birthday, Your Highness,” Marcellus said, removing 
his helmet with the red brush on top and presenting a small package 
wrapped in silvery paper to Daniska.
     Daniska set the additional glasses down and accepted the 
gift.  “Thank you very much, Marcellus.”  She kissed him on both 
cheeks.  Then she held up a silver spoon.  “I think we should 
pass your soup around and skip trying to dish it out.”
     “An excellent idea,” the Roman said, rubbing his hands.  
“It is damned cold out there.  And we need some good luck in 
the new year.”
     “I don’t know about luck,” Daniska said, picking up the 
crock in one hand after wrapping it in a towel, “but we have 
champagne, herring, bread and fish soup.  We are certainly trying 
to appease the gods as much as possible.  Oh, this is good.”
     “Most of the meals that I cook myself are based on basic 
Roman camp food recipes.  I’m afraid I’m stubborn that way.  
Be a Roman, be a Roman all the way.  But this?  This is my mother’s 
and she got it from her mother  - generations back.” 
     “Well, you can clearly cook, good sir.”
     The bell jangled at the door again  - this time for the 
realm’s two fishermen and their wives.
     “It’s time to sing,” one of the fishermen shouted.  “It’s 
New Year’s for God’s sake.”  The suggestion was greeted with 
applause and everyone looked to the princesses.
     Anaulka and Daniska realized they would not get out of this.  
So the birthday girl sat at the piano in the parlor, and Anaulka 
stood nearby.  Her singing voice was higher and sweeter than 
Daniska’s, but she could start strong and low enough to suit.
        “Skuld gammel venskab rejn forgo
        og stryges fræ wor mind?
        Skuld gammel venskab rejn forgo
        med dem daw så læng, læng sind?
        Di skjønne ungdomsdaw, å ja,
        de daw så svær å find!
        Vi'el løwt wor kop så glådle op
        for dem daw så læng, læng sind!”
     Daniska came in on the chorus and the duet soon became a 
trio as their Father’s baritone was added.  Soon everyone joined 
in the choruses as Anaulka sang the next stanzas  - the ones 
that most people didn’t know, Daniska smiled.
     “I think we did Robbie Burns proud,” Anaulka said to her 
sister, after they took their bow.
     “I think on New Year’s nobody cares  - they just want it 
sung.  But,” Daniska hastily added, “you did beautifully.”
     “Thank you,” Anaulka beamed.
     The champagne was long gone  - there were eleven in Royal 
House now  - and so the adults had switched to whisky and brandies.  
Daniska took a small glass of brandy.
     “We’re sharing,” she told her father as he frowned.
     Anaulka sat on the sofa, rubbing her bare feet.  “Here, 
let me do that for you,” Daniska offered, and as she sat down, 
Anaulka propped her legs on her sister’s knees.  “You’re cold.”
     “I have no shoes.”
     “You’re a very silly girl from time to time.”
     “Thank you, O worldly princess sister.”
     “You should have put on a pair of your own shoes.”
     “What would be the fun of that?”
     The bell jingled again and the princesses looked at each 
other.  Daniska went to the front door and was surprised to see 
Klaus Jønsson and his two sons.
     “Klaus!  Dean, Cyril  - Happy New Year to you all.  Thank 
you for coming.  Come in out of the cold, please.  All of you.  
You are always welcome.”
     The farmer harrumphed, and kicked his snowy boots on the 
side of the door frame before stepping inside.
     “Apologies for coming so late,” he said, taking off his 
hat.
     “Nonsense.  It’s New Year’s  - we’re going to be up all 
night.”
     “I wasn’t going to come,” he said gruffly.  “But I was reminded 
- this is your seventeenth birthday, princess.  By the Old Law, 
today is your age of ascension.  You can become queen on your 
own without needing a regent.
     “So I suppose I should be nice to you, princess, as someday 
you’ll rule,” he finished his speech, handing her a package.  
“I brought smoked blood sausage.”
     “Thank you, good sir.  And let us hope that I am not queen 
for a long time.”
     Anaulka had come to take their coats.  The sons were both 
older than the girls.  Dean was nineteen and disliked the royals 
as much as his father.  But the older brother, Cyril, was quiet 
and shy  - and if he hated anyone in the world, Daniska didn’t 
know who it was.
     “Cyril, I’m amazed you made in from the south farm in this 
weather.”  As expected, he didn’t answer her.  “I’m sorry, we 
had very little champagne at midnight.  But there’s whisky and 
brandy.  And still some herring and smoked fish, plus your wonderful 
sausage.”
     “Whisky sounds good,” Klaus said and headed over to get 
a stiff drink.  “Behave yourselves,” he told his boys.
     Someone had found the master control panel for the Bang 
& Olufsen BeoSystem 5000 stereo, which had apparently fallen 
off a truck near Copenhagen back in 1985 and found its way into 
Royal House via their Royalists motorcycle club.  Below were 
sliding wooden doors which revealed hundreds of old LP records.  
Soon the background was filled with Frank Sinatra and Harry Belafonte.
     It was during Harry Belafonte’s Calypso in Brass from 1966 
and “Jump in the Line”, that Daniska was asked to dance by her 
father.  When she glanced back, Anaulka had pulled her knees 
up to her chest, watching and grinning at everyone making minor 
fools of themselves.
     By two, Anaulka had been recruited to play the straight 
violin and soon raucous fiddling tunes spurred on the dancers 
- and those who weren’t dancing kept time clapping.  Half an 
hour later, the younger princess declared she was in no shape 
to keep playing at this hour, and the party went back to the 
stereo.  And Chubby Checkers.
     “It’s 3:13am,” Daniska told Anaulka, as her sister came 
back out to the great table with a small box. “And you’re eating 
chocolates?”
     “Nope,” Anaulka said, holding the box out.  It was fondant 
stuffed sugared dates.  “Have one.”
     “I’m already stuffed on herring and soup and bread.”
     “It’s not like you need to worry about getting fat.”
     “Alright.  I’ll have one.”
     “Good!”
                                ***
     In the morning it was of course still dark.  But those who’d 
gathered at Royal House and had stayed up for all hours, bundled 
up against the cold and went to New Year’s Mass at eight.
     “What did Marcellus give you for your birthday?” Anaulka 
whispered as they took their seats and waited for the kingdom 
to arrive and stand for the service.  “I never did see.”
     “It’s a Chinese black lacquered abacus  - very small and 
very old.  It’s quite lovely and it makes a nice clicking sound 
as you flick the beads back and forth.  I have no idea where 
he got it.”
     “I don’t recall reading about any piracy against Chinese 
shipping in the Book of Days,” Anaulka said.  “Maybe it was a 
personal possession on some ship we captured long ago?”
     Though much had been lost in 1944, they still had some 
stores of trophies collected from centuries of Viking and pirate 
raids in the name of the kingdom.
     “I don’t know.  And Marcellus never tells where he gets 
things.”
     “He does it to annoy you,” Anaulka said.
     “He does it to challenge me, I think.”
     By noon the sun made its first appearance for 2017, staying 
only for a while.  It was just eleven days after the winter 
solstice in the secret kingdom of Eisbergen just north of the 
Arctic Circle, hidden amongst the mountains and fjords of Norway.
     But not Norway.

From Book One of the Lost Kingdom Chronicles
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon -- All Rights Reserved


This is the second outing of my Lost Kingdom princesses story.
PLEASE send me feedback.

And All The Best for 2015!

Dr. Phil

500

Tuesday, 23 December 2014 17:01
dr_phil_physics: (writing-winslet-2)
But I would walk five hundred miles
And I would walk five hundred more
Just to be the man
who walked a thousand miles
To fall down at your door

-- "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)"
-- The Proclaimers

On 29 November 2014 I posted about reaching 400 pages (DW) in the Word 2010 file for my Lost Kingdom YA trilogy. Well, we've hit 501 pages today. Not that this is a milestone other than we see omens and portents in numbers everywhere.

As an author, you toil and toil and write and edit. And someday, if you think it's ready, you let some of free and let it out into the wild. This week I gave my first real sneak peek into The Lost Kingdom, even to Mrs. Dr. Phil, when on Monday I released part of the current Chapter 9 of Book 1 as my annual Christmas short story: "A Christmas in the Lost Kingdom" (DW). Published on Dreamwidth, crossposted to LiveJournal and Facebook, it's Christmas, Hanukkah, holidays, break, End of the Year -- you never know when or if people are going to read these things. Or whether you'll get any feedback. (cue-anxious-sigh) But right now I am getting tons of updates from people on Facebook, which means people are at least on Facebook. Whether they have room for a 2300-word Christmas short story, that's another tale.

But I can make things easier for people.

Today I released a PDF version of "A Christmas in the Lost Kingdom". It's in A5 page format and displays very nicely in the Adobe Reader on my Kindle Fire HD. Should work on other e-Readers as well. If you want to print it out, I'd recommend finding your printer option for printing 2-ups, two pages on a single sheet of paper.

Over the years I have created hundreds of PDFs for my classes and writings, all using the Adobe printer driver that comes with Adobe Acrobat Pro 5/7/9. But ZEPPELIN, Wendy's Windows 7 laptop, doesn't have the full version of Acrobat and I don't have any installs left of my versions. However, Microsoft Word 2010 does have a Save As... PDF option, so I tried that. It's acceptable. i worry that given how Word writes bloated HTML files that it's overwrought coding, but that can't be helped. Maybe I'll make a copy in Adobe Acrobat Pro 9 and see if there's a difference in size or appearance.

And if you forget about my story -- don't worry, I'll flog it a few more times during the holidays. Also let you know that a second story will come out on New Year's Eve. (cue-even-more-anxious-author-angst)

As for the writing, well, it's coming along amazingly well. I've been filling in and editing a great deal, while still forging ahead on three books of the trilogy. So far I am very happy with what I have, which to some extent is all that really matters. Everything else is going to be gravy on my own satisfaction. (grin)

Also with the start of Version 1.06 of the trilogy, I also started sections in the file for The Pitch and The Synopsis. Both of these are going to be tough, short and shorter, so I might as well start thinking about them now. Whenever I've had to write a synopsis after I've finished a story, it's been like pulling thorns through your body. (evil-grin)

New researches started with a problem: Trying to find Catholic high schools on the north side of Chicago. Several of the ones that I remember from my Northwestern days in Evanston/Wilmette have been closed. From there we investigated... NU Wildcat basketball player numbers for centers. The Three Crowns emblems and origins for Scandinavian countries, including Sweden, Denmark and the Trekroner Søfort (Three Crowns Sea Fortress) guarding the entrance to Copenhagen harbor. The Typ 17 and Typ 1G Volkswagen Golf. "Glade jul, dejlige jul" -- the old Danish lyrics to "Silent Night" -- versus the newer lyrics, "Stille nat, hellige nat". Also "ram tam", the same Christmas carol translated into Klingon. Prostitution in Denmark, Sweden and Norway. Workers rights and satisfaction in Denmark -- and I mean the regular workforce, not the prostitutes -- the happiest workplaces in the world. And I probably need to research something about the CIA headquarters in Foggy Bottom, which of course leads one to remind everyone never try to understand an author's browser history. (oh-my-gosh-grin)

The shiny counters now stand at:

The Lost Kingdom Project YA Trilogy Version 1.06


Book 1


Book 2


Book 3


The Lost Kingdom Fourth Novel Version 1.03


*** Note: the numbers for Books 1-3 don’t add up, because there is text which is in a section which hasn’t been assigned to a Book and Chapter yet.

And we continue...

Dr. Phil
dr_phil_physics: (seasons-best-kate)
Update: You can now view this as a PDF file, formatted for e-readers, here.

Two Christmases from now in a place you've never heard of...

            “A Christmas in the Lost Kingdom”
               by Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon

Saturday 24 December 2016
13:42 CET (GMT+1)
Sommerhus, Eisbergen

     The two princesses were tall and slender in the way of most 
Eisbergers and their Viking ancestors.  For this Christmas Eve, 
they both would wear their waist long blond hair up and have matching 
long red and green plaid skirts with white silk blouses.
     But sixteen-year-old Crown Princess Daniska Elsinor was worried 
about many things.  Dressing in candlelight had not been part of 
the plan -- and it would ruin her surprise to the children.  The 
power had been out nearly an hour already, which was never a good 
sign in the tiny kingdom of Eisbergen.  Ordinarily she might have 
been out helping troubleshoot the power failure, but the princess 
had obligations to the Crown.  At least she’d already checked her 
iPhone several times and still had bars, so she wouldn’t have to 
restart the cell service.  It was already on its backup power.
     And then there were her shoes.
     Actually there was nothing wrong with the shoes on her own 
feet.  Elegant and extravagant looking -- but bought on sale in 
Copenhagen -- it was only a little outrageous for the 6’4” Daniska 
to wear five-inch heels.  But as heir, it would bring her close 
to eye-to-eye with her father, King Henrik VII.
     She watched as her thirteen-year-old sister Princess Anaulka 
Katje tried to get into another pair of Daniska’s very high heels.  
After a struggle, she got them on and managed to stand, arms 
cautiously stretched out as she wavered.  She straightened up to 
her full height of 6’¾”, plus the four-inch heels.  Then beaming, 
Anaulka triumphantly took an awkward step... and promptly lost 
her balance and fell back against the bed.
     Daniska could only smile.
     Anaulka looked up, mortified.  “Do.  Not.  Laugh.  I’ll 
get this.”
     “Someday, I’m sure, Ani.  But not today.”
     “It’s Christmas!”
     “Yes and you know very well that on Christmas we never get 
all that we want.”
     “That’s true enough.”  Anaulka sighed and held her legs 
straight out off the bed.  “They look good.”
     “They’re darling.  Now take off my shoes before you ruin 
them and hurt yourself.  You really don’t want to be hobbling 
around the rest of the holidays on crutches.”
     “You really do have an annoying habit of spoiling everything 
by pointing out the reality of the situation, dear sister.  Not 
everything is equations and technical specifications.”
     “I love you, too.”
     Anaulka carelessly kicked off the shoes and headed back to 
the closet to find a pair of her own dress shoes.  “Your nose 
is bleeding,” she said quietly as she walked past in her stockinged 
feet.
     “Oh, thanks,” Daniska said, grabbing a handkerchief -- it 
wasn’t that bad this time.  Just a drop.  But she hated this one 
reminder of her royal ancestry.  At least her sister didn’t suffer 
from it as well.  “I think I’ll wear the dark red sweater, though, 
and not the gold.”
     “Just in case?”
     “Just in case.”
     Anaulka came back with the red sweater and her own gold sweater.  
They wouldn’t be identical, but they would look good together.
     Daniska heard a rumble outside as someone had finally broken 
down and put on the generator for Royal House.  It was the Christmas 
Eve party, after all, and if the village of Summer Home was coming 
to call, the royal family should really put on the lights for them.
     She took a deep breath and stood up.  “It’s show time.”
                                ***
     The Royal House smelled of evergreens, spices and all manner 
of baking and cooking.  Small dishes of nuts and sweets were 
strategically scattered around the public areas -- Princess Anaulka 
had secreted one large bowl for their own room, as if no one would 
notice the young teenaged princess’s sweet tooth.
     There was no real daylight this time of year, but that didn’t 
stop Eisbergen from preparing for Christmas.  And during the dark 
afternoon, families from Summer Home and Nunuuvit brought their 
children to the Royal House for games and stories and hot chocolate 
and many kinds of cookies and small spiced meat pies, while the 
adults feasted on pickled herring, salted cod, rye bread and lots 
of the local bitter thin beer.
     Large enough to entertain all forty residents of Summer Home 
and a good measure of the subjects who lived in Nunuuvit, Royal 
House stood two full stories tall, but the parlor and great hall 
in the front half had a vaulted ceiling with exposed timbers 
overhead.  Sixteen feet high at the peak, the ceiling was ten foot 
high where the nine foot Christmas tree stood just past the piano 
in the front of the parlor.  The tree glittered with hundreds of 
colored LED lights, glass ornaments, old toys, tinsel two generations 
old and topped with a glass gipfel spire which almost touched the 
ceiling.
     As far as the children of Eisbergen were concerned, their 
9th century Saint Nicholi was the real Santa Claus -- no matter 
what the mass media from the world would try to convince them of -- 
and his arrival meant blessings for the celebrations and feasts 
surrounding Christ’s Mass.  Besides, the world didn’t even know 
Saint Nicholi or even Eisbergen existed.
     But the little ones always wanted to hear stories of the great 
tree which was set up in the Citadel during Christmas back in the 
old days, from before their near destruction in World War II, when 
the Citadel, the island and Winter Home were sacked.  No one alive 
in Royal House today had been there in those days, but Princess 
Daniska had picked up the habit of reading the Christmas preparation 
notes in the Book of Days from various years.  This time she had 
selected 1911, having always held a fascination for the Edwardians.
     As the six-foot-four princess walked into the parlor, the 
kingdom’s eight smaller children were already dancing around her 
and clamoring for Her Highness to tell them a story.  Smiling, 
Daniska sat on a delicate wooden chair with her iPad on her lap 
and had them sit on the polished wood floor around her.
     “During the fourth year of the reign of Alvin III,” she began, 
speaking in the old Ur-Danish tongue, “the annual call was sent 
out throughout our little kingdom to find the right tree for the 
great entrance hall in the Citadel, the castle-in-the-Rock where 
the Royal Family of Eisbergen once lived.  While most homes had 
their own Christmas trees throughout Winter Home and Nunuuvit, 
the great tree was special, for it belonged to all of us.
     “Oh, the Old Man Pine next to the Allhall on the island still 
stood and was decorated every year, but the decorations were old 
and they’d not taken to even hanging electric lights on it.  The 
great tree in the Citadel, though, had been lit by candles for 
generations.  It wouldn’t be until 1914, three years later, that 
strings of electric lights would be used.”
     “Wasn’t it dangerous to use candles?”
     “Perhaps.  But the people were used to working with candles.  
And over the years, they had gone from melting the candles directly 
to the branches, to small candle holders just like you use today 
when the power fails, and then to tiny metal lanterns and glass 
balls with the candles inside.” Daniska paused in her tale to pull 
up some sketches on her iPad.  “See?  These are the types of lights 
they used back in 1911.”
     She touched the screen with her finger and the background 
dimmed and the candles glowed in the animation she’d made.
     “Ooo-ooh,” the children sang and the princess smiled.
     Her sister Anaulka had come out of the kitchen and was leaning 
on the staircase railing to the upstairs watching the performance.  
Daniska saw her and gave a nod of the head.  The younger princess 
carefully stepped around the children and, folding her skirts around, 
settled down on the floor next to the Crown Princess.
     “Master Tomas Blylevin was the Builder for the Crown in those 
days -- he was the greatfather of our own Builder -- and he constructed 
a special frame that sat within the lower boughs of the tree so 
that early clockwork Märklin toy trains could run around the tree.”
     “I wish we had a train running around our tree.”
     “It’s Christmas -- sometimes our wishes come true.”  Daniska 
tapped on her iPad and dimmed the lights in the parlor.  The Christmas 
tree behind the children glowed with the strings of little colored 
LED lights that crisscrossed over the branches.  When she tapped 
again, a different short string of lights appeared deep inside 
the tree -- and moved.  The children shrieked in delight, which 
caused the parents in the kitchen and those sitting at the great 
table drinking to see what was causing the commotion.  But they 
relaxed when they saw they were jumping up and down in excitement 
and pointing at something the princess had shown them.
     Even her sister looked dumbfounded as if to say, How did you 
do this?
     The tiny train, with passenger cars just two inches long and 
rails only 3 mm apart, rose on its thin tracks around and around 
the tree at a fairly steep angle, then came around a platform circling 
near the top that no one had noticed before amidst the lights and 
tinsel, and spiraled back down to repeat the process.  It took the 
train about a minute to make the full circuit.
     The older children, who’d been playing board games in the library 
and cracking nuts, came out to see what the fuss was -- and were 
amazed at Daniska’s latest technical wizardry.  They stayed and 
watched the train go up and down and up the tree again and again 
with their little brothers and sisters and cousins.  After all, 
they were all cousins by some degree to everyone else in the kingdom.
     Anaulka stared at her sister.  “Where on Earth did you find this?”
     “eBay Japan,” Daniska said quietly.  “T-scale is the smallest 
production model trains -- 1:450 ratio -- and they use magnets to 
keep a grip on the rails, so they’re perfect.  Eishindo makes various 
Japanese trains -- their commuter trains look cute snaking up and 
down the tree, don’t you think?”
     “It’s adorable, no matter the ratio gibberish,” Anaulka admitted, 
then whispered, “But how did you find out about them?”
     “Wikipedia.”
     “That’s not true,” Anaulka insisted.  “You can’t just open 
Wikipedia and it gives you answers -- you have to search for something.”
     “True.  I knew about our 1911 tree trains and wanted to do something 
similar.  Except I wanted something subtler.  A surprise, hidden in 
the branches.  Lionel and HO were far too big.  But even N-scale seemed 
large.”
     “N-scale being...?”
     “A very small train size.  But at a model shop in Copenhagen I’d 
seen some Märklin Z-scale -- even smaller.  And when I looked that up 
in Google, I found about ZZ and then T-scale.  It was the magnetic 
track that made up my mind.”
     “So... what did it cost?” Anaulka reluctantly asked.  The kingdom 
was poor and everything, eventually, came down to a matter of money.
     “It should have cost a lot,” Daniska admitted.  “But if you’re 
careful you can find eBay sellers who aren’t very clever -- they have 
the items listed wrong and they don’t set minimum prices.  Sad to say 
this person lost a great deal of money, but that’s the rules.  In the 
great Internet commerce world, it was all fair.”
     “So you’re saying you legally stole these.”
     “I suppose.  It wouldn’t have done much good to send a raiding 
party to acquire them by our usual ultralegal means -- I doubt that 
very many people have ever seen these anywhere in Europe.  There’s 
an online shop in the U.K., though.”
     “Yes, but you haven’t answered my question -- how cheap is 
cheap?”
     “35 000 yen, including shipping, which works out to about 1750 
Danish kroner.  That includes all the track, which wasn’t cheap.  
I worked up the digital controls myself.”
     “Three hundred American -- for all this?” Anaulka scrunched 
up her forehead in surprise.  “Is that all?  I take back all the 
mean things I said about equations and technical specifications.”
     “Like I said, buying them and shipping them to Copenhagen should 
have been much more dear.  In which case I wouldn’t have bought them.”
     “You brought these with you from school?”
     “Of course.  They hardly take up any space, after all.”
     “And you didn’t tell me?” Anaulka punched her sister in the arm.
     “It was worth every krone,” Daniska grinned, while she rubbed 
her sore arm.  “Merry Christmas.”
     “Merry Christmas to you, too.”
     “Now, let’s see what Saint Nicholi has brought the children.”
     “I hope there’re Snickers bars.”
     “I said for the children.”
     “You forget -- I’m still just thirteen.  I am still a child.”
     “Only when you want candy.  The rest of the time you insist 
you’re an adult.”
     “You, my dear sister, are a wretch.”
     Daniska got up, setting her iPad down on the chair.  But as 
she walked over to where there were wrapped presents and a small 
sack of candy from Saint Nicholi to give to the eager children, she 
reached into a pocket of her long skirt and palmed a Snickers bar 
into her sister’s hand -- her favorite.
     “Ooh, it’s the right size and color and everything!” Anaulka 
leaned over and kissed her on the cheek.  “Merry Christmas, Dani,” 
she said, happily smelling the chocolate and the faint odor of peanuts 
through the wrapper.  
     And then the generator stalled and the lights all went out.
     “Merry Christmas, Ani,” Daniska sighed and joined the teenagers 
in lighting the candles in the parlor, the library, the great room 
and the kitchen.  The king added two new logs to the fireplace in 
the parlor and someone found a bag of chestnuts for the children 
to roast.
     When she could relax, Daniska sat down next to her sister and 
they gazed out the front windows, watching the new snow coming down 
and burying their little village.
     It was Christmas in Eisbergen...

From Book One of the Lost Kingdom Chronicles
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon -- All Rights Reserved


This is the first outing of my Lost Kingdom princesses story.
PLEASE send me feedback.

And Merry Christmas!

Dr. Phil
dr_phil_physics: (norman-rockwell-thanksgiving)
As mentioned earlier and in keeping with years past, we did our big Thanksgiving meal today. Last year's attempt to brine just dark meat -- turkey thighs and wings -- with the wings on the stuffing casserole and the thighs on a roasting pan to make drippings for gravy -- worked so well that we'd be silly not to repeat it again.

And earlier in the fall we had a pumpkin pie, because why not. Cousins Bill and Cindy send a box of cracked Arkansas pecans for the holidays, so I requested a pecan pie for Thanksgiving. That probably leaves pumpkin and mincemeat pies for Christmas and New Year's. (big-pie-eating-grin)

We ended up eating early for us, since not doing a whole bird really cuts down on the cook time, so we sat down around 5pm and put on Love, Actually on Netflix. *** (Almost couldn't find the pictures, because when I changed the Nikon D100 from EDT to EST, I must have accidentally changed the year to 2013.)


Turkey, stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes and root vegetables & beets. Just off to the right, two kinds of cranberries. The beer in the gravy was Leinenkugel's Helles Yeah -- really hoppy. The wine was a lovely Riesling. A technical note for me, used the Nikon SB-28DX flash in bounce mode on the D100 for the first time. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

We managed to keep things to a reasonable plate. At 7pm I took my usual nap, to elevate my leg, and then it was time for pie.


"All right, Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up," says the pecan pie. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


The pie is almost candied -- yum -- but you have to cut it with more skill and care than a pumpkin pie. Mrs. Dr. Phil demonstrates. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


As shown, one slice for you and my slice in the foreground. (grin) Not shown, the Hudsonville Vanilla Ice Cream. Later pecan pie sessions will feature whipped cream or Hudsonville Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

Watching Kristen Chenowith: Coming Home on PBS from Broken Arrow OK.

Lovely.

Back to writing, grading...

Dr. Phil

*** For those keeping score at home, as a kid the Christmas season began when Santa Claus came at the end of the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade on the television. As an adult, after the turkey meal. Anyway, Love, Actually is one of the handful of top classic Christmas movies we tend to see every year. The others are:
A Christmas Carol (Scrooge) -- the 1951 Alistair Sim version / Scrooged -- the 1988 Bill "I Can Do Any Holiday" Murray
A Christmas Story -- the definitive kid's view of Christmas
And two Jimmy Stewart flicks, the obvious It's A Wonderful Life and the wonderfully quirky 1940 The Shop Around the Corner -- if you have EVER worked retail, you must see this film. At Christmas.

238

Friday, 4 July 2014 09:32
dr_phil_physics: (us-flag-13)
Meanwhile, in a sweltering hot Philadelphia, a Continental Congress did meet and through rancorous debate and terrible compromises, did finally solemnly swear together, unanimously...

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America, ***

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Button Gwinnett       William Hooper       John Hancock
Lyman Hall            Joseph Hewes         Samuel Chase
George Walton         John Penn            William Paca
                      Edward Rutledge      Thomas Stone
                      Thomas Heyward, Jr.  Charles Carroll of Carrollton
                      Thomas Lynch,Jr.     George Wythe
                      Arthur Middleton     Richard Henry Lee
                                           Thomas Jefferson
                                           Benjamin Harrison
                                           Thomas Nelson, Jr.
                                           Francis Lightfoot Lee
                                           Carter Braxton

Robert Morris         William Floyd        Josiah Bartlett
Benjamin Rush         Philip Livingston    William Whipple
Benjamin Franklin     Francis Lewis        Samuel Adams
John Morton           Lewis Morris         John Adams
George Clymer         Richard Stockton     Robert Treat Paine
James Smith           John Witherspoon     Elbridge Gerry
George Taylor         Francis Hopkinson    Stephen Hopkins
James Wilson          John Hart            William Ellery
George Ross           Abraham Clark        Roger Sherman
Caesar Rodney                              Samuel Huntington
George Read                                William Williams
Thomas McKean                              Oliver Wolcott
                                           Matthew Thornton



*** I'm not sure I noticed before that in the first line, "united" is not capitalized. A Ken Burns moment, as he had noted that before the Civil War we said "the United States are..." while after we spoke of "the United States is..."

We can still learn from our history. Happy Birthday US.

Dr. Phil
dr_phil_physics: (xmas-kate)
For Your Holiday Enjoyment -- Part III

As promised, here's the third and final installment of three Christmas flash stories, here on Epiphany or Twelfth Night or...

                      "Silent Strike"
                by Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon

     "Got a suspicious package."
     "Describe, Henry-381."
     "No one shepherding package."  Henry Foster looked down 
the row of block houses, but nobody was heading towards him -- 
or running away.  "Package is roughly 40 by 60 by 80 centimeters.  
Brown paper wrap.  No address.  Clear tape."
     "Which house, Henry-381?"
     "5423A Butler.  Coordinates transferred."
     "5423A comes back as Ulrike Stefanos."
     "Confirmed, Control," Henry said.
     "Any postal codes?"
     "Negative, Control.  No markings of any kind."
     "Move in for closer inspection."
     "Roger that, Control.  Waiting for your clearance."
     "Proceed."
     Henry took a deep breath, then amped up the active 
protection on his suit.  Stepping forward, he held a mirror 
behind the package.  Nothing.  Then he flashed the package.
     "Any data, Henry-381?"
     "Looks like a box for a Sears toaster under the wrapping."
     As soon as he spoke, Henry drew back.
     "The last nail bomb on Sixth Street was built into a 
toaster."
     "I know, Control," Henry snapped, then collected himself.  
"Radar shows a rectangular shape."
     "Blow it, Henry-381."
     "Acknowledged, Control."  He stepped back, bringing his 
water shot to bear.  "Range clear.  Impact pulse in five..."
     The blast of water tore through the layers of wrapping and 
exploded through the contents.  Splayed out... the remains of a 
toaster.  Just a toaster.
     "What the hell?"  Henry looked up to see Ulrike Stefanos, 
carrying an armful of soaked plain wrapped packages.  "You've 
ruined Greek Christmas!"
     It was early January, Henry realized.  All he could say was, 
"Merry Christmas?"
     She threw a small wet package at him.

And that's all for this season, so Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,

Dr. Phil

Silent Light

Wednesday, 25 December 2013 15:26
dr_phil_physics: (xmas-kate)
For Your Holiday Enjoyment -- Part II

As promised, here's the second of three Christmas flash stories -- you'll have to wait til Twelfth Night for the third...

                  "Silent Light"
             by Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon

     Shepherds watched the star brighten with every night.  
In the East, three kings began a pilgrimage to follow the 
new star.  At the little town of Bethlehem, the blazing 
star lit the way for a young couple trying to find a room 
for the night.
     In orbit above, the Mendarn exploration ship observed 
the collision course between the comet and the planet with 
growing alarm.
     "It is an extinction level event, Grand Commander.  
All surface life will be extinguished."
     "Nothing can be done, Sub-Lieutenant.  The Accords 
forbid interference."
     "Except for cultural or technological reprieves, sir."
     The Grand Commander looked askance at his junior officer.  
"And you find these creatures redeeming?  They do nothing 
but fight or torture each other."
     "But their works of art -- the poetry.  Those the Chief 
Artisan has translated, some are quite beautiful, especially 
those set to music."
     "You would save these creatures for a few poems and 
songs?"
     "It fits the Accords, sir.  What else is there?"
     The Grand Commander countered, "They cannot fail to 
notice our interference."
     "Their astrophysics is nearly nonexistent, their religions 
are all old.  There is no indication they would change based 
on one celestial event."
     "Very well.  Save your creatures.  Divert the comet."  
Inwardly the Grand Commander was pleased.  It would be a shame 
to lose any piece of beauty in the universe.
     The Sub-Lieutenant was right.  A thousand orbits or two 
hence no one would remember the tales of one close cometary 
call, even amongst the Mendarn.
     No one.

Merry Christmas,

Dr. Phil
dr_phil_physics: (massive-stars-carina-nebula)
For Your Holiday Enjoyment -- Part I

Two weeks ago, I mentioned the A Merry Little Apex Christmas Flash Fiction Contest (DW). Alas, I didn't win, but you can see the winning stories at the Apex Magazine site. But wait, there's more.

As I wrote back on the 10th, "any stories which don't get picked, will grace these pages instead". So here's the first. Merry...

             "The Long Night That Never Was"
               by Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon

     Jorge stepped out of the stasis tube -- and into confusion.
     "Is that clock right?" he asked the nearest assistant.
     The woman looked at him like he was crazy. "It's linked to 
the ship's atomic clock. It damn well better be right."
     "I meant the date."
     "What's wrong with the date?"
     "We left Earth in October.  It takes about two weeks to get 
up to jump speed and two weeks to decel.  It should be November.  
It should be Thanksgiving."
     "Is that all?"  The crewman laughed.  "You forgot this was 
a two jump run.  That's two months in space, not one.  You 
missed Thanksgiving."
     Jorge pointed at the display.  "It's the twenty-sixth -- 
I missed Christmas, too!"
     "I wouldn't worry about that too much."
     "I was supposed to be with my daughter for Christmas. I was 
supposed to already BE on Laeyk IV!"
     "ALL HANDS, ALL HANDS, PREPARE FOR PLANETARY SYNCHRONIZATION.  
IN THREE... TWO... ONE... SYNCHRONIZE."
     The calendar display rippled.  DEC 26 changed to DEC 24.
     "Merry Christmas," the crewman said.  "Thanks to the 
vagaries of time synchro during jump.  You'll be on time for your 
daughter, after all."
     She clapped a hand on Jorge's shoulder.  "Now get out of 
here and catch your shuttle."
     Stunned and relieved, Jorge finally ran toward the hatch.  
He stopped and looked back. "Merry Christmas to you."
     "G'wan.  Get outta here."
     And Jorge was gone.


Dr. Phil
dr_phil_physics: (kliban-basketball)
Of Cabbages and Kings

Last Sunday, back on the 10th and the last day of Spring Break, we made my family's sweet cabbage soup. Cabbage salad later in the week. Then this Sunday is St. Patrick's Day, so Mrs. Dr. Phil made her boiled dinner. Later in the week we'll turn some of the corned beef into Reuben sandwiches with sauerkraut.

The only cabbage we're missing is some decent kimchee -- and if we went out to an Asian grocery, we could add that in the mix, too. (grin)

Serious yum.


Boiled cabbage, potatoes and corned beef. With Coleman's Mustard, horseradish sauce and ground horseradish. And the amazing Guiness brownies. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2013 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

The Merge of Spring and Winter

We still have most of the pine trees that once made these several properties a Christmas tree farm of sorts. The neighbors on either side cut down their trees to make lawns. Alas, the neighbors to the east I don't think did anything to build up the ground and so right now from the property line to their driveway is a vast lake. We get a little flooding in amongst the trees.


That's not mostly snow, but the white is a reflection off the water. This shot is from Tuesday, the neighbor's yard in the background is all water now. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2013 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

Oh, and the Kliban cat with the basketball? It's NCAA Selection Day for the big dance. March Madness, baby...

Dr. Phil
dr_phil_physics: (xmas-kate)
Christmas Eve

We have a long tradition of sometimes having big holiday meals on days other than their holidays. This year we chose to have our Christmas dinner a day early, so we could run off to the movies on Christmas afternoon. (grin) By choosing little Cornish hens, we got two great meals on the 24th and 25th.

Too small to stuff, the stuffing had to be done outside the birds in a casserole. The Cornish hens didn't come with giblets, so no broth. The gravy started with bouillon and beer -- very yummy. Mrs. Dr. Phil has done mixed root vegetables in a covered foil roasting pan for a number of years. But she found a recipe that actually roasts carrots and parsnips, instead of covering and letting them steam in the oven -- very successful and tasty. Salad, cranberry relish and sweet potato casserole rounded out the dinner. Pumpkin pie, which we'd started on the night before, for dessert.

©2012 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)
Our Christmas Eve dinner. (Click on photo for larger.)


©2012 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)
And Our Christmas Eve chef. (Click on photo for larger.)

Christmas

We had a 3pm movie date in Holland, a reprise of our fabulous holiday dinner at home, and a surprise evening of The West Wing on Netflix. Saving Mrs. Dr. Phil's stollen for later, we'd gotten another Dresden Christstollen from her friend in Germany, which we paired with some clementines, bananas and... excellent kielbasa from the Allendale Meat Market along with some fresh ground horseradish that Mrs. Dr. Phil had made the other week for a late breakfast. The Christmas morning chocolate fix was provided by a small packet of Godiva milk chocolate covered cashews. (grin)

©2012 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)
The meat market's kielbasa doesn't has as much garlic as my father's, but it otherwise tastes right. (Click on photo for larger.)

I remember the original Yule Log TV program from WPIX, both the Gracie Mansion film and the improved one. At one point we had a VHS tape of the latter. I found two one-hour videos on Netflix streaming and the second one includes instrumental Christmas music. We ran through the fire twice.

©2012 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)
Nothing like the warm glow of a crackling good fire -- from a cold LCD HDTV screen. (grin) (Click on photo for larger.)

Pat decided that Mrs. Dr. Phil needed a new tea kettle. When Mrs. Dr. Phil went off to Library School, she bought a number of housewares items at the World's Largest Garage Sale in the downtown parking structure in Evanston IL, including an avocado green singing tea kettle. Some time in Laurium MI, the whistling cap broke off and we acquired a Revereware Tea Kettle to match our other Revereware pots and pans. Over twenty-plus years it has gotten a little cruddy on the outside -- and cleaning hasn't helped. The new one is not only nice and shiny, but turns out to be a larger size, too.

©2012 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)
The new versus old Revereware Tea Kettles. (Click on photo for larger.)

Boxing Day

Having pretty much managed to avoid all the shopping malls and stores during the run up to Christmas, we'll pass on the day-after-Christmas madness of bargain seekers and gift returns.

Hope you had a wonderful holiday of whatever persuasion. Merry Christmas and Good Night!

Dr. Phil
dr_phil_physics: (us-flag)
Day Off Or Work Day?

WMU and most Michigan schools start classes tomorrow -- it's Labor Day. The year I worked at Hope College, a private Christian college, we were surprised that classes were held on Labor Day. We had West Michigan Whitecaps tickets -- Mrs. Dr. Phil went to the baseball game by herself. I think it had something to do with not supporting communism.

This past year I've been a member of a union -- the part-time instructors at WMU managed to organize and get a contract with very little trouble. We weren't expecting big changes, but for senior instructors like myself -- I've spent most of the last twenty years at WMU -- a few things have gotten easier. Hell, I don't have to stand in line with students and get a new temporary parking pass every semester, I have an annual hang tag now.

But there was a time when unions were a dangerous thing to start and work conditions and pay were brutal. 2012 isn't 1912 or even 1812. We have a good life or at least a potential for a good life.

My good friend Jim Wright has posted a thoughtful discussion on whether we're better off now than we were a hundred years ago. Jim doesn't pull punches.

We had a pleasant day -- recovering from WorldCon -- if you had a pleasant day, too, well done. There's a lot to be thankful for on Labor Day.

Dr. Phil
dr_phil_physics: (us-flag-13)
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness (DW).

Remember...

As family and friends gather and picnic, the grills run hot in the heat wave, neighbors threaten to burn down our houses with wild fires started by their fireworks, and we conveniently forget about our fellow citizens without power or serving in faraway lands and seas, it is hard to think about those who toiled to create this nation. Having recently seen The Patriot on TV, we'll probably bring out the DVD of 1776 and marvel at how close it was that America wasn't, and the seeds sowed in Philadelphia 236 years ago which spawned the action in the same colony/state of 149 years and a couple of days ago in Gettysburg -- and not the vampire battle.

A little reflective reading. First SF writer Elizabeth Moon on the disgraceful treatment of an amputee veteran for the sake of politics. Second an interview including Jim Wright, whose blog at Stonekettle Station is must-read material. You don't have to agree with Jim, but he writes reasoned, thoughtful and damned profoundly funny thoughts for adults about where we are and where we're going.

Finally you can click on the link at the top of this post and contemplate all the words I quoted two years ago, not just the sound bite top ten.

There'll be a quiz on this reading in a couple of months. (grin)

Dr. Phil

Memorial Day Musings

Wednesday, 30 May 2012 13:09
dr_phil_physics: (tomb-of-the-unknown)
What Sort of Holiday?

Memorial Day Weekend. The official start of summer. Memorial Day (Observed). Three-Day Weekend. No mail service on Monday. Garbage pickup delayed by one day all week.

What are we to make of Memorial Day? Well, I guess we do a better job of commemorating the official job of it than we do Veterans Day.

Of course not everyone makes it to parades. Or to cemeteries. Not everyone has served in the military, though my dad did and most of my uncles, a couple of cousins. Many, many friends. In the U.S. we give such short shrift to many working people in terms of vacation days and holidays, that making a big commercial deal of Memorial Day is inevitable.

It's the Indianapolis 500 -- won this year under caution as one driver tried a bold move on the start of the last lap and ended up crashing. It's baseball -- with the Cubs swept by the Pirates to complete a 12-game losing skid, mollified only by a dramatic 11-7 win on Monday against the Evil Padres. (If you don't know why they're evil, then you don't know Cubs history.) (grin)

It's the National Memorial Day Concert on the Mall in Washington DC, hosted by Joe Mantegna and Gary Senise, with dramatic readings of letters of those left behind by war, carried live by PBS... well up until the point that they had to switch to a tape of last year's concert, due to severe weather rolling in and having to clear the space.

Even were I to wish to go to any of the public celebrations, parking and my left leg and crowds would have made it difficult. We mostly stayed home.

War Movies

AMC in particular spent quite a lot of the weekend showing war movies -- it's how a lot of people who don't read, serve or talk to those who do, know anything about war. The weekend started, as I recalled, with Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds, which we hadn't seen before. Wikipedia says it's "Tarantino's highest-grossing film to date." More than Kill Bill? Amazing. And quite an entertaining train wreck of a movie. Think of it as The Dirty Dozen but more improbable. (grin) Then there's Midway, which aside from some silly personal plotlines, I've always liked Midway more than Pearl Harbor's Tora! Tora! Tora! *** -- you can't beat not knowing how many carriers there are, or "sinking" the Yorktown twice, to turn an assured defeat into a great victory. And thank goodness no one seemed to be showing that stinker Pearl Harbor. Patton, always a personal favorite of mine and George C. Scott's greatest, gravelly role. Heartbreak Ridge, is also improbable and implausible, but there's very little else that covers the invasion of Grenada to free the American medical school students. Call it a guilty pleasure, especially to watch Clint & Co. chew up the scenery. The Great Escape, a romanticized version of an actual breakout during WW II. From the age of Big Epic Movies. I'm surprised it isn't paired up with Stalag 17 for a killer POW double-feature every time.

Then they ran Clint Eastwood's Flags of Our Fathers followed by Letters From Iwo Jima, his bookend movies about Iwo Jima -- one about the American invasion and the using of the publicity machine regarding the raising of the flag(s) over Iwo Jima to sell War Bonds, and the other about the Japanese essentially abandoned in place and dug in to delay the Americans and die for the Emperor. I saw most of both, Mrs. Dr. Phil packed it in because the second was running into the early morning hours. We hadn't seen either in the theatres, particularly since (mostly) B&W films don't get booked much and I swear Letters From Iwo Jima was only shown for a couple of days shy of a week on one screen in one theatre-plex in Grand Rapids.

History Channel's six part/three-night miniseries Hatfields & McCoys also began airing on Monday, and given that the roots for the feud began during the American Civil War, which also prompted the historical roots for Memorial Day itself, I suppose it could also be grandfathered into the Memorial Day war movie filmfest.

So there you have it -- a day (or weekend) of Memorial and remembrance of those who have fallen, distilled down to a few public events and hours of movies. Thanks to all who have served, who are serving and who will someday sign up to serve.

From others in the UCF:
David on family who served.
Vince in a poignant Ken Burns moment.
Random Michelle starts with a WW I sad comment.
And then there's Jim Wright from last year, as only Jim can put it.

Dr. Phil

*** Ack! I knew it was Tora not Toro. Thanks! Corrected 5-31-2012.

Go, Uh, Away?

Friday, 2 March 2012 01:48
dr_phil_physics: (wmu-logo)
Friday 2 March 2012

While the rest of the world embraces the Friday workday, I shall be at home. You see, at Western Michigan University, it's Spirit Day. Originally a day off for Homecoming, a few years ago Spirit Day was moved from Fall to Spring (i.e. Winter) Semester in order to load balance the holidays. And they tacked it on to the Friday before Spring Break.

So... Western's students get to celebrate their school spirit by, uh, leaving campus?

Still scratching my head over this one. But after I send Mrs. Dr. Phil off to work, I'll probably go back to bed and catch up on the sleep I've lost with exams this week.

Dr. Phil

Oh, Duh!

Wednesday, 4 January 2012 13:18
dr_phil_physics: (dr-phil-and-daddy-xmas09)
Things Remembered In The Middle Of The Night

In yesterday's post on two old scanned Christmas pictures (DW), I was so busy playing forensic detective that I forgot about some of the obvious things. (grin)

1995 would've been my parents' 50th wedding anniversary and Wendy's 40th birthday, so we had everyone up here for Thanksgiving. So we surely stayed home here in Allendale for Christmas and definitely weren't in Atlanta for that Christmas.

As for 1990, I had been trying to figure out who took the picture -- and forgot that the Polaroid Spectra SE had a self-timer and a tripod mount. So while the 'rents might have been up for Christmas, it is more likely, given that the Christmas tree hadn't been decorated yet, that we shot the Polaroid ourselves and put it in the Christmas card to Atlanta. And probably did another one to Greensboro. Maybe.

Funny how you remember things in drips and drabs sometimes. And one of the reasons I like having blogs to work with...

Dr. Phil
dr_phil_physics: (dr-phil-and-daddy-xmas09)
And They Kept Christmas Very Well

No secret that my family likes Christmas. When I was boxing up Wendy's things in Atlanta, I pulled two photographs out. One is of my father from a few years ago and the other is Mrs. Dr. Phil and I from even further back. Finally got around to scanning them today.

At first blush I figured only that the one of my father was taken at Wendy's place, based on the furniture. But Daddy is wearing an Official Jurassic Park Tour Guide button. Now Jurassic Park came out in 1993, so at first I thought it was 1993. But then I realized that Daddy is holding one of many books on Harry S. Truman he collected. A quick search -- ain't computers amazing -- told me that Robert H. Ferrell's Harry S. Truman: A Life was officially released on 1 January 1996. Which means this is Christmas 1995. And quite possibly we didn't travel south, so we weren't there when this was taken. Can't read the gift tag on the book...


The scanner picked up a lot of white noise, which the Ulead PhotoImpact Despeckle routine only partially removed. Original photo was probably shot with a Nikon N2020 and a 35-70mm f3.3-4.5 AF Nikkor on color negative stock. (Click on photo for larger)


Robert H. Ferrell's Harry S. Truman: A Life would've be available for Christmas 1995.

The picture of the two of us is on a Polaroid SX70-type instant print. And it looks like this is in the living room of the house in Laurium MI in the U.P. Now I'd bought a Polaroid in the spring of 1990 when I went on a job interview -- it might have been a Polaroid Spectra SE -- which means that this might be Christmas 1990. The 'rents might have come up for Christmas (or maybe Thanksgiving) that year, in which case my father probably took the photo. Otherwise, I don't know who shot the picture.


We bought those Santa hats at K-Mart in Houghton, I think, and we still wear them, 21 years later.

Dr. Phil

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