Something is Going Well Around Here!

The 1,000 “like” road marker disappearing in the rear view mirror…

The WP auto-post function just told me that I have accumulated 1,000 “likes,” which are all because the imaginary “you” have been appreciating what I’ve been pouring forth since June 22nd. It hasn’t been four months yet and I have so many “likes!” Who knew?!?

I’ve logged 87 posts (one was a repeat, so doesn’t really count and one was a reblog in respect for a new WordPress-induced friend) in 111 days, meaning that I’ve hit about 78% of the days between start and present. Not bad. Could be better. Let’s see if I can pick up the slack.

Thank you, everyone!


I Was Nominated (and Accept)

Confabler nominated me for a Sunshine Blogger Award!

My distant, yet close friend Confabler has nominated me for the Shiny Shiny Sunshine Award. I love her imagination and sense of whimsy; she lets her muse du jour lead and she follows. There’s a wonderful freedom to that which is (1) difficult to allow in the rational process of “writing” and (2) enjoyable to find.

1. If you were to choose an insect that would take over the world after human extinction, who would that be?

It sort of depends on our route to extinction. If it involved an epidemic, the population of flies might see a giant uptick. This would be a good one:

Gauromydas heros

If it is a slow process, then I nominate the Japanese Rhinoceros beetle because it would be awesome if creatures  with such improbably fashioned protuberances were to be the alpha species (Megasoma and Titan beetles would be acceptable alternatives):

Allomyrina dichotoma

 If our extinction took all other terrestrial life along for the ride, I would like to see this enormous isopod (a relative of our terrestrial roly-polies) rule the seas (note inclusion of actual human hands for sense of scale):

The underside of a male Bathynomus giganteus, a species of giant isopod captured in the Gulf of Mexico in October 2002.

2. How old were you when you first read Harry Potter? And your favorite author of course?

I was pretty old when I read my only Harry Potter book (the first one). I didn’t enjoy it enough to complete the series, although I’ve seen all the films and enjoyed them well enough. In the period I read that first one, I was typically reading a lot of history and didn’t find that it was a good use of my time. When I was really young, I read the Classics Illustrated versions of novels, which were quite good at introducing a curious young mind to the wonders of literature without having to do the work (sort of illustrated CliffsNotes (I didn’t use these in school though), if you will). When I was a little older, I read Robert E. Howard, Sax Rohmer, John Carter of Mars, H. Rider Haggard, Stanley Weinbaum, George McDonald fantasies, etc.

My favorite author is Gabriel Garcia Marquez for One Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera. His writing is so rich, amusing, full of simple wisdom and abundant humanity it is hard to believe he was just a human being writing about the lives he saw playing out around him. I literally would read some passages and have to put the book down as if I had just sipped the richest chocolate elixir in the world and needed to savor it until I sipped again. His Spanish-to-English translators did a good job in getting it right; Gregory Rabassa (OHYoS translator) was even praised by Garcia Marques himself!

3. If you were invisible what is the craziest thing that you would do?

Here’s an odd one: Go and hang around bigots, transcribe their conversations, and publish them for the world to see how terrible people speak when they think no one is listening (but, oh yeah, we have the internet so this already happens). If I could walk through things, which seems fair since I’m invisible, I would go around seeing what it felt like to do that—see if there were different textures to different things on the inside than on their surface.

4.what food makes you feel like a hungry hyena?

This has changed so much over time! These days, I don’t get this kind of urge anymore. In my early adult (late teen?) years… ICE CREAM!!!!

5. A song that makes you dream?

Gymnopedie #1 by Erik Satie

6. Have you ever planted a tree?

Yes. Unasked but answered: quite a few!

7. Choose your man: superman/ Spiderman/ iron man and if he was your best friend one thing that you would make him do?

Can I choose Supergirl? If I can, I would have her take me around to various places in the world, build shelters so I could stay there and visit free, then whisk me off to the next place on “our” list (she would be enjoying the sight-seeing with me, of course! What kind of boor do you think I am?!?!).

8.How much time do you spend in front of the mirror everyday?

As little as possible, which involves shaving and brushing my teeth. I find that shaving my teeth first helps with the brushing.

9.why you started blogging and tell us about the post enjoyed the most making.

I was having a bunch of conversations with people who did not seem to understand the wonderful humility of learning and doing science and wanted to see how well I could write about how science is a discipline that can assist us all in not leaning out too far over our skis (getting ahead of ourselves and pretending we know stuff we don’t). Blogging has become so much more than that since my first post on June 22, 2016, and I have had so much fun writing fiction and revisiting some poetry I wrote several decades ago (and finding them easier to “fix” than I remembered).

I’m not sure which of my posts I enjoyed the most. They’re all my children so I like them all? I probably like the odd bits of fiction that I had no idea were inside me when I woke up and then found them on the page looking up at me. I like The Big Day of these. Of the science posts, I like The Mess: Parts 1 & 2 and the Appendix 1 items best (maybe). Of the historical pieces, I like Risk Management. Of the life pieces, I like Building Blocks the best. Anyone who reads this is encouraged to make up their own mind; I am hopelessly biased.

10. Which social media platform are you addicted to (including WordPress)?

I don’t do much social media except WordPress. I don’t like Facebook at all and deleted my account. WordPress is addicting but in a very healthy way! You get to create something and share it with new friends from all over the world. That’s a great addiction have.

Now the rules:

1.thank the person that nominated you.

Thank you, Confabler. You are a true virtual friend, and I don’t mean that in any Pokemon way either!

2. Answer the questions from your nominator.


3. Nominate fellow bloggers you follow.

Hereinafter lie the following nominees in no particular order (order, of course, being an illusion):

Confabler – it would be completely wrong not to boomerang this thing back at her; how could I like what she writes and like that she nominated me but ignore why we share interests at all?

November_child –  in her poetry, every word is judiciously considered for its various meanings and the images they stir and she makes great short stories that are deep and playful and serious all at the same time

anonymouslyautistic – for doing an AMAZING job of writing about this misunderstood spectrum of living – and for inviting others who share her interest to contribute

English Lit Geek – because she searches the web and her library for poems that communicate her inner soul to us all out here in the ‘sphere and I appreciate this!

Wiser Daily – because this guy writes REALLY well about every single subject he wraps his mind around, because he is not a scientist but writes extremely clearly about science, because he is just a damned good writer!

Breathmath – because they are doing an astonishingly serious job of trying to get the world to see the beauty in mathematics

Sheryl – because she’s written a book, is working on others, has great tips for doing the same, and kindly visits my offerings fairly often

The Nexus – because he writes REALLY well about physics and does a great job of doing what I set out to do, whether I’m doing it on any given day or not

The Biology Yak – because she is passionate about biology and shares her passion in every word on every topic she chooses

afternoonifiedlady – even though I have no idea what it is to be an afternoonifiedlady, I love her rants about living with and without her ex and trying to wrestle with notions of romance – she is very witty and amusingly pissed off!

Yaskhan – for her lovely, succinct way with words

urbanagscientist – because she is at least as worried about the misunderstanding of science as I am

Luke Atkins – because he writes really well about difficult subjects and he writes like the stuff matters a lot, which it absolutely does!

And there are more in my list of 119 writers that I am following but this is enough for now.

4. Give them 10 questions to answer.

If you wish (and I clearly cannot impose this on any of you, please respond to confabler’s funny questions. I enjoyed them, maybe you will too!

Kind regards, MSOC

It was Generous of confabler to choose me. Now I have to Jump off and do other stuff!

Scry the Tomorrow

Thieliz and Troon had arrived at the hidden pond some hours ago and promptly fallen asleep on the reedy, cool bank, sheltered by the forest of willows from the Known World where their countless nosy cousins, siblings, and elders frittered away their day. They knew the narrow path through the dolorous green limbs and greying trunks of this tree-nest and came here when everyone became too much. But they also came here to fashion tools for their private annual mission.

Once they had shaken themselves alive from their torpid shells and gently brushed off the few insects friends who were visiting, they looked about and each chose a firm, tawny reed from among the pussy willows that danced slowly about the limpid pond, still and deep beyond measure. The reeds were easily broken into hollow bits as long as their forearms and had a sweet taste that was fun to sip but left them dozy, unsteady on their feet, and they couldn’t enjoy the nectar today.

Instead of sipping the sweetness from the reeds, they stuck them in the pond, just beneath the scattered lily pads that skirted the edge and inhaled cautiously, letting the darkness slide up the straw until it had nearly reached their lips, then the blew out the contents, repeating this several times until all the deliciousness was gone and no water had reached their lips. They flipped the thin tubes and did this again, one more set of flirting with the honeyed dew and the depthless pond, then they were done with that and ready for their quest into the woods. The reeds were then stowed in thin leaf pouches that they wore on a tendril twine sash around their waists.

While they had come through the fields and forest to get through the narrow break in the willow realm around the pond, finding their quarry would take them through a burrow that beckoned on the far bank. Thieliz thought it had belonged to a badger at some time in the distant past, while Troon imagined it was the work of a bumbleworm, although Thieliz always reminded Troon that she had invented the bumbleworm herself and the furry serpent didn’t exist outside of her own fanciful head. But it didn’t matter. However it had come into being, there the burrow was yawning widely, waiting for them to crawl down into its temperate chambers and branching tunnels.

Once they had gone far enough, the mosses and lichens lit up with the soft teal chemistry of a trillion tiny lights, oozing into brightness, then dimming to a soft glow. The rooms were large enough for them to stand, for neither of them were very tall by the standards of trees and reeds, and the glow lit their path without casting shadows forward or behind. They strolled along, taking only left turns for the longest time until the reached the root room, where the trees above all united and drank from a subterranean spring that leaked up through the ground in just the right measure to sustain the ancient friends blowing in the noonday winds.

Eight paths led out of the room but only one took them to their destination and it was always a little different depending on the time. As it was a little after the sun sat highest and six ticks beyond dawn, it was a simple matter; the passage directly in front of them took them onward and, after a bit more slow, steady progress, upward to where they had to crawl again.

The burrow opening popped them out in a shaded patch of meadow grass, yellowing in the heat of mid-day and waving at the clouds overhead. It smelled of suckle, which must have been close by but none was to be seen here.

The twins kept to the tree shade and slipped away to their right and into a sliver of black that separated a single oak into two towering, forked trunks that dissolved in a head of big dark leaves pendant from uncountable branches rising up and gone. Just beyond this oaken crevice lay a small clearing among the trees, dark as night but with a cluster of ancient arboreal skeletons at the center, spiraling out to a single remnant of the great oak that had passed most recently in all-time.

It was hollow at its core, green bits of moss encasing the crust of bark, algae spilling off into the tiny pool of dew that had collected inside. Thieliz smiled at Troon, who smiled back. There was a single brown leaf afloat on the surface of the dew, which Troon removed gently, placing it on the ground and making a  note to herself to return it after they were done.

“I wonder what we’ll learn this year, T.” Troon spoke first as Thieliz had promised not to be so pushy this year.

“We will see what we see, just like always, T.” Thieliz couldn’t help but be bossy and Troon knew that she would find some way to claim her place in their twindom, being slightly older by a minute from when Troon hatched.

Each twin took their reeds from their pouches and held them gently in their left hands, important for doing what they were about to do. They sat at the edge of the oaken memory, one on each side and opposite of each other, arranged in what their inner selves told them was to the star and to the moon, and inserted the clean, dry tubes between their lips, then bent over and placed just the tiniest bit of the tip into the shallow reservoir collected from the morning’s fog. One sip, the least amount possible, as the oaks in their numbers would punish them severely if they demonstrated greed or thirst. This was not the place for that kind of silliness.


They both dropped onto their backs, their legs still crossed before them, knees, calves, shins, and feet still touching the bark. And they saw what they had come to see, what the oaks had to say to them this year.

The world beyond their world was too hot. Grasses and trees burnt everywhere there was land, sending thunderclouds of black smoke into the air, clotting the sun’s rays with motes burned from the living souls of all the beauty that was devoured in the flames. The sun disappeared and became night in the day. No moon peered through the ever-present gloom. There was no cycle, no renewing, no change. Darkness overcame it all and all the green was gone. All the brown was gone and became sooty blackness all around.

And that was all there was.

A day passed with the twins lying completely still in the clearing. Then they awoke and slowly climbed out of what they had seen. Neither said a word. No words could be said. No one would believe them this year and no one could stand to hear what they had to say even if they could.

The darkness of the depthless pool waited for them in the sunlit space among the willow forest and pussy willows, with their catkins fluffing out in their time. They went to join the others who had seen the bad before them. And their time had come for them as well.

Featured image