Sunday, March 18, 2018

Cats (part 3) - Spring and Cats


They seem to be the most popular animal on the internet.

And for good reason. Cats can reflect some of the traits we see in ourselves. Which make them fun to watch. And funny.

In the pecking order of nature, cats like to pounce on birds. Dogs like to chase cats. The three natural enemies. Or frenemies.

And when cats and dogs and birds mix it up, hilarity can ensue.  Stuff cartoons are made of. Like Looney Tunes', Spike, Sylvester, and Tweety.

Reality follows art such as in scene below, the kitty cats watching the birdies. Perhaps dreaming about their next dinner?

Then enter the dog. The cats' foil.

And that dog sure made those cats spring! On what appears to be a nice spring day.

Speaking of spring... 

On a more philosophical note. It's a time of rebirth. Renewal. Optimism. An awakening after the slumber of winter.

And speaking of cats...

One existential cat, Henri le Chat Noir, laments the "Blight of Spring:"

Take heart, Henri

The days will stop getting longer

This season will soon come to pass



Previous posts in the series:
Cats (part 1) - Halloween and Cats (2016)

Cats (part 2) - Christmas and Cats (2016)


photo: In Pink Shade/

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

AI (part 4) - Spaceman / Starman

The Cold War and Space

As a baby boomer, I grew up during the Cold War. Part of that battle for superiority in the minds of the world was the US/USSR Space Race to the moon. And the battleground spread to children's television. Remember Rocky and Bullwinkle? Classic Cold War politics.

On the space theme, my favorite Saturday morning show back then was the SciFi - Fireball XL5 (1962-1963).

Colonel Steve Zodiac of the World Space Patrol commanded the spaceship--you guessed it--Fireball XL5. (Wikipedia explains its name was inspired by a brand of motor oil--Castor XL--with the "5" added for some jazz.)

Other crew: The glamorous Dr. Venus with an exotic accent, a blonde doctor of space medicine and Steve's romantic interest. Robert, their co-pilot, a transparent robot with a synthesized voice, kind of like Dr. Stephen Hawking. Professor Matic whose looks and voice are reminiscent of Walter Brennan of The Real McCoys. And others assigned to Space City on mission to patrol Sector 25 of Interstellar Space.

The actors were puppets, animated via the latest in Supermarionation.  And through my black and white TV, snowy reception from our aerial antenna, and resolution of a cathode ray picture tube, it looked wonderful to my young eyes. As would Star Trek when it came along in four more years.

Below is the start and the end of each episode:

I thought Venus was really, really cool as she rode her levitating bike into the spaceship, then rocketed about the universe with Steve. She was my role model. And infused me with the love of space and science.

This show encouraged children in STEM -- Science, Technology, Engineering, Math. Long before we thought it was a problem in our education system.

And the ending song, "I wish I was a spaceman" (lyrics here) has the sweet innocence of the 1950s love songs. Not to mention the term - "spaceman" would not be considered politically correct these not so innocent days.

Fifty years later

STEM follows SciFi.

Elon Musk, visionary, genius, businessman, pioneer in hi tech, has created a version of Fireball XL5 through his commercial space company SpaceX. Their rockets are reusable. Though they don't launch from a mono-rail, but shoot straight up and land back to earth. Vertically. Amazing.
(For an extended biography of Elon Musk and his accomplishments, check out this video: Elon Musk Biography: Shaping All Our Futures  )

The latest, the Falcon Heavy,  successfully launched February 6, 2018.
(Reference NYT article: Falcon Heavy, in a Roar of Thunder, Carries SpaceX’s Ambition Into Orbit )

An edited timeline from launch to orbit to Mars and beyond is shown below:

Its payload was a red Tesla Roadster with a mannequin in a spacesuit. He's called Starman. And now, though the modern marvels of technology, we can check up on Starman.  Live:

But it was pursuing the American dream. A culture based on capitalism. Freedom. That may have attracted South African Elon Musk to immigrate to Canada, then to America.

He pushed the envelop of private launches into space after our government seemed to give up after the Apollo missions and retiring the Space Shurttle.

From the SciFi Fireball XL5 to the real rocket science of the Falcon Heavy.

From Spaceman to Starman.

That's AI -
American Ingenuity.


Previous posts in his series:

AI (part 1) - American Ingenuity  (2012)

AI (part 2) - How Curiosity got our groove back (2012)


Photo:  Apollo6/

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

LOL (part 4) - The First Female Doctor Who?

Current TARDIS/

Ahoy, Doctor Who fans. 

Season 11 of this long running (50+ year)  SciFi show is coming soon. And with it, a new Doctor.  The 13th Doctor. The first Female Doctor.

Here she is...

Indeed. She broke the Doctor Who glass ceiling. A first.

But did she?

Last century-last millennium, Comic Relief, a major UK charity, raised (and still raises) funds through comedy, Red Nose Day, with help from many well known British celebrities. In 1999, one of their skits starred Rowan Atkinson, as the 9th Doctor, in the Doctor Who parody, The Curse of Fatal Death (1999).

The 9th Doctor, after saving every planet in the universe 27 times, decides to retire, settle down, and marry his lovely time traveling assistant Emma.  But they run into their archenemy, The Master, who puts a wrinkle in their wedding plans.

At first, the Doctor and Emma thwart The Master. But The Master prevails with help from the enemy of all living things. The Daleks. But with this deal with the tin can devil, The Master will be double-crossed and also exterminated by the Daleks.

The enemy of the my enemy is my friend, right?

The Doctor, The Master, and Emma quickly become allies to survive Dalek extermination. In the struggle, Doctor 9 is fatally wounded and regenerates into the "lick-the-mirror" handsome Doctor 10. Soon, 10 gets fatally wounded and regenerates into the homely, bumbling Doctor 11. Shortly, 11 gets fatally wounded to regenerated into Doctor 12, played by Hugh Grant.

The Doctor has more lives than cats!

Then Doctor 12 is fatally wounded and regenerates into the 13th Doctor. The lucky number.

Wait for it...

1999: The 13th Doctor is Female!

Wait a minute. 
Let's go back to the future.

2018: The 13th Doctor is Female!

Let's Do the Time Warp Again!

Back to 1999: 

As the assistant says to Doctor 13: You're just not the man I fell in love with.

Then the female Doctor 13 asks her archenemy (they find each other mutually attractive): Why do they call you the Master?

His answer: I'll explain later.

Doctor 13 and the Master walk off together, leaving Emma behind, as The Master lets rip his diabolical laugh.

Red Nose Day did the first female Doctor Who first!

And comedy has the last laugh.



Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Pop Culture (part 4) - Brrrr! ... California Dreamin'

ND Blizzard/

Sounds kind of cool.
But wickedly cold and scary.

That's is one the latest descriptions of the cold weather that has hit the North East in early 2018. {reference: Winter storm 2018: almost the entire East Coast is covered in snow }

So cold, Niagara Falls has seemed to freeze.
As shown below:

The Mamas and The Papas tapped into this longing for warmth in their hit, California Dreamin' (1965)  ... on such a winter's day.

So say the lyrics
 California Dreamin' 
by John and Michelle Phillips

Another sunny group, The Beach Boys, gives their haunting rendition in this remix:

Even on winter days,
the sun will come out. 

Spring is coming.

So is the cycle of life. 

As bad days will come to pass, 

and sunnier days are ahead.

Be safe, my friends.


Previous Post in the series:

Pop Culture (part 1) - Only Time and 9/11 (2015)

Pop Culture (part 2) - Halloween Martian Invasion (2015)

Pop Culture (part 3) - It's Gonna Be All Right  (2016)


Photo: ND Blizzard/

Monday, December 18, 2017

CC3 (part 1) - Peacemaker

Cover by Becki Davis/Davis Creative

I pleased to announce  Book 3 of  my series:

The Commander and the Chief

** Peacemaker **

Now out in Paperback ( and and ebook (kindle and Nook).

Here's the scoop:

The adventures of British Commander, Reginald Barrett, and Native American “Chief,” Nova Orlovic, continue as they take on new political intrigue and mysteries.

Part Serbian, part Cheyenne, Nova opened up a Pandora’s Box when her team uncovered the inconvenient truth behind the death of her husband, a revered war hero. Foul play pointed to President Lincoln Todd. Yet clever politician Todd spun the narrative in his favor while international powers manipulate him to do their bidding. 

Meanwhile, a psychic convinces the First Lady that Nikola Tesla sent papers with alien technology to Nova’s grandfather during World War II. The First Lady embarks to recover them from Nova, Enemy Number One on the Todd Enemies List.

As the Commander used his medical skills to keep Nova alive during her expedition, he now uses them to sleuth dead men’s secrets. But at his best friend’s wedding in Wyoming, the confluence of superstition, old feuds, and international intrigue peak in this version of Close Encounters of the Weird Kind.

What's with Nova's ancestor Nikola Tesla?  As he still stirs up trouble from the grave.

The clip below makes his long story short:

As Peacemaker has been released during the holidays, here is a sample chapter reflecting one aspect of the Christmas spirit:

The party from Nevada—Jack, Charlie, Frank, Bonita—arrived at Nova’s private lodge, a week before the wedding. And they all were given a whirlwind tour of the ranch.
When that was done, Reggie and Nova met Jack and Charlie at Peacemaker Chapel. The engaged couple paced it to get a measure of the place and inspect the venue.
The altar faced the Sapphire Mountains. Its large windows overlooked the Little Medicine Wheel. Beyond, the green meadows and snow in the mountains tussled for territory after spring.
It was chilly out. So they bundled up in fleece jackets. Though the sun in the clear sky warmed them up some.
“During spring and summer, Peacemaker Chapel is a favorite spot for weddings.” Nova pulled out the guest book. “And after Memorial Day, regular Sunday morning services start up here for the guests.”
Charlie walked to the altar and looked out the big picture window. “What’s the story about the Little Medicine Wheel?”
“Happy to tell you.” And Nova beckoned them outside to join her at its perimeter.
“Here,” Nova began, “Grandfather made a copy of the Medicine Wheel in the Bighorn Mountains. A giant wheel with spokes. Though many thought the original was aligned with the constellations and events—like solstices, equinoxes, other astrological stuff.”
“And I see,” Reggie looked about, “there’s no shortage of rocks on the ranch.”
Nova nodded. “So Grandfather gathered them up to make this big wheel. But instead of a buffalo skull at its center, he put a cross.”
“So your grandfather was a spiritual man then?” Jack asked.
“He was a Christian as well as a Medicine Man,” Nova said. “And he believed in the healing of the whole man…body, mind, and spirit. But only one man could do that. The One who died for our sins. Which was why Grandfather put a cross in the middle of the wheel.”
“That explains the plaque.” Reggie read the sign at the perimeter. It invited all to walk around the Little Medicine Wheel and say their prayers to the Great Physician in Heaven.
“Later,” Nova said, “I added Peacemaker Chapel below the Little Medicine Wheel. And when the Wild West Shows became a big tourist draw, the Chapel became a popular place for weddings and worship services.”
To the side of the Chapel, Charlie spied a barn, cordoned off with No Trespassing signs. Its boards and shingles were weathered gray. Wild flowers poked their heads out of the grasses about the fence and building.
“There must be a story about that old barn,” Charlie said.
“There is,” Nova said. “I was born there.”
The three looked puzzled, so she explained.
“My mother was a great lover of horses. One day—she was nine months pregnant at the time—she was tending to her favorite mare in that barn. But I couldn’t wait to come out. Fortunately, Kaya Stillwater was with her and helped bring me into the world. And I was wrapped up in a horse blanket and laid in the hay.
Charlie smiled. “Like the baby Jesus.”
“You told me and Jacko about that last Christmas.” Reggie stepped alongside Nova. “When we were in the cave looking for water. Where we found the Admiral.”
“That was some Christmas,” Jack said. “Full moon rising in the Forbidden Area. The three of us with the Admiral’s dead body. Who left us one hell of present.”
“Like twenty million of them,” Reggie said. They all knew he was referring to the number of CyBytes on the microchip inside Admiral Quinn’s Navy ring.
Then Nova chuckled. “When I left the door open as a kid, the grown-ups would yell at me, Were you born in a barn? And I’d say, Yes, I really was. And they thought I was just being a smart ass.”
“Well, were you?” Reggie raised his eyebrows. And Nova answered with a playful swat.
“So your mother was an only child, Nova?” Charlie asked. “Like you.”
“No and no,” Nova said. “Don’t forget my half-brother Nick. My dad’s son. And Mother had two older brothers and twin sisters.”
The three looked surprised, so Nova explained.
Her mother’s twin sisters had died from measles as infants. As for her mother’s older brothers, they both had survived to adulthood. Then Uncle Gideon was killed in the Korean War. Uncle Malachi, a logger, was crushed by a big tree. A fatal workplace accident.
The boys had no children. Only Sunshine Rainmaker survived to produce a child. That was Nova.
“I was glad to have known my dad’s mother in Montana,” Nova said. “Yet I never knew Grandmother Rainmaker. Her maiden name was intriguing though. Myrna Mankiller.”
“There must be quite a story about that,” Jack piped up.
“There usually is,” Nova said. “In her day, you needed the permission of the tribal elders to select your Indian name. But this grandma passed away before I was born. So for now, it’s a mystery.”

from Part 9, Chapter 1: Sacred Space

More info:

Nova born in a barn like the baby Jesus? 

The late John Denver gives a tribute -- the Cowboy Way --- to the One born in a barn in his 1991 Christmas special - Montana Christmas Skies 


So many levels of meaning in Book 3 ... the latest US Peace Treaty with a tyrant, which is not good for the free world. The symbol of the Peace Pipe. The Peacemaker missile silos on Nova's Wyoming ranch, a relic of the Cold War. Peacemaker Chapel, a popular place for weddings, such as the coming wedding of the Commander and the Chief's friends. And making peace, settling old feuds.

As the Good Lord said...

Blessed are the peacemakers: 
for they shall be called the children of God.

Matthew 5:9 (KJV)

And this Christmas songs remind us that the Prince of Peace has come....

For unto us a child is born,
unto us a son is given:
and the government shall be upon his shoulder:
and his name shall be called
The mighty God,
The everlasting Father,
The Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:6 (KJV)

Blessings for Christmas 2017 and into the New Year of 2018.


Related posts in the Commander and the Chief series:

His Tribe of One, Book One:

CC (part 1) - The Commander and the Chief: His Tribe of One (2014)

CC (part 2) - Universe in a Glass of Wine  (2014)

CC (part 3) - Happy Bill of Rights Day  (2014)

CC (part 4) - Stories and the Brain (2015)

CC (part 5) - Audie Murphy  (2014)

CC (part 6) - Pavle Orlovic (2015)

CC (part 7) - Buzz Aldrin  (2015) 

 CC (part 8) - Little America (2016)    

CC (part 9) - Buffalo Bill's Wild West (2016)

CC (part 10) - Little Big Man (2016) 

Counting Coup, Book Two:

CC2 (part 1) - Counting Coup  (2016)


Photo:  Cover by Becki Davis/Davis Creative

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Patriots (part 5) - Private Martin A. Treptow's Pledge

WW1 veteran/

Above is pictured World War I veteran, Joseph Ambrose, 86, at the dedication day parade for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in 1982. He's holding the flag of his son, who was killed in the Korean War.

It's sad for parents to out-live their children. Even more poignant for parents whose children have given their life for their country.

One World War I solider, who was killed in action, was Private Martin Treptow. In his inaugural address in 1981, Ronald Reagan gave speech to remember who we are, honoring veterans and their sacrifices.

A message for our times. Still relevant for our continuing war on terror against the enemies of freedom.

This Veterans Day, may we remember our veterans and all those who put themselves in harm's way to serve others--home and abroad.

And this pledge:

"America must win this war. 

Therefore I will work, I will save, I will sacrifice, 
I will endure, I will fight cheerfully and do my utmost, 
as if the issue of the whole struggle
depended on me alone."

We are Americans. And Freedom isn't Free.

God Bless our Troops!

And God Bless America!



Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Faith (part 3) - Halloween 500 years ago

Halloween, 500 years ago...

Legend has it that on the Eve of All Saint's Day in 1517 AD, a German theologian, friar, professor, priest came knocking at the door.

Trick or Treat?

More like nailing his 95 theses at the Castle Church in Wittenberg.

That legendary figure? Martin Luther, of course.

And that story is shown in the clip below.

That Halloween is considered the start of the Protestant Reformation. And today, some choose to celebrate Reformation Day. (Instead of, or in addition to, the traditional "Trick or Treat")

Yet in the 16th century, Martin Luther stood on the shoulders of many reformers before him. Such as,  John Wycliffe in the 14th century.  John Huss in the 15th century.

But one my favorites is Peter Waldo of the 12th century. And his story is told below.

(reference: )

The Waldensians, a movement that took its name from Peter Waldo, were largely absorbed by Protestants when they came along. But the Waldensians still exist as a denomination to this day - e.g. the American Waldensian Society. As I so witnessed in a recent trip back East, I saw a sign for the Waldensian Church in Pennsylvania.

And as the video above said, Peter Waldo had Martin Luther's shtick down three centuries before Martin Luther.

Regardless of denomination or religious affiliation, St. Paul gave this warning 20 centuries ago...

Take a good look at yourselves
to see if you are really believers.
Test yourselves.
Don’t you realize that
Christ Jesus is in you?
Unless, of course, you fail the test!

II Corinthians 13:5 (NIV)

Reformation is an ongoing process, a never ending test.

So if a monk comes knocking at your door this October 31st, wish them a ...

 Blessed Reformation Day!


Other posts in the series:

Faith (part 1) - Star Trek and Christianity (2016)