“Planet H-13”

Very pleased to announce that my short story, “Planet H-13” is published in this October’s issue of Five on the Fifth and is available at the following link: “Planet H-13”

This story is a piece of a larger idea I’ve been working on, which I hope to get other parts/pieces published to let the short stories and flash fictions interweave to set the stage for the big picture. We’ll see. Please take the time to read and enjoy.

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There really isn’t any reasoning with mythical, flying, irrational beings

I’ll be honest – I have zero memory of what inspired/prompted/fed into the idea for the newest short story posted here. I don’t. I can say it was influenced by an episode of Ash vs the Evil Dead, a blurred mental mosaic of middle-aged detective stereotypes from the 80’s, and probably having a hard time falling asleep. From some seed of sleeplessness came this fiasco, or, shall I say, fandango? So what’s it about? Flying, irrational beings and two to three parts murder. I had fun writing it, so I hope you have fun reading it. If you don’t – hey, at least it was free. 

“There Is No Reasoning With Fairies”, link to the right, or link to it right here

[Fun fact: Titles always come last with me. Stumped with this one, eventually I landed on “Killer Fairies From Inner Space” and thought, man, that’s a slick, slick title. Took a few weeks before I realized why it sounded sorta familiar. And so, not to impose on the classic Killer Clowns From Outer Space, I changed it, because I can’t afford to screw stuff like that up.]

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A Short Reflection on Unity

Unity is a superficially simple concept, that I would define as something like an agreement among individuals, or individual parties, to maintain alignment on a specific cause, philosophy, or purpose.  For example, a group of friends can find unity among their individualities to defend each other against some other group of friends, who have likewise found a unity.  Those in group A may practice varying adherence to the same or different religions, come from families of no common lineage, or all be transplants from different states.  But in their one purpose, defense, they find a unity. 

But unity is also a relative concept which has its magnitude defined by the number of participating individuals and the number of overlapping differences that are smoothed over to accommodate a common front.  A recent example I came across was a video celebrating western culture, full of Christian religious symbolism and references to both artwork and figures of the European Renaissance and Enlightenment.  I am assuming the motivation behind this video was a longing for the traditional values of a homogenized western culture and sorrow toward its apparent erosion.  Now, this is no attempt to opine on the validity of that longing or to imply any form of judgement on that video.  Simply, I saw it as a showcase of smoothing over all the historical, cultural, and linguistic differences among the western European nations and peoples, blending together thousands of years of different histories to propel a writ-large statement.  I must emphasize the idea of it blending together and effectively glossing over all historical and cultural differences between, say, the Greeks and Austrians, the English and Italians, in order to make an artistic point.  But through the shared sense of a perceived loss of identity, some found unity under the perceived collective culture being lost.  In other words, unity was found through differences. 

Unity is a pillar of American identity erected in the aftermath of the Civil War.  After its conclusion, the American mindset shifted from that of being state-centric, i.e. “I am a Virginian,”, to that of nationalistic, i.e. “I am an American”.  Unity, from sea to shining sea, across a landmass the extent of Europe, where people living under fifty different sets of laws were still connected by a common sense that they were Americans.  This sense of a common identity was strengthened by external, international dangers that threatened all living in the United States, requiring a need for all to act as one.  Unity was maintained as long as the common threads of the blanket of freedom were acknowledged, accepted, understood, propagated, and held in reverence.  Americans recognized each other as Americans, and so long as all held to a common concept, a common respect for each other as Americans, unity was maintained.  With that could come purpose, a driving goal, an answer for every challenge thrown at the American people, where the American spirit and ingenuity thrived. 

But if unity is the tamping down of differences to find agreement toward a common cause, philosophy, or purpose, then two complications arise.  The first is understanding how wide commonality may be stretched before the magnitude of differences (as a function of the number of differentiating factors and their importance to people) overwhelms it.  Consider categories of differences as the conceptual divisions that define individuals from each other.  These can be very wide and blatant (ex. Immigrants and non-immigrants) to much more refined (students same town but rival high schools).  So the question becomes, how many people or how many categories of difference can be held together by a common purpose?  For example, it may be easy for Catholic Christians and Methodist Christians and Seventh Day Adventist Christians to find unity under Christianity to find purpose in, for example, supporting an education bill.  But can that unity toward a purpose also be extended to religious non-Christians or non-religious people to align on and make the desired outcome?  Likely that would depend on the how well bill itself provides a non-religious common thread to pull the groups together.  The other complication stems from the first, which is the presence of separatist agitators who would prefer to see the magnitude of unity collapse to fit smaller categories of differences.  There was never a time in American history where it was difficult to find separatist agitators, but in the 21st century, their reach, the number of outlets available to them, and their volume has reached an accumulation not seen previously in our history. 

This is a problem, and it is a self-exacerbating problem.  With a growing United States, in the number of its citizens, in the ever-increasing complexity of its cultures, which births more categories of differences, the apparent common threads appear to be growing tauter, while the volume of agitators grows.  Unity itself is in danger of being drowned by the need of the agitators to embrace the weight of our differences.  Without unity, we find ourselves without the willpower or purpose to resolve any of the major issues facing our nation.  To be clear, we the people have become focused on the arguments and not the solutions.  To listen closely to the major parties, for example, one finds they offer no solutions, spend time casting stones, and play at government standstills while toying with trillions of taxpayer dollars.

Unity of a people, any people, is a mainstay of society, and is an evolution from family to tribe to city to the nation.  The growth and majesty of any civilization was never found by euphorically relishing in the differences but in understanding and owning those differences while understanding that the neighbor is not the enemy and working toward a common objective benefiting all.  We cannot afford to focus on separatism any further as we proceed through the 21st century.  We must regain unity. 

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A Sort of Personal Story

Last week, I came across diversity initiatives in the news, at work, and even a cynical jab at it on TV where the protagonists on screen were effectively lamenting their employers’ for-show-only diversity program. I have opinions on it, like many people do, and I am fortunate that Notre Dame Magazine published my thoughts on it on their website. Please find the essay, “Skin Deep”, available at the following website: https://magazine.nd.edu/stories/skin-deep/

image retrieved from https://magazine.nd.edu/ on September 2, 2020
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Gilmerton Industrial Park to Gilmerton [Recreational] Park

Anyone living in the Chesapeake area, I’m looking for some opinions and support, if possible.

50+ acres of privately owned land have been ear-marked to be developed into an industrial area adjacent to my neighborhood. It was originally laid out in the 2005 City of Chesapeake strategic plan. In 2010, the Virginia Post wrote an article about the Gilmerton Industrial Park. However, in the last decade, the only visible progress has been the deforestation of perhaps around 15 acres and nothing further. No roads or parking lots paved, no foundations laid, no new employment opportunities being offered.

What is known is that a single LLC holds the property rights to the majority of this land, is still seeking interested parties to sell the land, and is still paying property taxes without what appears to be a strong exit strategy.

What I propose is what may seem like the best solution to meet everyone’s desires, which is to turn that area into a recreational park. The initial, desired outcome was that the Gilmerton Industrial Park would be developed, serve as a source of new employment, and bolster the industrial sector surrounding the Gilmerton Bridge. This has not happened and does not seem likely to happen. Instead, a recreational park, offering nature trails, water access, and the possibility of kayak or canoe rentals, would meet the following objectives:
1) Allow the private owner the ability to sell the land and recover costs.
2) Use the land to provide social and recreational benefits to the surrounding Deep Creek community.
3) Conserve the remaining tens of acres of natural wetland to maintain the existing habitat serving the species that still make this part of Chesapeake its home.
4) Provide neutral to beneficial effects on local housing prices, vice the negative effects typically associated with the introduction of industrial zones.

I already have a commitment from a local group, the Living River Trust, to reach out to the land owner to see if they are interested in the selling the land. I, on the other hand, am seeing if any of my Chesapeake fellows would be in support of such a thing. Because, as it turns out, public support is important.

In the meantime, stay inside.

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Staying Engaged

Just to give myself a clean entry, whatever you see on here until I say it’s done, will be a story that I’m updating on the fly. I’m writing it in Word and copying/pasting to FaceBook (to prevent another fiasco like yesterday) as well as this website for those who are on the look-out. The idea is just iterative installments on a periodic basis whenever I see fit. This way, I can give my brain a release instead of trying not to get overwhelmed at writing larger pieces.

I’m not re-reading these things, not trying to edit them, they’re coming out as they originally are. Hope you enjoy, and I guess we’ll all find out how the story ends right about the same time!

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Welcome!

Welcome and thank you for visiting!
This website is for anyone interested in “The House of Torunthane: Liberation”, a book that was minted and printed through Archway Publishing.  In the future, I’ll wind up posting other miscellaneous writing from the past as well as anything that seems to flow at the moment.  Please explore the rest of this site using the links above.

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