Discovering the Spoken Word

Writing can sometimes be a bit of a two edged sword, because it takes up quite a lot of my free time. I discovered a few years ago that ever since I started writing regularly, the amount of books that I read started to drop. I didn’t think of it immediately, but kept buying on books and putting them on my book case with the idea that I’ll get round to them. It came as quite a shock the day that I inspected my books and realized that there were quite a number there that I hadn’t read. So much in fact that I wouldn’t have to join the library for a full season.

I got round to reading the ‘hype’ books (which is why I can get very worked up when I read bad fiction) and did catch up with a lot of my ‘one day I’ll read you’ books when I was in England thanks to public transport but this year, the amount of books that I’ve gotten round to reading is appalling.
And, in a sense, it’s all writing’s fault because I find myself pushing more of my free time there than towards sitting down and enjoy other people’s fiction.

On impulse, I decided to by a cheapish audio book (The Postcard Killers by James Patterson and Liza Marklund) in order to establish whether or not I could utilize my time in the car more positively. It turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve made.

I loved listening to a book while I was driving. Yes, it was no substitute to reading, but it was much better than listening to fading radio stations or the same old songs over and over (and over) again as I drove hundreds of miles a day. And, I got to respect the stories that were out there. The book that I’m currently listening to was also a good choice. It has a lot of suspense, interesting characters and frighteningly detailed gore. Time and time again I found myself clutching the steering wheel, wondering what the hell I was doing in the car alone with these fictional people.

It was a great experience and I believe that it’s made me a safer driver because quite suddenly I find myself savoring the drive, enjoying the story rather than putting petal to the metal in order to speed home. I was quite content to be stuck behind a truck because it meant I’d have more time listening to the book.

So, I’ve started a new habit, one which I’m hoping will catch on with my other friend who also spends a lot of time on the road. Together then we could buy books and swap them back and forth because I feel that it’s the answer to the biggest frustration we’ve experienced so far (that our time spend behind the wheel is wasted time).

If you drive a lot like I do, I can highly recommend the practice.

Enter the Dragon Part 7.

Another part of this story. This is a continuation of yesterday’s story.

Enjoy everybody. J I’m off to bed and then tomorrow – the wild world of our great north. 😉

Enter the Dragon.

As it was gorged on pillows, the dragon Will didn’t seem to be interested in anything else for the rest of the day. Alyssa made sure to make some water available for it before she and Minias set about trying to rid her dog of the awful smell of dragon excrement. It wasn’t a pleasant experience, but in an amusing kind of way, Alyssa felt that she and the demon had done some group effort like bonding.

She had fitted Will with the old horse halter that she had, but had to do some adjustments to allow for its very slim head. In her mind, Alyssa decided that Will was male – much in the same way she decided that her GPS was female, her car was male and her fish both. Minias stopped trying to correct her and just went with it, probably silently wishing that the dragon was female just to show her up. When they were done with her dog, he disappeared into his room and didn’t resurface again.

Alyssa sat outside with the dragon and her better smelling dog until the sun started setting then, she went into her room to start cleaning up the mess that Will had left. She made her bed first, but it was a futile act as Will followed her back into the room and happily bound onto it.

Alyssa decided right there and then that it was time for lesson 1.

Don’t jump onto the bed without permission.

She went up to the bed and whistled for attention, pleased that Will immediately looked at her.

“Down you,” she said sharply, pointing to the ground, hoping that the dragon would pick up on her meaning as he had when she didn’t want Minais to leave earlier. She waited a few seconds as he blinked at her with his yellow snake like eyes then decided that he had had to hear the command again.

“Down,” she said clearly and this time gave the halter a bit of a tug. “Come on then, you can’t sleep there. That’s my bed.”

The dragon blinked at her and dropped it’s head to the mattress, clearly ignoring her on purpose.

Growling under her breath, Alyssa got up onto the bed behind him and pushed him down. “Down Will,” she insisted. “Down Will, down!”

She pushed with all her might with her back against the wall and finally, after what could only be a screech of protest from the winged reptile, his body gave way and he jumped to the floor. Alyssa grinned and sat up to praise him but her victory was short lived. Will’s feet barely touched the ground before he bound up again.

“Oh no you don’t!” Alyss snapped and intercepted him quickly, grabbing him by the halter and wrestling him to the floor. “Stay down. Down Will!” She knew somehow that it was useless repeating the command when it was clear he either didn’t want to listen or didn’t quite understand by she figured it was better than; bad dragon, bad. She had certainly said that enough for one day.

Again, Will moaned protest and tried to bound up away from her and onto the bed but she held fast, desperately trying to pin him to the ground. Again, most of the things that were standing in her room was knocked down in their tryst but Alyssa held firm, unwilling to give in to Will’s clearly youthful strong will.

She had managed to wrap both her legs around his body and had his head and neck pressed against her chest but that gave Will amble maneuver space to roll on her, even if he couldn’t get up. It was during this exercise that Minias decided to show his face again, much to Alyssa’s irritation.

The demon looked at the wrestling pair for a bit before he made a small, soft and very irritating amused sound.

“I take it you still have it in your mind to train him?” he said smoothly as Alyssa was forced to look at his shiny shoes, as she could not turn her head up to look at his face.

“In the process of it,” she grunted as Will once again tried to lunge for the bed. “Can’t you see?”

Again, the demon made that sound.

“Hmm,” he said. “I can see that you’re going to have to consider taking out a stronger health insurance… No? Suit yourself. I’m off.”

Alyssa blinked and managed to get Will to lie still for a second.

“Oi,” she snapped as Minias turned to the door. “You can’t bloody well leave.”

The demon turned to her and bent down so that she could look at his face instead of his heels.

“I can,” he said simply. “As amusing as it is to watch you roll around the ground with a lizard between your legs, I have business to attend to. And no, it can’t wait – I helped you wash your dog. That’s as helpful as I’m going to get without claiming a demon mark.”

Alyssa growled at him and to her silent pleasure, Will was distracted long enough from his mission to get up onto her bed to look at the demon and growl too. Minias seemed undeterred and merely tipped that hat that he was wearing at them and walked out of the door.

Sniffing, immediately regretting it as the sharp stench of dragon filled her nostrils; Alyssa shifted her grip on Will and snorted.

“You know,” she said. “This wouldn’t be a problem if you were spaniel sized. Then, we could’ve negotiated about the bed but no…” She trailed off surprised as the dragon blinked at her and closed its eyes. With what could only be a sneeze, he shuddered and seemed to melt away in her arms. As she pushed herself up, she felt the weight shift on her legs as Will looked up at her, now the size of a medium sized dog. She didn’t know how it worked, but the halter seemed to have shrunk around his head as well.

They blinked at each other for a long time.

“Ah,” Alyssa finally managed. “Good dragon?” She wasn’t sure if she should praise him but it seemed like a good idea. His magic is the unpredictable kind, Minias had warned her and as it turned out, he wasn’t kidding.

But, it seemed harmless enough.

At her praise, Will shook himself pleased and bound up onto her bed, settling down where he feet would be to look at her with his almost golden eyes.

“Well done,” Alyssa praised him softly and tentatively reached out to stroke his head, still amazed at the transformation. “If you stay this size when you’re in my room, you are more than welcome here you know. Heck… I could even make you a bed in the cupboard underneath my book case.” She paused. “If you promise not to breath fire of course…” She trailed off, feeling stupid talking to the beast. Looking around her room, she found herself wishing that not all of her tiffs with the dragon was going to end in total room chaos.

“Well,” she said again. “Good dragon. Thank you for changing to a more manageable size.” And for listening to me… even if it was on your own terms…

She set about cleaning her room again, musing that this might just be easier than she thought…

To Be Continued…

Enter the Dragon Redux

I’m picking up an old blog story of mine. This is the part of the story that I wrote of what happens when my chibi Alyssa (who already has Minias from Kim Harrison’s The Hollows living in her room as a fugitive) discovers another lodger have taken up residence. It’s silly fun, not at all intended to be serious or a pun on How to Train Your Dragon the movie.

You can find the first parts here:  123, 4, 5.

Minias is the property of Kim Harrison. I do not make any money out of this, it’s purely meant as innocent fun. I also don’t entertain the idea of having demons in my real room.

Enter the Dragon Part 6

Alyssa found herself perched on the steps of the main house which overlooked her room and a concrete courtyard. They had been baked warm in the July winter sun and were normally one of Alyssa’s favourite places to sit and have her cup of coffee when all was quiet.

Today, she couldn’t quite enjoy the moment as she used to because she had a headache.

And she also had a dragon.

Alyss sighed and cradled her head on her one hand, grimacing when a shadow fell over her. She looked up to see her lodger standing over her with two cups of coffee in his hands. Grateful, Alyss moved over to make space for the Hollow’s Character and took a cup from him. After a moment or two’s consideration, the demon sank down beside her and cradled his cup, looking at the ground by their feet. According to everything that Alyss thought she knew about his species, he should be unable to walk around while the sun was still up but obviously, he had found a way around it.

She didn’t want to think about it too long or too hard because then she would have to think about what he was as well.

“I’m sorry about your dog.”

Alyssa sighed miserably and took a sip of coffee, comforted by its warmth.

“Yeah well,” she said and sighed again. “These things happen.” She paused for a long time then looked up to where the dragon was lying in the sun.

“And you’re going to help me with it.”

It was indeed her dog which the dragon had chased out of the room. Horrified, Alyssa had stormed after it, fearing the worst when she saw the dragon crouched by the garden tool shed. At first she thought that her dog was hiding underneath it but as it turned out, Nikki the geriatric dachshund was facing the dragon head on. She wasn’t a fierce dog by nature, really – she wasn’t anything but patient (and slightly overweight). She had never been in a fight and had never faced anything scarier than a cat or Alyssa’s horse (which wasn’t scary at all). It was therefore natural to assume that the faceoff would not go in her favour.

But, strangely enough, it did.

Alyssa had watched in a kind of strange and random horror as Nikki barked at the dragon. The black reptile took a step back in surprise, half reared up onto its back legs and then came down to give Alyssa’s dog a sniff. Nikki growled at it again, all the hairs on the back of her long body standing up straight, and earned an excited screeching sound for her effort. The dragon started bouncing around her in what could only be a look of complete excitement. As Minias joined Alyssa’s side, they watched as Nikki stared at the dragon, seemed to decide that everything was all right and started heading to the courtyard, ignoring the reptile as best she could (as she did with most things except for Alyssa and her food). Alyssa had stepped closer scoop up her pet but immediately recoiled, almost gagging from the smell.

Nikki had rolled in dragon poo and the smell was terrible.

Having never had a lot of control over her gag reflex, Alyssa had stooped over right there and dry coughed against the wall as Minias took a step back and started laughing, very amused with the situation.

“It must think she’s a dragon,” he said. “No other creature is dumb enough to do that…”

Alyssa couldn’t believe it but then, she could still not believe the kind of day that she was having.

Shifting on her spot by the courtyard, Alyss lifted up her head to look at the dragon lying on the paving stones. It was on its back, sunning itself with all four its feet in the air, a clear imitation to her dog’s posture. Nikki, who could still not understand what all the fuss was about (or for that matter why her mistress refused to touch her) shifted into a more comfortable position, rolling over to her one side and staying there.

The dragon, after some consideration, did the same.

“They look like tandem swimmers,” Minias tried to point out lightly, motioning to the pair of them.

Alyssa snorted and shook her head.

“They smell like tandem pig farmers,” She pointed out. “And if you missed it the first time buddy, you are going to help me get rid of that tandem smell that’s enfolded my dog.”

“Oh no,” the demon said amused. “You got yourself into this mess all by your lonesome. I could’ve dealt with the dragon for you, but you did not wish to take my course of action so you’ll have to live with the consequences of it.”

To his surprise, Alyssa grabbed him by his shirt collar and pulled him close, bringing him eye to eye with her. “Your participation is non negotiable Minias,” she growled. “You will help me get that smell off of my dog or I will call up Newt and tell her where you are. It’s as simple as that. Dragon poo or death. Your call.”

The demon blinked at the fierceness in the young woman’s gaze and shifted back a bit. In another life, he would’ve killed anybody for speaking to him like that or for that matter touching him. But, this was Alyssa and they had an arrangement.

Besides, he couldn’t kill her, even if he wanted to.

“Alright,” he said simply. “I’ll help you look into it.” Or at it…

Alyssa sat back and sniffed, turning her attention back to the pair of smelly creatures in front of her. “Good,” she said simply and sighed, her demeanour shrinking back to its previous hopelessness. “I cannot believe there’s a dragon in my courtyard. How am I going to explain this one?!”

Minias sighed and also turned to look at the pair. “You won’t have to Alyssa,” he said simply. “The answer is quite simple. You can’t keep it.”

There wasn’t any animosity or irritation in his tone and for the first time, Alyssa realized that the demon was giving her his honest opinion. It rarely happened, so she took a few seconds to appreciate the moment.

“I know I can’t keep it,” she said softly, looking at the reptile. “But… I can’t send it away Minias. Technically, I can’t keep you, and you’ve been living underneath my bed since April.”

She gave the demon a pointed look, which shifted and glared at her from behind his smoky glasses.

“That’s completely different,” he pointed out. “I have my own room Alyssa.”

Making a considering sound, the fan fiction author stretched out her long legs. “Yes,” she pointed out. “But, your front door is underneath my bed. It’s your haven Minias. And, I don’t mind, really – I like having you there.” The demon snorted but when he said nothing, Alyssa continued. “The thing is that… I didn’t turn you away. So, really – I can’t turn it away either. You said it’s scared and looking for a place to hide…”

Minias almost growled at her. “I didn’t say that it’s scared Alyssa,” he pointed out. “I just said that it’s looking for some place safe. There are many other places scattered around the universe. You don’t have to turn your room into an intergalactic way station for the rejected and hunted.”

The young woman gave him a very pointed look. “You’re really one to talk,” she said. “Really Minias.” She sniffed and turned her attention back to the dragon. “I can’t send it away. That just won’t be right. It’ll have to stay.”

Minias looked at her with a look that resembled cold horror. “Alyssa, it is a dragon,” he said. “It is going to get bigger. It might be all coochy coo with your dog now but wait till it gets hungry. It can’t stay in your room.”

Alyssa smiled slightly and pushed herself up, grunting like an old woman. The day had been very, very long.

“You of all people should know that nobody tells me what to d. You give me the facts and leave me to make my own decision. And, I have all the facts, so I’m making my decision. It can stay. I’ll figure something out.”

The demon made an exasperated sound. “Alyssa,” he said in a hopeless tone. “Please. Reconsider.”

The young woman shook her head, taking something from the gate. “Nope,” she said. “Besides, I’ve already thought up a name for it.”

It was the beginning of the end and Minias knew it. Shaking his head, knowing that he couldn’t stand up against the force of Alyssa’s own decisions in her own backyard, he gave her a questioning look and stood so that he didn’t have to look up at her. They considered each other for a long time – not quite foes, not quite friends, but roommates with different opinions about how the world should work without feeling the need to kill each other to get their point across.

It was, in a way, refreshing for the demon though he would never admit it.

“What’s its name Alyssa?” he queried. “What have you decided to call it?”

She smiled immediately, clearly pleased that he had bothered to ask.

“Will,” she said, a trace of her strange lilt of an accent coming through.

It was clear that there was a story behind the name, because she seemed far too pleased with herself.

“Why?” Minias queried. “And what’s that in your hand?”

Alyssa looked down at the nylon bindings and smiled. “I’ve named it after goodwill,” she said simply. “Everybody’s been wishing for it to come my way and… well, here it is.” She smiled and held up her hand. “And this mate, is a halter. I figure – if I can train horses, I can train this dragon. I mean – how hard can it be?”

To Be Continued…

Chicken or the Egg?

I had to write an article for our work’s newspaper. Due to lack of anything better to write about, I consulted my friend Wikipedia and wrote up this summary of their Chicken or the Egg article. Because I haven’t been blogging as much, and am way overdue for something – I thought to add this here.
Be warned – it’s boring. 😉

Chicken or the Egg?

We’ve all heard the saying: What came first, the chicken or the egg?
As it turns out, it’s one of the oldest debated dilemmas, as it was the topic which evoked a lot of questions on how life and the universe began in general.
These days the statement is used to point out the futility of identifying the first case of a circular cause and consequence event. Inevitably, the question isn’t about the chicken or the egg, but about how one object can come into being without another of which it is dependent on. An egg can’t appear without a chicken, and a chicken cannot be hatched out of anything other than a chicken.
Over the years, a couple of theories have evolved.
1) Proteins – By analyzing protein synthesis in egg production, scientists concluded that there must’ve been a ‘first’ chicken, due to the proteins required to synthesize the formation of the egg’s hard shell. The fly in that theory’s soup is that the protein evolved long before birds branched away evolutionarily from reptiles. Thus proving that the protein was present before and after egg production. Many use this theory as proof of the futility of trying to solve this question.
2) Mathematical – Two scientists, Thurman and Fisher, decided to try and solve this dilemma with a mathematical equation. They examined the US egg production and chicken population from 1930 to 1983. By examining the annual amount of eggs produced, compared to the number of chickens, Thurman and Fisher tried to determine whether the chicken population predicted the number of eggs laid and visa versa. It was found that the amount of eggs could predict the amount of chickens, but the number of eggs could not predict the amount of chickens. Due to this (and a lot of technical thinking) the two scientists concluded that the egg came first. (google Granger’s Causality for clearance…)
3) Evolution – Darwin’s theory of evolution states that species change over time via mutation and selection. Since DNA can be modified only before birth, a mutation must’ve taken place at conception or within an egg such that an animal similar to a chicken, but a not a chicken, laid the first chicken egg. With this theory, both the gg and the chicken evolved simultaneously.
4) Theology – Naturally – God created chickens, and chickens laid the first egg. Therefore, the chicken came first.
5) Cyclical view of Time – In the Buddist belief, time is regarded as cyclical and with repeating ages. The assumption is that time is eternally repetitive and therefore, there is no ‘first’ in eternity.

So, really – none of these answers can be proven true or false. It’s the nature of the problem and why it’s fascinated the mind of philosophers ever since they went to collect their breakfast. The truth is that it doesn’t really matter in my opinion. Chickens are here now, as are eggs. And, for that we should be grateful, because without them – there are many people out there who would not have jobs.

The End.
Or is it?

Dawn Riders

When I waitered, I rarely saw a sunrise because I would normally go to bed at the crack of dawn. I as a night owl and I loved it for the evening and the darkness have always held more charm for me.

But, when I started working I had to seriously amend my ways because more often than not I would find myself getting up at the crack of dawn or before to drive to farms and see clients. In spirit, I joined a good friend of mine whose day had much the same routine. We would both spend hours on the road, on our own, with nothing but the scenery and a CD we’ve listened to thousands of times to keep us company. In the beginning, it was something to get used to, something that I had to accept. I missed the evenings and not being able to stay up till midnight bugged me in a way I didn’t think possible.

Though, of late I find myself enjoying the quiet of the morning just as much. I like the smells and the colours. I love driving on my own for miles and miles a lot more than I do staying in the office. And what I’ve discovered and discussed with my friend is that our country is really beautiful, no matter where you go or in which direction you drive.

So, we’ve become ‘Dawn Riders’, those people who are on the road at all times of the day and the times in the morning where you find yourself going: Where could they possibly be going this time of day?!

The answer is to work. 😉