THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 90

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 90

…And then there is the inconvenient reality of her VP fiancée, who is probably worried sick, period, without knowing about what is going on between the TV Newswoman and the NASA Colony Mission Director…

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Right now (Braden King) he feels like 80. —

— As would Roy Crippen had he not found himself half-passed out on his office couch, next to Francine, who is showing no signs of wanting to leave. She is obviously preoccupied by the concept of how she ever ended up so “close” to the space program. Conversely, for the first time since breaking 200 MPH whilst speeding away from her native Houston, the 10 o’clock newscast she bolted from crosses her mind. Her newly acquired sense of four-letter loyalty has shifted from KHST to NASA, in addition to that deviant stance, she doesn’t feel at all guilty about not having a camera crew along for the station’s {and her career} enrichment.

In fact, her television chores have also occurred to Roy, “Aren’t you going to file a
report to KHST Channel 13 Houston’s News Source?”

“Thank you for that proper station ID,” she forms her real response carefully, if not unenthusiastically. “I suppose I should.” And then there is the inconvenient reality of her VP fiancée, who is probably worried sick, period, without knowing about what is going on between the TV Newswoman and the NASA Colony Mission Director.

For Roy, whose mind never rests anyway, has been doing some thinking, you know, about mortality and bachelorhood. He has noticed the Francine’s transformation from selfish career person to Mamma’s every prayer for a daughter-in-law.

“Francine…….I’ve been kicking something around.” That is an understatement considering the drastic implications for her.the-right-words-001

“What???” She had been in a trance of her own.

“Well……,” he stutters, stumbles, and skirts the issue, “…throughout my years at NASA, both in the air and here with the Space Colony project, I feel there is a void, when it comes to a public presence, that one authoritative voice; someone with your media flair and experience that can deal with situations like we had today.”

Francine thinks she knows what he means, but does not lead him forward, fearing how she would respond.

“Heck,” his Southern drawl breaking in, “for as long as I can remember, it has always been ‘good ol’ Roy’ plunked in front of cameras and microphones and not to nasa (1)thrilled about it.

“No offense, but I’m not a big fan of you press people, although at first the attention was nice enough. But now it is a hassle and it is taking me off-course from my real job.”

“Sure, sure, you want someone else to be the face of failure.”

“Failure, I’m not so sure. We have only scratched the surface of what caused the Colony to go down.”

“I have not seen a single member of the press, not that pompous ass from Channel 5 or anyone from FOX or REUTERS and if they were here they would be asking a millions ignorant questions and some poor sucker here at CMC would have spilled their guts and piss you off.”

Roy is taken aback by Francine’s callous bluntness, and he hasn’t even asked the question.


THE RETURN TRIP

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Episode 90


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Easy to Learn Languages – WIF Grammar

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Incredibly Easy

Languages to Learn

Everyone but the biggest knuckle-dragging Neanderthal agrees that learning another language is a good thing. Aside from unlocking a whole new way of thinking, it also allows you to appear worldly, sophisticated and (probably) great in the sack. But with only a small percentage of Americans and an even-smaller percentage of British speaking a second language, it seems most of us can never dream of achieving this common goal.

Or so you’d think. Despite what your Spanish-fluent coworker may want you to believe, not every language is difficult to master. For every tongue like Czech, Japanese or Mandarin that’ll leave your head spinning, there are a dozen that you can comfortably pick up over the course of a single, intensive summer. Not too long ago we told you about the hardest languages to master. Well, there’s a flip-side to that coin. Want to start unlocking the secrets of those exotic foreigners? Here are ten languages so easy even amiable doofuses like us could pick them up.

10. Spanish

Spanish is a major, major world language. If world languages were a high school, then Spanish would be the laid-back popular kid all the other kids want to hang with (English would be the frat dude who insists on chanting USA! USA! while everyone’s trying to talk). Most of Central and South America speaks Spanish, as does Equatorial Guinea in Africa and, err, Spain. Simply put, you learn Spanish and you’re unlocking a heck of a lot of the world for yourself.

So why is Spanish so easy for us English-speakers? Well, both Spanish and English incorporate a whole lot of Latin into their vocabulary. The structure is fairly simple, too. While there are some differences (you’d say “the car red” instead of “the red car”, for example), they’re pretty easy to wrap your head around. Then there’s the ease with which you can practice. Just about everybody living in the USA has access to Spanish-language cable TV, so soaking up that sweet vocabulary is super-easy.

9. Portuguese

Compared to other colonial powers, Portugal didn’t leave a particularly important legacy (sorry, Macau and Angola). But it’s greatest impact just happened to be in one of the largest countries in the Americas. Brazil is massive, a regional economic titan that sprawls across nearly 50 percent of South America. It has over 200 million residents, one of the greatest soccer teams on Earth, and more jaw-dropping natural beauty than even yo momma.

All this is supremely easy to access. Portuguese is closely-related to Spanish, with all the advantages that entails. In our high school analogy, Portuguese is basically Spanish’s shy but friendly cousin everyone secretly has the hots for. The flip-side of this is that if you already know Spanish then Portuguese is harder to initially get to grips with. This is because the two languages are stuffed with ‘false friends’, words that sound identical but carry very different meanings. So you might construct a perfect restaurant order in Spanish, only to find you’ve accidentally asked to spend a filthy evening with your waiter’s wife (or whatever).

8. French

We’re gonna let you in on a secret. If a language falls into the ‘romance’ category, then it’s gonna be easy for you to master. And ‘romance’ is a category French doesn’t just belong to; it’s a way of summing up France’s entire cultural ethos.

French is the prettiest, most-sophisticated girl at school. The good-looking dude who knows he’s the coolest in class. It’s a language that once was perhaps the most-important on Earth. Although those days are gone, it’s still Kind of a Big Deal. Want to travel to Morocco, Algeria, the Congo, Belgium, Switzerland or Haiti? Learn French. Want to impress the pants off your next boyfriend/girlfriend? Learn French. We’re not sure how much clearer we can make this. French is freakin’ cool.

Once again, French incorporates a lot of Latin words. It also has a strong history with English. In 1066, William the Conqueror stomped on England and made medieval French the lingua franca of the ruling classes. That influence can still be felt today, in words like encore, serviette and coup d’etat. In total, English incorporated over 10,000 words from French.

7. Italian

Italy never quite acquired the global clout its cousins did. Today, learning Italian pretty much restricts your travels to Italy. Lucky for you, Italy just happens to be one of the most-cultured, historically-important, and beautiful countries on Earth.

Italy is the reason you can learn Spanish, Portuguese and French with such ease. It was the Romans who spread out and brought Latin to these countries, stamping their mark on everywhere from modern-day Britain, to Libya, to Syria, to Germany. Spanish is essentially just a bastardized descendant of ‘Vulgar Latin’, the language used by the grunts and soldiers of the Empire. This means there’s a whole lot in common between the two modern tongues, one especially pronounced if you happened to learn Argentinian Spanish, which has a rhythm more suited to the backstreets of Naples than the sidewalks of Madrid.

Perhaps the biggest advantage to learning Italian is just how much awesome culture you get to unlock. From Dante’s Divine Comedy, to the films of Federico Fellini, Italian is the language of some of the world’s most kickass masterpieces.

6. Swedish

Let’s step away from the sunny climes of southern Europe. Sweden is a completely different kettle of (fermented) fish. A cold, snow-bound country in the darkest reaches of Northern Europe, it’s about as removed from our previous languages as rotten herring is from pasta. Yet, crucially, it isn’t all that removed from English. See, English doesn’t just have Latin roots; it also has Germanic. And Swedish is aprime example of a Germanic language.

For learners, this translates to a language that’s comparatively simple. Aside from shared words (like midnatt for midnight), the two languages have a similar grammar, meaning mastering Swedish is essentially an exercise in remembering lots of vocabulary. As a special extra treat, the verbs don’t change much. So while English speakers would say “Ispeak English, he speaks English,” a Swede would just say “I speak Swedish, he speak Swedish.”

So what are the advantages of learning Swedish? Not many, if you hope to travel the globe; Swedish is spoken by only 10m or so people, nearly all of them in Sweden. If you want to live in one of Europe’s most pristine countries, though, it’s a no-brainer.

5. Norwegian

Norwegian is the closest we have in the modern day to being able to speak Viking. That alone should be reason enough to study it. But if you’re not swayed by manly beards, manly helmets with manly horns, or man-punching your way across the seven seas, then there’s at least one other good man-justification. Norwegian is easy for English-speakers to learn.

Another Germanic language, Norwegian shares all the positives of Swedish, while beingeven simpler. The grammar is close to English, while verbs are easy to master (there’s little change depending on the context). Again, there are a lot of closely-related words. Again, the rhythm and emphasis are not too dissimilar. In a broad study conducted at the turn of the 21st century, the Federal government declared Norwegian one of the easiest languages for Americans to learn.

There is a downside to all this. Not only is Norway’s population under 6 million, about 95% of them speak perfect English. The language is taught at all school levels. Meeting a Norwegian who doesn’t speak English is almost as rare as meeting an American who is fluent in Norwegian.

4. Esperanto

Esperanto is the most widely-spoken made-up language in the world. Yup, even Klingon and Elvish have fewer devotees (perhaps related to Klingon and Elvish being stupidlyhard). Invented in 1887 by L.L. Zamenhof, it was designed from inception to be crazy easyto pick up. One of Zamenhof’s stated goals was to make a language so simple that learning it would be “mere play.”

To that end, he incorporated different bits from lots of European languages, mashed them all together, simplified them, and called it a language. The result is a tongue that sounds strangely familiar, whether you’ve ever encountered it before or not. Go watch a video of someone talking in Esperanto. Chances are you’ll find yourself vaguely understanding bits and pieces of it.

In lists like this, we wouldn’t usually include a made-up language, because that way madness lies. But Esperanto is in a different league. Around 2 million people have some knowledge of it, and it’s estimated that up to 1,000 families may be ‘native’ speakers. For comparison, that’s more native speakers than even an actual language like Cornish has.

3. Afrikaans

The language spoken by the descendants of Dutch famers in South Africa and Namibia, Afrikaans has a long and turbulent history. For some Boers, it is an integral part of their identity, a way of planting their flag in a culture that has changed seismically over the last 20 years. It’s also the African language English speakers stand the greatest chance of learning. For example, the sentence “what is that?” translates, unbelievably, to wat is dit?

Afrikaans exists somewhere between Dutch and English, while being simpler than both. The grammar is logical and consistent, with none of the weird exceptions English insists on throwing in. The verbs are also super-easy. While in English we use dream, dreamed and dreamt to all mean the same thing in different contexts, Afrikaans would simply use ‘dream’.

Again, Afrikaans isn’t a great traveling language. You’re pretty much restricted to just two countries in southern Africa. On the other hand, if you’ve ever wanted to understand Boer culture or to spend extended time in South Africa, it would almost be crazy not to learn it.

2. Frisian

Quick, hands up who has ever heard of Frisian? By our estimate, roughly 90 percent of you just sat on your hands, shook your heads and muttered something like “Fri-wha?”That’s OK, don’t sweat it. It’s a pretty obscure tongue. So, to quickly bring us all up to speed: Frisian is the native language of Friesland, a part of the Netherlands that Americans basically never go to, due to its lack of pot and hookers. It’s spoken by half a million people, and it’s probably the closest language to English in the world.

Seriously, Frisian and English were basically the same darn thing until comparatively recently. The two languages only started evolving independently 1,200 years ago, a long time in terms of getting over your last breakup, but next to nothing on the linguistic timescale. Even today, Frisians like to drop the old saying “good butter and good cheese, is good English and good Fries” into conversation. In both English and Fries, the sentence sounds identical.

If you’re a native English speaker, learning Fries is a walk in the park. While the written form looks more like Dutch, the spoken form has a near-identical vocabulary, sentence-structure and pronunciation to English. You’re probably reasonably fluent already, without taking a single lesson.

1. Dutch

Dutch is considered by linguists to be the easiest major language for English speakers to understand (Frisian’s easier, but by no stretch of the imagination is it ‘major’). It is spoken in the Netherlands (duh), Belgium, Surinam and the Netherlands Antilles, with about 23 million speakers worldwide. It has so much in common with English that you can learn it in almost no time at all.

This is the result of a happy historical accident. While most languages easy for English speakers incorporate Latin or Germanic root words, Dutch incorporates both. This means a staggering amount of Dutch vocabulary sounds extremely familiar to English speakers, with the added bonus that the structure is similar too. Pronunciation is also pretty intuitive, aside from the odd, weird vowel sound. Lastly, the grammar is consistent, logical and doesn’t feature any odd (for English speakers) stuff like genders or cases. For English-speakers, that’s like hitting the Konami Code of language learning.

The only downside with Dutch is similar to Norwegian. Nearly everyone in the Netherlands and Belgium speaks fluent English, meaning chances to practice your stuttering Dutch are basically non-existent.


Easy to Learn Languages

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– WIF Grammar

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 38

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 38

…“Som……ing is not righ…” that is the last transmission they will be hearing on this trip down to the Martian surface…

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THE LAST TRANSMISSION by bmessina.deviantart.com

“All right Sam,” Roy advises, “just check in before returning to the Colony.”Image result for hal from 2001

“It’ll be there when we get back, as long as Al {Space Colony 1 mainframe brain) lets us back in,” referring to the
perfunctory processor.

So, Roy must sit back and watch while the McKinneys set out to prove their worth to an admiring world. Measuring the depth of dermis layers throughout Tithonius Lacus neighborhood will be accomplished with aplomb. It may be Saturday night, on a faraway silent habitat, but they would not trade places with anyone, here or there. And the pay is secondary to the payoff.

Muddy tractor tracks.

Sampson actually is enjoying himself in the back, with Celeste at the wheel, while he calculates the exact depth of their tracks. It cruises handsomely across the barren plain, but he is noticing an earthly occurrence called clumping; like walking on naked rich black topsoil in the defrosting springtime, “Mud?!”

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Not all terrain here is a plain and they conquer the grueling Martian hill climb with ease. The rover comes to rest on the crest of one of the craters, overlooking the Plain of Xanthe, from where Celeste takes notice the previously inconspicuous, yet prominent mound which nearly brought their mission to an unceremonious halt.

Intuition, the human trait that seems to get better with age, clicks on within Celeste, the driver who does notdunes-001 consult while taking a detour on their way to Syrtis Major; inquisitiveness is an attribute that begins at conception

The formation that has beckoned her, stands out because from what they observed about the general topography, this knoll is singular. As they draw near, its uniqueness is even more pronounced; nothing round about this mound, angular and structured, not at all natural.

Commander Sam suggests a cautious circling approach, like a vulture cruising at 300 feet above a rotting carcass. This “thing” has a different look from every angle; one side terraced, another gently sloping, yet another with a notch running perpendicular to the base, into the interior.

Braden King breaks in to express a concern, “Our picture has been degrading steadily since you took that detour—is there another inversion storm kicking up?”

Interference is hampering Mission Control’s depth perception, with the good looks they have been enjoying transitioning into a fuzzy blur.

“No sandstorms or such” Sampson fingers a touchscreen to boost the signal, “upping to 5500 dBs.”

“No change Sam,” there is a disappointing tone back on Earth. It is like losing the picture, leaving only sound for the 7th game of the 2029 World Series, in the bottom of the 9th, 2 outs, full count, bases loaded, score tied and it’s the West Coast Dodgers at bat vs. the Twin Moons of Minnesota. The first reaction is to check the coaxial cable connections.

“Go on with what you were doing Sam,” commands Roy Crippen, “We’ll tweak something at this end.”

Even as he speaks, the crackling turns to persistent static.

“Please repeat. Braden what did he say?”

“Som……ing is…not righ…”

That is the last transmission they will be hearing on this trip down to the Martian surface.

Sampson shrugs, Celeste gives up.


THE RETURN TRIP

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Episode 38


 

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #90

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #90

Da cows givin’ lot less milk, hens ain’t laying right an’ I ain’t seena bird for days… even da dogs don’t come out from da porch

“Anything new… down on the farm?”

Willy thinks on it a spell, finally commenting, “All da animals is actin differnt, funny.”

“What do you mean.?”

Da cows givin’ lot less milk, hens ain’t laying right an’ I ain’t seena bird for days. Even da dogs don’t come out from under da porch. Animals is smarter than folks give propers for. Too bad they ain’t one of ‘em that can talk.”

“You are so right.” Love has no explanation his own self. “Say, how is young Alfrey doing?”

  “I sees him Tursdees an’ Fridees, you know fo da city load, but he’sa studyin’ da rest of time.” Willy is beginning to accept, perhaps even allowing himself a pinch of pride about the academic leanings of his youngest son. With Hosea off in Atlantic City, involved in who knows what, he knows he best do his best in encouraging Alfrey in what he is good at; not that he could not have learned to make a good cigar. “He’s been learnin’ all summer too, ain’t stopped to play wit da rest of da keeds an’ such, not Alfrey. Ima tinkin’ da teacher is runnin’ out of things ta teach him.”

“I will contact the tutor. He needs to be a child.” The boy is Love’s pet project, never having a son of his own, yet neither has he supplanted Willy’s role of father.

Alfrey Campbell is the recipient of the best-of-two worlds; a father grounded in good old-fashioned values and a father figure with every resource God can bestow to man. “I think he should take ten days off or so. Is there anything you can think of to keep him busy?”

Ziggy-001“Doc Ziggy has bin after him fo stayin’ evree week we’s go to da city. He takes him fishin’ or goin’ doctorin’ fo the ol’ folks thereabouts ‘hassee.”

Herb is used to “‘hassee” sans the Talla-.

“That is a wonderful idea. He has a telephone.” Not everyone does. “I will ask if this Friday would be suitable.”

“Hold up, Mr. Love’” Willy interrupts. “We’va invite here to da Ferrell boy’s weddin’ to Missy Smythwick. We could go maybe an’ just leev Alfrey behind after.”

 

What a convenience the telephone has become. To arrange this situation a decade ago, you would have had to send a courier, or a mail train, wasting a week or more, depending on how far away the recipient is, as opposed to minutes. The only rub is that someone needs to be within earshot of the ringing box; if not now, maybe later (And to think that people used to marvel at telegrams and organized mail delivery). One must wonder what wonder the twentieth century will bring next.

“Excellent suggestion, Willy. That way you could take Mrs. Love along with you. She did so want to attend, but with me unable to shake my duties, it looked like she would stay home.”

Love does summarize.

“We have covered a lot of ground, Willy. Thank you for your good work and leave the arrangements to me.”


 

Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #90


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Complete Listing of Episodes

Complete Listing of Episodes

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