The NULL Solution = Episode 91

Leave a comment

The NULL Solution = Episode 91

…There is no replacing a good spacecraft, when it comes to going from here and there…

Ekcello, Supreme Elder of the High Council on Eridanus, is growing tired of life without his daughter. The natives are getting restless. Those calling themselves the “Gifted” are feeling less so. His daughter is more than a big deal here and her absence, along with a lack of explanation of why she cannot return posthaste, is an issue that only exacerbates his angst.

He sympathetically thanks the McKinneys’ “God” for the news on Cerella’s child, but that is increasingly not good enough. Using Celeste as a go-between is hardly better than a voice recording. His mind is already crammed to the brim with the unsatisfying voices of his people.

Proving that blood is thicker than the null of space between Eridanus and Earth, Ekcello summons his unintentional antagonist Sampson McKinney to ask him a rhetorical question. “Would you consider taking Defender back to your planet? I believe that my daughter and her child belong here with us.”

“That’s also my daughter-in-law and my grandchild you’re talking about. Isn’t that the plan I was pitching a couple moons ago?” That was then…

… “I am talking about now, Sampson. It appears that they cannot return on their own.”

“They need a ride don’t they?” He told him so. “There is no replacing a good spacecraft, when it comes to going from here and there. I never thought I would hear those words come out of that oversized brain of yours!”

“You have sufficient TSF piloting and navigational skills to complete the mission.”

“I could use a co-pilot. Defender is a handful for one person, so send Deke out with me… kiddo & daddio will make a good team!”

“Yes to a co-pilot. No to Deke.”

Ekcello places limits on his magnanimity.


The NULL Solution =

Episode 91


page 91

WIF New Year’s Resolution Sampler

Leave a comment

Top 10 Simple

New Year’s Resolutions

 I hate to be a New  Years Eve party-pooper, but I thought you should know that approximately  half of you will make New Years resolutions this year, but only 8% of you will  successfully achieve them.

 In the interest of turning these dismal results around, I’ve come up with  some alternative resolutions for you before it’s too late, because I think the  secret to achieving New Years resolutions is to keep them as simple as  possible.

For example, you’ll see several alternatives to the ever-popular resolution  to lose weight (the number one resolution in 2012).  Achieving any one of  at least 4 of the resolutions I’ve listed below could in fact result in weight  loss. Or not. In fact, since the resolutions below are more specific than ‘lose  weight,’ they might actually improve your chances of dropping a few pounds – but  without that heavy load of guilt on your shoulders if you don’t.

Simple, yes. But- unlike the empty calories in those light snack bars I may  have just spared you from consuming- the 10 simple resolutions I’ve selected are  also bursting with life-altering potential. Consider them the ‘super foods’ of  resolutions… super resolutions, in fact.

Here, ranked in order from most challenging to s-o-o-o-o-o simple, is a top 10 list of simple new years resolutions:

10. Show Up

Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to officially enter and run the Boston Marathon  has said “there is an expression among even the most advanced runners that  getting your shoes on is the hardest part of any workout.” As a runner who  belongs to more running Meetups in my city  then the number of runs I’ve actually gone on in the entire year, I can attest  to this.

Furthermore, I think this saying probably applies to any activity requiring  shoes. Strapping shoes on is so difficult that I have ranked it as the most  difficult of my 10 simple resolutions. I dare you to prove me wrong!

Guidelines

To achieve this resolution (i.e. Show Up) you are not merely required to  leave your couch and arrive somewhere else- but you also have to be present. The length of the journey and what you do when you get there  is up to you, but consider this: ‘showing up’ might involve some sort of active  engagement on y0ur part (i.e. learning something, meeting new people,  performing, participating in a lively debate).

Keep it Simple

Put one foot in front of the other, and soon you’ll be walking out the  door – Kris Kringle, (Santa Claus is Coming to Town)

Eighty percent of success is showing up. – Woody Allen

9. Listen to the Voices

This year, make a commitment to listen for those voices in your head and  challenge them.

We observe, we tell a story, and then we feel. …Since we and only we are  telling the story, we can take back control of our own emotions by telling a  different story.

These are the claims made in Chapter 6 of Crucial Conversations: Tools for  Talking When Stakes are High (Patterson, Grenny, McMillan, Switzler). The  chapter proposes that if you “question your feelings and stories,” “look for  other possible explanations,” and “get back to the facts” you can break the  loop. It points out 3 common story themes: 1. the villain, 2. the victim, 3.  helplessness.

Keep It Simple

Try to identify the stories you are listening to in that lightning fast  moment between something you see or hear and your response.

Keep it Up

Try to replace your stories based on the willingness to consider that others  involved are reasonable, rational and decent people.

8. Expense Yourself

Most people who are working one job know exactly how much money they bring  home every month – but how many people know exactly how much money  they really spend? In an ideal world, everyone would balance their personal  books – but in reality, many of us have already crossed into another universe  where the money we use has very little to do with the money we actually  generate…

Just doing this once might blow your mind. You may find yourself taking  leftovers to work for lunch, growing your own vegetables, or cancelling your  cable.

Guidelines

Get all business-like and compare household revenue to expenses.

Keep it Simple

The simplest way to review your spending habits is to look at your bank  account and credit card statements and categorize your purchases. For more  accuracy, you could track your spending (including small cash purchases) for one  month.

Keep It Up

Even better: set a budget based on your actual income and track and manage  your spending from now on, using the envelope  method or free software such as mint.com.

7. Distant Gratification

Take a break from this world of short cuts, fast food, and even shorter  attention spans and plan for some distant gratification. As Tony Robbins  once said, “most people overestimate what they can accomplish in a year – and  underestimate what they can achieve in a decade.”

Keep It Simple

The simplest examples of this resolution in action: plant a tree or bury a  time capsule in your yard.

Or, consider long-term  goals – – think about how much can be achieved in a year – or 5 years – if a  little bit of progress is made every day. For example you could write a novel  (10 pages a week) or walk 100 miles (45 minutes a week). You might decide to  save for a visit to Chile, learn to play chess, or sponsor  a child in another country- all by making small investments of money or time  stretched out over a long period.

Keep It Up 

Instead of stressing out about a concrete deadline or specific result, focus  on moving forward. Remember Hofstadter’s Law, “It always takes longer than  you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter’s Law” (psychcentral.com).  In most cases, it’s best not to check progress until a considerable amount of  time has passed, and don’t beat yourself up – just keep going!

“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that  matters, in the end.” Ernest Hemingway

6. Eat Vegetables

The USDA site choosemyplate.gov  describes over 20 ways that vegetables are good for you, including reducing the  risks of birth defects, cancer, kidney stones, heart disease, obesity, type 2  diabetes, bone loss, high blood pressure, constipation, and infection.

Guidelines

Make half your plate fruits  and vegetables, suggests choosemyplate.gov.

Keep it Simple

Even if you just eat one more vegetable than you did in 2012, you’re going to  be successful.

Or, you might try to gradually add more vegetables to your regular weekly  meals – stir spinach into your favorite pasta sauce and stuff those chicken  breasts with asparagus and cheese.

Don’t like vegetables? Invest in a few books and sneak them into smoothies  and meals (Skinny  Smoothies, The Sneaky  Chef).

Keep It Up 

When you are buying groceries make sure fruits and vegetable purchases  reflect your new eating habits (for example, review your shopping cart before  you get in line at the cashier). Or, purchase a share in a CSA  and receive a box of produce from a local farm each week. That way, you will  consistently receive vegetables (and the reminder to eat them) and you will  probably be exposed to some new produce that you might not otherwise pick up at  the store.

Local fresh fruits and vegetables are best, however frozen vegetables are a  nutritious and convenient alternative. Make sure you have some in your freezer  so that you always have some vegetables on hand.

If you are really serious about a veggie heavy diet, restrict meat to dinner  or weekend meals only.

5. Hello, Neighbor

According to an article at psychologytoday.com by Linda Wasmer Andrews, a “study from Umea University in Sweden showed that people who said they trusted  their neighbors were twice as likely as those who didn’t to rate their health as  good.” Plus, “research from Duke University found that people aged 55 to 80 who  were high in interpersonal trust lived longer, on average, over the next 14  years than those who were lower in that quality” (Trust  Your Neighbor, Boost Your Health).

Even the most casual, surface interactions with other members of your  community can lower stress and give you a sense of belonging. If your neighbors  know you, they are much more likely to notice if your house is being robbed or  if you need medical help. You also benefit from sharing local information with  each other (local schools, local events).

Keep it Simple

“Who are the people in your neighborhood? The people that you meet  each day.” Jeff Moss, Sesame Street songwriter.

Say hello to people you pass on the street (‘Good Morning,’) and work your  way up to chatting with neighbors, clerks and people waiting in line or waiting  to cross the street).

Keep It Up

Keep it up, and simple greetings will transform into short conversations and  a local network of neighbors.

Attend local community events: block parties, school plays, craft fairs,  theatre productions, live music.

Drop Christmas cards (or cookies!) off at your neighbor’s houses, shovel  someone’s walk or water their plants when they go on vacation, hire a neighbor  kid to mow your lawn.

4. Read the Ingredients

Food manufacturers rely on the general population’s disinterest in the  details when it comes to ingredients. They will use big labels or  official-looking check marks on packaging to advertise products as “low-fat,”  “natural” (an unregulated term), “whole grain,” and “100 calories.”  However, the ingredients  of these products often include artificial colors, flavors, thickeners,  genetically modified foods, and hydrogenated oils to keep costs or calories  down. Critics of these ingredients, including respected health experts, warn  that they can lead to everything from obesity, hyperactivity in children, heart  disease, and cancer (Sofia Layarda, MPH RD, Which  Food Additives to Avoid, healthcastle.org).

Guidelines

In her book Go  UnDiet: 50 Small Actions for Lasting Weight Loss, Gloria Tsang warns  that “highly processed foods are ‘the weakest link’ in any eating plan” and  provides 3 warning signs to look for in a 5 second scan: packaging that features  colorful cartoon characters are usually high in sugar, foods  advertised as fat-free use “thickeners and other artificial ingredients to  simulate the texture of the real thing,” and “look for an ingredient list that’s  not too long and includes ingredients you can actually pronounce.”

Keep it Simple

Read the ingredients on everything you purchase.

Keep it Up

If you commit to reading the ingredients on every purchase it will become a  habit and may eventually inform your choices.

For example, I was surprised to discover liquid sugar listed as the  4th ingredient in a popular whole grain meal for children and MSG in  the canned soups I’ve been eating for my entire life.

If you’re not sure what an ingredient is, Google it when you get home.

Eliminating, or even just reducing, one or two ingredients from your diet can  make a big difference.

3. Make Eye Contact

eye contact

Katrina Onstad writes that “the most potent tool of body language is eye  contact, at least in most Western cultures. Human mothers and infants require  eye contact to bond” and “evolutionary scientists propose that eye  contact came to be the cornerstone of communication because of the ‘cooperative eye hypothesis,’ which suggests that collaboration and cooperation  are optimized when our eyes are locked” (Why are We so Scared of Eye Contact? theglobeandmailcom).

Eye contact improves listening and helps the other person feel really  acknowledged. It is also an increasingly brave social act in an environment  where everyone else on the bus or on the street averts their eyes.

Keep it Simple

Look at people’s eyes and wait for them to do the same.

Keep it Up

Caution: if you make eye contact you might feel empathy, invoke a response  from the other person, or otherwise interact with others.

PS: eye contact should be casual and not make people feel uncomfortable.  Don’t be creepy!

2. Drink Water

According to mayoclinic.com, “every system in your body depends on water” and “even mild dehydration can drain your energy and make you tired”.  In the  video above, Lynn Goldstein, a registered dietician, explains that water is an essential  ingredient for health and that it’s important to drink water BEFORE you are  thirsty – because thirst is often the first symptom of dehydration.

Exercise, climate, and other activities such as breastfeeding will increase  the amount of water needed, so there isn’t one amount that applies to all  people.

Basic Guidelines

The most well known recommendation to drink eight 8oz glasses of water a day  is a good place to start.

64oz = ½ US gallon = 2 liters (approximately).

Keep It Simple

You can achieve this resolution by drinking more water than you did in  2012.

Keep It Up 

Consider incorporating one or more of these simple steps into your daily  routine:

1. Each day, drink a 16 oz glass of water first thing in the morning and  before each meal (maybe with a bonus 8 oz before bed just to top up).

2. Carry a water container around with you and use it to measure your  progress towards your target. You can use one 64oz water bottles or plan to fill  up a 1 litre bottle twice during the day, or whatever plan works best for  you.

3. Swap out the other beverages in your daily routine for water or at least  match them up. For example, alternate your coffee or cocktails with glasses of  water.

“Thirst isn’t always a reliable gauge of the body’s need for water,” so  Mayoclinic.com offers these simple indicators: “clear or light-colored urine  means you’re well hydrated, whereas a dark yellow or amber color usually signals  dehydration”.  You can used these guidelines to figure out how much water  you personally need to drink to remain hydrated and to stay on track. Like the  famous potty slogan says, “If it’s brown flush it down, if it’s yellow – go  drink some water.”

1. Hug More

Hugs improve everything from communication and self-esteem to the immune  system, according to Marcus Julian Felicetti’s article 10  Reasons Why We Need at Least 10 Hugs a Day at mindbodygreen.com.

Keep It Simple

If you are uncomfortable at first, just announce your resolution to your  friends – that’s what I did last year, and they hugged me! If  you’re still shy about it you can also practice on stuffed  animals or trees – whatever’s in arm’s reach.  Add a hug into every  greeting and good-bye with bonus spontaneous hugs whenever you feel like it.  Extra hugs for your kids and don’t forget your pets!

Keep it Up

In the same article, Felicetti shares a quote by Virginia Satir, who is  sometimes referred to as the mother of family therapy: “We need four hugs a  day for survival. We need eight hugs a day for maintenance. We need twelve hugs  a day for growth”.

This article is a compilation of advice I have gathered over the years – not all my original thoughts – violating  one of my last year’s resolutions about using other people’s material


New Year’s

Resolution Sampler

The NULL Solution = Episode 71

Leave a comment

The NULL Solution = Episode 71

…For most of these eleven months, Cerella has had the luxury of letting nature take its course….

“What is the duration of gestation for a birth in these parts? Do you know what I mean?” Celeste McKinney needs some Eridanian insight if she is to understand the direness of Deke’s unborn {they believe} child..

Ekcello needs a very good memory for this. No birth has taken place here for… forever. “I have no way of knowing that answer.  Our longevity negates the need for a new generation. As a civilization, we procreate outside the physical body, although tales of old are told about the times before our home planet vulcanized. We were going to research the subject soon. Poor Cerella will be discovering the birthing process all alone.”

Just like anxiety, empathy also falls fresh on his spirit.

Momentum Into Nothingness by Cristina Velina

It has been eleven Earth months since she conceived. For most of that time Cerella has had the luxury of letting nature take its course. After all, she controlled her own environment and whatever happened was okay. Deke was there.

Deke is not here.

Nothing seems to be here.

And yet her needs are being met; out-of-the-black, not down nor up and without asking. Something or someone seems to have her best interest in mind.

Nothing used to be here.

So, there in the quiet of her aloneness, she discovers that she is indeed not completely alone. During this dark time, in fits and spurts, she would be overrun by a chorus of the Olde Language. Like a blast from the past, cogent songs of life and love ooze into her consciousness. Simple, yet complex; new, yet old; content, yet anxious, something inside her was pleading, ever politely.

It was the new life inside her.

No more does the mystery of an Eridanian female carrying child go unsolved. The process is nearing completion, but among the sweet melodies, a sour note is struck. There was a human being, an Earthling involved. Deke’s genome, the interspecies germination, has manifested itself in the body of his mate for life, Cerella.

The resulting lifeform needs to come out, but it is not an unpretentious or prescribed sequence. Mother and child are alone. They are together. They are in trouble.

Apprehension and despair abound in the Milky Way.


The NULL Solution =

Episode 71


page 73 (end ch. 6)

The NULL Solution = Episode 56

Leave a comment

The NULL Solution = Episode 56

…Mamma Celeste McKinney never requires much of an excuse to hang around those crazy kids…

“I am not feeling well.” Ordinarily that isn’t a problem. But this is spoken by an Eridanian, specifically from Cerella who never complains about anything. She directs her concern in the direction of Deimostra McKinney, the closest thing to a contemporary she has on Eridanus.

“You haven’t been eating Deke’s cooking have you?”

“I have, but I am used to that.”

“You didn’t get too close to Skaldic? You don’t want one of those nasty viruses from a Null, right?” The 1st Earthchildofspace is being sarcastic.

“No Null contact.”

“I don’t have a clue and seeing there are no real doctors here, I’m going to ask my mother.”

Mamma Celeste never requires much of an excuse to hang around those crazy kids.

“You do look a little worn down Cerella. Have you been taxing your mind lately?”

“A tax is a form of monetary penalty. I do not see the relativity.”

“Okay, my mistake. I thought the Earth colloquialisms had left me.”

“Sammy Mac has them all.”

“So true,” for no other reason she puts her hand on the place a human stomach would be. A pleasing vibration emanates to her palm, in the key of A. “I don’t know much about Eridanian physiology, but I’m detecting something “extra” inside you.”

For all the perceptiveness at her disposal, the patient doesn’t get the “extra” reference.

Related imageAfter exchanging quick forth & back glances, Celeste and Deimostra start dancing around like they have ants in their pants. There are no ants on Eridanus, but there is one pregnant Princess.

For those in the know, there are few secrets on this world. Deke takes the news right from the top of his blood relatives’ thoughts. His wife is pregnant with an intergalactic reproductive miracle. This is not a run-of-the-mill ordinary new life brewing.

 

Back on Earth

“What are you smiling about all of a sudden?”

Prez Roy sees no reason for Gus’ suddenly unexpected joyous countenance.

“I don’t know, something just came over me.”


The NULL Solution =

Episode 56


page 59

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 276

Leave a comment

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 276

May you all live long, laugh often, love hard, with the hope that our paths will cross again someday…

Could anyone possibly trace this comportment back to the root of Gus’ discontent?

Yes. Ekcello and the other members of the High Counsel are collectively aware that Gus is saying goodbye to his family. The young man is conflicted, yet resolute and his hosts have willfully supplied him with the means to leave Eridanus. He is supplying the will to do so.

With that yellow dwarf star {and the blue planet that orbits it} circled on his star chartsescape route and no one manning the security shielding that prevents escape velocity or unauthorized reentry, the new and improved Stellar Explorer is pointed at the other end of the galaxy.

Erroneously believing he needs to be surreptitious, he had positioned the Stellar Explorer in such a way for a rapid route of escape. Everything was set up correctly, except for one nagging detail: Deimostra, his sister had left the party early, exhausted from the excitement, so he had not been able to see her before leaving himself.

Dare he risk being found out because of a sentimental lapse? No, she and he had shared"My dear sister Sammy" in his restlessness privately, though how was she to know how serious it had become. He decides to leave his personal flight recorder behind, with his smiling image and the following message:

My dear sister Sammy;

I’ve only known you for a short time, but I think we bonded over our mutual interest Earth, our home planet, well you know what I mean. It peaks your curiosity, but it nags at me to no end. Tonight I am taking steps to return to Earth, at any cost, because that is where I belong, not here.

May you all live long, love hard, with the hope that our paths will cross again someday.

All my love,

Gus

He places the device in a place he knows she and she alone will find it, alongside her copy of his engagement picture to his dearest Mindy… as he sets his plan in motion.


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 276


page 320

Contents TRT

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 275

Leave a comment

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 275

…feeling alone, even though he is among his closest ties, Gus tries to hide the hurt he works so hard not to show…

The whole Cerella/Deke event itself is a big to-do: #First comes the marriage, which will happen without fail – next comes the child: an Eridanus fairy tale #Image result for magic eight ball gif

Just when that is going to be, is up for much discussion, on both sides of the equation.  Because this conception is a product of two different species, it seems even the most experienced physical physicians cannot accurately predict the final outcome… #It could be tomorrow or ten cycles from now#

“Let’s start a pool on when the Cerella actually delivers and another buck on the sex. Two guesses per person, two bucks a throw and winner gets the entire pot,” why not make good sport of it all, Sampson.

Ekcello thinks, somewhat correctly that a buck is an Earthly animal and ignores Sam like he often does, #The child should be forever known as “Crettano”, heir to the heiress of Eupepsia# believing he gets the honor of naming rights.

“We were thinking along the lines of “Reggie”,” Sampson weighs in on the baby name game. “Reginald Braden McKinney, child of the stars, heir to intergalactic exploration,” should be his lengthy Earthly moniker, being positive that it will be a boy and he will win the pool, “… or Regina in the unlikely case that I am wrong.”

Fortän and Celeste make mind-to-mind contact, each deciding to relinquish their respective control over the matter, secure in the knowledge that, from this day forward, the intertwining of the two worlds is irreversible. What was once thought as impossible…?

Standing alone and inexplicably feeling alone, even though he is among his closest ties, wondering just how he had been spirited away from the love of his life, Gus tries to hide the hurt he works so hard not to show.

  • Where was HIS “Mom, Dad, I’d like you to meet the next Mrs. Gus McKinney.” moment?
    • The day when Mom’s hug would choke a grizzly bear
    • Dad would shake his hand until his arm falls off
    • And how they would accept Mindy McDonald into the family, every bit as joyfully as Cerella

None of the above is on the long-range radar right now and the pressure inside his irresolute mind is building, a crescendo not to be ignored. The abstract notions that flash in and flash out at an increasing rate, cause him to seek out the parents he has rediscovered. He tells them each, “Just what it has meant to see them again and be a part of their lives”. They are flattered by him sharing, but cannot imagine what has brought this on at this, his private pivotal moment.

Gus McKinney has something cooking in his brain and he lavishes his heartfelt affections toward brother Deke, which is not a stretch, because Gus is an emotional guy. It’s the timing and intensity of that affection that is.

As for his interstellar acquaintances, who have become accustomed to emotional outpourings, they equate him to his father; one and the same, cut from the same cloth.

Could anyone possibly trace this comportment back to the root of his discontent?


THE RETURN TRIP

The Cloak of Discontent by Margo Schopf – Johannesburg, South Africa

Episode 275


page 319

Contents TRT

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 263

Leave a comment

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 263

…Whatever keeps these young dynamic human beings busy, Ekcello is all for it…

During the timeless days that follow, the assimilation of the two newest additions to Eridanus is as complete as it is going to get. Gus McKinney has tabled his protestations for the time being, while the elder of them busies himself by spending his days learning and understanding the essence of what it means to be an Eridanian. Deke studies the new culture.

The younger follows in his father’s track of citizenship; in, out, around, and through every space vehicle in the Spaceflight Expository, to more fully grasp the essence of space travel and the complicated fabric that is time. He learns that the manipulation of the latter unlocks the secrets of the former.

Whatever keeps these young dynamic human beings busy, Ekcello is all for it. He is relieved, about not having them weigh so heavily on his officious mind. Yes Gus is only temporarily appeased, but being anticipatory is what telepathy is all about. Dealing with this smoldering tinderbox of a human has leapfrogged to his list of priorities.

High Counsel by Wmskp12 on deviantart.com

The High Counsel of Eridanus, the omniscient ruling body of the planet, consists of one representative from each of the fifteen hundred spired cities. In nearly each case, the eldest {very high math} individual holds these mainly ceremonial positions. The need for a governing parliament has given way to a perfectly ordered society. The reasoning behind the choosing of elders is only evident when the rare problem arises.

These old-timers remember what it was like on their now molten Mother Planet, a far cry from the current state of affairs. As a body, they credit the fresh start on a new planet as the secret for their societal success and the corrections for any mistakes made on the old.

And as well-liked and welcomed the Earthlings have become, their overall impact on the average Eridanian is profound and growing.


THE RETURN TRIP

State of Affairs, mixed media on canvas by Vanessa Lam

Episode 263


page 306

Contents TRT