Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Dec 17-23, 2017

It’s another tiny thoughty Thursday to finish off the year.

Steve LeVine compiles a list of the biggest AI stories of 2017. Axios

Patrick Caughill: SpaceX is leading the rise of an entirely new industry. Futurism

They escaped child marriage and now they’re speaking out. Kyle Almond for CNN.

Bill Donohue is seeking the lost art of growing old with intention. Outside

Anna Lovind: how to make darkness magical. Because we all need more magic in our lives.

Natasha Frost reviews the year in animal accomplishments. Atlas Obscura

Hope that was enough to get some mental corn popping.

Be well until the weekend!


Solstice and other things that happen around this time of year

Today was, in case you didn’t notice (you could be forgiven for missing it), the shortest day of the year, the winter solstice. It’s also the first day of winter, though you wouldn’t know it up here in the Sudz. It’s been snowing and cold since mid-November. It usually is, this time of year, but that doesn’t mean I can’t complain about it.

Now we face the longest night, but you know what? Things get better from here on out.

You’ll notice that the days start getting longer again and we start that long stretch to spring.

Christmas is coming, and with it the latest Doctor Who special 🙂

New Year’s is coming, with all its promise for another fresh start.

We actually have a chance to appreciate the people we’ve taken for granted all year, or the activities we’ve cut back on so that we could work/get the promotion/pursue various important things.

We can put things in perspective.

We just went out to celebrate my mom’s birthday. It was yesterday, but we celebrated tonight because everyone’s off. I was a terrible kid and forgot to wish Mom happy birthday yesterday. I took her shopping this afternoon. I don’t think it really made up for the lapse.

The 20th of December was also the day, twenty years ago, that Phil asked me to marry him.

We were getting ready to take my mom out, and I’d just gotten off work. I was a life guard back then, and I was rushing to get changed. I noticed that every time I turned around, Phil was there, but I whirling-dervished around him until I turned and nearly tripped over him.

Phil was kneeling. I was stunned until I realized what was going on. Then, I was all *amazeface*! He asked my parents’ permission and everything.

I’m always rushing at this time of year, and I have to remember to slow down and appreciate the people in my life.

Slow. Down. Appreciate. People.

Don’t be a dervish douche. Don’t forget your mom’s birthday. Trust me. It sucks.

Other reasons I like the solstice

It’s scientific.

Winter solstice

Winter solstice (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Because of the tilt of the earth’s axis and the way we orbit the sun, we have seasons. The solstices and equinoxes delineate the divisions of the year.

It is a fact that the winter solstice is the occasion of the shortest day of the year and the longest night. In the northern hemisphere, anyway.

It’s pagan.

Well, neo-pagan, at least.

Seemingly on the opposite side of the spectrum, the solstices and equinoxes form some of the pagan holy days. In case you haven’t been following me for that long, my spiritual inclination is agnostic with pagan leanings.

Agnosticism, according to Richard Dawkins, is the worst form of self-delusion in that we aspire to atheism, but can’t quite commit because of the niggling doubt that maybe there is a God …

Well, Phil is atheist, and we’ve discussed religion at length. I think that the atheist position is very sensible. I also acknowledge that there is a lot that science hasn’t made clear for us yet, and while I think that the existence or non-existence of God is not one of the questions that science can answer for us, I think that there is enough mystery left in the universe that the answers science will provide us will be surprising.

I like to keep an open mind.

Besides which, I’m a fiction writer. A fantasy fiction writer at that. Gods, goddesses and magic are kind of what I’m all about.

I’ve studied shamanism in some depth (though not, I would say, comprehensively) and I’m fascinated by the ancient sites and their purported use in astronomy and astrology, time-keeping, the precession of the stars, and the observation of the sun.

I could geek out on ancient cosmology all day and all night.

English: Highworth cemetery at the winter sols...

English: Highworth cemetery at the winter solstice The shortest day of the year in the northern hemisphere falls between the 20th and 23rd December depending on the year. In 2007 the solstice occurred on the 22nd with the period between sunrise and sunset being 7 hours 49 minutes and 40 seconds. The sun set in London at 15.54 today, 22 minutes after this picture was taken. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s quiet.

Because a lot of people travel to visit relatives at this time of year, the city (small, yes, but a city nonetheless) grows quiet. In the morning when I’m walking the dog, I can feel the increased stillness, the anticipation of a world holding its breath for the next sunrise.

It’s about light.

This is why we have so many festivals of lights at this time of year. We’re fighting back the darkness, recalling the light, celebrating with our wee candles in the night, shielded against the wind.

I prefer strings of LED lights on the stair rails outside my house, though. I plug ‘em in the night before solstice and don’t unplug ‘em until New Year’s Day.

I’d just like to wish everyone, regardless of your religious or spiritual convictions or devotions, the happiest of holiday (holy day) seasons.

And ‘cause I was raised Christian and still celebrate with my nearest and dearest: Merry Christmas!

World info, or the boring stuff that worldbuilding sometimes entails

Ok, so now that I’ve announced that I’m going to bore you all to death, you can all run away and do something fun with your Friday nights …

Last time, on WIP (before we were so rudely interrupted by the outage): The history be done!  For now.  You never know, I may have to go back a write a novel about the past of Tellurin someday …

As I’ve mentioned often, I’m a pantser.  I start with an idea, I write though the first draft, then I go back and start playing.  I do character sketches first, then history, then I start getting into the systems.  This post is about how the world works.

In reality, I know that a world like this probably can’t exist.  It’s too convenient.  Everything lines up exactly.  But this is a fantasy people.  And these are the rules as I’ve made them.

Tellurin has:

1 sun, very similar to earth’s sun, a young ‘un.

1 sunspan (or sun) = 364 dayspans, or days (exactly 13 moonspans of 28 days a piece)

A day is 24 hours, an hour is 60 minutes, a minute is 60 seconds … Gotta have something familiar!

1 moon, large enough to have the thinnest of atmospheres, completely covered in ice.  Looks blue because of the reflected light from Tellurin.

1 moonspan (or moon) = 28 days

There are 13 moons in a sun and they are called:

Isto, Sein, Terza, Quade, Cinquo, Sexta, Septo, Octa, Ninte, Dente, Isten, Seinen, and Terzen

The seasons are:

Shoudranya, the season of spring forth (most people don’t use the old names—they’re considered “stuffy”) comprised of Isto, Sein, and Terza

Zaidranya, the season of the bright sun comprised of Quade, Cinquo, and Sexta

Mardranya, the season of leaf fall comprised of Septo, Octo, and Ninte

Vedranya, the season of storms comprised of Dente, Isten, Seinen, and Terzen

And here’s where my paganish leanings enter the picture.

The sun begins in Shoudranya when the rains stop and the growing things begin to spring forth again.

On the first day of Isto, the festival of Kiestaya the awakening is celebrated.  Imbolc-like.

On the first day of Terza, the festival of Anestaya, the engendering or sowing is celebrated.  Day and night are equal.  Somewhere between the vernal equinox and Beltaine.

On the first day of Cinquo, the festival of Huostaya, the early harvest, is celebrated.  The longest day.  Summer solstice and Lunassadh-like.

On the first day of Septo, the festival of Uistaya the second harvest is celebrated.  Day and night are once again equal.  Autumnal equinox and Octoberfest-like.

On the first day of Ninte, the festival of Sestaya the final harvest is celebrated.  This is when the final slaughter is accomplished.  Samhain-like.

Vestaya or the closing, the only moveable festival, is observed on the first full day of storms.  Occasionally it can even occur before the final harvest.  Remembrance day-like.

The last festival of the year is celebrated on the first day of Seinen: Reshtaya the turning.  The longest night, though no one living can tell with the persistent cloud cover of Vedranya overhead.  Winter solstice-like.

Ferathainn is born on Sestaya.

Each moon is comprised of four seven-day weeks:

Selneth, the full week; Gebbeth, the waning week; Kiereth, the dark week; and Ebbeth, the waxing week.

The days of the week:

Sunday, Moonday, Stoneday, Windday, Waterday, Fireday, Spiritday

The older names for the days of the week:

Zaides, Azures, Telles, Zephes, Auges, Flames, Spirites

A date might be read Kiereth Zaides of Cinquo (Sunday of the third week of the fifth moon).  This also might be more commonly called Dark Sunday of Cinquo.  Most people no longer remember the old names or bother to keep that knowledge alive.

This was one of the things that I had to know about my world.  No one ever states or writes a date in the novels.  This is just for me to be able to keep things straight.  I even have a document in Word that I’ve set up as a calendar, so I can keep track of when things are happening.

I actually enjoy stuff like this.  I’m that much of a geek.

More systems next week (I can hear the screams already), but these systems will be more interesting.  I’ll get into the magic system, and this will be a little bit more like a story than a list of stuff 🙂  If there’s room, I might even fit in something about the religions of Tellurin.

And if I can get my brilliant man to fix my scanner, I might even share my rudimentary map of Tellurin.

I plan a little worldbuiling holiday too.  I have things to share about my current draft and the bizarre way it’s panning out.

So there’s good stuff ahead on WIP.  Stay tuned.

Writerly Goodness signing off.  Have a fan-tabulous weekend!