Marine Corps Schools
Dating is a problem in the Empire and throughout known space. As you can see in lesson 2, no one has a good handle on how much time has passed since man first left Earth and the present. It is known that this took place in the 21st century by Earth reckoning. But, along with the loss of the location of Earth amidst "The Collapse," no one can agree how many years have passed since.
Each culture keeps its own calendar and counts time from a different point. In the Imperial Forces, dating is set by Tara, but each man and woman is allowed to add the date according to their people. This is a small consideration, but it brings home to us that, while we are servants of the Empire, the Empire is made up of our peoples.
As an example (let me call up the calendar), the date here at Apergis Barracks is 349 I.D./532 B.D. This stands for the two-hundred-and-forty-ninth year since the founding of the Empire (Imperial date) and the five-hundred-and thirty-second year since Royal dating began on Bayern with the ascension of Erwin I as King of all the Bayern at the Battle of the Mead Meadow. Now for my bunkie, Ikati, it's 349 I.D/221 Z.D. Bantu when they came into the Empire had a small problem. "B.D." was already taken by the Bayern. It was agreed in council that Bantu would use "Z.D."--Zulu Date. Ikati has remarked that it might have been simpler to blow up Bayern. I'm not sure how they set their date, I'll ask him. He says, "The Bantu date from the "Washing of the Spears" at Hondehok Knop and to please leave [him] the [Hades] alone, he's having enough trouble concentrating on a logistics assignment without answering my [dang] fool questions!" Me thinks we will have to take a break and frog-march said gentleman over to the geedunk shop. Sounds like his Dr. Pepper levels have dropped to a dangerous point.
I hope I've helped you understand the dating problem. Rest assured, it confuses us quite regularly and we live with it!
The Writer's Predictability Habit
There are a number of writers I love to read for their characterization and "McGuffins," but, Lordy, the way their plot sequence runs drives me up the wall. Mostly, these are mystery writers. After a couple of their series books, I know for a fact that the hero will get his lights punched out at the top of page 78. How do I know this? Am I a seer, a prophet (looking at my bank balance, it's cinch profit ain't involved)? Nope. The author had his/her/its hero get his lights punched out at the same place in the last four volumes. (I'm not sure why, but this seems to only happen to male protagonists.) After a while, one starts to get the suspicion that the author is using an algorithm to churn these things out--basically just filling in the blanks for "villain," "place," and "love interest" and hitting "run" (or "enter" if you wish).
I can immediately think of four writers who do this. It doesn't seem to matter whether the author is male of female (that's going by the names--which really doesn't mean a dang thing), their guy suddenly gets punched in the jaw or stomach or hit over the head (oddly, never in the 'goodies"--that would really take him out!) at the top of page 78. He wakes up sometime later and the whatzit is gone. Even though he has a concussion, he immediately pitches back into the investigation with only a sore whatever. Humphrey Bogart could do this in "The Maltese Falcon" and "Across the Pacific" but you got the idea he was one tough hombre and, even then, he wasn't hitting on a couple of cylinders for a while.
One of the things that made Tony Hillerman, Agatha Christie, G.K. Chesterton, and Dorthy Sayers great was you never saw it coming.
As a writer, we should at least try to mix it up a bit. I realize a lot of mainstream publishers don't seem to care about repetition at the moment, but you should. If nothing else, it shows you respect your readers.
Okay, end of sermon. Now, who brought the popcorn and potato chips?
DVDs for Christmas (Note to FTC: I bought this dang DVD myself!)
Walt Disney's Classic Cartoon Favorites volume 9: Classic Holiday Stories. Disney. 58 minutes.
Just when you're up to your fanny in plastic Santas, reindeer, and Sugar Plum Fairies, a cartoon shows up about the "reason for the season." (No, not a solar-powered bun warmer for Aunt Myrtle!--who let this clown in? I told you we need to get that screen door fixed.) In this case, the cartoon is Disney's "The Small One." This is the story of a boy and the donkey who carried the Virgin to Bethlehem--and I absolutely refuse to mist-up over it, do you hear? Blast! Where did I put those tissues?
Ahem. Also on the DVD is "Pluto's Christmas Tree" and "Mickey's Christmas Carol." The first is one of the best Pluto cartoons (Chip and Dale don't hurt) and the second is fun, though Uncle Scrooge does lack a bit of George C. Scott's depth.
22 December 2009: Feast of St. Zeno, Winter Solstice, Savannah captured by Gen. Sherman 1864, Gen. McAuliffe in Bastogne tells surrounding Germans "Nuts!" 1944, first flight of Lockheed "Skunk Works" SR-71 Blackbird 1964, Brandenburg Gate reopens in Berlin 1989.