Monthly Archives: April 2012

In the morning: tea, coffee or juice?

Coffee. I’m totally a coffee morning type person.

On the rare occasion, I will have juice. Has to be orange juice, and I like the pulpy stuff. Just has more zing to it, I suppose.

Tea is an evening drink. Or mid morning or mid afternoon. Because that’s how I grew up. We had mid morning tea and biscuits and mid afternoon tea. It was nice, and I often wish I could do it again. I suppose on weekends, but not during the week.

Ask me anything

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Posted by on April 30, 2012 in Fun, randomness


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Rocket Fox – Chapter Three download

The download of chapter three is here.

Rocket Fox – Chapter Three

And, once again, here is a complete download containing all three chapters.

Rocket Fox – Flight of the Nighthawk

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Posted by on April 30, 2012 in The Barrow's Revenge, Writing


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Rocket Fox – chapter three, final part

The walk from the main faculty building where such hearings as this disciplinary hearing take place was not far from the House Ocelot barracks. A series of buildings which were well build, but in such a way to prepare each student for life on a base. It was mid afternoon, and this meant most everyone would be gathered at the barracks mess for tea. Almost all of them knew today was the final ruling for Jada’s hearing.

Captain Mallard walked with Senia and Jada until they reach the entrance to the barracks grounds. She turned and offered a small salute to the two Vulpine, and began to walk off to her own office when she stopped and looked to Jada.

“For what it’s worth, Private Hawkspur,” she stated in an even voice. “While I understand the consequences and ruling handed down to you, this academy will be poorer now that you will barred from the Air Corps.” She offered a nod and turned, but again stopped and said with a small smile. “And for what it’s worth, if I had been in your shoes, Willinham would have gotten it just as good from me.” She didn’t wait for another word from either Senia or Jada, but just continued on her course.

“Did that sound like an endorsement to you?” Jada asked with her usual smirk.

“Hard to tell,” Senia replied before steering them toward the mess hall. “I guess now it’s time to face a different kind of hearing. No doubt, thanks to our incredible security to keep things quiet, will ensure that everyone knows today was the day for your final ruling.”

“A barrage of questions,” Jada said with a sigh. “I don’t know if I can face that.”

“Voicing frustration,” Senia corrected her. “Just as I did on the second day of your hearing. And they have every right. Of the top pilots, you were number 5. We’re losing a good pilot.”

“You know,” Jada said as she lowered her voice, leaning over to Senia a bit as they walked. “I hope your objections don’t get yourself into trouble.”

“I’ll handle myself,” Senia reassured her. “But the ruling board had to know my feelings. It was no different when Jennings hearing came about, nor when Caliope’s. They were in our top fifteen. I know there’s discipline, but there’s also a loyalty to your house. To your comrades.”

They approached the mess hall in a leisurely walk, as though they were crossing the yard from the barracks like any other day. But, this was different. They could both see into the building, the number of faces looking outside, waiting. “Time to face the music,” Jada said with a sigh.

Inside the mess hall, you could hear a pin drop. It seemed as though every member of House Ocelot was waiting to hear word of the outcome. Someone would have to say something before rumours started. Senia looked to Jada, who only nodded. Jada knew that Senia had to say something, but she also knew Senia would say it in a diplomatic and truthful way.

“If I could have everyone’s attention,” Senia started, speaking in as clear a voice as her speech impediment would allow. “I am certain that you are all waiting to hear the outcome of the hearing. So I’ll announce it here and now, and that way any rumours can end with this announcement. The ruling board has come to the decision that Jada Hawkspur will be stripped of rank and barred from serving aboard any vessel in the Royal Vulpine Armada for a period no less than ten years.” There was a groan of protest that went through the cadets who had gathered. Senia quickly put up a hand for silence, and then continued. “However. Because Jada is so close to graduation, she will continue her studies and once complete, granted a civilian degree. I don’t think that there will be any difficulty for her obtaining that.”

“At least we’ll still have her for our rough ball semi final match,” one young Felanus said with a dejected sigh as he attempted to find some silver lining in this sow’s ear.

“I wouldn’t hold my breath on that, Sparky,” Jada said with some reluctance. It was enough of an admission that Jada had been barred from extracurricular activities, and it sent frustration through the room.

“Everyone!” Senia called out as she held up her hand. When the room settled down once more, Senia looked to the Felanus who made the comment. “Corporal Sparks, if you have something to say…”

“Permission to speak freely,” he asked as he tried to hold back his own anger. Senia nodded and gave him her full attention. “With all due respect, this is complete bollocks. Jada was one of our best. And to be honest, I was there when Willy said what he said. He deserved getting a slap across the jaw.” He grumbled slightly and took a deep breath before he finished. “And to top it all off, we’ve lost one of our best strikers.”

“I’m glad that I rank so highly for a match of rough ball,” Jada said with her usual laugh. “But, I appreciate the sentiment, Sparky.”

The group began talking among themselves once again, and Senia began to realize there was something that they could still do for Jada at the very least. “I think,” Senia called out over the other voices, letting them know she had something to say to each of them. “There is still something we can do. It’s not protocol, but in this instance, protocol be damned. It’s tradition for each cadet to be given a send off dinner. And as Jada ranked so highly in squadron and pilot tests,” she said and looked to Sparky. “And as her position as striker on the house rough ball team.” That brought about a small chuckle throughout the room. “But I think Jada has at least garnered the respect of all of us to deserve at least that. Perhaps you could arrange something, Corporal Sparks. Off base, that is.”

“We can probably contact one of the restaurants in the village proper,” he suggested. “Maybe in a week. After the semi final.”

“Sounds like a plan,” Senia remarked with a smile and nodded to Sparky, then looked to Jada. The suggestion was good enough to bring spirits up with the group for the time being at least. Senia then looked around the room for a moment, suddenly taking note of two people that were missing. “Sparky,” she said as she moved over to the aforementioned Felanus. “Have you seen either Hardy or Clarfax?”

“Um… Hardy couldn’t stand waiting around,” he informed Senia. “So she went off to the motor pool to see if there might be something she could do.”

“Like forget her troubles and worries in an engine block,” Senia said with a sigh as Sparky nodded in agreement. “And Clarfax?”

“Last I heard, he was taking in the guest lecture this afternoon,” Sparky replied as he shrugged his shoulders. “Colonel Tyrell had invited Professor Bellton to speak on quantum mechanics. Last minute booking from what I’ve heard.” He scratched behind his ear for a moment before adding. “I could go find them if you want.”

“No, thank you though, Sparky,” Senia replied. “You’ll have your work cut out for you getting this dinner ready. And try to keep it quiet, we don’t need the faculty hearing about it. As far as anyone should know, it’s just a celebratory dinner, after the semi final.” Sparky nodded quickly and turned around in his chair to start jotting down some notes. Jada had slid up beside Senia and nudged her lightly.

“Good way to turn a negative into a positive,” she said with a smile.

“You’re my best friend,” Senia said in a low voice. “I’m not letting you off this base without at least a good send off to remember us all by.” She sighed, still feeling the weight of the day on her shoulders. “Keep an eye on Sparky, would you? Reel him in if you have to, I know he gets overly excited about assignments, no matter what scale.”

“And just what are you going to do?”

“I’m going to find Hardy,” Senia replied with a shrug. “See if I can get her to pull herself away from an engine block long enough to tell her the news.”

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Posted by on April 29, 2012 in The Barrow's Revenge, Weird facts


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Struttin’ my stuff!

Work has been coming along much better on the rewrite of Rocket Fox.

Different systems, a new start to the story, and better fleshed out.  Gives more face time to each of the characters in their own chapters as well.  Which means, that each act that I’ve done so far is going to end up being it’s own book (that means, I’m writing three books at the exact same time… or at least simultaneously).  So, in celebration, I give everyone two animated gifs.  One of Senia doing her confident walk, and the other is her version of a happy dance.

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Posted by on April 29, 2012 in Fun, randomness, The Barrow's Revenge


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Rocket Fox – more with chapter three

The inner chambers of the board were rather spartan. A simple desk where three colonels sat, each with paper work and data pads in front of them. A console computer off to one side, recording everything that went on during the proceedings. Two clerks who would quickly do background checks for information for the three colonels. And two guards at the entrance of the room, who stood at the ready as though they were part of a parade procession. Large windows allow light into the room, as the sunlight shone onto the hardwood floors. Everything seemed to echo in this room, the loudest sound, however, came from a clock that hung on the wall just above the entrance.

Senia took her seat in one of those uncomfortable auditorium chairs, behind a utilitarian desk. Captain Mallard joined her, taking her own seat to Senia’s left. It was Vulpine law that for any hearing, no matter how small, those who would be questioned would always have a representative. In the mahy years Captain Mallard had served at the school, she had always acted in such a capacity. Many said it was because she had some compassion, but also had an air of diplomacy about her.

“Left-tenant Felix,” one of the colonels spoke up as he looked over the data pad once more. He was an older Vulpine, and from what the students knew of him, he was a stickler for tradition. “This hearing is merely being held to clarify a few points,” he continued as he looked up and took off his glasses. “We merely wish to ask you a few questions regarding Private Hawkspur and that is all. Do you understand?”

“I understand completely, sir,” she replied in a bold voice, but trying to keep her lisp to a minimum.

“Very good,” the colonel said with a nod, satisfied with Senia’s answer. “You know Private Hawkspur quite well, I understand.”

“Yes, sir. Very well.”

“Do you consider her one of your trusted friends?” he asked as he put down his data pad.

“Yes sir, I do,” Senia stated with a firm nod. “We have been best friends since we were accepted to the Academy.”

“And during the time you have known Private Hawkspur, have you ever attempted to mislead anyone regarding her grading and evaluation?” The question came as a surprise. Senia believed this to be merely a formality for final questioning before the ruling was handed down.

“Never, sir,” Senia replied after some hesitation. “I have treated Private Hawkspur like any other in House Ocelot. And, if I may, sir, I am most certain the board knows that I have a close friendship with Corporal Hardy Maynard, Corporal Clarfax Billings and Left-tenant Philburt Collinsworth.”

“Yes, Left-tenant,” one of the other colonels spoke up, waving a dismissive hand. “The difference being that none of the others you mentioned have ever slugged a superior officer in the jaw.” She sighed openly and picked up her own data pad. “I believe there is really only one question which remains, Left-tenant. What is your own recommendation for what punishment be handed down to Private Hawkspur.”

Senia took a deep breath, remembering the words Jada said in the hallway. Speak the truth. “There is no precedent for her actions. The ruling itself should be clear. Private Hawkspur should be stripped of rank, and discharged.” The colonels all nodded, satisfied with Senia’s answer. “However,” she said, catching the board off guard. “It should be noted that in the long history of this establishment, an occurrence like this has happened 283 times. In 200 of those cases, the incident occurred toward the beginning of the students education. The remaining cases happened toward the end of their six years. They were allowed to continue on to graduation, where they were given a civilian degree. If the board so wishes, I also recommend that Private Hawkspur be allowed to finish her final year.”

The three colonels sat back in their chairs and muttered among themselves for a few moments. Senia had done something many others would never do in a situation like this. Tactfully, she brought up past cases, showing that there was precedent for Jada to remain until she graduated; albeit in a civilian capacity.

“Very well,” one of the colonels spoke up and motioned to the guards. “Please let Private Hawkspur in.” One of the guards quickly saluted and left the room to carry out his orders. It was only a few seconds, as he returned followed quickly by Jada. She came to the same desk where Captain Mallard and Senia sat and stood on Captain Mallard’s left side. Both Mallard and Senia rose to their feet, knowing that now was the moment the board would officially hand down their ruling.

“Private Jada Hawkspur,” the chair said as he rose to his feet. “It is with great disappointment that I must do this, considering that you were ranked quite high in your house and in the school proper. Private Hawkspur, you will be stripped of rank. You will be barred from service on board any vessel within the jurisdiction of the Royal Vulpine Armada. That includes space faring craft as well as sea faring vessels.” The colonel picked up his data pad and punched in a few keys. “However, let it be known for the record that this Academy does not shrug off a student’s education lightly. You will be allowed to graduate and given a civilian degree in your chosen field. Do you understand the ruling of this board?”

“Yes sir, I do,” Jada replied quickly with a firm nod.

“You will have opportunity to appeal, should you so wish,” the colonel added with some caution. “However, as you are most likely aware, appeals take time.”

“Understood, sir,” Jada replied. “I have thought it over, and have felt that whatever decision the board came to, I would accept it. I will not be seeking appeal.”

“Very well,” the colonel said as he took his seat and picked up his gavel. “I declare this hearing officially complete.”

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Posted by on April 29, 2012 in The Barrow's Revenge, Writing


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Rocket Fox – Chapter three rewrite

Remember how I said before that there are often times when Senia Felix must oversee disciplinary action to any cadets that step out of line in her house? Well, it’s rather sad that is just how we have to begin this tale. Under normal circumstances, this would be a simple matter. But, these are not normal circumstances, for the action that Senia must take involves a very close friend. That is one thing about Senia that is part of her charm, but also a failing. She is incredibly loyal to her friends.

And there is no greater friend to Senia than Jada Hawkspur. Jada was an excellent student and would have had a star filled career as a pilot, with the exception of one small matter. She had an incredible temper. For the most part, she kept it in check, but when someone might say something that would dishonour her family or heritage, well let’s just say the worst in Jada would come out. Such was the case in this matter.

Jada was a middle continent Vulpine, coming from the vast plains of the Kanata Territories. She was leaner than her Foxburrow cousins, and her fur was slightly more beige than the stark red of those who lived along the coastlines. She grew up in a family that was tied to the land, and made their living as farmers. Jada loved her home, but she often talked about journeying to see the stars. When she arrived in Chattingham, one of the first people to make her feel at home was Senia. It wasn’t long before Jada was often seen with Senia, Clarfax and Hardy, laughing and working together.

For Senia, she tried to push back everything so she could do her duty without bias. But when she entered the faculty chambers that were used for such messy purposes, she saw Jada waiting patiently to be called. She couldn’t stay away, couldn’t walk past without saying something.

Timidly, she approached her dear friend.

“Jada,” she said quietly as she took a seat in the waiting area beside her friend.

Jada looked up, smiling softly. She was wearing her uniform, neatly pressed, her hair pinned back in the small pony tail she often would wear. There was no malice in her eyes when she looked to Senia, none at all. “I know what I did, Senia,” she replied quietly. “As soon as Sergeant Willham hit the ground, I was ready for it.”

“I don’t like these things, you know.”

“I know,” Jada replied with a small nod. “This is only the third time you’ve had to do something like this.”

“But this is the hardest,” Senia said, almost as though she were finishing Jada’s sentence. “I know that the members of our house will vouch for you. Sergeant Willham said something deplorable. We all heard it, even me. I was there.”

“I know,” Jada replied with a small chuckle. “I remember you jumping in to pull me back before … well, before anything else happened.” They both sighed and fell silent for a moment before Jada continued. “This needed to be done, I think. Maybe not this way. Meaning me punching Willham. But, I’ve heard others say he was harsh to several other students.”

“Well, after this is over I’m personally filing a complaint,” Senia said in a stern voice. “It’s utter nonsense. That type of attitude should not be tolerated. Even if it is coming from a superior officer. They have to set an example, after all.” She sighed as she let a thousand thoughts fly through her head. “There has to be a way to let the board of judiciary know that…”

“Senia,” Jada said in a soft voice, knowing that her friend would stop and pay attention to her. “I want you to tell the truth. I am willing to face the consequences of my actions,” she said as she put her hand up to prevent Senia from protesting. “I know what I did, and I will not have my own actions jeopardize those of any of my house mates. Alright?”

Reluctantly, Senia agreed, nodding to Jada. In a way, it was like a great weight had been lifted from her shoulders. She could always tell when Jada was being sincere. This was one of those times.

“Left-tenant Felix,” a bold voice called out. Senia and Jada rose to their feet as they recognized the voice of Captain Rita Mallard, a black furred Felanus. She had been with the faculty for a long while, and was ever much a paragon of honour and duty. She tried to hide it, but there were those who said she felt for the predicament that Jada was in. “At ease, both of you. Left-tenant, if you will please come in, the board wishes to ask you a few questions.” Senia nodded and began to make her way to the hearing chamber. Mallard turned to Jada and sighed as she let her shoulders slump just a bit. A wordless gesture, but it spoke volumes. She was disappointed, but only slightly. Mallard was one of those who looked upon Jada with promise. “It shouldn’t be long, Private Hawkspur. We’ll be calling you after we ask Left-tenant Felix some questions. I suggest you get a beverage while you wait.”

Jada nodded in reply, offering a salute as the captain began her way back to the chambers. She didn’t know who would have the more difficult time; herself or Senia.

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Posted by on April 28, 2012 in The Barrow's Revenge, Writing


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Rocket Fox – Chapter One & Two download

With the writing of Chapters One and Two complete, I’ve put them together in a nice package for easy download and reading.  The file is a pdf and should be easily viewed on any device that can handle such a format.

Rocket Fox – Flight of the Nighthawk

If readers have previously downloaded Chapter One, I’ve also made a Chapter Two download.

Rocket Fox – Chapter Two

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Posted by on April 28, 2012 in The Barrow's Revenge, Writing


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Rocket Fox – chapter two revisited

More from the second chapter which wraps things up and gets the reader ready to meet Senia and the others for the first time.

 Before we continue on, I must explain one thing to everyone. That is the ranking system in the academy. All first years enter with the rank of cadet. Graduation to second year will ensure that the students will have the rank of private. Third year, they continue with the rank of private, but by mid term of the third year, that’s when the senior officers and faculty begin to pair down the best of the best. Each house within the academy will have their own commanding officer, who is awarded the rank of left-tenant upon graduation from third year. By mid term third year, most cadets are promoted to corporal. In fourth year, all cadets have their ranks set, with a majority being corporal, some private and the house leaders with the rank of left-tenant.

Left-tenants have a very important duty. As house leader, they oversee all drills, inspect barracks, give weekly evaluations, and conduct training exercises with the cadets. They also provide conciliatory duties and disciplinary duties. The former occurs much more than the latter.

I did mention a house system, didn’t I. There are eight houses at the academy in Chattingham. The houses act as squadrons, but as Vulpine law will not allow anyone under the age of 19 to become a full squadron member, they cannot call themselves an official squadron at the school. Unofficially, they are squadrons, however. The houses do also act as a sort of competitive spirit to motivate the students. Each house has their own rough ball team. They have scores from exams, training exercises and can have points deducted if any cadet receives disciplinary action. And a house can receive a major blow if a cadet is expelled for any reason whatsoever.

As for our three young heroes, they are in the House Ocelot, a prestigious house that many a famed fighter pilot has been a member of. So let our story fully begin, and allow us to look in on our three young cadets and meet their friends at the academy. I believe that what may begin as something rather mundane might indeed prove to be rather adventurous.

As the saying does sometimes go; a Vulpine pilot never knows where the winds may take them.

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Posted by on April 27, 2012 in The Barrow's Revenge, Writing


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Hinterland Who’s Who Swift Fox

Hinterland Who’s Who Swift Fox – YouTube.

This is one of many vignettes by the National Film Board of Canada from the early 1970s.  This one focused on an animal of particular interest to me, the swift fox.

A Swift Fox napping in a zoo

A Swift Fox napping in a zoo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Posted by on April 27, 2012 in randomness, video


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Death of a character

No, I’m not killing off a character in anything I write.  But, I do wanna discuss a character in comics that, as far as I’m concerned, was given a pretty blah ending and a hand wave death.

Cover of "Huntress: Year One"

Cover of Huntress: Year One

The character I speak of is Helena Bertinelli, also known as the Huntress of DC Comics continuity.  The Huntress was a Bat-family character, and often one that wasn’t thought of as being all together nice.  But that’s probably because Helena Bertinelli grew up as the daughter to a Mafia mob boss.  Her parents were killed, and she threw off the responsibility of growing up in the mob to become a vigilante.  She was also a teacher, and taught class at an inner city school in Gotham.

And now she’s dead.

Well, not yet.  The actual final death knell won’t be officially sounded until the first issue of World’s Finest comes out.  The new series is taking a different path.  Instead of being the book for Superman and Batman, it’s now the book for Power Girl and Huntress.

So, I may have confused some people now by saying that the Huntress is going to die, but she’ll be a recurring character in the ongoing series World’s Finest.  Sorry about that, but now it’s time for an explanation.

Before Huntress/Helena Bertinelli, there was another one.  She was from, what DC Comics called Earth 2.  It wasn’t the same Earth that the Superman and Batman we’re familiar with lived, but had older versions of the characters we knew.  And some differences.  Including a woman called Huntress, who in her real life was known as Helena Wayne.  She was the daughter of Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle.  That got washed away in the mega crossover of the mid 80s called Crisis on Infinite Earths.  Huntress died valiantly, along side many other heroes in defending the Multiverse.  She even got a decent on page death scene, one that didn’t involve kitchens or refrigerators as seems to be the case now with female characters.  After Crisis, Huntress was reborn, but as Helena Bertinelli.

She was a more interesting character, to be honest.  She fought actual crime, dealt with real life issues, went head to head with the Batman on many occasions because he found her methods to be quite violent.  Huntress was also the only female character in the DCU to go head to head with the alien Predators when DC and Dark Horse did the Batman Predator cross overs.

And now, that version of Huntress is dead.  It wasn’t a dramatic death scene, however.  It wasn’t even a full page.  It was just one line.  Here it is in the preview to World’s Finest.

It’ll be sad to see her go.

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Posted by on April 27, 2012 in randomness


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