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Cheers!

Tom

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Velios


Velios

By Tom Pogson

“cause and effect is as absolute and undeviating

in the hidden realm of thought as in the world” – James Allen


Four


He did not know when it began.  The slightest sound inside the pod could overwhelm those first pops and clicks from his makeshift scanner with its three pin lights.  When the frightened voice first spoke he was elsewhere, more than likely standing in the center beam room.  Sam kept flawless records from the digital readouts below, the thick curved glass separating his face from the hum of the beam.  Its radiance swelled and shone bright, showing the Captain’s age.

Every five hours he would do this.  Sam still used the same tablet that the Kel had left for him a decade ago.  Most pod miners could not even keep the same tablet running, let alone the rest of the work Sam did.  He liked to keep busy.  There was always something to do on the Howe Shelf, far away from the noise and the dust and the bars of the Central Commons.

How Nina could stand that place, Sam never knew.  What kind of life was that for Eliot anyways?

The front room was his workshop, flanked by the mudroom on one side where he kept the tools for the hoverbike and the other the kitchen which was kept spotless.  He did have one comfortable chair in the front room, next to where the scanner was chirping louder as the signal grew stronger.  The chair was for reading.  He had been studying the Kel language ever since his posting.  Few things remained of years in the service.  His uniform he long ago had incinerated.

Satisfied with his readings, he plugged the tablet into the port in the center tube.  The beam itself would carry the signal far up to his exchanger and along the beam in the sky until it reached the Kel Station far in the northern mountains. 

It was as the upload finished that he first heard the sound coming from the front room.  He leaned over to peer towards the room, having to keep the tablet in place until the upload was finished. 

Complete.  Hit Send.  Send.

In seconds he was kneeling down in front of the table, staring at the black metal console with the rounded ends and the green blinking lights.

The squawk of the noise and static grew with lashings of clear sound.  Kel words were coming through the little speaker on the back.  It was broken like a sun scraping through clouds.  Sam placed his finger over the voice button.  With his other hand he gently tried the dial on the side, looking at the tiny digital screen for the strongest signal he could find.

“Pod Miner 78-A listening, anyone out there?”

Silence.  Then more noise but it was completely illusive.  He moved the dial around more, squinting hard at the little screen.

“Come on,” said Sam “Where are you?”

Then dead silence.  Only one light shone; the principal running light of the machine.  This meant that there was no signal.  Sam moved the dial more, half tempted to slap the side of the machine as if something had suddenly gone wrong with it.  He put his hands up in frustration.  He had done little tests on the scanner from the radio on his hoverbike, but other than that, the little machine had never been used.  He connected it exactly the way he was trained in the W.A. Field Operations.  It was flawless then, so what was the problem?

He got his answer.

The sound made him nearly jump out of his skin and reach for his thermal TR-90 in the corner.  It was the sound of a ship, its engines crackling and burning hot, racing just over the beam exchanger above the white cluster of his pod.  Sam burst out into the Velios night to see the dark grey craft roaring towards the southern canyons.  The back of the ship was smouldering great pillows of smoke.  Just then the radio scanner burst to life.  Sam could only watch, following the ship’s path as a voice filled the front room.

“Going down!  Going down!  Please assist!  We are going down into the Southern Canyons of Velios.  Important cargo is ab-“

With the sound of a struggle, the voice cut off sharply.  A moment later the ground shook from the impact.  There was no explosion or fireball.  Sam stayed motionless as the sound returned to the flat quiet as a slight breeze came across the water to where he stood on the edge of the peninsula.  High above, the trail of smoke began to dissipate in the evening sky. 

Coming to his senses, Sam raced inside.  He grabbed the TR-90, his coat, his pack and soon was slicing just over the water’s edge on the curved steel of the hoverbike. 

Sam followed the crest of the great falls, a seemingly endless line of froth from the world below as the sea of the Howe Shelf fell away into its roar.  There were very few other Pod Miners on islands this far to the south, but he could still see the occasional pod as he flew towards the distant rise of hills and then wooded mountains of the west.  No trees grew outside those higher elevations.  On the islands of grasses and other meager growth, the nearest working pods were far away, but he could spot them by the thin white line of the energy they pulled from deep in the heart of Velios up to the hovering exchangers in the sky.

He didn’t wear a full rider’s helmet as he always hated those things.  He wore that sort of stuff in the early part of the wars and could remember the screaming matches with General Casson when he would insist that all of Sam’s men should be wearing them too.  Now he just wore a wireless over one ear.

With his eyes scanning the approaching westlands, he looked for anyone else that was going to swing around the edge of the falls and head south.

“Pod Miner 78-A here, en route to the crash.  Anyone else see that?”

No response.  The signal went back to the music that Sam had loaded into the bike’s computer.  The music was electronic but from decades back.  He was barely listening to it as he interrupted it again.

“Hey, Sam Krellor here.  Seriously, did no-one see that?”

Somebody must have seen the ship go down, but he was a little concerned to find out whom.  It was late on a Friday night and way too many of the other miners were more than likely at the Commons.  It was not the kind of help he would want.  It would take them far longer to get there and they would be more than likely intoxicated. 

“Jesus, aren’t any of you sober?”

Just then, Sam reached the edge where the falls broke into three rivers that split into the southlands and the grassy westlands.  He swung around and began the trek into the heart, the map display lighting up below the white wheel.

At least he would be able to secure the crash site before any of those guys showed up.  Story of his life, he thought, dealing with a bunch of dumb kids.

He knew where that ship had probably landed, occasionally glancing down at the map.  He pressed the spot with his finger quickly.  The spot flashed red and blue symbols appeared over the map, detailing the elevation and deciding the best course.

“On board.  Navigate lock.”

“Lock complete,” came the female voice response from the bike’s computer.

With the route laid out before him, he soon was able to find his way there.  With the spray of the falls at his back, he swung the bike into the narrow slot canyon.  The path was so tight that his knees could easily scrape the layers of earth that blurred passed, the spectrum of packed red soils falling away to a soft dirt plain.  He began slowing as he passed over a hilltop and came down towards the crash site.  There was no question that his work pod was due north of him and high up above the falls.  There was no question as the red dot on his map display suddenly changed to an apple green.  He was there.

The ship was not.


Three



Around his white bike floating just off the surface of the soil, the southlands slept quietly.  Just the slightest breath came from the north, and the slightest low roar of the great falls separating Sam from his home.

From the side of the bike he opened a hatch and pulled out his binoculars, scanning the horizon.  Was it possible that it had crashed further to the south?  The area was flat for miles in every direction with bluffs and hoodoos only breaking up the canyon-lands.  He was certain of it.  The ship should be here.

The bike whirred to silence as he stepped off onto the soil and began just walking around, feeling like a fool.  As if not being on the bike would solve much of anything.

He kneeled down and looked at the soil beneath him.  If something that big happened, there would be a trace of it. 

Reluctantly, he got back on the bike and headed further south, ignoring his certainty about where the Kel ship went down.  Maybe he was wrong.  It was a Kel ship and having travelled on one Sam knew they are incredible machines, so perhaps it made it further than he considered.

But for the miles and miles that he scanned, climbing the bike up to the top of one of the gently sloping bluffs it became clear that there was no ship; just the soft evening wind, the scent of cherry that came from the undergrowth on Velios and the cloudless sky above.

Soon he was back on the whirring white hoverbike, flying past the falls and northeast.  For a while it was just him, a single white dot sailing over the water and the low islands.  Then he saw another pod, miles from his own.  And then another.  He knew he was getting closer as they began to pepper the surrounding landscape, and the voices of drunken Pod Miners occasional shouted out.

Ahead of him were the lights of the Commons, a round city stuffed onto the largest of the islands, its two story buildings clustered together like seagulls on a buoy.  He swung around to the eastern entrance. There were other bikes and the guards in their grey armor suits watching them come and go.  He was always worried that one day the guards would be off duty at the wrong time.  He slowed the bike to a crawl as he approached the mouth of the east gate.

“Hey Captain,” said the taller of the two guards flanking the opening in the wall that ran around the noise and the cooking smells and dull orange light.

“Ryan,” Sam acknowledged as the young Pod Miners were coming out single file.  Their bikes swayed but at least they had the ability to get the guys home, homing on each pod despite the state of the passenger.

“Captain Viking!” came a cheer from a couple bikes back in the line, a phrase that then rippled through the crowd as they were either familiar faces to Sam, or they just did not want to be left out of the fun.

Sam just waved his hand from the two horns of his white steering wheel as he cruised past the ever-increasing line.  He didn’t want to ask these guys about the lights in the sky.  He was absolutely certain on how painfully annoying the responses would be at that time of night.  Very few girls worked as Pod Miners, with the exception of a handful that lived close.

“Well, this is an unexpected delight!” said Nina as she looked up from the autowasher which was always getting jammed with crap from the wide mouthed beer mugs.

“I’ve been here before.”

“Not frequently,” she smiled as she looked into the autowasher, “stupid thing.  Hey, you’re a tough guy…want to help me with this?”

Sam walked behind the counter over to Nina who stepped back, pushing the long blonde hair behind her ear that managed to escape her black hair clip.  Sam looked inside the orange glow of the machines single opening.

“Wow,” he said with his eyebrows raised.

“Oh, don’t give me that,” she laughed “You never think to clean the thing that does the cleaning.”

“Okay,” he said reaching in and then stopping to look at her.

“It’s unplugged.”

“Thank you,” he said, grimacing as he inserted his arm inside the machine and began trying to clear away the hairs and food that circled the gears like lichen “Everyone behave tonight?”

“Thanks to the guards.  People are accusing the food now of being the source of the problem and of course that’s yours truly.  Still waiting for a re-shipment.”

“Like these guys would even want kids.”

“I don’t know, some might.  Give Eliot someone to play with.  He’s the only person under ten in the joint.  Best excuse ever to skip school.”

Just then Sam pulled something out from between two large cogs that shook the whole machine.  He reached down and plugged the autowasher back into the wall and the machine chugged at first until it began humming contentedly.  He held up a small toy man, made of solid plastic that looked as though his spaceship had just taken a tumble.

“I told him not to go near this thing.”

“Go easy on him.  He’s a good kid.”

“I know.  You want a drink?  I am sure the only thing it does is make you drunk.”

Finally Nina Staarsgard had a chance to sit down.  She dropped with a plop into her favorite place next to what the Kel designers though must have constituted a normal fireplace, complete with the metal tools on a rotating rack, and the hearth, only with an oddly oval shaped mouth from which an actual fire relayed heat into the room and smoke up from the pub’s long chimney.  Nina had a pink cocktail in a tall glass and her face was covered in the salt of her own sweat.  She sat next to Sam on the single couch, looking at him with her large blue eyes as he looked into the fire.

“I don’t see you enough, you know.”

“I know.”

“How have you been sleeping?”

He had been sleeping a little better for the last few weeks.  He was almost up to sleeping most nights of the week.  Any sound would do it.  Silence would do it.  Dreams.  Sometimes he would just turn over on his bunk and find himself shaking as the tears rolled over his cheeks.

“You didn’t hear about a Kel ship crash landing did you?”

“A what?”

Sam explained what he knew.  He described the radio.  The great shadow that passed above the pod, the falls and deep into the south.  By her expression, and the fact that he had not met any of the boys on the way to the Commons, he guessed the answer.

“Oh, Sammy,” she said putting her hand on his knee.

“What?”

“I’m worried about you.”

“I didn’t imagine it.”

“I know, but you know what job I did before I became this and you became a miner.  This is a symptom.”

She could feel him tense up on the grey cloth and wicker couch.  She looked at the big man who stared into the flames, unsure what to do beyond just be there.

“I know.  But I saw the craft.  I could describe it right down to its intake converters.  It was there.”

“Until it wasn’t.”



Two


The clock read 3 am as he switched on the front room lights.  The air was still.  He had been through the same steps as before, its rhythm soothing the fading shouts as he would duck his head between the rooms of the pod.  He had the shower to wash away the sweat.  His night robe was clean and soft, hanging in its place on the silver hook behind the door.  The coffee had chugged away almost imperceptibly until he returned to kitchen barefoot under the bright halogen light.  He reheated food in one of those little black bowls.  He put both down next to the radio and turned its volume up just slightly.

He went out into the cool of the Velios night and looked out at the south where the sound of the falls softly rumbled below the canvas of starlight.  The glow from the beam at night brushed the back of his greying brown hair.

Below was the soft green of the growth that seemed like grass but never grew.   Little grew here or ever changed that he had seen.  The breeze from the north hills was almost imperceptible.  He had never been near the hills that climbed to the mountains, for the simple reason that he calculated only so much time between his regular reports.  For a moment he mused that it was too bad his dreams didn’t fall in line with the quiet of the Howe Shelf.  Some of the miners hated things in their new home, longing to be on some other planet where the other survivors must be having a great time.  Sam almost preferred to stay here.  Dani was here.  His work was here.  It was better than his dreams.

For the past few weeks, they began with the same strange story being played out before the usual barrage of gun fire and the scrambling of men.  It was his home town, but desolate.  That at least was like Velios.  It was as if everyone had simply winked out of existence.

He would walk down Main Street, past the white tall trees and red swing sets of the park to the heart of town to find he was completely alone.  He walked into the back of a bakery and up into the law offices that had always looked down from above.  It was all there, every detail.  Eventually he would run into the girl.

He never saw her face completely but she was young and had never seen her before.  She always grabbed his hand to try and pull him away from where he was going.  But where he was going was inevitable.  It was a place where he shouted orders as he ran to the transport, its mouth open like a great bear trap.  Fast forward to the crash.  Then again to things that he could not even describe.  Reports of the bombs falling.  Blood of his troops on his face and his uniform.  Bodies of civilians, or at least parts of them.  He knew they were the lucky ones.  It was all going to end soon.  The reports continued.  He was never as good at science in the academy but only a fool would not realize that there would soon be no place left to hide.  

Then came the Kel.  It wasn’t like any movie.  It was done so fast that everyone in the ship surrounding him seemed to instantly arrive.  Some were military like him.  Some civilian.  No one spoke.  No one moved.  

The ship left orbit, with the remnants of Earth visible below.  There it was, inflamed and sick, its atmosphere soon worse than Venus or Jupiter.

No one moved.

Sam sighed out and turned around to go inside.

“Sam Krellor?”



One


Sam stood in shock.  It was her.  He could absolutely swear it.  It was that same girl from his dream.  She looked like a young girl from earth in her mid teenage years somewhere, but it wasn’t quite right.  Even though the shape was essentially the same, her skin had too much an overall blue tint.  Her eyes were a shade of bright green that he had not seen before the time he would want to forget.


“Hello?” was all he could manage.


“There you are,” she smiled “I have been looking for you since the crash.  We all have.”


His mind raced.  She wasn’t human.  He had never seen a Kel before.  The rescuers of everyone had remained tucked away somewhere on the ship that no one could find them.  Even here on the planet, they supposedly lived in the north mountains, but the kids that went up there never found anyone.  The said it was like a tomb.

“We?”

“I’m a representative.  You may call me Baye.”

“You were on that ship!” he suddenly realized.

“Yes.  And your action did you credit.  It is but another reason we sought you out.  Come.  It is time.”

She took his hand this time and let him inside of the pod, passing the living room towards the beam room where she walked around the humming light to the one place the hatch could open.

“Time?  For what?  I’m sorry, Baye…I don’t follow you,” he stammered with his eyes widening as she opened the glass case that separated the room from the great beam.  He had never opened the case before.  The sound was excruciating.  

Her grip on his hand tightened.  She smiled at him like a mother smiles at her child as her other hand went into the beam.  Sam did not have time to scream.


                                 *   *


Sam awoke in a leather chair.  The similarities to his chair in the pod were so close that he briefly thought it was a dream.  As his eyes opened the reality became apparent.

Before him lay the world.  The rays from the distant sun had begun to creep across the landscape.  Through the round glass windows he saw a beam of white energy that slid from the Howe Shelf now far away, passing high above the Commons to just beneath where he sat.  He was in the Kel sanctuary, a tower high above the rest of the building.  It was near the converter where the ships would refuel.  It was that place the kids had explored.  They found nothing.  That was years ago.  On this day it was he and the one called Baye.  The room was silent.  It seemed peaceful despite the confusion he felt.  He got up and turned around to face her in the round room.

She stood by the center of the room where the wooden floor boards intersected at something that resembled a podium. A single black switch rose from a square flat top.  

He tried to formulate a first question.  He opened his mouth to speak.

“We have been watching you for some time, Captain Krellor,” she said, motioning almost reluctantly then to the black switch “we knew that this task needed the right person from your people.”

“For what?” he asked “Task?”

Her smile had gone.  She paused.  She looked to her left as if she had been instructed to continue.

“The Kel have been given a sacred trust since the founding of the Great Council.  We come to the aid of people that have fallen, we plea for their path to be changed through further research…and then, when that hope is lost…we complete our duty.  It is our sacred trust.”

Sam felt himself go cold.  He had not felt this way since the first moment in the Kel ship.

“What do you mean?”

She seemed to force herself to keep looking at him.  She continued with her softly spoken words.

“It will be instant.  There will be no pain.  No suffering.  All biological life on Velios will simply vanish.”

“But,” Sam said imploring to her “is this happening everywhere else?  Why is this happening at all?  Why am I not trying to break your neck right now?”

She did not back up at the last threat.  Sam did step forward but something about her seemed more dangerous than she looked at first glance.  He turned to find a door.  There was nothing.  The room had become smooth like the inside of an ostrich egg.

“I am but a vessel of the Kel people, so my ‘neck’ as it were is indestructible, as am I.  To your other questions, your species suffered immediate sterilization during your planet’s final hours.  We have been trying to fix this, but we have had no success.  And the stories of your people being on other planets were admittedly a lie.  All of this was, even your work.  The ships that came were our own.  We needed to keep your people calm and busy while we pleaded with the Council.  We endeavoured to give you hope.  That is our charge.  And then…we knew we must find a person who would be appropriate…for the final task.”

“Final task,” he said.

Sam walked around to the front of the podium.   It was a switch, lit blue that was clearly meant to be turned to the right.  How the kids who came up to this room never found this escaped him.  He looked from the switch to the world below.  He thought of Dani and little Eliot.

“But this…” he tried “This can’t be it.”

He turned to his right to face her.  She appeared on his left.

“Is any of this real?”

“It is your choice now, Captain Krellor,” the voice of the girl changing into that of a more masculine voice.  A voice of soft authority “You could delay a little while.  We could continue research, but… we have very few provisions left suitable to sustain the human species.  We have hoped for more promising outcomes, but they never came.  Our records indicate the health of the young boy…he will be first to perish.”

He stood there for a moment.  He placed his hand on the podium.  His knees felt almost weak.

“We are sorry.  So many of your people made such incredible strides to avoid coming to this but…this is not the first time Velios has been used for its final task.  We can only pray it is the last.”

“So that’s it,” Sam said, a tear coming down his cheek “that’s it.”

The rising light of the distant star crept into the room, warming his skin.

“This is the one word we left out of the Kel language you studied.  Velios.”

“Hospice,” said Sam.

He placed his hand on the dial.  Baye lowered her head.  The dial turned.

There was a moment after Sam was gone, that the Kel stayed motionless.  Baye stood with her head lowered, not looking up even as the podium lowered into the floor, disappearing with the softest click.

“New species en route.  I will make preparations.  Yes.”

end.



Writer’s note.


I did not arrive at this plot or my publishing it lightly.


Whether it resonates or if there is a benevolent people like the Kel or a place like Velios I don’t know.


I do know that each and everyone of us, and not just people in power, can make that dial stay to the left or swing to the right.

Our world is our choices.

When we support hate, when we demonize, when we practice any form of discrimination, when we go on the attack instead of trying to learn and empathize we threaten the clockwise motion of the “Velios Dial.”


This story is my ghost of Christmas future for the world.  It is the opposite of Ollie and Emma.  Every cause has an effect.  Some doors you can’t go back through.  


We are one 7.5 billion member family.  Our family comes from many different cultures with different views on the details of life.  No one is the enemy.  No one is wrong.  We can learn from each other.


Our strength is communication.  Our power is community.  Our future can only occur united.


This was but a shadow of things not yet occured.


Tom Pogson

September 2017

Get visable!

Friendly group of people waving to you

 

Can people find you?  Imagine getting an online readership of over 25k!

One of the things I have been working on this morning, due to the fact that I am now full time self employed, is the whole world of self promotion.  This of course takes a myriad of forms, but what’s interesting is how there are bloggers out there that make over 25k in just WordPress followers.  That number is amazing and from what I’ve seen it isn’t entirely impossible to do.

Here’s one link to kind of wet your appetite, or maybe even give you some immediate insights with identifying your target audience…

https://l.facebook.com/l.php?u=https%3A%2F%2Fonecoolsite.wordpress.com%2F2013%2F09%2F01%2Fhow-to-identify-your-blogs-target-audience%2F&h=OAQEr84G-

That said, I have been working with a number of newer companies and artists over the past few years and one thing that I find myself saying all too often is…

“Ahh!  What are they doing!?  I’m really looking for them and I can’t find them!  If I can’t find them, how can there be an audience!?”

This is not a place I think you want to be.

The Social Media creator pitch

(I don’t know about you but I hate those posts out there that lead you down a garden path and then after hours of your time hit you with “I can tell you for only 49.95!”  Ugh.  So here we go…)

I am absolutely happy to help anyone set up there social media platforms for a competitive cost.  I am not a massive Html and Java slinging pro designer who worked for Apple or Google any time recently so my costs for this would be relatively low.

However I have had success in my work, and I can easily assist someone outside of the Greater Victoria Area as well, but it will take some emailing back and forth to set up things such as a Twitter platform which typically requires a text message conformation from a unique phone number (your cell).  This is because, well, I can’t afford to buy dozens of cellphones.

The nice thing about me doing it for you is that you can get on with what you do and leave the social media setup to me.  As an example, I set up the entire http://www.westsoundmag.com campaign of website, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and email all in about three hours with images and content.  Some of it was from the back of a friend’s car.

My background with all this came slowly, starting with my earliest music projects and just running around with posters.  Posters are still in my world, but we have other people who do that sort of thing these days.  Still, the basic advertising theory is essentially the same.

A show, an event or whatever that’s going on in real time isn’t about the show in itself.  Any event is a reason to put the name out!  With something coming you have suddenly a great reason to advertise the name and then it becomes about repetition.  They say it takes about five years to really lock down a brand in people’s minds.  You don’t expect anyone is going to see your poster, or whatever and suddenly take out a notepad and start jotting things down.  It’s all about seeing that name one more time so that they later on say “Oh yeah!  I’ve heard of them!”  We move towards what is familiar.  Familiar seems way more reliable and enticing then “Never heard of those guys.”

Hiring me or not is totally up to you and your project, but the main thing is to make yourself visible.  Everything is converting to online activity.  Despite all this tech I’m older than I look, and I have had younger folks ask if I dyed my hair this way (It’s grey).  I remember when if you wanted to seem like someone who puts in initiative for work, you would show up with a resume in a shirt and tie.  I have been informed more recently that no one wants you to do that.  They prefer emails.

Emails!?  What a different world this is!  I can distinctly remember a friend in the nineties saying how if a resume and cover letter were faxed they would throw them to the, let’ just call it, “less interested” pile as fax=lazy!

But that’s the thing, and it covers everything these days.  If you want to find the next bus do you use the bus schedule book?  No.  You google the location and it tells all.  Order pizza?  I don’t even know where my classic phone book is right now.  I use the Yelp or Zomato App.

The point of this side trip in the direction of memory lane is that if your product can’t be found online, your product has a problem.  You don’t want to spam people as that has a reverse effect of course, but you do need to at least get visible.

You know what the last thing most people will use their smartphone’s for these days?

As phones.

Telling someone to just give you a call might just have you sitting there listening to your Hootie and The Blowfish album, and that’s about it.

Cheers,

Tom

Bard – Chapter One

958-mossy-tree-bark-1920x1080-nature-wallpaper“Well, this is certainly awkward.”

There wasn’t much else to say at that point.  I was lying face up in the Commons of the Bly Forest, as place that is as sacred as it pretty much gets with more and more Jeekan faces glaring down at me.  And it was not comfortable either.  When you finish coming down from a climb of the Tiki Tree you usually have people to help you up.  They pat you on the back and talk to you.  They’re excited for you.  Not me.  And fair enough really, considering that the tree that was behind me did not use to exist.  I made a tree.  Around here that was kind of a big deal.

We live in trees, us Jeekas.  Trees are our thing, pretty much.  I was born in one.  I learned to climb before I could walk.  Our red wand soldier Jeekas have a drawing of the mighty Tiki Tree on their shields.  They were not just a part of every moment of a furry little guy’s life.  They were downright mystical.  The Bly Forest has long been called the Po-Ha Spirit Shal-Than’s sacred garden.  Indeed, from where I was lying I could barley make out the afternoon sky, filtering its way through the dense foliage high above.  The Tiki Tree, or this side of it, took the most of my view.  That thing wasn’t a tree when you stood before it like I had done the day before.  It was a mountain. It was sheer wall of bark ascending into dense foliage with skybug lanterns swinging above the whole of the Commons. It took long to climb, which is saying something because climbing with our fore and hind claws was kind of something we are known in Tarsha to be good at.  All around the Commons, which is the sweet grass circle between the Tiki and the wand trees, we numbered in the hundreds.  The event was over but lots were sticking around to see what would happen with me.

Ok, they all were.

Because of that it took a while for Readspa Weet and his horrible little nephew Dinnlen Weet some time to push through the crowd to get to me.  Readspa was the Seat of the Tree, the head governor of all the Bly.  I was not looking forward to meeting him as I lay below the curved branch that had brought me to the forest floor.

“There he is Uncle!” Dinnlen said as he got close “There’s Jeebles!”

Oh, yeah…Dinnlen was enjoying himself thoroughly.  One more thing I had done wrong.  One more thing to go to a governor about, and he was related to the top.  The guy was in spoiled rich pup heaven.

“Don’t you have workers you would rather be lashing, Dinlenn?” I said.  We were never really super close.

I didn’t see him.  He was clearly standing back a ways from me, along with some of the others in the crowd, as though they didn’t know what I was going to do next.  Perhaps I was going to turn into a Turweef spider and begin lashing in every direction.  Truth is I had just had fallen hard from the rope branch that hung like a thick snake above my head.  So when it came to lashing out with anything, I could barely move.  Then two Jeekas did come close.  Dominion Red Guards.  Seeing those two standing above me with wands drawn to my face was enough to get my attention.  I shelved my snarkyness in an hurry.  The gemstones from both wands were close enough that I could almost grab them, which would be, of course, immensly stupid.

The gemstones swirled like eddies in a river, not pulsing but glowing steady with a heat that cannot be described in terms of temperature.  You just felt the fire within those pure shards of Si.  You knew about the power of rock-thrower, that could send stones beneath you into a hail of the fastest missles.  You knew that the guards simply had to touch your skin and let the power seep into your flesh.  The fire would reach your center like rot shredding its way into a trees very root.

“Get him up,” came a command from a gentle firm voice.

With wands still on my face, another set of strong arms hoisted me to my hindpaws.  Still feeling a bit shaky, I padded myself down for a moment and thanked them for helping me up, which did not receive much in the way of smiles.  In the crowd behind Readspa Weet and Dinnlen I could see some of the others moving their muzzles side to side slowly.  They weren’t eating.  That movement came from how we Jeekas chatter out teeth, which again has nothing to do with how cold it is.  It’s always the perfect climate in the Commons.  No, chattering our teeth is something we do when we are angry.  Well, that or afraid.  Or someone just sent a hundred foot tree rocketing from the soil beneath them into the sky like a ship crashing into a headland.  I was just that popular that day.

“You care to explain what happened Fleet Jeebles?”

I just looked at him.  I actually was trying organize my thoughts so I could work out where in the story should start.

Climbing the Tiki was a rite of passage for Jeekas my age.  You got to the top, took a rope branch down to one of the six trees, got the wand that decided how you would serve the Bly and then come down.  Dinnlen had just done it, as had Teekthie (from the Tikitaa district like Dinnlen.  Hated her.) Bithel (from the Heepata like me.  Nice guy, and I’m not just saying that because he was working class too.  Kind of dull though.  There, I said it.) and about forty other Jeeklings.  Jeeklings going up the tree.  Jeekas of the Bly coming down.

I was a Jeeka now.  And boy, was I in the deep fertilizer.

“I got in an arguement with Dinnlen, sir,” I managed “It was nothing.”

And that was a give my head a shake moment.  Why in blackness did I go there?  I could have just said that I didn’t know.  I could have said that it was the darndest thing.  But straight away with “Golden Trousers” himself leering, I knew that Dinnlen had told Readspa his version of our arguement on the top of the Tiki.  I was a bit of a fistfight in probably the most dangerous place in Tarsha to do that.  Not only is it high, high…I can’t even describe how high up it is…but the intense Si of that place doesn’t exactly approve of people fighting or indeed having a little sightseeing moment.  Everything started to sway and Dinnlen and I had to jump onto the first rope branch we could see.  Our harnesses clicked into place and down we went, flying and spiralling around through the clouds on our way back.  He vanished from my sight as I burst through one cloud and into another, the rope branch swinging and diving past others until it came to its end.  The end was still high off the ground and without a wand tree in sight.  I firmly believed I was fertilizer myself when…well…I made a tree.

I explained all this to Readspa.  At least I think I did.  No Jeeka, not even the red army could beat the Seat of the Tree for looking intimdating.  His purple stone wand could tell you if you told the littlest fib and he was a very tall elder with eyes that looked right into you.  He got to his position by his extraordinary insight and razor sharp wisdom.  I’m not being sarcastic there.  You would not want to play a game of stones with Readspa Weet.  He came from generations of great governors.  His great grandsire had been the one to settle the war between the Lotherans of Laboi Canyon and the Bly.  Their weapons still remained in the stone columns before the Clay City of Tercichio thousands of leagues away as a sign of peace.  I guess the idea behind that was that neither of us could get those great weapons back.  Only the immortal Vakkal could enter their home.  The Si energy in that place would drive any mortal Si mad if we tried to enter.

Anyways, back in the soft cool of the Commons, I couldn’t really look at Readspa as I explained what I think had just happened.  I told him about getting the wand in the empty round room.  I told him about the wierd inscriptions on the walls, running around the ridge between the round wall and the solid ceiling.  There was also the fact that the empty room was in a tree that came out of nowhere just moments before.  And there I was standing before him with a pure white wand in the wand-sheath behind me with no color at all, so it looked like someone had made some kind of mistake somewhere.  The wands were orange for a worker, green for a farmer (that was my father’s kind) red for a warrior, blue for a healer, purple for a governor, and yellow for a seer.  Mine was like some wierd kind of exclamation point.

Dinlenn said I threatened him which was kind of annoying.  We threatened each other.  Actually, we threatened lots of other Jeeklings because they had to get past us scraping to get to the rope branches.  That’s the kind of thing perfectly sane people do.

“Fleet, have you ever been outside of the Bly Forest?” he asked bringing his wand between us.  The light from its regal purple began to glow.

“Um…no…sir,” I stammered.  I hadn’t.  He knew that was true immediately.

“Have you ever been near the Southern gate?  Sands of Umahh?”

“No sir.”

He considered me for a moment and then, with his wands ability to amplify his voice he sent everyone on their way.  Dinlenn protested but he was met with the same authority from those sharp eyes.  Suddenly I had the very wierd experience of standing in the soft coolness of the Commons with Readspa Weet.  Well, and his gaurds.  He wasn’t that reckless.

“Follow me little one,” he said with a concerned face before leading me back to the Tiki Tree, to the other side where between giant natural curves in the grain we entered the Room of Roots.

I was made to wait in the that round lower room with its ceiling that was so high that you couldn’t actually see it, sunlight streaming in from where I had entered and through a similar entrance far to my right.   Guards stood by the door to the upper rooms across from me, the whole interior carved into the base of the Tiki Tree ages ago.

There were benchs all around the circular room with a darker wood star in the center.  The star had six points, one for each of the gemwands.  I sat with the quiver behind me holding the wand whose gemstone did not belong.  The thick cloth and metal hook still hung there on my back too from when it held me to the rope branches in the sky high above.  The guards did not look at me.  They stood like statues, hands behind there back, next to the skybug lite stairway that climbed out of sight.  I had never been in the room before.  I had spent most of my time in the working class district of the Heepata far to the southwest except for when I was born.  I was born in the Typlem Hollow on the north border where we had a grain farm.  That was before my father’s accident.  We had lots of food before entering the Bly-supported trees of Heepata.  I had been in that district for so long that I could barely remember those days of playing with my little sister in the tall grasses and the open sunlight that danced on the Dawzu River.  It flowed far from the Great Eastern Range and the eastern canyons before passing through the Bly and under it.  I had been in the submarine trails where some Jeekas lived below the surface.  Down there it was all giant roots and skybugs dancing above the white water and pathways.  On the wall above me was a giant drawing of the Bly Forest and it’s communities.  We rarely left the Forest other than in goodwill parties to the city of South Leah far away.  That didn’t happen that often.  We were still somewhat shy when it came to Lothrans.  I had seen one when I was a little Jeekling pup.  Or at least I think I had.  My father met someone on the northern road before the Bly Gate.  They talked and I watched from a distance with my mother keeping a firm grip on the fur behind my neck.  That was probably a very good idea at the time.  I’ve never been known for my self restraint.  That rumor wasn’t helping me much now.

“Meepsa!”

My sisters name.  My father’s voice!  I suddenly sat bold upright on the smooth ashwood bench.  Creet Jeeble’s voice came from the other door to my right, sunlight and tiny sparkles of air playing in its bright north western entrance.  That’s where suddenly I saw a very familiar sight.  The sight of soft white and hazel fur around black excited eyes.

“Big brother?” came her little voice, it’s little sound echoing into the vast chamber.

I looked at the guards, worried, and then back at her.  They hadn’t moved or anything.  I guess someone two and a half feet armed with a birchwood doll wasn’t a major threat.  Still, it was Meepsa, here, in the same room as Jeekas who could…I went over to her as quickly as I could within breaking into anything that looked like a run.

“Meepsa!” Father called again from somewhere close.

“In here!” I called out the window as the little Jeekling raced up to my legs and with her muzzle to one side which still pressed into my stomach, she hugged my legs with all of her might.

“Oh, there you are!” Creet Jeebles, that’s my Father, said “Are you ok?”

“I’m great, sir.  Um…” I said turning to the guards and motioning to the bench “Is it ok if my family sits on the…”

They didn’t move.  I guess it wasn’t not ok since they didn’t seem to be opposed to it.  I still felt nervous with those red wands near my family.  I felt nervous with them near me.  I mean I had been in trouble with the local governors for getting in fights with upper crush twits like Dinlenn, but I never had those guys around.

“Ok,” I said to the people I loved most in the world like someone at a district meeting “Try to keep it down a little bit.  I’m waiting for Readspa Weet to come back.  He told me to wait here.”

“Readspa Weet!” my Father said “And the Room of Roots.  You’ve had quite a day!”

“That’s right, sir,” I said “Let’s just sit over here.  Meepsa?  Can you let go of my legs now?”

“No.”

“Or we can stand here,” I agreed.

Oh yeah, I call my dad sir.  We all do.  It’s just a Jeekan show of respect to an elder.  Meepsa told me she was scared when I didn’t come down right away like everyone else.  That’s when they heard of a tree exploding from nowhere.  They had been on the other side of Tiki Tree so they got the information second hand.  That’s how big this tree is.  Even this room could fit a hundred of us in it easily.  And, fun fact, from what I’ve heard, you can actually see the Tiki from anywhere in the Tarshan Peninsula.

I heard that one from my Father.  He had been to the northern city of Moz once to sing with a choir for the Lothran’s midwinter festival.  He is where I got my musical traits.  My mother was always the pragmatic one.  I remember my father singing all the time when I was younger.  It was an unexpected treat to hear it these days.  It’s one of reasons I built my first clavacar.  The thing was terrible but when I strummed it I could make a sort of chord like sound.  Sometimes the thing even sounded tuned.

“What’s going to happen, son?” he asked as Meepsa looked up at me.

“Mr. Weet asked me some questions and…I don’t really know,” I replied, only to see Readspa Weet coming out of the stairway with two more guards and a Jeeka who dressed with a yellow sash around his frame.  A yellow wand.

“Fleet Jeebles,” the yellow wand said in greeting.  He did not hold his wand in his hand.  He didn’t need to be I knew it was on as he looked me up and down.  He walked around me before asking to show me the wand I had received.  I took it from it’s sheath behind my neck and held it up for him to look.  Everyone looked at it as though I was holding a rare bottle of Thorkberry.

“You can put it back in your sheath, Fleet,” the yellow wand said, apparently content.  He nodded to Readspa Weet before heading back to the stairwell with one of the two guards accompanying him.

“Creet Jeebles,” Readspa said to my father softly “How would you like if you and your family got to go to the Lothran city of North Leah?  And we will pay your way.  Handsomely.”

All three of the Jeebles family stared at him dumbfounded.

——————————

Thank you for taking the time to read this.  It’s a new spin I’m trying out on an older project and would love to hear any constructive thoughts.

Cheers,

Tom

What while waiting

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Morning!  Haven’t posted anything about what I’ve been up to for some time so I thought I’d take a silly photo (in which a probably copyrighted character steals the show) and put something out there.  Here it is.  It’s out there.

Not actually sure if I want to give that lamp a lampshade yet.  I mean, I don’t really need to give every lamp a shade.  It belts out lots of light for when I work at the desk at night.  This is morning page style rambling which is really coming from my now scrutinizing of that ridiculous photo.

Even before I left the day job world behind I have been doing morning pages, based on the Artists Way series.  If you want to read books on creativity the Julia Cameron books are a natural place that if you haven’t gone to yet you definitely should.  Another less know one is The Widening Stream by David Ulrich which I went through over the last month and now my co-writer Cheri Jacobs has my copy.  Much in the same way as Julia’s classic it takes you through understanding the whole creative process and then gives you exercises that force you to stretch.  I far prefer that over anything that screams affirmation time.  My ADHD brain goes straight from people telling me to do an affirmation to “and gosh darnit, people like me.”  Some things simply link like that.

Cheri and I have been working more than ever on our different projects including the Ollie and Emma show in a collaborative writing group.  Cookeilidh is getting ready for a very busy Christmas season including shows at Craigdarroch Castle which has become something of a band tradition being that it was built for the Scottish Dunsmuir family and designed by Robert Dunsmuir himself.

I also have my recent little project Westsound Magazine which came from honestly trying to figure out what to write about on here.  I don’t want to slam everyone who comes to my page with blatent self promotion, which is sort of weird because naturally this site is unashamedly just that.  I might try doing some other outside myself posts in future, which I would explain better if I knew what those subjects would be but we will just have to see as the time comes.  When I say outside myself I am not referring to some sixth sense sort of thing.  I won’t be very likely going there, though I do like spooky and strange sorts of stories.

The Westsound project came from wanting to write about music in a way that was unique to me.  Having been trying to make it for twenty years I know how every little bit helps in getting your word out and I now have the background with all this social media stuff, writing and music so the idea flowed together easily and I set up the whole thing Saturday morning with part of the work done in the back of a friend’s car because I was too excited to leave it for later.  The reaction to it after not even being a week now has been just great and I have been working out things I can do to make the project all it can possibly be.  Part of this will be interviews with the groups since I already have the little Dictaphone recorder that Cheri and I use to work on dialogue for our shows.  I honestly don’t know if or when that project will make any money but I just like the idea of doing it in the first place.  It’s a bit giving something back.  It’s naturally a bit rock and roll.  It could be even a little bit country.

I haven’t decided what I will do in terms of putting my band in it.  I mean, you don’t want to make it look like that’s the only reason you did it but you can be too self effacing and sometimes its best to just be honest and let that elephant go smashing around the room.

My Adhd thing is moving me along so here is the links to the project-dropping I’ve done.  My elephant just jumped into the kitchen and wants a muffin.

Cheers,

Tom 🙂

Cookeilidh – Celtic Band

Ollie and Emma

Westsound Magazine

Straight away, First thing

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Good size for mug 🙂

That was my first time using the quick photo feature.  Right now I’ve got, well a decent supply of coffee and a 300 page notebook and a bass which is pretty well perfect.  I have considered bringing a coffee maker in here too but as Cece is also in here I’m not sure her feelings on me brewing in here at 6am.  I could sneak in a Bodum perhaps.

Today we have the Emma and Mandy table read which I’m very excited to get into.  With the main shoot for the demo/pilot coming up it will be great to start working one on one with the cast again.  With recent events of course things have not been easy.  Wolf was not only a great cast member and someone who got our dream and our idea straight away but he was also my Cece’s beloved cousin.  We will be doing a tribute to him in the Ollie and Emma WordPress site early next week when we have time to focus on it properly.

I’ve also been working on a new blog story idea that comes from my own background of working in Victoria and living in James Bay where all the big hotels are situated.  It’s called Closer to Heaven and it’s a romance set here in working class Victoria, BC.  Our city is perfect for that, which I know any local anywhere would say but we are set on the ocean and one of Victoria’s quirks is, thinking of my mention of James Bay, the number of little mini towns within Greater Victoria and how, as I mentioned, the very rich and others can not only live close by but even right next door.  This also leads to all kinds of exchanges and therfore story possibilities.

Cookeilidh is also starting up our festival season which is looking to be really busy!  After such a supportive crowd at The Highland Games our next show is June 7th at World Ocean Day in Sidney, right down by the water.  Moving here almost 30 years ago now from the Mainland to Saanichton it’s great to play only a few blocks away from where I got my first bass! 
If you haven’t yet, follow the band on Facebook!

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Victoria Highland Games!

Created by TomPogson.com

Nostalgia

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The road to Death Mountain...

Was there something about those games back then that captured the imagination?  I have tried since the passing of my NES from being in its longrunning spotlight to get into games like back then but to no avail.  I have come back to them with purchasing old games and emulators so I don’t know if is really that I grew out if it.

I mean it was a different time and place for me definitely.  Things were definitely simpler then.  That was the age when the Internet was still just a rumor and we had a Comtex 386, which was pretty high end.  Which leads me to how gaming was.  Nintendo was better for action games and the IBM was better for R.P.G’s  Windows was very much in its infancy.  I would load games with MSDOS, the MS standing for…yeah they were already around.  Some games had sound but it was in clunky clips.  These stuck with words below the “action”

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Alexander takes a mint...

I confess I didn’t get to play as many of the Quest series as I would have liked to.  There was something about all this that was wonderfully mysterious though.  There was other players you could talk to in person but mostly you were on your own and as the game didn’t have perfect audio and video you filled in the rest somehow with your head as you worked through it.  It was also relatively simple to play with instructions being about the size of a slightly oversized pamphlet to Fable Cottage Estate that you would pick up on a BC Ferry.   That was my weirdest ever hobby as a kid.  Pamphlet collecting.  Yeah, I don’t get that one either.

If you really wanted to nerd out you could put on a Monty Python cassette and play this at the same time.  Glorious!

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I'm a lumber jack. ..

The above game was a long time favorite which I’ve yet to find a emulator of that comes close.  It was called Empire Wargame of the Century and it was essentially a risk style game with two other players, human or computer, lurking out there in the darkness that would play and explore in turns.  It was usually a slow victory even if you made your settings absurdly easy.

It was a very different time for those of us who first saw the excitement of those early computer game years, starting for me with Apple 2 games like Carmen Sandiego, Choplifter, Airheart and Cross Country Canada all the way until Final Fantasy and these four guys from the Sierra Games.

Just four guys in a game, you know…

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Leisure Suit Larry, Police, Space, and Kings Quest

Permit me to be the nostalgic old guy.   Those were the days…

😉

Tom

Created by TomPogson.com

Thirty years of British Comedy

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Cook Street Village...Home of Pic a Flic Video

                    “Here we come…”

     British Comedy and the even broader subject of British culture started for me with the Monkeeys.   And it was a long fun journey since then.

     I do have some heritage from the U.K. so that probably helps but it basically started from growing up with the Monkeeys on television which I would try to never miss (along with the usual collection of Saturday morning cartoons where I would use the TV Guide to map my morning from 7 am to noon like Faramir reviewing a map of Mordor.)

     I was especially a fan of Davey to the point where I was playing Tambourine at church and incorporating as best I could the dance that also became known as the “Axl Shuffle” of Axl Rose.  Almost wonder if he’s a British Comedy fan?  He was mentioned in Depeche Mode 101 where not only was he slammed with a fan exclaiming “guns and posers” but he went to the premier with Dave Gahan trying to distract him when the  cheeky line appeared on film.  Anyways. ..

     The next stage in my britishizing was when I accidentally turned on public television and came across someone who looked and sounded much like Davey Jones minus the red suit and tambourine.  It was Hywel Bennett and the show was Shelley.

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Shelley and Mrs. H.

    It wasn’t Davey.  He didn’t do Daydream Believer.  There wasn’t a decent tambourine in sight.  But it made me laugh.  And most importantly…it made me curious.

     Shelley was smart, fast talking and talked about things I’d never heard of.  There were obagines, the foreign office and the dhss, and Chinese take-aways whatever that was.  Naturally these were all the British equivalent to talking about eggplant, welfare and ordering Chinese food and picking it up.  But for me at eleven it was this whole new world where people talked different about mysterious probably cool grown up things I had no idea about. 

     The next step was a classic.  I watched a number of Fawlty Towers episodes in a row with my Dad and Grandfather.   Well.  Enough said there.

     Eventually I started watching for the two back to back Britcoms that would be on the station from Seattle from 10 to 11 pm (I didn’t use a VCR because that would be wrong.  The record feature is meant for…meant for…uh…nevermind…)

   These included the classic but new to me…ok…deep breath…Butterflies, Red Dwarf, Never the Twain, The Manor Born, Yes Minister, Yes Prime Minister, Good Neighbours, Monty Python (naturally), Are You Being Served, Blackadder, Mr. Bean (eventually though that came to us first via CBC), and more Fawlty Towers.

     With the mixture of YouTube and the British Section of Pic a Flic pictured above I discovered an army more of titles which would be silly to start listing and discovered the world behind many of the shows like Only Fools and Horses (huge in the U.K. but strangely lesser known here) The Young Ones (born of the comedy club beginnings of The Comic Strip Presents…its name taken from its proximity to a strip club) which like many comedy projects began as two person acts such as Fry and Laurie, French and Saunders, and Rik and Abe.  One of my most favored movies “The Tall Guy” with Jeff Goldblum is based on the partnership of Rowan Atkinson and Richard Curtis.  It also featured “Must be Love” by Madness.

     Which brings me to my strange equal fascination with British Music.  Beyond one of my favorite first bands having a British singer (Davey) and the next being Queen I have no idea.  I do know that in the case of bands like Embrace and Elvis Costello I would like their music first and then find out they were from the United Kingdom afterwards.

     I would like to go there someday but I almost wonder if the mystery is more intact we me over here.  To me they’re still that cool, strange place of Factory Records (New Order), Mute (Depeche), Black Books, Adam and Joe, and (saving the best for last) these three gentlemen who turned the idea I had of writing a sitcom myself into a huge, huge obsession with the idea.

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Stephen Merchant, Ricky Gervais, Karl Pilkington

Cheers,
Tom

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Stopping to catch up

Sort of a good time to catch up as we are at the start of March.  It’s my birthday month (ok that’s self indulgence, I apologize) but sitting on a bus with more posters it’s kind of less imposing though.
I don’t really get concerned about my age most of the time.  My main inspirations created their best work past 30 so it doesn’t even phase me.
March is St Patrick’s month and that means I get to do lots of shows with Cookeilidh (presently out in James Bay with posters. ..trying to get to each of Victoria’s micro communities.  And there is a whole lot of those.  A friend and I were discussing that.  It’s one of the cool things about our city and the diversity that’s been here since the Gold Rush but perhaps that’s why travelling across town feels so epic.  It’s like you’re going through six towns before you get to where you’re going.

Ollie and Emma is still very much active too with setting up everything with our awesome new executive producer Less Bland Productions and Cheri and I are working not only on that but on creating other pitches that we could also use in the future.  Our next skit is slated to be one featuring our two fun surreal elders played by Fred Samuel and Wolf Rick Patterson and we will soon be starting the table reads and rehearsal for that.  I get a lot of questions about when do I sleep…i use a memo app so far.  Maybe one day I’ll have a secretary with a memo app.  We’ll have matching memo apps.  That would be amazing.

Oh yeah, and when I have time I’ve been playing around with a little blog story.  I’ll try to keep it pretty regularly posted at least until the story is done.  I’m typing this on a phone and sometimes the auto suggestions are far more interesting than what I write.  I have got to meet that guy someday.  Anyways the new blog is at…

https://journalbymax.wordpress.com/

Have to cut this a little short as I’ll miss my stop. 

Cheers,
Tom

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