A Man at the Bank

There once was a beautiful teller at a bank. She was always presentable and, without a doubt, totally attractive to many. Her name? Forea. Of course, people always asked of the origins of her name; she usually said it was Nordic.

Forea kept considerable track of her customers, not always for her own curiosity, but usually to provide the best banking services for them. Mentioning new account types and investment possibilities usually meant increases in pay for her. These things were routine.

Most of Forea’s customers were overly presentable and cleanly with their fashion. Each with a highly unusual character, they often seemed to her to be what Grammy award winners might look like in person. There was one customer; however, he came in once a month, always on the twentieth.

Mr. Murphy was his name. He often came into the bank in a white, green, dark green, or black suit. If not a suit, he, at least, dressed above “business casual.” She knew he had red hair and pale skin, totally unique attributes that would qualify him for one of her oil painting attempts.

Despite his unique attire, there was one thing that Forea simply could not figure out. All of her customers wore unique attire. Mr. Murphy, however, usually came to the bank for one reason, and that was to trade five golden coins into his USD account. This way his monthly transaction was to convert gold coins to cash. Forea wanted to know why.

She decided to ask him one day. It was the twentieth, she woke up early and got ready for work early and made it on time, as always. About mid-morning, to know surprise, Mr. Murphy walked through the huge glass doors installed in the front of the bank with a white shirt and green silk tie.

Forea gladly accepted the five gold coins and completed the transaction, as always. Barely having the time and the nerve to ask Mr. Murphy a question upon his departure, said Forea, “May I ask you something?” “Well, sure,” replied Mr. Murphy with a grin. There was no aspect of Forea that was not beautiful. “Why do you always come in on the twentieth to change in exactly five golden coins?” she asked. Said Mr. Murphy, “Well, for one, I am a leprechaun.”

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Score Double Oh Won

For the chess lover in all of us, there is the learner, the problem solver, the one who enjoys to win. I have been playing chess since I was around six and have never really mastered the game. I have yet to play in a tournament, yet I love to solve puzzles and love chess, too. Carleson defends his title in NY tomorrow – keep up with the twelve rounds, here on uschess.org.

Recently, I have attempted to better my game in chess. I am pretty good, however when it comes to winning against people with higher e-l-o ratings, such as 1,300 or above, I am usually short a few combinations. Having just won a match on chess.com with a guest account, I was happy to win against stockfish, the strongest chess engine known of, on level five (there are ten levels). I moved first. For anyone who would like to play this match out with algebraic notation, here is the ‘score analysis’ of the game:

Strength White Black
Excellent 23 17
Good 5 6
Inaccuracy (?!) 9 6
Mistake (?) 2 4
Blunder (??) 0 3
Forced 0 2
Avg. Diff 0.84 1.21
1. d4 a6 2. e4

B00: King’s Pawn Opening: St. George Defense, 2.d4

d6 3. Nf3 Nc6 4. Nc3 Bg4 5. h3 Bxf36. gxf3 Nf6 7. d5 Ne5 8. f4 Ned7 9. e5

INACCURACY (-0.08) A better move was 9. Be3

(9. Be3(+0.69) g6 10. Qd2 Bg7 11. O-O-OO-O 12. Kb1 Rc8 13. Be2 c5)9… Rg8

BLUNDER (+2.93) The best move was 9… dxe5

(9… dxe5(+0.01) 10. Bg2 exf4 11. Bxf4g6 12. O-O Nh5 13. Bd2 Bg7 14. Bf3)10. exf6 h5 11. fxe7 Bxe7

INACCURACY (+4.01) A better move was 11… Qxe7+

(11… Qxe7+(+3.36) 12. Be3 g6 13. Qd2O-O-O 14. O-O-O Bg7 15. Bg2 Kb816. Kb1)12. Be2

INACCURACY (+3.38) A better move was 12. Qe2

(12. Qe2(+3.89) Nf6 13. h4 Kf8 14. Bd2Ng4 15. Ne4 Bxh4 16. O-O-O Nf6)12… Rh8 13. O-O Nb6 14. Re1 Qc8

INACCURACY (+4.44) A better move was 14… Qd7

(14… Qd7(+3.54) 15. Kg2 O-O-O 16. a4Kb8 17. a5 Nc8 18. Bxh5 g6 19. Bg4)15. Bf3

INACCURACY (+3.36) A better move was 15. Kg2

(15. Kg2(+4.44) Kf8 16. Bxh5 g6 17. Bg4f5 18. Qd4 Rh7 19. Bf3 Nd7)15… Kd8

INACCURACY (+4.36) A better move was 15… Qxh3

(15… Qxh3(+3.43) 16. Qe2 Qh4 17. Bd2Kf8 18. Ne4 Bf6 19. Ng5 g6 20. Bc3)16. Bg2 g6 17. Qe2 Bf6 18. Be3

INACCURACY (+3.99) A better move was 18. Ne4

(18. Ne4(+4.72) Qf5 19. Nxf6 Qxf620. Bd2 Na4 21. b3 Nc5 22. Qe3 Rg8)18… Qf5

INACCURACY (+4.79) A better move was 18… Re8

(18… Re8(+3.92) 19. Ne4 Bxb2 20. Rab1Na4 21. c4 f5 22. Rxb2 fxe4 23. Rb3)19. Bxb6

INACCURACY (+4.25) A better move was 19. Ne4

(19. Ne4(+5.49) Na4 20. Nxf6 Qxf621. Qd2 Kc8 22. Bd4 Qd8 23. Bxh8 Qxh8)19… cxb6 20. Ne4 Bh4

MISTAKE (+5.73) The best move was 20… Qxf4

(20… Qxf4(+3.91) 21. Nxf6 Qxf622. Qe3 b5 23. c4 Kc7 24. cxb5 axb525. Qb3)21. Rad1

MISTAKE (+4.03) The best move was 21. Nxd6

(21. Nxd6(+6.17) Qxf4 22. Nxb7+ Kc823. d6 Ra7 24. Red1 Bxf2+ 25. Qxf2Qxf2+)21… Qxf4 22. Ng3

INACCURACY (+2.56) A better move was 22. Rd3

(22. Rd3(+3.42) f5 23. Ng3 Rc8 24. Qe6Kc7 25. Rf3 Qg5 26. Rc3+ Kb8)22… Rc8

MISTAKE (+3.99) The best move was 22… Kc7

(22… Kc7(+2.42) 23. Qd3 Rae8 24. Qc3+Kb8 25. Re4 Qf6 26. Qe3 Qd8 27. Qf4)23. Qd2

MISTAKE (+1.79) The best move was 23. c3

(23. c3(+3.80) Qf6 24. Rd4 Rc7 25. Ne4Re8 26. Qe3 Re5 27. Nxf6 Rxe3)23… Qh6

BLUNDER (+5.21) The best move was 23… Qxd2

(23… Qxd2(+1.71) 24. Rxd2 Re825. Rxe8+ Kxe8 26. Re2+ Kd7 27. c3 b528. a3)24. Qb4 Bxg3 25. fxg3 Qf8 26. Qxb6+ Rc727. a4

INACCURACY (+4.64) A better move was 27. h4

(27. h4(+5.83) Kc8 28. Qa7 Rg8 29. Rd3Qd8 30. Rde3 Rf8 31. Qa8+ Kd7)27… f6

MISTAKE (+5.80) The best move was 27… Kc8

(27… Kc8(+4.22) 28. Qa7 Qd8 29. c4 Re830. Qa8+ Kd7 31. Qa7 Kc8 32. Bf1)28. c4 Rg8

BLUNDER (+9.97) The best move was 28… Kc8

(28… Kc8(+5.72) 29. Re6 Rxc4 30. Rxd6Rc2 31. Rxf6 Qc5+ 32. Qxc5+ Rxc533. d6)29. c5 Qf7

MISTAKE (+19.03) The best move was 29… Kc8

(29… Kc8(+14.40) 30. cxd6 Rd7 31. Rc1+Kb8 32. Rc7 Qc8 33. Re7 Rxe7 34. Rxc8+)30. cxd6 Rf8

INACCURACY (MATE IN 8) A better move was 30… Kc8

(30… Kc8(+24.15) 31. dxc7)31. dxc7+

MISSED MATE (+20.48) Checkmate after 31. Re7

(31. Re7(Mate in 7) Qxe7 32. dxe7+ Ke833. exf8=Q+ Kxf8 34. Qxc7 h4 35. Qxb7Ke8 36. Rc1 hxg3 37. Rc8#)31… Qxc7 32. Qe6

MISSED MATE (+22.20) Checkmate after 32. Qb4

(32. Qb4(Mate in 13) Re8 33. d6 Qc834. Rxe8+ Kxe8 35. Re1+ Kf7 36. Re7+Kg8 37. d7 Qf8 38. Bd5+ Kh8 39. Rh7+Kxh7 40. Qxf8 b6 41. Bg8+ Kh8 42. Qxf6+Kxg8 43. Qxg6+ Kf8 44. d8=Q#)32… Qc5+ 33. Kh2 Qc2

INACCURACY (MATE IN 4) A better move was 33… Kc7

(33… Kc7(+39.51) 34. Rc1 Kb8 35. Rxc5Rh8 36. Qxf6 Rg8 37. Qf7 Ka7 38. Qxg8)34. Qe7+

FASTER MATE (MATE IN 6) A better move was 34. d6

(34. d6(Mate in 4) Qe2 35. Rxe2 f536. Qe7+ Kc8 37. Qc7#)34… Kc8 35. Qxf8+ Kc7 36. d6+

FASTER MATE (MATE IN 6) A better move was 36. a5

(36. a5(Mate in 4) Qe2 37. d6+ Kd738. Rxe2 g5 39. Re7#)36… Kd7 37. Qe7+

FASTER MATE (MATE IN 2) A better move was 37. Re7#

(37. Re7#(Mate in 1))37… Kc8 38. d7+

FASTER MATE (MATE IN 3) A better move was 38. Qe8#

(38. Qe8#(Mate in 1))38… Kc7 39. d8=Q#

Thank you for reading, and go Carleson go! 🙂

Shawn Before Dawn, A Story

I rolled over and looked at the alarm clock – it was 4:58 AM. “Today is an important day,” I remembered. I turned off the alarm before it sounded and slammed the four fluid ounces of coffee I sat by it the night before. I went to the restroom, shaved, showered, got ready as quickly as possible making sure I did not forget anything I considered the previous day. Today is important. My boss is buying me lunch and may even further explain why his daughter left me.

The sun was not yet up and the traffic still sparse. I pulled into the gravel drive, as always, and parked in a familiar place. In only fourteen short months I had moved up in the construction company my boss owns and runs from Laborman to Crew Leader Assistant to Crew Leader. My crews always operated in an efficient and timely manner. They ate my egg burritos like Pavlovian study dogs. Recently I was given the responsibility of an entire project and am currently over three crews in the process of demolition and reconstruction of an entire wing of a colossal warehouse facility.

I am minutes early and I know it. I make a habit of it and no one complains or is ever surprised. For this reason I have the key to the trailer office, our companies temporary onsite headquarters. Today would not be so bad. My crew knows how to do what they do well, and we have our goals to meet by the end of the day. I turn the key to open the trailer and it breaks off inside the keyhole. Just what I need. Closed to half an hour until I see a living human and I am stranded with a sack of egg burritos.

I sat on the wooden steps and watched the dark blueish purple misty sky fade into the orange of dawn behind scattered clouds of thin fog. I thought back. Not too long ago I decided to give college a rest for a while and move back in with parents until I found work. I found work and met Mallen. She and I worked for a small restaurant which sold pizza and tacos; she mentioned her dad owned a construction company.

“Damn,” I thought, “Just when there was no chance of moving out.” I enquired of the difficulty or chances of my working for her father and she said I could probably hire in as labor with no experience, that he was hiring about a dozen workers during the next four weeks.

I am not the kind of guy that ignores the chance of love. This time it did not work out, yet I at least gave the woman no cold shoulder. Mallen mentioned she was in nearly my same situation as she was living with her parents and wanted to find a place. She would starve and die before working for her dad, even though he was probably the single most powerful contractor in our city of over 4,000,000 people.

I got a newspaper and road around with Mallen a few afternoons in a row and we found an inexpensive flat and signed a 3-month form. I went to work for her dad and ‘kicked as much ass as possible,’ so to speak, always being on time and getting as much physical labor accomplished as humanly conceivable. I thought she and I got along fine. I never really noticed how intelligent Mallen really was, nor did I notice that she did not speak her thoughts very often.

Our place was fine and included two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a study room, four closets, and a small television room with two couches. She moved plenty of stuff in there including kitchenware and plenty of personal belongings. I kept my work clothes, an old radio, an alarm clock, and a few changes of clothes, only. We were never more than companions, if that.

Still on the wooden steps, I cannot help but remember the night Mallen changed the locks. After work I went to a local bookstore and got a coffee and a best seller. Gotta love that John Grisham. It was late in the evening and I went to a bar. I don’t drink, but the sandwiches there are great and only cost a few dollars a piece. The bartender had no problem telling me of his life’s career, and I had no problem eating five sandwiches and enjoying four complimentary iced apple sodas.

It was 1Am by the time I headed back to the flat. I knew Mallen had been looking for a new job and was interviewing with the airport. When I got back, the locks were changed and there was a note on the door: “Got the job – Mallen.” I was confused.

Sleeping in my truck that night to go to work on Saturday morning was no big deal for me. It was the surprise. Was she okay? Did we not even have a chance at this thing called love? Surely there could have been a spark. If nothing else, I could have grown to like her more.

It did not take me but a few days to find a new place. My crew leader at the time helped me find a one-bedroom flat and I signed another form. Then I had no distractions. I could work, work, work, then sleep, eat, and work some more. As happy as I was, I was still confused with Mallen. Again, I just thought we may have been able to grow closer together, somehow.

Only seconds had gone by and I saw my boss pulling up in the glowing dawn of the morning. Before, he simply said, “Like she said, Shawn, she got the job.” Knowing that is all he would probably say again, today, at least I’ll get a nice lunch and a chance to thank the man.

“Good morning Shawn!” hollered Mr. Bruno, “Sleeping on the job?” “I am sorry, sir. I broke my key in the lock.” I stood and removed the broken piece from the lock and he unlocked it. “Just there for a second I bet you thought my daughter got another job,” chuckled Mr. Bruno, and it was hard not to laugh.

We went about our normal routine and my crew got a great deal of work done that day. Noon was approaching. I gave them the burritos and went to find Mr. Bruno. We made our way to a Deli and he got us both a couple of roast beef sandwiches with smoked parmesan and sautéed peppers. Good stuff.

“My apologies for my confusion, Mr. Bruno. Thank you for buying me lunch and, as always, I know you know I am grateful to be able to work for you.”

“I understand your confusion. Mallen wrote a letter for me to read to you when I mentioned you showed concern.”

Mr. Bruno read the letter to me and it was mostly about being career oriented, human dominance and all. She said I was a nice, hard-working fellow and was sure I would find the right woman, eventually. She would be working two jobs for a few weeks and then for the airport on a longterm basis if all went well, that plenty of people seek leaders in the world, and we both are surely ‘doyens of our herds.’

“So she did not think I was moving to fast or not fast enough or that I was cheating on her or anything. This abrupt separation was solely career oriented and had mostly to do with us both being headstrong.”

“I think that about sums it up,” said Mr. Bruno, “And I see you shaking in your boots there, fearless ‘doyen.'”

“How so?”

“Are you not concerned of your performance at work?”

“I planned to enquire nonchalantly.”

“Well, I want you to know that you are one of my best. Keep up the good work and you will have less and less to worry of. I gave you the promotion because of your good work and ability to lead others, to get the job done right and make our customers happy when the situation presented itself. Three weeks from now we are signing a new contract. You will be a part of it, just below the head foreman. As for Mallen I think she will be fine and appreciate your understanding. Everything okay?”

“Yes sir, Mr. Bruno and thank you.”

“No problem.”

We went back to work and all went well. A few weeks flew by and I was on the new jobsite in no time and we all did great. Two years went by and I moved up to foreman, and was responsible for over two hundred workers. I had put Mallen out of mind, completely, bought a small house not too far from the city, and all was well.

Then, I happened to see Mr. Bruno and his wife at the grocery store one evening when I went to get a frozen pizza. A world of words could have come from my mouth… the weather, work, anything, and I heard myself say, “So, how is Mallen?” I felt about as brilliant as a broken lightbulb at midnight. Mr. Bruno’s wife grinned and looked to Mr. Bruno. He said, “She worked six and seven days a week for 22 months for the airport and started her own business in our neighboring state. She would not even let me introduce her to anyone.”

Somehow relieved, I asked, “What kind of business did she start?”

Mr. Bruno said, “A construction firm.”

··· Post Story Relations ···

The story above is one I enjoyed writing. When reading about writing, we always hear, “Write what you know.” For me, I like to consider what I do not really know much about, research the topic, and go from there with character, setting, and plot development. This time, though, I went with something I am more familiar with. I may not have included very much fancy description and totally refrained from the absence of the passive voice and broke plenty of grammatical rules (hidden verbs included), however I thought the story was fun and hope you enjoyed reading it. I have always found it a difficult thing to write a story in the present while speaking about the past without the infamous passive voice. At least, I hope, it was fun.

I must mention, though, that I wrote this story from an idea from a writing prompt. The real story I submitted to here, was for the Your Story competition held every eight weeks or so by Writer’s Digest. I always check out the contest and read the winners, yet hardly ever make the time to enter. After all, I am working on another book. It is my first full-blown novel. It has been exciting so far, and I hope it will be fun to read for all ages, fantasy. The Your Story prompt this time really sent my thoughts into other universes. It was almost hard to believe that so few words could inspire so much possibility.

My first thought was to go with a discussion between lawyers, then a receptionist speaking with a disgruntled man, then many others. In the story I submitted, which was to be under 700 words, I stuck with dialogue only. After about 550 words I was done, even though I figured I would really have to trim down a first draft to enter. Surprise surprise. I probably could have been more eloquent with the use of our wonderful language – at least I sent them something. In case you have never heard of the word ‘doyen,’ I found it with a thesaurus. I knew it was a rare word for some, the next best thing to a neologism (like jobsite or colloquialisuhm).

As I am not as refined with dialogue stories as many and surely am not the leading master of this planet’s prose, I wanted to write out the story in a fun and rewarding way for my readers and myself as well. I like to use ‘he said’ and ‘she said;’ call me a third grader, but I dislike nothing more than dialogue which confuses the speakers only seven lines into a thirty some-odd line script we commonly see in best-selling novels.

So, I hope you read and enjoyed “Shawn Before Dawn”, and I also hope you take part in Writer’s Digest competitions such as their annual writing competitions and Your Story, no matter your skill level. I plan to become more involved in the world of literary appreciation/presentation, eventually, will die trying if I never meet my goals. I do appreciate you for reading and please, let me know if you entered the Your Story Competition or others. I love feedback and am always happy to hear of others’ attempts in regards to their efforts. 🙂

Shelves

shelves-01

The above photo is a picture of some shelves that I have spent the last couple of weeks constructing. I have wanted to put together a nice set of shelves for months now and I finally have. I got the 1×12’s from Home Depot, as well as the polyurethane. The shelves are 5′ wide and 7′ tall -huge for me. I cut the grooves in the shelves with a jig saw. I sanded the shelves really well with a course sand paper, then I ‘poly’d’ them. I coated them one side at a time, letting them dry over night, so they did take some time to do. After I had the first coat done, I sanded them again with a more fine grit sand paper and coated them once more, the same way, one side at a time, so they could dry well with no drips.

I put them together carefully by drilling small holes and using 5/8″ wood screws. In all honesty, they are not as stable as they could be. I may eventually re-enforce them with additional hinges. The small ones seen in the picture were found on Amazon. I like the way they look, for now. What started out as a quick throw together project to have something to put the few books I have on ended up being an effort for a new piece of furniture. I liked the way they looked, so I decided to share the above photo. People I know ‘endured’ my talking about how they were coming along, so now I can happily share these photos with them.

Thank you for reading and viewing my efforts in regards to these shelves. Now I have something to put my books on. 🙂 Let me know what you think. Now that these are complete I plan to continue with my study of literature and writing the novel I am working on specifically designed for the enjoyment of readers of all ages. It is a fantasy tale that leaps from reality to a magical, tropical world and back to reality again. My goal is to have it complete by the end of the year.

Below are some more photos I took to better see the beauty of the shelves. The wood is a ‘soft’ wood, which I believe is white pine. I love the way it looks. I also like the way the curves in the shelves came out. Surely there are plenty of structures that far surpass my skill. For me, however, these were a lot of fun to put together and I am proud of them. They are complete, for now. Click on the diamond at the end of the post to check out the ‘Your Story’ competition held by Writer’s Digest – it is one of my favorite contests. 🙂

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New Peppers

Recently, I added a few house plants to my home gardening effort. My basil plants are fine and I just re-potted them. My grapefruit trees are still alive, about 3″ tall, and totally healthy. Here are two photos of the new pepper plants I welcomed home a couple of days ago.

black-pearl-pepper

The plant above is beautiful, as it has dark purple leaves. Its small sphere-like fruits are black pearl peppers. They turn burgundy and then red when they are ripe. I am not sure how hot the are, yet I am sure I will put a few of them with a dish once they ripen fully. I plan to keep the plants healthy and watch them grow day by day, as a hobby.

chilli-pepper

The above photo is of chili peppers. While no huge amazing site for many, to me, they are amazing. Mostly because I am happy to have them and cannot wait to maintain their health. The plant is about eight inches tall, currently. Though the peppers look ready to eat, they turn orange and then red before they are fully ripe, from what little I read about them.

For a long time, I was not very good with house plants, as they usually died within ten weeks or so. Now, I keep my gardening simple and feel like some form of a master botanist. 🙂 My secret? I use Miracle Grow. I also change out the soil every eight weeks or so and keep gardening notes on a calendar. I water the plants once or twice a day and make sure the water can easily drain from the bottom of their containers.

When re-potting the plants, I submerge them in water to loosen most of the soil from the roots. It sounds so easy and even seems so, however it has taken some practice to get better with gardening. Some plants are easier to keep alive than others. If you are new to gardening and want to grow something from seed, I suggest pumpkin seeds. Pumpkin flowers are large yellow-orange flowers and pretty amazing. Their small curly vines are fun and like to wrap around whatever is near them, such as long growing sticks or thin rods.

Let me know if you have any gardening photos to share – the more the merrier. Have a nice day and thank you for visiting jcm3blog.

A Book Review for Stephen King’s “On Writing”

“On Writing” was an enjoyable read. I originally purchased the book to read to improve my writing style without considering its entire title “… A Memoir of the Craft”. Even though King explains life experiences from his childhood to near present time, he still includes a great deal of positive advice for writing. Anyone struggling with writing or open to some inspirational thought will benefit from reading “On Writing”.

One reason the book, and Stephen King himself, gives me so much inspiration is the notion of writing about 1,400 words a day or more. This is a far easier idea than trying to set aside a 6-hour time slot to write as much as possible, and way easier than trying to write out an entire project only pausing when necessary. Producing a small amount of work by often habit is more feasible to justify and stay motivated with.

Another notion that I find inspiring is the idea of writing without too much plotting. I agree with King on this one -even if one plots out an entire story or novel, once one writes it out they generally change what goes on (or not) as you write it. If plotting with an outline helps you, go for it. If simply writing without too much thought of the story before you come up with it is the way you write best, go with that. Do what works for you, in other words, even if you’ve heard it many times before.

The next thing I like about King’s advice on writing was to not spend too much time with technique. I enjoy utilizing as much grammar technique as possible, however I do not always adhere to grammar rules as strictly as I would like. Use of the passive voice, colloquialisms, ect. many times are found in my rough drafts. I do not let these things keep me from the story, though, and King reminds us of what is most important when writing fiction. The story.

Many people who have written about “On Writing” mention Mr. King’s near death accident. The story is in the end of the book. He was hit by a vehicle while on a walk one day, nearly died, and was only half through with “On Writing”. Our hearts go out to Stephen King when we hear of his regaining of health after having most of his body shattered and finishing his memoir on writing. Long live the King, indeed.

King mentions his struggles as a young writer such as struggling to pay bills, even when he became an English teacher. Who would have ever guessed that the world’s most famous and respected horror author would be a down-to-Earth family man? I am not sure, however I have more respect for him after reading his honest accounts of his love for his wife, family, and writing. I also found his ideas on drug abuse inspiring. He declares that while many users may think that use helps their creativity, people write just as well without stimulants or sedatives or both. I agree. I may drink a coffee or vape sometimes, however I find participating in creative writing is best without the use of unhealthy substances. I am glad he decided to clean up his life and live in a healthy way, that he could say people write just as splendidly without stimulants/downers or other temptations.

To further explore reasons I liked “On Writing”, I must note that King mentions telepathy. We are not alone as humans; any religion considers the idea. He suggests good practices for choosing a good place to write and being okay with ‘listening’ while writing. He also mentions that he kept this book slim and tried to exercise some form of concision with his prose. In my opinion, he did an awesome job. I was able to read a few pages at night before going to bed and had the book finished, paying attention to its every word, in about 40 days (if I can do it, so can you). King mentions a Mississippi scribbler, John Grisham, as being found by his agent, Bill who set King up with Double Day many years ago. Many people think that part of what makes Grisham such a great author has to do with the ease in which we can read his work. I agree and think “On Writing” can be easily read.

“On Writing” gives references to a few dozen authors/books with explanations of their style and why to read them or how to compare them to what we may decide to write. King helps us consider what we are after with our writing and how to achieve success. He also includes two extensive book lists in the end of the version I read.

Early in the book, he mentions going to the movies and considering what was going on in the movie, as well as what could have happened to make the story even crazier or better. I think most people have a pretty creative mind, however part of King’s unique genius, other than his work ethic, is his ability to consider a good story and either stick with it or spice it up a little.

As far as real grammar lessons go, there are not many in “On Writing”. King does mention”Warriner’s English Grammar and Composition”, as well as Strunk and White’s “The Elements of Style”. He advises a cautious study of these texts, yet mentions that once you have learned enough grammar to write well, there is no need to waste your time with studying too much grammar. By saying this, he reminds us that the story itself is what is most important.

The first part of the book inspired my writing a tale upon reading a few things about Stephen King’s childhood. I put the book down and wrote out an outline, and wrote the story the next day. You can read it here. I also wrote down an outline for a novel with a protagonist and a bunch of monsters, however it may be a while before I get to writing it out, as I am working on some other works of fiction, currently. I’ve kept the outline with a few other novel ideas, nonetheless.

I conclusion I do recommend Stephen King’s book, “On Writing”, to be read by most authors, fans, and readers. It won’t give you nightmares, and though it is no new lesson in English, it will definitely inspire you as a fiction author. Stephen King spent a lifetime working hard and stayed dedicated to his goals as a family man and a writer. He did what was best for him and we should, too, so our reading audience will love and enjoy our work as creative artists and writing masters. What more could we ask for? I hope you enjoy reading “On Writing” as much as I and others have. As said by “Entertainment Weekly”, “Long live the King.”

Why Check Out Writer’s Digest and Goodreads?

goodreads          writersdigest

Recently, I sent a message on twitter to a famous author named R. A. Salvatore. I plan to read at least one of his books this year, as I somehow have not read any of his work, before. I sent him a friend’s request to communicate with him on goodreads.com. He said he already spends to much time on the web -I cannot imagine how involved an author of his status is with the web.

Nevertheless, I sent him a message recommending he at least check out goodreads.com and writersdigest.com. Goodreads is the platform for discussing books, finding books others have read, sharing discussions on books, and communicating with authors. For people like myself who have a book with sales under 10 copies and are working on writing more books, goodreads is like a double-cheese hamburger to a hungry American. Just ask Michael Sullivan or check out his Writer’s Digest article; he is a ‘Goodreads Master.’ People seeking to learn more about other authors or who are trying to promote their own work somehow should definitely get involved with goodreads.

Writer’s Digest is the source for all authors. The publication includes novel contests, ways to find agents, ways to find market listings for short stories, and books on writing. The books on writing are great for those with and without college degrees in English. Any author who visits writersdigest.com will find something of interest to them. For writers, like myself, who have not yet ‘surpassed the bell curve’ of becoming a full time author as a vocation, Writer’s Digest is a publication we should subscribe to, as its advice and information in regards to the business of writing is always priceless.

So, if you have never become involved with these two sites, at least check them out. Click on the two links to open a new tab in your browser and click on their tabs for at least a few minutes to see what they are all about. Goodreads is free, and writersdigest has plenty of free and interesting content. You learn even more if you subscribe to their publication and receive current articles on what is going on in the world of publishing. If for no other reason, view them to see what other authors are up to. I like to read what editors like Brian Klems and his colleagues have to say about writing and literary techniques. I just do not think the two sites are a waste of time.

Thank you for reading this post. I hope it was beneficial for all who have. To my new followers and those who have recently ‘liked’ a post, “Thank you.” Communicate with me by sending an e-mail to admin@jcm3blog.com. We love feedback here.  🙂

Sometimes They Do Not Make It

The school year was 75% complete. Young Steven and his brother Davie, two years older than him, were helping their mother unpack boxes after school. The three of them moved into their new apartment, recently, due to an explosion Davie accidentally caused in their old apartment. The boys and their mom were lucky to live through the experience unharmed.

“You guys are driving me crazy,” said their mother. “How?” asked Davie, “We are just doing what you told us.” “Well, for now, you guys can go outside and play. Be back before dark, and I’ll have dinner ready.” The boys did not attest to this and immediately made it to the door, closing it behind them politely, to hike three stories down.

“We don’t have a front yard; we have a sidewalk with a street,” observed Steven. “Let’s check out what’s behind back,” said Davie, “We may have the time to do some exploring.” Davie was in the 9th grade, Steven in the 7th. They ran around to behind the apartment building. It was a massive structure with twenty-one apartments. Each with four rooms, 2.5-baths, and made with light pink bricks. There was a small field and a wooded area nearby, also.

The boys marched right into the woods, as the trees were sparse. After some time they found some railway tracks and stopped to rest. “I found an old rusty spike!” said Steven. “Just leave it alone,” said Davie, “There are probably a ton of them around here.” The two boys sat on a big square concrete block about twelve yards away from the tracks, wondering how often the train comes.

On the other side of the tracks, there was a small creek just wide enough to scale. The creek ran parallel to the tracks. More woods and an overgrown field could be seen off to the left. Time slipped away gently. The boys talked about girls and school, tossing small pebbles into the creek across from the tracks. Only a single small tossed pebble could make ‘circle ripples,’ which reflected overhung trees in an amazing way.

Little Davie was a child prodigy, just as Steven – Davie still had the ‘brains;’ however, and Steven was always aware of his older brother’s natural instincts. “It is going to get dark any minute,” said Davie, “We should go back.” As the two boys stood, they heard the “Choo-choo” of a train coming. “A train!” exclaimed Steven, and as they looked down the tracks, they saw a large train was really on its way.

They waited until the engine passed them and watched its cars whiz by, one by one. “How fast do you think the train is going?” yelled Steven. “Probably about 30 mph,” replied Davie, “Let’s go.” They left the roaring train and made it back home before dark. The woods were simple enough, so there chances of getting lost were slim. The two smelly lads cleaned up for dinner, ate Spaghetti, spoke politely with their mother, and bathed and went off to bed.

Saturday finally came around and the boys woke up before dawn to watch cartoons. Their mother woke up early and cooked a nice breakfast including pancakes, sausage, and milk. “I am going to the craft store today for some fabric and stuff,” said their mother, “I want you guys to be on your best behavior, and you cannot leave this apartment until your chores are done.” “We did our chores yesterday,” said Davie, quietly, hoping they did not forget any usual chores. Steven looked to the ground, for this could mean more chores and less cartoons. Or worse. “Can we go to the craft store with you?” asked Davie. “You two had better not embarrass me,” said their mother. Excited, the two brothers got ready to go to the craft store with their mother.

Curiosity flowed through the two boys like warm milk. This part of town was an intriguing new world to them, even though the craft store, much larger than most average sized hardware stores, was only six blocks away. The brothers did what they could to stay out of trouble, once in the store. Walking down every aisle, nothing seemed to be too much of a surprise. The artist’s aisle was super awesome, and Davie saw many things he did not know much about. Then, however, the boys found the model car aisle.

As amazing as it was, the model cars did not even compare to what they found toward the end of the aisle. The hobby-rocket section. Amazed, the two boys inspected every rocket, some forty in number. The largest rockets were huge, five-foot tall models that took “D” cell engines. Stickers on rockets requiring a “C” engine or larger stated, “Must be 18 or Older to Purchase.”

Davie noticed an interesting rocket, while Steven proceeded to pretend-launch a small rocket by hand into the air. He decided not throw it; however, and put it back quickly, as an older woman looked over her glasses from over forty feet away.

“This one comes with a deploying parachute,” said Davie. “Wow,” said Steven, “What is the remote control for?” Davie read the package and said, “This rocket has ‘Track Finder’ technology. The remote helps you find the small plastic astronaut and his parachute, once he explodes into the air far above ground level. The little figurine uses a locator chip with a watch battery.” “Wow,” said Steven, “We’ll have to ask mom for it.”

They went and found their mother, who was making her fabric purchase before checking out with a few other items. She went with the boys to see the hobby-rocket section. I could not get you one of these today if I wanted to,” said their mother, “Unless you want this small one.” “We want the one with the track finder,” said Steven. “‘C’ cell engine,” said Davie, “It must be smaller than the ‘D’ cells.” “It’s marked 25% off,” said Steven, “$29.99 instead of the normal price of forty dollars.” “That’s another 25% off if the two of you can come up with $20,” said their mother. “Is that a promise?” asked Davie. “Sure,” she said. “Is that a double promise?” asked Steven, and asked, “How can we get the money?” “That is a double promise,” said their mother, “Maybe you can do some cleaning for the neighbors or a few things for allowance money.”

They made their way to the front of the store. Their mother finished making her purchases, and the boys did not mind not getting nothing whatsoever -they had goals, now. The following week the boys went out to the tracks to see if the train passed by everyday just before dark. It did.

“How are we going to come up with the money for that rocket?” asked Steven. “I don’t know,” said Davie, “All I have is the dime in my pocket. I’ll have to think of something.” “I wonder if the train would flatten the dime into a smooth silver streak on the rail?” asked Steven. “No,” said Davie, “The train will flatten the coin into an oval like a potato chip. I saw it in a Western.” “Can we try it?” asked Steven. “It’s no way to save money for a rocket,” said Davie, but he handed Steven the dime as they could see the train coming. Steven placed the dime heads up on the railroad track – the vibrations knocked it off twice. “Hurry,” said Davie, “The train is coming fast.

Steven placed the dime on the track one last time and it seemed to stay centered, tales up. He backed away in plenty of time to see the engine and 20 some-odd cars pass by – the boys even saw the caboose this time. They ran back up to the tracks and there was no dime. “Darn it,” said Steven. He and Davie looked around for the dime; Davie found it. “Wow,” said Steven, “It does look like a potato chip!” “You can keep it,” said Davie. “Are you sure?” asked Steven. “Yeah,” said Davie, “You’re my little bro. Let’s go. It’s already getting dark.”

The two jogged back home, ate, bathed, said their prayers with their mother, and went off to bed. The next day Steven was in the lunch line, inspecting his amazing coin. “What’s that?” asked one of his student friends. “It’s a potato-chip dime,” said Steven. “What’s it worth?” asked another boy. “I don’t know,” said Steven, “Its my lucky potato chip coin.” “Can I see it?” said a girl. “Sure,” said Steven, as he handed it to her. Amazed, the children studied the coin. “I’ll give you my lunch money for it,” said one of the boys, “Two dollars.” Steven would never take the offer, as the coin meant something to him, but he thought about the rocket. “Deal,” said Steven, and the boy handed him the two dollars for the potato chip dime. The girl took one last look at the coin and handed it to its purchaser.

Steven was now four dollars up and still about forty students back in the line from the cafeteria workers. As his new sidekick went to sit and inspect the coin incognito with some people already eating, Steven followed behind. “I’ll keep this four dollars,” thought Steven, “And I’ll get some more dimes.”

The idea was a fantastic one, indeed. Steven and his brother took the four dollars down the street that afternoon to the gas station. The teller would not change out their money for forty dimes, because they would need to make a purchase, first. “What if we let you keep two of the dimes?” asked Davie, and Steven laughed a little. He just could not guess the outcome of this proposition. “I’ll take it as a transaction,” said the old woman, playing along, “For these two dark green jawbreakers.” The boys were happy with the transaction and made it back home before dark, green tongued.

Their mother asked about their green tongues, and Davie said they got them from the gas station’s jawbreakers. With no further questions, the boys were in the clear. The three ate, cleaned, and went off to bed.

The following day the boys finished their homework. It was time for external activities. Both carrying a pocket full of dimes, they jogged all the way to the tracks to beat the train. The boys lined up all thirty eight dimes about two feet apart, eighteen on each rail. The train finally came along, and the boys gathered all but one of the dimes. It was getting dark, fast, and thirty-seven would have to do. On a mission, they returned home in an efficient manner.

Over the next few weeks, both of the boys sold the potato chip dimes to other students, making sure they (the other students) would keep it a secret so that the lunch money went unmentioned. Combined, they sold twenty-nine coins in ten days, and both brothers decided to keep four of the valuable potato-chip dimes. “How much does that add up to?” asked Steven, knowing Davie had already done the math. “$58,” said Davie, “Now all we have to do is give mom a story about how we got the money.” “That old man who sits by the gas station in front of the small convenience store, what if he bought us the rocket?” “Works for me,” said Davie, “We can split the change and speak with the old man when we see him.” They made it back as darkness settled in.

The next day, they finished their homework and went to the craft store and bought the rocket. The total was $32.24, so the boys had $25.76, or $12.88 a piece for piggy bank savings. Davie let Steven carry the rocket home in a large sack. Their mother, astonished.

“And just how did you two manage that?” she asked. “The old man by the store heard us talking about how we wanted that rocket so bad, and we could not figure out how to come up with the money. He did not have anyone in mind we could do chores for, but he bought it for us saying he would keep us in mind,” said Steven. Their mother’s eyes immediately met with Davie‘s, whose face went pale. “That’s true,” he said. “Well that sure was nice of that man,” said their mom. They ate, cleaned, and went off to bed.

The next day was a Friday, so the boys would have to wait until the following day to try out the rocket. This did not stop Davie’s eagerness to read and learn, though. Upon finishing their homework, Davie and Steven opened the rocket box, keeping it intact, and Davie read the instructions. Steven, while playing with the little astronaut man, landed him on Davie‘s shoulder saying, “I have discovered the moon and have not a flag.” Davie continued to read.

The two eventually checked the contents of the box and even assembled most of the rocket. It was 2.5 feet tall and just under an inch in diameter. It came with a firing fuse connected to a twelve-foot long wire. The wire connected to a push-button box. The rocket also came with its own stand and of course the remote control device. The device showed distance in tenths of a mile and had a radar screen. Davie was concerned that batteries were not included. They were, though they were some cheap ones.

They ate, cleaned, and went off to bed, as always, reading some before bedtime. Davie liked C. S. S. Lewis and Isaac Asimov; Steven liked monster stories; and their mother, Danielle Steel. Steven asked his mother why she preferred Danielle Steel as opposed to Nora Roberts one time, and he received no response. “Probably the writing style or plot development,” said Davie, “The two authors really are different in comparison.”

It was Saturday morning, and the boys were up with their rocket before dawn. “Where are we going to launch it?” asked Steven, “A football field?” “No,” said Davie, “We’ll take it to the tracks. With any luck, the wind will be blowing towards the field on the other side of the creek, left of the ‘Other-Side Woods.'” “Those woods are creepy,” said Steven. “They are more dense,” said Davie, “That is why. Those shadows are darker because the trees block out most of the sunlight, even in the daytime. We’ll have to take the rocket in sections to the tracks in the box, and reassemble it once we are in the field with the stand.”

“Not yet you won’t,” their mother said, as she walked into the kitchen, “I want these dishes done and the carpet vacuumed before you two go anywhere today, and I’ll make us some breakfast.” Their mother did well. She was a secretary for a law firm downtown. The two boys did their chores and cleaned their rooms in order to leave. She fed them a bologna sandwich and a coke, and they assembled most of the rocket by its instructions. Then, after making sure they could go outside, they began a journey to the tracks.

They made it there early in the afternoon. “The wind just so happens to be blowing in opposite direction of the Other-Side Woods,” said Davie, “We are in luck. Not a cloud in the sky.” The boys crossed the tracks, skillfully scaled the stream, and walked for a while through the field. They found a decent clearing in the wild grass and stopped. They got the rocket together as well as its stand, and Davie handed Steven the ignition button. Stupefied, Steven asked, “I just push the button?” “No,” said Davie, securing the rocket’s fuse wire in its engine before backing up a few steps, “I’ll count down from five to monitor the atmosphere. When I say ‘One, go,‘ then press the button.” “Okay,” said Steven, and he held his right index finger over the button watching the amazing rocket with a great deal of attention.

“Five,” said Davie; he held a wet finger in the air to feel the wind. Steven admired the silver flame decals on the rocket along with its shining gloss-black cover paint. The rocket also had four small fins glued to its mid-section, and four larger fins glued perfectly to its lower end. “Four,” said Davie, cautiously awaiting the breeze to die a little, seeing nothing much about the peaceful field but a bird or two flying around eating gnats in the distance. Steven beheld the magnificent rocket, just waiting to press the button. “Three. Two.” There was no reason to wait. “One…” said Davie, “Go!”

Steven pressed the button and the fuse in the engine of the rocket ignited. The engine’s powder began to combust, and the rocket immediately shot up into the air, leaving a white, streaming cloud of smoke beneath its travel. “Wow!” exclaimed Steven, backing up a few steps to see it decrease in size as it climbed in altitude. “Will we see it explode the parachute?” asked Steven. “I think so,” said Davie, all eyes on the rocket, and so it did.

The children saw the rocket burst far above them, yet they could not see the parachuting astronaut figurine for a moment. Then, they thought they could see it for a second floating away. His (the figurine’s) locator chip activated and working properly, Davie‘s remote locator with radar display functioned properly, too. The two children walked further into the field to find the rocket. They saw it fall about eighty yards away from where they launched it.

They made it to the vicinity of the fallen rocket and Steven found it. “How far away is the astronaut?” asked Steven. Davie held his radar box in his right hand and pointed off to the left with his left hand, in about a 280˚ angle. “By the looks of this radar, he is 2.5 miles in that direction and may still be falling or in a tree,” said Davie. As he pointed into the far distance, they could see far down the tracks. The train was coming. “Let’s go back,” said Davie, “We’ll have to go find the astronaut tomorrow.” Steven handed Davie the rocket; they jogged back to the stand and got it; and ran to the tracks and crossed back over, safely. The train was still coming, so they put the rocket back in the box as they awaited its passing.

“Cannot we watch the train pass by?” asked Steven, “I want to count the cars.” It was starting to get dark, yet Davie said, “Okay.” The train “Choo-choo’d,” and the boys counted exactly twenty-two cars, including the enormous front engine, twenty boxcars, and its caboose. The caboose was highly similar to the ones they saw before; they were never not the same one. Steven volunteered to carry the box, and they made their way back.

Upon entering the woods, the sun had nearly fallen completely. Though remnants of sunlight were still aglow, nighttime shadows were among the trees, as well. “Let’s pick it up a bit,” said Davie, and the boys steadied their jog. Halfway through the woods, the two boys were making good time. So long as it was not pitch black outside, their mother would not be too disappointed.

Suddenly, Davie grabbed Steven bringing them both to a halt. He instinctively put his hand over Steven’s mouth and pointed to about thirty yards in front of them, in about a 25˚ angle. Steven could not see him at first, then flushed pale. “Is that a ghost?” whispered Steven. “I am not sure,” said Davie, “We could just jog by him, however I think he’s watching us.” “We are in the middle of the woods,” said Steven. “We’ll just walk by him and leave him be,” said Davie, thinking it was about the best they could do.

“No need to walk by me,” said the figure, standing right before them all of a sudden. This really freaked Davie out. “Who are you?” asked Steven, courageously, sensing the figure may not be of harm to them. “I am Death,” said the tall, handsome man. The man gleamed in the shadows of dusk, a pastel purple and white gleam, much like an angel. “We must be getting back, kind sir,” said Davie. “Oh sure,” said Death, “I know your mother is waiting. There is something you may want to know, though.” “Which is?” asked Steven. “There is a homeless man down by the tracks, about twenty feet on the other side of where you guys crossed over before shooting off your amazing rocket. He has only moments to live. That is why I am here.” “What can we do?” asked Davie. “If you manage to get a glass of water to him before he passes, he may be able to make it.”

The three ran to the apartment complex and Death waited outside. Steven brought the box to his room, and Davie hurried to get a glass of water while their mother was taking a bath. The two left and met up with Death. They jogged all the way back to the tracks by moonlight and found the dying man as he lay a ways away from the tracks on his back. Davie checked his pulse while Steven tried to get the man to drink some water. The man had a pulse, yet Steven had to open his mouth gently to pour in some water.

The plan did not go so well. The man’s eyes closed, he breathed a slight breath. He did not swallow the water. Steven closed the man’s mouth. The man died. Davie and Steven backed away from the corpse as the old man’s flesh flushed pale. The man’s spirit rose from his body, and he beheld the presence of Death. At first his draw dropped, however the old man figured out upon whom he was gazing. Death held out his hand, and the homeless man took his hand.

The boys watched as Death and the ghost of a homeless man walked hand in hand down the railroad tracks towards the moon. Steven wondered why they were not able to save the old man and wished the man swallowed the water. Death turned and spoke over his shoulder, “At least you tried, Steven,” and the two men carried on. There appeared to be a form of a doorway a long ways down the tracks. “Let’s go,” said Davie. “What about the body?” asked Steven. “We’ll tell mom he’s here,” said Davie, and the two made their way back into the dark woods.

Upon entering the apartment their mother was in the kitchen organizing things. “Mom,” said Steven, before she could ask them anything, “We found a dead man down by the train tracks.” Their mother called the authorities. The authorities found the man and asked the children a few questions. The man received a proper burial, was in the obituaries of the town paper.

It was a few days before the boys went back to the tracks to find their astronaut. It took them some time and hiking to get to it; however, with a deal of effort and a smidgen of luck, Davie was able to locate the little man and his parachute in a tree. They brought it back home, made it there before dark. They all ate, cleaned, and read for a while before turning in.

Brief Afterward

This story was inspired from the first part of Stephen King’s book, “On Writing”. If he reads this story, I hope he enjoys it, as I could not resist writing out this idea. I finished reading his book and gave it a review, which can be found on jcm3blog I found his book to be a suitable collection of prose. I would have waited to write this story upon my completion of the book, however the story came to me and I just did not want to put it off or forget it, lest it never exist. We all know of those thousands of ideas we have that may never make it to paper; I usually write the best ones of my mind in a notebook. Learn more about Stephen King on stephenking.com (which the diamond above links to) or by clicking on the double-diamonds below for his wiki page. I enjoyed this story and hope all who read it do, too. Indeed, “Long live the King.”

Corrosion of Elements

water-heater coils

The picture above depicts two heating elements.  They are from the inside of a water heater.  The one on the top is a new double-coil, and the one on the bottom shows what three years of corrosion can do to an element in a water-heater.  The corrosion was caused from calcium in tap water, though I thought it could have been caused by fluorine.  One way or the other, the lower element was why I had no hot water for a while, and the above element works nice when I have it on.  I posted the picture because I found it to be interesting.  From what I understand, about one in fifty hot water heaters endure a special phenomenon.  As they are all grounded, some can posses a magnetic charge that allows the elements to repel additives or contaminants contained in tap water.  Such a water heater can last for over 40 years.  Most will need their elements changed within five, however.  One way or the other, I am happy that the hot water heater works again. 🙂

An Excerpt…

Many times, as composers of stories and makers of creative works, we endure a great many ideas throughout the day.  As we siphon through these ideas from time to time, we do not always have the time to put our best notions down on paper or out into electronic availability.  I had an idea for a space exploration prompt, for other people, yet with limited response (due to possible near non-exposure), I wrote out an idea for it.  Here it is – it will possibly be published elsewhere this month or later… 🙂

The Fuselage
   From the glossy windows of a small, outer atmosphere born, multi-engine computerized, ceramic-shelled fuselage, five astronauts documented their observations of Earth with on-board imaging technology and documentation devices safely within their space-born exploration and research vehicle.  The team’s lead scientist’s name was Captain Ron Featherton.  His crew of four researchers’ names were Gill, Luke, Isa (short for Isabelle), and Shawn.  The team’s mission?  To observe, document and digitally characterize Earth’s natural radiation belts, normal global geology and external geomorphology, and to journey safely from Earth’s outer atmosphere within normal return velocities.
   After documenting observations, including storms, stars, and pressure movements, the crew was impressed with their flight-specific gathered data and electronic journals.  Upon storing information into their data systems, it was nearing time to venture home.  Just then, however, the lead monitor of engine systems and on-board life, air, navigation systems Secondary Operations Engineer, Shawn, suddenly exclaimed…
   “Captain, our oxygen supply is decreasing due to an unknown malfunction source!  Should we down the two minor engine thrusts to maintain average support systems?”  “No,” said Captain Ron, “We need to leave them running to maintain minimum necessary travel speed – we will be returning to Earth in moments and should not take the risk.”  A small bubbling patch of perspiration beaded unnoticeably upon Shawn’s brow.  “Eye eye, Cap,” said Shawn has he continued to navigate the average-sized spaceship along its normonic path.
   “This is such a marvelous view of our planet and distant celestial sparkling bodies,” observed Gill in a dreamy frame of mind.  She had worked for most of her career to enjoy one single amazing experience such as this one.  “Of the things I have seen during my lifetime,” commented Luke, “There has been none such as marvelous as this one; never before have I viewed such a spectacular view of Earth and our amazing galaxy.”  “I concur,” said Isa, “I will treasure this moment for a lifetime.”
    As the astronauts continued to maintain normal operations, the spacecraft’s instrumentation panel began beeping and going haywire.  “We are losing vital oxygen fast, Captain!” exclaimed Shawn.  “Down the secondary thrusts and engage back-up systems! We will be lucky to survive!”  commanded Captain Ron.  Isa spoke a short prayer.
   Drifting through space the astronauts wondered if they were a part of a moribund exploration, done-for, bereft.  Oxygen continued to weaken as Captain Ron tried to contact home-command.  Unable to do so, the situation grew more terrible.  Due to lack of sufficient air his team of four fell unconscious.  He somehow did not.  Maintaining system controls, Captain Ron was able to bring the ship to a state of tentative normalcy.
   Therein lied his dilemma:  should he risk losing the lives of his team, utilize the oxygen supply in order to return to Mother Earth alive, chance becoming a known and perceived, detested failure, responsible for the deaths of four renown scientists?  “It is a temptation to disengage the pressure controls and drift hopelessly into the bliss of outer space… to suffer the short-lived torture of suffocation and die,” thought the compassionate space-captain, “No one would ever know.”  He had no family to return to, gave the cowardly notion a pinch of dangerous thought.
   The newly engineered, high-tech space-born fuselage allowed no emergency abort capabilities, proved now, to be a deadly capsule due to its systems’ malfunctions.  As he looked upon his crew in tears, the captain released their air supply.  Captain Ron brought the ship’s systems back to complete and normal operation within moments.  He powered up the main thrusts.  The other four died shortly thereafter.  Captain Ron returned to Planet Earth within normal and safe velocities exceeding an approximate 19,817 mph, presented never-before-gathered radiation belt data, sought counselling.