I’m staying committed to my no grain lifestyle change. The challenge has been cutting dairy and eggs. I’m moving forward with a vegan lifestyle. I remain hopeful and determined. My current post is a short one. Below are six songs that I love from cheesy 80s flicks I watched as a kid. The Pirate Movie is one my favorites. And do you remember The Last Dragon?
This last weekend I spent time with friends; I hung out with my best friend from college and visited the science museum in San Francisco, ate Persian food, and drank fancy hot chocolate. Later we went to the Farmers Marker in Mountain View, lunched on Oren’s Hummus, and went to a cute little bookstore in Los Altos. I had such a wonderful time.
I loved the science museum, especially the planetarium. The show was modern and informative, making science accessible. The show we attended was about the search for habitable extra solar planets. The special effects were dizzying and awesome. The only thing missing was the interaction with the presenter.
When I used to present planetarium shows, everything was old-school. I operated an old Spitz Planetarium, a mechanical one we called Alice. It had lenses instead of a digital projection, so the stars sparkled when projected onto the dome. I loved it. I was the woman behind the curtain in a way, moving the whole world, with hand-built special effects, like a bolide streaking through the sky or the sun rising and setting. I also interacted with the audience, told nerdy astronomy jokes and engaged in Q and A.
Here are six of the coolest space things. I enjoyed presenting information on these topics.
Black Holes – I remember reading about black holes in an old encyclopedia when I was a kid. I was fascinated by the singularity.
Our Sun – Another topic that fascinated me when I was a young person: stellar evolution. What’s cool about our star? Everything. It’s about halfway through its life and will begin moving off of the main sequence in about five billion years.
Brown Dwarfs – A brown dwarf doesn’t have enough mass to ignite hydrogen burning, but they are massive enough to generate their own heat.
Red Dwarfs – The longest living stars are type “M” low mass stars.
Multiple Star Systems – Most star systems have two or more stars, which makes our solar system unique.
Galaxy Clusters -The sheer size of our galaxy always amazes me, especially when taking the structure in as a whole. A galaxy with billions of stars clustering together with other galaxies, also containing billions of stars.
Other favorite exhibits include the aquarium, the gems, and the rain forest. I was most exited over the jelly fish and the sea horse. A butterfly landed on my left shoulder, too. Below are some highlight photos.
My word of the day is quixotic. I’m feeling like my old self again: idealistic, impractically ambitious (sort of), and ready for what the future might bring. Today, at least. We’ll see tomorrow. But…determined, always. Determined, however realistic or unrealistic my goals may be.
Today’s blog started with a science fiction movie, the post-apocalyptic kind. The main character wore a form-fitting leather (or pleather) jumpsuit. Why is our post-apocalyptic future always envisioned in pleather (plastic leather)? Okay, not always. The Walking Dead has more realistic costume design, but pleather and metal are just more cool-looking.
Below are six science-fiction “Fashion of the Future” styles:
Fried tofu “breaded” with cassava flour is yummy but oh so bad. It’s a once in a long while pleasure food that you can mix with anything. Kung Pao Tofu comes to mind. Lately I’ve been air frying my tofu. Today I tossed extra firm tofu in a little bit of garlic salt and olive oil and air fried it for twenty-five minutes, pausing halfway through to turn the tofu. Comes out crunchy. Not as delicious as something fried but a great and healthier alternative. You can mix it with butternut squash and broccoli for a meal or eat it alone as a snack.
I’ve fully embraced this lifestyle change; it’s permanent. I’ve had a tough time with my empty nest, but the change has forced me to be consistent with my health. I’ve lost fifty pounds and several inches, dropping five or so sizes since I first started walking on the bluffs. That was how it began–making that choice to get up, leave my room, and go walking. Then everything else: making my own low-carb bread, juicing greens, cutting out grains, etc. (My first blog post on this site!)
Though I miss my family like crazy–I miss my little one so much–I continue to move forward, I continue to do yoga and other forms of exercise consistently as well as maintain my grain-free life. Besides weight loss, my overall health has improved greatly.
I’ve practiced yoga before, years ago, but now yoga is fast becoming a huge part of my life in a way I wasn’t expecting. My yoga routine includes a hybrid workout I do at the gym, or YouTube videos at home, and I’ve downloaded an app, too. I haven’t been to an in-person yoga session in a long time but would like to at some point. I love the act, the meditation, the discipline, the flow of movement. And I look forward to deepening my practice–becoming more proficient, fluid, and advanced. Below are six of my favorites, poses I usually like to include in a routine (among others). These poses feel great on my lower back and hips.
I recommend yoga for everyone. Seriously, everyone. Being consistent with my practice has strengthen me in a positive way, and I’m thankful for it. I think yoga is good for all ages.
One last thing, tonight I made low-carb bread with pecan and walnut flour instead of almond flour. I added a little bit of chia and flax seed, coconut sugar (a tablespoon), and pumpkin pie spice (a tablespoon). Savory! With a pat of butter and honey drizzle, this bread is amazing. I’m also more adept at making bread now, too.
I tutored Algebra 1 over the summer, and I realized how much I miss doing math. I tutored in college: tutor, grader, and teacher’s assistant for Astronomy 1, lecture and lab. I was also a grader for Astronomy 2. I successfully presented the general and children’s planetarium shows at the Santa Barbara Natural History Museum, which counts as public education: Three general shows the director let us script (he selected the content), and the children’s show that I had full creative control over. This led to an instructor position during the summer of 2000, two science camp sessions. Later, after graduating, I became the center director and lead instructor for a learning center, Mathnasium. There I tutored math K-12, precalculus and calculus, and taught a summer of “College for Kids” at Santiago Community College (5-8th grades). The last tutoring gig I had back then was private tutoring business calculus for a family member. Then nothing for a long time. I moved away from education and toward engineering. So, when I was offered the chance to tutor over the summer, I jumped on the opportunity. My student, a bright young woman, was fun to teach, and I encouraged her to consider a career in science or engineering.
For the blog challenge, I’m doing lists of things. This list includes math rules I think help make math easier. These rules can be applied at every level.
The Power of One – The number one is a powerful number. You can multiply and divide that sucker with anything, and it changes nothing. One is useful when working with fractional elements. Want to get rid of those pesky fractions? Throw a one at it.
The Associative Property – a*b*c = (a*b)*c = a*(b*c). You can group those multiplicands any way you choose, and the answer is always the same.
The Commutative Property – a*b*c = c*b*a = b*c*a. Similar to number two, you can rearrange multiplicands.
The Distributive Property – a*(b+c) = ab+ac. You can do this in reverse, too.
Wholes and parts – Money is the best tactile teacher for this concept. Practice is key with this. Mastering how to add, subtract, multiply, and divide fractions will make symbolic manipulation easy peasy.
Respect the equal sign – What you do to one side of the equation, you do to the other. Repeat that.
Emphasizing again the understanding of wholes and parts as very important to master before moving onto algebra. If you can add, subtract, multiply, and divide fractions, then using the above rules will make your math life enjoyable.
My niece texts me every now and then with an algebra problem. She’s in Algebra 2. Recently she sent me root problems. I told her, “Roots are just fractional exponents.” Meaning all she has to do is apply the exponent rules and multiplying, dividing, and reducing is not scary as it looks. She’s the type of student who wants quick explanations, just the mechanics. So, my answer yielded a deer caught in headlights look. Conceptual understanding is better than memorizing mechanics because retention is higher. There are some things I may need to brush up on, but for the most part, I’ve done enough math as a student, that a lot of it is second nature for me. If you’re struggling with algebra, trust the six rules I listed here, because it’s the gap that needs to be filled.
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. I walk with this advice in my pocket, simultaneously heeding and tossing it about. I’ll throw my work (writing, poetry, art) on the table, mistakes and all, and not regret one word or brush stroke. But life, on the other hand, is a different story. I hide in my room under a mountain of blankets and hope that life will work itself out—like if I cover my check engine light with enough sticky notes, my car will magically repair itself. No, not really. But I’ve tried avoiding problems, mistakes, or potential mistakes. And doing so never stopped them from happening, only stopped me from experiencing.
I hope you’ll make mistakes. If you’re making mistakes, it means you’re out there doing something.
I’m at the point in my life where I’m ready to take that advice fully: Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Don’t be afraid to live, to be human. I’m ready to “make good art” no matter the circumstances in my life, through the good and the bad. It’s time to be prolific. I say (or write) this confidently. In this moment, I’m all in.
Make good art. I’m serious. Husband runs off with a politician? Make good art. Leg crushed and then eaten by a mutated boa constrictor? Make good art. IRS on your trail? Make good art. Cat exploded? Make good art. Somebody on the Internet thinks what you do is stupid or evil or it’s all been done before? Make good art. Probably things will work out somehow, and eventually time will take the sting away, but that doesn’t matter. Do what only you do best. Make good art. Make it on the good days too.
That being said. Both feet have always been in. I’ll never quit writing even when I convince myself that I have. I’ll never stop making art. I’ll never stop writing poetry. I’ll never stop being me, or rather striving to be the best version of me. I’m ready. I’ve always been ready.
Do the stuff that only you can do…the one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can.
For blog post 3 of 26, I’m topping off the the best TV theme songs with my top six from 1990 to present. I wanted to sneak in the entire opening sequence for every season of Babylon 5 but listed just the music instead. For me, it’s the best opening credits for a TV show. Check out top TV theme song selection below.
When I think of television in the1980s, frozen dinners in aluminum trays come to mind. Do you remember those? You’d pop them into the oven for forty-five minutes, setting the piping hot tray on top of a single foldable table. You’d get comfy on your mom’s old avocado-green sofa—the one with the orange and blue afghan one of your auntie’s crocheted, the sofa’s lumpy seat cushion sinking in at the center. Cheers would come on or maybe the Wonder Years or Family Ties.
I love eighties TV shows. I think the eighties turned out some of the best TV theme songs. It was hard to narrows down my list because there were so many great ones to choose from. These six theme songs are my top favorites. The lyrics and music move me in a good way. What do you think about the six I selected? What would you put on your list of six?
What song reminds you of your first kiss, the first time you had sex, the first time your heart was broken? Or the songs your mother sang, or the songs you sang to your children? The Songs you played when you got ready for a night out with your friends or the songs you played at your wedding? That is the beauty and strength of music, the way it intertwines with the various facets of our emotional and sometimes spiritual existence.
I’m not sure if I’m ready for what’s coming next in my life, and the point-of-no-return is approaching fast. I’ve promised myself this: I won’t look back. Staying present, living in the now is part of living a healthy lifestyle. The one thing I am sure of is that I am moving forward in a positive direction, no matter what happens with my writing career, no matter what happens with my job, my love life, and my friendships. I’m taking ownership of me, chucking any sort of ambivalence I’ve had in the past.
With another change eminent, I’ve been feeling nostalgic. I knew when I started this blog challenge that I wanted to do lists of things. I’ve been thinking a lot about old TV shows, like favorite theme songs. My first three posts will center on TV theme songs, and then I’ll move on to other kinds of lists. I’m kicking off the Dan McGuire Blog Challenge with the top six best TV theme songs of the 1970s.
What old TV songs are you fond of? Check out mine below.
Music follows our lives in a way that other creative mediums don’t. It serenades us. Guides and comfort us. Heals and riles us—attaching to our memories the soundtrack of our lives.
I decided to record readings of my past and current short stories and poetry and possibly include video and or audio blogging. Below is a recording of a story I wrote almost a decade ago. It was published by Fiction Vortex on September 30, 2014. I’ve included the print version as well. I republished this story in the collection, The Garden Street Apartments. Available for purchase on Amazon.
Against the Dying of the Light by Cyn Bermudez
Esmy attached a second arm to the latest construct, a titanium coil wrapped in a thick synthetic skin. She pierced the skin impatiently with jagged stitches sewn like a lopsided smile. The needle penetrated with ease, and she hoped this time the sutures wouldn’t rip before The Wakening.
The variable sun sat low in the sky. A deep red light poured in through the small rectangular window at the top of the hub — a river of blood and dust that sparkled in its rusted age. The light reflected off the metal band that wrapped around the neck of the construct, its reflection cut by the shadows that moved along the band like dark splinters on zipper teeth. She called them humans, though the constructs needed more than the preservation modules could provide, and she needed to conserve parts. Compromises needed to be made.
“Almost finished, Solly,” Esmy said. She liked the name Solly, even on the nine-hundredth incarnation of its use. “Simple Solly.” Esmy sang as she mounted the lips.
The eyes were an opaque patchwork of cornea and circuits and wires; faux lashes fluttered around the ruby red pupils of stone and glass; they shone like fire in the night, rivaling the crimson glow of the ancient sun. Esmy prepared afternoon tea as she decided on whether hair was an attribute important enough to have. She strived where she could for authenticity.
“Well, it’s not like the theory was widely accepted, Solly.” She tossed strings of twisted fiber to the side. The whistle of the teapot grew louder, roaring as if answering the dry heat that banged against the hub walls. Esmy loved to make tea, though she didn’t drink any. Dried green leaves swirled in hot liquid while vapors of salty-sweet iron and tar escaped into the air, leaves sinking in a whirlpool to the bottom. Esmy bent over, her long metal torso arched high above the kettle, her hand waving to scatter and lift the steam to her nose, the warmth enveloping her spindly fingers.
Esmy propped the construct up; its frame was crooked, one leg longer than the other. Corkscrew fingers scraped along the table.
“There,” she said. “Now you can see.” Esmy opened up the hub enclosure, curved doors that covered windows on the ceiling that overlooked a barren sky, no longer matted by atmosphere. Its firmament was unshielded and angry, matching the parched surface below that cracked and crumbled. “You should have seen it, Solly, the Great Blue in its time. At least I think it was blue.” Esmy rested her chin in the palm of her hand, her fingertips tapped dreamily on the top of her head as they nestled between rooted tendrils of gold and silver.
Esmy had seen a bird once. A large black bird whose eyes were curved around its face like a string of onyx; its black feathers bent light in an oily rainbow reflection. The bird broke through a layer of clouds as it soared through the sky. Esmy had etched the image of the glorious black bird in the partitions of her memory she reserved for such things. Though the memory of the sky and the bird’s fate had eroded away.
She fumbled over a plastic corrugated hose, her three fingers juggling to catch it. She placed the hose into a long, narrow aperture in Solly’s back. Esmy listened with a stethoscope, the ear tips dangled from her neck, the bell rested on the back of Solly’s hand.
“Everything sounds great,” Esmy said. Solly’s chest wobbled, collapsing and expanding as the air pump hissed. “It’s time.”
The sun quaked in the distance. Lights flickered within the hub as parts of ceiling fell to the ground. Esmy hummed. She swept through the building making her preparations, checking the pressure and atmosphere within the hub walls, placing the new construct with the others in a circular room adjacent to Esmy’s lab. Tiered seats nearly reached the vaulted ceiling.
The Wakening began.
Esmy pushed buttons and flipped switches. A chorus of recorded sounds circulated around the room — sounds of woodwind and brass, of percussion and laughter. An ocean of chatter, ghostly and fragmented, echoed in the halls. The Sollys rattled. But just as it started, the celebration waned, and Esmy found herself once again in the quiet aftermath of The Wakening.
In the solitude of her lab, Esmy rummaged for parts to begin again. She hummed her song, “Simple Solly,” when movement caught her attention. One of the earlier constructs wiggled its way toward her, its gangly body twisting as it moved.
“What am I?” The construct reached out for Esmy, its dilapidated hand a mess of metal and faux skin.
“You are Solly.”
Solly fell forward into Esmy’s arms. The curvature of the room wove around them, a parody of the living — fabricated plant life strewn across the walls, models of the human machine shaped in mockery of its evolution. Esmy lifted Solly to her feet.
“Who are you?”
“I am Esmy. Would you like some tea?” She held her hand out, gesturing to the teapot, while Solly tottered around the room — a child-beast. “I preserve. I protect. I awaken.” Esmy answered as if Solly had asked the question.
“Do you understand what’s happening, Esmy?” Memory files pre-programmed to load began slowly permeating Solly’s cybernetic brain.
“I preserve. I protect. I awake—”
“There’s nothing left to preserve.” Solly shifted Esmy’s gaze toward the red sun, to the lonely giant whose last breaths remain long into the night, far beyond the age of humankind. Esmy looked up above the sun to the arid sky and sighed.
“The Great Blue. You should’ve seen it in its time, Solly.” A black bird soared through Esmy’s memory — she knew nothing of the sun and its fuel, of hydrogen depleting in its core, fusing, instead, furiously in its outer layers. “How do you take your tea?” Esmy placed a cup in front of Solly.
Solly trembled quietly, pushing the teacup away.
“Memories of water and sky, of traversing the stars … names and faces and things of my long life — they hold no deeper meaning for me.”
“Did your memory files not fully load?”
“These eyes have not seen the sun, not really, not when it adorned the world in its youth instead of this red monstrosity raging in its old age. I haven’t truly seen the sky when it was blue or when the Earth flowed with oceans and life.”
“You should have seen it in its time, the Great—”
“Why did you do this, Esmy? Why did you create me … only for me to be alone here at the end?”
“Solly, you’re not alone. You have kin.” Esmy pointed her long metal finger toward the room that held the other Sollys, unanimated and empty of life, hundreds upon hundreds of Sollys crafted from parts of the station and scraps of bio-materials and cybernetics left behind in the preservation modules.
“We’re friends,” Solly said. “I remember you now. I made you.” Solly reached up and put her hand on Esmy’s elbow, jagged metal piercing her artificial skin. Her mouth stretched upward into an uneven smile.
“Solly?” Esmy’s eyes sparkled with recognition, and her mouth curved, matching her maker’s. “I’ve been waiting for you.”
Solly’s balance wavered. She tumbled forward, her arms haphazardly out to the side, pumping up and down as she tried to stand straight. Esmy grabbed Solly under her arms and dragged her to the assembly table.
“I want to live, Esmy.” Solly’s eyes fluttered, her breathing slowed, her light dimmed.
“Solly?” Esmy inspected Solly’s body. She pumped her chest, hooked and unhooked devices, replaced parts of heart and cranium, of vestigial kidneys and dross.
The room fell silent. Esmy stood over Solly, pink fluid dripping from her fingers. She stared down at Solly’s form, which mirrored her own — head bowed, body curved. She stayed unmoving, still like the movement of the Earth, until the tea she had poured hardened in its cup, black layers caked into the porcelain interior. Then quietly, she cleared the construct from the table, placing Solly with her kin.
Esmy filled the kettle with water and placed it on the stovetop before moving to the assembly table. She reached into her box of scraps and started on a new construct, first attaching a makeshift spine to a rib cage fashioned out of small drainage pipes. She sewed on the limbs — legs too long for the torso, arms that swung loosely, knuckles that touched the ground. She poked her finger with a needle, pinpoint pressure radiated outwardly. The sutures that held the construct together ripped near one of the arms, baring a shoulder of alloy and wires and fleshy innards, muscles littered with golden spokes.
“Simple Solly,” Esmy sang. She hummed. The teapot whistled, and the ground shook. The variable sun sat low in the sky, a large red star that towered over the horizon, kingly in its girth and age, its red heart raging.
November is a busier than usual month for me: Completing the quarterly issue of Planisphere Q, reading for WOK’s Fall Contest, preparing for WOK’s monthly speaker, book club, critique groups (added a new one, three total), Gloomhaven, Thanksgiving, and Comic-Con Special Edition. Plus my regular stuff (like writing) and all the driving I’ll be doing this coming week and weekend. It’s a good kind of busy, though. I’m loving Gloomhaven. Our second game is tomorrow (Sunday). I’m super excited for San Diego Comic-Con. No Comic-Con (SDCC and Wondercon) for TWO YEARS. This special edition is like the lion’s breath. I’m so ready to nerd-out and blow off steam.
This month’s speaker was Lucy A. Snyder. She gave a free workshop on building great first paragraphs.
The third issue of Planisphere Q (Fall Quarter) is now available.
Publication Date: November 20, 2021
Contributions by Krista Adams, Jenny Bates, Clara Burghelea, Dale Cottingham, Suzanne Craft, Ciaran Doran, William Doreski, Melinda Giordano, Joan Halperin, Kevin Hopson, Colin James, Kate LaDew, John Maurer, Kate Meyer-Currey, Rebecca Natale, Gail Peck, Charlie Reed, Henrietta Regencia, Terry Sanville, Doug Tanoury