Nurturing creativity with art, animals, and science fiction

Month: September 2019 Page 1 of 2

Rosh Hashanah greetings of Shana Tovah!

Rosh Hashanah greetings

This post should go live a little before sunset in Kansas City on September 29, 2019, which is the beginning of this year’s Rosh Hashanah celebration, and the start of the year 5780. I’m happy to extend Rosh Hashanah greetings to my Jewish friends!

This image is full of the symbols of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, and wishes everyone "Shana Tovah" and "Rosh Hashana Greetings!"
Shana Tovah! Have a good year!

As I understand it, Rosh Hashanah goes for two days, which means this year it will last until sunset on October 1Shanah Tovah (or Shana Tova, as Tatiana Sidenko’s calligraphic treatment above renders it), means “Have a good year!” This is the first of the High Holy Days, or Days of Awe (what a great name!), in the Jewish liturgical calendar.

I found a YouTube video from Inside Edition, which I thought offered a heartwarming introduction to the holiday. I hope you enjoy it, too (it’s about 3 minutes long).

May you have honey-dipped apples (if you’re not allergic), enjoy the warmth of family and community, and be written into the Book of Life for another year! And I hope you’ve enjoyed my Rosh Hashanah greetings.

IMAGE CREDITS: I owe thanks to Tatiana Sidenko via 123RF for the “Shana Tova” calligraphy, and to “tomertu,” also via 123RF, for the photograph of the assembled Rosh Hashanah symbols of flowers, apples, honey, and shofars. I also appreciate Inside Edition’s “Inside Edition Explains” video on YouTube, about the holiday. This post is part of my Holidays Series. The last series entry was for Paryushan Parva, at the start of the month.

I'm going to FenCon, and this montage shows glimpses of things I'll do there, under a FenCon header banner. I'll bring my artwork, the art of my friend Lucy A. Synk, and I'll promote my book, "What's Bred in the Bone."

Friday Readings at FenCon XVI

I really love going to readings at science fiction conventions. There’s always a new story, something interesting, and a chance to talk with the authors one-on-one. As I did at SoonerCon in June, I went to lots of readings at FenCon XVI, and I discovered some real delights.

I caught four Friday readings at FenCon XVI. All were delightful, but I was having a terrible time with my access to Facebook and Twitter, and in the process I lost some of the specifics about the selections being read. I was able to recover most of it, however. Enough to share with you here.

Rhonda Eudaly

You probably won’t be surprised, after recent posts, that I made a point of being there to hear Rhonda Eudaly’s reading. As I’d hoped, she read her short story “Peri Potter and the Sorcerer’s Bowl,” which is quite entertaining (did you read it from its link in Monday’s post? If not, here it is again.) The story hasn’t been published elsewhere, as far as I know.

First of the Friday readings at FenCon that I was able to attend was the presentation by Rhonda Eudaly, who read her short story "Peri Potter and the Sorcerer's Bowl."
Rhonda Eudaly reads “Peri Potter and the Sorcerer’s Bowl” on Friday at FenCon XVI. I regret that I lost my note on which photo Rhonda preferred, but this is the one I thought most aptly captured her dramatic reading of the story. 

Monalisa Foster

After Rhonda’s reading, I stayed. I didn’t know who Monalisa Foster was, but I was primed to hear another story, and I’m glad I stayed.

Monalisa Foster's Friday reading at FenCon was her story "Catching the Dark," an alternate history about the Russian "Night Witches" of World War 2.
Monalisa Foster reads from her story “Catching the Dark” on Friday at FenCon XVI. It’s a gripping alternate history about the intrepid Russian “Night Witches” of World War II.

She read “Catching the Dark,” a fascinating alternate history that involved the amazing Russian “Night Witches,” a daring group of women so feared by the Nazis that anyone who downed one of their biplanes was automatically awarded an Iron Cross. The story has been anthologized in Slip the Surly Bonds, edited by Chris Kennedy and James Young, and released earlier this month.

If the rest of the anthology is as interesting as Monalisa’s story, it belongs in the library of anyone who loves alternate history. For a fairly comprehensive list of this interesting author’s work, visit her website and her Amazon page.

Kimm Antell

The next author to arrive, Kimm Antell, discovered long ago that “Brownies are my thing,” that is, her favorite “monster” to write about. They weren’t really all that monstrous in her story “Brownout,” but they were true-to-form in many ways. These particular brownies inhabit the cubicles of computer programmers. Assorted hilarity and life-change events ensue, after Cedric, the kind-hearted but shy protagonist discovers them.

Kimm Antell's Friday reading at Fencon was her delightful story "Brownout."
Kim Antell read “Brownout,” a really delightful, funny-but-affirming story about brownies who inhabit an office where programmers sit in their cubicles and write code all day.

try to remember to ask permission to photograph, write about her, tweet, and utilize Facebook, and I was particularly glad I asked before I started taking photos of Kimm. She told me she didn’t normally allow anyone to photograph her, but she felt comfortable enough, because I asked, to allow me the liberty. I deeply appreciate her permission, because it allows me to share my discovery of another wonderful talent.

Julie Czerneda

Turns out  Julie Czerneda, one of FenCon XVI’s headliner guests, is an accomplished dramatic reader. She’s as fun to watch as she is to listen to, and no one photo of her in action will suffice, so I offer a “gallery” of them.

The peripatetic Julie Czerneda reads excerpts from several projects during her Friday reading at FenCon XVI.
The peripatetic Julie Czerneda reads excerpts from several projects during her Friday reading at FenCon XVI.

You’ll note she’s not reading only from one book in these photos, either. She offered up intriguing glimpses from several different projects. As you’d expect, she did read from her latest release, The Gossamer Mage. But she also shared excerpts of other projects, including A Thousand Words for Stranger.

All in all the Friday readings at FenCon XVI were funny, gripping, dramatic, and altogether a delightful way to spend a large part of my afternoon.

IMAGE CREDITS: All photos are by me, Jan S. Gephardt, taken 9/20/2019 in Irving, TX. Please feel free to reblog or share them, but please always with an attribution and a link back to this page, their original source.

this bowl is one product of the mutual inspiration society described in the blog post

A mutual inspiration society

At FenCon XVI, I unexpectedly became an after-the-fact part of a mutual inspiration society. These things happen sometimes, and it’s rarely because they are planned. More often, it’s a matter of spontaneous combustion: all the elements come together in one place, and creativity happens.

mentioned this story in passing, in my blog post from last Friday. I’d received permission to take pictures of my friend Peri Charlifu’s artwork. Then I learned the story behind one particular bowl. It is the culmination of one mutual inspiration event, between Peri and writer Rhonda EudalyTheir story in turn inspired me to post about it, and now to share it with you. Perhaps it’ll inspire you, too–and thereby extend the mutual inspiration society even farther.

The Tale of Peri Potter and the Sorcerer’s Bowl

One result of the mutual inspiration society effect described in the blog post is "Petunia's Bowl of Prophecy," 2019, by Peri Charlifu.
Petunia’s Bowl of Prophecy, 2019, by Peri Charlifu
There’s an interesting story behind this little bowl. The story of how it was made is a glimpse of the sometimes truly magical ways that artists interact.

Long before this bowl was made, the author Rhonda Eudaly overheard part of a conversation and misunderstood what the person said. She thought she heard, “Peri Potter and the Sorcerer’s Bowl.”

We can guess what she really heard–but she was so amused by the mis-heard words, she later told Peri how she immediately thought of him. They both laughed, but the idea had by then gotten its claws well set in. 

Rhonda thought that would be all there was to it . . . but the silly little phrase wormed its way into her thoughts, and persisted, and persisted.

And of course, writers being writers, pretty soon a story began forming around it. Kinda like a peal forms around an irritantRhonda wrote it, and polished it, and called it . . . Peri Potter and the Sorcerer’s Bowl
 (what else?)

Rhonda gave Peri a copy of the story, since he’d been the most important part of its inspiration.

This photo not only shows two products of the mutual inspiration society: Peri's bowl, but also a manuscript of the story that inspired it.
Petunia’s Bowl of Prophecy, 2019, by Peri Charlifuwith bid sheet, documentation, and a manuscript by Rhonda Eudaly, of her short story, Peri Potter and the Sorcerer’s Bowl.
You can read part of the first page of the manuscript in this view of Peri's bowl and Rhonda's story.
Petunia’s Bowl of Prophecy, 2019, by Peri Charlifu — with a better look at the manuscript.

Peri read it, and enjoyed it. “You really caught me,” he said. But while he was reading, an idea started forming. He began to think about a bowl–one just like the one Petunia had in Rhonda’s story.

What’s an artist to do, in a situation like that? He made the bowl, of course! He brought it to FenCon XVI, because he knew Rhonda would be there, and he wanted her to see it.

He named it Petunia’s Bowl of Prophecy, after the bowl in the story. So of course, Rhonda gave Peri a copy of the story she’d written, which was inspired by him,to go along with the bowl he made that was inspired by her story. And that’s the Tale of Peri Potter and the Sorcerer’s Bowl

But what about the story that inspired this story?

By now, I imagine at least a few of you are curious to read Rhonda’s story for yourselves. If so, you’re in luck. Rhonda posted it on her blog in July, and shared the link with me. Read it here! I hope you enjoy it. And I hope you also enjoyed this account of how a mutual inspiration society came into being, after a mis-heard quote sparked a chain of creative reactions.

CREDITS: Many thanks to Peri Charlifu, for allowing me to photograph his art, and share it with you here. If you have access to Facebook, you can like and follow his page, and he also has a website, which he keeps up to date. 

I also deeply appreciate Rhonda Eudaly’s generous willingness to share her story with you and me. 

The photos were taken 9/19/2019 by Jan S. Gephardt at the FenCon XVI Art Show in Irving, TX. Please feel free to reblog or share them, but only if you’re willing to acknowledge Peri Charlifu as the creator of the bowl and attribute me (Jan) as the photographer. Please also link back to this site or to Peri’s Aegean Goods website

The story Peri Potter and the Sorcerer’s Bowl is © 2019 by Rhonda Eudaly. If you wish to use it in any way other than sharing a link to it, please contact Rhonda.

All the artwork at FenCon's art show is being prepared in this photo.

Artwork at FenCon

The Artdog Image(s) of Interest

displayed my artwork at FenCon XVI. You might remember I mentioned that in my mid-week post.

I spent a large chunk of time Thursday on the FenCon XVI Art Show. That was “setup day,” when the tables and display panels went up, and then the first of the art (the mail-ins and the work of artists able to arrive today) did, too. 

The artwork at FenCon is coming together at last in this photo of progress in setting up the art show as of about 5:00 Thursday evening.
Here’s how much of the artwork at FenCon XVI had been set up in the Art Show by about 5 p.m. Thursday. I’m not sure whether you can tell by comparing with my photo from last year, but t’s a much larger space than they had for last year’s Art Show.

As much as possible, all the rest of the art went up Friday, preferably before the Art Show opened to the public on Friday at 2:00 p.m.

Artist Guest of Honor Peri Charlifu

Peri Charlifu is one of the most talented and generous human beings I know–and I don’t think I’d get any naysayers if I asked others who know him if that was a fair characterization. He’s this year’s Artist Guest of Honor at FenCon XVI, so of course Ty and I found him working as hard as any member of the Art Show staff. His artwork at FenCon this year is a glorious bounty, and he gave me permission to photograph his artwork and post it online.

Rhonda Eudaly helps Peri Charlifu set up his artwork at FenCon.
Thursday Art Show setup with Rhonda Eudaly (L) helping Peri Charlifu (R) set up his display in the FenCon XVI Art Show.

I’ve taken full and gleeful advantage of his permission to photograph and post about his artwork at FenCon. He knows I love to tell my readers about cool new artwork that I encounter. 

Furthermore, he dares me or anyone else to take his ideas and execute them as well as he does. It’s a dare I would never take. I’ll happily promote him and his work till the world looks level, but the only way to get a real Peri Charlifu piece is to buy it from HIM.

Here's another look at more of Peri's commitment to bringing artwork to FenCon.
Peri Charlifu brought a dizzying array of artwork to FenCon XVI. They include awesome ceramics, sets, and kits, as well as 2D work.

If you’re on Facebook, I invite you to wander through the in-depth gallery of his work I posted on my Artdog Studio Facebook Page, as well as the Tale of Peri Potter and the Sorcerer’s Bowl, which involves a fun story about Peri, the author Rhonda Eudaly, and the special alchemy of artists inspiring each other.

Some of the artwork at FenCon has more than its share of unusual visual, "Petunia's Bowl of Prophecy" is definitely one of them!
This deceptively simple piece of art, Petunia’s Bowl of Prophecy, 2019, by Peri Charlifu, is partially from the mind of Rhonda Eudaly, the author whose manuscript is hooked under the edge of the pot. Read the story of how he inspired her, then she inspired him on my Artdog Studio Facebook Page.

My own artwork and that of Lucy A. Synk

Since DemiCon, I’ve been acting as an art agent for my friend Lucy A, Synk–or at least, my son Tyrell and I have been. I contact the show and manage the paperwork, but usually it’s Ty who puts up the show. And it’s also usually he who takes it down afterward. So of course we brought her artwork to FenCon.

All of these pieces of artwork are ©2019 by Lucy A. Synk. Each is a one-of-a-kind original. (Photo by Tyrell E. Gephardt, 2019).
All of these artworks also are ©2019 by Lucy A. Synk. Each is a one-of-a-kind original. 
(Photo by Tyrell E. Gephardt, 2019).
I also had artwork at FenCon. Thank goodness, my panel wasn’t quite as crowded as the one at SpikeCon, but almost.

IMAGE CREDITS: Unless otherwise noted, all photos are by me, Jan S. Gephardt, and they may be re-posted or reblogged freely, as long as you attribute me as the photographer and include a link back to this post. Many thanks! 

If you wish to reblog or repost images of Peri Charlifu‘s workartwork, please attribute him as the artist, and provide a link back to his website. I’d also appreciate it if you’ll identify me as the source, with a link back to this post, please.

If you wish to reblog or repost Lucy A. Synk’s artwork, please attribute her as the artist and Tyrell Gephardt as the photographer, and link back either to Lucy’s page or to this post. Many thanks!

I'm going to FenCon, and this montage shows glimpses of things I'll do there, under a FenCon header banner. I'll bring my artwork, the art of my friend Lucy A. Synk, and I'll promote my book, "What's Bred in the Bone."

Going to FenCon

I’m going to FenCon XVI near the Dallas/Ft. Worth Airport this weekend (we’re driving). This is my second year to attend, because I really had a great convention last year.

Typically, getting ready for a convention means I’ve been running around like a madwoman, trying to get everything ready to go. And . . . yeah, this week has been pretty typical so far. For me, going to FenCon–or, really, any con–is no simple affair.

I'm going to FenCon, and bringing both my artwork, the artwork of my friend Lucy A. Synk, and copies of my book, "What's Bred in the Bone." This promotional montage represents all of those things.

Getting the word out

I try to keep an Events Calendar current on my website, but I also have created a “Jan goes to FenCon” Event of Facebook that my Author Page, my Artdog Studio Page and my publisher, Weird Sisters Publishing LLC have co-sponsored.

Once I’m at the convention, the efforts to spread the word don’t stop. There’ll be bookmarks and postcards to put on the “freebie tables” promoting my science fiction mystery novel What’s Bred in the Bone, and at every panel where an opportunity is given for panelists to talk about our work, I’ll happily display my little stand-up sign with the Jody A. Lee cover art on it, and pass out bookmarks or badge ribbons after the panel ends.

One reason I'm going to FenCon is to promote my science fiction mystery novel, "What's Bred in the Bone." To help me do that, I'm taking signs, bookmarks, badge ribbons, and copies of the book to sell--all shown here.
At left is a glimpse of my promo materials (along with a couple of my books), as seen at the Mad Authors’ Salon last May at ConQuesT 50. At right, my current collection of badge ribbons that I hand out at conventions.

If you’re going to FenCon . . .

If you’ll be one of my fellow attendees at FenCon XVI, there’ll be a lot of cool things to do. Don’t miss the Dealers’ Room, especially since Adventures in Crime & Space has just agreed to carry my books on their table!

Pay attention to the special events (these vary day to day). There will be a lot of interesting panels and readings all weekend, as well as Gaming, a Maker trackVideo RoomMusic, and Children’s programming.


Especially don’t miss the Art Show, where I’ll have a display of my paper sculpture. I’ll also be acting as an agent for my friend Lucy A. Synk, who has been using the “dirty pour” painting technique as a starting point upon which to build a series of really beautiful space art originals.

And since you’re going to FenCon, check out some of my events, if so inclined:


12:30 – Autographs in the Grand Atrium.

2:00 – The City as a Character, panel discussion in Southlake, on the Mezzanine Level.

3:00 – Nurturing Your Writing Habit, panel discussion, also in Southlake, on the Mezzanine Level.

5:00 – Not Just Another Panel on the Kickass Heroine, panel discussion in Grapevine 2, on the Mezzanine Level.


12:00 – Reading (I have half an hour, and I’ll offer options: Chapter One of What’s Bred in the Boneor Chapter One of the manuscript I just finished, A Bone to Pick), in Grapevine 2, on the Mezzanine Level.

If you're going to FenCon you'll see scenes like this one, of one of the public areas at the convention in 2018.
Here’s a photo of a general display area outside the Art Show and Dealers Room at FenCon in 2018. 

Whether or not you’re going to FenCon this year
, it’s a fun, growing convention. I hope you’ll have a chance to try it sometime soon!

IMAGE CREDITS: Many thanks to FenConXVI’s website for their web banner, which I used in the promotional montage at the top of this post. Also featured, L-R, are a detail from Lucy A. Synk’s Art Show panel at Spikecon (some of that artwork will also be on display at FenCon, along with eight new pieces); the cover of my novel What’s Bred in the Bone, with cover art © 2019 by Jody A. Lee; and part of my own Spikecon Art Show display. 

All of the other photos also are by me. They portray some of my promotional materials and a public area at FenCon in 2018. Feel free to re-post any of my images, but kindly include an attribution and a link back to this page. Thanks!

this painting is "Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog," 1818, by Caspar David Freidrich

Seeking purpose in life

The Artdog Quote(s) of the Week

In Friday’s post I made the point that people won’t fare very well if they have no purpose in life. But where and how can they find such purpose? For your consideration, I offer a very short discussion, in the form of somewhat-dueling quotes.

This image shows a fair-weather sky with a quote from the Dalai Lama: "The purpose of our lives is to be happy."

Pardon, Your Holiness, but that seems a bit short on practical details. Could you please elaborate? How do we get to happiness as the purpose in our lives from where we are today?

Here's a second quote from the Dalai Lama, printed above a photo of a person's hand holding a small animal, which I believe to be baby mouse, lemur, or shrew. The quote reads: Our prime purpose in this life is to help other, and if you can't help them, at least don't hurt them.

That’s a bit clearer, thanks. But not everyone agrees with His Holiness’s original point that “The purpose of our lives is to be happy.” Here’s a counterargument from Leo Rosten:

The Leo Rosten quote reads: "I cannot believe that the purpose of life is to be happy. I think the purpose of life is to be useful, to be responsible, to be compassionate. It is, above all to matter, to count, to stand for something, to have made some difference that you lived at all." The background is a detail from a painting by Caspar David Friedrich, "Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog."

Rosten, a noted writer, humorist, and observer of the world, had an outlook very much in tune with many of the creative people I’ve known. For him and for many others of us, our purpose in life consists of more than just being happy. It’s even more than just making others happy. We want “to have made some difference” that we lived at all. How future generations will realize that purpose in life remains to be seen.


Many thanks to PictureQuotes for the first Dalai Lama quote, and for turning me on to the second one, although their coverup of the credit line irked me (the image originated from an entity called One Voice, whose online presence apparently has ended. It was reposted by “Raya” on Forsti’s Soup and has since spread from there). 

Finally, I want to thank Pass it On and for the Leo Rosten quote image. Please note that the background image for the Pass it On/Rosten quote conveys a message of its own, if you recognize it.

The painting from which the background of the Rosten Quote on the purpose of life was drawn is "Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog," (1818), by Caspar David Friedrich, a famous European Romantic masterwork.

Art history buffs among my readers will have recognized it as one of the masterpieces of 19th Century European Romanticism. The painting is Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog (1818) by Caspar David Friedrich – The photographic reproduction was done by Cybershot800i. (Diff), Public Domain, and is available courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

glowing screens and sleek design imagines the future of work in a command center.

What is the future of work?

Normally in September my Quotes of the Week (and some of my most popular Images of Interest) have focused on work. But increasingly in my part of the world there is a sense of massive change in progress. Work as we have known it seems to be going away or fundamentally changing. We may well ask what is the future of work?

Where are we now?

We live in a current economy of low unemployment. But there’s not much sense of prosperity or well-being in the circles where I travel–and I’m not alone.

Wages are mostly stagnantIncome disparity is growing. Even more than globalizationrobots are taking more of the “gold standard” manufacturing jobs that used to be the backbone of the middle class.

We’re at a moment of change. So, then, what is the future of work?

Stowe Boyd, lead researcher at Gigaom Research, says "The central question of 2025 will be: What are people for in a world that does not need their labor, and where only a minority are needed to guide the 'bot-based economy?"

People have to do something with their time. And very few of them are willing to spend their lives just idly partying away till they die. That might appeal for a while (longer to some than others, no doubt), but after all is said and done, most people actually do want a purpose in life. Many find that purpose in their work.

Beware of too much idealism

But what if the future of work turns out to mean fewer and fewer jobs? Where do people find purpose in life? Many people believe that society must place a higher value on the work that robots and AI can’t do.

Futurist Gerd Leonhard says, "The future of jobs, work and education: the return of human-only skills Subjective reasoning, imagination, negotiation, questioning, empathising, storytelling, connecting, creativity, design."

But human-interaction jobs, hands-on caregiving and individual interactions, as well as many types of creative work, have long been undervalued in our culture. These are in what is called the service sector. Is that the future of work?

Habits change slowly. What has been valued and prioritized in the past will by sheer mental habit tend to be valued and prioritized well into the future. The future of work may well include more “service sector” jobs and “gig work.” But will that somehow translate into well-paying jobs, even though it has seldom done so in the past?

Certainly there are entertainment superstars (standouts in sports, music, etc.) in the service sector who rake in massive profits, but they’re the rare exceptions. Highly skilled tech workers who can manage whole factories full of robots also will number relatively few, out of the general population. They’re the outliers. 

Humans may be doing things that only humans can do, but current trends seem to indicate many won’t be making middle class incomes doing them. Doubt my analysis? Quick check: how many wealthy early childhood education teachers do you know?

Here's a photo of a young woman teacher with four children, with a question: "What can you do with an early childhood education degree?"

What, then, is the future of work?

It’s likely going to be a development of several forces, not all of which are anticipated yet. A 2014 canvass of experts in related fields by The Pew Research Center yielded slightly more positive predictions than negative, but the responses were almost 50-50. Everyone agrees it will be different

Optimists suggest maybe more of us will be able to find interesting, creative workor, at least, suffer fewer physical hazards and less boredom. Some policymakers warn that government will need to build in “guardrails” to help us develop a human-friendly workplace in the future. Some, like Democratic presidential hopeful Andrew Yang, favor a guaranteed minimum income to offset jobs lost to automation.

Inspirational writer Jonathan Lockwood Huie said, "Find a time and place of solitude. Look into the distance, and into the future. Visualize the tomorrow you are going to build; and begin to build that tomorrow, today.

Whatever directions the workplace evolves, it’s clear we should be having the conversation now. We all need to have a say, regarding what is the future of work.

IMAGE CREDITS: Many thanks to Edicia for the futuristic looking command center image; to The Pew Research Center, for the quote from Stowe Boyd; to Futurist Gerd, for the “brain illustration” image on the future of jobs, work, and education; to Rasumussen College for the “What Can You Do with an Early Childhood Education Degree?” image; and to Jonathan Lockwood Huie’s website and Dream this Day for his advice about building the future.

This image of a flag with the words "remembering 9/11" calls us to get some perspective on 9/11.

Perspective on 9/11

Where were you on 9/11? Nearly everyone who lived through it remembers that day. It marked us as a country, and it has affected those too young to personally remember (some of whom are now serving in Afghanistan). It changed life in American in several important ways. But, eighteen years out, it’s possible to get a new perspective on 9/11.

The 9/11 memorial includes twin spotlights where the twin towers once stood. Here's a view across the harbor at the spotlights on a cloudy night. It offers a particular perspective on 9/11.

Comparisons with Pearl Harbor

In some ways, as others have pointed out, it was another generation’s Pearl Harbor. The Dec. 7, 1941 attack by the Japanese on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor in Honolulu, Hawaii cost 2,403 innocent lives. Each led the United States from peacetime into a costly war. 

Both also led the nation into a periods of greater racism and xenophobia. 

Consider the widespread anti-Japanese racism (as well as Italian and German slurs and suspicion), and the Japanese internment camps of World War II

Consider the development of the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, the repudiation of Muslim refugees, and President Trump’s efforts to initiate a “Muslim ban” and ramp up deportations while denying asylum seekers entry.

This is a classic photo of the USS Arizona being sunk at Pearl Harbor in 1941. The photographer is unknown.
The aircraft carrier Arizona was sunk in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and was never raised. (National Archives)

The 9/11 attacks, almost exactly 60 years later in 2001 at the World Trade Center’s twin towers in New York City, the Pentagon in Washington, DC, and a field near Shanksville, PA, killed a total of 2,996 people (plus more later, as first responders and others who had labored in the aftermath developed cancer and other health issues that slowly killed them).

Comparisons with Oklahoma City

However, to offer another perspective on 9/11, I invite you to consider a different terrorist attack, the 1995 bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, OK, which killed 168 people and wounded more than 680. Until 9/11, it was the deadliest terrorist attack on record in the United States, and remains the most deadly domestic terror attack.

Start your new perspective on 9/11 by considering the domestic terrorism of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. Here's an image of the memorial at night.
Here’s a view of the Oklahoma City National Memorial at night. Each chair represents a person who died. (CNHI News Service/Kyle Phillips/Norman Transcript)

NOTE: This analysis appears not to include attacks on civilian non-combatants between Native Americans and European-descended US citizens from the beginning of the Republic (and before), such as the Ft. Mims Massacre in Alabama in 1813 (400-500 settlers killed), the Battle of Tallushatchee, also in 1813 in Tennessee (approx. 300 Creeks killed), and a depressingly long list of others. One of the last, the Massacre at Wounded Knee in 1890, with 130-250 Sioux men, women, and children killed, also exceeded the Oklahoma City death toll if you accept the higher end of the estimates.

My point in this post, however, is that 9/11 changed many things about how we live our lives, what freedoms and privacy we are required to give up, and increased suspicion of “outsider/others” in our country, as the Oklahoma City bombing did not. Yet we could argue there have been relatively free of foreign or foreign-inspired terrorism since 9/11.

Domestic terror is on the rise, however. The threat we must face now comes from within. Will we gain perspective on 9/11? Will we see this new landscape? Or will we continue to imagine we see Al Qaeda in the shadows, and ignore the terrorists among us?

IMAGE CREDITS: Many thanks to The Pipeline, for the header image with the flag; to IBIE for posting the Adobe Stock image of the 9/11 Memorial spotlights at night; to Wikimedia Commons and the National Archive for providing a good file of the public domain U.S.S. Arizona photo from the Pearl Harbor attack; and to the Enid News & Eagle for the photo from CNHI News Service/Kyle Phillips/Norman Transcript, for the photo of the Oklahoma City National Memorial at night.

Rex and an SBI pal explore an underworld neighborhood.

What is Charlie’s role?

Anyone who’s followed my Facebook Author Page in recent weeks is aware that I’ve been working really hard to finish A Bone to Pick, the second novel in the XK9 “Bones” Trilogy. I went on a writing retreat August 23-26, and made huge strides–but I still haven’t quite finished yet. My goal was to finish by September 1, and I’m so close! But still working. 

The new book starts right after What’s Bred in the Bone ends. Rex, Shady, and the Pack are back, along with all their friends and allies. But the new book also focuses on Rex’s partner Charlie’s struggles–and the answer to the question, “What is Charlie’s role?”

I hope it’s not too much of a spoiler to say that Charlie received traumatic injuries in a space dock accident, directly followed by the “explosive micro-deconstruction” of the spaceship Izgubil, near the beginning of  What’s Bred in the BoneHe was out of the picture, in the hospital, during most of Rex’s adventures in the first book.

There's no room for Rex's hospitalized partner in this excursion to the "Five-Ten" for Rex and Shiv in "What's Bred in the Bone."
Rex’s normal partner, Charlie Morgan, couldn’t play much of a role in What’s Bred in the Bone. He was gravely injured, and in the hospital. Occasionally, by necessity, Rex teamed up with Lead Special Agent Shiva “Shiv” Shimon,  as seen in this detail from the cover art, © 2019 by Jody A. Lee

Although some reviewers have been puzzled or annoyed that he wasn’t a big factor in the first book, his absence was the catalyst for a lot of Rex’s growth. Rex couldn’t stand back and let Charlie handle things, because Charlie wasn’t there. Rex had to step up and handle things on his own.

But now Charlie’s out of re-gen, awake, and recovering. What is Charlie’s role? Has Rex moved on? Is Charlie now irrelevant? Bringing Charlie’s story into the ongoing mystery has given me a chance to explore issues such as post-traumatic stressdepression, and the healing power of having animals (including sapient ones) and supportive humans in one’s life. These are issues that are not only relevant to Charlie and the story–they’re relevant to many contemporary lives.

What is Charlie's role? Now that he's on the mend, does Rex's partner have a role in his life?
An early concept image of Charlie and Rex, by artist Jeff Porter.

Originally conceived as a single book, the Izgubil mystery won’t fully unfold until the end of the third XK9 “Bones” book, Bone of Contention. But I hope readers will discover a full story arc and an interesting tale in A Bone to Pick. Publication date is scheduled for next May, from Weird Sisters Publishing LLC.

IMAGE CREDITS: Many thanks to Jody A. Lee, my cover artist for What’s Bred in the Boneand to Jeff Porter (better known for his game illustrations), for the developmental image of Rex and Charlie. You both have been a pleasure to work with!

with an image of someone meditating in the mountains, I wish you a Happy Paryushan Parva!

Happy Paryushan Parva

Here's an image of a person meditating on a mountaintop, with the greeting, "Happy Paryushan Parva. May I ask forgiveness if, knowingly or unknowingly, I was wrong in thought, word, or deed."

Today (at least, by some calendars) culminates Paryushana, the most holy festival of the year for Jains. It is a time for seeking a deeper level of spiritual intensity, through seeking forgiveness, prayer, meditation, and fasting. In honor of the holiday, Happy Paryushan Parva!

I have been seeking  greater understanding about participants in many major world religions during the latter part of this summer. I steadfastly believe that only through reaching out and learning about each other can we become truly respectful through greater understanding

Das Lakshana (Paryushana) celebrations at the Jain Center of America, by Aayush18. Happy Paryushan Parva!
Das Lakshana (Paryushana) celebrations, Jain Center of America, New York City (photo by Aayush18/Wikimedia Commons)

On this blog, that effort begins by offering greetings to worshipers of other faiths, for as many  major holidays as I can learn about in time to post about them. Building bridges of greater understanding is my key goal. One of the joys of this “holidays” project is that it gives me an opportunity to learn how marvelously varied we humans are–and also how consistent.

In our varied ways, we dig deep for greater spiritual understanding and expression. For Paryushana, as explained by Dhirendra Kumar, the Paryushan Parva is “celebrated annually for self-purification and upliftment,” and it “encourages Jains to observe the ten universal supreme virtues in daily life.”

And every holiday includes some means of reaching out to others–to fellow believers, to families, to friends. One favorite way is through gatherings and special meals. Here’s a sampling of Paryushan recipesin case you’d like to explore them.

Four yummy dishes for Paryushana! The Times of India shares recipes. Happy Paryushan Parva!
Foods for Paryushan Parva.

I’m grateful for a new opportunity to learn about Paryushan Parva today, and I beg forgiveness if I got things wrong. Happy Paryushan Parva!

IMAGE CREDITS: Many thanks to Millenium Post‘s article by Dhirendra Kumar, for the basic art I used for my greeting graphic. I adapted it and added the greeting in Adobe Illustrator. Many thanks also to Aayush18 and Wikimedia Commons, for the photo of the celebrations at the Jain Center of America in New York City, NY. Please note the photo is by Aayush18 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0. And finally I am grateful to the Times of India for its article that shares recipes appropriate to the holiday, and also contributed the photo of the food. I feel deep appreciation to all of you! And I wish you a happy Paryushan Parva!

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