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100 Years On – October Revolution

On the 7th of November, 1917, Communist forces in the Russian capital of Saint Petersburg seized critical infrastructure and government buildings.   The following day, the Winter Palace, which housed the government installed after the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II earlier that year, fell to the Communists.  Within weeks, the Bolshevik arm of the Communist Party had taken over control of the government, including the military, and the Russian Civil War was underway.  Fighting would continue until  1922, leaving the Bolsheviks in control of the new USSR.  It would be almost 70 years until the USSR and the nations it came to dominate would shake off

Over a century of revolution, oppression, and genocide, more than 100 million people worldwide would fall victim to the quest to establish and support Communism.  Words like ‘gulag‘, ‘holodomor‘, ‘killing fields,’ and ‘cultural revolution‘ have come into our lexicon.  Productive regions of our world have been turned from breadbaskets into basketcases, all in the name of seeking the perfect Communist state.  Over a billion people still live under the yoke of Communism.

I am hard pressed to name a movement that has caused such widespread human misery. We are still haunted by the consequences of the October Revolution, and I am afraid that our children and grandchildren will still have to deal with them.

100 Years On – Cambrai

On November 20, 1917, the British Army began a combined arms attack, including infantry, artillery, tanks, and airplanes, against German forces defending the critical supply point for the Hindenberg Line at Cambrai.

The British were able to penetrate several kilometers into German lines during the first day, losing only about 4000 soldiers.  However, losses of British tanks were heavy due to large numbers of mechanical breakdowns and German resistance, and only half of their tanks were available for use on the second day of the battle.  British advances after this were costly and slow.

On November 30, the German counter-offensive at Cambrai began, with the Germans using new infiltration tactics against the British.  In the end, the Germans were able to push the British off of most of their initial gains, while taking a small bite out of pre-battle British positions.   Casualties were also relatively equal, with each side losing approximately 50,000 men during about two weeks of fighting.

Cambrai was a laboratory for new tactics and equipment on both sides of the lines.  The British demonstrated growing skill at coordinating artillery with infantry attacks, while their use of massed tanks to overcome German obstacles further demonstrated the usefulness of this new weapon.  German techniques to infiltrate enemy lines with groups of specially trained soldiers, as well as their use of anti-tank tactics and weapons, were used to great effect during the last year of the war.

Musings

  • Irish Woman doesn’t know how to take me sometimes.
    • Run the side of the minivan down a cement pole in a parking garage, but nobody gets hurt?  No biggee.  We’ve got more important things to worry about.
    • Get laid off from a job?  We’ll survive.  Not going to cry about it.
    • Chew gum in a closed car when I’m already irritated by her choice of modern country music?  Suddenly, she’s married to an irrational twit.
  • Having roses delivered to the house goes a long way toward proving that I’m worth keeping around for another year.
  • The cost of getting useful information out of any technical training is getting through the first two hours of folks having trouble connecting to the website and introducing themselves.
  • If you’re going to sell me something as a ‘neck knife’, please be sure that the necklace attached to the sheath will fit around my head.
    • When I tried it on, I looked like I’d crowned myself with a bladed weapon.
  • Am I the only one who considers it rude to ask an instructor which of the assignments in a class can be ignored?

Story Idea

These are the first few paragraphs of the next Boogeyman story.  It’s just a rough stub, and I haven’t plotted out what’s going to happen in the rest of it, but I think it’s a good introduction.


 

My new client rose and shook my hand. He gripped the business card I’d given him in his other hand. For once, I was sending business Sid’s way.
 
“Thanks so much, Mister Shelby.”
 
“No worries, Mister Matthews. We’ll figure this out.”
 
He nodded, then moved toward the door. Just before his hand reached the knob, it turned and the door swung open.
 
There, framed in the doorway, stood a woman. Blonde curls flowed down to her shoulders, framing a face that could launch a thousand paternity suits. She wore a crimson silk dress that would have been appropriate in a board room or a bordello. Her red lips parted in an easy smile as Matthews ducked his head and walked past her. I could tell he was trying to look like he wasn’t examining every inch of her, but the woman didn’t pay him any mind.
 
She turned her gaze to me, fixing me with eyes the color of milky jade. Long eyelashes fluttered as she sized me up, then she took a step forward and closed the door behind her.
 
Immediately, the room filled with her scent. It was delicate, jasmine and cinnamon with something subtly sweet underneath that would drive a lesser man mad. Not being a lesser man, all it did was send a shiver up my spine. Well, maybe two shivers.
 
“Mister Shelby?” she purred, her voice low and sultry, with a soft drawl that made me hang on every word. “I’m Laura Fallworthy. I left you a voicemail the other day, but you didn’t answer me.”
 
I stared at her with my mouth half-open, then answered. “Sorry, but I’ve been on a case. No cell coverage out where I was.”
 
“Well, I need your help, and I was hoping that you’d make me a priority.” Without asking, she took a seat across the desk from me and crossed her muscular, tanned legs. She caught me looking and smiled knowingly.
 
“I’m sure I could make it worth your while.” Time seemed to slow as she talked. I could make out every movement, every wrinkle of her bright red lips. Her teeth were sharp and white, and I caught a glint of mirth in her eye as she took a deep breath, bringing both of her best features into sharp focus.
 
In my mind’s eye, I envisioned scenes, all with this woman at their center, that would have made the most jaded madam blush. For a long moment, there was nothing else in the world, only this ravishing beauty sitting in my creaky old office chair. Of course, I would do anything for her.
 
I raised my hand, trying to gesture as I stammered out a reply, and the setting sun shining through the window glinted off the gold band on my finger. Immediately, I felt the fog lift a little. Her scent became heavy and cloying in my nostrils, and I felt a pressure against my mind.
 
The shit? I thought. Somebody’s playing games.
 
I blinked slowly, and thought of the worst, most bloody memory I could dredge up. When my eyes opened, I fixed my gaze on the woman sitting opposite me while I replayed that day in my head.
 
“Jesus Christ!” she yelped, and I felt the push in my head let go. “What is wrong with you, mister?”
 
As if by magic, the hazy glow of sex around her collapsed. Her hair lost some of its luster, and her eyes no longer burned at me with desire. Her sultry tone was now brassy, and her soft drawl had become a harsh twang.
 
“Ugh, I mean, who thinks about things like that?”
 
I shook my head, feeling the last of the succubus’ magic let go of my mind.
 
“Lady, if you’re going to try to enchant me into taking your case, you’ll have to speak to my wife first.”
 
She shuddered again, then shrugged. “Can’t blame a girl for trying.”
 
“Maybe, but she will.”
 
Laura Fallworthy pouted, which probably would have been enticing a moment earlier, but now just made her look petulant. For a moment, I considered throwing her, and I don’t mean figuratively, out of my office. But curiosity got the better of me.
 
“Listen, just tell me what you need, and leave out the Helen of Troy routine, all right?”
 

Overheard in the Kitchen

I was teleworking today, and decided a nice peanut butter and jelly would be great for lunch.  There wasn’t any jam or jelly open, so I took a new pint jar of Irish Woman’s homemade Strawberry Margarita Jam out of the cupboard.

As I opened it, Irish Woman came into the kitchen.

Irish Woman – Now, that was a good batch.

Me – Smells good.

Irish Woman – It set up perfectly.  Look, you could hold that upside down and it would stay in the jar.

I shrugged, and held the jar upside down over the counter.  It held in the jar.

Then, it didn’t.

Plop – As the first half of the jar fell out onto the counter.

Splat – As the second half of the jar fell out onto the floor.

Irish Woman – You never do as I say, ever, and you choose to do THAT?

Snippet

Here’s the opening passage to my contribution to Calexit.  Please let me know what you think.


 

“’Night, Joe,” Jennifer said as she passed her hand under the clinic’s reader to clock out. A faint beep and a flash of red light from the appliance let her know that it had recognized the chip in her right hand and that she was officially able to start her vacation.

“’Night, Jen,” Joe replied. “Gonna be another hot one tomorrow.”

“We’re heading to a bed and breakfast in Monterey for a few days,” Jen held the door open as she paused to talk with the man. “It’ll be cooler on the coast.”

She was tall, with long legs and well-muscled arms. Her hair, which one of her college boyfriends had once described as the color of honey in sunshine, ran down the back of her faded gray scrubs in a tight braid.

“At least you’ll be away from all this smoke.” Joe’s teeth stood out against his dark skin as he smiled at the nurse and stepped out to join her on the cement entranceway. “You want me to walk you to your car?”

The smell of wood burning struck Jen as soon as she stepped out of the clinic’s air-conditioned comfort. The news feeds had been bursting with reports of wildfires in the Sierras all week, but the government had assured everyone that no damage to homes or businesses was expected.

“Nah, that’s all right,” Jen said, smiling again. “It’s just over there.” She nodded at the small, beat-up compact she had parked on the far side of the parking lot. It was the only vehicle left in the lot, since Ramon, who had relieved her for the night shift, had been dropped off by his boyfriend. The harsh light of the LED bar that hung above the entrance reached just far enough out that she could see its dull gray outline against the trees.

“Well, I’ll be here if you need me.”

“Thanks.”

Jen gave the parking lot a good, long look before stepping away from the crumbling patio at the building’s entrance. Her car sat in the shadows of tall eucalyptus trees at the far end of the lot, their pungent scent competing with the smoke in the faint, hot breeze. Above it, the skeletons of floodlights, which she had never known to work in the two years she had worked at the clinic, looked down on the cracked asphalt like immense aluminum flowers. Seeing nothing, she fished her phone from her bag.

She tapped “Hi hon. lving work. C U in the AM. Miss U” onto the screen once she had unlocked it with her identity chip and the CalSec emblem had faded to allow her access to the network. She hit send just as she reached her vehicle. The car noticed her presence and unlocked the door for her. It cheerfully chirped at her and helpfully turned on its interior lights. Their dim illumination made her feel better as she looked over her shoulder to see if Joe was still standing at the door to the building. He saw her look and waved.

Jen raised her hand to wave as well, when she heard rushed footsteps coming across the pavement. She turned to see where the noise was coming from just as someone grabbed her from behind and threw her up against the side of her car.

Instinctively, Jennifer threw her elbow back just like her instructor at her “Strong Women of the Future” class had taught her. Pain lanced up her arm as she felt the corner of her elbow impact with something that crunched under its hard bone.

Pinche puta!” a voice squealed as Jen screamed for help. She tried to turn around to confront her attackers, but strong hands forced her head down. Blood bloomed from her forehead as it caught the hard edge of the door. Jen heard voices behind her, then felt hands tearing the thin fabric of her scrubs.

She screamed again, thrashing to get away. Her phone rattled to the pavement beside the car, along with her bag. Her struggles gained her enough freedom to stand upright once again, and she caught sight of the door to the clinic closing as Joe ducked back inside.

Then, someone grabbed her long braid and used it to drag her head back, then shoved her hard against the windshield. She felt the drawstring of her pants scrape along her hips and thighs as they were yanked down, then another blow to her head made the world fuzzy and dark. The last thing she heard before slipping into unconsciousness was the sound of laughter as someone cut the strap of her bra.

Calexit Anthology On Sale Now!

The Calexit anthology, collected by OldNFO, is available for sale.

My involvement started when I was at LibertyCon this summer.  NFO was talking about his novella, The Day The Earth Shook, and mentioned that he was considering expanding on it into a collection of short fiction.  The more he talked, the more an idea started forming in the back of my head.  One thing led to another, and I found myself sitting in the back of the theater at the Chattanooga ChooChoo lining out my story in his universe.

After a few drafts, Night Crossing got sent off and NFO was gracious enough to include it in his anthology.  Working with him has always been a pleasure, and he worked his butt off to make this book happen.  Also included are L.B. Johnson, Cedar Sanderson, LawDog, and Bob Poole.  Honestly I’m not sure what I did to earn the privilege of having my writing alongside theirs.

Anyway, the book is now available on Amazon in both ebook and paperback versions.  Hope you all enjoy it, and as always, honest reviews are greatly appreciated.

Helping Out

A member of the extended tribe could use a bit of help, and anything you can give would be appreciated.

My sister in law, Andrea (everyone calls her Andi) suffered a stroke in mid August. Unfortunately, it wasn’t diagnosed correctly for two weeks, delaying treatment.

We’re currently waiting for results from a battery of autoimmune tests that were run once the stroke was correctly diagnosed, and still don’t know what the cause was. Those tests are extremely expensive, and we’re unsure what the ultimate cost will be right now. What do know is that she’s lost strength and mobility in her left arm and leg. She’s facing a year to 18 months of physical therapy to get back to full function. 

Andi is an artistic soul. She creates beautiful metal artwork for their business, and she plays the guitar in her free time with her mother to relax. She says that’s the hardest thing about this whole situation- she can’t chord, and hasn’t been able to play the guitar since it happened.

We’re estimating the costs of her physical therapy right now, and waiting for results on the tests, and to see if more tests are necessary.

Andi has not been able to afford health insurance, because she and my brother own a business. Unfortunately the business makes too much money for them to get assistance with health insurance, but not enough for them to be able to afford health insurance and raising two boys.

Any help will be much appreciated, as Andi needs to begin physical therapy as soon as possible in order to have the best outcome, and without health insurance she has to pay the full cost of every session.

Andi is a member of the Farm Family, who host Blogorado every year, and have been very generous with their time to me and many others.  In order to sweeten the pot a bit, OldNFO and several other friends have put together a raffle for some pretty awesome prizes.

Here are the ‘rules’ $10 per chance, $50/6 chances, $100/12 chances, etc. Make your donation to the Go Fund Me above, and copy your donation receipt to 4anditherapy@gmail.com. This will count as your entry into the raffle. If you have already donated, we will accept prior donations to the Go Fund Me.

I am adding signed copies of “Tales of the Minivandians” and “Coming Home” to the non-gun packages.

If you can help Andi and her family out, please do.  It would be greatly appreciated.

Musings

  • I have come to the conclusion that our local grocery store is becoming a place where people who do not cook go to get food.
    • Their section of frozen meals that just need a few minutes in the microwave is larger than the produce area.
    • The coffee shop gets more traffic than the bread aisle, and they’re remodeling to add an asian cafe and a barbecue joint.
  • Boo’s school has a program where students read books, then take on-line quizzes about them.  Each book is assigned a certain number of points based on its reading level.
    • Boo’s goal for the year was to get 25 points on these tests.
    • Today, he surpassed 127 points by taking the test for The Hobbit.
    • I may have created a monster.
  • It is rarely a good thing to report “Well, it’s not good, but we’re better than we were yesterday.”

Thought for the Day

What’s he that wishes so?
My cousin, Westmorland? No, my fair cousin;
If we are mark’d to die, we are enow
To do our country loss; and if to live,
The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
God’s will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.
By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,
Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
It yearns me not if men my garments wear;
Such outward things dwell not in my desires.
But if it be a sin to covet honour,
I am the most offending soul alive.
No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England.
God’s peace! I would not lose so great an honour
As one man more methinks would share from me
For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!
Rather proclaim it, Westmorland, through my host,
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made,
And crowns for convoy put into his purse;
We would not die in that man’s company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
This day is call’d the feast of Crispian.
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam’d,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say “To-morrow is Saint Crispian.”
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say “These wounds I had on Crispin’s day.”
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he’ll remember, with advantages,
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words—
Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester
Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb’red.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be rememberèd-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.

— William Shakespeare, Henry V, Act IV, Scene iii

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