The weekend I was gone to Florida was also the weekend that all the Biloxi folks spoke up as to their experiences. I was able to get to the audio of the sermon, and was reminded of why I went. Amy is married to Karina, and Christina is also a lesbian, so it just... was all the more poignant to hear it all in their words.
Torquere Press has gotten their thorough editing pass of our book, Hearts Under Fire, back to us, and we are working on fixing most of what they found. The interesting thing for me is that after using bothgogoangelgunboy and incandescens as betas, using the feedback isn't nearly as difficult as it would have been if I never used betas at all. Having had the experience, I'm able to make decisions about what input to take and what I can ignore.
I also learned something very specific about progressive tenses, which has to do more with the layering of time within a sentence then what I had originally thought just usage of a passive verb. I really love learning more about what I can do with the English language.
One of the really big projects has been doing Science for Jet's class. There were plants to sprout, put in hydroponics, and dissect. The kids learned a lot about how to observe without making judgments, and how to write down characteristics without adding probable, or improbable, causes for why they saw what they saw. The separation between observation and both prediction and speculation isn't something most kids know. It was interesting to try and emphasize the difference of what is allowed and what isn't in an experiment.
After the plants the crayfish arrived. There were two intense weeks of setting up their habitats, studying their anatomy, and then observing long-term behavior and territorial tendencies. I don't remember having experiments like this when I was in elementary school, but all the kids were really excited about the animals living within the classroom. They really like assigning names, personalities, and justification for the behaviors they saw. The fun thing was trying to take the enthusiasm and directed into inquiry, the questions the kids came up with about what they saw were all very interesting.
Blue Mountain Elementary School is a school of inquiry. That means that they try to focus on getting the students to ask questions, so they actually encourage curiosity, challenges to what is taught, and further study of whatever intrigues students. It's actually pretty easy to try and get the kids to think up experimental methods, as the experiments are structured in a "what do you think might work if we wanted to find out
Sadly, Science is over, as the beetles that we were supposed to study these last two weeks were actually flooded out at the farm they were raised in. So we never got them.
But John and I were able to go into school, today, to have the class thank us for our help and see a bunch of slides about the kids going from simple water experiments all the way to using the balances and taking care of the crayfish. We both got reusable bags and cards signed by the class. So we'll have something to remember it by.
Jet's out of school on Wednesday next week, so my writing schedule, what there is left of the tatters of it will be completely shot after that. However, that should be well after the big editing push for Hearts, so the timing is almost perfect.
The Florida trip was to the Cassadaga Spiritualist Camp, just north of Orlando. Allie asked me to go on the journey with her as support for a few things she was researching, partially because I'm not a complete skeptic but also because I wouldn't take everything that was said as if it were absolute truth, either.
So we stayed at a haunted hotel for the four nights we were there, and explored what we could explore, and, for fun, we went dancing at a gay club, when we first arrived. *grins* One of our friends from fanfiction had agreed to meet us at the bar, and even gave us the address and when to be there, so we showed up and had a great time. The music was very danceable, though I would've liked to recognize a few lyrics, it didn't really matter. Plus, there were free drinks between 11 and 11:30, so that was a real draw for Thursday night. I was very amused that one of Allie's friends, on learning that I was nearly 50, was very surprised that I would want to go to a gay bar at all.
It was also plenty of exercise, and I was able to sleep on the very hard bed and ignore anything that might have happened during the night. It is kinda fun to be able to say that we stayed at a haunted hotel, but neither of us saw anything untoward.
On Friday we got acquainted with how the camp worked. It turns out that there are acres of land owned by the Camp, and of the houses on the land are owned by the mediums that are certified through the schooling process they have. The land is leased to qualified people that want to live there. They cannot own it. They have the school for spiritualists as well as a temple for Sunday services and a bookstore where you can coordinate with any of their mediums for a reading. Any medium who is available puts their name and number up on a white board. You call their number, and when they answer you schedule a reading with them, either at the house or in the bookstore.
We weren't quite brave enough to get readings on Friday, but we did walk around the town just to see what everything looked like. We even found a Clark Street, which is the name of Allie's character in Hearts. The hotel had a séance scheduled for Friday the 13th, but the practitioner had a death in the family so was unable to do it. Instead, we decided to join an Orb Photography tour of the camp. The basic idea is that a digital camera, using a flash, can capture images of spirits and/or spirit energy in the shape of a circle of light. Sometimes circles have the image of the face in them, and sometimes there are animals or other images. There was a very interesting book of pictures that were taken on the tour, and I found it a fascinating exercise in what people can see when they really put their mind to it. Pattern recognition and making order out of chaos is an amazing thing.
There was also a Reiki Healing session going on in the back room, and it was enough like the laying on of hands at church that I decided to try it. There were a number of trainees getting some practice with their teachers, and they needed volunteers to try things on. Since the table was very much like Bonnie's massage table, I was able to relax very quickly and it was a very peaceful sort of thing.
The tour turned out to be a very pleasant walk through the night. We got to see all the parks, and everyone took lots of pictures, other than me. I didn't have a digital camera, but enjoyed watching everyone else find all sorts of amazing things. Allie was kind enough to allow me to use her camera once or twice, and it was fun to see the results. I like that the guide saw an angel's wing in Allie's blue hair, and one of the other ladies got a really bright aura around me. That was pretty cool.
The daytime temperatures were in the 90s, so the 70° we got it night were a blessing indeed. It is a lot more fun to walk around in the dark but it was during the day.
On Saturday we went to the nearby Lake Helen, and found a wonderful little diner, called the Creative Arts Café, that had excellent hamburgers, shakes, and ice cream. We explored the roads around Cassadaga, and got to see more of the trees, swamp, and city. That afternoon we bit the bullet and scheduled readings for us both. I really got a lot out of mine, including a good indication that our first book will end up a published series, and had fun discussing Allie's with her after she got hers.
The really amazing thing was having a full out thunderstorm crack the skies and pour water in buckets down on the street and on Allie's head as she was coming back from her reading. The water flows in rivers down the street as we sat on the porch to talk and watch it come down. That was glorious, and both of us walked out into the rain just to feel it on their skin. The residents were just happy that it broke the heatwave, and it was much cooler after that.
We celebrated our bravery by going into Orange City to eat and find ice cream. Our original destination, which was an Italian gelato place, turned out to have closed since Allie's GPS got its map; but on the way back to the hotel we found an ice cream shack set in an RV park which had excellent ice cream. There was a Colombian coffee ice cream to die for, especially under a thick blanket of hot fudge.
Sunday morning included an adult form, a.k.a. Sunday school, before service at the Temple. After the service there was a free buffet lunch, and another talk by the mediums doing quick readings for random people in the room. It was interesting to me that none of the mediums picked Allie or I. Maybe they knew we already had readings the day before or something.
Anyway, finally tired of all the spiritualists stuff, the two of us headed out to the water. Allie's mother had said something about following the A1A out to the beach, so we did. The beach out beyond the swamps and waterlands was beautiful, white, smooth, and stretched out for miles to the north and south. The water was bathtub warm with streaks of colder water that came from the depths off the coast. The sun was very bright, and even with 50 SPF sunscreen, Allie got a little toasted. I just got browner. We walked a good mile down the coast, seeing kids, people, walkers, surfers, and fishermen all along the way.
I half regretted not bringing my swimsuit, but I would've felt odd leaving Allie on the beach even for a quick dip. Besides, John, jet, and I are going to San Diego and a couple of weeks, and I'll have my fill of the water and sand with them.
That night we had a fancier dinner at Ruby Tuesday, and were able to talk for hours about things we really need to sort out before we parted ways again. I'm always amazed that Allie and I can talk for hours and never run out of things to say with each other, even after a full year of doing so.
On Monday I headed home, and the travel was smooth and easy.
On the way home, while listening to the radio, I heard about various types of brain research that included helping a Lou Gehrig's disease patient communicate by using her brain and eye movement to track the letters of the words she wanted to spell. There were other examples of intriguing research using epilepsy patients who already had an EGoG array implanted on the surface of their brains, including the interesting finding that when someone thinks of words it's actually the auditory parts of their brain that get triggered, and when they actually say words it's through an entirely different set of nerves in the brain. It was also intriguing to find that many individual words light up entirely different parts of the brain.
It's all related to some of the science I want behind Misfit Toys. I know a lot of people just assume that the technology will be there for certain aspects of cyborg stories. I know that Ghost in the Shell doesn't really explain the technology at all. There's no real need to in order to tell the story, but sometimes there are interesting and intriguing stories in the technology itself. I had been wanting to write a story about David doing neural research in order to allow a Lou Gehrig's disease patient communicate, but it's almost like cheating now that I know it's actually being done.
Still, there are possibilities for much faster, more accurate, and more nuanced means of communication. Plus, of course there's also the whole realm of learning how to use prosthesis through the mind.
So there is no end to the possibilities in this particular playground of reality.
One of the things that I have been neglecting has been my painting, as my hands just haven't been up to it. My father, however, is getting his calligraphy teacher to write my name in both block script and cursive so that I might be able to practice my name in order to sign my paintings in addition to the chop stamp. I am looking forward to being able to do that.
Sorry for the huge dump, and the big wall of text, but I thought it was past time that I caught people up with what I've been doing. I hope to be writing more Journal entries in the near future, so that I don't have to do these huge dumps all at once.