America the Beautiful

Alan Zendell, September 1, 2018

When I started this blog the first thing I wrote was its dedication “to preserving what has made America great.” That wasn’t intended to be overly subtle. Donald Trump, with a matchless talent for unearthing and energizing everything negative about America, had convinced enough of us that America needed to be great again to win the election. Great again?

I’ve deliberately avoided all the eulogies to John McCain until now, but I was struck by the words of his daughter, Meghan: “The America of John McCain has no need to be made great again, because America was always great.” And therein may have lain the root of her father’s long-standing bitter feud with the president. He understood the dangerous hypocrisy of Doublespeak, the technique which Trump uses so effectively to twist and distort the meanings of words.

No one I know ever thought America was…

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America the Beautiful

Alan Zendell, August 27, 2018

Viewed objectively, “the best people” is a phrase that must by its nature be subjective, one that differs in the eye of each beholder. Indirectly acknowledging his own lack of specific expertise in the various facets of governing, candidate Donald Trump repeatedly used it to promise voters that only the most qualified people would be given important jobs in his administration.

Because of the emphasis he placed on defense and national security, his appointments in those areas were his first test. At the urging of a wide spectrum of military leaders, his most impressive pick was Defense Secretary James Mattis, someone we can rely on to protect the nation. But after Mattis it was all downhill.

Trump’s first National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, was fired weeks into the job due to serious conflicts of interest with Russia and Vladimir Putin, and lying to the FBI…

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alkaplan

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If the unimaginable were to happen, are you prepared?

It’s time to start packing.

What 5 items would you definitely want to have to survive a cataclysm?

If you want to bring a copy of STAR TOUCHED,

you can pack a 6th item!

Startouched front cover2

Eighteen-year-old Tatiana is running from her past and her

star-touched powers eight years after a meteor devastates earth’s population.

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alkaplan

Startouched front cover2Here is an interview of Tatiana, the main character in Star Touched, that The Wolf did a while back.

Wolf: Welcome to Wolf Notes, Tatiana. If you could be any animal in the universe, what would it be and why?

Tatiana: Thank you, Wolf. I’d love to be a bird. That way I could fly anywhere I wanted, feel the wind in my feathers as I soared through the air. I’d be free, with no worries.

Wolf: That sounds nice. Any particular kind of bird?

Tatiana: Swallows are pretty and graceful. I love the way they glide.

Wolf: Sweet. Swallows are cool to watch. Would you consider yourself a cat person or a dog person?

Tatiana: I love all animals, but I suppose I’m partial to dogs right now. Fifi is very important to me.

Wolf: You mean that tiny poodle you’re bonded to?

Tatiana

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alkaplan

stars2There are several meteor showers throughout the year, but the Perseid meteor shower is one of my favorites. It’s one of the reasons I used is as a base for some of the events in my novel, Star Touched. This annual show is caused by the dust and debris left behind by the 1992 passing of the Swift-Tuttle Comet. It’s going on now, but peak is between August 11-13th, where you could see as many as 60-70 meteors an hour. That’s a lot of space junk. The little crescent moon will set before the shower starts after midnight.

Look north toward the Perseus constellation. (just below Cassiopeia)

Pull out a chair.

Slather on some bug spray.

Camp out under the night sky.

Enjoy the show.

While you’re there, keep an eye out for Mars and Saturn. Both will be visible.

But don’t worry, none of the meteors are…

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America the Beautiful

Alan Zendell, August 5, 2018

As frequently noted here and elsewhere. Donald Trump is a master of obfuscation. While those of us who are trained in logical discourse and scientific method are often appalled by his relatively incoherent style, it certainly works with his base. His friends have compared his style to throwing a grenade into a room and then rushing in to seize what he wants before everyone else can sort through the resulting chaos.

There’s really no argument about that. Trump himself has touted his ability to keep his adversaries off balance with his unpredictable behavior. He revels in creating confusion with self-contradictions and made-up facts, not to mention outright lies. Whether this represents a lack of character and integrity or a canny ability to manipulate people really doesn’t matter. What does is that the rest of us have to keep our eyes on the ball.

 athlete knows…

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alkaplan

20180803_155839I remember reading an early draft of chapter three. My critique group was confused and it was easy to see why. There were three floors and a bunch of stairs that made up a store, a tavern, and rooms. Once I sketched out exactly what Gareth’s house/store/tavern looked like, it was easier to describe the path Tatiana and Fifi took to the common room.20180803_155850.jpg20180803_155908.jpg

Get Star Touched Here.

Startouched front cover2

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alkaplan

A lot of planning went into creating the town of Atherton for my novel, STAR TOUCHED. I had to figure out how large of a population could be supported on the farmland available. The map also helped visualize several scenes.20180803_155750

Have you picked up your copy of STAR TOUCHED?

Startouched front cover2

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alkaplan

IMG_0477Tour guide: Welcome to Yellowstone National Park. I hope you enjoy our visit. By the way, you are standing in the caldera of a geologically active supervolcano.

Me: Wait. What? Shouldn’t they have mentioned that before entering the park?

At least 48 super-eruptions have been discovered by geologist, but what does that mean?

The volcanic explosivity index goes to 8 and that’s where a supervolcano hangs. They can spew 240 cubic miles of material. Pressure builds up in these volcanoes until they blow big time.

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So, what would happen if Yellowstone supervolcano had another VEI 8 eruption? It would probably blanket much of the United States under a blanket of ash. A friend of mine lived in Seattle around the time Mt. St. Helen erupted. One of the biggest problems was the ash. Even a thin coat can make roads slick and clog up filters. You don’t want…

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alkaplan

IMG_20180801_0004Did you know there were 169 potentially active volcanoes in the Continental United States? Surprise. https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/index.html  has a cool interactive map of them. At least three of them have erupted since our country was formed.

Volcanic eruptions happen all the time, but not all volcanoes are the same. The four basic types are cinder cones, composite volcanoes, shield volcanoes, and lava domes.

Cinder Cones:IMG_20180801_0001

When congealed lava and other partials are blown out of a single vent, they fall back to the ground as cinders. Picture an anthill on the beach. I got to climb a cinder cone in Lassen Volcanic National Park in California. It’s like climbing a giant sand dune made up of pebbles. Very tiring.IMG_20180801_0003 (2)_LI

Composite Volcanoes:

These steep-sided volcanoes are formed when alternating layers of ash, lava, and cinders build up. The lava flows over the ash and cinders holding it together like glue. All that…

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