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My Egyptologist friend was in town. We didn’t get a lot of time to talk, but we did touch base with one another.

A friend of mine let his hair grow out (still short but no longer brutally short) and he looks MUCH better in longer hair.  I told him he should leave it long.  It would annoy his brother (who went bald years ago), it made him look younger, and (in his case) longer hair was just as easy to care for.

So he sent me a short story to critique. I hope he sells it.

My first submission was declined. That’s OK.

Until I sent the story in, I was a water strider, skittering across the surface of the water. I could stay a water strider. I was comfortable as a water strider, cozy. Except I’m not a bug. And I have stories. Sending in the story broke the water tension. Accepted or declined, that fact remains. With the water tension now broken, I can send in more stories, make ripples across the water, dive and splash.

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I was born a synesthete – my senses mixed up. A neurologist used me as part of a study on synesthesia, so it’s well documented.

I met that neurologist in a social setting today, and she wanted to know if I’d had any changes in my perceptions.

That’s when I learned my hearing loss is more profound than I had thought. The synesthesia compensated for some of it. She wants me to do a follow up study to see how age and hearing loss have changed since the original study.

Since I have a story back-burnered for now that has a synesthete as a MC (because I want to get my Egyptian story finished), I agreed to the study. What a trove of information and materials this will provide for my character when I’m ready to move to that story!

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My pinterest board for my Downton Abbey/Ancient Egyptian story has yielded some interesting facts. I confirmed them with an Egyptologist friend I have, because I have an Egyptologist friend, and while some were speculation (possibly useful speculation), one was a real solid fact.

I don’t know why people are so fixated on Egyptian mythology – their physics and engineering and math and astronomy and agriculture and battle techniques and food and fashion and art and toys and transportation and education and living arrangements and actions are so much more fascinating.

I love being able to sort out what might be fact, that has a scientific, provable basis, from all that rampant mythological speculation. I think my story will be stronger for it. I love my expert knowledgeable friends.

I have some awesome friends.

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Last night I dreamt of dimetrodons. My story has stegosaurs in it, not dimetrodons.

Is my brain trying to tell me something?

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Knowing the name of the right shade of color can be useful. Sure, the simple spectrum of Black, Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet and White works, but cerulean is more evocative than blue, and alabaster is a colder shade of white.

When you need the right name for the right color, try Ingrid Sundberg’s Color Thesaurus.

Or check out Benjamin Moore’s Paint Colors.

While this writing tip doesn’t have accompanying colors for visual reference, it does list a great many natural eye colors.

This is a list of color charts to check out.

Color isn’t just for the eyes, it’s for the mind.

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Yesterday was an excellent day to go to the zoo, so I took my notebook and pen and water bottle and headed out.

The flamingos are nesting! And one of them showed me her egg!

Well, it wasn’t me, specifically, but I was there when she stood up and changed positions, and I managed to get a photo of her and her egg.

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If I knew anything about coding and game design, this is the game I would play to pieces:

I want to design a game where the point IS to be a master crafter – you begin as an apprentice with a Master, who sets basic tasks for you to do correctly – tasks that are related to the skill you want to master. When you complete a task correctly and quickly, a journeyman or the Master appears, congratulates you, micro-levels you up, and sets you another essential task to complete. You may do this solo, or in a group of supporting/competing apprentices and journeymen.

Example: You want to become a funeral director. Apprentices must first learn the basics – what a funeral is, what death is and looks like, how to clean a mortuary, how to dig a grave, what the different methods of respecting a corpse are according to each of the religions practiced in the world – or no religion at all, what the different methods of preparing the corpse for the funeral/burial are, what equipment and supplies are needed, and so on. You are paid a pittance, and get to spend that money at festivals. You pretty much own nothing and there is no way to buy yourself out – you have to do the things to be an apprentice. A lot of it is research and book-work and scut-work. You earn pretty much just room and board in the game. (You can have family, and if your family lives close enough, you might even keep living with them….) Hard, sometimes dull and boring things. The game is varied because journeymen and older apprentices can assign you tasks in addition to what you are given by your Master – and you still have to do what your Master expects you to do. The journeymen and older apprentices may be kind or cruel or a mix. It will be random.

When you complete all the basic level knowledge and skills, the Master invites you to a special dinner, where you are “walked” from apprentice to journeyman. You level up, and now you get to do journeyman level things: instead of learning and observing and passing tests, now you are doing the things you learned about, under the direction of an experienced journeyman who is working under your Master, and then you are sent out to work under other Masters and with other journeymen. It won’t always be easy – you face jealousy, friendships, and hardships along the way, and now you get a small paycheck for living and travel expenses, and for collecting the tools of your trade. You are now subject to taxes, thieves, muggers, and delightful distractions – you are “old” enough to go to bars. How you live as well as what you learn in your trade will determine how fast you progress. Your Masters are supposed to help you, but not all Masters are good. The good thing is that as a journeyman, you can choose to find a new master – but you will need a recommendation from a former Master to get taken by a new Master. A bad Master can gum things up. A good Master may help you even long after you’ve left them. Choose your new Masters carefully. It’s usually best to let your current Master select your next Master.  Good ones will choose one skilled in an area where you lack knowledge so you can grow and learn. Skills would range from customer care to running the business of death in our example – caring for a cemetery, furnishing a mortuary and the visitation areas, locating burial supplies, managing a crematorium…lots of areas to study and specialize in and gain mastery over.

The Masters confer after you’ve worked for a minimum of 4 other Masters (for a total of 5), and decide if you are skilled enough to begin your Master Project. You can delay this conference if you’ve gotten one or more bad Masters until you have 5 good Masters on the council.

If you are considered skilled enough to begin the Master Project, you are invited to a special dinner with all of your Masters, where you declare what your Project will be. You receive funds to do that Project and select a Master to work under while you complete that Project. It will probably be something to do with funerary rites or the science of death and decomposition, but hey, you could surprise everyone!

ALL the Masters in the field will review your Master Project. You need a majority to agree it is a worthy project and that it succeeds. If declined, you can either re-do the Project or select a 2nd Master Project. You can re-do or change Projects up to 3 times. If you fail, you remain a journeyman in that skill under a Master who will accept you. You can continue playing as the kindly journeyman helping other journeymen and apprentices, or you can become bitter and vengeful and try to sabotage the apprentices and journeymen (and risk being driven out of the field by the Masters).

OR you successfully complete the Master Project, and then you are invited to a gala feast of all the Masters and journeymen and apprentices, where you are leveled up to Master, given a journeyman and a couple of apprentices and a shop of your own. You can accept the accolades and Mastership and then play as a Master – taking on clients, apprentices, and journeymen, meeting with other Masters to discuss your charges and business, and leveling up apprentices and journeymen (or delaying their elevation) You don’t have to be nice, but you shouldn’t be vengeful or bitter, just hard, demanding, and possibly cruel – after all, you worked hard to be a Master, and you deserve to be rich and powerful. Too many Masters will dilute the wealth and power – after all, you can’t go around killing people to get business, can you? So your goal is to limit the number of journeymen who make it to Master while their goal is to be so good you have to admit them to the ranks of Master.

At any time, you can abandon a field and become an apprentice in another field – say Chimney Sweep, LawnCare Specialist, Auto Mechanic, WoodWorker, Restaurateur, Machinist, Park Ranger, Geologist, Marine Biologist, Kindergarten Teacher, College Professor….or other possible careers.

It is, after all, a game. Pick and choose your career, apprentice, learn and level up…

I’d play the beans out of games like that.

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