Heading Back to Elementary School

Heading Back to Elementary School

Sometime between sixth grade elementary and seventh grade junior high, my father brought home a tape recorder that was designed for hearing or vision impaired students. It was bright orange and all the buttons were colored and had braille on them. But besides being such a vibrant styled tape recorder, it had two other unique functions: variable speed and play-in-reverse.

It was AMAZING! I could slow recordings down, speed them up, play them in reverse (slow or fast). But, being a fan of radio plays, record albums with stories, and most of all, the Orson Wells version of War of the Worlds radio broadcast, I was able to reproduce many of the cool effects I heard in audio recordings.

In sixth grade, having been recently exposed to Star Wars (which was life changing for me) and being a fan of Cracked and Mad magazines, I had started writing stories that were parodies of my favorite shows and movies. Specifically, a series of stories titled “Star Crack” about a goofball captain named Captain Joke and his trusty science officer Mr. Pimple. They were, of course, amalgams of myself,  my best friend at the time, and a couple of TV characters you may be able to guess. He, the funny class clown, and more popular was Captain Joke, and with my newly sprouting acne issues, and more academic mindset (not to mention my ‘by the rules’ activity that landed me as a Safety Patrol officer), I was Mr. Pimple.

I won’t bore you with the adventures of the USS Refuse (the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy) or their first trip to the planets Caramel, Chocolate and Nougat foiling the nefarious Klingtoes evil plot by creating “Milky Way” candy bars to make them all fat. NO! I won’t bore you with that or their other adventures, but I will tell you what happened as we entered seventh grade.

No, not the awkward teenage issues (there were many) or bullies (there were some…that all seemed to have the name Tony for some reason) OR the Friday night skating rink adventures. NO dear reader, I will tell you of the librarian who asked if my friend and I would be interested in recording our stories, creating art, and making slideshows to set up in the library in a listening pod.

I was SO excited and, of course, fearful of being judged. Honestly, and more precisely, I was fearful that my crush – who shall remain nameless – wouldn’t think I was ‘cool.’ Not that she ever did. But other people liked them. So I did a few more and kept writing odd stories ever since. But those audio programs were just plain fun.

Some 40 years later, I remember recording various sound effects with some electronics kit I had, a trip into a black hole that slowed time (and lowered voices), as well as creating echoing voices in the empty underbelly of the USS Refuse’s empty bowels (ewwwww).

All this reminiscing got me thinking about all the tools, software and experience in production I have. So, dear readers, I decided to transform one of my recent short stories into an audio program. Not quite an audio drama, but more than a simple reading.

Below is a culmination of about 8-10 hours of production (and a few more hours of brainstorming and researching). Of course, I’ll get faster as I learn. Already I’ve found some great podcasts, gotten some good information on equipment, and otherwise stupendous feedback on how to make each one better. I won’t lie. I’m not going to pull a George Lucas and keep rerecording stories, but I’ll try to learn as I go along.

I’ve been trying to write and post a new short story every month and am currently at tad behind due to, well, you all know… life.

I hope you all enjoy this audio version of Palengenesis. You can visit the link if you prefer to read. I’ve added the audio version on that page as well.

Palengenesis

by Eric Huber | Stories from the Edge

Notes: I found a photo and video showcasing what is referred as a book player from the Telex corporation circa 1975-76


© 20016 Eric Huber. Palingenesis is a work of fiction. All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. Artwork by Eric Huber

©2017 Audio recording by Eric Huber. Music from FreeMusicArchive.org | Kwartet Japonski I by Maciej Żołnowski | The Warbird EP by Tri-Tachyon | Additional audio from NASA

2017 Theme: Accepting the Glass is Half Empty Too

2017 Theme: Accepting the Glass is Half Empty Too

2016 was rough, ya’ll.

I’m not going to sugar coat it, and I won’t go on a diatribe listing what all happened. Because, really, some GOOD things happened along with all the bad. SOME good things came out of SOME of the bad as well.

But here’s something I haven’t shared and that doesn’t often present itself in public: I’m angry a LOT.

Not that kind of angry that I take it out physically on others, and don’t always lash out verbally. More of an internal rage that builds and builds until I feel like my head is going to explode. Sometimes, and more and more often, because of all the anger, I DO lash out much more vocally than my reputation of cool-headedness would otherwise be the norm. I can think of three instances that I wish had not.

Now, here’s the thing; I research, I try new things, I listen to stuff, I read, and more. All this to try to understand WHY I’m so angry a lot. I’ve sat in a group to exorcise it. I’ve drawn images and burned it. I even tried stuffing it WAY DOWN DEEP inside into a little ball and forgetting about it (just kidding…sorta).

One thing I read said, ‘anger lets you know when boundaries are being crossed.’ That held some truth, but it wasn’t really hitting the mark.

So what the heck? WHY DO I GET SO ANGRY?

Anger Sharks by Eric Huber
(based on a line from Anger Management)

Another Disappointment

Christmas is, traditionally, the beginning of fun, family, friends and time off from work from my business. A time to recharge. A time to plan for the next year. To set goals. To reconnect. To… relax.

This year, as part of the whole 2016 debacle, there was loss of a relative, a loss of a friend, and I got sicker than I have been in many years basically putting me down for nearly the entire break. The GOOD was that I did get to enjoy Christmas and felt a little better to be with friends and my sweetie on New Years Eve. But overall, it was a bust for what I had hoped for.

But a strange thing happened over the break. A random video popped up on a non-account YouTube channel that presented a title that gave me pause: “How Not to be Angry All the Time.”

Ding. Ding. Ding. Of COURSE I watched it.

And MAN did I disagree with it. A lot!

But there was something about it. Some nugget of wisdom. And I decided to stay open with it and ‘play’ with the idea.

Might watch it and then read more of what I’ve decided to try…

PESSIMISM? Really?

I’ve nearly always been a glass is half full, or even the funnier, “Even if the glass is empty, you can refill it” kinda person. My philosophy has been, “Hope for the best. Plan for the worst.” I always thought that made me a pessimistic optimist… or an optimistic pessimist.

But this video is saying that my anger is all from being disappointed that my deep deep hopes are being crushed by reality. That I should just accept that everything is horrible in the world and be a pessimist and life will be better.

I disagreed, as I said above, a lot. But I decided to stay open and see when I got angry and why.

Low and behold, I got angry when things didn’t go as I had ‘hoped’ or ‘planned’ for them to go.

What does this mean for my persona? My very soul!?? Do I need to become a pessimist to be happy?

 

Going to the Well

So… I researched, asked questions, even talked to my dad (who, most likely, was a source of my optimistic pessimism). Within a few conversations, people disagreed, but then came back to an interesting point. And, to my surprise, it was my father who said, after confessing he got the same message from his dad, “Maybe instead of ‘Planning for the worst and hoping for the best,’ it’s more of ‘Planning for the worst and accepting whatever happens.'” (I may have paraphrased). Accepting what ‘is’ then?

Realizing this sounded familiar, a friend said, ‘That’s Buddhist; Acceptance of what presents.” And my smart, learned, lovely wife shared, “You should let go of how you think things should be and accept them as they are.”

Man, they all pissed me off!

Just kidding.

 

The Theme, Then…

No, I’m not going to be pessimistic in life, but I think I understand. I believe I have, in some situations, adopted that belief.

The video says, “Despite all life experience proving otherwise, Fred has a deep deep hope that…” he’ll get the outcome that he wants. And when he doesn’t, he gets angry. I’ve experienced that with airline flights and I now expect that I will always have a delay. I don’t. But I expect it now. My reaction if it is delayed is simply, ‘meh.’ And when it runs on time, ‘cool!’

My theme for the year is to do my best to see situations as they really are, to listen to people where they really are, and to look at myself, where I really am. The glass is half-empty, sure. It is also half-full. Plus, it is a glass, and can be emptied and refilled. That’s how glasses work.

Here’s to an amazing year ahead. But if it’s not, that’s okay too.

Whoa. This might just work.

Theme for 2016: “Why Not?”

Theme for 2016: “Why Not?”

2015 was an interesting experiment in goal setting. It was more about focus and theme vs specific goals. However, I did have one specific mandate for my business and that was profit. Yes, part of my ‘theme’ for the year, but it was a very pointed and specific goal. I actually hired a business coach and stopped trying to just have my business partner and I try to figure things out. We also worked on brining in strategic partners and that made a difference as well.

It was a success. And I’m stupendously happy about that aspect.

Not that I want to put a damper on success, but certain personal troubles occurred specifically around automobiles. Some good. Some bad. Lost a car. Got a car. Lost a car. Got a car. Very odd and unexpected all scenarios.

But even more than that, I started hearing phrases that started rubbing me the wrong way. Why? Did they raise doubts in my own goals and convictions?

Yes, they did.

  • “I would never want to be a millionaire.”
  • “I wouldn’t want to have a company that big.”
  • “All big companies are just greedy and taking advantage of the common Joe.”

The first thought that popped into my head has been, “WHY NOT?”

Why WOULDN’T you want to be a millionaire, have a big company, and are you sure that big companies are greedy? Or is it that you don’t understand business? Do you feel it’s better and more noble to serve people in a soup line and look them in the eyes or to be a business owner who has managed to make money enough to pay for hundreds of meals for those same people?

We bitch and moan about corporations like Walmart and others and still go shop there for the low prices. What a bunch of hypocrites! Now…those that complain and don’t shop, bravo!

The fact is we live in a capitalist Republic that runs on money. Play the game or get out. And while I agree it’s not the most just system, with a little effort you can make changes that work. Until we figure out a way to move to a resource based economy posited by The Venus Project, these are the rules we have to play within.

But I digress, as usual.

Why NotWe give ribbons for participation these days. I say find ways to question, think differently, challenge the status quo, and learn from past successes and failures. In 1984, I was picked as one of top ten seniors who the faculty believed would go on to do great things. Have I?

As I hit level 50 in a few weeks, this is the question I keep coming back to. What have I done to make people’s lives better? What have I done to help others. How have I made a dent in the Universe?

So, my theme for this year when offered big opportunities is simply…

‘WHY NOT?!’

Play big or go home.

Can I sustain? I have no idea.
Can I help everyone I want to? Probably not.
But if I don’t try, I know I won’t.

Creative Connections 0002

Creative Connections 0002

I should really have shared more creative connections since October of 2014 when I posted my first connection, but… Cie la vie!

Creative Connection 0002: Why People ‘snap’ so much in the USA.

Oh, sure, there is violence and craziness everywhere in the world. I won’t disagree. But today I saw a connection that our craziness is due to the fact that we have created a society of antagonistic living.

What do I mean by “Antagonistic living?” I mean we are bombarded by conflicting messages telling us what is good and right, what is fun and adventurous, what is achievable and imaginable, followed by how each can be bad and wrong.

  1. Ads for dieting and ads for ‘lobster fest’ back to back.
  2. Work hard or you are a loser. Live life to the fullest or you’re a loser.
  3. Sex is bad. Sex is awesome.
  4. Religion makes you feel great to be part of something bigger. Religion tells you are born in sin.
  5. Buy our cigarettes. FDA says, “Learn the real cost of smoking.”
  6. Love one another. Hate people who are different than us.
  7. “Why’d he hit me, momma?” “Oh, that little boy probably likes you is all.” “Why does my husband beat me?”
  8. Rich people are evil. Please donate to our cause so we can help others.

Antagonistic Confusion

I could go on and on, but it’s these same things make me feel crazy as well.

But I’ve been told, nothing can MAKE you feel anything. It’s the way I interpret these events.

Well…I feel crazy…sometimes.

How about you?

What We Leave Behind

What We Leave Behind

Stones from Post What We Leave Behind

As I walk in nature, I often come across an abandoned camp site or a pile of stacked stones and I think about the people who had been there before me and left traces behind from their visit. Granted, the hiking trail is a constant reminder of years of use and people leaving impressions behind and I am aware of this too.I heard someone talk about the story and adventures of Gilgamesh the other day

Readers may know that mythology is an interest of mine as well as lost civilizations. There are so many traces of civilizations that have fallen, disappeared and been rediscovered, that last week alone saw at least three major discoveries of the ancient world. Tombs. Temples. Caverns. While some people go out and shout “Ancient aliens must have built these things!” I personally believe we are smart, creative and tenacious enough to do some pretty amazing things on our own.

How Long Does It Take to Lose a Civilization?

Life After People ImageI was fascinated by a show called Life After People, a few years back, that explored how our modern civilization would fair over 10,000 years if we all vanished. To see a major collapse of buildings and bridges after two hundred years was stunning. To see how many things vanished over 2,000 was amazing. And to see how only the largest structures would still be seen after 10,000 was humbling. Nothing, save the Hoover dam, the great wall of China and the Pyramids would be recognizable. Nature is pretty persistent.

Epic of GilgameshRecently, I heard someone talk about the story and adventures of Gilgamesh. They said that Gilgamesh was searching for immortality, although I haven’t been able to confirm this. The speaker was saying how that he ended up achieving a kind of immortality as his story has been passed down for thousands of years and continues on today. Gilgamesh, according to an entry in Wikipedia, was an actual historic figure as a king of Uruk, Mesopotamia, around 2800 and 2500 BC. But he is also the main character (two-thirds god and one-third human) in a Mesopotamian poem titled the Epic of Gilgamesh. It is considered the first great work of literature.

We are constantly finding more ancient sites ranging back 11,000-12,000 years or more. We were supposed to be simple farmers and nomads, but archeologists are finding full ruins buried beneath sand and dirt. Golbekli Tepe is one such site. More are being found in Peru and across the globe.

Geologist Dr. Robert Schoch (mentioned often on this blog), dated the Sphinx at 10,000+ years. A striking contradiction to the 4-5,000 years that Egyptian historians stick to as it’s age.

But why does it matter what we leave behind?

What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.
~ Pericles (495 BC-429 BC)

Footprints left behindAs I approach a half-century mark in years, I think about what I’m leaving behind. For a while, people were trying to convince me that we shouldn’t leave anything behind. Zero Carbon Footprint was a movement going around. It honestly pissed me off. I was born here and have a right to live. And while I tried to build more than destroy, the movement was almost saying that I shouldn’t exist because I was destroying the Earth. I have calmed down. I understand the goal. But I refuse to shrink.

Why does it matter so much about what we leave behind? For me, it’s easy. While the Ancient Greeks would ask about someone who passed away the question “Did they live with passion?” I think what I wonder most about is, “Did I make a difference?”

That is probably the biggest thing I think about looking back on my days is “Did I matter?” In the grand scheme of things, did my existence help, hinder or do nothing for our planet and the universe?

Now, many readers may say, “Huber, you’ve got many many years to go! Why so glum?”

Luckily, I am not glum at all. Rather, I want to consider that the next half of my life (should I be so luckily) is even better and more meaningful than what has come before.

Words, actions, and how you affect the world around you by your actions seem to last much longer than buildings (with a few exceptions from antiquity). I have discovered that I have helped many people in my life and didn’t even know it. I remember when I was growing up, unsure about my place in the universe or what God might have in store for me, I would often say, “God, I know you put me here for a reason that may not be anything more than to help someone across the street some day in the future, but would it be okay if I could stay around a little longer afterwards and explore and play?”

I’m not sure if I’ve done what I’ve come here to do yet. I have some new ideas. In the long run, whether we only leave behind footprints in the sand that are washed away by the tides of time or we create or inspire epics of song, story or poetry to be written that echo through millennia, we should share our gifts with others. Whatever talent, love or passion you have, do that as much as you can and you will end up weaving your essence into the lives of others and ripple outward and forward in time.

Why All the Darkness in My Star Trek?

Why All the Darkness in My Star Trek?

(This article was written in January 2015. See Author’s note at the end for a new additional perspective)

Star Trek Officers, Kirk, Spock and McCoyIn 2016, Star Trek and I will hit the half-century mark. That’s right, 50 years young. Whether it was because my parents watched it, or I just was amazed by the show as a kid, I have been a long time fan. Or dare I say, a Trekkie?

But since 1994, the year marking the end of Star Trek: The Next Generations and the film Star Trek: Generations, I have noticed one simple thing that has killed the franchise for me: Hope.

When I watched the Original Series with Captain Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Sulu, Chekov, and Uhura (and all the other cast members of their three year run), I saw a mix of all the races of Earth PLUS a complete alien all working together to explore, solve problems and so much more. My main message I carry with me today is that we are all more alike than different.

Klingons were the evil Mongols and dark skinned…different than the rest. They craved war and battle and glory. The crew came in peace. While the episodes with the Klingons didn’t always have everyone seeing eye-to-eye, there was often a truce, or some understanding. The Romulans, unseen for a century at the time of the episode Balance of Terror, ended up being just like Spock. The crew battles their own biases and fears of being infiltrated, much as it was believed that Russians had infiltrated the United States with sleeper cells. In the end, we find that the Romulans are fierce and dogmatically loyal and end up following orders to the death.

I could go on and on about how much this goofy show inspired me to find peace, try new things, and… of course try to be suave and get lots of women like Captain James T. Kirk did.

The Darkness Descends

From the spin off series of Deep Space Nine, Voyager, Enterprise, and all the movies – ESPECIALLY THE REBOOT – focuses on war, darkness and a dark future. Oh sure, the very last scene of each movie is upbeat – “Hey, we made it out alive and all together. Let’s go see what else we can discover.”

You mean, “Let’s see who else is going to try to kill us in the galaxy?”

I won’t go into too much detail, and I’m always up for interesting twists on a classic, but I got a bit irritated with the whole Wrath of Khan…errr…Star Trek into Darkness… sequel… twist… geez… a remake of a sequel based on an episode. And here is where I will flat out show how the new reboot abandons the entire theme of Star Trek.

Khan1Space Seed

Fans know the episode. The Enterprise finds a derelict ship and discovers it is a lost ship housing genetic super humans from Earth’s past in suspended animation. They escaped Earth as the planet turned against them. They were the worst of the worst. And their leader was Khan Nooian Singh, the worst of them all, and played wonderfully by Ricardo Montalban.

Khan, being the bad guy, takes over and then orders Kirk’s death and is on his way to kill them all. Of course, Kirk gains control and retakes the ship after a fierce battle in engineering with Kahn. Or at least Montalban’s and Shatner’s obvious stunt double fight.

In the end, does Kirk drop the final blow killing Khan? Does he push him out an airlock? Does he put him back into suspended animation?

NO! He drops Khan and all his people on an uninhabited world to conquer on their own.

Khan2Star Trek the Wrath of Khan

Now, I loved this movie more than just about all of the movies except Star Trek: The Undiscovered Country. And there is nothing like the finally where Kirk beats yet another ‘no win scenario.’ But in the end of the film, does Kirk blast Khan out of the sky into space dust? NO! He offers to beam him and survivors to the Enterprise.

Cut to the first reboot film where Kirk and Spock face Nero and say, “We’re ready to beam you over and lend assistance.” When Nero says he’d rather die a thousand deaths, Kirk says, “So be it.” AND BLOWS THEM UP AND KILLS THEM.

GAH!

Spock Beating KhanAnd cutting to the horrid Into Darkness movie… I just have to shake my head. I… don’t… care… about… Sherlock, err… Khan… now a bleached out, blue-eyed sociopath who is (let me break out the tissue) just protecting his ‘family.’ Don’t get me started on the super blood. Now, Kirk does work with him for a bit and then immediately stuns him into submission. And the end of the film? After the ‘amazing’ twist that Kirk and Spock trade places compared to the end of the original movie? With a logical Vulcan going absolute ape sh*t crazy beating Khan to death? And after that? They put him back into suspended animation.

Yawn.

We end the movies with a dark vision of the Federation. Kirk standing up in the wreckage, talking about ‘there will always people who wish us harm,’ a funeral, the tones of the uniforms are all dull gray, deep shadows, and empty Enterprise before finally showing a little light at the end before relaunching once again on the ‘Five Year Mission.’

Bring Back the Hope!

Eric watching Star Trek from Dad's BackThat was NOT a reference to Star Wars, by the way.

I want to see adventures, explorations, new life forms, battles that lead to understanding, and… yes… more Orion Slave Women.* Star Trek: Enterprise gave a really interesting twist to THAT whole race in space. I actually liked parts of Enterprise, but they too took on a super dark militarized version of Star Trek… and it was supposed to take place before the original series.

Anyway, this was more of a rant. I’m just ready for some uplifting adventures. Adventures where the villain isn’t so evil that he/she can’t seek redemption and understanding, they aren’t killed at the end of the movie, and, hopefully, they can appear again later.

And that brings me to what got me started on this.

Star Trek Continues

There have been many fan made ‘episodes’ and films. Due to Paramount ownership, they cannot sell the productions or make money, but so far, they’ve been given leeway. Some of those films, like Star Trek of Gods and Heroes was another dark spin as were some other ones I’ve seen.

But today, I discovered a group who has gone back and meticulously recreated the sets, lighting, sounds and even has James Doohan’s (Scotty) son playing Scotty. I’ve only watched part of one of three they’ve created, and after I got used to the fact that the actors are all different, I really like it.

But the bonus is that there are characters from the original series that pop up, Star Trek actors like Martina Sirtis from TNG, and a guest appearance by Jamie Bamber of BSG!

(Author’s Note 2017: Star Trek Continues has seven great episodes available with even more guest stars.

I’m hoping the show ends with an upbeat message. We need to return to the original Rodenberry message of hope. And, yes, I know they were campy, sexist, and probably racist, but they were ahead of their time when they first came out.

Here’s to a bright future, and to being realistic of where we are and hoping for the best. And let’s see if we can all beat a ‘no win scenario’ together.

Star Trek Continues Cast

Star Trek COntinues Orion Slave Woman


* Author’s Note: January 2017
It’s been two years since I wrote this article. With the announcement of a new Star Trek: Discovery television show, Paramount/CBS changed their stand on allowing fan fiction and set up guidelines. Some groups have gone to court over the changes. In the end, intellectual property is owned by someone. An entity or person can allow it, or not. But the vision of the future that Star Trek offered to me, was always one where we all got over our differences and became a race of exploration, collaboration, and more.

Orion Slave Women.
Half kidding around, and half not kidding around. As a white kid in the 70s watching Star Trek reruns, I didn’t understand slavery. Much like the “Slave Leia” phenomena (a movement to call her “Hutt Slayer Leia” is on the rise), I never really thought about the reality of actual slavery or even what sex was, at the time. As mentioned above, Star Trek Enterprise put a different spin on the Orions and who was actually the slave. Star Trek Continues brought the reality of sex slaves, human trafficking, and the psychological toll it really has on those sold and trapped in slavery. Wrap a story around an issue with characters we love who struggle with issues just as we do and then have them take a stand? That, my friends, is Star Trek.

Star Trek Beyond.
And one last note, besides the utterly ridiculous method of destroying the drones (no human or alien was harmed in this mass destruction of beings), and a slight rehashing of the plot to Star Trek Insurrection, I liked the movie. And the motorcycle stunts! Just like classic Kirk who…oh wait. That never happened in Star Trek TOS.