Because It’s There: National Geographic’s The Wildest Dream

“Because it’s there,” is the famous and very real answer to the question of “Why do you want to climb that mountain? (Everest)?” made by legendary British climber George Mallory.  I made a very fortunate choice and saw The Wildest Dream: Conquest of Everest (2009) Wednesday evening at a special screening in Hollywood with Conrad Anker and Jennifer Lowe-Anker.  Their story is legendary among climbing and outdoor enthusiasts.  One of their joint efforts is the Khumbu Climbing School, which both mentioned after the film was shown.  The Khumbu Climbing School trains Nepali high altitude workers in climbing techniques to improve their safety and proficiency.  Others may know these Nepalis as “Sherpas.” The Khumbu school is a project of the Alex Lowe charitable foundation.  Alex was a legendary climber as well, and was Jennifer’s first husband and Conrad’s best friend.  He was killed in a climbing accident in 1999, which Conrad survived.  Over time after Alex’s death, Jennifer and Conrad fell in love, and Conrad has since adopted her and Alex’s children.  It’s probably one of the greatest love stories ever. Continue reading


Rocky Mountains

Sorry for being missing yesterday – I’m not at home, and the blog was down for a while . . . I’m really happy this weekend because Meredith and I are in Colorado for my cousin Sarah’s daughter Kara’s wedding.  I took the opportunity to see some more of the awesome sights around Denver, and fortunately was able to convince Meredith that we should go to Rocky Mountain National Park yesterday.  This makes #3 or 4 of the big national parks I’ve visited as an adult.  (Not counting national forest or wilderness areas).

I will always love Yosemite, but I am so glad we took this trip, and hope to go back Sunday before we leave.  Here are just a couple of the numerous pictures we took.

Rockies_1 This is off Trail Ridge Road, the highest continuously paved road in the U.S., peaking at 12,100 feet above sea level.  Everyone drives this road and they are doing construction.  I felt a little bad getting out and walking around on the tundra.  This is a delicate environment, and I had no idea that the tiny plants that grow in the harsh tundra environment may be dozens, and even hundreds, of years old. Continue reading


Clarion Write-A-Thon 2010

I’m participating in the “Write-A-Thon” to benefit the Clarion Science Fiction Writers Workshop this year.  The workshop branch I’m supporting is what I refer to as “Clarion Regular,” which is the workshop that was originally founded in Milford, PA by Robin Scott Wilson, and which then moved to Michigan State University, and is now located at the University of California, San Diego.  I’m doing this as part of our BVC Clarion effort – and guess what?  If you don’t already know, Vonda N. McIntyre, who attended the mindblowing Clarion Class of 1970, founded Clarion West!!! 


This is like a Walk-A-Thon, only it’s a Write-A-Thon.  You can pledge a certain amount per-word, or just make a donation in general.  The overall goal is $10,000 to be raised for a six week period, which coincides with the current students who are now in their second week of the workshop. Continue reading


KGB vs. CIA: Who is Deadliest?

Would you like a great career collecting information for your country’s benefit?  Or perhaps you’d like to use your art skills in a patriotic manner.  Then, the CIA has a job opening for you!

I was interviewed regarding a security clearance for a job applicant not long ago.  I can’t say for whom, of course, or for what job or agency.  I was curious and questioned the security clearance investigator.  He was forthcoming in his basic description of the process.  But I can say that based upon his answers that indicated thoroughness and sophistication, in some areas, our government is not as incompetent as in others (like, uh – stopping and cleaning up oil spill disasters, preventing public benefit fraud, etc.).   Continue reading


Science for the General Reader

When I started writing science fiction, I had a few “general” first readers who would read what I wrote, and very few, if any “in-community” readers steeped in the language and tropes of science fiction.  I was very glad that “regular” or “general” readers could understand the stories I was writing, and that I was putting together conflicts and characters that regular people could relate to. Continue reading


What is an UN-Professional Writer?

No matter what you may think of my product, I am a professional writer.  That means that I earn substantial income from the fruits of my keyboard, and I also use that keyboard to help make millions for the organizations with which I am associated (you did read that correctly).  I don’t make $50 here or there, I make enough that I might find my carbon footprint suffering from the proposed cap-and-trade legislation.  Do I mean I’ve got fiction-writing income like the UK’s richest woman, JK Rowling?  My gosh, of course not.  Do I mean like the Twilight Saga’s creator Stephenie Meyer?  Oh, my goodness – no way! Continue reading


Attila the Hun vs. Alexander the Great

PankrationThanks to Greek amphorae, we have a large number of images showing Greek and Hellenistic life (other areas of the Mediterranean influenced by Greece).  This little picture illustrates the all-in form of Greek wrestling called pankration.  Pankration never went away and never lost favor and today, it lives on in the form of mixed martial arts.  There are certain pankration moves that are forbidden in competition, but they definitely wouldn’t have been left out of any real combat. Continue reading