Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Editor's Corner

January 2013

"Pain is an inescapable part of the human experience. Misery, however, is not. Misery is an option."...S.M. Tomlinson.

May your New Year be as free of misery as you are able to keep it. When the news is bad, when friends meet sudden disasters, sometimes deadly ones, we still can choose how our thinking goes. We may necessarily have sad moments but we can try to lift the spirits of those around us and therefore often lift our own. May you find a way to alleviate misery wherever you find it.

Peg Jones addresses undergoing some sad and painful thoughts when hearing about Newtown, Conneticut's tragic school slayings as many others did. The television dwelt on as much misery as they were able to wring from each interview they did. Thankfully, they finally found some heroic actions to report instead of exploiting the sadness of the families of the victims. Peg reminded herself to speak with the angels and many of us remembered to turn to prayer. Her column Angel Whispers reflects on the process of overcoming sadness.

Tom Fitzgerald O'Neill (Introspective) describes the freedoms we take for granted that are not allowed in China where he teaches. John I. Blair's column Always Looking-People Who Made A Difference focuses on 'Mr. Social Security' while Eric Shackle lightens the mood with the slant of news from Australia in his Column.

Mattie Lennon our Dublin columnist (Irish Eyes) tells us all about Mickey MacConnell a renown composer in Ireland. With our cooking editor Leo C. Helmer still a bit under the weather, he introduces Brandy Kizer as guest columnist who shares her recipe, Brandy's Chicken Taco Soup. We will all enjoy this tasty dish in "Cookin' With Leo."

Michael John Fierro, whose hometown is Pythagóreio, Samos, Greece, but who currently makes his home in Arizona, gives us his numerological analysis of what to expect in 2013. The article, "2013-A Universal 6 Year" may open your eyes. He published his book on Numerology in 2010, "You Know Your Name...Look Up Your Numbers." Michael is often a guest for various online radio shows and as a professional numerologist, life coach and spiritual mentor is available for private sessions, lectures, parties and corporate events.

Poetry submissions were comparatively few for this first issue in the new calendar year with only five. (A reminder that our ezine year starts new with the February issue and we are looking forward to many submissions.) For January we have a single poem from John I. Blair, "One Bite of Winter," also one from Bud Lemire, "A Happy New Year," and three from Bruce Clifford. He sent along "Times Like These," "The Wire," and "Life is Nothing Without You."

Mark Crocker has added more to his second book of Rabbo Tales, "Rabbo II, Chapter 10 - Trouble brewing." Previous chapters of this tale can be accessed by clicking the author's name.

Once more we remind our loyal readers that without our co-founder and webmaster Michael Craner, we would not have been able to bring you the past fifteen years of issues. Thanks again, Mike. See you in February when we kick off Volume Sixteen of Pencil Stubs Online.

Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.
This issue appears in the ezine at and also in the blog with the capability of adding comments at the latter.

Cookin' With Leo

Brandy's Chicken Taco Soup

Well, we got a treat for all you folks what like that south of the border type eats! Our guest cook today is Brandy Kizer of Garland, Texas, practically a member of the family and boy! she does come up with some great recipes. 

This one she declares as one of her favorites because it's so easy being a slow cooker recipe and she's put it together for us with her unique style. Her twin sons Nicholas and Tristan also vouch for it. You may have seen other recipes for this type soup, but check out

Brandy's Chicken Taco Soup!

2-3 Pounds of frozen chicken breasts (I use 3, I like it meaty)
1 can of sweet corn (drained)
1 can of chili beans (don’t drain)
1 can of diced potatoes (don’t drain)
1 can of black beans (don’t drain)
1 can of kidney beans (drain)
1 package of taco seasoning
1 package of ranch dressing mix (the powder)
Throw it all into your slow cooker, cover, and cook on low for 8 hours (or high for 4). Near the end of the cooking time, fish out the chicken breasts, trim off the fat and gristle and cube it up. Throw it back into the mix.

Serve with shredded cheese, Sriracha sauce, sour cream, chips, etc.

The best part about this soup is that it’s completely customizable. Change out the chicken for browned and drained hamburger meat. Add any kind of beans you like. Sometimes I add two cans of each veggie. Sometimes I add a can of carrots. It’s hearty and heart healthy. It uses exactly one dish and a can opener. Can’t beat that!

Brandy Kizer

Thank You, Brandy! An' All Y'all Have A Happy New Year!

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Irish Eyes

Mickey MacConnell

Everybody knows Only Our Rivers Run Free and most people know who wrote it. Mickey MacConnell wrote that song in twenty minutes when he was eighteen years old. Born during a snowstorm in 1947 in Bellinaleck, County Fermanagh, Mickey comes from a long line of singers, songwriters and musicians. His father was a songwriter but according to Mickey, “Unless a song involved the disembowelling of a few yeomen” his father didn’t consider it any good.
Been composing since he was 18 years old
When I interviewed Mickey for my radio programme The Story and the Song I asked him what inspired "Only Our Rivers . . .
“Well, Mattie” he said, “I can’t remember that there was any one particular thing that sparked it off. Except that growing up in south Fermanagh was a very melancholy time. And it was a sort of spiritual Chernobyl in many ways; in that every day you went out you’d be running into B-Specials on the road and they’d be asking you your name and who you were despite the fact that they were neighbours of yours. And there was a general sort of disillusionment and disappointment. And I think what really triggered it was looking at the older generation; people of my father’s age and my mother’s age and seeing this terrible apathy and acceptance of a society that was totally dominated by a sectarianism and a bigotry. And being young- it was the sixties- and all sorts of revolutions were happening. It was, I suppose, an expression of an anger that knew nowhere to go and it came out of that."
He is modest about the success of Only Our Rivers Run Free. “It’s a question of writing the right song at the right time and having it recorded by the right person.”
Christy Moore recorded it on his first Planxty album in 1971 and Mickey credits Christy with its success, “Because Christy’s career was taking off in a big way it afforded an authority and a whole importance to the song . . suddenly it became an anthem for the dispossessed and assumed an importance that I had not necessarily seen. And it has gone on to be regarded almost as a traditional song; a universal song.”
His advice to young songwriters? “Keep trying. It happened to me. It could happen to you.”
For many years, along with his two brothers he worked as a journalist in the Capital. This experience is summed up in the opening lines of his
Politician’s Song
For twenty frantic, fruitless years
I worked in Dublin town,
Reporting for newspapers
I was busy writing down
All the words of politicians
In the endless quest for truth . . .
About thirty years ago he took a year’s leave of absence. Moved to Kerry, married a Kerry woman and he’s in Listowel ever since. What does he think of the culture capital of Ireland? “Ah, Kerry is the Kingdom in all respects.”
He was a great friend of the late John B. Keane but when I point out that John B. said that it is easier to write in Listowel than not to write, the man from Ballinaleck replies, ”I would disagree with John B. there. I need anger to write and I think that perhaps when you are living among very friendly, very sociable, very contented people it’s inclined to drain any bit of anger and any bit of angst out of your Soul.”
Joined Up Writing
His first album Peter Pan and Me came out in 1992 and Joined Up Writing followed in 2000; then Mickey MacConnell live at John B’s in 2002.

What Mickey thought of John B. comes across vividly in the following song which he wrote shortly after the great playwright’s death:
Footprints of John B
There is nowhere quite so lonely as a silent darkened stage
When the footlights have all dimmed and died and the props are put away
But our town felt just as lonely as May turned into June
When God finally rang the curtain down and called our playwright home. But you cannot kill a rainbow nor turn back the rising sun
Nor undo the works of gifted men even though their day is done
For they always walk beside us when the things they had to say
Are a part of what we were and are and form the centre of our ways
So search for him in Market Street, Pound Lane or in the Square
Or late afternoon in Church Street – sure you’ll likely find him there
Or where the laughing sparkling silvery Feale sweeps westward to the sea
There you’ll follow in the shadow of the footprints of John B.
He always seemed to hear a tune that others seldom heard
As he walked through his beloved streets or in the woods of Gurtinard
He would pause and talk to children knowing each and every name
Of their seed and generation and the place from where they came.
And the countrymen he wrote about – the corner boys and knaves
Slipped from reality to printed words and then to actors on the stage
And their language that he captured, all the things they had to say
Meant the man who loved his native town never really went away.
So search for him in Market Street, Pound Lane or in the Square
Or rounding Scully’s corner, sure you’ll surely find him there
Or where……..etc
All the poets and the writers came to say a last goodbye
As did the actors and the critics, the mighty and the high
As they mingled with the townsfolk on his last sad journey home
Then each and everyone knew well we were parting with our own.
But I take comfort from the shadows for shadows mean the sun still shines
To light the clouds above us and the ones that fog our minds
So each time the pen confronts the sword for the likes of you and me
There you’ll find the gentle shadow and the spirit of John B.
So search for him in Market Street, Pound Lane or in the Square
Or somewhere out by Markey’s Bridge, You’ll surely find him there
Or where the……….etc
Kieran Goss who accompanied Mickey on albums says, “I’m delighted to see somebody writing about Mickey.” He refers to Mickey’s “sheer perspective” and “sheer humanity.” With reference to Mickey’s penchant for keeping a low profile Kieran points out the positive side to such reticence “ . . .it means there is no commercial pressure on what he produces.”
Cormac MacConnell, a noted songwriter himself, says he is “ sick, sore, and tired of being asked 'Are you a brother of Mickey?'".
The last word must go to Kieran Goss, “He writes with an honesty and a passion that I have rarely heard . . .we need more songwriters like Mickey McConnell.”
LINK: For details of Mickey’s albums


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Always Looking -- People Who Made A Difference, III

Arthur Altmeyer, “Mr. Social Security”

Arthur Altmeyer (1891-1972) is known by many as “The Father of Social Security.” He did more than anyone else to shape the institution that administered the Social Security Program of the United States, working closely with U. S. Representative Thomas Eliot of Massachusetts to draft the enabling legislation. A native of DePere, Wisconsin, Altmeyer began his career as a high school teacher and principal. Then he became chief statistician and executive secretary for the Wisconsin Industrial Commission.

In 1933 he was summoned by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to become part of the committee that drafted the original Social Security legislative proposal in 1934. He was a member of the three-person Social Security Board created to run the new program and from 1937 to 1953, when he retired, was either Chairman of the Board or Commissioner for Social Security. He was one of the principal conceptual and philosophical spokesmen for social insurance in America, and much of the policymaking during Social Security's founding decades was formulated by Altmeyer. Along with a handful of others, Arthur J. Altmeyer is responsible for the Social Security program as it exists in America today. Altmeyer was a modest, serious, and dedicated career public servant.

When Franklin D. Roosevelt ascended to the office of President of the United States of America in 1933, he inherited a country shattered by the economic devastation of the Great Depression of the early 1930s. Before that catastrophe, "there was no precedent for a social insurance system in United States law," thus no established guidelines for how to assist both the self-sufficient and the needy in maintaining acceptable living standards even in times of duress, ill health, and/or old age. Faced with continuous partisan antagonism by Republican opponents and widespread, misleading propaganda generated by fearful naysayers, President Roosevelt vowed to give the American people once again a sense of security and, therein, hope for a better future.

Altmeyer, during his nearly 20 years of leading the charge for the Social Security program during the Roosevelt and Truman presidencies, was instrumental in ensuring that this new social welfare policy would be designed, administrated, and legislated as comprehensively and efficiently as possible. Originally conceived as a means to help provide financial stability for the elderly in retirement, Social Security due to Altmeyer's advocacy and devotion eventually lead to the expansion of Social Security's coverage to orphans, widows, unskilled laborers, and the self-employed. Despite the fact that his desire to also have Social Security supply health insurance coverage and disability benefits was never fully realized during his tenure in federal government, Altmeyer persevered in championing the ideal of a broad, fair social insurance program that provides protection to society's most vulnerable members when they need it most.
Social Security Administration Boston headquarters renamed
On January 19, 1973, three months after his death, the Social Security Administration headquarters in Baltimore, Maryland were renamed in honor of Altmeyer. Then Social Security Commissioner and former colleague, Robert Ball, noted: "It has always seemed to me that the contribution Arthur Altmeyer made to the development of the social security program was very specific and personal. He did more, much more, than oversee the building up of an efficient organization. He imprinted on the evolving program and on the administration and in the people who were with it a set of values that are still operative and that have been largely responsible for the success and widespread acceptance and support that the social security system enjoys. . ."
His retirement from government service in 1953 ended an era of shaping the nation's social insurance program. He remained active in social welfare policy, however—he served as an advisor to foreign governments and in 1954 was elected president of the National Conference on Social Work. Thus, "Mr. Social Security," as Altmeyer came to be known, helped to forge one of the world's most enviable government programs and leaves behind an incomparable legacy of dedication. Following is an excerpt from Arthur Altmeyer's August 1945 report as Chairman of the Social Security Board:
Social security does not endanger the moral fiber of the Nation. Social security is not an effort to inject something new, its purpose is to conserve what men and women have long cherished in the face of changes they themselves cannot control. President Roosevelt in June 1934 said, "Security was attained in the earlier days through the interdependence of members of families upon each other and of the families within a small community upon each other. The complexities of great communities and of organized industry make less real these simple means of security. Therefore, we are compelled to employ the active interest of the Nation as a whole through government in order to encourage a greater security for each individual who composes it. . . .This seeking for a greater measure of welfare and happiness does not indicate a change in values. It is rather a return to values lost in the course of our economic development and expansion." Assistance will seem a stigma to most people. But as communities recognize the right to assistance for a minimum level of decent human existence, they will help to wipe out the conditions that make for hopelessness and perpetuate dependency. The Social Security Act is built on the assumption that it is hope that leads people to exercise initiative and assume responsibilities of citizens.
Adapted and condensed from an article at

Click on John I. Blair for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.


Angel Whispers

The horror of this incident in Newtown, Connecticut is shocking for all of us. It a time of deep reflection and realizing what is most important to us all.. And that is, our children and the innocence of who they truly are. They are our angels and they are the light that helps to make the world shine brightly.

Upon hearing about this horrific incident, of course I became upset and incensed by all that had occurred. Hearing those young children on TV, telling their story--you could sense the shock that these precious children were experiencing. Hearing the young teacher talk on TV, about what happened, when she was locked in the bathroom with those children, really hit home for me.
I am a former Kindergarten teacher. I can only imagine her horror, because she really wanted those children to be safe, along with herself to be safe. She had to remain brave for her little charges. They all did such a good job remaining quiet there.

There are many hero’s in this story and now we have many angels. The senseless act of a very ill young man has caused this. It saddens me that his only way of dealing with his life was to do such an act.

Last night as I was watching tv I found myself feeling very anxious. And I wasn’t sure why I was feeling this way… And then I remembered I felt this way, in 1963, when I was in the third grade and a student at Huntington School, in Huntington, Ct, 20 miles from Newtown, CT, JFK had died that day. In thinking about this I felt the same shock and the same sadness I had at eight years old.

My tears are plenty and my sadness is great. It is for the children who were enjoying the best part of their life, for the teachers, who were doing what they love doing the best, teaching little children. And for the parents who will miss their little angels, not able to enjoy the holidays and the rest of their child’s milestones. For the families and friends of all heart goes out to all of you.

My prayer in all of this is that we ask our leaders to help us to keep our children safe at all times. I ask that we keep our children from all harm and to keep them safe at all times. I ask that all teachers be kept safe at all times too. They are all angels now and God has blessed them greatly. Let’s honor them in our own special way. We can do this with a prayer, a poem or somehow sending our sorrow, to those in Newtown, Ct, or in a card or post card.
As a teacher, this is very scary, and then I think of the children... The little children, who want to be safe and to know they are being protected. My greatest prayer is that we can protect the children, who love us so. They trust us with their heart, for their light will be shining always.

I remember the years, I was living in Huntington, Ct, they were peaceful and beautiful years. They were the years , I was going to elementary school, the same as the children going to school at Sandy Hook Elementary School. I pray they all find the peace in the coming months that they truly deserve..


When I wrote this article, the incident had happened the day before. I was confused as to what I was feeling. For I was feeling for the teachers who were in the school at the time of it happening, for the children and for their parents and all that they were feeling. I was feeling because of the fact I was a teacher for most of my life and dealing with that and also the fact I had lived in that area when I was a young child. I asked the angels many times after that weekend why did this happen and why to these beautiful and innocent children and teachers.

Over the past weeks, I kept hearing the children who had passed are now angels in many ways. They are there for their parents and and siblings and family members, to comfort them of the loss Newton had experience. The angels say that we can take comfort knowing the children had a higher calling and that they are now safe and comforted. They will forever be on our minds and when that happens then we will know they are still so close to us. They have wisdom beyond their years and their love for all of Newton is undying. They know that the care all have shown towards Newton will be a beginning of a new understanding of what it's like to work together in unison towards one another.

To be in a place of love and clarity and of course of forgiveness is what is important here... May the children and teachers everywhere be safe always..
Peg Jones ALC
Angelic Life Coach
office The Healing Center, 234 Cabot Street, Beveryly, MA 01915
website :
Blog :

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2013...A Universal 6 Year

2013, a Universal 6 Year should be a year that includes an improvement of conditions in the economy, healthcare and medicine, and in relationships between countries and their citizens. The SIX influence should create an increased harmony in opposing points of view and if the awareness on the part of the powers that be is in tune, there should be a lessening of the extreme divisions and partisan attitudes that infect governments.

This is definitely a year for adjustments, re-assessments and working together in a responsible fashion. Other elements that are particular to the SIX energy and paramount to the improvements are in the realm of education and responsibilities and service to others. The indications also lean towards the possibility of more co-operation in governments and legislatures.

On the world stage, more effort will be directed towards solving problems internationally. It may be prudent to keep an eye on Syria and Iran as continuing shifts in their societies may result in a greater voice of the people. Worldwide this will be a year of increasing social movements coupled with a rise in social conscience. If conditions do not improve in a fair and equitable fashion, we may see the rise of radicalism in the public discourse.

The SIX year also indicates a stronger emphasis and focus on marriage, home, family and community and this may well be the year when the issue of gay marriage is once and for all settled, as society becomes more aware that equal rights for all means just that...equal rights! There should also be movement towards correcting many injustices judicially and through the law with the intent of improving conditions on all levels of society including perhaps, a greater focus on the elderly. As consciousness raises the energies will be more directed to the elements of love, understanding, the consideration of others, and the realization that we all hold responsibilities for everyone.

2013 has great potential for people to step up and take responsibility for the seeds which were planted in the ONE Universal Year (2008). A Universal Mind awareness will lend itself to ideals being raised and people gaining greater understanding of our inter-connectedness. Many of the changes begun in the FIVE Universal Year (2012) will take root as the responsibilities we all hold for our collective well-being are realized which will lead to a greater sense of well-being. 2013 is the year during which the housing market may finally begin to improve in a positive, growth-oriented fashion..

As with all years, the SIX vibration of 2013 also holds negative attributes and great caution is urged here as we could easily see the worst scenarios come to be. Sadly, and first and foremost, war could also be on the horizon. In history, World War I was begun in 1914 (a Universal 6 Year) and in 1941 (a Universal 6 Year) the United States entered World War II. 1968 (another SIX Universal Year, saw the assassination of two leading figures in politics and social movements in the United States) and the resulting social unrest was like anything ever seen in this country. We must all work to collectively emanate the vibrations of peace, co-operation and understanding with regards to human rights, equality and dignity.

2013 may also see a rise in cynicism coupled with an increase in the conservative movement and dialogue. Once again, it is imperative that the entire collective is taken into consideration in the context of legislation and policies. Social upheavals may be the result of policies that are not all-inclusive with situations such as those that appeared in 1968 beginning to emerge. Without positive action to overcome great inequities in society, poverty may become a greater issue. Other potential issues that may arise will be an increase in health problems, epidemics, hunger and homelessness. While not entirely a negative, conditions may exist that lead to the exposure of more widespread political dishonesty and chicanery. Doubt, mistrust, and hypocrisy will create a rise in political and geopolitical frictions which may lead to civil wars, social uprisings, or political coups.

If steps have not been taken in 2012 to correct the situation(s) in existence, we may see increasing problems in the housing market. A lack of responsibility on the part of political leaders could lead to a inability to fulfill social and financial commitments further exacerbating the schisms between governments and their citizens. The SIX energy may also lead to stubborn opposition to change and improvements as different factions become more intractable in their positions.

In closing, much of what transpires in 2013 will be determined by the changes that manifest in 2012 and by the willingness of all parties to work towards a more harmonious, responsible and loving world. You, the reader can do you part through the exercising and exhibition of such traits.

Do your part in continuing to make the world a better place for all.
Blessings of Love & Light
Michael John Fierro
©Copyright 2012-Reprinted with the express written consent of the author.
Michael John Fierro has a blog which can be found by clicking here.

Click on Michael John Fierro for bio and website info in Pencil Stubs Online.

Eric Shackle's Column

Wikipedia Calls for Cash

When we want to check out a story, a reference. a phrase, or anything else, it’s guineas to gooseberries that we’ll consult Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia that seems to know everything.

“Wikipedia is the #5 site on the web, and serves 450 million people every month – with billions of page views,” says its co-founder, Jimmy Wales. “Commerce is fine. Advertising is not evil. But doesn’t belong here. Not in Wikipedia.
“Wikipedia is something special. It is like a library or a public park. It is like a temple for the mind.
“It is a place we can all go to think, to learn, to share our knowledge with others.....
“If everyone reading this donated $5, our fundraiser would be done within an hour. But not everyone can or will donate. And that’s fine.
“Each year just enough people decide to give.
“This year, please consider making a donation of $5, $20, $50 or whatever you can to protect and sustain Wikipedia.”

Wikipedia has been described as ”a free, collaboratively edited and multilingual internet encyclopedia supported by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation.”
Its 23 million articles have been written or edited by about 100,000 contributors around the world. In 2011 Wikipedia received an estimated 2.7 billion page views just from the US.
You can read more about Wikipedia by visiting co-founder Jimmy Wales's website:
From ERIC SHACKLE, in Sydney, Australia. Posted Saturday, 1 December 2012, at 21:53


Frog Struck Down by Lightning!

Darwin’s Northern Territory News often displays screaming headlines about crocodiles, which are an ever-present danger in its vast circulation area.
front page in Aussie newspaper NT News
One day recently (November 30, 2012) it published a front-page story captioned
... and a few humans were hit too. It also published a poster showing a picture of a dead frog. Many readers thought this hilarious. Dan Thorne, in the UK online news magazine TNT, wrote “Stop the press! Frog hit by lightning makes the front page in Aussie newspaper NT News.
Incidentally, the NT News is a small dinghy in Rupert Murdoch’s global fleet of newspapers.
Let's take a moment to thank the hapless frog for his service to the media industry and giving us a darned good laugh. NT News, we salute you.
From ERIC SHACKLE, in Sydney, Australia. Posted Monday, 3 December 2012, at 14:58

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I would like to start off by wishing all of you a happy New Year and boy does time fly. I have been living in Suzhou, China now for almost four years but it certainly doesn’t seem that long. I know that 2013 will most likely move just as quickly as the previous years.
One of the first things I noticed when I moved to Suzhou, China was that I was unable to access my blog on Google’s BlogSpot domain. At the time I was clueless about China’s censorship of various internet sites and I wasn’t sure how to go about fixing the issue. Other American’s living in Suzhou explained to me how China has a government controlled internet firewall.
It can be quite frustrating dealing with the online censorship here especially for Americans like me who have experienced the freedoms that come with being born in the U.S.
I soon learned that there are many internet sites that are blocked here like Facebook, YouTube, Tweeter and various News outlets. Accessing Gmail can be quite time consuming and downright cumbersome due to China redirecting the Google homepage to Google Hong Kong.
The internet for most American’s is a freedom and a convenience we take for granted. I am dependent on the internet for accessing information on what’s happening throughout the world and for staying in touch with friends and relatives.
In the U.S. for most Americans the internet is like a basic utility similar to electricity, heating, indoor plumbing, and cable television. Going online can also be a form of entertainment, communication, and a way of broadening ones knowledge.
The United States Government due to our constitutional rights could never get away with censoring what we can access online. When Americans come to China to work or visit and they discover that their rights to access the daily News or a personal blog is being restricted it can become an annoyance to say the least.
I quickly learned about Virtual Proxy Network servers like many other foreigners living in China. My computer is now connected to a VPN via the internet to a server in California. It allows me to access the internet as if I was surfing the web from the U.S.A. the sites that China has blocked are assessable through the VPN server.
I use the various western News outlets to teach a cultural diversity course here in Suzhou. The first question that was addressed to me in class by a student was how I was able to access YouTube on the school network. I explained to her the modern convenience of using a VPN server.
Most of my students are also somewhat perplexed by their government’s intrusion in not allowing them to access the outside world online. My VPN server at times gets blocked though due to China continually applying new and highly advanced technology to plug up the VPN’s open ports.
Each time China blocks an open port needed for the VPN server to work. My VPN service provider can remotely access my computer. They then make the needed adjustments in order to reestablish my connection to their server. For a foreigner like me having to go through those hassles to read or watch American News programs can be somewhat frustrating. The knowledge that it’s China’s Government that’s trying to prevent me from getting access to my home country’s News and info is mind boggling to say the least.
Many VPN service providers are now offering their services on mobile devices such as iPhones and iPads. China is applying highly sophisticated technology that can automatically locate the open ports the VPN servers are using and block the mobile devices from using them.
On December 18th 2012 China released a statement as to why their Government is cracking down on the Virtual Proxy Network servers, “If there is no strict legal punishments on the violators in cyber space, the negative factors will run wild to destroy the Internet order and even incite online violence, which will bring great damage to people and society.” This is China’s rationale for maintaining its stringent censorship by erecting its cyber Firewall in order to keep a half billion people or so in the dark as to what is going on throughout the world and in their own country.
Tweeter, YouTube, and Facebook are looked upon as too grave a threat to the Chinese Government. At the same time China launched their own Chinese versions of the same sites, which they control of course, and they can easily pull or delete anything they deem objectionable. Social media websites which the Chinese believe can be used to stage protests are also blocked. However, China launched its own version of those same sites as well which are closely monitored and censored.
I like most foreigners in China am a Skype user I use it to phone the U.S. online. When you download the Skype software in China however you are actually downloading a China version of Skype not the U.S. version. The China Government can monitor your online activity via Skype. When I use Skype here in China I get many dropped calls and unexplained internet interference. The Skype connection and call quality even on high-speed broadband is poor by design in China.
China is mostly concerned about its public opinion at home and abroad and blocking various social media sites and News outlets is there way of controlling what its citizens can read or view online.
China in many ways is achieving its objective because they are effectively influencing their citizens’ opinions through their own media outlets via television, radio, and of course the internet.
There are approximately 500 million internet users in China and only 1 percent of those users rely on VPN servers to access the web. The majority either are not technologically aware VPN’s exist or they lack interest due to a language barrier. Many in China would prefer Chinese websites over English language websites. Many others may also lack interest in what’s going on in other places in the world. Opinions about China from other National Governments including the U.S. are not that great of an interest for most people in China. That is why there aren’t big protests from people here about the censoring practices of the Chinese Government.
Currently my VPN is working fine and my VPN service provider is ready to continue its cat and mouse game with China’s latest crackdowns on Virtual Proxy Network servers.
Most of my students are now using their own VPN’s for their classroom assignments and they are very knowledgeable about what makes America a great nation. They are also enjoying the freedom of surfing the web unfettered by the technological surf-patrols searching for ways to block online ports to the outside world.
I also enjoy my students’ insights as to why so many Chinese students want to travel to America. It’s mostly due to our liberties and the freedom to express ourselves without fear of censorship or government reprisal.
We Americas have the freedom to assemble a protest against our Government’s policies in our country without fear of being arrested and facing government retaliation through the judicial system.
America’s freedom sets us apart from most other nations in the world and that itself can make one proud to be called an American.
Always with love from Suzhou, China
Thomas F O’Neill
    U.S. voice mail: (800) 272-6464
    China Cell: 011-86-15114565945
    Skype: thomas_f_oneill
    Other articles, short stories, and commentaries by Thomas F. O'Neill can be found on his award winning blog, Link:

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One Bite of Winter

December’s first freeze
Forces me to realize
Life will not be always
Flower-sweet summer.

One bite of icy air
On my creaky thighs
Makes me treasure even more
The joys of sunny days.

But the long, long nights
Toward the solstice
Perfect my practice
At solacing my soul.

©2012 John I. Blair

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A Happy New Year

A New Year is upon us soon
The bells are ringing a brand new tune
Reunions that are soon to be
One that will bring a love to me

Although this year is almost done
I won't forget about all the fun
One story ends and another one starts
Love growing deeper as one year departs

Another year captured on photos I took
Several more chapters to add to my book
A successful year of poetry
Words in my mind that come to me

Some people left us in this year
I know their spirit is always near
New people enter the circle of friends
Another year starting as another year ends

A dream of what the New Year will bring
All will come true as the bells start to ring
Happy New Year I say unto you
May your New Year be a great one too

©Dec 31, 2012 Bud Lemire

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Life Is Nothing Without You

By Bruce Clifford
I can't explain
I can't change
You're the only one who has made sense

All these years
All of these tears
It's nothing like I've ever felt before

Bring on the rainbows and the butterflies
They pale in comparison to you
Bring on the universe, bring on your golden rules
Life is nothing without you

I can't explain
I can't blame
It's something I have never felt before

I can't pretend
I can only defend
Nothing else matters much to me

Bring on the rainbows and the butterflies
They pale in comparison to you
Bring on the ocean views, bring on mountains solitude
Life is nothing without you

Life is nothing without you here
Life is nothing without you near
Life is nothing without you loving me
Life is nothing without you and me

Some people pass love off as show and tell
Some people get by thinking this is all so swell
Some people take the chance and let true love in
Life is nothing without you
Life is nothing without you

©12/28/12 Bruce Clifford

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Rabbo Tales II-Chapter 10

Trouble brewing

Rabbo was glad to be back at his mountain home after being away for a month and half at the new village. The village while it was on the coast had been so hot for Rabbo that he had made himself sick as he was not use to the heat. But he pointed out in his defense that while the humans could simply take more cloths off it was hard from his to remove his fur.
What had happened was that he and Yhva had been playing fetch and Rabbo had been chasing after a ball that Yhva would throw. Neither of them thought too much about it until Rabbo suddenly started get a monster headache and his muscles cramped and he had started to throw up. If Angus had not been there and knew what to look for in heat exhaustion Rabbo could have become very sick and even have died.
But Angus saw that Rabbo was in trouble and helped to cool him down slowly and safely by taking him in side and giving him a long room temperature shower and then sitting him in side drinking room temperature water. So that other than a pounding headache which was worse than any hangover that Rabbo had ever had there was no ill affects to Rabbo and the headache was gone within a few hours.
Bastet let in be known though the whole village that if anyone made Rabbo chase after anything or sent him running on an errand they would have to answer to her in lioness form and she was feeling hungry. So Rabbo was left alone to sit in the shade and relax after all the hard work that he had done before the Sirians had arrived.
Rabbo still did help but only early in the morning before it had got to hot and that was only after he had told Merwyn Bastet and Angus that he was getting bored and if they did not let him help he would pee in their drinks at night when they slept.
The voyage back to Athens by ship was restful and everyone including the sailors relaxed and enjoyed the trip across the sea. It has surprised Rabbo that after only one day of sailing they had come to an island where there was a large village and that part of the cargo that had been loaded was unloaded and a new cargo of copper was added to the tin and copper that was already on board the ship. Once the copper had been loaded on board the ship and placed down in the hold and fresh water and food taken on board the ship waited for the wind to pick up before it headed out into open water. The next time Rabbo saw land was about a day before they reached Athens as they raced up the coast with full sail.
Solee and Bastet had sat listening to Angus as they sailed up the coast as he talked about his childhood interest in sailing and that he remembered once seeing an old sailing ship that had been used to haul cargo on the oceans. He told them that he remembered how it was built and that if Solee wanted he would draw up plans and they could build a bigger and better trading ship.
Merwyn told Bastet and Rabbo later that he found it very funny that Angus was turning from a solider into a sailor and that being a trader would be the best thing for Angus as it was a new skill that would help him stay young.

Rabbo was glad to be home and while it had been just an hour since he, Merwyn, Bastet and Angus had arrived he was very surprised that there was no sign of Athena or Helena.
The three children had been playing in the garden digging a huge hole while Cat sat and watched and Rabbo’s mother, mischief and the rabbit kittens helped to dig. The three little girls were covered in mud and dirt as the rabbits had showered them in dirt as they had helped to dig the hole. They did not see Rabbo, Merwyn Angus and Bastet walking along the path as they stopped digging and started to throw mud bombs at each other and were having a grand old time getting mud and dirty.
Finally as Merwyn, Angus and Bastet stood watching the three girls looked up squealed in delight and climbed out of the hole and ran up to them. Merwyn introduced Angus to the three little girls and told them that he was Uncle Angus from Sirius and that he was an old family friend and was to be treated as a member of the family.
Then Merwyn asked where Athena and Helena were and the little girls answered that Athena and Helena were wrestling down by the rock pools. Merwyn took the three girls inside to get them cleaned and Angus and Bastet followed him into the house after Merwyn had apologized that girls had gone wild while he was away.
Rabbo was left with Cat, his mother, mischief and the young rabbits.
“Has there been anything going on while I have been away” Rabbo asked Cat.
“Oh some” said Cat.
“Some? What kind of answer is that” said Rabbo.
“New baby cow born. To village Athena and Helena go for a day. Come back with wool” said Cat. “Oh a new calf? That’s good news. And they went and got wool. Did it rain while I was away” said Rabbo.
“Rain hard with big wind. Tree in back of house fall” said Cat looking towards the end of the garden.
Cat jumped down from his high spot and walked over to the tall grass.
“Follow and hide” said Cat.
Rabbo followed Cat into the tall grass and they both crouched down and waited as Athena and Helena came walking up the path wearing nothing but smiles.

Athena and Helena had been down at the stream laying on the grass and being very passionate with each other. But now it was close to lunch time and their children would be getting tired so reluctantly they parted and stood up and walked back up to the house.
Both were glad that Athena had told Cat to watch over the girls and that if there were any problems to let Athena know so that they could run back and take care of the problems.
As they walked back they stopped often and kissed before continuing their walk back to the hole that the girls had started to dig with the help of the house rabbits.
As they reached the garden they could not hear the girls nor see Cat but they were not to worried that it was quiet.
“Cat must have taken them inside as they have to be getting tired by now” said Athena as she stopped and kissed Helena.
Helena giggled and pulled Athena closer as they kisses.
At that moment Rabbo and Cat leapt out at them.
“If I was a lion I would kill you and eat you” said Rabbo.
Athena started to laugh hard and Helena turned to look at her as Rabbo and Cat had given her quiet a shock when they had jumped out at her and Athena.
“I don’t think it’s that funny” said Helena trying to slow her racing heart.
“It’s a joke between Rabbo and myself” said Athena still laughing. “Oh that means dad is home”.
“Yes Merwyn is home and Bastet and Angus are with him” said Rabbo.
“Angus here” said Athena with her eyes going wide.
“Yes Angus came back with us. He is in love with Bastet’s girl friend Solee and she is in love with him” said Rabbo.
Helena looked around confused and pulled her long hair over her shoulders to try and cover her nakedness.
Athena giggled as Helena tried to cover herself with her long hair and hands and in doing so made her self look more wanton.
“Don’t worry about being naked darling” said Athena. “Bastet has seen you naked so has dad and well Angus will enjoy how you look anyway. Beside we Sirians see but don’t see nakedness”.
Once again Athena and Helena held each others hands and continued up the path towards the house.
They walked into the house and were greeted by Bastet and Angus who were sitting at the kitchen table talking.
“Umm where are the girls” asked Helena getting worried.
“Upstairs taking a bath as they were very dirty” said Bastet smiling and looking Athena up and down. “You two look like you could use a bath too as you smell all sweaty”.
Helena walked over to one of the chairs by the fireplace reached down and picked up a short toga that was lying on the chair.
She pulled it on over her head keeping her back to Angus and Bastet as she did so. She then turned around and smiled.

Ra sat with Anubis, Horus, Hathor, Nut, Seshat and Seth.
“That did not work as planned. That Bladud was quicker than I counted on and who ever that Yhva is could be a huge problem for our plans” said Ra.
“I tried to check Yhva’s aura while he slept but he has some very powerful shields and they did not drop when he went to sleep like they normally would” said Hathor.
“That worries me” said Ra.
“Worries you? It scares me” said Anubis. “If he is that powerful we don’t have a huge problem we have a major problem. Somehow we need to get him on our side and control him”.
“Anubis you don’t control someone that powerful” said Ra. “But you are right he is a major problem”
Ra turned and looked at Seth “How many abilities do you think he has”?
“I don’t know. The only way we can find out is meeting him in person” said Seth.
“That might not be advisable. If he is as powerful as we think that would be very dangerous. But if we could win him over that would be very useful for us in dealing with Merwyn. But remember he might be of that same point of view as Merwyn is” said Hathor.
“Let’s hope that he is none to intelligent and that we can use him” said Anubis.
“Even if he is intelligent we might still be able to use him. We can turn him by feeding what information we can that would turn his mind away from Merwyn. But we have to use the truth but only what helps us” smiled Ra.
“If we could get him here and use one of the local young women to turn his head we could get control of him. Or I could seduce him” said Hathor.
Ra laughed “No Artemis would be more useful for that. While her bedroom skills are not as good as yours she does have one thing that you don’t. And that’s good muscle control”
“Where is she anyway? I think she should be brought here to see if she would be willing to help” said Seth.
“Either in her rooms or entertaining some young man or both” said Hathor.
“She still holds the hope that she can have children here on this planet. After all she is the only one other than Bastet and Athena that has gotten pregnant. It was just a pity that she lost the baby when she was seven months pregnant” said Hathor. “Did she ever say who the father was”?
“It could have been anyone of us” said Anubis. “After all we all had sex with her in that time frame”.
Ra laughed and looked at Seth. “She is always so willing. Does she still sleep with you”?
“Every night even after she has been entertaining all day. But she still does not like other women in our bed” said Seth smiling.
“I know I have offered her many a time and she has always turned me down. Very nicely but she has never taken me up on that offer” said Hathor.
“Seth you would be ok if we used Artemis as bait for Yhva” said Ra.
“Oh yes I am ok with it. Beside she is not my only lover” said Seth smiling at Seshat.
Seshat blushed “I could seduce Yhva too. I might not be as skilled at either you Hathor or Artemis but I am willing. I feel that we should give Yhva as many to choose from as possible. Yet make in not look like that is what we are doing. We could use the local female things as well as Hathor, Artemis and me. Maybe Nut and Ma'at could help too. After all if we can get him to stay here and enjoy the pleasures we offer we can turn his mind to our needs and in doing so get rid of Merwyn, Athena and Bastet. Thus we would be able to take full control of this planet. Plus if he is able to get anyone of us pregnant or even one of the local female things we can start replacing these things on this planet and we can go ahead with out plan. Hathor refresh my memoir on what the plan was as I am still not sure on the details”.
“Later” said Ra looking at Seshat “Right now we need to work out what to do with Yhva as he is a problem. We need to be sure that we can turn his mind to our use”.
Anubis leaned forward and looked thoughtful for a few moments before he leaned back and looked out the opened door at the attendants that were waiting outside for Ra to begin this afternoon rituals that were part of daily life that kept the local people in line.
“What we need to know is this. What are his abilities? How intelligent he is. What his interests are. What kind of companion he would like. We don’t know if he likes females or males or both. We also need to know what his beliefs are and what he thinks about this planet and more importantly what his plans are if he has any at all” said Anubis.
“Very true” said Ra. “I will leave that all in your hands Anubis”.
Ra stood up and looked at Anubis, Horus, Hathor, Nut, Seshat and Seth one by one. Then he started towards the door.
Anubis turned to Horus “You have not said much. What do you think”?
“I think” Horus said slowly “That Yhva has his own plans. I also think that if he does he will do it without letting us or Merwyn know. The thing is that if we can find out what his plans are we might be able to adjust our plans to match his. Another option is that we split this planet between he and us. By doing that we can do our own thing and he can do his own thing. Thus we get what we want and he gets what he wants. But I don’t think he will be as much of an issue as we think he is. Our main goal has been for many years to get rid of Merwyn and his daughter. And we should stay focused on that goal. Too many goals at one time makes things harder. So to this aim I suggest that we focus on Merwyn and not this Yhva. I think we should wait and see what Yhva will do as he will show what he is in time. But we should stay on Merwyn and his daughter. If I were Ra and I am not. I would not worry about Yhva. We have time to deal with him. Let’s stay focused on Merwyn and get rid of him first. However if Yhva shows a dislike for Merwyn we can aid him and at the same time we kill two birds with one stone”.
“Well said and well spoken” said Hathor.
“What we need is a spy at both Merwyn’s and Yhva’s” said Horus. “I have just the thing in my household. I have bred a young man and a young woman that we could send to Yhva’s household and use them as spies. They are both innocent and I bred them that way as I was planning to offer than to you Hathor. But they would be more useful as spies”.
“Bred them for me” smiled Hathor. “That was very kind of you. Do you think giving them as gifts would be useful and how could they be used as spies”.
“Oh very useful indeed” said Horus smiling shyly. “You can see though their eyes and hear though their ears. Very useful in deed”.
“Were did you find their parents” asked Hathor.
“They are in my household. I stole their grand mother for Bastet. Or rather Bastet thought that she had been eaten by a crocodile. I have bred from her. I put her in a tank and wipe her memoirs and then keep breeding down from her. She had a sister you know that Bastet sent away to somewhere. If I could have had her I would have a matching pair and I could have more useful spies. As it is I have just four and out of those four just the two I am willing to send are useful. The other two are too young. The female is 3 years old and the male is eighteen months old. They will have to wait for me to umm open their little minds to be useful for us”.
“Does Ra know what you are doing” asked Anubis.
“Yes and he sees little use in my umm toys” said Horus laughing softly.
“Until now” added Hathor. “I would like to see these toys you have Horus”.
“I think there is no more we can do here today so let us adjourn until tomorrow” said Anubis.
Anubis, Nut, Seshat and Seth got up and left Hathor and Horus alone.
“I would like to see these two that you plan to send to Yhva as spies. I think we need to look closely at your breeding program as it seems that it has become very useful” said Hathor.

The brother and sister stood before Hathor and Horus. Both had their minds blanked and Horus and Hathor were linked mentally and where in the brother and sisters minds.
The young man turned and walked out the door into the courtyard where two gardeners were working and talking.
Hathor was very shocked that she felt as if it was her body and that she could see and hear as if she was there in the courtyard.
Horus had the young man turn around and walk back into the room and stand back in front of Hathor.
Horus had the young man sit down on the floor and then switched to the young woman.
But before he did he opened his eyes and looked at Hathor.
“You will like this” said Horus as he closed his eyes again.
Hathor felt as if she was the young woman but that she had no control over the body she was wearing.
She saw herself though the eyes of the young woman who was walking towards her.
“Can anyone control her” asked Hathor.
“I don’t know. Lets find out”.
“Her brother is he ok there sitting on the floor”
“Sure his mind is totally blank and empty. Like his sister he won’t remember a thing. How do you think I got her pregnant both times? Plus she does not know that the children she is caring for his hers and his. Ok now slip into her mind and open her eyes so that you can look though them” said Horus.
For the next two hours Hathor tried and tried but was unable to take control of the young woman. But in less than ten minutes she had full control of the young man and had learnt to control his mind, body and his senses.
“That was wild” said Hathor. “Being in his body and mine at the same time. But I won’t be doing that again as it is very hard to control his body”.
“I am glad to hear that” said Ra standing in the door way looking at Hathor and Horus.
Hathor sat up and looked at Ra.
“These two are very useful and I think we can use them to spy on Yhva. Did Anubis report to you what went down in the meeting after you left” said Hathor
“Yes he did and I have been watching you four for a while” said Ra looking at Hathor and smiling. “I am glad to see that you have not wasted your time Horus and that these two will make perfect gifts for Yhva”.
“Thank you Ra. I am glad you like them. Now I would like something in return for my hard work” said Horus.
“You have earned a reward for your hard work” said Ra smiling.
“I need fresh gene stock and you have a woman in your household that has good genes I want her” said Horus.
“Which one I have many” said Ra.
“The tall red head with the long legs that you have follow you around” said Horus. “Hmm she is a good pet almost intelligent” Ra looked thoughtful for a moment. “Let me have Nut clone her and she will be yours”.
“Thank you Ra if things work out as I plan I could have more of these useful things to help us” said Horus looking at the young woman thoughtfully.
“I will leave you four alone for your fun. But I want those two play things ready in two months as I plan to send them to Yhva as a gift of peace”.
Ra walked out of the room leaving Hathor and Horus alone with the young man and woman.

Rabbo sat at the dinner table with Merwyn, Athena, Bastet, Helena and Angus.
The children had gone to bed at their normal time but the adults had not eaten with them as the meal that Helena had cooked for them had taken far longer than normal.
“I have not eaten like this in so many years that I lost count” said Angus. “It’s truly a pleasure to sit down in a house and just eat good food”.
Helena blushed at Angus’s complement and looked down at her plate.
“Do you remember my mother” asked Athena looking right at Angus.
“Oh yes she was a very beautiful woman. She could at times seem very distant to people. I guess I can’t blame her as she was well umm incredible beautiful. Merwyn was lucky to win her heart as every man wanted her and most woman too” Angus paused and looked thoughtful for a moment. “It must have been hard on her as she exuded such sex appeal and had such beauty that words really can’t even come close”.
“Really” said Athena “tell me more about my mother as I really don’t remember that much about her”.
“To see how beautiful she was all you have to do is look in the mirror. You could pass for her twin young lady. I remember the night I first met her” Angus said closing his eyes so that he could relive the moment. “It was a cool winter’s night and your father had invited me and my Bess over for dinner. Your mother greeted us at the door. You see we had just moved to the area as we were hiding as we had just got our son back from the council of Toner. It was the only time I saw my dear Bess smile. Well there was the tall beauty dressed in a long purple dress that was almost see though. I remember thinking though the whole dinner that Merwyn umm your father was so lucky. I still laugh to myself as later I heard her nic name. “The ice princess”. Well anyway once dinner was over Merwyn and myself sat outside drinking wine while my Bess helped Isis your mother clean up. Hmm you know they were gone far longer than it should of taken to wash the dishes. Over two hours I think. Anyway your mother was so beautiful and funny too. I remember other times that we had dinner with your mother and father. But that one stays with me the most as my Bess was so happy that night”.
Merwyn smiled at Angus. “You know that Isis was trying to heal your wife that night”
“Yes Bess told me. She loved Isis you know” said Angus sadly. “Not that I minded them having sex. It helped Bess a little. But in the end Bess just could not take what they had done to our son. I can’t blame her really. I tried to die too”.
“Was Toner and his followers that bad” asked Helena. “You see I only have what Merwyn, Athena and Bastet have told me to go on”.
“I don’t know what Merwyn told you but more than likely he has down played how bad they were. I heard a story when I was recovering from my wounds after the battle of Albayand. That’s were Merwyn’s forces were betrayed and encircled. The way I heard the story is that there was just Merwyn and ninety eight others left. Ra, Anubis, Horus, Thoth, Seth, Hermes, Ares, Kronos, Dionysus, Ma'at, Nut, Seshat, Hathor, Hera, Artemis, Aphrodite and Bastet being among them. Toner had Isis and you Athena who they had captured brought to where Merwyn and his force was surrounded and told Merwyn that if he did not surrender that you and your mother would be tortured and then killed very slowly in front of him and his troops. What your father did not know was that Hermes had already made a deal that all the survivors would go into exile on this planet that we are now on” Angus paused and looked at Merwyn. “I’m so sorry my friend that he made you suffer like that. I know how heart breaking it had to be for you. I seem to recall that Hermes had told Toner where Isis and Athena could be found. But I am not sure. But if he did and I am pretty sure he would do something like that I will have revenge for you my friend so that your hands are clean. I will get the information out of him and I will make him suffer like he made you and the others suffer”.
Bastet laughed and looked at Angus.
“You won’t have to. He suffers and will suffer forever. I made sure of that” said Bastet smiling and leaning back and sipping on her wine.
“Bastet locked his mind up and kept his body alive” said Rabbo who had been listening intently.
“You don’t upset my aunty and get away with it” said Athena leaning over and snuggling against Bastet.
“Your aunty” asked Angus.
“I am Isis’s younger sister” said Bastet as she pulled away from Athena and stood up walking to the kitchen area and turning.
“But your face Bastet” said Angus.
“The result of spending ten years as a lioness” said Merwyn laughing.
Suddenly Bastet grow a little taller her face changed into that of Isis her body became thinner.
“Athena go and stand next to Bastet a second” said Rabbo.
Athena walked over and stood side by side with Bastet. Together they looked like twins sisters.
“Helena could you join them” Rabbo asked.
Helena walked over and stood between Athena and Bastet and while Athena and Bastet looked like twins Helena looked like a younger sister of Athena and Bastet.
Rabbo heard a faint sob and turned and looked at Merwyn who had tears running down his cheeks. Helena ran over and wrapped her arms around Merwyn to comfort him. Athena ran over and also wrapped her arms around Merwyn.
“Let it out dad” said Athena softly as Merwyn cried.
By the time Merwyn had regained his composure it was very late and Angus was yawing and trying to stay awake.
Angus was lead into the living room that had been turned into a bedroom for his visit while Helena led Merwyn upstairs to his room.
Athena and Bastet stood together in the kitchen looking at each other.
“I did not know that your father represses his feelings about your mother that much” said Bastet. “I did not mean to make him cry”.
“I know darling” said Athena moving into Bastet arms. “I guess that was why it was so easy for me to seduce him and to get pregnant”.
“I think so” said Bastet.
“Why was letting him cry good” asked Rabbo who was sitting under the table cleaning his paws.
Athena sat down on the floor and looked at Rabbo. She crossed and uncrossed her legs before she brought her knees up and hugged them into herself.
“Well Rabbo dad represses his feelings about things. He holds his emotions in and while it gives him control of himself its not good to let those feelings build up in him. If you don’t let them out once in a while they turn bad in you and come out in other ways” said Athena smiling at Rabbo.
“So why does Merwyn not let those bad emotions out” asked Rabbo.
“I don’t know. Maybe it’s because of all the horror he saw” said Athena thoughtfully.
“It was horrible” said Bastet as she came over sat down behind Athena and wrapped her arms around Athena’s shoulders.
Athena turned and kissed Bastet’s nose “How do you know”?
“I was there. How do you think I got saved? I was a medic. The horrors I saw on that campaign. It was my first and only campaign and I joined it late. I am glad I did and yet I wish I had not seen that horror. What little I saw your father saw for years and years. After all he did how many tours as an oath keep under Toner? Was in ten or twelve? That takes a toll on someone. And as tough as your dad seems he needs an outlet. And you are giving him that outlet well you and Helena are. Plus why do you think I have that nasty side to my nature. I don’t see myself as a good person. After all if I was a good person I would have forgiven Hermes like your father did and I would not be so mean and tough. And beside I did played goddess for a while and I did things I am not proud of when I played goddess” said Bastet.
Bastet stood up and reached down and took Athena’s hand pulling her to her feet and turning Athena around and kissing her.
“Let go to bed as I need some stress release. And the sound of Merwyn and Helena going at it is turning me on” said Bastet.

Rabbo awoke in the twin’s bedroom that they were sharing with Diana. The room was quiet and empty. The only sound he could hear was a thump thump thump coming from the next bedroom that was Athena’s.
Rabbo slipped off the toy box that he had dragged his pillow onto and hopped out of the bedroom and hopped over to Athena’s bedroom. He was about to enter when he heard giggling laughing and panting so instead of hopping in he turned and hopped down the hallway to the bathroom.
After he had taken care of his morning needs he hopped down the stairs to get breakfast.
From outside Rabbo could hear the sound of steel blades clashing and ringing as they hit each other. So he grabbed his little sword raced outside think that Ra had sent a force and that the house was under attack.
“And prey tell what you are going to do with that little knife rabbit” said Angus who had a thin sword in his hand.
Rabbo ignore the question and looked at Merwyn “I thought that we were under attack or something”.
“And if we were what could you do with that little toy sword rabbit” said Angus putting his hands on his hips.
“Don’t tease him” said Merwyn “you might not live to regret it”.
Rabbo snickered as he knew that Angus had the reach on him with his sword. But Rabbo thought it was best to pretend that he was brave so he pulled his sword and hopped over and looking up at Angus.
Angus started to laugh as Rabbo looked up at him and so Rabbo hit Angus on the shins with the flat sword of the swords and bounced off so that he was now behind Angus.
“That will teach me” said Angus laughing.
Merwyn laughed “Angus the rule when training with Rabbo is that what ever part of the body he hits you can’t use. So now you can’t use that leg”
Rabbo who was still behind Angus bounced in and whacked Angus on the back of his leg before he bounced off.
Angus stood on one leg and turned around to face Rabbo.
“Ok let’s get a little safer here and stop this for a moment while I get wooden swords so that you two don’t end up hurting each other too badly” said Merwyn.
Merwyn returned carrying two long wooden swords and a short Rabbo size sword. He handed Angus a long sword and Rabbo his short sword and stood back.
Rabbo and Angus circled each other and each looked for an opening in the other. Then with lightening speed Rabbo moved in and hit Angus on the back of his leg before moving fast out of the way.
Angus hopped on one leg and looked at Rabbo carefully.
“I can see that I have a problem here” mused Angus as he waited for Rabbo to move in for another pass and attack.
Rabbo moved in and side stepped Angus thrust but was unable to get a strike in or make a hit.
Rabbo circled around Angus trying to get him off balance and was unable to do so. Rabbo then tried a faint attack again to throw Angus off but that failed too. In the end Rabbo moved straight in blocked Angus first thrust but ended up taking a full hit to his back but at the same time Rabbo’s wooden swords hit Angus in the main artery that ran down the of his leg.
“You are tough Rabbo” said Angus. “That hit to your back was a lucky shot and your hit to the main artery on my leg would mean that if I did not get medical treatment fast I would have bled out and died”.
Rabbo, Merwyn and Angus sparred for about an hour more until the three of them where hot and sweaty from the work out.
Athena and Bastet sat and watched them sparring from Athena’s bedroom window while Helena took care of the children.
As Rabbo Merwyn and Angus sat catching their breath Helena came out with a tray of fresh fruit juice and freshly baked cookies. She sat the tray down on the chopping stump and handed Angus and Rabbo their drinks before walking over kissing Merwyn and handing him his drink.
Helena sat next to Merwyn and snuggled into him while Rabbo and Angus caught their breaths after the work out.
“You know Rabbo you might be small but you have speed and skill on your side. Plus one thing that no one would ever expect. You look like a rabbit you act like a rabbit and that in its self is a weapon that no one would expect. A rabbit that fights back” said Angus.
“There is more than just his skill with a sword Angus” said Merwyn breaking from a kiss with Helena. “Rabbo show him what other umm weapons you have”.
Rabbo looked up at Angus and winked before he started to float up into the air. He came to rest at eye level with Angus. Then Rabbo looked towards the semi wild rabbits that were eating the fresh young grass.
The semi wild rabbits suddenly line up in nice neat ranks and started to march towards Angus Merwyn and Helena. As the got closer they broke into three groups and formed a circle around Angus.
“Ok king of the rabbits” said Angus laughing softly.
Rabbo let the semi wild rabbits return to their fresh grass and eating and looked at Angus with a mean look on his face.
One wooden log floated though the air and landed at Angus feet. Then Rabbo hopped away and returned with a small bucket of water. Rabbo looked at the log and sudden the log burst in to flames. Rabbo picked up the bucket of water and threw it over the burning log.
“Oh very cleaver” smiled Angus “I won’t worry about you to much in a fight then. But I am glad you are on my side. You are on my side right”?
“I am on your side Angus” said Rabbo.
As they sat talking and enjoying the spring morning sunshine the semi wild rabbits cropped the grass and moved away from the house slowly and back towards their warren.
Out of the house walked two lioness with Wenna and Merryn ride on the back of one and Diana riding on the back of the other.
The two lionesses had their tails entwined and walked close together as the moved towards Merwyn Helena Rabbo and Angus.
“I did not know you had lions” said Angus.
“We don’t” answered Merwyn looking at the two lionesses that had just dropped of the girls and were heading off down the pathway towards the stream and rock pools.
“Oh” said Angus as he watched the two lionesses disappear out of sight.
Helena snuggles back into Merwyn and whispered in his ear before she started to nibble gentle.
Merwyn kissed Helena gentle smiled slyly “yes in a few girl”.
Rabbo looked at Angus. “I wonder what is going on at the new village”.
“I don’t know. But I am glad to be away from there. As much as I liked Bladud the others were a little much. So unorganized and so lazy. Well not lazy just not in a hurry to do anything. If Lexsan had not gotten on everyone’s back we would still be on the forth planet and Bladud would still be working on the ship. I do miss him but not the others. Beside I found the one thing that I thought I would never find again. I just wish Solee was with us here” said Angus.
“I want to see what’s going on and if Bladud is still leader. I know it’s only been one weeks since we left but I wonder” said Rabbo.
Rabbo looked at Angus “shall we go and have a look. I will need help as it’s at the limit of my range”.
“You can ride with me. I am pretty sure that it’s within my range. It’s not as far as Ra’s area is it” asked Angus.
“It should keep us two busy for a while” said Rabbo to Merwyn on his private telepathic mode. “It’s clear to me what she wants and needs as I am getting good at reading humans”.
“She told me what she wants and needs and I am glad that you are keeping Angus busy as I did not want to seem rude and leave Angus alone while I have fun with Helena. Thank you Rabbo” answered Merwyn on the same mode.
Rabbo turned to Angus and hopped over. “Ok let’s get going and see what’s going on at the new village”.
Rabbo and Angus linked minds and closed their eyes and slipped out of their bodies and headed towards the new village.
As they reached the village everything looked pretty much the same other than lots of covered stalls around the village square and lots of people walking around looking at the stalls and talking.
“Market day” asked Angus.
“It looks like it to me. That was fast how they got that set up. Just one week and they have a market” said Rabbo.
They moved away from the village square and looked at the gardens that had young plants but nothing that could be sold in the market. They moved out over the village walls and looked at the farms that Bastet had set up and again there was nothing worth selling.
“That’s strange I don’t understand why they would hold a market if they don’t have anything to sell from the farms of gardens” said Angus.
“There are others things that they can sell. Such as fish and copper and tin as well as anything that they could make” answered Rabbo. “Let’s look at the stalls and see what they are selling”.
They moved back to the market and the first stall they stopped at had butter and dairy produces on it. They moved to the next one and there was wild game and eggs. The one next to that had leather and leather goods. And so it went with each stall well stocked with things that were very local.
The last stall was loaded with fresh fish and cooked fish and was doing a roaring trade with the cooked fish that people were buying and eating. The fish was cooked in some kind of golden brown crust that the visitors seemed not be able to get enough.
“Just wait until Bladud’s potatoes are ready and they would not be able to hold onto the fish and chips to save their lives” said Angus.
Rabbo and Angus drifted slowly towards the main administration building. As they entered they saw Bladud, Yhva, Brighid, Aerten and Erin talking with some of the village elders from the other village. A few of the new local villages walked in and joined the group.
“I am glad you could come” said Yhva.
A young man turned and spoke to the group of village elders in their language then listened while they spoke.
“They say that they are much delighted with the windmill and that they have lights in their village meeting place. They are also delighted that they have running water to the village market. But they wonder if it is too soon for you to have weekly markets”.
“Tell them that I agree. But I wanted to see how it would work. Maybe it would be better that we wait until next year but in the interim a market just once a month should do. But on to other matters at hand” said Yhva. “I need their help with something”.
The young man spoke to the elders and then listened while the answered.
“They say that they would like to hear what you need help with before they say yes” said the young man.
“I am interested in what they know about the people to the south by the great river. I think they call it Egypt” said Yhva.
The young man spoke and the listened.
“They say that there is much that they can tell you. Very much and some is good and other things are bad. But it would take time for them to explain. But today would not be a good day to talk as soon the day will be hot and that is the time for the afternoon rest”.
Yhva turned and looked at Bladud, Brighid, Aerten and Erin “I don’t like that custom of theirs of resting in the afternoon. It seems such a waste of time if you ask me”.
“I agree” said Erin.
“Umm Yhva” said Aerten as she winced at something.
“Just a moment” said Yhva holding up his hand as not to be interrupted by Aerten.
Bladud looked at Aerten and took her hand “Is it time”?
“Yes. Please take me to the med lab. The contractions are getting close. I knew I should never come along” said Aerten breathing hard.
Bladud and Aerten left the main room and headed towards where the med lab had been set up.
Once they were out of the room Yhva turned and looked at Erin.
“I think we should help” said Erin to Brighid.
Brighid and Erin left so that of the Sirians only Yhva was left.
Yhva turned to the young man and smiled.
“Explain to them that I have a nice cool room where we can sit and talk about what information they will give me” said Yhva.
The smile was gone from Yhva’s face as he turned and looked at the village elders and the few locals.
As if all of the same mind they walked with Yhva to what had been Bastet’s office. As they entered the room Rabbo and Angus saw the door remain open but the room seemed to shimmer. As the drifted forward they found that they could not enter the room nor hear what was being said or done inside.
Rabbo and Angus waited and waited and in the end they gave up waiting and drifted outside.
The village square was almost empty and what few people there were where walking towards one of the houses. So Rabbo and Angus followed along and saw that it was like a village bar with lots of people sitting around talking.
Some of the people were taking naps and others were drinking juice, water or wine and talking softly as to not bother those that were napping.
Rabbo and Angus returned to their bodies and opened their eyes and looked at each other a little confused by what they had seen involving Yhva, the village elders and the locals.
“Something is wrong with that whole thing” said Rabbo looking at Angus with a confused look on his face.
“I know. That was some very heavy shields Yhva is using. Very heavy indeed” said Angus thoughtfully. “We need to talk to Merwyn about it and the screen he used is very heavy mental mind work indeed”.
“Umm Merwyn is a little busy I think” said Rabbo.
“Oh yes that’s right. He and Helena are having some afternoon delight” smiled Angus. “I wish that Solee was here. But if she was we would not of seen what we saw”.
“Very true. You like Solee don’t you” asked Rabbo.
“Yes I do. She looks acts and behaves like my Bess when I first met my Bess. You know that Solee is part Sirian? I don’t know how Bastet did it but Solee has Sirian blood in her. It’s not just that Solee looks like my Bess. It’s how she talks, walks, smells and even her moods. Maybe Merwyn is right about how the soul is reborn over and over again. I wonder if that is the case could I being my Bess back” said Angus musing very thoughtfully. “No that would be wrong of me as Solee is her own person”.
“Maybe there is a way of waking up Bess if she is the spirit of Bess” said Rabbo thoughtfully.
“Yes it would be nice to have Solee as she is but with the memoirs of Bess” said Angus softly. “But to bring back Bess to replace Solee would make me worse than Toner”.
“I wonder if that could be done. I mean Solee to be Solee but to know all that your Bess knew” said Rabbo thoughtfully.
“Yes it would be. But I don’t know how it could be done and the fact that if she was my Bess and I brought her back that would mean that Solee would have to go. And then there would be the issue that Bess took her own life and the life of our son because of what the priests of Toner did to him. I mean what if Bess did it again. Or if Solee had all the memoirs of Bess and knew that she had killed her own son and then took her own life. How would Solee handle that? I don’t know if I could handle that. I lost Bess once and to find a wonderful woman that looks acts smells and behaves like my Bess twice in a life is more than any man could ask for. And this time we don’t have Toner to bother us” said Angus very softly as if talking to himself.
“You loved her deeply” asked a naked Bastet that was sitting right behind Rabbo and Angus.
Angus turned and looked at Bastet “yes I did and do. I see much of her in Solee. Not just her looks but as I told Rabbo. How she acts talks smells and in love making too. Such passion as if she was my Bess”.
“So it’s Bess you still love and not Solee” asked Bastet.
“I don’t know” said Angus.
“She love you does Solee” said Bastet putting a hand of Angus’s shoulder.
“And I love her. I think I love her? I don’t know if I love her because she reminds me of my Bess or because she loves me. The thing is I want her to be happy. I want her to have the best life she can have. I want her to be free so that she can do what she wants” said Angus softly.
Rabbo had been sitting quietly watch and listening to Angus and Bastet talking about how Angus loved Solee. He wondered what love was and if it was not just something brought on by hormones or if it was a deep feeling like Merwyn had told him about. Was love something that was more than just an emotional state and he was yet to know and feel? Was love more than just a reaction? Rabbo did not know.
Rabbo looked around for Athena and the girls but there was no sign of them. In fact other than Bastet and Angus there was no one around although he could hear Helena and Merwyn as the window to his front room was open.
Rabbo turned back to Angus and Bastet.
“I don’t understand what love truly is” said Rabbo.
“To be honest Rabbo I don’t think anyone truly does. I mean the word it’s self is very simple and used for some many things. But what the feeling of love is, is so far beyond what the word means” said Bastet smiling. “I mean I can say that I love my children beyond my own well being. I can say that I love Athena beyond my own welfare and I can say the same about Solee. But those are words and do not explain what I honestly and truly feel. I know that I so want to be back at my home and my village as I so miss my children and being gone as long as I have I just want to hold them and hug them and tell them how much I miss them” Bastet turned and looked at Angus. “I think we should leave tomorrow and get back to my village. It’s only three days walk from here”.
“First we need to talk to Merwyn about what Rabbo and I saw at my old village” said Angus.
Athena came walking out of the house carrying a short toga for Bastet.
Athena was dressed in a very short white skirt that was so short that it hide very little. The tube top she had on was very tight showing the curves of her body and the white knee high stockings matched the rest of the outfit giving her a youthful look.
Athena walked over handed Bastet the toga she was carrying and then sat in Bastet’s lap before she lifted her feet off the ground and snuggled into Bastet.
“Where are the children” asked Bastet.
“Taking their nap. Which means we have time for us” said Athena.

It was at the dinner table that Angus at last got to speak to Merwyn about what he and Rabbo had seen at the new village.
The reason that it had taken most of the day was due to the fact that Merwyn and Helena had gone up to Merwyn’s room and Bastet and Athena had asked Angus and Rabbo to watch the children while they too went off and had some private time alone.
In the end Angus and Rabbo had watched the children as well as cooked dinner for everyone including the children.
After the children had been taken upstairs by Athena and Helena and Angus explained all that he and Rabbo had seen and what they had witnesses with the village elders from the other village and what Yhva had said to the village elders before he had taken them into the room.
“Hmm sounds like he wanted a private chat with them about Ra” said Merwyn.
“Yes I think so too. Don’t you agree Rabbo” said Angus.
“Oh yes very much so. But putting up a screen could mean that he was aware of Angus and me” said Rabbo.
“Yes that is very possible. Did you two go in stealth mode” asked Merwyn.
“No we did not think of that” said Rabbo.
“I guess there was no reason for you to think that you would need to be in stealth mode” said Merwyn thoughtfully.
“We should of thought of it” said Rabbo.
“No harm done other than Yhva knowing that we are watching him” said Merwyn.
“I don’t trust him as I said there is something about him” said Bastet.
“I know Bastet but as yet he has not given us reason to not trust him” said Merwyn.
“Putting up a screen and using coercion on the locals and village elders is not enough” said Bastet.
“He could have been just acting carefully so that Ra would not be listening” said Merwyn.
“That’s possible. It is just common sense to act carefully” said Angus thoughtfully.
“I still don’t like him or trust him. As I keep saying there is something about him that I don’t like. But what it is I can’t put my fingers on” said Bastet.
Athena and Helena came walking down the stairs followed Wenna, Merryn, and Diana. The children were dressed in their night cloths and they walked over to Rabbo and looked at him.
“Weed us a story wabbo” said Wenna.
“Yes a story Rabbo” said Diana jumping up and down.
Rabbo slipped off his chair and hopped off to the living room followed by the children.
“Athena what do you think of Yhva” asked Merwyn.
“Oh I think he is cute. A little boyish but cute” said Athena smiling. “Why what is going on”
Merwyn explained to Athena what Rabbo and Angus had told him and what they had been talking about before she and Helena had come back down the stairs.
“I would have done the same thing. I might not have used coercion but if time was pressing I might have just to get the information that I needed and needed fast. We might want to look in on Ra. To me it seems that Yhva is just being careful that’s all” said Athena.
They all agreed that it would be a good idea to look in on what Ra was up. They all agreed that it was very possible that Yhva had seen something going on and was reacting accordingly to deal with any possible threat that Ra might be to him and his village.
“I also think that he has made himself leader of the village. Which might be a good move for the village as he does seem to have that way of leading people” said Athena. “And if he has it could be for the best in regards to the village”.
The sat at the table debating all the possible out comes of Yhva being the village leader and what that might entail. Then they debated what Ra might be up too and all the possible outcomes of the ideas they had.
Halfway though the debate Rabbo came back with the children and the children where taken upstairs and put to bed.
It was about two hours later when the only thing that had been agreed on was that they would keep a closer eye on Ra and Yhva that Bastet remembered that she had told Angus that they should head back to her village soon.
“Oh Angus and I will be leaving in the morning as I miss my children and I want to get back to my village” said Bastet.
Well darling if you must go then you must. So let’s go to bed and spend our last night together” said Athena.

Click on Mark Crocker for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.