Mithril Wedding Rings

If you’ve read The Hobbit, or the Lord of the Rings, or played certain role playing games, you’ve probably heard of a metal called mithril.  Other names for it are “truesilver,” or “silversteel.”  It’s supposed to be very strong, very light, and it looks like silver.


Mithril! All folk desired it. It could be beaten like copper, and polished like glass; and the Dwarves could make of it a metal, light and yet harder than tempered steel. Its beauty was like to that of common silver, but the beauty of mithril did not tarnish or grow dim.

–The Fellowship of the Ring

“Also there is this!” said Bilbo, bringing out a parcel which seemed to be rather heavy for its size. He unwound several folds of old cloth, and held up a small shirt of mail. It was close-woven of many rings, as supple almost as linen, cold as ice, and harder than steel. It shone like moonlit silver, and was studded with white gems.

–The Hobbit


Now, it can’t be ‘beaten like copper,’ but there is a metal that looks like silver, can do all these things and also doesn’t tarnish…


So, I was pleased to be able to buy wedding rings of titanium.  As far as I’m concerned, that’s about as close to mithril as we’re ever likely to get!

They are simple, look a lot like silver, and the symbolism is awesome.  To me they mean purity, strength, durability, and the connection with air and spacecraft is undeniable.  I also know they are never going to tarnish, react with my skin, or bend!  They’re even resistant to scratching.

So there you have it – modern mithril.  Personally, I can’t think of a better symbol of an enduring bond.



…to love, honor and cherish, in peace and in war, in sickness and in health, in crisis and in fortune, without reservation, come what may, until the stars themselves grow cold…



Hot water is a MIRACLE.

Consider the miracle that happens every time you turn on the tap or take a shower.

Clean, relatively fresh water comes through the pipes to your home, past all those bends and fittings, pressurized sufficiently to get through the maze.  Or it comes up from a well, pumped by either pressure or an electric pump.

That water is heated by your hat water heater, usually to a good temperature, and out it comes, on demand, with the turn of a knob.

I’ve had several occasions in my life when running hot water has been a scarce luxury and so I really, truly appreciate it.

I’ve lived in a cabin where that water had to be carried in buckets or a barrel from a nearby creek and heated on a stove, I’ve lived in a tent where it had to be carefully dipped up from a river twenty feet below and heated over a fire.

At New Year, main feeder line between the street to the house decided to break, the galvanized steel pipe that had been laid deep below my yard in 1967 finally gave up the ghost.

Knowing what to do in times like this, we went to the old routine of sponge baths and bucket-flushing the toilet.  I bought some cornstarch to use as dry shampoo so I wouldn’t be coming to work with greasy hair.  I started looking for financing options, adjusting the budget, and calling plumbers.

After a few estimates and some kind explanations, I learned why it would cost so much to fix.  In order to get to this pipe, which had been working so faithfully and invisibly under my feet, the plumbers will have to cut through concrete and tunnel down deep to where those pipes are, all the way under the pad my house is built on.  The old galvanized pipe looks like a tree root by now, say the plumbers, and is certainly filled with rust.  When I think about it, it’s amazing the pipes lasted this long with our crunchy, naturally corrosive Tucson water.

Overtime and financing may cover my needs, though the lenders are being tight-fisted and I have to come up with this sooner rather than later.  A temporary line can only be in for so long.  Even so, four grand isn’t such a high price to pay for that miracle of running water…. which is currently being brought through a hose in my yard.

My showers whiff of hose water at the moment, but I know a solution will come, and I am grateful for this particular miracle!


(If anyone wants to help, I happen to have a GoFundMe campaign here, and forwarding of this link would be nice.  That’s all I ask.  If you’re in Tucson, Pete Nye is an awesome plumber and put my temp line in for a very reasonable cost.  Thanks, Pete.)

This news made me tremble

I don’t often share news but I thought this was rather startling.  No matter what your stance is on climate change, I think you will find this article interesting.

Simply put, a UN official, Christiana Figuerres, recently admitted that the global warming agenda is really about destroying capitalism, not helping the environment.

The article further makes the point that with the capitalist system, human lifespans have doubled and working days have halved.  Socialism doesn’t work, it leads to poor harvests, poor living conditions, and poor people.

I could rewrite the article and give my own thoughts on it, but really, it’s all here. I found this rather shocking and hope you read it too. The exact quotes and sources are all here.…

A Christmas present from The Science Geek — The Science Geek

Now that we are into December, Christmas is almost upon us. So, as I did last year, I’d like to give my readers an early Christmas present, by letting you download my short e-books for free during the first five days of December! “Is Anyone Out There?” is about the likelihood of there being extraterrestrial intelligent life. It is […]

via A Christmas present from The Science Geek — The Science Geek

Another happy moon pic

I took this one because in just a few days we’re going to have the biggest Supermoon we’ve had in quite some time, for the same reason that last month’s Hunter’s Moon was so big.  Our favorite satellite is coming closer to Earth than it has in quite some time, so the moon viewing opportunities are prime.

Keep in mind that this was taken with a humble Nikon Coolpix L830 while braced on a board fence.

Artificial Intelligence – Thoughts of an Aircraft

This challenge made me think of an ultra-short story I wrote a while back about an aircraft that was controlled by an AI and was wondering what they wanted to do with their life.

Anyone interested can read that story here:  Thoughts Of An Aircraft

Considering that any computer or group of computers with enough interconnections could possibly “wake up,” and our brains are nothing but biological computers, some say the internet might wake up someday.  Some say it already has.  I still say hello sometimes, in the Google search box.  Sometimes… it almost seems as if I get an answer.

I play a lot with the idea of created intelligence.  Once I wrote a short-short story about a group of seven nodes of a single AI, each node consisting of an android body but sharing a common, highly advanced program.  They had been bought by an eccentric gentleman to see if he could convince them to wake up by treating them if they were collectively alive.

The very questions of human existence are locked up in this type of discussion – what does it really mean to be not just a living being, but a person?  Where does self awareness start?  My cat is self aware.  How complex does a system really have to be before it wakes up?

Also, as we develop prosthetic body parts, which we are already doing – artificial hearts, cochlear implants, soon artificial eyes, and currently even brain controlled prosthetic limbs, will that make us any less human?  Or is it just an extension of our mastery of tool use?

I’ll close here with a joke.  I’m not quoting it exactly here, and I think it came from the William Gibson novel Neuromancer, though I can’t exactly recall.

A powerful AI was created to solve Japan’s rice growing crisis.  Scientists wrote the finest code, run on the best computer that could be built.  All data that could be gathered about soil quality, weather, rainfall estimates, and plant growth rates was loaded into the computer’s memory.  Finally they turned it on.

They knew they had created a true Artificial Intelligence when the program woke up, chewed over the data, and finally said “Screw you, Jack, I don’t eat rice!”



via Daily Prompt: Artificial



What is “Animal” anyway?

via Discover Challenge: Animal

Some draw a clear demarcation between “animal” and “human.”  Knowing that humans are in fact animals and there’s no getting around that, I usually draw my line between sapience and non sapience – the ability to think, and not.

Even that is a sliding scale.  Emotion is experienced by most mammals and even some reptiles.  I read an article that used sensitive microphones to listen to lab rats while they were being tickled, and it caught a laughing sound and reflex.  Elephants communicate over long distance using subsonics.  Female cougars sometimes bequeath areas of land to their female cubs when they get old enough to need a territory but can’t find their own.  Tigers have been found to engage in long disstance communication.  Certain prides of lions in Africa have learned to hunt cooperatively with the local tribesmen.  I’ve known cats who are self aware.  I’ve seen parrots who speak cognitively and some can even read and spell simple phrases.  Chimps and gorillas can learn sign language.  Dolphins and bonobo apes have sex for fun.

With all these things that are true and verifiable (the cat facts especially in a wonderful book called “The Tribe of Tiger,” by Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, then is there even a dividing line?  I think it’s all a sliding scale of different levels of ability.  My cat, for instance, has an amazing social intelligence, and good hunting ability.  She can understand language, she obeys customs taught to her by another cat that are different than feline norm, prefers Japanese to English, and tells me when to go to bed and when to get up each day.  Yet, her planning ability still isn’t the best.  She’s definitely intelligent, but in a different way than I am.

Sometimes the line of demarcation between human and animal, or sapient and non sapient, is merely how much we see and notice.