The Wallet – Esther Monday Motivation

I’m going to try and stay in the word limit for this week’s Esther Newton – Monday Motivation. Thanks as always to Esther for running this, she’s very encouraging.

This week the theme is: If she didn’t stop doing that soon, he was going to kill her.

The Wallet

In life there are moments  you want the Earth to swallow you up. This was happening to my mate Dean.

He wanted to pay for lunch to impress the boss, it was review time and he wanted a raise. So he thought he would pay for lunch. Good move eh? This wasn’t the first time Tania had taken money from him to pay for her shopping without telling him. The guys were staring… they knew something was wrong.

If she didn’t stop doing that soon, he was going to kill her I thought to myself.



Simon  🙂


One Star Over, a Planet That Might Be Another Earth –

In our search to find Earth like planets it seems we’ve now discovered one that may be suitable to support life encircling our nearest stellar neighbour.

Simon 😀

Credit: NY Times

Next Generation – Old Generation

How may times have we heard it about some amazing new product? “This thingy is the next generation of…”

Too much I think.

The phrase ‘the next generation’ was first coined or popular in the mid to late 80’s with the emergence of Star Trek: The next generation, this was a while ago now. When I say a while, we’re talking about over twenty years. Don’t get me wrong, having worked in technology, I’ve talked to people about the next generation chemical detector that we were developing, or the next generation power controller chip. But even back in 2006 I was thinking “this is a shit description, it’s a new design on a new concept – it’s not really ‘next generation’.

Now we have next generation mattresses which are a bit of fancy foam, or the next generation smartphone where you can plug some stuff in. Listen to me now marketing professionals and advert creators: The next generation is old generation! Find some other way to tell us that something that isn’t new is in fact new(ish). Let’s leave the next generation in the past and bring on something fresh!

Simon 🙂


Seasons -How are they worked out?

One of the things that’s always puzzled me is when each of the seasons are supposed to start and end. This is typical of someone that over thinks things, really it should be when it’s cold and wet it’s Winter, when the flowers start appearing and the wet is thawing out it’s Spring. Summer is the season of sun, interrupted by heavy rain, with Autumn being the time when one picks blackberries and apples – yup, you guessed it, in the rain!

But when are each of these season’s really supposed to start and finish? I’ve looked at this and there are at least two versions, the meteorological and the astronomical seasons.


Meteorological Seasons

The meteorological seasons are divided up by meteorologists to make weather forecasting easier. The seasons dates are split up as such:

  • Spring – from March 1 to May 31.
  • Summer – from June 1 to August 31.
  • Autumn (Fall) – from September 1 to November 30.
  • Winter – from December 1 to February 28 (February 29 in a leap year).


Astronomical Seasons

The astronomical seasons are a little different.

Spring starts at the March equinox, this is when the length of night and day are almost equal. This happens on either the 19th, 20th or 21st of March. At this point the Sun is directly over the equator.

Summer starts in the June Solstice, this is the longest day in the Northern hemisphere and the shortest day in the southern hemisphere. This normally between June the 20th – the 22nd.


Equinox and solstice illustration.

The September equinox heralds the arrival of Autumn and is the date that again night and day are about equal and this happens on the 22nd, 23rd or 24th of September. This is where the sun is directly over the equator.

This lastly leaves the December solstice, where the shortest day of the year takes place in the Northern hemisphere and the longest day in the southern hemisphere. This takes place between the 20th – 23rd of December.

The seasons are of course opposite between the northern and southern hemispheres as the tilt of the Earth defines the seasons and will be opposite between the north and south.

Simon 🙂

No ownership claimed on image, credit to for information.

The Titan Mystery – Part 14

The trip back through the hyperloop to the station nearest to Tranquility seemed to McKinley to have taken and age. The door opened to the capsule and they all started to dismount, the mechanoids first then Blake and his Marines following with everyone else after.

“You and you team keep a look out, I have a feeling we can expect some resistance to our escape!” McKinley instructed Blake. The spacecraft which up until now had been all but silent now seemed to be started it’s death groans. There were groans in the ships structure, lights were dimming and flashing randomly. McKinley knew they had to get off and fast, time was short. Then a thought flashed into his mind.


“Yes sir”

“Endevin and the sentinels, will they be able to escape? What about everyone else being carried?”

“I’m afraid that anything left on board Titan when the core detonates will be destroyed along with the spacecraft?” came Dave’s emotionless reply.

McKinley motioned for Dave and everyone else to follow. “Is there nothing we can do?” McKinley was striding towards the service duct they used to reach the hyperloop station.

“Only if we’re able to initiate the transition sequence” Dave suggested.

“What’s that?” McKinley asked?

“It’s where the core’s temporal focus reaches…”

“Ok, sorry I asked Dave!” McKinley interrupted “I don’t need to know, can you tell me how we can do something to save at least some of these people and the sentinels?”

“I can sir!”

“But first, I want to know how to get to our landing bay without having to go down there!” McKinley pointed down the dark passage.

“Certainly, which one is your craft at sir?”

McKinley looked round for Jearo, meeting her gaze as everyone waited she squeezed round to help.

“Yes sir?” she asked

“Where’s tranquility? Can you show Dave please?”

Jearo pulled out the computer, and brought up the map, she held it to Dave. He paused for a second.

“This way sir!” the mechanoid strode forward through a bulkhead door and led them to a part of the craft they hadn’t seen before. A massive observation window showed them through the huge space in the centre of the craft, through to see the core platform and the hyperloop tunnels leading to it. Despite the urgency it was impossible not to gaze. The core operating platform couldn’t be seen with the intense brightness of the uncontained reaction now trying to break through.

“I estimate we have less than 60 minutes to escape to a safe distance sir!” Dave announced.

“Come on people!” McKinley shouted, “we’re out of time!” as he turned he found himself bumping straight into a familiar face.

“Seanna!” McKinley was obviously pleased to see his fist officer, trying to keep the focus on escaping he took her by the arm and led her away after Dave, the rest of the crew following with Blake and his men leading the way.

“What the hell did you do to me?” Seanna asked still a little groggy. But definitely alive and more or less herself.

” I rescued you!” McKinley answered.

“That was a hell of a rescue!” she complained “could you have made it feel a bit less like my brains were mashed?”

McKinley smiled, she was back. “I’ll tell you about it later, but now we have to get off of this ship!”

“Have you been breaking things again?” Seanna asked with some irony. McKinley didn’t reply, he didn’t know how to. It seemed that even if they got off alive, there were still many more that wouldn’t survive.

“Landing platform seven is through here!” Dave announced. Bulkhead doors perhaps 20 metres high and 50 metres wide slid apart in what seemed an effortless mechanism, only to stop a few seconds later. They groaned and shuddered as if malfunctioning, but there was more than enough space to get through.

“Come on!” McKinley motioned, there were still several hundred metres to Tranquility that needed to be crossed, but the end seemed in sight.

“Collins is ready and so is the Tycho!” Jearo announced

“How long until we can leave?” McKinley asked.

“Collins says fifteen minutes!” Jearo replied.

“Tell him to make it ten or we’re dead!” McKinley barked back. Jearo nodded knowing best not to argue. Seanna was now half running alongside McKinley and the rest of them. They reached about half way and could see tranquility when from nowhere blue plasma fire erupted from each side, two bulkhead doors were opened with a number of creatures entering into the landing platform.

A grilled service gulley would give cover, they all pulled up the grills and dived into it. Looking back McKinley saw two slumped bodies on the Deck, he looked around.

“It’s Orianne and Lennard.” Blake shouted in McKinley ear, the noise of plasma fire drowning out out everything else. McKinley looked back solemnly.

“Two more dead!” he thought, there wasn’t much that could be done now, but the burden of lives was something he never wanted.

“Let’s sort this now!” Seanna shouted, picking up McKinley’s rifle and readying to counter attack. Peeking up McKinley saw them surrounding their position, not even the mechanoids could help here, there were so many.

“I have a solution sir!” Dave announced.

“What to get us out of here?” McKinley asked ” You better make it quick!”

“No, to try and save the life forms we leave.”

“Hang on Dave!” McKinley screamed, he was holding Seanna and the others back as they were ready to jump out “It’s suicide! Just…”

On top of the hail of fire a deafening salvo of more fire kept their heads down, looking up with one eye McKinley saw the salvo flying above his head and back down the landing platform. The there was silence, except for the dying motors of engine thrusters. McKinley looked up, smoke filled the area but in a few moments cleared.

“Collins you old git! Well done!” McKinley lifted himself out of the gulley, turning he helped out Blake and Seanna. The mechanoids needed no help and almost leapt out.

“You keep trying to get yourself killed Seanna!” McKinley told Seanna

“You keep trying to stop me!” Seanna smiled back “One day you might succeed!”

McKinley smiled to himself, Seanna didn’t know. He then looked back at his not so fortunate crew members on the deck. He knelt beside them and closed their eyes, Seanna watched as he muttered something under his breath. Blake walked up with black cloths, each of them were covered solemnly and wrapped to be taken back. A mechanoid too each of them to Tranquility.

“Thanks Dave” McKinley acknowledged the help.

“Would you like to hear the plan?” Dave asked

“Plan?” McKinley replied “Oh yes let’s hear it, but I don’t imagine we have much time. So this had better be quick!” McKinley listened to what was the most succinct report from Dave that he had heard.

“We must activate the core release!” Dave suggested.

“How do we do this?” McKinley asked.

“I must do this from outside the spacecraft, once it is done then the core will  detonate  under the pressure of it’s own reaction after an undetermined time.”

McKinley looked at Dave “How long or short can this undetermined time be?”

“It could be a few minutes, or a few seconds.” Dave replied coldly.

“Do we have much choice?” McKinley asked Dave, realising that this quirky mechanoid that had served him so well and was almost a friend, was almost certainly suggesting his own destruction.

“There are no other options sir!”

“Will you just sit on the outside of Tranquility?” McKinley asked him.

“Yes, I will keep in contact with the pilot and  guide them. You must hurry, time is running out!”

“Thank you Dave.” McKinley told Dave. He merely looked at McKinley for a few seconds as if he didn’t understand, the blue halo of his eyes showing no emotion. Dave Turned and climbed on top of Tranquility.

“Sir, we have to go!” Seanna shouted at McKinley “What’s Dave up to?”

“Just get on board and prep for launch Seanna!” McKinley told her, I’ll explain when we’re clear!” The hatches to tranquility shut tight, Dave watched the lights of Titan flickering wildly. Looking ahead the mechanoid held on to a bulkhead and waited for the launch.


Copyright 2016 Simon Farnell

Writing Prompt – Esther’s Monday Motivations

Esther has really pushed the boat out this week, with three lines to be included in here Monday Motivations challenge:

Write a flash fiction piece of between 50-200 words with the following three lines in it somewhere. The lines don’t have to follow on from one another:

  • The glass smashed to the floor
  • He was in love
  • Just how was he going to get out of this one?

This took me a little while, as I like to be a bit different (as always). This is what I came up with:

The Joy Ride

Mark had just ‘popped out’ to get the food and drink for the party. “People will be arriving in just over an hour!” he mumbled. Still there was nothing to do except pour another beer into his glass.

Greg pushed the door to the garage open and he stood there, stunned. The glass smashed to the floor. “Why hadn’t Mark told him?” Greg thought. The curves, the shape, he was in love – with Mark’s new Lamborghini!


Greg looked around the car, then he saw the keys were in the ignition. A bad thought came over him. Unable to resist he swung the door up and sat in. Greg looked around the car, he liked it, no loved it!

He couldn’t resist and turned the key, the car growled into life. Revving the engine it sounded amazing.

“One little trip round the block won’t hurt!” Greg thought as he closed the door. Slipping the car into gear, the car leapt forward and out of the garage.

“Wow this is lively!” He thought. Lining up the car on the road he pressed down on the accelerator. The car sped forward, then suddenly the back swung out, the car spun until all too suddenly a tree stopped it dead. Shocked and stunned Greg sat there wondering how he was going to get out of this one?

Simon 🙂

(Slightly over 200 words – sue me! 🙂 )

Minecraft Steve and the Lost City – Part 4

Steve was lost for words as he watched Mike walking towards him, Sword drawn.

“Steve, it would be best for us all if you just throw the key over!” Mike told him, in a threatening tone.

“No – put the sword down!” She told him. Mike lifted the sword and at that point there was the sound of a smashing glass bottle. Steve covered his face, he could smell something very strange as he uncovered his face and looked up to see Mike, motionless.

“What happened?” Steve asked.

“Oh, just a little something I concocted a while ago, it’s amazing what spiders eyes and a little secret ingredient can do!” Preeta told Steve with some pride. “It’s a slowness potion, but much stronger than the usual potion.”

“So he’s moving very slowly?”

“Yes.” Preeta replied.

Steve stood in front of Mike, sticking his tongue out he blew raspberries at him “Come and get me now Mike!” Steve jeered at him. “You can’t can you?”

“I don’t know how long this will last Steve.” Preeta told Steve.

“I have an idea!” Steve said as he took Mike’s sword and all his other things. Steve began building an obsidian wall around Mike, sealing him in. “Quick, this way!” Steve motioned to Preeta, knocking a hole in the wall to make an opening. Quickly Steve built a wall around Mike’s prison. He then filled it with water, moving back Steve then filled the rest of the chamber with lava, before sealing it and heading out.

Preeta looked at Steve “That’s quite a prison you made!” smiling at Steve.

“I wanted to make sure!” Steve replied. “Where are we now?” Looking around Steve could see brilliant white buildings, a large and intricate structure in the centre of the city. But none of it was familiar.

“Where we are isn’t important.” Preeta told Steve “But we’re going to that building in the centre” Preeta pointed at the intricate structure in the centre. “The key to unlocking the city is there. Be careful, most of the monsters are now gone, but you know what creepers can be like!”

“Yes I do!” Steve replied, thinking back to all the creepers he had to deal with in his adventures.

Preeta started walking towards the centre of the city, Steve following as they both jumped up an down in the way a crafter does. Despite the glorious white buildings the inner streets were shrouded and dark. Preeta slowed thought these streets and Steve followed.

Ahead the groans of a rogue zombie could be heard. Preeta stopped “You better go ahead of me – you have a sword after all! Just keep going down this street, we’ll son get to the light temple.”

“Is that what that is Preeta? A light temple?”

“Hurry Steve, I’ll be right behind you.”

Taking his diamond sword Steve took the lead , at the next cross road he stopped and looked around. He saw the zombie marking away, groaning to itself.

“All clear – lets go!” Steve whispered back. As Steve looked back he saw what was behind Preeta. He ran past him and lashed his sword out at the errant creeper. Two more came from nowhere and he was able to take them down before they blew up. Taking the explosive they left he guided Preeta through the long, dark alleyways quickly eventually arriving at the gates of the light temple.

“Where do we take this key?” Steve asked Preeta, resting after rushing to get to the temple. It was still light, bu there wasn’t much daytime left.

“Through these doors and in the centre of the temple are the doors to the source. The key will open these doors and then free the people of this city.” Preeta reached out to open the doors to the temple. Steve stopped him.

“Hang on – listen.” Behind the doors there was movement, noise. Steve wasn’t sure what it was. To the side were steps that led up the wall. Steve climbed them and stopped at the top of the wall as he looked over. Preeta also stopped and looked over.

“I can see where we need to go Preeta.” Steve exclaimed.

“So can I – but the place is filled with monsters!” Preeta sounded downhearted. After all of this to be stopped so close to the end. The floor was filled with creepers and zombies and skeletons.

“There!” said Steve pointing “I’ll bet Mike put down those spawners! Bu I have no idea how we can get to them.”

Preeta looked at Steve and smiled “Wait here crafter. I have an idea!”

With that Preeta was gone. Steve watched with interest, this he had to see!

To be continued…

©Simon Farnell 2016

No ownership claimed on images

Find other stories from the Adventures of Minecraft Steve: Adventures of Minecraft Steve

800 Amazing Followers!

Silently and without much fanfare my follower milestone reached 800 on Sunday. The lucky blogger who pressed that follow button for the 800th time was theeternalscribbler.

Thank you for that follow Ari 🙂

Also thank you to all the others, I cannot know you all and I wish I could. I know lots of you here as friends and met a few of you even. Keep blogging and liking and commenting – it’s great to know that I must be doing something right! My mind is blown at your kindness!

Simon 🙂

The Titan Mystery – Part 13

McKinley was nearing exhaustion with Dave, he had tried to convince him that focusing the sighting portal on the time and place that Seanna was killed was the right thing to do and it was useless. He was a machine and he had his in built programs give him his ethics. Dave was in control of the portal, the other mechanoids and everything. McKinley had to resign himself that his idea wasn’t going to happen.

“Humans die all the time Sir – we cannot save everyone, you will all stop functioning one day as will we. That is how our existence works!”

Dave was explaining for about the fifth time – McKinley could make out a difference, was it anger? Frustration or just programming?

“Fine! Have if your way Dave! If it wasn’t for this ship of yours being here this wouldn’t have happened anyway!” This was McKinley’s last ditch and he knew futile attempt at trying to reason unreasonably with a robot. Dave just turned away and returned to the job of repairing the core with his mechanoids. One of them brought out a metal pod, larger than a human head and placed it onto a cradle. With the push of a button the pod unfolded like a flower. Peering over McKinley could see that inside there was a beautifully elegant crystal. It looked completely flawless in it’s shape and in it’s clarity. It was almost invisible except for the bending light at it’s angles.

“What’s that?” McKinley asked.

“It is a Uranite crystal sir!” Dave replied “These are extracted from the atmosphere of Uranus and then worked to form a crystal that can reliably bend time.”

“Wow!” Was all McKinley could think of saying as he looked at it’s near invisible perfection.

“This crystal in it’s normal density would be 10 times larger before processing…” Dave went on “This is done using plasma…”

“Ok Dave, I get it!” McKinley cut in “I’m impressed, but let’s not push it!” McKinley climbed down into the work area, looking around him as they placed the crystal precisely in it’s frame.

“When that Uranite crystal back in the core and working, what happens then? Like what will we see in this portal?”

“You should really wait above sir!” Dave explained “The portal at the moment is unreliable and unfocused, we cannot control it. We will focus the power and at unity time it will show us out present time and place.”

“I see…” McKinley mumbled with interest. He stood watching as the mechanoids pushed the assembly back into the core. The old crystal slipped off and landed next to him. Pausing for a second, it still looked flawless, he reached down and picked it up. “It weighs nothing!” McKinley noted “It’s also cold, I expected this to burn my hand off!”

“Such is the nature of Uranite crystals sir – they defy many of the natural laws of physical existence.” Dave wasn’t paying much attention, he seemed to have connected with the core and was busy calibrating. McKinley watched the time portal flashing away, events in far distant past and future were being played out at high speed.

“Mesmerizing isn’t it?” McKinley jumped, startled at the sudden presence of Jearo.

“Where did you come from?” McKinley asked looking at Jaero and then back to the portal “It is, I can’t understand much of it as it’s just images.”

As they watch the timeline started slowing, becoming more and more present time. McKinley was watching their arrival, the team moving into the Titan and all of the events, slowly moving up to now. A moment later, there she was, he was watching the mechanoids being deployed and poor Seanna. The view was so close, McKinley couldn’t bear to watch it as suddenly that creature appeared and turned his weapon. As McKinley watch time seemed to move slowly, it wasn’t the portal, he was thinking fast, weighing it all up in his mind in less than a second.

Lurching forward McKinley reached into the portal, for a split second back to where it happened. He pushed his past self down and grabbed Seanna around her waist. With every muscle straining he pulled back with all his might, pulling Seanna back through the portal. It was like pulling back through a tunnel of light and dark, hidden shadows of people and places. Ignoring it all he kept pulling her back, not letting go. Until suddenly there was light again and he fell back with thud, Seanna lading on top of him and rolling off.

A blast shot back out the portal right after them and hit the core. Seanna sprung up drawing her fist back “OK! What the hell was…” Collapsing to the floor with a thud McKinley smiled as he looked at her, he had done it!

“Sir! Are you alright?” Jearo sprung to McKinley’s side.

“I’m good. I think.” He sat there for a moment, felling fuzzy as if having woken from a bad sleep. He rubbed his head “I’m fine thanks!”

“That’s good sir!” Dave replied “However there is a problem, the core of Titan is now irreparably damaged. The blast from that weapon has fractured the cooling system and there is no way of repairing this.”

Looking round, McKinley noticed that the room was filling with gas, gas that didn’t look or smell god at all!

“You must evacuate immediately sir!” Dave announced.

“Bring her up Dave!” McKinley barked pointing at Seanna “While you’re at it, I think she needs some of your anti time illness stuff!” McKinley shot up the ladder after Jearo. Dave and the other mechanoids got into the control room a few seconds after.

“What’s happened?” asked Blake

“We’ve got to get away – now!” Blake nodded and started motioning the rest of the people towards the hyperloop car. McKinley stopped Jaero ” Tell Collins to prepare Tranquility to leave – in a hurry! Also tell Neila to prepare Tycho for a fast docking and rapid evacuation.”

“Sir!” Jearo replied.

“Tell Collins to also watch out for some unexpected visitors, those creatures may try and escape too!”

Nodding Jearo got onto her comms link and started issuing instructions. McKinley had got Jearo by the arm and was pulling her as fast as he could. The mechanoids were following Dave taking the lead, the crew were already manning the hyperloop car when they arrived. McKinley looked around at a lot of anxious faces.

“How long do we have Dave?”

“I do not know, it’s very hard to predict. But certainly less than an hour!”

McKinley was helping Seanna down with Blake taking her other arm. They settled her into the capsule, McKinley turned around to Dave.

“No arguments Dave, you and your mechanoids are coming too! I need you!”

With no resistance, Dave and his mechanoids one by one entered the hyperloop capsule. The door shut and the procedure began. McKinley thought that is was taking far longer than it should and was mumbling for speed under his voice. He looked across at Blake who looked back at him grimly. McKinley could offer no comfort.

Simon 🙂

Copyright 2016 Simon Farnell