Commentary: Other Projects and Raising Eyebrows

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I want to announce some of the other projects I will present here on The Beagle and the Courtesan.  While the main story I will be working on I will The Tales of The Beagle and The Courtesan, as a project of practicing my creative writing, will also be working on a couple other fictional projects.  The main story will probably appear in some form at least once per week but these other projects will appear from time to time.  One of the things I have learned about myself is I get bored easy if I work on the same thing all the time.  Having a few other things to channel my creative energy into is always helpful.

Some things that are on the back burners:

  1. Tales of Amok – A long time ago I was a Dungeons and Dragons Dungeon Master and Player.  One of my favorite characters I ever made was a Half-Elven wild mage known only as Amok.  He was a pretty interesting and unique character but I will save that for the series.
  2. MegaTraveller Backgrounds Short Stories –  On my other blog I had a series called The Adventures of Ayn Jones.  In it I used the MegaTraveller Role Playing Game (RPG) as my backdrop and created a single character named Ayn Jones where I created the background in the character creation system and then fleshed out the die rolls and such into story.  What I am thinking is taking each year of character creation background and writing a full short story to explain what happened in greater detail.  Mostly I see this as a way to learn to develop character backgrounds better.
  3. Other Short Stories – This one is an attempt to write short stories in a single post.  They could be anything so that should be interesting.

Now, I want to talk to some folks who are raising their eyebrows about my title for this blog.  Most of these folks are more religious or faith-based folks.  I get your concern but if you know me personally what do you think your raised eyebrows mean to me – success.  Exactly what I wanted.  I have never been good at being the typical Reverend Rick.  I have this terrible notion that ideas should be freely expressed and that is why my theology over the years has taken the course it has by pushing the edge and seeing what happens.  This blog is about creative writing and as such it needs to be creative and walk the line between the dichotomy known as the church and the world, saint and sinner, etc.  It is about learning to write creatively and with greater skill.  To do that I need to ride the edge and so it is just better to come out right the gate with dichotomy that is unique and creative.

Thanks for reading.

Blessings and Cheers!!!

Commentary: Creating the Fantasy World (Part One)

Image result for creating your own fantasy world

I often find this the most painfully slow thing to do.  I want to get right into the story but I have found that creating the world and then slowly bringing my readers into it saves a tremendous amount of time later during the story.  Instead of having to stop the story and then have to explain something essential, they may already know so I just keep going.  That said I also worry that I might be losing my reader with boring background stuff.  What I have tried to do is put story elements in it, so weaving the historical stories of the world while giving descriptions of the world works best for me.

Thus, this blog so far has for the most part been a history lesson of my world along with some descriptions of where my main character will spend most of his time.  Other things I want to show my audience later so the stories are not super detailed or complete, but the reader is given enough to chew on as I go on weaving story with description.

If I look at some of the writing masters probably I would note Isaac Asimov as he pretty much just starts telling story and the reader pretty much makes up the background. This is why whenever you talk to an Asimov fan and discuss his worlds you get a multitude of different opinions.  This varies greatly with Robert Jordan and in particular the Wheel of Time.  His descriptions of his world border on overkill.  I had a hard time with some of the books as some of them were long descriptions of what and where but as far as story very little changed.  If he hadn’t overdid this so much, he might have been able to finish the Wheel of Time himself before his death.  For me, I want to describe the stage enough so that when I tell the story it makes sense and the main things are there but the rest is left to the readers imagination.

There are of course some pragmatic issues.  In this case, I am moving some characters from an old story line from an old blog, but I need to change things so it is truly a new story.  Part of this is the fact that unlike the setting of my old story which was vague, I am actually being much more specific and giving things names as well.  In the old Theology Pub, readers never knew the name of the country The Bartender lived in, the town he lived in or even too many details about the town itself until they were revealed.  This allowed me to focus on the story and when I wanted to change things I could, or just plain make things up for a scene I could.

This time around the island has a name and a geography including and actual place in the world we all live in.  The city the Bartender lives in has a name and description as well.  The pub itself will have specific dimensions that cannot be broken once they are set.  I think this will force me to write better stories where I have to live with limitations and find solutions to plots issues and problems the characters are having without the default of just making crap up.  This should make things in some senses harder for me but that will also press me to write better.

That’s all for now.

Blessings and Cheers!!!

Tales of The Beagle and the Courtesan – The Story of The Beagle and the Courtesan (Part One)

Almost time for my patrons to arrive but I do have some time to relate the nature and history of my own slice of the world – The Beagle and the Courtesan – my pub.  The pub was purchased by one of my ancestors in about the the 12th century.  We have records that go back to my great, great, great grandfather which is about the time of the revolution.  According to our records the pub was the place where the rebels against the Wizard’s Council hatched their plans and was involved in some of the intelligence operations as several of the wizard’s guard back then used its services.  My services tend to cause tongues to wag and that was why the rebels liked the pub so much as it was easy to spy here and get information.

At that time the pub had a different name – The Lusty Sorceress.  It was a parody on a member of the Wizard’s Council back in the day who was on the council as its first female member.  Not much is known about her other than it is kind of a legend that she was fond of using her magic to seducing men because she had a bottomless lust. Whatever the truth, at the time of the revolution the pub became the central headquarters  for the rebels and once the fighting began it also became the first target of the wizards.  The end result was the pub main floor was burned and ever bit of furniture destroyed along with the sign hanging out front.  Due to my great, great, great grandfather being a secret alchemist he was able to put out the fire but the damage was done.  The revolution was quick and decisive and when all was said and done, the council was disbanded and the senate created with representatives from not only the wizards but all the other trades.

At that time there was a lot of talk about change and so great, great, great granddad wanted to distance the pub from its connection to the Wizard’s Council.  He was thinking of a new name and as he rebuilt the pub, it was a subject that frustrated him.  Two events gave him the name.

When the last piece of furniture was replaced, he had only to replace the sign.  He was puzzling about it when Pint walked in.  Pint still lives here and he is a pocket beagle.  That is a small beagle less than 13 inches at the shoulder.  He is tri-colored and is absolutely infused with magic. He is ultimately a magic hound and that is why he is for all practical purposes immortal.  My ancestor did not recognize this at first, so when he went to grab him and throw him out, his hands went through the little beagle. He realized at that point having a magic beagle might helpful.  So great, great, great granddad built Pint a sleeping box behind the bar and put down a couple bowls.  One for food and as he discovered one for drink as Pint likes beer.  Pint has been living and sleeping here ever since. At that point, great, great, great granddad figured something relating to the beagle would be a good name for the pub.  I imaging him thinking “The Lucky Beagle, The Sleeping Beagle“, etc. but another event injected a complication and an addition to the name.

The New Republic sent representatives to the pub and announced that they were going to reward someone that truly helped the revolution.  My ancestor thought they might be talking about him, but then they called down one of the courtesans that worked in the floors above the pub. In short it was because of her spying that the rebels knew all the troops movements of the enemy.  Basically, she knew how to get men to talk in between the services she provided them and it had been absolutely pivotal to the revolution’s success.  They gave her a medal which still hangs on a nail behind the pub.  Great, great, great granddad knew he had to marry her and he did.  It also caused him to come up with the name “The Beagle and the Courtesan” after the two things that came into his life after the revolution. The pub sign thus is a naked woman reclining on a blue reclining couch with a beagle on the floor beside her sleeping.  The lettering for the name is arched over the top.  It is rumored that this was actually my great, great, great grandma herself and Pint that served as the models for the sign.  you can definitely see the resemblance for Pint but no other paintings of my great, great , great grandma were ever made.

Now, I suppose I should talk about the pub itself.  My business is alchemy infused alcohol.  Yes, women called courtesans still live in the six apartments on the second and third floor.  Yes, they are what you think they are – high priced prostitutes.  No, I am not their pimp as pimps and madams are not necessary as prostitution is completely legal on Shadowshift Island.  The republic does regulate it for health reasons so each so each girl (or guy for that matter) has to get a full health screening every month and have a licence issued.  The girls that live here pay me rent and that is it.  That said I have to concede that they all probably make a crap ton of money beyond rent as often they only work for five to ten years and then literally retire in luxury.  Usually to Eastside where the build a modest mansion and live out their days but sometimes they marry one of the patrons and go live with him.  There is a whole neighborhood in Eastside who are retired prostitutes from the city and other places on the island.  I also have to concede that this is a big draw for people who also drink my brews, most notably Beagle Brew.

Beagle Brew was created by my Great granddad and remains one of the most famous drinks on the Island.  People who are tourists consider The Beagle and The Courtesan a one stop shopping for two of its most famous things – Beagle Brew and legal prostitution in the form of high priced courtesans.  It is hard to say sometimes what the patrons are here for the most: sloshing down Beagle Brew or the thrills of sex upstairs.  One thing is for sure, most often come for one and stay for the second, so its a mutually beneficial arrangement.  Beagle Brew though is one of the best ales in the world and I say that without modesty becasue it is given an alchemical kick to the flavor that you can’t beat anywhere in the world.  I know because I have traveled a little of the world testing it out for myself in my younger days.  The other thing is – you can only buy Beagle Brew at The Beagle and Courtesan.

Well, my patrons are starting to arrive, so I have to tend bar so I will get back to this as a part two when I can.

Tales of the Beagle and the Courtesan – The Story of Port Tempest

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Its been a long night at the pub, but I have time to relate the legend of the founding of Tempest and a little of its history up to today.  Tempest is a port city and the capital of Shadowshift Island.  Currently it would probably be considered a small city with about 13500 souls that dwell in a walled city set on the River Crest.  It is the River and the steep drop off on the ocean side that attracted settlers to it and in particular fishermen who build floating docks out into the ocean to practice their trade.  The mouth of the Crest River was also fairly deep but not so much as the ocean side but it was a good place to build docks as well which would be sheltered from storms.  These days this I where most of the ships reside except one – The Shadowshift Liner which docks on the ocean side along the main and modernized dock that stretches along the west side of the City.

There are many legends of the founding of Tempest, but the one that is probably closest to the truth was in the early days of the the main migration over a thousand years ago.  The story goes that Tempest was some sort of hedge wizard that came from Europe with Viking explorers in the early days of their exploration.  Probably one of those lost expeditions that was blown so far off course they were never heard of again as this up till recently was the only way new blood got to the Island.  Tempest was not a war chief or anything like that but kind of a medicine man combined with hedge wizard but once he landed on the Island he began to experience the magic enhancing power that dwells here.  He gave up whatever name he had before and started calling himself Tempest because the one magic he became quickly powerful in was storms and electricity.

What followed was Tempest the man slew the Viking warrior that was in charge of the group and took his place.   He then founded the City which he called Port Tempest.  People very rarely call it Port Tempest anymore although that it is its official name.  People only call it Port Tempest when they are talking about Tempest the wizard as well and want to make a distinction. It is believed that there was becasue of the fresh water river there had been a village of another name their created by local orc tribes but they quickly allied themselves with him to build his city.  I am not so sure ‘allied’ is the right word as it seems to me the orcs were just engaged in self preservation.  It quickly became clear that warriors, even the best of them, were no match for the unbridled power of magic that only a few men could wield.

The oldest stone building in the city is the Citadel which is perched on the main hill in the north part of the city.  Tempest himself built The Citadel as a capital for the city and did the first city planning.  It is a tall fortress with tall central tower.  From here Tempest and his decedents ruled the Island for centuries.  The hill in the north, which the Citadel was the centerpiece, became the home of the wealthy and powerful each of them major families building manors and small towers over the years.  As you head south toward the river, which heads runs fro m the ocean and the east and then turns sharply and runs north to the Mountain creating an natural barrier for the city both to the south and the east.  The Hill became the northern boarder.

The city itself has four main quarters which start in the north and run south to the banks of the river.  The Citadel  Quarter where the rich and powerful still dwell.  The Sword Quarter which was home to military families that served the rulers long ago.  The Merchant Quarter was home to the craftsmen, patrons, tradesmen and merchant families that met the cities needs for hundreds of years and then finally the Fisherman’s Quarter which is home as one would expect to all the fishermen, sailors and dockworkers.

It should be noted that there two other neighborhoods that deserves mention – Southside and Eastside which are on the south bank and east bank of the Crest River respectfully outside the city walls.  Both neighborhoods are home to the poorer classes of workers and tradesmen.  Southside in addition has a more sinister reputation as the center of crime in the city. It is a part of the city that is only accessible by ferry across the mouth of the Crest River so it is also pretty isolated relatively speaking.  Southside is  on both sides of the East road that stretches to the other side of the Island at its widest point and Southside is a little bit more accessible as the East Bridge (a three hundred yard long stone structure) runs through the middle of it.

A few other structural notes are in order.  First in the center of the city is the market square which is spans part of both the Sword and Merchant Quarters.  It is here that my little pub – The Beagle and the Courtesan is located.  It sits on the middle of the south side of the market square between two other merchant establishments.  In some senses The Beagle and the Courtesan is dead center of the Merchant Quarter.  In addition one of Tempest’s later decedents built the wall around the city which was started by Tempest but it took a hundred years to complete.   The wall is forty feet high and uniform in width at twelve feet. They form in a perfect rectangle around the city.  The geometry of the city inside the wall is uniform with  straight streets running east and west and north and south with uniform blocks.  People do not get lost easy.  A narrow roads run inside and outside the city walls.  The Ports are just outside the walls  and don’t take up a whole lot of room as they are just docks and the few building needed to service the ships, boats and nets.

For a long time this was the arrangement.  The revolution a couple hundred years ago changed things.  It established a more representative government for all instead of the wizard’s council with its head wizard.  It is said by some that the reason such a revolt was even possible was that the power of magic had faded to the point that large numbers of warriors could now defeat the small group of wizards.  It ended the need for the military class as protectors of the ruling class but they shifted into mercenary bands that some now even today serve the most gold.  The Citadel has now become the Senate and is home to a very limited government for the island.  Modernization over the last sixty years has made a lot of things very different as some parts of the city, houses and shops have been replaced with more modern versions.  Most notable is the now modern dock facility on the West side that services the Shadowshift Liner.

From a people standpoint, the old castes are gone and there has been a migration of sorts where people live in the city based more on what they desire and can afford than anything else.  The names however remain as a testimony to a darker past although Southside has always had a sinister reputation for crime and the houses near the dock still are home to sailors and fishermen.  The hill also seems to be home of the richest of the rich.  Sword and Merchant Quarters have become more mixed up.  I mean in the Sword Quarter there is a business offering cyber security these days and in the Merchant Quarter there is a gunsmith of some note.

The one thing that can be noted is that some things have not changed at all.  The Citadel and the walls made by sweat and preserved by magic stand as they always have although now only a small police force patrols them.  Other buildings have been in families for generations but some have failed to adapt and new business pop up under new owners including some immigrants from the outside world.  For me, The Beagle and the Courtesan stands as always servicing the needs of its patrons.  But as I grow tired and need to get to bed, that is a story for another day.

Tales of the Beagle and the Courtesan – The Story of Shadowshift Island

Image result for art painting mysterious island appearance

It has been impressed on me to write an account of all the tales that befall the pub known as The Beagle and the Courtesan and its interesting role in the various affairs of Shadowshift Island.  It is with the Island that has made up the backdrop for most of my life that I will turn to start these tales.  It appearance over a hundred years ago is what started the weirdness that has dominated my life since day one.

On June 8th, 1965 an Island just appeared in the North Atlantic along the 45th Parallel.  No scientific theory could explain this appearance of the island and how it escaped detection for so long.  To make matters the outside world with its modern and scientific devices could never quite get read on it and the radar people called it a constantly shifting shadow.  Thus its name.  It probably wouldn’t have been so bad but when it appeared it through off guidance systems all over the world and was blamed for throwing off the trajectory of the Soviet spacecraft Luna 6 so it missed the moon.  The US of course denied they had anything to do with it which was true and accused the USSR of staging the appearance of the Island to blame their failure on and cause tensions between the two countries.  Both countries sent ships to the Island but when they got close they could not get their radars to even locate the island so they cruised around in circles for several days.  Finally, a ship came from the island and after negotiating with both ships, they brought representatives to the Island and in the end convinced both nations that Shadowshift Island was its own country, neutral and looking to trade and offer tourists a getaway location. it has been all those things from that time to the present day.

Even today navigation to the Island is problematic.  Compasses spin, charts warp and GPS often loses course when it gets close to it.  Mostly, if you want to get to it then you have to rely on the services of the Shadowshift Liner – a small cruise liner that makes a bi-monthly trip between the Island and the coast of the United States which is the closest country to the Island. The liner handles both passengers and cargo and it is the only real link to the outside world we have.  It is what has taken us from an isolationist group of wizards, races and oddballs to a country that is one of the top tourist destinations in the world if you can afford the ticket.  Tourism has made us prosperous but it probably mostly has to do with our very open view of life.

We also have turned the scientific world on its head. Why? because magic works on Shadowshift Island that why.  It was primarily though magic that the Island avoided detection so long and it was because magic we decided as a people to reveal ourselves at the time we did.  The problem was the magic of the Island was getting ‘tricky’ and less consistent.  Rather than try to keep up a quirky magic force of invisibility, we decided to open up our Island to the rest of the world and the rest is history. Not that we did that without a lot of planning and reconnaissance.  We were watching the modern world for fifty years and adapting out island during that time to reflect their culture as much as ours.  We decided the US was a better business partner than the USSR but we knew we would have to deal with both.

I was born five years later.

Now if modern GPS worked on our island, you would know that it is roughly twenty miles in length and about five miles at its widest point.  The Island has a large and tall single mountain, hills, plains and some of the terrain is very diverse with various hardwoods and pines across most of it.  It has a deep natural port and that helps the docks as we have never had to dredge the port area.  Our main and only real city is the port city named Tempest.  There are of course many other villages and towns scattered across the Island but all roads lead to Tempest which is centrally located on the West side of the Island.

Architecturally, the buildings on the Island are a mix of Modern American and the stuff of medieval Europe.  The medieval flavor is part of the tourist attraction as well as the magic.  People come to find themselves in a different world and they definitely get that.  The outlying villages and towns are pretty much still medieval in look and flavor and magic permeates the air and that gives an entirely different feeling than anywhere else.  That along with magical creatures, races and the fact that magic ruled here for well over a thousand years just makes Shadowshift island truly unique.  People love coming here and us natives are thankful that the tourism board limits the number of tourist to what the Liner can traverse every two weeks.  The liner carries 750 passengers so it keeps the world interesting but we are never outnumbered.  People can stay as long as they like but there are only two opportunities each month to get here and go home. Tourists also tend to be rich so we make a lot of money off them and trade is brisk in the specialty magic items that we produce and trade for everything else we need.  Oddly enough magic taken from the island works elsewhere as long as it is connected to an object so we do well.

Legends abound on the Island about our history and where the original settlers came from and how they discovered magic, but most of it is so old that it covered in a massive amount of lies, misinformation and falsehoods.  Our government is made up representatives from the various races and the masters of various schools of magic and trades.  Our constitution severely limits the power of the government over the individual citizen and defines the role of government very specifically – defend life, uphold rights and provide justice.  Outside these three things, other issues are left to individuals and private industry to sort out.  It actually is a pretty polite place to live as everyone is armed most of the time with things from swords and axes to shotguns and handguns.  We have no standing army but every able bodied person is charged with providing for the defense of the nation if we are attacked. It has never happened.

I have only scratched  the surface of our mysterious island but perhaps as I relate my tales more will come out.  For now this is enough for you to understand part of the backdrop of the tales.  I need to get back to running my pub so that is all for now.  Next I will tell the Tale of our capital Tempest.

My New Blog – The Beagle and the Courtesan

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There are several questions you may have: What is this blog is about? What kinds of posts will you do? Why the name ‘The Beagle and the Courtesan’?  Before I get into all that, I want to tell you what happened to me and my old blog.  I will get to those questions, just bear with me.

According to WordPress I haven’t written a blog post for the purpose outside a class for university since August.  I am not sure how to explain it other than the loss of my long time muse – my pet beagle Gabriel – affected me more than anticipated.  You wouldn’t think the loss of a pet would affect me so much but it did.  In particular I never realized how much that dog really calmed me down and put me in the right frame to write.  It was so unconscious, I never noticed.  I would rub his head as he stood by my side and I would get ideas.  Call it what you want but in a sense it was truly my process to get in the right frame of mind to write.

That said my old blog All Things Rabyd had also  been degenerating into something I have found ends my blogs – a journal more than an expression of creativity. In some respects the death of my beloved Gabriel (Gabe for short) made me more aware of it, as things became more about how I was doing than creative expression.  The purpose for blogging in my world was an issue of expression of my soul and my blog was degenerating into simple journal entries where people could read directly what was going on in my head but like all journal blogs had gotten stale from a soul point of view.  Once I realized what was happening, I just shut down my writing altogether and took an unplanned hiatus.

I could offer up the excuse that I am busy with school, but truth is that I have had time to write, just not the desire. That has changed as I have a new need to express my soul on a number of levels to deal with my thoughts and processes of reasoning through creative expression. Mostly for me means in story in the form of allegory.   Those of you who are familiar with All Things Rabyd know of my running allegory The Theology Pub so you have some idea of what I am speaking.  For those of you that don’t know about the Theology Pub, briefly it was me giving various theological concepts life through personifying them in allegorical ways.  I will do some of that here and in a very familiar way but with significant changes.

So now to the questions:

What is this blog about?

Well, I have narrowed my focus on my writing.  In particular, I want to focus on creative writing here which I enjoy but I don’t think I excel at so I keep working on it.  I have thought of becoming a writer at times in my life but I don’t know if I actually do anything people would pay to read.  Mostly, my goal is to work on my writing skills by writing and offering commentary on how I think I am doing. I also plan on recording writing ideas and so forth.  I have decided this blog will be about writing and my creative writing in particular.  I might touch on what I am reading and how it is inspiring me as well, but who knows.  The main issue for many of you is that if your looking for my unique theological perspective, you might not find it directly although I might express it in my allegories from time to time.

What kind of posts will you do?

May kinds but hopefully they will all connect back to creative writing.  1) I will be doing fictional series in several genres although my centerpiece will be Tales of The Beagle and the Courtesan which is kind of a modern fantasy or urban fantasy like the Theology Pub posts with many of the same character but I am making a clean break with a whole new story line and some of the characters will be modified, redone or even dropped so I have a smaller cast.  In addition, I may engage in other series as they come to mind.  2) I will write follow up posts about my work where I explain some of the writing decisions I have made and open my  work up to suggestions if readers have them.  3) I may ask questions about what people like to read and why they like them.  It may become in a sense a writers forum at times. 4) I am part of a reading group these days so thoughts on those discussions might come up as well.

I plan on avoiding journal like posts or stuff that does not directly involve creative writing or books and reading.  I also will not be re-posting any of my old work.  My old work might provide some impetus or launching ideas but there will be no transfer from old blogs to this one.  I plan on all work here being new and fresh, although some of it might find its foundation in the old. If you want to see my old work, then go to All Things Rabyd and the vast majority of it is there.

Why the name ‘The Beagle and the Courtesan’?

Well most of my previous blogs have played on my last name heavily.  Raby is pronounced Ray-Bee so it comes as no surprise that I have over the years gotten a lot of mileage with rabies jokes.  The Rabyd Theologian 1.0  through 3.0 and All Things Rabyd are my best examples of this.  I wanted to get away from that with this blog.

Secondly, I have expanded my horizons a little.  I am still pastor and theologian but I also am in my second year of a Political Science degree and I have added two minors to that degree.  The first is in Economics and and the second is in International Business.  My life is starting to encompass more that my church, theology and and faith and that needs expression as well.  Something more allegorically expressive of my new thoughts on politics, economics and international trade becomes necessary.

Going back to my Theology Pub series I began think that a literary pub might be in order but what to call the pub this time?  I think based on what I have written so far “The Beagle” reference is obvious in a sense every time I come here it will be like stroking Gabe’s ears and getting to work.  Well, at least that is the hope and it is a connection to my past work as Pint the pocket beagle will be making a reappearance here as well.

Image result for courtesan painting

“The Courtesan” is a little more difficult to explain.  It is simply in my mind became the best allegorical way to express the jumble of thoughts on new subjects.  The Beagle might represent my old things of theology, philosophy and the foundation of all my previous writing.  The Courtesan is more representative of the new.  A courtesan is often conceived as merely a prostitute but they are more than that because they often have political connections (politics), are high priced becasue they are beautiful or specially skilled (economics), and engage in trade (international business).  Some historical courtesans were powerful figures but in this case, it also is me expressing me pushing the edge as always.  Besides it makes for a great pub name and a launching point for my primary series of stories on this blog.

The name as a whole also neutralizes things from my name, my theology and biblical studies and turns my attention to everything I am thinking about and offers a more interesting dualism to think about as well.  I will enjoy exploring it.  Other things about the name will become more clear as the central story on this blog gets written.  I hope you will enjoy it.

Blessings and Cheers!!!