Welcome to Green Comet

These free novels, Creative Commons licensed Green Comet, and its sequels Parasite Puppeteers and The Francesians, tell an expansive story of love and adventure on an inhabited comet. To learn more about the trilogy, and for samples, visit the Welcome Page. To download the books, visit the downloads page.  The novel The Plainsrunner is available for purchase at these outlets.

Meanwhile … Enjoy Your Daily Crossword Puzzle

crossword puzzle
. One moment please.

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The Prime — Fulltime Report

I have written the last chapter of The Prime. The novel comes in at about three or four thousand words over the sixty thousand I was aiming for, so that’s not bad. This time, though, I might end up with a net addition of words after the final proofing and editing, rather than the net subtraction I normally have. Restricting myself to so few words might have resulted in leaving some areas a little sparse. That increases my respect for authors like Robert B. Parker and Elmore Leonard who seem to be able to do it with ease.

Next up is proofreading and polishing this last part of the book, then I’ll be doing the same to the whole novel. I think I’ll be taking some time away from it before that, though, to see if I can come to it with fresh eyes. As always, I’m looking forward to seeing what it looks like as a whole. Like an artist stepping back from the canvas after doing the close work.

Heads up, Tallgrass, here I come.


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Guest Post – On Chickens

Credit Ben FrantzDale – CC-BY-SA

Guest Post

From time to time I will be publishing posts from guest authors whose writings I think will interest people. Of course, all opinions and assertions in these posts belong solely to the authors and do not necessarily agree with mine. Please direct your praise and criticism to the author. — rjb

Today’s guest author is Laird Smith

Before I begin on my story, allow me to mention that this article is published with gratitude to the Green Comet website. The publisher, Jim Bowering, is also an author who has written a most intriguing series under the Green Comet name. I would encourage you to read them.

Laird Smith

There is much being said about chickens these days, raising chickens that is. Not just raising them on a farm but raising them in town in individuals’ back yards. I grew up on a tree fruit farm where my parents also raised chickens for eggs and for meat.

Every spring my father bought 24 Leghorn chicks, all females. We had a pen near our house so we could monitor them easily. The pen was cat proofed because once a stray killed almost every chick in the pen. When the killing started, the cat was overcome with excitement and bloodlust as terrified chicks darted here and there until only the hidden ones were safe. The next day my shocked father removed the live chicks and left the dead ones where they lay. He then set a trap for the chick killer while leaving the forced entry open. The next day yielded a feral cat. My father dealt with the animal and he made double sure the pen was secure from that day on.

We bought more baby chicks for a total of 24. They grew fast into pullets. As soon as they started laying eggs they were moved into the adult chicken pen. This pen had an outdoor chicken run as well as an indoor roosting house with a third of the building having cubicles in which the hens laid their eggs. The eggs were collected twice every day, once in the morning during the first feeding and in the afternoon because sometimes they returned to a cubicle to lay an egg. Sometimes we had to reach under a hen to collect the eggs while she was waiting for the one she was going to lay. The number of daily eggs collected was between two and three dozen. We ate some ourselves and sold what we couldn’t eat.

The adults didn’t lay eggs every day like the pullets did. Some of the adult hens — broody chickens they are known as — got the idea that they wanted to raise a family. They would sit on those unfertilized eggs and cackle. They were so loud they could be heard from the family farm house which was 150 meters away. That was a signal to us that we were going to have chicken dinner soon, for there was no way to dissuade those chickens from sitting on their eggs. They refused to lay any more and would peck anyone coming near their nests. For those wanting to raise chickens in town, you are going to encounter broody chickens. Think of your neighbors 150 meters around you. What are they going to think about your cackling hens?

The Leghorns were the best layers, however, if they saw one speck of blood on another chicken, they would peck that bird to death.

Our chickens were fed a mash pellet — wheat grain and oyster shell which strengthened their egg shells. They always had a pail of water in the fenced chicken run as well as a pail in the roosting house. As a treat, we fed them table scraps which they loved! They always had the run of the land where the fruit trees grew. We released them to forage at 10am, after they had finished laying their eggs. The wheat was served at their 5pm meal. To call the chickens in, we would loudly bang a tin can on the side of the feed storage hut. They would come running from all directions, some even flying briefly in their haste to arrive in the speediest fashion to feast on the grain. It was served in the chicken run so when they were finished they could either go roost or go and forage some more. The older ones went to roost and the younger ones departed to forage.

After dark, one of our family members would go and close up the pen to make it secure for the night. Sometimes the pullets chose to sleep in the fruit trees instead of the roosting house. Using a broom handle, we poked them out of the trees and made them go into the chicken run, and then made sure all the gates were closed. The next day the cycle started all over again.

Laird Smith

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Climate Critics Escalate Personal Attacks on Teen Activist

Greta-Thunberg-imageBROKER⁄Christian Mang⁄Newscom

Greta Thunberg

Climate change deniers are personally attacking a sixteen year old girl with autism because they fear that people will listen to her. I’m not going to say a lot about it, but rather just direct you to the full article. Here are a few examples of the kinds of things they’re saying about her.

… claim she is used by her parents and compare her call to young people on climate change to “Hitler Youth.”

… monotone voice …

… millenarian weirdo …

[her] public speeches were written for her, that she was a “puppet” and that she was unable to answer questions in interviews because her ideas were not her own.

… adult-exploited empty-headed child.

She’s ignorant, maniacal and is being mercilessly manipulated by adult climate bedwetters funded by Putin.

She’ll get a Nobel Prize and a wanna-be Ph.d. from Harvard. For being autistic and not going to school.

There’s more. Lots more. It seems as if they’re competing to see who can craft the cleverest insult. I guess they don’t realize how desperate it makes them look. I suppose that’s not surprising. Go check out the article at E&E News, if you think you can stomach it.

via POLITICS: Climate critics escalate personal attacks on teen activist — Friday, August 9, 2019 — www.eenews.net


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Drought Plateau

“Enchanted Light | New Mexico” by Jim Crotty is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

That’s typical. No sooner had I reported on the jet stream being stalled, resulting in cooler, damper weather, than it whipped up north of us putting us in a hotter, drier air mass. As a result the wildfire hazard has spread its extreme rating through more areas in the last week, and a few days ago a fire started just to the east of where I live. In those few days it has grown to more than 1500 hectares. The crews worked hard trying to keep it out of the big timber where it could really take off, but the dry heat and some wind, along with the difficult terrain, have conspired to outrun them.

You can tell where the hills are by the rising sun.

The sound of helicopters and water bombers has been nearly continuous. It’s hard to see the fire in the daytime from here because of the smoke, but at night we can see flames across the hills on the east side of the valley.

With the drying trend I’m surprised that the drought level has stayed at 2 – dry. I was sure I would be reporting a rise to 3 – very dry. I choose to take it as good news. Droughtman has been quiet on the subject. I also take that as good news.


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Wildfire in the Morning

Jim Bowering – CC-BY-SA

We woke up to this today.

Jim Bowering – CC-BY-SA

A little later on.

Jim Bowering – CC-BY-SA

Jim Bowering – CC-BY-SA

Jim Bowering – CC-BY-SA

Well, they said the fire hazard was extreme.

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10% of Fossil Fuel Subsidy ‘Could Pay for Green Transition’

via Just 10% of fossil fuel subsidy cash ‘could pay for green transition’ | Environment | The Guardian

In the global energy market, renewables get about U$100 billion per year in subsidies. Fossil fuels get U$370 billion per year. Subsidies are defined as direct financial or more indirect tax support for purchasers or producers. It has been estimated that diverting from 10 – 30% of the fossil fuel subsidies to renewables would pay for a rapid transition to clean(er) energy.

From the Guardian:

Switching just some of the huge subsidies supporting fossil fuels to renewables would unleash a runaway clean energy revolution, according to a new report, significantly cutting the carbon emissions that are driving the climate crisis.

Coal, oil and gas get more than $370bn (£305bn) a year in support, compared with $100bn for renewables, the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) report found. Just 10-30% of the fossil fuel subsidies would pay for a global transition to clean energy, the IISD said.

To quote Richard Bridle of the International Institute for Sustainable Development:

“Almost everywhere, renewables are so close to being competitive that [a 10-30% subsidy swap] tips the balance, and turns them from a technology that is slowly growing to one that is instantly the most viable and can replace really large amounts of generation,” said Richard Bridle of the IISD. “It goes from being marginal to an absolute no-brainer.”

It will help us reach our climate protection goals and reduce pollution.

“Taking away subsidies from fossil fuels and channelling them towards clean energy would boost their development at a much faster pace, and help secure our climate goals,” said Ipek Gençsü of the Overseas Development Institute. An added bonus is the social and economic benefits, such as reduced air pollution and health spending, she said.

The cost goes up if we include indirect subsidies. Yes, that’s U$5.2 trillion.

The IMF also includes the cost of the damage fossil fuel burning causes to climate and health, leading to an estimate of $5.2tn of fossil fuel subsidies in 2017, or $10m a minute. Ending the subsidies would cut global emissions by about a quarter, the IMF estimates, and halve the number of early deaths from fossil fuel air pollution.

You can find the full article at the Guardian’s website. They might ask you for a donation, but they’ll let you look whether you choose to make one or not.

via Just 10% of fossil fuel subsidy cash ‘could pay for green transition’ | Environment | The Guardian


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Drought Returning

“Enchanted Light | New Mexico” by Jim Crotty is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Since the last report where the drought level was easing due to low temperatures and wet conditions, things are picking up again. While Droughtman seized the opportunity to point out that the wildfire hazard was low, it didn’t last. We’ve had a few hot, dry days and the scale is back up to very high, just short of an extreme hazard. — Breaking news: it just went up to extreme. — July was the only month to exceed normal during this period when we expect to get a good share of our annual precipitation, and it didn’t even reach 115%.

It looks as if the jet stream might be thinking of moving into its usual summer position, which is well to the north of us. When that happens we settle in for that long period of summer heat that we’ve usually had, or at least begun by now. This year, though, the jet stream seems to have stalled with an arm of it looping down to the west of us. That means there’s an avenue for a series of weather systems to pass nearby or right over us. Hence the lower temperatures and wetter weather.

The fire suppression crews got control of the big fire that was threatening to come over the mountain and descend on us. Those people are champs.

One of these times I’m going to have to talk about the deep duff.


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Guest Post – A Migraine

Credit Ben FrantzDale – CC-BY-SA

Guest Post

From time to time I will be publishing posts from guest authors whose writings I think will interest people. Of course, all opinions and assertions in these posts belong solely to the authors and do not necessarily agree with mine. Please direct your praise and criticism to the author. — rjb

Today’s guest author is Laird Smith

Laird Smith

Before I begin I would like to remind you to check out the free novels and audiobooks while you’re on the Green Comet website.

A Migraine

Recently a relative of mine was abroad when a heat related migraine headache struck. The migraine was so intense, the relative was hospitalized.
I was around the same age as my relative when I suffered my first migraine symptoms. At the time I didn’t realize what it was because all I saw was a jagged, colored aura in my vision. It wasn’t until years later, while in my mid twenties, that I really felt the effects of a full blown, knock you down, head splitting, beastly migraine! To deal with it, all I could do was sleep and fortunately I was home at the time. I thought later about the occurrence and realized the migraine came on as a result of lack of sleep. I resolved to not allow myself to be sleep deprived.

I was visiting someone in the University of Alberta Hospital in Edmonton Alberta, and was browsing through a pamphlet information rack. I came upon an item that spoke of a way to deal with migraine headaches. The pamphlet spoke of the pain centre of the migraine being filled with blood. The key was to transfer that inflamed blood centre to another part of your body. The example they used was your wrist. If you are one of the fortunate ones to be pre-warned of the migraine, then you begin to slap your wrist, hard enough to make it turn pink. When the migraine symptoms depart and the migraine is supposed to come on with its vengeance, it does not, because the inflamed blood centre is now in your wrist!

I decided to try the procedure next time a migraine afflicted me. I stopped being careful about getting enough sleep. Sure enough, not too far along, my vision pre-warned me with an aura, and I wanted to begin the slapping but was in a public setting and didn’t want to make a spectacle of myself. I held my wrist and plunged my thumb into the soft tissue repeatedly. When the aura went away, so did the migraine, mostly. There was a bit of tenderness in my head from the ordeal and I took a pain killer to deal with it. I decided that next time I would take the pain killer as soon as the symptoms manifested themselves and that worked much better. For the next thirty years I dealt with every migraine headache the same way. Never again was I debilitated by the beast!

In 2015, I began to take blood thinners and anti-cholesterol drugs to mitigate a possible stroke after being afflicted with TIA’s (Transient Ischemic Attack.) There have been many days since when I have experienced a lack of sleep and expected to combat the beast again, but didn’t get the migraine symptoms nor the migraine. I don’t really know, but suspect it is the drugs I’m on, that have alleviated the migraine problem.

My journey with migraines has been an eventful one to say the least. I am not a medical doctor nor do I aspire to be one, all I have is my experience which I hope some may find beneficial.

Laird Smith

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Drought Easing

“Enchanted Light | New Mexico” by Jim Crotty is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Already we have surpassed the average rainfall for July, at only the three-quarter mark. This has allowed the drought level to be reduced from 3 to 2. That means our conditions have gone from “very dry” to “dry.”

What has Droughtman got to say about this? He says that 2019 has been very rainy, even though July has been the only month this spring/summer to reach normal levels of precipitation. He reiterates that the big lakes have a lot of water. To his credit, this time he didn’t say that means there’s no drought. Maybe he forgot to mention it.

Here’s hoping this unusually cool and wet July continues and carries over into August. It has been a nice change and we can use it. The wildfire hazard is down, a relief after the last two years of big fires. If we keep getting rain, maybe the aquifers will have a chance to recharge. With higher temperatures in the forecast, it would be good to build up a bit of a buffer.

We had a splendid thunderstorm pass through last night, with near-continuous lightning and some rain. Hopefully the lightning-caused fires can be knocked down before they do too much damage.

Don’t stop now, rain.


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Transgender Sexism

This will be a short piece on the strange kind of sexism experienced by Doctor Ben Barres, a transgender man. When he was born in 1954 his gender assignment was female. At that time there were only two to choose from and the doctors had to give you one or the other. Sometimes there was “minor” surgery to make you fit your assignment. He grew up as a “tomboy.”

Ben Barres, known as Barbara at the time, did really well in school (MIT, Dartmouth Medical School, Harvard) and embarked on a successful career in neurobiology. Actually he did much better once he transitioned from female to male. While a woman he faced typical sexism. Accused of “getting help” from a boyfriend when he outshone his male classmates. Research supervisors unwilling to take him on. Lost scholarship to lesser candidate. Lost scientific competition to less capable male competitor. I think many women will recognize the pattern.

Perhaps the most interesting example of sexism came after he transitioned to male. People who didn’t know his history treated him with the respect due to a person of such accomplishments. Before the transition he didn’t get that respect. Most interestingly, after he spoke at his first seminar as a man, one scientist in the audience was overheard to say, “Ben Barres gave a great seminar today, but his work is much better than his sister’s work.” They thought Barbara Barres was his sister. This is a strange twist on the Matilda effect.

This makes me wonder what would have happened if the transition had gone the other way.


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