Intermission – writing practice

The music swelled, the conductor expertly directing the orchestra and the choir to a triumphant crescendo. Then his hands stopped and the music ceased, the sounds of the crescendo echoing through the theater. There was a brief moment of near silence, the only sound that of the air conditioning. And then the silence was shattered by loud applause and cheering. The applause continued until the house lights came up.

It was Intermission.

As the applause ended, the hubbub began, the groups of twos, threes, and more that made up the crowd turning to one another and expressing their pleasure and enjoyment at the talent of the cast, the music, the amazing sets and more. Some spoke of how it was better than the last time while a few proclaimed loudly how it wasn’t as good as their previous experiences, although those few were generally ignored or frowned upon.

Some quickly turned to other conversations, how glad they were they’d decided to come or discussing dinner plans, while others continued conversations they were having before the start of Act 1, Scene 1, pickup up exactly where they had left off as if nothing had happened in the intervening hour or more. Others continued discussing Act 1. A few, the smallest group, just sat quietly, holding hands and enjoying the moments of precious time spent together.

The seats began to empty out as the mad rush to the restrooms began, chairs squeaking as they stood and began working their way to the end of the aisle. The lines on the stairs grew quickly as the bathroom goes tried to ensure they were back before the lights went down and Act 2 began. Many ‘excuse me’s’ and ‘pardon me’s’ were said as people of all sizes and shapes squeezed past each other to get to the aisles. Some left to get more refreshments while others just stood to stretch their leg’s and backs, cramped from the tight seating.

The noise level grew louder and louder, the hushed whispers that started at the end of the applause growing so they could be heard over the cacophony of their neighbors. Smartphones reappeared, photos were taken and shared on social media, texts were sent and emails read. The fifteen minutes passed quickly, the movement of people out of the theater and back in, the conversations, the smartphones, the moments together.

The scents of freshly applied cologne and perfume mixing with the stale scents inside the theater, thankfully diminished by the fresh air from the air conditioning. And soon the lights were blinking, the reminder that intermission was about to end and Act 2 to begin. The conversations start to trail off, seats fill up again, and soon most are seated as the lights go down.

Stragglers make their way to their seats in the dark, maneuvering up stairs and across aisles, mostly apologetic for their lateness. A few conversations continue, their participants not ready to cease prattling on until the orchestra starts to play.

And then the conductor takes his place, raises his baton, and with the flick of his wrists the orchestra begins to play.

Intermission was over.

On with the show.


Just a little writing practice inspired by an anniversary viewing of The Phantom of the Opera and a more recent viewing of Austin’s Pride, a new musical about Jane Austin and her writing of Pride and Prejudice. I hope you enjoy. Comments are welcome and appreciated.

Elon’s Mars Plan vs. My Mars Plan


Elon Musk has been tweeting a lot about the Starship lately (pictured above, note the person standing underneath it for scale). It looks like something right out of science fiction, and the test vehicle (looking snazzy in stainless steel) is getting close to doing it’s initial hop tests. It’s the upper stage of the Super Heavy, formerly the Big Falcon Rocket and the centerpiece of Musk’s plans to get humanity to Mars. A couple of years ago he released his plan to settle Mars, updated last year with more detail. It was a pretty good read and I hope he’s successful. But it is a lot of work, involving billions of dollars, thousands of people and more (like being a billionaire who can start your own space program).

My Mars plan is far simpler. Wait until Elon or Jeff (Bezos) have built their Mars transports and they are regularly flying people to Mars. Then, on some launch day, sneak into the facility, distract one of the astronaut colonists, knock them out and quickly climb into their spacesuit, putting on the helmet right away so no one can tell I’m not them. Then wait to take off my helmet until we’ve already started the burn towards Mars and it’s too late to go back.

Easy peasy, lemon squeezy.

Okay, yes, there’s more to it than that, finding a man of similar height and weight to myself, preferably one who I look enough like that I could fake it with the helmet on. It would be easy in the TV show or movie version of this idea.

It just takes some patience…and the willingness to commit a few felonies and hope they don’t throw me out the airlock after I take the helmet off.

Happy Thanksgiving



On October 3rd, 1863, during the height of the Civil War and only 3 months after one of the bloodiest battles in American history, the Battle of Gettysburg, President Abraham Lincoln issued the his Proclamation of Thanksgiving (added below).  During this time where America seems more divided than we can remember, let us all take a moment to remember the blessings we have.  To remember and give thanks for our prosperity, freedom, and the love of family and friends, and the grace of God.

A Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving to one and all, despite our many differences.  Gods Blessings to you and yours.

Peter Eberle

Washington, D.C.October 3, 1863
By the President of the United States of America.
A Proclamation.
The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.
In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the Eighty-eighth.
By the President: Abraham Lincoln
William H. Seward,
Secretary of State

Happy 500th Reformation Anniversary


I know what your thinking…that was last year buddy.

The Reformation was in 1517.

But that was only the beginning. When Martin Luther nailed the 95 Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany on October 31, 1517 it was the beginning of the Reformation.

That was Day One of a decades long change that radically reshaped Europe and Western Christianity. And further, it wasn’t intended to split the church. Martin Luther had theological questions, a lot of them, about his faith and he wanted to discuss them and resolve them. He didn’t intend to create a new denomination of Christianity, or lead to the many disparate denominations there are today.

Getting back to the beginning of it all. Luther wasn’t there yet. He still didn’t have a complete understanding of the Gospel and Grace through Faith that he came to understand by the time he wrote his three Reformation treaties in 1520 (Freedom of a Christian, On the Babylonian Captivity of the Church, Letter to the Christian Nobility of the German Nation) some 2 years later. And that’s not the final word, he still had the Small and Large Catechism’s, the Augsburg Confession, The Apology to the Augsburg Confession, and other theological works as well as translating the Bible into German so the regular person could read it.

The 95 Theses were the first of many steps. The next big step was the Heidelberg Disputation in April of 1518. Luther criticized the selling of indulgences in the 95 Theses, wondering why the if the Pope had the power to pardon everyone in Purgatory why didn’t he just do it in the name of mercy instead of for the cost of an indulgence? By the time of the Heidelberg Disputation Luther had made a big leap, and was now talking about the Theology of the Cross versus the Theology of Glory. Luther did as his Augustinian father confessor, Johann Staupitz who arranged the disputation, wanted. He avoided the topic of indulgences and instead focused on free will, grace and works. His conclusion was that we should trust in Christ not ourselves. This was a big leap from 95 Theses.

At the Heidelberg Disputation Luther spoke about the differences between being a ‘Theologian of the Cross’ and a ‘Theologian of Glory’. Many so-called Protestant denominations could learn from Luther’s distinction here. Far too many Christian Churches have been drawn in by the Theology of Glory, which focuses on the self and not on Christ. This error is not new, it is centuries old.

Luther had finally broken free from the teachings he had been raised with, by reading the Word of God and learning from it. By reading the scriptures he discovered the gospel and the grace that God has shown us when he died on the cross and is still showing us today.

Peter Eberle


I intended to write a post back in October of last year, and then it became November, and then December and so on and so forth. So it changed, morphed into what it is here. I may write a few more of these, in another year or two, to follow along with the progress of the Reformation. We will see. As the saying goes ‘the road to hell is paved with good intentions’, in this case the road to blogging hell is paved…err…routed with good intentions.

Putting the Pieces Together

I spend a lot of time reading the news (too much time actually, I’m trying to cut back and I have been for a while). Came across three interesting news stories in the last several of weeks, and as I read them I couldn’t help but see the obvious links between them. So here I’m putting the pieces together for all of you.

Story one:

Elysium is using existing technology to gain quick approval of their new molten salt fast reactor design, a safer design. They are one of several companies proposing new designs, many of which are small self-contained reactors, that are meltdown proof (it’s a design factor). Their reactor is designed around existing technology, so they are hoping to get to get their design approved quickly and get it into production and sales. These new generation of smaller, possibly modular, reactors would be ideal for smaller, more remote locations or for smaller cities and utilities, instead of the massive reactors we are used to seeing, with the enormous concrete cooling towers.

Story two:

The Pentagon is loosening up the procurement rules to help catch up in the technology and innovation race. They are trying to cut back on the many layers of red tape and overlapping agencies that are involved in buying things for the military (the number of separate agencies and groups is ridiculous). They feel they are falling behind the Russians and Chinese and this is an attempt to make it easier to compete with them with the latest technology.

Story three:

US military bases in Europe (specifically Germany) are dependent on Russian electricity for power (and for gas as well). The numbers there are pretty surprising as well.

Put them all together, working backwards.

The military isn’t happy about being dependent on Russia for power in Europe.  At the same time that they are making it easier to buy new technology and products. And there are smaller, safer, easier to use nuclear reactors becoming available. Plus, who has more experience with nuclear reactors than the Navy. Yes, those reactors could be potential targets, but there are already many bases already with radioactive material on them.

True many of those bases aren’t Navy bases, and there would probably be opposition from the German government. But it seems like a no brainer, a likely possibility. Small nuclear reactors powering large US military bases overseas, and probably some domestic bases as well.

I wouldn’t be surprised if these companies are already talking to the DOD and lobbying Congress.

Now on to the ideas. You could jump to the easy obvious stories like terrorists trying to steal the uranium, or eco terrorists trying to cause the reactor to meltdown.  But let’s go farther afield.

How about old reactors getting re-purposed for use as power plants on ‘inexpensive secondhand renovated spaceships’. Or a post Apocalyptic stories where a group of survivors is trying to make it to one of these bases, for a place to try and rebuild civilization.

Any one else care to throw out some ideas?

Update 9/16/2018

Wasn’t long after my initial post that I saw this story.  No mention of the military or military bases, but having a billionaire like Bill Gates backing the idea certainly can’t hurt.

And it adds another twist to the stories you can write.

Billionaire with personal nuclear power plant in his complex. Billionaire…or super-villain? Or both….

Idea: FlashMath

I haven’t posted much that related to the actual name of this blog yet. I’ve had plans to…or maybe I should say I have some ideas for posts about ideas, but I haven’t done any yet. Recently had an idea, not a good one, but a bit on the funny side and I thought that maybe it’s time to share one of these ideas. An idea I’m not actually going to do anything with.

My daughter danced to ‘Maniac’ from Flashdance for her Jazz class and she’s been singing the song over and over. After hearing it for the hundredth or more time I had an idea to rewrite it, STEM style. The first thing that came to me was the single line from the chorus of the song. Then another line or two and a few images for the video that went with the song.

Thus I present ‘Brainiac’ from FlashMath (I know, the title needs work).  I don’t have much, just a few lines of the chorus.

She’s a Brainiac, Brainiac for sure.

And she’s calcing like she’s never calced before.

She’s a Brainiac, Brainiac on the run,

And she’s solving all the problems just for fun

If there was a story, it would be the tale of a smart women frantically running some important calculations that will…do something that needs doing now (Save the world? Beat a competitor to something? Show some jerk up? No idea).

Being hollywood, of course the woman more attractive than your average person, but (thanks to another hollywood cliché) she’s wearing glasses, so she must be smart.

In the video there are scenes of her flipping frantically through large books and typing on a computer. Maybe telling bystanders to help or do something useful. Probably running from place to place, carrying a big book or open laptop. Possibly a Eureka moment…with a hint of ‘is it too late?’ to them.

Okay, so it’s not the greatest idea. But a bit of fun as a distraction from the normal writing and the craziness going on in the world.

Yeah Capitalism!

The static test fire of the Falcon Heavy, January 24

After decades of being stuck in LEO and with astronomically high launch prices (pun intended), capitalism, the free market and the New Space companies are poised to take us out past the moon, to Mars and beyond. Out to the black, space, the final frontier.

It looks like the space faring future I’ve been waiting for since I was a young child is finally about to happen. After decades of being stuck in LEO, with only governments launching people into space, we are finally about to see private industry succeeding at launching people into space. And they will do more than succeed, they will quickly leave the governments in the dust.

New Space is poised on the edge of multiple breakthroughs (after having already made several others). The Falcon Heavy passed its static test fire with flying colors and the test launch is scheduled for February 6th. And the competitors are not that far behind. Not too far from where I type this, Blue Origin has a rocket building factory in Kent Washington. They’ve already test launched and landed a New Shepard rocket multiple times and may start commercial sub-orbital flights this year (I’d say 2019 if I was a betting man). And they’re working on the New Glenn, re-usable orbital rocket that will put them in direct competition with SpaceX.

And then there’s the Stratolauncher, Virgin Galactic, Bigelow Aerospace, Deep Space Industries, and more. It’s even spreading to the old guard big players. The European Space Agency is now designing Ariane 6 as a partially reusable launch vehicle in order to compete with SpaceX. Competition is making everyone (well almost everyone, SLS I’m looking at you) in the space industry take their game to the next level.

Is it a perfectly free market new world? No, of course not. NASA is still paying for the SLS, a big government 1960’s era boondoggle. And SpaceX wouldn’t have survived without the NASA contract they got after one successful launch. Oh, and NASA and the FAA can’t quite figure out what they want for crewed commercial launches, changing the rules and expecting perfection (that no government space program has ever delivered).

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been a huge fan of the US space program since I was a kid. The people who design, built and launched the first humans into space (Russian and American both) did amazing heroic things, literally doing what no one had done before and going where no one had gone before, USING SLIDE RULES!

Those days are long gone. The Space Shuttle was a great idea, that was sunk by lack of focus and too many conflicting missions, rules, and regulations.

But cheer up, we have barely begun to see the results of this new capitalism based space race. Prices have already started coming down and the competition is only beginning. A whole new industry is about to spring to life right before our eyes. Fortunes will be made…and lost, and the world will be better for it.

I say it again, without any irony.


Before I could post this article, Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit fame published this article. He’s right, we do live in a golden age, it’s just hard to see it sometimes.

And there’s this article about SpaceX, just for emphasis.


So here we are a few weeks into the new year, 2018. How are you doing at keeping your resolutions? I’m doing great myself, haven’t messed up, given up, or stopped working on a single one.

It helps that I didn’t make any resolutions.

Not that I’m practically perfect in every way, or that I have my dream life. I just don’t make them anymore, specifically New Year’s Resolutions. My wife and I gave up making those a few years ago. It’s not that we’ve given up on most of the things we used to make resolutions about, but since they were almost always the same things, we felt that tying those goals to ‘the new year’ led to sadness and depression when we failed year after year.

And let’s be honest, those resolutions were always bit on the chincey side. It not that I don’t want to be a better writer, I want to be a much better writer (seriously better; significantly better? You see part of my problem already!).

I don’t want to just finish a handful of short stories and work on another novel. I really want to finish at least a dozen short stories, finish a novel or two or three, and maybe throw in a screenplay or some online choose your own adventure website/e-book just for fun.

I don’t just want to go to church more regularly, be better prepared for the high school youth class, and do some bible reading and devotions at home. I really want to go every Sunday (and be wide awake so I can pay better attention), do great prep and teach up a storm with an engaging and interesting lesson for the high school youth, and do regular bible readings and devotions at home.

I don’t want to just blog a bit more regularly* and maybe make the blog a little more presentable. I really want to blog very regularly, create a great website with all sorts of cool features, stories, links, articles, and more.

And that’s just getting started. I don’t just want to lose a little weight (call it 20 pounds) and get in a little better shape. Try 40 or 50 pounds and good enough shape to run a half marathon. I don’t want to read a few more books this year, I want to read 30-40 more books this year. I could go on and on, family time, sleep, eating healthy, volunteering, etc.

There’s two main problems with all of these resolutions. Willpower and Time. If I had the second, I might be able to have the first. At least that’s what I’ve told myself for years. A well tread excuse if you will. If I had more time I could get to all of those things I’ve always wanted to do, starting with the more fun ones and getting to the more serious ones later (being honest).

So what I really want is to be independently wealthy, via some magical means, so that I can quit my job and do what I want. Anybody got a few spare million they want to throw my way?

The reality is that I need to work on that first one. Willpower. If I have more of that, I will make more of the second so that I can actually make progress towards being the me I want to be. The more willpower I have, the less time I will waste on the lesser things and the more focused I can be on the important things. That’s the idea anyways.

Now for the follow through, cutting back on email, internet surfing, mobile games, that kind of stuff. Sure it won’t be enough to give me the spare time I’d really like, but it’s a beginning. And as Julie Andrews sang, that’s a very good place to start.

Happy 2018! I hope it is a blessed and productive year for you all.

* If I’d made resolutions one of them would have been to blog more regularly and on time. My Christmas post was January 6th and this my New Year’s post is January 16th, definitely not making much progress there.

Keeping the Christmas Spirit Alive

Merry Christmas All!

‘I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach!’

Ah, that wonderful phrase from the climatic scene of A Christmas Carol, where our former grinch, (seems wrong to use the word scrooge as a noun here) Ebenezer Scrooge, has finished his change of heart and has now become the loving, charitable man who helps his fellow man and saves the life of Tiny Tim by his actions.

It certainly is a wonderful ideal. To keep the Christmas spirit alive 365 days a year. To treat our fellow man with respect, love, kindness and charity each and every day of the years.

But let’s be honest.

That is…incredibly hard. No, it’s impossible. Being brutally honest, sometimes it’s hard to keep that loving, giving spirit alive during the Christmas season, whether you are talking about the literal 12 days or the period from Black Friday through Christmas Day.


Why the 12 days of Christmas? It’s more than just a song, it’s part of the church calendar. Historically (and for some of us Protestants, especially Lutheran ones, currently) the Christmas season STARTS on December 25th and goes for twelve days to END on January 5th. Two reasons for that, one, we celebrate the arrival of the Magi on the 6th of January (they didn’t show up on the day of Christs birth) and two, the disagreement on the day of Christ’s birth. Some Christians celebrate on the 7th, which is more than 12 days, true. But it was in part the early church trying to split the difference between the two and celebrate for 12 days. Additionally, the 24 days of December before Christmas are Advent, where we are preparing for the birth of Christ.

Here we are on the second to last day (now the day after) of the literal 12 days of Christmas and we are taking down the Christmas decorations. And I know I struggled to keep the Christmas spirit in me during December.

I love Christmas, the music, the decorations, the mood, the spirit of it, both the modern secular mood and spirit and the actual Christian spirit. I love to celebrate both. With the predominance of our secular cultural it overwhelms the true spirit of the season. But like most people, by the time we get to December 26th it’s hard to stay in the Christmas spirit. So, if I think about it in December, I try to push the mood down, to make it easier to keep that spirit through January 5th. It hasn’t worked. Not really, at all. For a day or two kinda sorta. And Sunday mornings, when were are still singing Christmas hymns in church (at least until this coming Sunday).

I’m sure there are people out there who are successful, better people than me in that respect. Possibly some of those people who decorate their houses with insane amounts of Christmas lights, or more likely, some people who are incredibly dedicated to helping the poor and needy. But for me, keeping the Christmas spirit is tough, even as a Christian. Or maybe that should be especially as a Christian.

I’m not going to make a resolution like Scrooge. Nor am I going to make a promise that I won’t be able to keep. But I’m going to try and remember that Christmas spirit, the feeling, the mood, the joy and love, at least sometimes throughout the year and let it help me more the person I should be.

To all, I hope you had a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. And that you too can keep that Christmas spirit alive, at least a spark of it, throughout this year.

The Best Trek Movie


Thanks to it being the 35th Anniversary of Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan, I recently got the chance to see it in the theater (I was 8 when it first came out and I don’t remember seeing it at a movie theater). I enjoyed it immensely. It is still the best of the Star Trek movies, far and away. Bravo to Harve Bennett, Nicholas Meyer and James Horner (love that soundtrack). But it got me to thinking about why it is such a great movie. What places it above all the other Star Trek movies and other Sci-Fi movies in general?

The single biggest factor is that the story and the scale of it are both intimate and epic at the same time. Many Star Trek and Sci-fi movies have the heroes battling to save the planet, save humanity, save the universe. This one doesn’t have any of that. Sure, if Khan had beaten Kirk after taking the Genesis device he could have done that, he could have used it to help him build a new empire. But that isn’t mentioned, it’s kind of left hanging out there. They can’t let him keep it, but the why is never in your face. Some things you don’t have to say.

The story itself is an old one, revenge for wrongs, actual and otherwise. It’s telling that on the Botany Bay, on the bookshelf, is a copy of Moby Dick. That is about as ‘on the nose’ as you can get, since this is a retelling of that story except set in space and Kirk is the whale. But it works.

The writing and directing is excellent, giving the viewers more of the characters and character moments they love, keeping the story moving and showing us new things about them all with a running time of 113 minutes. It set the template for most of the Trek Movies to come, but few have even come close to meeting it’s high bar.