NOLA Book Club JULY is TOMORROW! (27-July)

NOLA Book Club JULY is TOMORROW! (27-July)

NOLA Book Club July is TOMORROW!

nola book club july

NOLA Book Club July

We’re gathering TOMORROW, 27-July-2021, via Zoom, to discuss Economy Hall: The Hidden History of a Free Black Brotherhood, by Fatima Shaik. Here’s the Zoom Info:

Hi there,

You are invited to a Zoom meeting.
When: Jul 27, 2021 07:00 PM Central Time (US and Canada)

Register in advance for this meeting:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.


Yes, we’ve gone to requiring registration, to combat Zoom-bombing. See you tomorrow!

Train Ferry #NaPoWriMo 11

Train Ferry

Good-bye waves
Before 7am
Are fewer, as
Early travelers depart
Loved ones at home,
Allowing them to return
To bed,
After the Traveler
Gets up and dressed.
For the trip west

Grab the suitcase,
Hop on a streetcar
Whose mule is steady
And awake, already
Hard at work.

Board the train,
Settle into the compartment
For the trip west,
Amidst the organized chaos
That is business travel.

Tune out the sounds
Of the locomotive.
Ignore the smell
Of burning coal.
Focus on the riverfront
Loading, unloading
Moving the goods in demand
Around the country.

The turn of the wheels
Brings on a light transe
All too quickly broken
As the train slows,
Approaching the ferry landing.

Relative quiet.
Locomotive and cars
Roll down the landing
Onto the boat.
Smells from the dock
Give way to fresh air as
The crossing begins.

Again, the sensation is
The loading process reverses.
Locomotive leaves the boat.
Train re-connects.

The Journey West
Begins in earnest
From Algiers.

©2020 Edward J. Branley

Personal Log 20200414 – supermarket runs

Personal Log 20200414 – daily routine changes in our stay-home world.

persona log 20200414

Work from home really means work from home right now.

Personal Log 20200414

When training classes begin, my introduction includes saying something about New Orleans. While I teach remotely from here at the house, it’s not accurate to say I work from home. That’s because I get out to the coffee shop on most mornings. Well, not now, naturally.

Teaching routine

Teaching via WebEx requires I stay put. I have a “business” internet account. My desk computer connects via wire to the router to the rest of the world. This provides a better quality of service, QoS. While I probably would survive on the PJs or Starbucks wi-fi, the noise of the blenders presents an issue.

Teaching from home isn’t a terrible thing. I still have time to get up, catch the Amtrak Crescent at the PJs, have coffee, and plan the day. By 0830, I hop in the car and head back home.

Writing routine

No class on a given week means no reason to hop back in the car at 0830. I hang out at the coffee shop for a few hours, working down my BuJo’s task list. The people-watching and train-watching is good for me. So’s the fresh air on the coffee shop patio.

Pandemic adjustments

I worked from the coffee shop for three days after the stay-at-home “suggestions” started. The baristas pushed all the seating to the sides, as if they were about to mop the floor. It didn’t discourage the customers. They gathered on the patio. This annoyed me because I don’t like all those people in the first place. Mark Bologna and I grabbed two of the outside tables that first Sunday (how many Sundays ago was that? I’m losing track.). We social-distanced nicely. Still, there were too many people. After that, I surrendered.

Coffee from home is a first world problem

personal log 20200414

I’m not a fan of making my own coffee. I prefer that to being around asymptomatic carriers, though. So, out comes the pot. The cats are amused. I still drink about the same amount of coffee. From a price perspective, I’m sure it’s saving me money. The lack of donuts, on the other hand, makes me sad. Same for the cinnamon rolls at the PJs.


My writing production isn’t what it was prior to the pandemic. Home distracts me. Home means I can work on my other computers here. I don’t do that at the coffee shop, unless something’s wrong with a website.

Actual work-from-home offers the distraction of making network changes. While the network improves, my NaPoWriMo output drops.

General mindset – Personal Log 20200414

I don’t like going to the grocery in the pandemic. Grocery shopping has always been fun for me, going back to when the boys were kids. I cook, so it’s logical I buy the groceries. Planning isn’t as necessary when Zuppardo’s Supermarket is less than a, mile away. So, normal meant 2-3 trips a week. Dinner planning happened two hours before cooking started.

Pandemic conditions changed that. People in #themetrys make me uncomfortable. Way too many of them are Fox News viewers who think this is a hoax. I don’t need them breathing on me. Seriously. My headphones provided escape from racist white people. Turn on, tune out. They continue to breathe, though.

Even a weekly trip to the supermarket increases my stress levels. While Whole Foods is a better (and smaller) group of customers, they don’t have everything we want/need. Trips to the supermarket early in the day provide some respite from stupid people, but all it takes is one. Not good for my general disposition.

Back to the N-scale trains

I need to get the extraneous stuff off the train table and run them again. It’s a distraction that doesn’t involve watching TV. That’s my main goal for the week. I dismantled the layout before the holidays, and never got back to it. Trains fuel the imagination! They mitigate all the stuff I’m fussing about in Personal Log 20200414.

A Novel Approach #NaPoWriMo 5

A Novel Approach #NaPoWriMo 5 of 30

A Novel Approach

In 1940,
The Nazi Blitz ravaged Britain.
Those who guarded the nation,
In the Shadows,
On the Astral,
Among the Trees,
Came together
To defend their homes
And their loved ones.

Can we defend
Against the novel coronavirus
Using similar means?
Not everyone understands
The science,
The medicine,
The care
Needed to heal
Those who get sick.

But surely,
Those who understand the body’s
Connection to the spirit.
The Shamans,
The Witches,
The Mages.
Even the Dabblers
And the “Fluffy Bunnies”
Know the importance of
Deep breathing.

They can visualize
Healthy lungs
Filling up with air
Exhaling steadily
Oxygen providing
That can battle build up
The fortress that is
The human body
To battle back
The viral assault.

An’ It Would Harm None,
To paraphrase the Rede
To share what we have,
Our Energy
Our Strength
Our Desire to help others.
To boost the energy
Of the vulnerable
Helping them push
The intruder out.

©2020 Edward J. Branley

Door Pulls – #WatchCats 1

door pulls

#WatchCats (artist unknown)

Lydia scanned the neighborhood from their perch on the roof of a local apartment building, while Amadeus groomed himself. She froze as she spotted a man walking in the street, two blocks away. He was testing the door handles on parked cars as he walked. So far, none of his “door pulls,” as the police call these, bore fruit.

It was Lydia’s responsibility to spot trouble. Well, not all the time, of course. Cats need their haps! Right now, though, she dispatched the neighborhood WatchCats. She nudged Amadeus, who looked up from licking his paw. The grey tabby knew what the nudge meant. He looked up, scanning below. When his eyes spotted the walking thief, Lydia nudged him a second time.

Amadeus nodded and nuzzled his WatchCat partner. He walked over to the fire escape and cautiously jumped from their perch onto its step. Lydia yawned and scratched as he made his way down the stairs. Amadeus jumped to the sidewalk and trotted down the street. He let the man walk to him, but then changed plans, as one of the car doors he pulled popped open! The WatchCat crossed the street, positioning himself behind a garbage can. He waited for the man to lean into the car, then sprinted across the street.

The man wore sweatpants and running shoes, with no socks. Amadeus targeted his bare ankle, slashing it with his right paw as he dashed under the car.

“Fuck!” The man said, loudly. His complaint drew attention from two folks who lived in that block. One was a teen, just walking out her front door. She looked at the house next door as her neighbor yelled at the man.

“Get the hell out of here! Stop trying to steal from my friends!” the demand came from a woman in her late-40s, one of the stay-at-home moms on the block.

The thief flipped the thief off, turned, and walked back the way he came. Amadeus stuck his head out from the front of the car. He saw the thief’s feet as he retreated, then came out to verify his departure.

“Amadeus! I didn’t see you there. Did you stop that man?” the girl asked, walking over to the cat. Amadeus purred loudly as she scratched behind his ear.

“I knew it! Good kitty!” the girl said. Amadeus rubbed against her leg, then trotted off. A few minutes later, he was back on the perch. Lydia groomed his back, then left the perch. A Maine Coon named Penelope joined him, as he took over the spotter’s position.

© 2020, Edward J. Branley. All rights reserved.

Revisiting Practical Armor for Fighting Women

Revisiting Practical Armor for Fighting Women

Revisiting Practical Armor, both Medieval and Futuristic.

revisiting practical armor

Valhallan Nebula

Revisiting Practical Armor

I came across an interesting piece on Teh Tumblrz last week. It’s called Valhallan Nebula. The source is, I’ve been interested in “practical armor” for a couple of years, after submitting a story on the subject to an anthology. The story didn’t get accepted, but my interest in the concept didn’t diminish.

“Bikini Armor” vs the practical sort

One of the most-used forms of “fan service” in fantasy fiction is “bikini armor”. Basically, put a woman in a bikini that’s plated with metal. Yes, if you poke a spear at her breasts or crotch, the metal protects those areas. Why bother, though? Just poke the spear at her thigh, let her bleed out from the femoral artery.

Of course, it’s about fan service. Nobody expects that woman to go into battle. She magically avoids thigh-poking when she does. She exists as an object of desire.

Practical Armor Problems

Women wore dresses in medieval times. They rarely wore pants, much less any sort of protective clothing. Expectations were different for them. Men fought, women maintained the household/homestead. Yes, there were exceptions, such as Joan of Arc. Remember what happened to her, though? So, the concept is problematic. Not much out there to go on.

Problematic doesn’t mean impossible, though. So, thinking through women taking up arms, protecting themselves like the men do, is interesting. Women fight well. They train hard. They prove themselves in modern forces daily. Given the opportunity in medieval times, they would have done the same. So, let’s consider that. Women want protection from battlefield threats. In modern times, that means flak jackets, helmets, good boots. Armies adapt equipment to support women. Suits of armor could have fit women, too.

Futuristic Armor

Future armor will fit women. So, why do artists insist on fan service? In this piece, the woman’s breasts don’t have to be advertised as they are. The entire chest area should be dark, non-reflective, and protective.

Patreon Story!

I’m releasing that story I wrote for the anthology as Patreon content. Got a dollar a month? Sign up and enjoy!