Welcome To Moonlight Fields

Moonlight Fields

Moonlight Fields is a city built on mostly flat terrain, with only slight changes in elevation. The area contains a few gentle rivers (not suitable for hydroelectric power) and a large lake.

There isn’t a lot of availability for renewable industry (farming and timber), so unfortunately, Moonlight Falls has to rely on oil, ore mining, and other dirty industries.

There is plenty of room for the city to grow. As the city expands, I’ve been careful to maintain green spaces and spacious public parks.

Labor Park

Labor Park

Public transport is built on a network of trams, taxis, monorails, trains, bicycle paths, and blimps. Moonlight Fields does not contain buses. (I thought I’d try something new with this city.) However, as the city gains more suburbs, a few bus lines may be added – or maybe commuter rail lines will do the job instead.

Transit Interchange

I love Cities: Skylines. It’s a beautiful game, with plenty of challenges and creativity. There are a few things that need improvement, though: the way ships spin around when leaving a dock instead of making a loop, the way cars crowd into one lane even when multiple lanes are available, and the way monorails make impossibly tight ninety-degree turns.

I can’t do anything about the ships, and mods like Traffic President can help with lane management. I can do something about the monorail tracks, though. In the city of Moonlight Fields, monorail tracks cut around intersections to avoid ninety-degree turns. This practice also creates green space.

Monorail Curve

Monorail Corner

There is an abundance of roundabouts in the city – which also creates green spaces.

Roundabouts

So far, there is only one tourism district and one leisure district in Moonlight Fields. They’re next to each other. Traffic became jammed in the area, so I built a tram line through both districts. The tram depot is right on the other side of the freeway, so I built a short tram-only bridge, over the freeway, just to connect the depot with the tram line.

The tourism/leisure tram line alleviated traffic somewhat. The unexpected benefit of the tram bridge is that huge crowds of citizens are using the bridge’s walkway to walk to the nightclubs and gaming centers rather than wait for the train. I certainly can’t blame them. (Maybe I should extend the tram line over the bridge, and give them a ride.)

Tram Bridge

Moonlight Fields in plagued with sinkholes. Geologists don’t know why.

Sinkhole

Don’t let the sinkholes (or the industrial pollution) scare you away from visiting lovely Moonlight Fields. There’s plenty to do and see here.

Stadium

Reading On A Phone

My smart phone has replaced our camera. Now, it feels like it could replace my eReader.

One day, I was getting anxious for my next library hold, and I started wondering about the possibility of using an app to read a library eBook. I looked at the Overdrive app, which the Seattle Public Library uses. I discovered that Overdrive has something new, something supposedly friendlier, named Libby. I downloaded the Libby by Overdrive app and gave it a shot.

Having never used the Overdrive app, I can’t say if Libby is easier, or friendlier, but I can say that getting a library eBook into my phone is a lot easier than getting a library eBook into my Kobo Mini.

It used to be that I’d download a library eBook into our PC. Then I’d convert it through Adobe Reader. Then I’d upload it to my Kobo Mini. It was a three-step process, but it was quick and easy.

Then Adobe Reader started acting up. It just wouldn’t convert library eBooks, and my Kobo Mini couldn’t open them. I tried various solutions, but couldn’t fix it, and I gave up on it.

But, anyway, even if Abode Reader was working, the Libby by Overdrive app is a whole lot easier. I find an available eBook, click “Borrow” and it’s on my phone for the next 21 days. (I can also place holds through the app, but I haven’t tried that yet.)

So far, I’ve read two eBooks on my phone, and I’ve started a third. I returned the first two before the 21 days was up. I’m curious about what the app does when an eBook expires, but I’m too conscientious of a library patron to hang onto a book just to find out.

Libby and/or my phone messes up the formatting of the text occasionally, but not enough to make it unreadable – and it’s really minor.

Having an eBook on my phone means that I’m reading on buses and trains more than I used to. My smart phone is easier the hold than a book, and opens faster than my Kobo Mini.

A 2016 Bestseller

This Is Where It Ends, by Marieke Nijkamp, was published in 2016, and was a New York Times bestselling Young Adult hardcover for 24 weeks, achieving the #1 spot.

This Is Where It EndsI downloaded the eBook from the Seattle Public Library, and read it on the Libby by OverDrive app on my phone.

It’s 10:01 A.M. at Opportunity High School, in Opportunity, Alabama.

The first sentence is: “The starter gun shatters the silence, releasing the runners from their blocks.

Claire is enjoying start-of-season track practice with her best friend, and fellow JROTC member, Chris.

Time is running out.” Tomás and his friend Fareed are breaking into the school records in Principal Trenton’s office.

Autumn is at an assembly, sitting between Sylv and an empty chair, listening to Principal Trenton’s same old start-of-semester speech. Despite Trenton’s inspirational words, all college will be, for Autumn, is a way to escape her miserable life. Ever since her mother’s accident, her abusive, alcoholic father won’t let Autumn dance. Autumn used to love dancing

Sylv is at the assembly, looking at the empty chair next to Autumn – the chair where Tyler should be sitting. She’s glad Tyler isn’t here. Sylv wishes Autumn would open up to her about her mother’s death. Sylv loves watching Autumn dance.

The assembly is over, and it’s time for Sylv to head to U.S. History.

10:02 A.M. Tomás finds what he’s looking for: the permanent record of Tyler Browne. He learns that Tyler is a closet genius, with an astoundingly high SAT score. Tomás thinks: “Maybe that explains why, despite his bravado, Tyler never made good on any of his treats. He may be a maggot, but he’s the smartest kind: a harmless one.

Claire runs another lap with Chris. She wonders what’s going to happen when they both graduate. Claire decides that breaking up with Tyler was the right thing to do.

Autumn is asked by a girl named Asha about her auditioning for Dance. Autumn is uncomfortable. Sylv wishes she could be a better girlfriend to Autumn and encourage her more.

10:04 A.M. The assembly is over, but no one is leaving the auditorium. Autumn wonders why everyone is crowding around the doors.

Sylv figures it out; Some prankster has locked the doors.

Tomás didn’t learn much from Tyler’s file. He and Fareed agree to skip school for the rest of the day.

10:05 A.M. Inside the auditorium, Tyler begins shooting.

That’s a synopsis of the first four chapters of This Is Where It Ends. It continues for twenty-two more chapters, each covering a span of a minute or two. That doesn’t mean the chapters are short – it means the action is elongated. It’s 54 minutes, described in about 300 pages.

This Is Where It Ends is the fictional story of a school shooting, told in real time, from the points of view of Autumn (Tyler’s sister), Sylvia (who Tyler hates because of her relationship with his sister), Sylvia’s twin brother Tomás, and Claire (Tyler’s ex-girlfriend).

Claire and Chris literally run for help, pushing their muscles more than they’ve ever been pushed. Fareed calls 911, hiding his accent so the police won’t think it’s a terrorist attack and target him. Tomás and Fareed could easily climb out of a window and be safe, but they both choose to try to break into the auditorium. If only Autumn would sacrifice herself, if only one of her classmates would give away her hiding spot, Tyler might stop the killing, but she and Sylv and Asha are frozen in fear. Sylvia prays to God, and accepts that it will not be a question of getting out, but rather how much longer she’ll be alive.

Yeah, this was an extremely intense book. It was one of the more intense, emotional books I’ve read in a long time. The violence, the tension, and the fear was overwhelming. I had to stop reading every once in a while, and catch my breath. The minute-by-minute style of this book suited the story perfectly, and magnified the horror.

I couldn’t put this book down. I loved This Is Where It Ends very much. I cared about the characters, and their stories, and their thoughts. This Is Where It Ends is beautifully written.

As I was searching the internet for a 2016 bestseller, and I found This Is Where It Ends, I learned that Marieke Nijkamp is Dutch. She lives in The Netherlands. She wrote this very American book in English, her second language. I can’t wrap my mind around that.

  • A bestseller from 2016

Southern Adventures

Phillip and I went to the NorWesCon volunteers’ picnic today.

First, we stopped at QFC to pick up something to bring to the picnic. Then we stopped into the storage unit to pick up our camping chairs. Then we got onto southbound I-5. I was driving.

The picnic was at Steel Lake Park, in Federal Way, as it was last year and the year before that. I relied on my excellent geographic memory to get us there. (Really, though, it’s just one exit, one roundabout, a left turn, and you’re there.)

My geographic memory didn’t fail me – but I did miss that last left turn. Being a city fellow, I figured all I had to do was drive around the block, and we’d be at the park. The first problem with that was: There’s nothing in that area that resembles a “block”. The second problem was: My excellent geographic memory is visual, and I didn’t remember the name (or, rather, number) of the street the park is on. I got us lost.

Phillip pulled out his smart phone and asked for directions. (Yea, smart phones!) Google Maps got us lost, too – apparently, there was once an entrance where that fence is now – but it got us to the park, and we found the entrance.

The picnic was fun, but the real treat of the day was Geoff and Pearl’s wedding immediately following, right there at the picnic area.

Pearl was one of our witnesses when Phillip and I got married at NorWesCon, so I was thrilled to be at her wedding.

As expected, it was a bright, colorful ceremony, full of fairies, Skittles (the costume group), ribbons, and bubbles. It was a whole lot of fun.

wedding

There was some major construction work on northbound I-5, so we took Pacific Highway home, through SeaTac, Duwamish, and Georgetown, up and over Beacon Hill, through the International District and First Hill. We dropped the camping chairs into the storage unit on the way home. I was still driving, and I didn’t get us lost.

It was a hot, sunny day today, but with nice, cool breezes in the park. I wore a short-sleeved t-shirt, remembering that the picnic area is covered, and there is plenty of shade to be found. Geoff and Pearl’s wedding was in direct sunlight, however. I acquired my first sunburn of the summer.

It was a terrific day.

Graphic Mythology

I saw the 2010 movie Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief  a long time ago. I wasn’t exactly thrilled with it, but I enjoyed it enough to want to read the 2005 book it was based on, someday.

Then the 2017 Reading Challenge came along, with a category named “A book based on mythology”, and I figured this would be as good a time as any to read the book The Lightning Thief as any.

I checked with the Seattle Public Library, and, of course, they had the book, and the movie – and a graphic novel. I didn’t know there was a graphic novel. I checked out the graphic novel, because it looked like fun, and I hadn’t read a graphic novel in a while. I’m a little confused about the order of publication, but I think this is a graphic novelization of the movie based on the book.

I didn’t remember much about the movie, so reading the story now was full of surprises for me.

The Lightning ThiefPercy Jackson & The Olympians, Book One, The Lightning Thief: The Graphic Novel, written by Rick Riordan, adapted by Robert Venditti, art by Attila Futaki, color by José Villarrubia, was published in 2010.

Percy Jackson is one day away from failing the sixth grade at Yancy Academy. If he’s kicked out, it will be his sixth school in six years. He tries to be a good student, but Percy has dyslexia, and ADHD.

Strange things are happening around Percy. He didn’t touch that girl who was teasing him, and yet she somehow landed in the fountain. He’s attacked by Mrs. Dodds, and yet there is no Mrs. Dodds at Yates Academy.

Percy’s Mythology instructor, Mr. Brunner, and Percy’s best friend, Grover, seem to be conspiring to protect Percy. They’re both dropping hints that Percy Jackson is special, and needs to be protected.

Percy’s mother doesn’t seem especially concerned about Percy  leaving Yates. She has plans to send him to a school – more like a camp, actually – that Percy’s father wants him to go to. Percy will be safe there, she says. Percy has never met his father.

Percy and his mother go on a short vacation. Grover shows up – he now has goat legs – and warns that danger is coming. The three of them try to run, but only Percy and Grover manage to escape. His mother dies in an attack from a minotaur.

Percy Jackson wakes up in Camp Half-Blood. He learns that the Greek gods he’d been studying in school are real. Grover is a satyr. Mr. Brunner is a centaur, and his name is actually Chiron. He’s that Chiron – the trainer of Hercules.

Percy Jackson doesn’t have dyslexia. He has trouble reading English because his brain’s been hardwired for Ancient Greek. He’s hyperactive because his body’s been hardwired for battle.

Like every other kid in camp, Percy is half-human, with at least one parent a god. Percy is one of the “Undetermined” – since he doesn’t know who his father is.

Percy is bullied by Clarisse, daughter of Ares, and befriended by Annabeth, daughter of Athena.

Soon after battle training begins at Camp Half-Blood, Percy Jackson’s special abilities are suddenly revealed. It becomes obvious who Percy’s father is. Percy really is special. Just as suddenly, he is given a quest. He must find the lightning thief. His quest will take him into the underworld. He won’t be going alone, however. Grover and Annabeth will be at his side.

The three heroes travel across the United States, toward a recording studio in Los Angeles (the entrance to the underworld), in a race against time, in order to prevent a war of Olympian proportions.

The Lightning Thief is an exciting story and a clever take on ancient Greek mythology set in the modern world. The artwork of the graphic novel was good, but nothing really special.

It is, of course, “Book One”, so although the story is complete, it does end with an opening for the next book.

Overall, I enjoyed it.

  • A book based on mythology

Hangtag

Last week, I received an email from the City of Seattle. Attached to the email was a temporary RPZ 32 guest permit, in a PDF, which we could print out and place on a dashboard until the hangtag arrived. I printed it out, just in case a guest stopped by, but we never used it.

guest permitThis evening, as Phillip and I were walking home from dinner at Roosters (having gone there directly from work), I told Phillip that I’d been seeing a few permanent permits in windshields. In fact, we passed by a parked car that that had a permit stuck in its windshield. Phillip then predicted that we’d find our permit in the mailbox when we got home.

Phillip was right. It was in our mailbox. We now have our own, official RPZ 32 guest permit hangtag.

I read the fine print on the permit, and I’m glad I did. I learned this evening that this is a guest permit. It’s illegal for us to use this on our own car. I had no idea. If the apartment building parking lot is being washed, for instance, and we have to park on the street for a while, we’re going to have to move our car every two hours.

Five Years Ago

Five years ago, I quit my job. It was something I needed to do for myself. I had no other employment lined up, but I was confident that I wouldn’t be unemployed long. That actually turned out to be correct. I was without a paycheck for about a month, when I was hired as a temporary employee by a company which, a few weeks later, hired me permanently.

We had a department meeting today, and when employee anniversaries were announced, there was my name, along with 5 Years.

I had been thinking that my anniversary date was actually last month. I was thinking it was somewhere around June 27th. The company usually announces last month’s anniversaries, so I wasn’t surprised that mine wasn’t mentioned at the last meeting. I was researching my blog earlier this evening for the exact date. I was hired on July 25, 2012.

This Friday, a coworker who has worked beside me for the past five years will be retiring after 23 years with the company.

Different Time Periods

The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion, by Fannie Flagg, was published in 2013.

The All-Girl Filling Stations Last ReunionI downloaded the eBook from The Seattle Public Library. It was the first book I have ever read on my phone. It was also the first book by Fannie Flagg I have ever read (although I’ve actually eaten fried green tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe).

It’s 2005, in Point Clear, Alabama. Mrs. Earle Poole, Jr., known to her friends as Sookie, has three married daughters, Dee Dee, Cee Cee, and Le Le. Her only son, Carter, aged 25, remains unmarried.

The story starts right after Cee Cee’s pet-friendly wedding. Sookie is adjusting to life in an empty nest, trying to get rid of the blue jays in her yard, and trying to figure out what to do about her mother, Lenore, who, depending on who you ask, is either “eccentric” or “batty as hell”.

One morning, Pete, the mailman, arrives with a registered letter for Mrs. Earle Poole, Jr. The letter is from the Texas Board of Health

At the age of 59, Sookie is about to discover that she’s not who she thought she was.

It’s 1916. Stanislaw Ludic Jurdabralinski, an immigrant from Poland, arrives in Pulaski, Wisconsin. He finds work with the railroad, and when the railroad leaves town, he finds other work in Pulaski. He marries a woman named Linka Marie. He becomes a US citizen. Stanislaw and Linka have a baby girl, named Fritzi Willinka Jurdabralinski. Then they have a boy, named Wencent Stanislaw Zdislaw Jurdabralinsli. Then they have twin girls, Gertrude May (born May 31) and Tula June (born June 1). Then they have a girl, named Sophie Marie.

In 2005, in Point Clear, Sookie is trying to come to grips with the idea that she is not a Simmons; she is a Jurdabralinski. Worse, she was born a Catholic, according to the records.

Days go by as Sookie thinks back on her life and wonders how she could have not known that she was adopted.

Decades go by as Stanislaw saves enough to buy a Phillips 66 filling station, which survives the great depression. His son takes over the management, and it becomes known as Wink’s Phillips 66. As American women begin driving more, Wink’s Phillips 66 thrives, thanks to its clean restrooms and the handsomeness of its manager.

In 1938, Fritzi, the eldest daughter, the defiant one, the troublemaker, begins dating a barnstorming pilot named Billy Bevins. Fritzi’s mother is not surprised. Fritzi falls in love with Billy, and with flying, after one night on the town.

In 2005, Sookie finds a psychiatrist who is willing to meet with her at The Waffle House.

In 1939, the Polish community of Pulaski sees newsreels of Poland being invaded. In 1941, they hear the news that America has entered World War II. Billy and Wink join the US Army Air Corps. Fritzi is sore that, although England and Russia accept female pilots, America does not.

Papa becomes too ill to work, and with Wink off to war, Fritzi, Gertrude, Tula, and Sophie run the filling station.

Wink’s Phillips 66, the all-girl filling station, is just the beginning of the story.

Earlier in the Reading Challenge, I read a book named Candyland. It was written by one author pretending to be two authors, supposedly in two radically different styles. I was disappointed in it, because the two styles were not as radically different as advertised. The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion is what Candyland should have been. Although Fannie Flagg doesn’t pretend to be two authors, this book’s two alternating stories are radically different, and it works.

Point Clear, Alabama is shown from a single point of view (mostly). It’s silly and hilarious. It focuses on hour-by-hour events.

Pulaski, Wisconsin is more serious in tone, but not without its funny moments. It flows through a generation of immigrants. It’s a brief history of twentieth-century America, and how war changed the nature of its workforce. It’s about the short, sad history of the WASPs, and their uncredited service to their country.

Of course, these two timelines converge into one – in a way I wasn’t expecting.

This book was wonderful and amazing. I loved it. I loved it a lot.

  • A book set in two different time periods