Not a smart thing to do

I have been stepping up my exercise bike training. Not that it is in any way impressive, but still.  After the whole asthma test affair on the 10th, I have decided to try to gradually expand my exercise.  But the thing is, my muscles are no more used to it than are my lungs, which were the ones I was planning to exercise. So after yesterday, I felt slightly stiff, but just a little bit.  After work today, I spent a while on the bike again – not as much as yesterday, but more than before.  I walked around outside a bit, and then sat down and played Civilization 4.

When I got up next, it was fairly late, and my left calf was stiffer than it has been for many years, not counting the days after a leg cramp.  It is not so bad that it actually bothers me, since I am not planning to run marathon tonight, and light pain makes very little impression on me.  (Intense pain, on the other hand, is QUITE distracting, but so far has been rare indeed. Long may that last.)

The problem is that chances are excellent that I am going to have a leg cramp tonight.  I had one some months ago after exercising late in the evening, and I was not nearly as stiff as this. I have applied painkiller gel and also taken a quarter of a Dispril (similar to Aspirin, for you foreign readers, but soluble in water). Non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs work against stiffness, but should preferably be taken earlier for best effect.  I take them just after a leg cramp, but I am not sure they can actually prevent one.

I am not sure I can even get to work if I get a leg cramp.  So far I haven’t heard of anyone dying from them on dry land though.  But in any case, I guess my training program will have to rewind a little.  I seem to have reached the age where even my warm-ups require warm-ups.  Still, better than NOT reaching that age at all!  “Despite the high cost of living, the option remains popular” to quote something severely out of context.

I won the Civ 4 game, by the way. Space race victory. ^_^

STILL evil inside

Saturday morning I stabbed three different people in their guts with a large hunting knife, one of them twice.  It was all in self-defense though. And, more importantly, it was all in my dreams.

Seriously, I am not sure I would want to live with someone who repeatedly stabs people with a big knife, even in his dreams.  But I don’t really have much choice, since it is me.

And yes, it is totally like a scene out of the Hell of Strife as portrayed in Buddhism.  The people there supposedly attack each other on sight, not so much because of hate but because of fear, a fear that is of course multiplied by the actual fights they get into.  Kind of like being a gang member in an American city, I guess.  Their iron rule is: “Do unto others as they would do unto you, and do it first.”

I particularly clearly remember the last dream, in which I had a neighbor living in the same house as me who was plain crazy.  There was a religious element in his madness, or perhaps it was my religious element that made him crazy, but he was hell-bent on killing me.  Each morning (the dream lasted for several days in that realm) he would try to break into my home to kill me in my sleep.  I locked the door, I barred it, I even barricaded it at the end.  He always managed to force his way in eventually, but he also always made so much noise that I was awake and ready with my knife when he showed up.  Having been cut by it twice already, he had a healthy respect of the knife, which was why he was always trying to catch me unaware.

A very unpleasant dream, and so was the earlier one in which I stabbed those two other guys.

It bothers me, and I think rightly so, that I still have these kinds of dreams. You may have a religion in which you go to Heaven regardless of your evil character because someone has paid for your sins, but how long can you REMAIN in Heaven if you have a tendency to stab people with hunting knives? Well, presumably you would not be that badly provoked in Heaven – in fact, I have not been that badly provoked in this world since I was a teen – but it is still a rather precarious existence.

I am not blaming City of Heroes for this one, because I had these dreams before IBM even invented their Personal Computer. The feeling in that game is anyway very different.  Well, for me it is.  There seem to be those who take it personally, but for me the game is not about vengeance or even self-defense, but standing up for the innocent.  Besides, the criminals are supposedly arrested rather than killed.  However, a game like Age of Conan is unplayable to me, because it is just too reminiscent of the evil inside.  The whole atmosphere of pervasive villainy, betrayal and random attacks is like a projection of my own Hell of Strife into a virtual realm.

To think that this kind of life was the Heaven of my Viking ancestors is kind of disturbing.  I dare say they did not know true religion, but I still feel their blood in my veins in a manner of speaking.  When I was little more than a child myself, I was not dreaming these things, I was planning them in great detail. As a matter of fact, I even did make a couple stabs at my tormentors, but by some degree of divine intervention I managed to not actually hit them.  I made a hole in a school bag though, as he managed to get it in front of him. Well, those were the days.  It is more than three decades since I left that mindset behind, well in principle at least.  I wonder how long I will still be like this though…

Evil Inside.

Imaginary romance is hard

You can write sci-fi even if you’ve never met aliens, so why can’t you write romance even if you’ve never been in love?

Since I first started on the color magic story I mentioned on Wednesday, I have been writing pretty eagerly, and thinking when I was walking and so on.  Walking is the best time for fiction, in my experience, but the walk must not be too long, or my writing buffer gets full.  20 minutes tops.  10-20 minutes seems ideal.

Anyway, the magic is pretty fun.  I write too much exposition, which would have to be fixed if I ever get to editing it.  That is unlikely, given my past history.  I could pack more of the exposition into the classes of the magic school instead of the head of the main character, I guess, but much of it really belongs in a long appendix for nerdy readers.  I know one fantasy series – the Deathgate Cycle I think it was called – that I bought only for the elaborate magic system in the appendix.  I did not even read all the books.  But the magic system and worldbuilding were quite impressive.  I am more picky now. In fact, I am so picky that I am not sure I would even have bought my own stories, even if they got completed… ^_^

Anyway, onward to today’s subject.  Despite refreshing my romantic imagination with moderately harmless anime (such as Final Approach, which also happens to have a beautiful opening song), it is still hard.  It would probably have helped if I knew anything about romance in real life, but who knows.  Perhaps it would have just made me write autobiography. At least this story cannot by any stretch of the imagination be called autobiographic.

Wait, that is not true. People’s imagination is absolutely crazy. But I could not imagine it being autobiographic, that’s for sure.

The main character is Gren, a farmboy. He is strong and rugged, but plain looking. He does well in school because of excellent visual memory and common sense. Because of his good grades, he is sent to West Scandza Youth Academy of Sorcery, but he knows very little about city customs or the world outside his village. Gren is 16 at the start of the story.

His first friends are a pair of twins, brother and sister. The Henspring twins are slender, pale and beautiful, coming from a refined family of intellectuals and more lately sorcerers. When they first meet Gren, they mistake him for a servant, but because he does not mind doing some heavy lifting for them, they become friends when they realize that he is a fellow student.  The three of them spend a lot of time together.

The maid is 19 or 20, with a plain face but a sexy body. She loves to joke and flirt, especially with Gren. She finds him very attractive except for his young age, which is a temporary problem anyway.  (The age of consent in Scandza is the ritual of confirmation, usually in spring the year you turn 15.) The behavior of the maid causes frequent rumors among the more subtle city kids.

Then there’s the ambitious girl, daughter of a regionally famous sorcerer (who Gren has never heard of). She is smart and studious, and is used to being the best in her class.  She dislikes Gren from the start and it gets rapidly worse due to a misunderstanding.

And let us not forget the sexy female teacher. She teaches Green sorcery, the magic of nature, life and fertility. As a side effect of immersing herself in this magic, she has become magically attractive.  Se does not seem to mind this at all. She is however an accomplished sorcerer, teacher and healer.

I’d like to introduce into the story his childhood friend and second cousin once removed, too. (That’s one and the same girl.) For now, I plan to hold her in reserve until the start of the second school year, as she would otherwise simply claim him by default. She is pretty bold, she knows everything about him (or did, until he suddenly went to the Academy) and they have played together since they were tiny.  It bears mention that Gren’s parents were also second cousins, which may be why he got a double helping of their good genes. But other examples from the village shows that this is not always what happens when you marry relatives. The two of them may have different opinions on the matter.

At the beginning of the story, Gren is just a burly farmboy, viscerally attractive to some and disgusting to others.  But as he learns to use his exceptional memory for sorcerous spells, and begins his climb toward the legendary status of A-level student, people start seeing him in a new light. And not just his fellow students, but some of their parents as well.

Actually, if there is anything at all I have learned about romance, it is to not underestimate the role of parents.  Especially for girls.  You don’t really know a girl until you know her mother, and you don’t really know how she sees you until you know her father.  I have not found that information particularly useful in my own life, obviously.  But perhaps someone else will.

A little strange

It wasn’t me, honestly!

Yesterday, late in the afternoon, there was quite a bit of noise outside. One of the neighbors was driving around the house on a motorized lawnmower, mowing the sparse grass and the even more sparse wildflowers. And possibly rhubarb, seeing how I found a couple huge rhubarb leaves hanging low in the nearby tree today. The big crystal stone that stood on the old tree stump outside was knocked down, and even the bench by the outdoors table was dragged a bit away, though I am not sure whether that was done with the lawnmower or by hand.

It was pretty surreal. I had no idea whether to thank them or scold them. And then it became even more surreal, as I heard the sound of small children playing noisily outside.  It was as if two timestreams were about to merge: Inside the house, the one where I lived here, and outside, a slightly different cosmos without me.  It was, to be honest, a little creepy.  As a FaceBook friend quite reasonably commented: Sounds like you are a ghost, do you remember dying lately?

Not more than usual.  And the place is quite nicely mowed, I give them that. Whose rhubarb it was, I may never know. I have a feeling that I saw such a plant here at some point in time, but I won’t swear it.  Perhaps the kids brought it with them from somewhere else.  I may have seen it passing the neighbors.

More generally, there probably is some kind of right of passage, as it were, on this property. Even though I have not lived that far from other houses since I left home at the age of 15, there are people passing right beside the house on a weekly basis if not more.  Some walk by the study and living room window, others by the kitchen window.  It is not as insane as it sounds, because the house is near the riverbank, and this is the easiest place to get to it. The river is large enough that small personal boats can go up it from the sea, and there is a landing not too far from the house. Still, I am surprised by how popular it is. Well, if that means free lawnmowing, I am not really complaining. Just really, really surprised.

Death the shepherd dog

“In heaven, we look after everyone in this world.” But sometimes a shepherd dog is needed…

I have gotten through two chapters of Bishop Kallistos Ware’s book The Inner Kingdom. It was quite strange to see so many parallels to Ryuho Okawa’s books, and to things I had begin thinking of even before I heard of any of them. It is as if pieces of the jigsaw puzzle are raining down harder and harder, piling up faster than I can put them into place.

I have finished chapter 2 now, which is about death and resurrection. Bishop Ware is quite cautious to leave death as a mystery. Unlike some Orthodox writers, he does not attempt to tell us in any detail what awaits in the time before we are resurrected. His concept of resurrection is also less prosaic than Jehovah’s Witnesses, who seem ready to continue life much as it was before. Ware, based on Jesus, sees the resurrected body as spiritual, able to be either somewhere or everywhere at will, to contract to a physical form or expand to a subtlety where even thoughts cannot touch it. That is pretty much how Okawa describes the ascended Christ too, although of course they have very different opinions on his role in history from now on. And if there is any doubt about that, I have long ago entered into a pact with Christ, which he has kept even when I took it fairly leisurely. Until I meet him face to face in his heavenly kingdom, if I so do, until then our covenant will remain, unless he gets fed up with me first. So far, so good.

But to return to the topic of death: To my shame, the truth is that without the shadow of death, I would quite certainly never have entered into any such covenant in the first place. It may sound very differently now, but I am actually not very religious by nature. A philosopher, yes. That is probably in my blood. My father was a amateur philosopher, and there were several such in his family. Those of his relatives who were of a religious bent were so in a philosophical way, and I guess I have their blood in my veins still. But my passion was always for science, and I had little room for what could not be seen or at least logically inferred in some way.

But if Jesus is the Good Shepherd, then it seems to me that death was his shepherd dog. Let me tell you though that I abhor death as much as the next man, if not more so. For I grew up in its shadow. I knew it from two angles. The one was from growing up on a farm. The goat kids I had petted and played with, I later saw them slain, cut open, their blood being gathered in a bucket, their still warm intestines pulled out and thrown behind the barn, their eyes empty in death. For good measure, I would see them again at the dinner table. Cooked heads is a delicacy on Norway’s west coast, so I got to see even those eyes again. Death was not abstract to me. As far as I was concerned at the time, it was my friends that lay there, and would never play with me again.

The other half was my childhood asthma. From I was a toddler and several years onward, I would get asthma attacks and fight for breath not just if I played too roughly, but often in the night or morning (probably from exciting dreams). I knew, certainly by instinct though I may also have been told, that if I did not manage to keep breathing, I would die. Death was not something that just happened to animals: She was waiting each night in my bed, like the fiancee in an arranged marriage patiently waiting for the day when our union would be consummated. At the time, medicine was not as advanced as now, and especially in the outskirts of a poor nation as ours was back then. My parents were told that it was likely I would never grow up, although if I survived, I would be rid of the asthma. Somehow I also learned this. In retrospect that was probably a good thing.

And so I grew up in the valley of the shadow of death, and I was scared out of my mind.

Without this immediate feeling of mortality, I might never have sought religion in my youth. And if I had not tasted the sweetness of spirit, if I had not at least to some meager degree learned to replace pleasure of the flesh with happiness of the soul, which is so much richer as it is deeper, I would today be as unhappy as any man. This is what I think.

It is not many years since I believed that some people like me were simply made with a naturally higher happiness level. Today I think that is rubbish. Well, I think some people may indeed be so. Generally to have a lower optimum stimulation level is conductive to happiness if you live in times of peace with law and order. But if you are under divine – or demonic – influence for twenty or thirty years, your mind and even your physical brain will begin to change accordingly. You can contest the reality of spirit, but modern science shows that something happens in the brains of monks who meditate regularly. This physical change comes from somewhere. Even if you give it another name to avoid the scary concept of spirit, it is still something and you need to accept this. What you need to accept is the law of karma, or fruit. Good trees give good fruit, and good seeds grow up to good trees. This is the chain of cause and effect, which easterners call Karma. (Look ma, my karma ran over your dogma!)

Thus, as humiliating as this is to confess, in my life death was like a shepherd dog that rounds up the straying sheep and inclines it to go back to the shepherd.

The beauty of Christianity is just this, that the stray sheep is the one that gets all the attention. While the Buddha teaches people to save themselves, and perhaps this is an adequate doctrine for the 99 sheep, Jesus seeks out the stray to such an extent that the last become the first, and hos go before bros into the kingdom of Heaven.

But me, I did not even make it as far as to a successful stray. Before I had strayed very far, the shepherd dog always found me and chased me bleating back again. Now that is humiliating. But at least I have found a large measure of happiness in my life, and I know the direction where there is far more of it. May we all meet there, already in this life and from then onward.

Magic colors worldbuilding

Imagining a world in which sorcery plays a similar role as technology here. Again.

Inspired a little by Psychic Academy, I started writing another fiction story. The connection is pretty far from plagiarism, as usual. When I say one of my stories is inspired by another story, it usually happens like this: I condense the other story down to a short paragraph or even just a couple sentences. Then I expand those again. So basically if you were to tell the two stories in a short paragraph each, they would sound the same, but if you were to read them, they would be completely different.

The short version: A teenage boy comes to a high school for gifted youngsters who can wield extraordinary powers. He does not know exactly what he can do, and people tend to mis-estimate him, but he turns out to have talent. More importantly, there are girls! Very different girls. What kind of relationship will he have with each of them?

Actually, I am more interested in the magic, but there is no way anyone would read it without girls. I should probably throw in a pretty boy too just in case.

To the matter at hand: Worldbuilding! This story is actually in the same timeline as one I started on last year (or was it the year before?), but takes place a few generations later, when society has started to depend on sorcery, rather than it being a disruptive technology (and generally outlawed) as in the first story.

Sorcery (in this and all of my stories) is the art of drawing magic from other worlds, generally from worlds in which it is more plentiful and into worlds where it is scarce. Magic is by default a chaotic force, breaking the rules of nature. As such, it needs to be bound by powerful spells. Rather than the willpower and talent of the individual, as in traditional magic stories, the magic here is bound by arcane sigils, elaborately drawn patterns that in this case just happen to look vaguely like Japanese or Chinese characters.

Both this method of binding magic, and the five colors of magic, were used in the NaNoWriMo Novel That Deleted Itself And Its Backups, two years ago this fall. However, that novel was set in a modern version of the world in the game Master of Magic, so the magic was native to that planet, and there were magical crystals, magical metals, and various non-human races common to fantasy worlds: Elves, dwarves, lizardmen and catgirls. In today’s story, however, there are only humans (although they had a brief visit from an elf-like race that taught them sorcery). And the magic is drawn from worlds where there is (supposedly) too much of it, one world for each of the colors of magic.

The colors of magic are the same as in Master of Magic and the more famous Magic: The Gathering. I may have tweaked them slightly. There are five colors, or rather five and a half:

Red is the color of fire and direct destruction. However, it can also be inverted to create cold. It is the easiest color to bring into being, but hard to control in large quantities. Red wielders tend to be extremely energetic.

Green is the color of nature, life and fertility. It also has healing powers. Green wielders tend to be extremely erotic. They also have longer lifespans.

Blue is the color of water, air and the mist of illusion. Control of air and water is important for transportation, and Blue adepts can also control the weather. Blue wielders tend to be unpredictable and unfathomable with a quirky humor.

White is the color of light, protection and knowledge. It reveals secrets, sees through illusions and protects the innocent. White wielders tend to be lawful and pious, or at least somewhat sanctimonious.

Black is the color of death and draining other magics. It is strictly forbidden, but supposedly it is possible for a sufficiently advanced sorcerer to figure out how to create black magic. If there are Black wielders, they are by definition evil.

Gray is the magic of summoning, teleportation and item enchanting. It is considered a stunted magic, with many limitations, and only taken as a secondary color. In this world, it is also referred to as Yellow.

After the Coming of the Strangers came the Age of Witches, in which sorcery was an underground and illegal activity in Scandza (formerly Scandinavia), though it may have been legal somewhere else. As of this story, however, society has come to depend on sorcery. In an age where modern technology is mere legends and natural resources depleted, even a barely adequate magic wielder comes in useful, and the most talented sorcerers can turn the tide of a nation’s fate. The adepts, or A-level sorcerers, are the mega-stars of their age, like movie stars, top athletes or presidents in our world. At the bottom of the scale, E-level sorcerers are dowsing for water, tending gardens or working in kitchens. By far the majority of sorcerers are E or at best D level, while A sorcerers are so few as to be known by name.

In West Scandza Youth Academy of Sorcery, the first year is spent learning the basics and choosing one’s primary color. The first year exams decide what class one will start in next year. Once you are in a class, it is rare to move up or down more than at most one class, and usually not even that. So the pressure is extreme, as the fate and fortune of whole families or towns may hang in the balance between a bunch of geeky high school juniors with trace amounts of blood in their hormone stream.

Dreams of darkness and fear

I knew I would someday have use for this picture from the anime Please Teacher.

We had yesterday off from work because of the Pentecost. These three days, when I have been at home or walking in the neighborhood, I have barely had any of the imaginary breathing problems at all. On the other hand, this morning I had unpleasant dreams again. Dreams of darkness and fear. Not the overwhelming, paralyzing fear like those extremely realistic dreams I had after I began using brainwave entrainment (and overdid it a bit). This was a fear I could kind of live with, although highly unpleasant.

In one of the dreams, I was wandering a half familiar countryside alone. I don’t think the landscape is familiar to my waking self, but because I had recently dreamed of it. But now it was darker, not the pitch black of night but a deep twilight or like a night with bright moon, where you can walk. The landscape was familiar, but not quite. It was as if some things were inexplicably changed, or I was not sure I was in the right place and going in the right direction. And there was this fear, not of any particular thing but of Something.

Alone and scared in the deep twilight, I vaguely remembered Ryuho Okawa’s words: “Pay attention to your dreams, and you will have an idea of where your soul is destined” and “If you should find yourself in Hell, your only hope is that you have learned Buddha’s truth while you were alive.” (Well, those may not be his exact words, but pretty close. He is generally more wordy than I.) When I realized that I was dreaming, I made an effort to break out of it. I did not manage to wake up to the 3-dimensional world, but I managed to get out of the dream and stay for a brief while in a state of self-awareness, in a place outside the dreamworlds, where I have sometimes also been before. In that place, the dreamworlds pass by like a giant, slow rolling wheel of doors. If I wait, the door to the current dream will close and another will open where I can enter. So also now.

I don’t remember what happened next. I think some time passed before the next unpleasant dream. In it, I was again in the half familiar landscape, quite possibly the same as last time, but it was less dark. I was no longer alone, but together with a young goddess. Unfortunately it was an unreliable, if not outright treacherous goddess. I knew that she did not intend to help me should I need it. I honestly have no idea who she was, as I did not really reflect on it in my dream. My impression is that she was a descendant of the Norse pantheon, born long after they faded from power. Be that as it may, her company was not really better than nothing, but I would be wise to not say as much to her face. What scared me, except for the treacherous company, was that it was now bright enough to say for sure that things had changed. Things that should be there were not there, or the other way around, as if months or years had passed while I turned my back.

Back in the waking world, I still doubt that you will get out of Hell by means of Buddha’s truth, or even Christ’s truth. If you go to the Biblical Gehenna, it will presumably be too late for self-reflection. Catholicism has the concept of Purgatory, which is so eerily similar to the Buddhist hells that I find it hard to believe they did not pick it up somewhere on the Silk Road. But there is no mention of this in the Bible, only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. (Why yes, I quote Hebrews 10, right after the most disturbing words in the New Testament. Lo, I have warned ye.) If we want to reflect on ourselves, we better do it in this life.

In other news, I finished reading Okawa’s book The Challenge of the Mind last week, and am now starting on Bishop Kallistos Ware’s The Inner Kingdom. I expect it to be much heavier reading.

Not bored to death yet!

Despite my boring pictures, I have not been bored to death yet. Actually, the headline of that article is misleading.
The more bored you are, the more likely you are to die early, according to researchers.”
That is what it says, but as we all know, correlation is not causation. Well, actually it usually means there is something causing something, but not necessarily directly.  In this case, boredom and early death both come from a high Optimum Stimulation level.  I know I wrote about this some years ago, but you may have slept through it, so a short summary:

Some people are born with a high Optimum Stimulation Level.  This means they feel best and function best when there is much excitement.  As babies they laugh when they hear sudden loud sounds or see bright flashes of light. As adults they tend to be curious and try new things, take chances, drink, smoke, drive fast without seat belts (sometimes while smoking and drinking, depending on whether they are also stupid, and this trait is not dependent on intelligence so some of them are). They also tend to avoid stable marriages and vote liberal.  And they tend to die early, probably from some other cause than voting liberal.

Conversely, there are people like me.  As babies they cry if there are sudden sounds or lights.  As schoolkids they have their nose in a book.  As adults they tend to follow the laws, avoid dark streets, pray, and vote conservative if at all. They tend to die old and reasonably content with their life.  They also make for lousy novels, and probably so-so blogs as well…

Over the weekend, I have moved all but a few of my DVDs to two external hard disks (in the hope that they won’t both explode at the same time, but I do intend to get a third just in case).  Each of these black boxes take up the space of perhaps 4 DVD boxes, and easily takes a hundred DVDs.  So I should free up another couple shelves.

As a side effect of this, I have watched some of my old favorite anime.  As a result of this again, I have started the groundwork of yet another novel. Hopefully it won’t feature people like me.  And hopefully you aren’t bored to death yet!

Psychic Academy revisited

This girl, who is a minor character, may be the voice of the creator in this anime.

While copying my anime to the hard disks, I took the opportunity to view once more one of my old favorites, Psychic Academy Aura Banshou. Actually I took a peek at several of my old favorites, but most of them were not as good as I remembered them.  I guess I was not spoiled with high quality graphics in the past.

That said, although the screen resolution is less than awesome, the art in Psychic Academy is actually quite good, but slightly exaggerated. As it should be, because the Psychic Academy is basically a high school for superheroes.

Well, “heroes” may be slightly misleading.  While Japanese does have a concept of extraordinary powers (magical, psychic, mutant or even feats of martial arts are all described as “abilities” and treated much the same), there is less focus on combat between good and evil power users, although it is not unheard of. Mostly though people with abilities are supposed to learn to use them for the good of society in a more or less official setting.

Psychic Academy is tentatively classified as a romantic comedy. It is not extremely funny though, unless you think a running gag of unintentional breast grabbing is the heights of hilarity. There is also more bathing than one would expect, although I am sure that is a lot of time by western standards.  (Japanese are extremely sensitive to body odor.) Generally, your grandmother will probably not want to watch this movie with you. That said, this is merely their attempt at comedy. The real point of the story is the character development and the romantic feelings of the main characters, in particular the boy Ai.  (Conveniently, this is also the Japanese word for “love”. That should give a big clue right from the start.)

Ai is transferred to the Psychic Academy when a blood test reveals that he has powers, although it is not yet clear what they are.  Since his brother is one of the country’s most famous superheroes, everyone has great expectations from the start.  The exception is his childhood friend Orina, whom he has not seen for years.  They had a puppy love for each other back then, and both of them have conveniently nursed this feeling without getting distracted too much by anyone else, so that they click romantically pretty much on sight.  But it would be boring if it was that simple, right?

Enter Myuu (whose name basically means “mew”). A classmate of Ai, she has for some reason “100% aura compatibility” with him, even though her main aura power is fire and his is light.  (Well, it turns out to be light. It is unknown from the start.)  Also, he is born with his aura (although he cannot use it), but she has had her aura artificially awakened. Somehow two wrongs seem to have made one right, because they have this thing going on where they can sense each other’s presence through walls, and get glimpses of each other’s strong thoughts or emotions, and whenever they get close, there is a powerful resonance that makes their world jump in distortion. The resonance also makes it possible for Ai to use powers he has never used before, when Myuu is near.

The intensity of their experiences when they resonate make the both of them feel that the other is special, of course.  While Myuu does not want to get in the way of Orina’s love, the two of them automatically gravitate toward each other.

The center of the story is Ai’s love conflict:  On one hand the long, gradual building of natural love between him and Orina; on the other hand, the sudden resonance between him and Myuu.  I am pretty sure a lot of people, both men and women, can identify with this.

In fact, it reminds me of something I wrote in one of my early journal entries, about two girls:  One of them makes my heart beat faster, one of them makes it beat more slowly.  The one may be what I want, but the other may be what I need.  (Theoretically speaking, of course.  Romance is not a completable project for me, and I have known that for some time.) Still, it is interesting to see it drawn up as clearly as this.

Summer comes

I have no idea what these are called in English, or even whether they exist in England.  They grow wild here though.

Little more than a week ago, I was using the wood stove as well as the heat pump to keep the house comfortably warm. There was no longer a risk of the water pipes freezing, although the temperature might briefly have dipped below the freezing point outside during the night.  But it was uncomfortably chilly.  For the next days, however, I made do by simply shutting the door to the home office, where a row of inexpensive computers is churning away day and night.  Once the door was closed, the temperature gradually climbed to a comfortable level and eventually beyond.

The last couple days it has been too warm to comfortably keep my shirt on, unless I open the window and let the insects in.  The week between these two events is what we Norwegians refer to as spring.  Your spring may vary. It gets more extreme further north, although it may be an exaggeration when one humorist from Northern Norway could not remember the spring that year: “I was in the outhouse right then.”

Bee that as it May, the insects are out in force, but they are still badly understaffed.  Entire fields have become yellow seas of dandelion, or “popotan” as I like to call them.  (This is a childish mis-saying of their Japanese name, “tanpopo”. In Norwegian they are called “løvetann”, which means “lion-tooth”, which of course also is what dan-de-lion meant long ago.) Somehow the popotan always manage to set seed, with or without insect help, or so it seems.

The flowering trees along the road are also far too numerous for the few bees and bumblebees at this time of the year.  I am sure there will be more winged workers soon though, so please don’t give up!

I was surprised by just how plentiful these trees are here.  Back home we had a big one growing near where the river was making its way down the hill from below the mountain down to the bottom of the valley.  I remember going there each spring.  But of course it did not hold my attention long.  I had planet densities to memorize, and the Latin names of tropical insects I would never see. But young men and women would meet near these trees (not ours, as far as I know, but others like it). This makes sense, for I noticed today how the flowers smell like young women look: Sweet and yet fresh.  But when I was young, I did not consider that.  I was more interested in the mating habits of tropical insects. The male of the mantis, in particular, is known to lose its head completely when courting a hungry female.  There is probably a lesson in this.

The world is filled with beauty and books, and so I may be reading about the age of the Sun, and you may be living in it. May you love your life as much as I, or even more if you can.  The sun shines on saints and scoundrels alike, after all.