Aug 30, 2011

7 Wonders of the Industrial World - Part VII

Hoover Dam

A National Historic Landmark, Hoover Dam stands tall as an engineering marvel high above the Colorado River. Originally known as Boulder Dam, it’s a concrete arch-gravity dam in the Black Canyon of the Colorado River, on the border between the US states of Arizona and Nevada. It was constructed between 1931 and 1936 during the Great Depression and was dedicated on September 30, 1935, by President Franklin Roosevelt.

Its construction was the result of a massive effort involving thousands of workers. When it was completed, it was the largest dam of its kind in the world, standing at more than 725 feet above the Colorado River. With 17 generators producing 4 billion kilowatts of electricity a year, it also is one of the country's largest hydroelectric power facilities. Operation and maintenance of the facility are solely supported by revenue from power sales.

* ~ * ~ * ~ *

In 1922, the Reclamation Service presented a report calling for the development of a dam on the Colorado River for flood control and electric power generation. Originally the dam was to be built in Boulder Canyon, but Black Canyon was found to be more suitable. Despite the change in site, the project was still called the Boulder Canyon Project.

President Coolidge signed the bill authorizing the dam on December 21, 1928. Officials decided on a massive concrete arch-gravity dam, which would be thick at the bottom and thin near the top, and would present a convex face towards the water above the dam. The curving arch of the dam would transmit the water's force into the abutments, in this case the rock walls of the canyon. The wedge-shaped dam would be 660 ft (200 m) thick at the bottom, narrowing to 45 ft (14 m) at the top, leaving room for a highway connecting Nevada and Arizona.

Soon after the dam was authorized, increasing numbers of unemployed converged on southern Nevada. Men came from around the country, many bringing families and hoping for employment. The site of Hoover Dam endures extremely hot weather, but the summer of 1931 was especially sweltering, with the daytime high averaging 119.9 °F (48.8 °C).

The first step was to divert the Colorado River. The riverbed had to be dredged clear of deep silt and sediment to expose a bedrock foundation for the building of the dam. The process of digging four diversion tunnels through canyon walls to divert river flow around the dam site was tedious. High scalers worked on the canyon walls, removing loose rock to make sure the walls were smooth so the dam’s concrete would adhere. After a year, the river was routed through the tunnels, and the main work began.

The first concrete was poured into the dam in June of 1933, 18 months ahead of schedule. A total of 3,250,000 cubic yards (2,480,000 m3) of concrete was used. In addition, 1,110,000 cubic yards (850,000 m3) were used in the power plant and other works. Two batch plants onsite were created to produce the concrete that was transported on railcars in large four and eight cubic yard buckets. An overhead cableway system lifted the buckets and lowered them to the forms. At peak production, one bucket was delivered about every 78 seconds. Overall, there is enough concrete in the dam to pave a two-lane highway from San Francisco to New York.

The dam was built in interlocking blocks, and concrete. More than 582 miles (937 km) of one-inch steel cooling pipes were placed within the concrete to offset the chemical heat generated by concrete setting. There was an ammonia refrigeration plant that cooled the water and was capable of creating a gigantic 1000 pound ice block every day.

Once the cement hardened, the cooling pipes were back-filled with concrete to create added strength. The massive water pressure of up to 45,000 pounds per square foot at the base of Hoover Dam, is held back by gravity. The arch-curved structure against the lake reservoir dissipates that pressure into the canyon walls equally on the Arizona and Nevada side.

The dam is named after America's 31st president, Herbert Hoover, who played a large role in bringing the nearby states into agreement about water allocations, settling a 25-year controversy. The dam has been called Boulder Canyon Dam as well as Boulder Dam, but Hoover Dam was reinstated as the official name by Congress in 1947.

Ninety-six men were killed in industrial accidents while building the dam. Several dozen others died from the heat or carbon monoxide poisoning while on the job, and hundreds of other people, wives and children of the workers, died from heat, polluted water or disease.

Hoover Dam was the largest federal project of its time. The Boulder Canyon Project Act appropriated $165 million for the Hoover Dam along with the downstream Imperial Dam and All-American Canal. Building the dam was hot, dirty and often dangerous work, but more than 20,000 men were happy to be working on the Hoover Dam, the biggest dam project in the world when it was completed.

Because of Hoover Dam, the Colorado River was controlled for the first time in history. Farmers received a dependable supply of water in Nevada, California and Arizona. And Los Angeles, San Diego and Phoenix and a dozen other towns and cities were given an inexpensive source of electricity, permitting population growth and industrial development.

Aug 29, 2011

Matripotestal Monday

matripotestal ~ of, like or pertaining to the power of mothers

Despite the fact that we’re not supposed to feel the effects of Hurricane Irene (I guess it’s tropical storm Irene now) yesterday was overcast and incredibly windy. I actually like the wind, but this was a little much even for me. Especially since we spent the better part of the day at the cottage. It was cool enough that I, the person who is perpetually too warm, even wore my Nano hoodie.

My posts all made it up last week, although I was a little tardy with my poetry post and very tardy with my grammar post. All I can say is, it’s Harry Potter’s fault. :-) Yes, that’s right. I was so desperate to get the Harry Potter monkey off my back that I neglected everything else so I could finish reading the series. Now it’s done and over with and I can go on to reading other things. I mean, writing, much writing. ;-)

I have no idea what level I’m on with MSN Patchworkz! I think this is a good thing. It means I haven’t been playing as many games lately. I’ve been really tired, and games just make me more tired. So I’m getting into the incredibly good habit of writing first, games after (if I have the energy).

I’m still walking, but I haven’t managed to get that upper body workout worked into my routine. I have a couple of hand weights that I’m going to dust off and try out. We’ll see how it goes.

Still need an ‘X’ form for my chapbook . . . When I went about selecting the forms to use, I finally settled on the forms that had the best written examples. Unfortunately, these are often more obscure forms that require a bit of explanation.

Did not finish the edits on An Elemental Wind, nor did I get my brochures done.

This Week’s Schedule:

Tuesday: Part seven of The Seven Wonders of the Industrial World. This week’s wonder is the Hoover Dam.

Wednesday: Another hump day hunk for your viewing pleasure. ;-)

Thursday: This week’s poetry form is the Flarf.

Friday: Chapter 39 of Fire. Just who’s this guy visiting Rayne and what does he want?

Random Thoughts

Today: A double rant – people and barbeques.

Wednesday: Chapter 16 of my on-line serial Shades of Errol Flynn. So, what’s next for Jessica?

Saturday: Grappling With Grammar this week is all about active versus passive.

Elsewhere in my week:

Answer the e-mails I have piling up. Sorry people! Blame Harry Potter and . . . um . . . I guess he’s the only excuse I’ve got, other than sheer laziness.

Design the cover and get a proof copy of my chap book finished. ISBN numbers are free, so I’m going to send for some.

Get my brochures designed and printed out.

Continue with the walking and add the weight training for upper body workouts.

Nap. I figure I might as well add it to the list ‘cause I’m going to do it anyway.

Finish the final edits on An Elemental Wind.

Choose the poems I’m going to read in September.

Start working on my flash piece for Rattles. This is a new blog started by Jamie DeBree of Brazen Snake Books and Heidi Sutherland of Creative Pursuits. Essentially, they’re inviting you to write up to 1,000 words on the picture prompt in the upper right corner. The best stories will be published in an anthology. Be sure and check it out.

And that’s what I’ll be doing this week. How about you?

Aug 25, 2011


The Ochtfochlach is an Irish verse form dating back to the 1200s. It consists of an eight-line stanza with a consistent but unspecified length and meter. The rhyme scheme is AAAB CCCB.

Though many of the Irish forms were complicated, the Octfochlach was a brúilingeacht, a style which used simpler rhymes, and was considered óglachas, or 'apprentice work', a less formal style often used by amateurs.

The Ochtfochlach is:
1. a poem in 8 lines.
2. can have any number of syllables, but should remain consistent.
3. has a rhyme scheme of AAAB CCCB.

I think what I enjoyed most about this form was the fact it was more lyrical than some of the others I’ve been exploring lately. It’s very short, for an Irish form, but I have seen a couple of examples where the poet has continued for additional stanzas. However, when this is done it appears the ‘B’ rhyme is consistent throughout. Some day I just might add stanzas to my example – it seems a little unfinished as it is.

The Contest

I stand within the bardic hall
The audience is in my thrall
My voice fills up the giant hall
With words of power to enchant.
The contest’s run for many days
Where poets speak their words of praise
Only the strongest spirit stays
In hopes the favoured to supplant.

Aug 23, 2011

7 Wonders of the Industrial World - Part VI

Panama Canal

The Panama Canal was one of the largest and most difficult engineering projects ever undertaken. It is a 48 mile (77 km) international waterway that allows ships to pass between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, saving about 8000 miles from the journey around Cape Horn on the southern tip of South America. From the Atlantic side, the trip first takes you through a 7 mile (11 km) dredged channel in Limón Bay, then proceeds 11.5 miles (18.5 km) to the Gatun Locks. This is a series of three locks that raises ships 85 feet (26 metres) to Gatun Lake. The route continues south for 32 miles (51.5 km) to the Culebra Cut, which is a channel 8 miles (13 km) long and 492 feet (150 metres) wide. At the end of this are the Pedro Miguel Locks which lower ships 31 feet (9.4 metres) to a lake which takes you to the Miraflores Locks which lower ships an additional 52.5 feet (16 metres) to sea level in the bay of Panama in the Pacific Ocean.

The earliest suggestion for a canal across the Isthmus of Panama was made in 1534. After realizing the riches of Peru, Ecuador, and Asia, and taking into consideration the amount of time it took the gold to reach the ports of Spain, Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Spain ordered a survey for a route through Panama that would make the trips shorter. A working plan was drawn up in 1529, but never used.

Several surveys were made between 1850 and 1875 and showed that only two routes were practical, one across Panama and another across Nicaragua. In 1876 an international company was organized and two years later it obtained a concession from the Colombian government to dig a canal across the isthmus. The international company failed, and in 1880 a French company was organized by Ferdinand Marie de Lesseps, the builder of the Suez Canal.

The contract for the canal’s construction was signed on March 12th, 1881, and it was agreed the work would be carried out for 512 million French francs. De Lesseps opted for a sea-level canal based on the construction of the Suez Canal. He believed that if a sea-level canal worked when constructing the Suez Canal, it must work for the Panama Canal.

During 1882 the excavation of the Culebra Cut was started. As work proceeded, the worry of landslides and what slope should be adopted to avoid them became a major concern. In 1883 it was realised there was a tidal range of 20 feet at the Pacific, whereas, the Atlantic range was only about 1 foot. It was concluded that this difference in levels would be a danger to navigation. It was proposed that a tidal lock should be constructed at Panama to preserve the level from there to Colon. This plan would save about 10 million cubic metres of excavation.

Eventually, in 1899 the French attempt at constructing the Panama Canal was seen to be a failure. However, they had excavated a total of 59.75 million cubic metres which included 14.255 million cubic metres from the Culebra Cut. This lowered the peak by 102 metres. The value of work completed by the French was about $ 25 million. When the French left, they left behind a considerable amount of machinery, housing, and a hospital.

In 1899 the US Congress created an Isthmian Canal Commission to examine the possibilities of a Central American canal and to recommend a route. In June 1902, the U.S. Senate voted in favour of pursuing the Panamanian option, provided the necessary rights could be obtained.

The United States, under President Theodore Roosevelt, bought out the French equipment and excavations for $40 million. The first American steam shovel started work on the Culebra Cut on 11th November 1904. By December 1905 there were 2,600 men at work in the Culebra Cut.

John Frank Stevens, Chief Engineer from 1905 to 1907, successfully argued the case against the incredibly massive excavation required for a sea-level canal like the French had tried to build and convinced Theodore Roosevelt of the necessity and feasibility of a canal built with dams and locks.

Constructing the Panama Canal with locks still required the excavation of an enormous volume of material and was envisioned by Stevens as a massive earth-moving project using the Panama Railway as efficiently as possible. The railroad, starting in 1904, had to be comprehensively upgraded with heavy-duty double-tracked rails over most of the line to accommodate all the new rolling stock of about 115 heavy-duty locomotives and 2,300 dirt spoils railroad cars.

Peak excavation within the Culebra Cut exceeded 512,500 cubic metres of material in the first three months of 1907 and the total workforce exceeded 39,000. More than 4,000 wagons were used for the removal of the excavated material. Each wagon was capable of carrying 15 cubic metres of material. These wagons were hauled by 160 locomotives and unloaded by 30 Lidgerwood unloaders.

In 1907 there was a major slide at Cucaracha. The initial crack was first noted on October 4th, 1907, then without warning approximately 382,000 cubic metres of clay, moved more than 4 metres in 24 hours. The Cucaracha slide was to become a problem again in 1913, when it crossed the cut until it reached the opposite bank. The steam shovels excavated the slide as it was moving and eventually won the battle.

The building of the canal was completed in 1914, two years ahead of the target date of June 1, 1916. The canal was formally opened on August 15, 1914 with the passage of the cargo ship SS Ancon. Coincidentally, this was also the same month that fighting in World War I began in Europe.

Almost a hundred years since its opening, the canal continues to enjoy great success. Even though the ships for which the canal was built are long gone, the canal is still one of the most highly travelled waterways in the world, handling over 12,000 ships per year. The 51-mile crossing takes about nine hours to complete, an immense time saving when compared with rounding the tip of South America.

Aug 22, 2011

Myoxine Monday

myoxine ~ of, like or pertaining to dormice

I’m not sure where last week went, is it possible I missed a couple of days somewhere? I know my weekend certainly didn’t go as planned, but then it seldom does.

Before I get into what I did (and didn’t) accomplish last week, I have a treat for you all. Remember last week I mentioned a couple of books I thought were really good and I provided links so you could download them? Well, the author of The Candle, Shawn Michel de Montaigne, contacted me and not only offered me a free copy of his latest book, Melody and the Pier to Forever, but extended the invitation to all of you as well. The link is HERE and the download code is BY77V. Don’t wait too long, the offer’s only good until August 31. And in case you missed it, you can download The Candle HERE.

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I got all my posts up last week except for Grappling With Grammar. I honestly couldn’t come up with a topic Friday night, and then Saturday I thought of something and came up with two more while researching the first one. Unfortunately, I spent so much time researching that I didn’t get any of them written.

I broke Level 1,000 on MSN Patchworkz! over the weekend. *sigh* I don’t know what I was expecting – rockets going off, a ticker tape parade, a cash prize . . . . What I got was the chance to go on to the next level, which I did. Now if I keep playing it’ll be more out of curiosity to see how high I can go.

I walked five out of seven days last week. My walks are about the same distance, but I’m finishing them sooner and my recovery time is quicker. So I guess that’s progress. :-)

I’ve got my poems picked out for my poetry chapbook, but I have not finished developing my own poetry form.

I managed to get to both my Scribe’s meeting and the poetry reading last week, although I went empty handed to the Scribe’s meeting. And if you’re looking for a little online reading to go with the above book downloads, you can find the second edition of the Northumberland Scribes E-Magazine HERE. If you’re looking for my contribution, click on Contents on the left. I contributed to Cobourg Noir and the last piece on the list is also mine. :-)

Did not finish the edits on An Elemental Wind, nor did I get my brochures done.

About the only thing I did get done (besides most of my blog posts) was reading the next three Harry Potter books, and fix the USB turn table so we could record vinyl records again.

This Week’s Schedule:

Tuesday: Part Six of The Seven Wonders of the Industrial World. This week’s wonder is the Panama Canal.

Wednesday: Another hump day hunk for your viewing pleasure. ;-)

Thursday: This week’s poetry form is the Ochtfochlach.

Friday: Chapter 38 of Fire. Finally, they’re on their way. It’s about time, don’t you think?

Random Thoughts

Today: A rant about careless drivers.

Wednesday: Chapter 15 of my on-line serial Shades of Errol Flynn. So who are these mysterious strangers who rescued Jessica?

Saturday: Grappling With Grammar this week is all about verb tense.

Elsewhere in my week:

I’ll make this list short and sweet:

Get my brochures designed and printed out.

Organize my chap book and format it for printing.

Design the cover for my chap book – decide whether or not I want an ISBN number on it.

Continue with the walking – maybe add some upper body workouts.

Finish the final edits on An Elemental Wind.

Choose the poems I’m going to read in September.

And that’s what I’ll be doing when I’m not doing other stuff. :-) What are you going to be up to this week?

Aug 18, 2011

Rimas Dissolutas

The Rimas Dissolutas comes to us from the French troubadours, developed as an alternative to the strict rhyming that classic poetry had embraced. Instead of rhyming within the stanzas, there is an external rhyme – each stanza rhymes line by line with all of the other stanzas. The result is a lovely subtlety to the rhymes. They dissolve, but they're there.

The poem may consist of any number of stanzas. Stanzas may consist of any number of lines, but the number of lines must be consistent in all stanzas. If you have three lines in the first stanza, then every stanza thereafter must have three lines. There is also an optional envoi, shorter than the other stanzas but rhyming with the latter part of them.

Traditionally, this form is considered a syllabic one, meaning that each line would usually share the same number of syllables. This tradition, however, is not always followed and I have seen several examples where it is not.

The Rimas Dissolutas is:
Stanzaic, written in any number of uniform length stanzas.
In keeping with most old French forms it is syllabic - all lines have the same number of syllables, with the number of syllables being at the discretion of the poet.
Lines are unrhymed within the stanza.
Lines are rhymed between stanzas.
Sometimes written with an envoi which would be half the number of lines of the stanzas using the rhyme of the later lines of the stanzas.

Example of a Schematic:
Stanza 1
x x x x x a
x x x x x b
x x x x x c
x x x x x d
x x x x x e

Add'l Stanzas
x x x x x a
x x x x x b
x x x x x c
x x x x x d
x x x x x e

Envoi... (if used)
x x x x x c
x x x x x d
x x x x x e

You will notice in my example I chose not to use an envoi. I have nothing against envois, I just felt it would take away from the pattern. I’m not sure whether I like this form or not. I kept wanting to rhyme when writing it and keeping within the syllable count makes it, to me at least, seem a little choppy.


My story’s told without a word
I weave my tale another way
Still my meaning is understood
And my story is passed along

I sketch, no charcoal is preferred
Sometimes I sculpt, but without clay
I carve without the use of wood
And still the image comes through strong

I have a melody unheard
No instrument attempts to play
Yet has the tune though time withstood
Listen, and you can hear my song

The poem is writ, the pen deferred
The metered form has no display
And yet it’s ne’er misunderstood
You cannot take the meaning wrong

Aug 16, 2011

7 Wonders of the Industrial World - Part V

First Transcontinental Railroad

The First Transcontinental Railroad (originally known as the "Pacific Railroad") was built between 1863 and 1869 by the Central Pacific Railroad of California and the Union Pacific Railroad. The line was popularly known as the Overland Route after the principal passenger rail service that operated over the length of the line through the end of 1962.

Talk of a transcontinental railroad started shortly after steam powered railroads were invented in Great Britain and began to be introduced into the United States. The rail line was an important goal of President Abraham Lincoln, fostered during the early portion of his term and completed four years after his death. The building of the railroad was motivated in part to bind California to the Union during the American Civil War. It accelerated the populating of the West by white homesteaders and freed slaves, while greatly contributing to the decline of the Native American culture in the regions it served.

Pacific Railroad bills that proposed to grant lands, subsidies, and even as much as 90 million dollars towards the construction of the railroad were periodically introduced in Congress but none of them passed because a route could not be decided on. Congress was split along geographical lines; northerners wanted a northern route and southerners wanted a southern route.

Congress sent five surveying teams out in 1853 to explore possible railroad routes to California. California desperately needed railroads to replace the mule teams, stage coaches, and steamboats on which the entire economy was dependent and so began their first railroad (the Sacramento Valley Railroad) in 1854, with Theodore D. Judah as its chief engineer.

The railroad surveying teams finished in autumn of 1854. The results of their research were reviewed by the Secretary of War, Jefferson Davis of Mississippi but still no decision could be made due to a split in Congress between Northern and Southern interests.

In 1861, the Southern congressmen left Congress as a precursor to Southern secession, at which point action and funding progressed immediately to begin work on the Northern route. This decision hinged greatly on analyses of how use of the Railroad would impact the impending Civil War, which had just broken out.

The route followed the well established Oregon, Mormon and California Trails. The new line began in Omaha, Nebraska, followed the Platte River, crossed the Rocky Mountains at South Pass in Wyoming and then through northern Utah and Nevada before crossing the Sierras to Sacramento, California. Additional track was laid to connect Denver, Colorado and Salt Lake City, Utah and other cities not directly on the route.

The Central Pacific laid 690 miles (1,110 km) of track, starting in Sacramento, and the Union Pacific laid 1,087 miles (1,749 km) of track, starting in Omaha. At first, the Union Pacific was not directly connected to the Eastern U.S. rail network. Instead, trains had to be ferried across the Missouri River. In 1869 the Hannibal Bridge at Kansas City was built and allowed connection to the Kansas Pacific Railway. The Kansas Pacific then linked with the Denver Pacific Railway via Denver to Cheyenne in 1870. In 1873, the Union Pacific Missouri River Bridge opened and directly connected the Union Pacific mainline to the East.

The majority of the Union Pacific track was built by Irish laborers, and veterans of both the Union and Confederate armies. Brigham Young, President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, wished to see the railroad support emigration and the population centers in Ogden and Salt Lake City, Utah. As the track approached Utah Territory, he sought a labor contract with the Union Pacific. Under this completed contract, workgangs made up almost entirely of Mormons built much of the Union Pacific track in the Utah territory including the difficult section requiring extensive blasting and tunneling through the Weber River canyon.

The Central Pacific's grade was constructed primarily by many thousands of emigrant workers from China who were commonly referred to at the time as "Celestials" and China as the "Celestial Kingdom." Even though at first they were thought to be too weak or fragile to do this type of work, the decision was made to hire as many as could be found in California (where most were independent gold miners or in service industries such as laundries and kitchens). Many more were imported from China. Most of the men received between one and three dollars per day, but the workers arriving directly from China received much less. Eventually, they went on strike and gained a small increase in salary.

Most of the work consisted of the laying of the rails. The track laying was divided up into various parts: one gang laid rails on the ties, drove the spikes, and bolted the splice bars; at the same time, another gang distributed telegraph poles and wire along the grade. Almost all of the track work was done manually, using shovels, picks, axes, black powder, two-wheeled dump carts, wheelbarrows, ropes, mules, and horses, while supply trains carried all the necessary material for the construction.

In addition to track laying (which typically employed approximately 25% of the labor force), the operation also required the efforts of hundreds of tunnelers, explosive experts, bridge builders, blacksmiths, carpenters, engineers, masons, surveyors, teamsters, telegraphers, and even cooks, to name just a few of the trades involved in construction of the railroad.

Six years after work began, laborers of the Central Pacific Railroad from the west and the Union Pacific Railroad from the east met at Promontory Summit, Utah. It was here on May 10, 1869 that Governor Stanford drove the Golden Spike (or the Last Spike), that symbolized the completion of the transcontinental railroad.

Visible remains of the historic line are still easily located—hundreds of miles are still in service today, especially through the Sierra Nevada Mountains and canyons in Utah and Wyoming. While the original rail has long since been replaced because of age and wear, and the roadbed upgraded and repaired, the lines generally run on top of the original, handmade grade. Vista points on Interstate 80 through California's Truckee Canyon provide a panoramic view of many miles of the original Central Pacific line and of the snow sheds which make winter train travel safe and practical.

In areas where the original line has been bypassed and abandoned, primarily in Utah, the road grade is still obvious, as are numerous cuts and fills, especially the Big Fill a few miles east of Promontory.

Completion of the railroad was one of the crowning achievements in the crossing of plains and high mountains westward by the Union Pacific and eastward by the Central Pacific. The Transcontinental Railroad established a mechanized transportation network that revolutionized the population and economy of the American West.

Aug 15, 2011

Mathematicaster Monday

mathematicaster ~ minor or inferior mathematician

After reading two e-books that I had a hard time putting down, I’ve started reading the Harry Potter series in hard copy. The first book, “The Candle”, by Shawn Michel de Montaigne was just amazing. Don’t take my word for it, you can get your own copy for free HERE. The other one, “Thoughtless”, by S. C. Stephens was also amazing, but in a different way. It was long, and I was never sure whether Keira was going to get her HEA or not, which was one of the reasons I couldn’t read it fast enough. You can also download it for free, HERE.

For anyone who’s keeping track, I’m now up to level 856 on MSN Patchworkz! It’s starting to get a little tedious . . . I think I’ll quit when I reach level 1,000 LOL

I also did better at going for my walks this week. Not perfect, mind you, but better.

Here’s how my week usually goes: Sunday and Monday I’m all fired up and get lots of writing done – usually my blog posts for the week; Tuesday I start losing steam but I still manage to get some writing done; Wednesday my ambition starts slipping away as I put the finishing touches on my weekly poem; Thursday I’m starting to struggle, cursing myself for not starting my serial instalment earlier in the week; Friday I just want to read and nap . . . and then I remember I still have one more post to get done for the week; Saturday I check to make sure my post went up on time, check my e-mail, and then pat myself on the back for making it through another week before shutting down the lap top.

Do you see the pattern here? The problem is, I have too much time on my hands. At the beginning of the week I have all these blog posts to write and it’s full steam ahead. But as the week progresses I have fewer and fewer words that I have to write and I slow right down. You’d think I’d fill in the excess time with all my other writing/editing, but that’s not the way my mind works. I have to get the blog posts done, I have a schedule to keep and bad things will happen if I don’t. But with my other writing . . . well, there’s really no deadline unless it’s self-imposed, and I have self-motivation issues (read, I’m a lazy slacker when it comes to my own work). This is a big problem that needs to be fixed, but I have no idea how to go about it.

This Week’s Schedule:

Tuesday: Part Five of The Seven Wonders of the Industrial World. This week’s wonder is the First Transcontinental Railroad.

Wednesday: Another hump day hunk for your viewing pleasure. This guy’s really hot, you won’t want to miss him! ;-)

Thursday: This week’s poetry form is the Rimas Dissolutas (sounds like a magic spell from Harry Potter, doesn’t it?).

Friday: Chapter 37 of Fire. So just what is E.Z. going to do to Pyre to help him with his element?

Random Thoughts

Today: A rant that’s been building in me for a while now on editing (or lack thereof) when it comes to independent e-books.

Wednesday: Chapter 14 of my on-line serial Shades of Errol Flynn. Is Jessica going to make it to the top of the cliff? Will she end up having to swim for it? Will the boots be okay? :-D

Saturday: Grappling With Grammar – I have no idea at this point what I’m going to talk about here. If you’ve got a suggestion for me, PLEASE e-mail me or leave me a comment!

Elsewhere in my week:

I’ve decided I’m tired of being broke so I need to be more aggressive with the advertising for my business. The work is out there, I just have to let people know I’m available. My inner perfectionist has screwed up my website royally, so I’m back to square one with it. But I decided I don’t need a website to drum up business locally. All I need is a good brochure (actually, there’ll be three separate ones). So that’s one of the things I’ll be doing this week.

I have about half the forms picked out for my chap book, now to settle on the other half. People have been telling me for a while now that I’m so into forms I should invent my own and I’m in the process of doing just that. All I can tell you at this point is that it will start with the letter X (the only letter of the alphabet I’m missing LOL).

I need to learn how to be more productive with my own work. In case you missed it, see the fourth and fifth paragraphs of today’s post. :-D

This week I’m shooting for walking every day, rain or shine, walking partner or not. I need new ear buds for my iPod though . . . the ones I’ve been using had foam over metal and the foam has eroded or torn or something and I can’t get them to stay put.

Finish the final edits on An Elemental Wind. No more shilly-shallying. Time to get moving on this sucker so I can get to work on my next book.

I also have a Scribe’s meeting and a Poetry reading to go to this week. I’ve had some health issues lately that have involved adjusting to a new medication, and I’ve been missing out on my literary activities. Hopefully, everything’s settling down now and I can exit the hermitage.

And that’s what my week has in store for me. How about you? How’s your summer going?

Aug 11, 2011


Urjuza is an Arabic verse form, consisting simply of rhyming couplets in the rajaz metre. The rajaz metre calls for lines of 24 syllables, divided into two hemistichs (or half-lines) of 12 syllables, with a caesura (or break) between them.

The verse focuses more on the details of content leaving the poem "devoid of stylistic elegance and poetic beauty". The poem served several functions, for example camel drivers’ songs (known as al-ḥidā ), was utilized for verbal display, and other types of didactic and even obscene poetry.

The Urjuza is:
Written in any number of couplets.
Monorhymed or written in rhymed couplets - either aa aa aa etc. or aa bb cc etc .
Written in rajaz meter
The rajaz meter calls for lines of 24 syllables with a caesura at 12 syllables

Once of the sources I checked referenced the UK band, Camel (70s progressive rock), who made an album called Rajaz. They had a very eloquent description of the Rajaz metre:

The music of poets once carried caravans across the great deserts.

Sung in a simple metre of the animal's footsteps, it transfixed weary travellers on their sole objective... journey's end.

The poetry is called 'rajaz'.
It is the rhythm of the camel.

You can check out their Rajaz site HERE, and for those curious about such things, the band’s official website can be found HERE.

Writing 24-syllable lines was a bit of a challenge, and I have to admit that it took me forever to write my example (I’m sure it had nothing to do with the time I spent on Twitter) but I actually enjoyed writing in this form. Unfortunately, I was not able to indent the second part of each line without changing the html coding for the whole blog, and I didn’t think it was worth the trouble for one poem so you’ll have to use your imaginations for the formatting. :-D

Desert Storm

A desert wind blows across the skin of my dreams,
winding its way across dunes of lost words and deeds.
A desert sun sets fire to my imagination,
burning away reality until it bleeds.

A desert day can burn itself into your mind,
until you no longer see what the pen has wrought.
A desert rain can sweep the landscape of changes,
dark words scudding across the sky in clouds of thought.

A desert night will cool the burning of the soul,
with sibilant whispers of things that could not be.
A desert night can rain down stars of poetry
sweeping the landscape in a storm you cannot see.

Aug 9, 2011

7 Wonders of the Industrial World - Part IV

The London Sewerage System

The word sewer means "seaward" in Old English. London's sewers were open ditches sloped slightly to drain human wastes toward the River Thames, and ultimately into the sea. The city of London housed hundreds of thousands of people in crowded conditions and the situation was deteriorating daily. Epidemics of cholera, typhus, "consumption" and other undefined maladies plagued the city over at least four centuries. Sewer ditches quickly filled with garbage and human wastes, which overflowed onto streets, into houses, and into marketplaces throughout London.

With a low population, the waterways were able to absorb the pollution without any serious detriment to the health of the populace, who continued to use the streams and rivers not only as the means of disposing of waste of all kinds, but as a source of drinking water. As London grew in size, however, these waterways became increasingly unable to cope with the associated growth in the flow of sewage, and the sanitary problem became a serious danger to health.

By 1810, the one million population of London was served by 200,000 cess-pits. When cesspits filled to overflow, they were built to drain to the street by means of a crudely built culvert to a partially open sewer trench in the center of the street. The nauseating stench permeated even the most elegant of homes. Indoor odours were often worse than of the garbage- and manure-filled streets.

Methane (swamp) gas generated by cesspits caught fire, exploded and brought instant death to those trapped in sealed homes. Hydrogen sulphide gases overwhelmed victims as they slept, their lungs paralyzed by the gas. Cesspit wastes often soaked foundations, walls, and floors of living quarters. Culverts were frequently blocked causing sewage to spread under buildings and contaminate shallow wells, cisterns and water ways from which drinking water was drawn.

In 1834, John Martin proposed that two intercepting sewers be built below the banks of the river, to terminate at the Tower on the north, and at the Surrey Canal on the south. Two immense receptacles were to be provided, to convert the sewage into manure, and the gas was to be burnt off by huge fires, thus assisting in forced ventilation.

In 1847 the newly-formed Metropolitan Commission for Sewers published a survey of London's sanitary arrangement above and below ground. Amongst other results of this survey was the banning of the use of London's cesspits and the provision of flushing devices to the sewers which carried their contents, untreated, into the Thames. Since drinking water continued to be extracted from the Thames, now converted into an open sewer, typhoid fever and cholera became the two principal scourges of Victorian London.

It is estimated that several hundred thousand Londoners perished from typhoid, cholera, plague and pestilence before it was understood that the city was dying from its own filth.

Part of the problem was due to the introduction of more the modern water closets, or flush toilets. While these were a step forward from the chamber-pots that most Londoners used, they dramatically increased the volume of water and waste now being poured into existing cesspits. These often overflowed into street drains originally designed to cope with rainwater, but now also used to carry outfalls from factories, slaughterhouses and other activities, contaminating the city before emptying into the River Thames.

The crisis came to a peak in the 'Great Stink' of London in 1858. The combination of an unusually warm summer and an unbelievably polluted Thames created a stench of mythic proportions. It was so bad that the curtains of the House of Commons were soaked in chloride of lime in a vain attempt to protect the sensitivities of MPs. A bill was rushed through Parliament and became law in 18 days, to provide more money to construct a massive new sewer scheme for London, and to build an embankment along the Thames in order to improve the flow of water and of traffic.

In 1859, the Metropolitan Board of Works approved a system proposed by its own chief engineer, Joseph Bazalgette to cope with the sewage problem. Constructing this system was a stupendous undertaking, involving 318 million bricks, 880,000 cubic yards of concrete and mortar, and the excavation of 3.5 million cubic yards of earth. The price of bricks in London rose by fifty per cent while it was being constructed.

Eighty-two miles of brick intercepting sewers were built below London's streets, all flowing by gravity eastwards. These were connected to over 450 miles of main sewers, themselves receiving the contents of 13,000 miles of small local sewers, dealing daily with half a million gallons of waste.

Six main interceptory sewers were constructed, some incorporating stretches of London's 'lost' rivers. Three of these sewers were north of the river, the southernmost, low-level one being incorporated in the Thames Embankment. The Embankment also allowed new roads to reduce traffic congestion, new public gardens, and the Circle Line of the London Underground.

The pumping mills, used at various point along the Victorian London Sewerage System, were (and still are) mostly house-like structures where people would work to keep the sewage flowing in the right direction. The sewers were designed to largely run using gravity, but the pumping stations ensured that in areas the needed it, the water and sewage levels were raised to keep it flowing towards the east.

There was no attempt to treat the raw sewage: Bazalgette believed that the drainage of the low-lying land in London was more important than cleansing the Thames. There were, of course, other regulations made concerning the supply of clean water to London at this time, but without Joseph Bazalgette's magnificent scheme, these would not have begun to deal with the essential problem - the appalling contamination of the River Thames. The success of these measures can be gauged by the fact that there was just one final outbreak of cholera in London in 1866 - just one year after the pumps were started at the opening ceremony.

Considering that the system was built during the wettest summer and the coldest winter recorded in the nineteenth century, it was an astounding achievement, even for Victorian civil engineers.

Aug 8, 2011

Malabathrum Monday

malabathrum ~ dried leaf used in ancient times to make perfumed ointments

Last week was . . . strange. I think I slept more than anything else, but I still managed a respectable level of productivity.

Just when I thought it was safe to climb down off that fence I was sitting on in regards to what WIP I should work on, I got a SNI (Shiny New Idea). It’s actually pulling together a couple of old ideas I had, but in an interesting way. At the very least I’ll have to take the time tor write it down.

For anyone who’s keeping track, I’m now up to level 683 on MSN Patchworkz! I’m starting to slow down, which can only be a good thing. LOL

I downloaded Calibre so I could convert a bunch of e-books that were in the wrong format for reading on George. And of course once they were converted I just had to read a bunch of them. :-)

I had a blog catch-up day on Monday where I managed to read a lot of my favourite blogs to visit and even comment on most of them. It felt really good, but it was also really time consuming. How do you all keep up with the blogs you follow?

This Week’s Schedule:

Tuesday: Part four of The Seven Wonders of the Industrial World. This week’s wonder is the London Sewerage System.

Wednesday: Another hump day hunk for your viewing pleasure.

Thursday: This week’s poetry form is the Arabic Urjuzah (Rajaz metre).

Friday: Chapter 36 of Fire. If these people have a plan for rescuing the children from Dr. Arjun I wish they’d let me in on it! ;-)

Random Thoughts

Today: Oops, I did it again. I’m giving you something humorous instead of something ranty. I promise to be properly cranky next week, for sure! :-D

Wednesday: Chapter 13 of my on-line serial Shades of Errol Flynn. So what happened to Jessica? Did Howard’s experiment work?

Saturday: Grappling With Grammar – a Punctuation Cheat Sheet.

Elsewhere in my week:

I have a dilemma when it comes to choosing poems for my chapbooks. For the first one it’s going to be all about forms. My dilemma is, should I go with familiar forms or unusual forms? Familiar forms would be carried by the strength of my example, but unusual forms would tend to be carried by the form itself. So, do I want to showcase my poetry or the forms?

Back to walking this week, rain or shine. I was a real slacker last week in the walking department and must rectify this. It might be easier if it was a little cooler outside, but I go early enough in the morning that that’s really not a legitimate excuse.

I got An Elemental Wind back from my last reader who, for some strange reason, only had good things to say about it. In fact, my other readers agreed with her. This means I have some corrections to make, a very few changes to make, and then I’ll have to . . . do something with it. *sigh* Like . . . send it out into the world as a finished novel. Scary stuff!

And that’s pretty much it for my week. How about you? How's your summer going?

Aug 4, 2011


There are 24 codified meters in Welsh poetry, divided into three categories: the Englynion, the Cywydd, and the Awdl. The Clogyrnach (clog-ír-nach) is the 16th, an Awdl, that is rarely used by today's poets. In ancient times the Awdls were the territory of the chief or master bard.

The Clogyrnach contains thirty-two syllables in a six-line stanza. The first two lines have eight syllables each; the second two, five; the third two, three. The last two lines may be written as a single, six-syllable line. There are only two rhymes per stanza, and there can be any number of stanzas.

Technically, it looks like this:

x x x x x x x a
x x x x x x x a
x x x x b
x x x x b
x x b
x x a

If you join the last two lines together to make one six-syllable line, it's important to keep the rhymes in place, so if you do that your last line will have the b rhyme in the middle:

x x x x x x x a
x x x x x x x a
x x x x b
x x x x b
x x b x x a

Of course I used the traditional format for my example. I found the five syllable lines to be the most difficult, especially following the eight syllable lines – I kept wanting to write four syllables or six syllables instead.


An earthen sky of amber hue
A canvas on which dreams may brew
A zephyr blowing
Past rivers flowing
You pass through.

A stormy sea of hopes and dreams
Where nothing is quite like it seems
Reality skewed
Sanity unglued
Changing mood
Endless themes.

No order to the chaos here
Where wisdom’s just a thin veneer
Passions are higher
Truth is a liar
Wake from here.

Aug 3, 2011

Hump Day Hunk

You never know what you might find when you hang around the sea shore. ;-)

Aug 2, 2011

Seven Wonders of the Industrial World - Part Three

Brooklyn Bridge

The Brooklyn Bridge connects the New York City boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn by spanning the East River. With a main span of 1,595.5 feet (486.3 m), it was the longest suspension bridge in the world from its opening until 1903, and is the first steel-wire suspension bridge.

Plans for a crossing connecting the two boroughs were considered in the early 1800s as a solution to overcrowding in Manhattan while encouraging development in Brooklyn. In 1855, John Roebling proposed a suspension bridge over the East River, but it was not until 1867 that a group of prominent leaders formed the New York Bridge Company "for the purpose of constructing and maintaining a bridge across the East River."

Two years later, in June 1869, the New York City Council and the Army Corps of Engineers approved Roebling's design. When he died as a result of injuries incurred while scouting locations for the bridge, his son, Washington, took over as chief engineer.

Ground was broken on January 3, 1870, and work began on the foundations. The 3,000-ton pneumatic caissons - large, airtight cylinders in which workers cleared away layers of silt in an atmosphere of compressed air underneath the riverbed - were dug 78 feet below the river on the Manhattan side, and 44 feet below the river on the Brooklyn side. To expedite the descent of the caissons, dynamite was used for the first time in bridge construction. The foundations took three years to construct.

Immigrant labourers worked in the subterranean foundations, paid $2.25 per day to work in hazardous conditions without electricity, telephones or other conveniences. Fires, explosions and caisson disease (caused by changes in air pressure that affect nitrogen levels in the bloodstream) took the lives of 20 men and left Washington paralyzed. With the help of his wife Emily, he continued to direct the construction of the bridge from his Brooklyn residence.

Between 1873 and 1877, work continued on the anchorages, towers and cables. The 276-foot neo-Gothic granite towers, which feature two arched portals, were built to withstand strong winds and provide support for rail lines. In August 1876, the two anchorages were linked across the East River for the first time by a wire rope.

In February 1877, work began on spinning the four cables at the Manhattan and Brooklyn anchorages. The four steel cables, which could each hold 11,200 tons, connect the anchorages with the Manhattan and Brooklyn towers, where the cables pass over saddles within the towers. Each main cable, which has a diameter of 15 inches, is comprised of 19 strands containing a total of 5,434 steel wires. Once the spinning of the four main cables was completed in October 1878, workmen strung wire ropes from the cables down to the bridge floor. More than 14,400 miles of wire were used for the suspender ropes. After the suspending ropes and deck beams were in place, the diagonal stays were installed.

Roebling designed the Brooklyn Bridge to have a load capacity of 18,700 tons. He planned to run two elevated railroad tracks, which were to connect to elevated railroad systems in New York and Brooklyn, down the center of the bridge. On either side of the tracks, he designed four lanes - two lanes on two outer roadways - for use by carriages and horseback riders. Directly over the tracks, he provided an elevated promenade for pedestrians and bicyclists. To support the load, and to protect the span from high winds and vibrations, deep stiffening trusses were constructed.

Construction of the bridge under-structure, the stiffening trusses, and the roadway began in March 1879, and continued for four more years. The 1,595-foot main span would be the longest for any suspension bridge in the world, and would be more than 500 feet longer than John Roebling's Cincinnati-Covington Bridge.

On May 23, 1883, President Chester Arthur and Governor Grover Cleveland officially dedicated the Brooklyn Bridge before more than 14,000 invitees. Emily Roebling was given the first ride over the completed bridge with a rooster, a symbol of victory, in her lap. After the opening ceremony, anyone with a penny for the toll could cross the Brooklyn Bridge. On the first day, the bridge carried trolley lines, horse-drawn vehicles, and even livestock.

The Brooklyn Bridge cost $15.1 million to build, $3.8 million of which was to purchase land for approaches and the remainder going toward construction. This was more than twice the original cost estimate of $7 million.

From one end to the other, the Brooklyn Bridge measures 6,016 feet, including approaches. The long river span passes the tower arches at an elevation of 119 feet, gradually rising to 135 feet above the East River at mid-span to accommodate passage of even the tallest ships.

The bridge's cable arrangement forms a distinct web-like pattern, but the most notable features are the two masonry towers to which the many cables are attached. The towers with large gothic arches are 276 ft tall (84 meters), at the time making them some of the tallest landmarks in New York.

In 1964, the Brooklyn Bridge was designated a National Historic Landmark by the federal government and a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark by the American Society of Civil Engineers. In recent decades, the landmark structure has been refurbished to handle the traffic demands during its second century. The bridge, which now accommodates six lanes of automobile traffic, carries approximately 145,000 vehicles per day. After nearly 120 years, the bridge still has the 44th longest main span among the world's suspension bridges

Aug 1, 2011

Moulin Monday

moulin ~ shaft in a glacier caused by water running down a crack

First off, congratulations to Jamie DeBree on the release of her third novel, The Biker’s Wench! If you like action and adventure along with hot romance, you won’t want to miss The Biker’s Wench. It’s a steal at only .99 cents for the e-version. And $7.99 will get you a signed paperback plus the e-version. Click on Jamie’s name to learn more about her and all her other projects, and click on the book title to go purchase your copy of the The Biker’s Wench today.

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

Remember how last week I mentioned I was up to level 190 on MSN Patchworkz!? Yeah, well, I’m up to level 502 now. Does that give you a hint as to how much other stuff I got done last week?

*sigh* I think it’s time to go cold turkey on Patchworks!

I also read a bit more than usual last week – mostly on George. Normally I’m a very organized person, but when it came to downloading books onto my Kindle I just went to Amazon and, after I ran out of money, started downloading pretty much anything free that caught my eye. It wasn’t until after I had about 300 books on George that I started creating categories. Can we say, d’oh! ? So, I’m doing things backwards now and putting books in categories as I read them.

I have to admit, I’m reading a much broader selection of books: young adult, paranormal, romance, thrillers, fantasy . . . a lot of times I don’t know what kind of book it’s going to be until I start reading, so it’s a surprise every time. My only complaint about e-reading is that you can’t flip to the end to see how it turns out. Well, you can, but it’s a pain in the butt and not worth the trouble. ;-)

This Week’s Schedule:

Tuesday: Part three of The Seven Wonders of the Industrial World. This week’s wonder is the Brooklyn Bridge.

Wednesday: Another hump day hunk for your viewing pleasure.

Thursday: This week’s poetry form is the Welsh form of Clogyrnach.

Friday: Chapter 35 of Fire. What’s Pyre going to do now that he’s face to face with an Ilezie?

Random Thoughts

Today: No rant today, I think I’m mellowing out with all this nice, summer weather. Instead you’re getting something humorous that’ll make you stop and think.

Wednesday: Chapter 12 of my on-line serial Shades of Errol Flynn. So here’s Jessica, in her costume, stuck walking home. Will she still take part in Howard’s experiment?

Saturday: Grappling With Grammar – part two of The Sentence.

Elsewhere in my week:

I am determined to climb down off that fence I’ve been sitting on when it comes to my next WIP. I picked two of them actually. The first is the one I abandoned a few months ago – Forever and For Always. Yeah, it’s set in space, but there’s only a couple of gaping plot holes to fill and then it just needs editing. It’s conceivable to have it finished and out before Christmas. The second is something brand new – a contemporary/fantasy/humorous/romance/adventure that I had an idea for a while back but never did anything with. It has no title at present, not even a working one. I think the main characters have names though – I’ll have to check my notes.

I got my poetry organized last week and printed out the forms I didn’t have as a hard copy in my big binder or poetry. This week I am going to start the selection process for choosing poems to publish in a chapbook for my September reading. Maybe even two chapbooks.

Teach Dante (one of my cats) that sitting on my legs while meowing and swatting me is not going to encourage me to get up and feed him. Especially when he does this an hour or two before my alarm goes off in the morning.

Set daily goals for myself and draw up a schedule to help me achieve them.

And that’s pretty much it for my week. How about you? Have you got anything interesting awaiting you this week?