Wednesday, July 29, 2015

My First Steering Meeting

AS the FRG (Family Readiness Group) leader for my husband's company I'm supposed to attend the steering meetings every other month. However, this is the first one that I've been able to make it to. The very first one fell on the same night as a Court of Honor that Robert was receiving awards at. The next one fell when I was feeling really bad early on in my pregnancy.

However, I made it to this one.

The very pregnant one is on the right
It was only the day after the spouse social, so I did recognize a few faces from the night before. The very pregnant lady was there. So was a friendly woman who liked my Christmas brownies, and another company FRG leader I had met back in April. I also recognized the colonel and his wife, and the sergeant major.

First, because there were so many new faces they went over the vision for the FRG. It includes the four functions that we are supposed to do: receive, inform, resource, and recognize.

When new families come to the unit we are supposed to welcome them, and help them get settled in. That's the receiving. Some of the informing happens here as well, because we can help them learn about the area and what they need to do to get comfortable in the area. Inform also includes passing on information from above and keeping updated rosters of soldiers and their families. Resource includes being able to go find information when families have questions. Recognize is that some of the volunteers get awards for their service.

After going over the vision for the FRG we went over the upcoming calendar. I'm not going to share that with you now, but it does include some interesting events. When those happen, if I'm there to share with you, then I'll post them up on my blog as well.

Then the person in charge of finances made sure that each FRG leader and each company commander had an updated budget so they knew how much they had if they wanted to finance any FRG activities. Of course, it also lets you know how much you have to raise if you want to do a big event and you don't have a lot of money.

Then each company spoke out giving some good ideas that they were doing. Since our FRG is just getting off the ground I didn't have a lot to add. However, I listened and took good notes so that I could talk to the company captain about it when I met with her.

Finally, one lucky lady got an award. She had been helping out with the FRG group for a long time, but was leaving to accept a full time teaching job.

After the meeting Mrs. M, the colonel's wife, gave me a ride home. That was because Will and Robert were busy at a Boy Scout meeting, and Robert was finishing up at least one merit badge.

Monday, July 27, 2015

My First Spouse Social

Image taken by the husband who lived there.
We recently had a spouse social event. That is where no soldiers are allowed, but sometimes families are, and all the spouses get together and chat and talk. This one was held at a very nice house and served several purposes. The hostess was a birthday girl, and several women were going and others were coming.

I felt a little intimidated with all those new people around that I didn't know, and since Will and Robert couldn't come I didn't even have them to fall back on. It made me get out and talk to new people. I'm still surprised that I did any talking at all.

While children were not generally welcomed at this particular spouse social there were two tiny babies that were there. They were both about two and a half months old. All the women oohed and ahhed over them. They also gave the moms a chance to stop holding them and to get some food. Both of the babies were really good, neither of them fussed at all. They were constantly looking around with big curious eyes to see who was doing what. The moms also said that the babies were already sleeping through the night. So these are very good babies.

In addition to the recent births there are three upcoming births. The first is the young lady on the far right. She is due at the end of August. The second is in the middle. Her baby should make an appearance sometime in October. Then there is me, and I'm not due until November. They both look far more pregnant than me. Part of that is because they are, but they also started much tinier.

We were supposed to bring a dish to share. The theme was something for summer. I couldn't decide if I wanted to go traditional summer, or Christmas in July. So I brought some egg salad and I brought some peppermint brownies. Both went over well. The egg salad was treated like dip mostly. The compliment I got about the brownies was "It reminded me of Christmas." That is exactly what I was going for.

For the brownies I used my from scratch brownie recipe and then added some peppermint candy cane chunks to the mix and sprinkled some on top before baking. That infused it with a fresh, "Christmas-y" taste. It also made it really hard to tell when the brownies were done because the peppermint on top was bubbling and wouldn't give me a clean toothpick. I suppose we'll find out when we get to the center of the pan.

Prior to leaving Robert kept asking if he could have some of them. I had to keep telling him no, because if I let him have a little there wouldn't have been enough to make a good showing at the spouse social. However, because there was so much food I did bring a lot of both home so Robert had some last night.

Most of the food I couldn't have of course - cheese based. However, there were some fruit and vegetable trays. So I did have something other than my own food.

It was intimidating, but I made it through. The next spouse social is in August, but I do not think that I will go because it will probably be when everyone is here. After that I don't know, but I'll be sure to tell you if I do.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Starman Jones Chapter 6-7

This is a continuation of my in depth look at Starman Jones by Robert Heinlein. If you'd like to go back to the beginning then check out the introductory post.

Chapter Six: Spaceman Jones

My Notes

In this chapter we finally learn some possibilities for Sam's last name. It might be Anderson. This is the name that he gives to the Asgard. It might be Roberts or Richards, both of which he uses to refer to the marine that was a complete idiot in an earlier life. However, Sam is quick to reassure Max that none of these are actually him.

On the other hand, he is so nonchalant about space and so eager to go back into it that we have to assume that he as been there before. This is further confirmed when, upon takeoff, Sam comments on the poor performance of the crew and knows exactly what is that causes that mistake. A few different options of problems even. He has definitely been to space before.

A lot of Sam's philosophy was present in this chapter. I must say that I agreed with a lot of it to some degree or another. Even if Sam does seem to take it to an extreme that I do not. Some quotes from the chapter that illustrate both my agreement with his philosophy and my disagreement with the same include the following.

"Any cook will feed you if you let him explain first what a louse you are and how by rights he doesn't have to" (pg70). I completely agree. A born cook might growl, scream, yell, threaten, but they will feed you. On the other hand people-assigned-to-cook will not. This is because cooks care about the people that they are supposed to feed. The head cook on the Asgard, and Mero from Winding Circle (Tamora Pierce's Circle Books) are both this way. On the other hand people-assigned-to-cook do not care about the cooking or the feeding. They are in the job for their career, and will do whatever needs doing to either further their career, or - if they hate cooking enough - do whatever needs doing to get out of the position they are in.

From page sixty-eight, "Never start a trip feeling good... It might make you sorry to be leaving." I don't agree with the basic premise of this statement. And this is after quite a bit of travelling, mostly for fun though. If I don't start a trip feeling good then I just want the trip over with so I can go home and crawl into bed. For me I don't want to start the return trip feeling good. That makes me sorry to be feeling. By the time I get to the going home to crawl int bed part I want to be tired and worn out from all that I have seen and done. I want to be overwhelmed in a good way, like from having seen and done so much that I need the time to meditate and grok it. So here we are opposites.

Finally, I found Heinlein's philosophy of colonization interesting. Granted, he changed his apparent philosophy with each book that he wrote as needed to convey the message that he wanted to send. He was very good at thinking like that. For Starman Jones the philosophy can be found on page seventy-one. The entire first paragraph encompasses it. To paraphrase: humans would prefer to become autonomous on local wildlife, both plant and animal. However, if we cannot or it will not, we don't have a problem letting it die off and replacing it with what we do know and like. Personally, I don't like this philosophy. I think we should adapt to the local wildlife, even to the point of becoming transhuman. However, until the technology allows us that we will probably continue to treat the environment of Earth in that way. If there is no local fauna that is cooperative enough to serve as domesticated animals we bring in horses, elephants, or camels depending on the climate. We already do this, so why would we not do it when we head to the stars?

Characters we encounter in this chapter:
  • Max Jones, a young man who enjoys his position, but doesn't know what to do next. 
  • Sam Anderson/Roberts/Richards, an experienced conman with a plan
  • Mr. Giordano, the Ship's Steward in charge of Max (Also known as Mr. G)
This chapter takes place on the Asgard where Max and Sam have spaced with. Max is assigned to the stables, and while spacing is not as glamorous as he thought initially. He still falls in love with it. He hopes to continue on this way and work his way up. However, Sam dashes these hops when he reveals that it's only fixed for this trip and maybe the next. He cannot continue on like this and he certainly cannot improve his station. However, Sam has a plan. When they reach one of the prime frontier colonies on planets even better than Earth he plans to disappear, and offers to take Max with him. Max cannot decide what to do.

Questions for Discussion 
  • Why do cooks feel that they need to feed everyone in their domain? 
  • Why does Sam have the philosophy to never start a trip feeling good? 
  • What do you think of Sam's plan? What's wrong with it? What's right about it? 
  • What should Max do? What is the moral quandary he is in? How should he get out of it? 
Points on the Monomyth 

The Asgard is definitely an example of the Belly of the Beast, he walks right inside of it and it takes off. He has committed himself to a transformation, and Sam prompts him at the end of the chapter with the question: What kind of transformation are you going to make? At this point in the story his options are either to turn into what Sam was - hiding from his past on Earth - or to jump ship with Sam and build himself a new life on a new planet. Max ends the chapter without having committed to a direction yet. This chapter also continues Max's Road of Trials that is because he has to fit in on the ship without screwing up enough to point out the whole con to someone.

Chapter 7: Eldreth

My Notes

This chapter prompted several questions, and some essay topics as well. Although, in some ways it was a boring chapter that did not move the plot forward a whole lot it included a lot of ethics and morality concepts as well as social questions.

I found several pertinent quotes for many of these topics. Things to prompt the start of a discussion or to use in support of a discussion.

The simplest of the morality questions raised in the chapter is "Should Max take the tips?"

Sam and the rest of the crew's viewpoint is summed up in the quote "Every tribe has its customs and what is moral one place is immoral somewhere else" (pg84). On the other hand Max's viewpoint is that "there were just some things that were right and others that were wrong and it was not just a matter of where you were" (pg84).

These two quotes can start off a huge discussion of "Custom says so" (pg84), but does that make custom right? If you widen the scope it can apply to all sorts of situations across a single superculture dealing with different subcultures or across multiple cultures. You can also get into debates about whether Max's viewpoint would permit him to interfere in a place where he saw the custom as wrong.

Another scientific and morality based question that arises is "Is Mr. Chips sapient?" He utilizes speech, and can have a very basic conversation with Max or Ellie. He even introduces them to each other.

One quote that can easily throw a monkey wrench in the works is from page eighty-six: "it used human words meaningfully, but its vocabulary was not richer than that which might be expected of a not-too-bright toddler."

If you concluded that the spider-dog-monkey was not sapient, then does that mean that toddlers are not sapient either? If you concluded that Mr. Chips is sapient then why is it acceptable to keep him caged up below decks with the other non-sapient animals?

(Note: If you need to review what sapience is, you can check out this old blog post about the difference between sapience and sentience.)

Finally, the third big essay question that can be written about or discussed at length is the difference between Ellie's attitude and Max's. Not only the difference, but why it is there. However, the best quotes for that show up in the next chapter.

Characters we encounter in this chapter:

  • Max Jones, a spacefaring barn keeper
  • Sam "Anderson," a conartist
  • Mr. G, Max's boss 
  • Mr. Chips, a spider-monkey-dog being kept as a pet
  • Ellie Coburn, a wealthy young passenger 
This chapter takes place in the animal pens of the Asgard. Max is going about his business of keeping the animals fed and cleaned. He learns more about ship culture and the taking of tips. He also reveals to the reader that he feels guilty, but he doesn't know what to do about it. Then Max begins making friends with one of the pets of a passenger. Mr. Chips is a spider-monkey-dog thing that can use a limited vocabulary. Max feels sorry for Mr. Chips because his owner, Miss E. Coburn, never makes an appearance. He even starts to not like the elusive Miss Coburn, until she shows up. Ellie is a pretty young woman who had to escape from her governess (keeper) in order to come see Mr. Chips. She and Max quickly become friends. 

Questions for Discussion 
(I know that I mentioned many of them above, but I'm trying to keep the same format together). 
  • Should Max take the tips? 
  • Just because it's "custom" does that make it right?
  • Is Mr. Chips sapient? 
  • What is the difference between Ellie's attitude and Max's? Why does it differ? 
Points on the Monomyth

The Trail of Trials continues as Max must learn to live with ship culture, even when it doesn't agree with it. He has to decide how to deal with Mr. Chips and then Ellie. 

Saturday, July 25, 2015

A Busy Week

This week we had a lot on our plates.

Sunday Will went to a class on how to make leather shoes. It took him most of the day. This meant that we had to postpone the Pathfinder game by a week. I also had made egg salad because I thought that the spouse social that I attend was on Sunday, but it was on Monday. So I got all ready, but then didn't have anywhere to go.

Monday I did attend the spouse social in the evening. That post will be going up on the 27th. It left Robert home alone, and he didn't get everything accomplished that he should have. Will chilled at a local coffee shop waiting for me. (Remember, I can't drive because of BabyH).

Tuesday the trend with FRG continued, and I went to my first steering meeting. That post will be appearing on the blog on the 29th. While I was at the FRG meeting, the boys went to Boy Scouts. So, I had to get a ride home.

Wednesday proved to be the busiest day. The morning started with Will's follow up appointment, and then my Ultrasound appointment. The ultrasound appointment will appear online on the 30th. It will include a new picture of BabyH. After lunch, I met with the Captain to discuss FRG meetings at our level, and we set up plans for the future. After which, Will went to the education center, and I went with him. He's now enrolled in a few classes. (Since he's doing history, I may read some of his readings as well. I enjoy history. Responses or notes on those may also appear on the blog). Then we had shopping in the evening. We had three stops - Lowe's, Walmart, and H-E-B. We didn't get home until 9pm.

Thursday Will had a special duty, and I took a day off. After so much activity BabyH and I needed it. I still got a few things done, but not a lot.

Friday I was much more productive, but since Will needed quiet, I didn't get as much done as I wanted to.

Saturday Today the boys are gone like they should be. I've been having fun having peace and quiet. I know that will go away completely in a few months. I have gotten a few things done, but not enough of them, so I'll be working more on it in the future.

In addition to the above blog posts, there will also be two separate Starman Jones posts coming out. The second, on Friday, will have some family discussion attached to it.

Robert has now finished his summer sports activity, and will have two weeks off before formal football practice starts. When it starts it will be at six in the morning for the two weeks before school starts. He's happy for the break, but it means he'll be around the house more.

Will will have only a few more days of work before he goes on his scheduled vacation. He's really happy about this.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Week 24 OB Appointment

I had a trip to the baby doctor last Wednesday. The appointment was for just after one, but apparently my doctor got back early from lunch. I went back to see him nearly half an hour early. It didn't mean I got to leave the hospital in a timely manner.

The baby is fine. I'm fine.

We heard the baby's heart beat. It jumped at one point when it kicked me while he was listening. Otherwise, it went well.

The heart murmur that was present last time I attended was gone. Which is good.

The two things that concerned him were the size of the uterus compared to my due date. I'm too big, but I've only gained a total of five pounds. Also, the possibility of situs inversus (that thing that Granny has). Both of them have to wait until next week to know whether or not they are a concern. That is when I will be getting my ultrasound done.

The large uterus could just mean a large baby, or that the baby is further along than they previously thought. This would show up on the ultrasound. The other option is that I have gestational diabetes. Because it was due anyway, he didn't have to schedule an extra glucose test. No, I do not have the results yet.

We know that the baby most likely does not have complete situs inversus (as Granny does), because the earlier ultrasounds said that BabyH didn't. However, as the baby grows and the organs expand and mature smaller versions of situs inversus can occur. Because it runs in the family, it is still on the list of concerns the doctor has.

Finally my roller coastering blood pressure was lower this week. It was back down to 101/71. So far, I'm not being called in for a middle of the month blood pressure check up.

After I saw the doctor I went down to the lab. They gave me a bottle of really nasty tasting sugar water to drink. I only had five minutes to drink it. Then I have to sit there for an hour while the stuff metabolizes. After which they drew my blood. Whatever the drink is, it always makes me nauseous. I think that's because I know it's something that I have to drink, like medicine, but there's so much of it that you can't just down it in one go.

When I went back I got the technician that cannot manage to talk while he takes blood. He excused himself and sent out another technician to take his place. She kept me talking so that I didn't even know that she had poked me. It was nice.

I got poked with a needle. So we went to the new Dunkin' Donuts afterwards. Shhh, I only go when they stab me with needles.

I'll keep you updated with next week's visit to the ultrasound tech then.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

City Council Meeting

Part of Robert's Boy Scouts is the Citizenship in the Community badge. This is one of the more studious badges that requires quite a bit of work. It's also required to get Eagle Scout. One of the requirements to get Citizenship in the Community is to attend a city council meeting.

We went on Tuesday instead of going to Boy Scouts.

Normally, those things are incredibly boring and routine. We picked a good night to go.

Most of the items on the agenda were indeed routine. Standard allotments and changes that no one opposed. No one spoke against them, and I could see the need for them. Some of these included allocating money from what is already the police budget to buy radios, changing the zoning from residential to commercial along a growing street that surrounded by businesses. The usual sorts of things that are needed to maintain a well-ordered city.

One of them was not.

PH-15-026 was a public hearing that discussed the rezoning of just over fifty acres of Killeen. The area is nowhere near our house but based on the discussion I had a good notion of where it is.

Surrounding this parcel of land is a new specialty high school for the more independent students - those that are doing well. The Career Center caters half a day at the high school and half a day of computer classes. There's a new section of Texas A&M built along another edge of it. I've been there as well. That's where I went to take my teacher's exams. During the discussion they also mentioned a new middle school, I've interviewed there. As well as plans to build another. However, the rest of the surrounding pieces of land are residential plots that are huge. Most of them are at least an acre, and allow for the current residents to live an almost rural lifestyle.

Currently, the land in question, as well as the surrounding land, is listed as AR-1 or Agricultural Residential. Any house built out there must have at least an acre of land to be within code. When you drive out that direction you can certainly see why. Despite the new construction, there is still a lot of open land out there. However, the developer wants to reclassify the area as either General Residential or SR-1, Suburban Residential. Under the rules for suburban residential a house only needs a minimum of 9,600 square feet of land to be built.

Yes, Robert's eyes were glazed over when they discussed the technicalities. Most of them I had to go back and look up because this parcel of land has come up before the council for this same rezoning repeatedly, so even the residents have the codes memorized.

First the head of the planning and zoning committee introduced the proposal. He did an excellent job of maintaining neutrality, even when he said that the P&Z was recommending against rezoning. He included in his little spiel a bit about the fact that they had previously suggested it, but at that point the council shot the deal down because the surrounding residents were opposed.

The next person to address the council was a representative for the developer. He talked about how with all the recent construction and improvements that the area would benefit from all the housing. He talked about how many people would be able to live there and how much the value of the land itself would increase. However, he was very unprepared to answer questions. A council member asked him why the change was needed. He went back to the transportation, the Career Center, Texas A&M, and the money.

He did mention that it would provide low-income housing area as well. However, a few items previously we had just had a huge grant pass unanimously for dealing with low-income housing in neighborhoods already built to renovate and help people get into their homes.

Eventually, the developer stepped down. The mayor called for any others in favor of the development. No one stood up. Then he called for the opposition to come forward, and several had already signed up to speak against the rezoning. Several of them talked about the same types of things - aesthetics, home values, and the quality of people that would be living in the area. They didn't want the low-income housing right there. I don't think anyone wants to live next to the low-income housing. At the same time I agree with the viewpoint of a couple of the speakers, "there are already hundreds of empty homes in Killeen, many of which are classified as low income. So why do we need to build more?"

Two other aspects came up that I thought were very interesting. The first was conflict of interest. Several of the opposition speakers said it directly though they didn't name any names on the council. Whenever this happened, one of the council members would always respond with "I have no conflict of interest. That's slander," even when the person who had said it had spoken along the veins of "If you take money from the developers then you do have a conflict of interest. Please abstain from the vote to show your integrity." The mayor may also have a conflict of interest though I have no concrete proof. However, he wanted to cut the opposition speakers short several times and even blatantly interrupted one or two until the city attorney cut him off and made him stop. Even the council members accused each other of conflict of interest, although they did it with much more tact and diplomacy.

The second aspect that came up was that of recalling the council. Apparently it was done a few years ago over a similar issue, and now a couple of long term residents were starting to vocalize it again. The first of those who said something wasn't taken very seriously. His speech was long and rambling, and while I could follow it, I doubt most of the audience could. (I bet he was a professor when he was working.) However, the second threat to the council about a recall, while getting a laugh, also had a lot more teeth. It was a little old widow lady. She ended her speech with "And we had a recall a few years ago. I suppose if we need to we can have another one."

Robert didn't understand why this one had more teeth than the old man's or several of the younger people's did. It is very straightforward. Let's assume that the developer won. Here is the old widow lady who has lived on her land for thirty years. Along comes the big bad developer to harass her. She turned to the city council for help, and they didn't help her. How is that going to play in the media? She's retired, so she has more free time to push her cause than many of the younger speakers who had families. She's also much better spoken than the older man who presented, so she would make someone that the media would welcome. She's dangerous if you galvanize her to act.

However, the best quote if the evening from the opposition was "I would hope the needs of the residents outweigh the needs of the developer." Yes, he said he was 'stealing from his favorite sci-fi character.'

Once the community got done speaking a couple of the council members chose to speak. One was stating outright that he was choosing to abstain from voting because he had attempted to come to a compromise, and it was a dark day that the participants could not arrive at an understanding.

On that note, several of the residents offered a compromise. Rather than going all the way down to Suburban Residential, why not set it at half an acre or even a quarter of an acre. That would be smaller than the surrounding parcels of land, providing more houses (and thus more money) for the developer than he could currently get. But it would still keep most of the feel of the community. Apparently, this wasn't good enough for him.

This was when the council member accused his fellows of conflict of interest. He said that he would continue to protect the financial and cultural feel of the area, even if some of the others sitting with him wouldn't. That got a chuckle.

Eventually, there was a motion to disapprove of the changes. It was seconded. Three voted to disapprove of the rezoning. This included the second council speaker. Three were against the disapproval (they were for the development), and two abstained from voting.

There was applause, and several of the audience members cleared out at that point. There were a couple more items on the agenda, but they went as smoothly as they had before. It was a good city council meeting for Robert to attend.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Starman Jones Chapters 4-5

This is a continuation of the Starman Jones family reading that I started earlier

Chapter Four: The Astrogator's Guild

My Notes

This chapter sees Max's initial dream dashed upon the rocks when he gets up the courage to go into the Astrogator's Guild. Indeed, we find out just how much help Sam was because if he hadn't been there first then Max would never have gotten to see the Guildmaster.

I found four important quotes from this chapter. First, on page fifty: "It would not do for our professional secrets to be floating around loose, available to anyone. Even the hairdressers do not permit that." This quote is important because it shows just how guilded the society is. Even the hairdressers have an exclusive guild. Although, I wonder, are they separate from make-up artists? Or do they all fall under a larger beauticians guild?

This quote also shows just how secretive the society is, especially when compared to our easy access to the internet. On the other hand, it prompts one to ask the question, "Are we living in an 'openly secret' type of society?" By that I mean, "While we have all this freely available information, we constantly hear about people and companies patenting things that are almost unimaginable to patent. So, do we only have the appearance of openness? Or is it real?" This might be the subject of another essay later, but I'm not sure. I'll keep you updated.

"Our whole society is founded on entrusting grave secrets only to those who are worthy" (pg50) is the second quote that spoke to me. It is also said by the Guildmaster only a few lines later in the exchange. I understand how something like astrogation, which requires complex math skills and a different way of thinking about space would be a "grave secret." However, what in the world makes hairdressing a "grave secret"? I know I'm probably doing a disservice to hairdressers everywhere, because I'm aware that some of the more complex things involve quite a bit of chemistry. However, I'm unaware of any "cutting edge" chemistry that your standard hairdresser would need. Something that would take you beyond thinking about chemistry at a college level. (If someone knows of these things please enlighten me. I'm not trying to belittle it. I just don't understand.)

Also in this quote is the word "worthy," and this is after having repeatedly said that Astrogation, along with most of the more profitable and prestigious guilds, chose who is in them through inheritance first. Only those like Max's uncle get to choose who they nominate for the guild. How does this make sense? We tried running the world like this for years, and we proved that it was a very bad way to run things. Genetics does not ensure that you have the right mindset for understanding how members of a particular guild must think to accomplish their profession proficiently.

The next quote gets one thinking about the characterization of both Max and Sam again. On page fifty-four Max thinks, "that Sam had not inquired into his morals, but had shared his food." What does it say that Sam was willing to share food with a total stranger, while Max is nearly unwilling to sit down to lunch with the only person he knows in town?

Characters we encounter in this chapter:

  • Max Jones, petitioner at the Astrogator's Guild
  • The High Secretary, presumably the head of the Astrogator's Guild 
  • Sam, a well dressed con artist 
This chapter takes place in Earthport. We see the "official" side of Earthport in the Astrogator's Guild on the Avenue of the Planets; and we see the "real" side of Earthport on the alley off the Avenue which contains Percy's restaurant. The Astrogator's Guild will not take Max, but they offer to sponsor him in any guild that isn't inherited. Max refuses. As he leaves he encounters a much more well off Sam, who takes him to lunch.

Questions for Discussion 
  • Are we living in an "openly-secret" society?
  • Why doesn't Max accept the High Secretary's offer for another apprenticeship? 
  • What does the exchange between the police officer and Sam tell you? 

Important part of the exchange from page fifty-two: "I received word that this chico was headed this way and I've had my eye on him. ... We've had a lot of trouble with vagrants."

Points on the Monomyth

The only part of the Monomyth that is visible in this chapter is the Road of Trials. This is because most of the chapter is focused on the society and setting Max up for what he must do in the next couple of chapters.

Chapter Five: "... your money and my know how..."

My Notes

When Sam was asking Max about the patter one of the first things that stuck out was the part about on vs. in. I suppose that language could have shifted that much. Indeed, it is more logical that one would be "in" a spaceship rather than "on" a spaceship. However, the rest of the book is set up like a navy, which says "on a ship" not "in a ship." You even serve "on a submarine" even though you are technically "in" it most of the time. It was a little confusing.

There was also a single quote that really stuck out at me. From page sixty-one, "This whole planet is one big jail, and a crowded one at that." I agree, but I also think that anytime you involve more than two people (and sometimes even one other person) life becomes a little bit more like a jail because you have to restrict what you are doing based on what they think, say, and do. That's part of society.

Characters we encounter in this chapter:

  • Max, a boy with some money, but no plan
  • Sam, a shyster with a plan, but no money
This chapter takes place entirely in the restaurant and the hotel room upstairs. We never see what Sam is doing with the money. However, we find out that he is honorable enough to return with results and hold to the deal. During the chapter Sam finds out that Max has an eidetic memory. Also, Sam talks Max into illegally hiring on as part of the crew of the Asgard

Questions for Discussion 
  • What did Sam mean that Earth was a jail? Do you agree with him? 
  • What should Max have done? What would you have done? 
  • Why does Max trust Sam?
Points on the Monomyth

Sam is back to playing Supernatural Aid, because we never see how he does what he does with the money. He just appears with the results. In addition it is part of the Road of Trials because Max must trust Sam. Finally, it is another step in the Belly of the Whale because Max accepts the deal to sign onto the Asgard