Breaking Free

April 11, 2019, SpaceX launched Falcon Heavy from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. The sentiment is mine. (Photo credit: SpaceX)

I admit it’s possible to discover something accidentally. Take bacteriologist Dr. Alexander Fleming, for example. In 1928, he returned to his lab after a vacation in Scotland to discover a mold called Penicillium notatum had contaminated his petri dish colonies of Staphylococcus aureus, and was preventing its growth.

“When I woke up just after dawn on September 28, 1928, I certainly didn’t plan to revolutionize all medicine by discovering the world’s first antibiotic, or bacteria killer. But I guess that was exactly what I did.” Dr. Alexander Fleming

Of course, Dr. Fleming had already studied bacteriology, so while it may be possible even you and I could accidentally discover some new scientific fact, if we don’t have the underlying knowledge, if we don’t know the rules, our discovery probably won’t make much of an impact on the world.

But for someone who has the knowledge and knows the rules of their field, like, say, art or agriculture or aerospace engineering, the rules can be a springboard into new understanding and advances.

“You have to know the rules before you can break them with purpose.” Me, reflecting on what little wisdom I’ve been fortunate to stumble into.

I lament the passing of my generation’s defiant motto: Question Authority. We didn’t believe the rules weren’t meant for us or that there shouldn’t be any at all. We wanted to know why they were rules and what would happen if they weren’t. Could we get along more peacefully if some of the rules were different? Like desegregation. Or Congressional term limits. Or decriminalizing pot. (Legalizing marijuana was only a pipe dream back then.)

Today, it seems too many people simply believe the rules don’t apply to them. We can see examples of the resulting chaos in any city that harbors those solar powered scooters as helmetless scofflaws ride them in the wrong direction on one-way streets, or cross multi-lane streets mid-block or against red lights. We can see that chaos in any government that denies reality, espouses ignorance, and ignores the Rule of Law.

Where will we go from here? To Mars? To a nation of healthier, better educated citizens? Or will we remain stuck in a man-made quagmire, clawing the mud to keep up with the rest of the world?

I know what I want. I’m watching for people who know stuff and understand the rules well enough to think beyond them. Those are the people who will launch us forward. Those are the people who can make a large-scale, positive impact on the world.


Glad you could join us for the next suspect episode of Elliot’s Adventures. If you’re new here, you can catch up by returning to the beginning, and reading really fast…

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Photo credit: Peter Trimming

“Where’s Lady Lucy?” Clifton asked.

Searching the Meadow and the sky, Barry said, “Dat’s a good question.”

“Barry,” the Prince reminded him, “she’s the one who told the Knights the Stinger was there.”

“I know youse’re right, yer Princehood, but why di’n’t she just grab him? An’ why’d she let dat udder Stinger go?”

Continue reading “Suspicions”


Glad you could join us for the next reunited episode of Elliot’s Adventures. If you’re new here, you can catch up by returning to the beginning, and reading really fast…

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Photo credit: Peaquod

Sylvia’s lament crumpled as she looked up at her brother. “Arturo? You’re alive?” Flying to hold him close, she sobbed the news. “Rebels came early yesterday to take me, and when Father and Mother tried to drive them off, they attacked the nest and killed all the unborn. Then they said we would never see you again. We thought you were dead!”

“How are you still here?” he asked in wonder.

Continue reading “Sylvia”

Rori Aideen O’Shay

Glad you could join us for the next feisty episode of Elliot’s Adventures. If you’re new here, you can catch up by returning to the beginning, and reading really fast…

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Photo credit: Steven Scott

“Rori Aideen O’Shay,” she corrected him, holding out her hand, “an’ I’m not ashamed ta say it.”

Bowing as deeply as his bandages would allow, Vernon took her hand and pressed his lips to it. “Now I know why your children are so beautiful.”

Fergus laughed. “Were ya thinkin’ I musta brought ya ta the wrong family?”

“I thank’ee kindly, Mr. Vernon,” Rori Aideen smiled as she wrapped Fergus’ arm around her shoulders and snuggled at his side, “but the finest qualities our children possess come from their fahther.” Her smile vanished in an instant and tears welled in her eyes. “I hope ye’ll forgive me rude behavior earlier, but I was so worried we’d lahst him…”

Continue reading “Rori Aideen O’Shay”

Freeborn O’Shays

Glad you could join us for the next free episode of Elliot’s Adventures. If you’re new here, you can catch up by returning to the beginning, and reading really fast…

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Photo credit: Vincentius Ferdinand

Without a word, Fergus leaped to the call, leaving Vernon surrounded by a passel of curious hoplings.

“Me name’s Quinn. What’s yers?”

“Where do ya live?”

“Watch me! Can ya do this?”

“Why’re yer legs so skinny?”

“What’s that stuff on yer chest?”

“Did ya bring us any treats?”

Vernon held up his hands. “Hold on a moment. One at a time, please. First, let’s have some introductions. My name is Vernon. We’ve already heard from Quinn, so let’s go down the list.” He raised an eyebrow at the next one. “You start.”

Continue reading “Freeborn O’Shays”

The Road We’ve Paved


“Go on, ya yeller-bellied coward — draw!”

I grew up in the ’50s and ’60s. Most of our staple TV entertainments were shoot-em-up Westerns and shoot-em-up Detective shows. Especially in the ’50s. My formative years. The hero shoots the bad guy. The bad guy falls down dead. No blood, no twitching, no ugliness or remorse.

Then John F. Kennedy was shot to death, and the world was shocked. Two days later, live on national television, we watched Jack Ruby shoot and kill Lee Harvey Oswald. Up close. Live. Dead.

I was 12-1/2, and I was not shocked.

Continue reading “The Road We’ve Paved”