Friday, April 28, 2017


Warnings: Long winded, science-y, dragons, and dangerous chemicals! 



The moral of this story is, never ask for FOOF for Christmas. FOOF is the lab nickname for a highly volatile compound made of dioxygen and difluoride. However, unlike most interesting compounds, this one scientists usually make a point to avoid. Dioxygen_Difluoride has been referred to as “the gas of Lucifer” due to its uncanny ability to set things on fire. It can make almost any organic substance ignite and explode at any temperature hotter than 300F below zero! To put this in perspective, it can make ice catch on fire. Violent explosions and lab fires circle this compounds deadly history. While this compound has no practical uses (outside using it to fight dragons) it has one semi-redeeming quality; it can be used to synthesize plutonium hexafluoride at safer temperatures (I can’t imagine why anyone needs plutonium hexafluoride!).

But I digress. This story isn’t about the horrific lab failures of the humans, it’s about a little girl with bad handwriting, and an excessively industrious and devoted little elf with poor eyesight and a chemistry degree. You see, years ago, in the small town of Socros, AK, a girl by the name of Kaia was writing her Christmas list to Santa. She had been very good all year, and had recently seen How to Train your Dragon in theatres. Oh how she wanted a giant stuffed dragon to snuggle with at night! Kaia hadn’t learned the difference between lower case letters and capitals. Her Christmas list was in all caps, along with the entry FOOFY DRAGON. When she had finished, she was so excited she skipped all the way to the family mailbox, way out by the road. It was cold out, and her cheeks were flushed by the time she got back. That night, she went to bed and dreamed of dragons.

Far north, but not too much further north than Kaia lived, the elf factories were running full tilt to get things ready for Christmas. Keelee, the littlest elf (as her friends called her) had just been promoted to the R&D department. In most human organizations, R&D involved testing practical ideas slowly over decades, and wading through literal mountains of bureaucratic red tape. A human may go an entire lifetime and only make a single real contribution to society. In elf country, it is much different. An elf studies for a minimum of 25 years to be qualified enough to work in R&D, and then only in a specific section. This is because elf’s deal in dreams and imaginations. They read letters from children all over the world, then set to work to create the toy the child has asked for. These toys must be safe, long lasting, and easy to play with, and above all, fun! Elves don’t have the decades to invent new things like humans have. By then, the child will have outgrown the toy. They begin their work around November, when the letters to Santa start coming in. They then have to invent, test, prototype, and produce the toy all in less than 60 days. The job is stressful, but the perks were great, and it is one of the most coveted jobs in the North Pole.

Keelee was 125 years old (young for an elf) and had just finished her chemistry degree. She had just been accepted into the R&D department and had finished her first week of basic training and regulatory paperwork. Today was her first real day on the job. She woke up, ideas for amazing toys already swirling in her brain. Almost racing through her morning routine, she arrived to the R&D campus almost 20 minutes early. Swiping her card, the door clicked green and let her in. She walked slowly through the entrance, eyeing massive workroom. Every inch was decorated in red and green, the floor freshly waxed and polished, all the machine stations clean, materials loaded in racks beyond. There were 6 little red doors off to the left, indicating private study labs for use for delicate and clean-room testing, and 6 little green doors off to the right especially for outdoor and large toys and gifts. For humans, the latest craze are 3D printers that can mold plastic, metal and other materials into objects. However, elvish technology was a little more advanced. Each station in the center of the room had its own thought-printer, which could make things using dreams, and thoughts instead of detailed blueprints. They required training though, as elves had to visualize all the miniature pieces and parts properly or else it wouldn’t turn out quite right. Keelee gasped as she took all this in. It was her first time on the floor. Her week of training had been held in conference rooms in another building. She walked down the stations until she came to one with her name on it. 5th isle across, 12th row down. It was an open workplace, no walls or confined cubicle like the humans used, and her station was roughly as large as the average living room. It included 3 workbenches, 2 thought-printers, plenty of wrapping paper, and a holographic computer module specially built to display diagrams, digital copies of Santa letters, and materials in stock, supplies, etc. She began sifting through the various letters. Most were fairly simple (each letter was classified based on a difficulty level, and assigned based on elf experience) and she was confident in her ability to fulfill each and every one. Then, one caught her eye, or rather sort of caught her eye. She had a little trouble with her eyesight; despite having perfect vision, she often blurred certain letters together or mixed words up on occasion. The humans were calling this dyslexia (they like to name things) but to elves, it was just called “a touch of the fuzzy’s” and usually came and went for no explicable reason. To her eyes that morning, the card read FOOF Dragon. She thought to herself for some time, well aware of the FOOF compound, but couldn’t figure out why a child from Alaska would want FOOF for Christmas, or how to make a dragon out of FOOF. After some quiet contemplation, she figured the child must have meant she wanted a dragon that could breathe FOOF instead of Fire. A dangerous toy, but surely she could make one that was safe enough to play with? She spent the morning making the other toys and testing them, but all the while her mind was on creating the dragon. She decided to set it aside for 3 days to give her time to fully plan it out. Tuesday, then Wednesday passed. By Friday, she decided how to make it. The dragon would have to be child sized, but contain a small elf-power source inside. Elf power sources often look like double AA batteries, but are entire factories for generating power. These batteries never wear out or corrode. In fact, they will often last for years. This is why a toy from an elf will last not only through the Christmas season, but often not need a battery change until two or three years. Then after that, human batteries are used, which last only months at a time. In this case, the batteries would have to create these two chemicals separately. Then, they would be combined inside the third battery, mixed properly, then spewn out of the mouth. She knew she would have to add a 4rth “safety chemical” to automatically detect and neutralize any chemical reaction that might occur which would cause a large explosion. This safety chemical would have to take into account such materials such as trying to set the couch on fire, kerosene from the garage, and other things a typical family might have lying about. The main trick the child wanted, she assumed, was to make fire on ice, snow, and other cold places in Alaska. After 3 more weeks of working, she finally finished the dragon. It was about the size of a small stack of books, felt mostly squishy to the touch, and would breathe black and blue flames which would make fire (she removed the toxic smell and corrosion that normally came with the FOOF chemical. It was as safe as FOOF could be.

That Christmas morning, Kaia came downstairs exited for a stuffed dragon to squeeze and hug and tell stories too. The dragon was neatly wrapped in a box, with the curly elvish handwriting on it: To: Kaia, From: Santa. She ripped open the box, and pulled out the dragon. It was a bit heavier than she expected, and had a small button on the top of its head. Surprised, she pushed the button, then jumped back as flames spouted out. The flames scared her at first, then her smile widened as she rushed outside to try to light a stick on fire (her parents had warned her about trying to light anything in the house). After searching for a small stick, she found one under the fir tree out back. She pressed the button, and the dragon burst out a stream of blue/black flame that lit the stick, and the snow on the ground on fire! The fire quickly spread, fueled by the oxygen in the water! It grew larger and larger until the tree began to catch and spark. The girl screamed and dropped the dragon, running back inside. Luckily, her scream registered on the toy’s safety meter, and sent out a signal to the North Pole. Keelee had installed this meter on this particular toy due to its volatile nature. It pinged Santa himself, and he sent out a team of specially trained elves to quench the tree, calm down Kaia, and bring back the dragon. Keelee was ashamed when Santa kindly pointed out to her that the note had said foofy dragon, and that he wouldn’t have given a child a dragon that spewed FOOF in the first place. He then had the elves quickly drop off a large stuffed dragon, and Kaia happily went into a Christmas sleep in front of the Christmas tree, her memory of the FOOF Dragon erased, replaced with sugar plums. Kaia was warned not to mess with FOOF again, and the entire event was eventually forgotten.

However, that FOOF Dragon was not destroyed, but instead magically turned to a live ice dragon, and sent to live in the South Pole to keep the penguins warm during the frigid winters…

Friday, March 3, 2017

Writing Prompt 2 Food & Clip

Today's themes are Food, and Clip. Let me know what you think! 

She yawned, slowly swishing her tail, belly full. It had been a great night. Midsummer’s eve celebration always was, but tonight seemed even better somehow. There had been games, prizes, a ring toss, even a magician! She rolled over, almost buried in blankets in the back of the cart. She could hear the soft clip clop of the horse’s hooves over the path. Night had fallen, and the fog began to set in. She was just dozing off when the cart stopped. “There’s something ahead on the road” her father whispered. Stay in the cart, I’m going to check it out. She heard him dismount, and walk slowly up the road. “Ere now, what do you mean by blocking the road?” He called out. She couldn’t make out the conversation, but someone else was talking, in a low, urgent tone. She popped her head out, trying to see the road ahead. A tall dark shape, taller than even the soldiers in town. He was wearing a great black travelers cloak shrouded in fog. After some more words with the stranger, her father came hurrying back to the cart.
“We need to get off the road, find someplace safe” he cried. His eyes were wide. “They’ve come back!” he whispered, in a tone almost to faint to hear.
“Who’s come back?”
He paused, as if weighing how much to say. “Remember those bedtime stories I used to tell about the fearless warriors of old and the curse of the black lake?”
She nodded. She loved hearing about their town lore, and the great deeds of long ago.
“They weren’t just stories. And this time, we no longer have the strength to repel them!”
He gave the reigns a tug, and quickly pulled the cart off the road and into the brush.
“This fog is welcome, it will help muffle our breathing, and hide our trail.” He whispered.
“All the same, no sense in taking chances my dear. Git under those blankets and keep quiet!”
The cart rattled and creaked as it left the road, and into the forest. They hadn’t gone more than an arrow’s pace of the road when he halted.
“Listen!” He gestured. The fog was too thick to see the road, but straining her ears, she could hear a faint sound. Almost a hissing, and quick pace of a dozen or so large, heavy sets of feet. They passed in the night, never slowing, nor changing their direction. Soon they were gone. She could hear her father breathing a sigh of relief.
“What were those things? Who was that figure on the road who warned us? What will happen to our village?” Questions came bursting out of her mouth.
“Hush my little one. I will explain everything. But not now. Now we have a long journey ahead of us. The town, and our home are no longer safe. Let’s be off!” He pulled the horse back towards the road, and then off in the direction away from town. She looked back and thought she saw prints on the road, deep in the mud tracks of the like she had never seen before. She curled into a ball, and tried to stave off the horrible images of these creatures.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Writing Prompt: Salt, Dancing

Good Afternoon!

Sorry for missing the last couple weeks, I shall attempt to make up for those with a double post today. wot wot! These next two posts will be writing prompts borrowed from Eleanor. I usually tend to do a lot of rambling with my posts, so here's an attempt at some coherence. :-)

Subject: Dancing     Theme: Salt

There they were in the dark; the Duke with his dagger, the Doge with his dart, Duchess with her dirk.Oops, haha! Let's try that again:

The Mariana Trench. Deepest part of the ocean. One of the few places still mostly uninhabited by the humans. Strange creatures dwelt there, from the dawn of time, or so twas said. It was there, 200 years ago, that the trouble started.  For generations beyond memory, she dwelt there, the largest creature in the sea. A blue whale was similar in size to her as a grain of rice might be to a human. When she moved, so did the sea. Waves and tides, so often attributed to science, were in fact created by her. She was a Kraken, the Eldest and largest. And she loved to dance. For a while, she danced alone, to the music of the ocean, bobbing her mantle to the time of the beginning. Then, she heard him. She felt him. He had a flute, and played the most beautiful music, chanting, and playing. She couldn't see him, but she felt a magnetic tug or pull, every time he played. He was the moon, and he was asking her to dance. For centuries they danced together, whirling, spinning, round and around, sometimes so fast large storms were created, other times so gentle that the sea itself seemed to stop moving. The two were inseparable...
Then the humans came. Disturbed from their land-based habitat for some unknown reason, they had begun to flee, in mass numbers to the moon, off-world, and as yet even to the depths of the ocean. They were tiny, but their ships came by the thousands, and they brought terrible machines of destruction. The moon's music was soon shut out, blocked by giant reflector dishes designed to capture the remaining sunlight. The trench was breached, and massive underwater dwellings were crafted. They were everywhere. And the endless cycle of the Dance was stopped.
Enraged, the Kraken began a horrible dance, putting voice her frustration. The seas turned into a never ending series of typhoons, the sky grew dark and stormy, and the air grew cold. Terrified, the humans began to leave the sea, fleeing upwards to the stars. The world lay abandoned, left to its fate. The moon was still shielded, and he was unable to communicate with her. She felt lost, and alone.
Then the moon began to shrug off the humans as well. He began to spin, faster and faster round and round until the humans were flung to the farthest reaches of the galaxy. Together again, the Moon and the Sea returned in peace to their endless dance, Twee and La, ying and yang, push, and pull.

--I liked the storyline, but has having trouble with the ending. Any other thoughts or ideas appreciated--


Friday, January 27, 2017

On the Care and Polish of Knives and Cutting Boards

Hello Again! Told you I had more to say :P
Some unsuspecting soul fed me coffee today!
Anyway, on to the subject at hand!

For the past 4 years or so, I have been carefully treating my cutting boards and wood knife handles with extra-virgin olive oil. This protects them and gives them a nice glossy finish. However, I've recently learned of a better solution: Edible Mineral Oil. This is a clear oil, and will actually protect the glue and surface of your wood products much better! Olive oil has a tenancy to go rancid, when not washed or used regularly. It will also collect a little more dust as it doesn't soak into the wood as well. So last night, I bought some mineral oil from freddies ($2 a bottle) in the pharmacy section. You may notice that this mineral oil is being sold as a laxative, don't panic, once you let it soak in for a day, then wash the board, there are no side effects. :)

On to (hic) step 2! Okay, your boards are nice and shiny, but your blades are getting tiny rust spots from being in the sink, and/or are beginning to get a little dull. I suggest the following: a small 2 sided knife sharpening block from your local ace hardware store ($8) plus a small bottle of honing solution ($2 a bottle) from either ace or freddies (at freddies, look under the sports/outdoor section). Most local places will charge $5 a knife to sharpen each knife, so even if you only sit down to do this once a year, it's well worth it! Next, find a show or some music, and sit down to sharpen your knives. :) Below I've listed a couple tips for you:

1. Be patient. Just like anything else, sharpening knives is a skill. It takes time to be proficient, and quick at it.
2. The first time you oil your stone, wait a few minutes. most of the oil will absorb into your whetstone. Then oil it again. You will want to take a moderate approach to this. Don't over oil it, but don't let it get too dry either. When you're done, dry off the stone with a dry washcloth. Don't wash the stone with water.
3. Start with a knife you don't mind scratching up. I like to sharpen my knives with about a 20% angle on them, or lay the knife flat ontop of the stone, then raise it up until the spine of the knife is about a half of finger above the stone. This is close to 20%. Start with the base of the blade, and run it slowly and smoothly across the stone at an angle, finishing at the top of the stone furthest away from you, at the tip of the blade. Don't dig into the stone, you're not carving the stone, you are just sharpening the blade. :) I keep the stone on a table or somewhere nice and flat, and move the blade smoothly over the surface. I've found that it's best to do between 2-5 passes and then switch to the other side of the blade. Each time you run the blade over the stone, it curves, or rolls the blade ever so slightly, so if you do to many passes on one side only, then it will take extra time to flatten the blade back out. Start on the rough side of your sharpening stone, until you have the chips and dents taken out of the bade. Then, switch to the smooth side, and use that for honing a nice sharp edge on the bade.
4. When done, wipe the blade down with a little of the honing oil. This helps protect from rust and corrosion. Let the blade sit for a while, then wash it with a little soap and water. Done!

5. How to take rust spots off a blade. You can use anything from a washcloth to steel wool, but I prefer a powder known as BarKeepers Friend. If you haven't heard of this stuff, it is AMAZING! use it with a little water, and it will polish everything from your stovetop, to knives, to sinks. It should be at any local grocery store.

Well, that's all for now! Enjoy, and (Oh! one more thing! I haven't cut myself sharpening blades, but I have cut myself pretty good while cleaning them. use a thick cloth to dry them off so you don't risk cutting yourself). I'll probably jump back on with another post. Yay Coffee!


Coffee for the (hic) recovering Coffee Addict

For my readers who may not know, I've been off coffee and heavy caffeine for 4+ years now. It's not that I aspire to be a health nut, or that my coffee habits were outside of the realm of normal, at least for college type sheepdogs. After a summer of no caffeine, I decided I would begin having some again. That's then the issues started. Heightened senses, the ability to fly around the world in a second... okay, just kidding! In actuality, it was messing with my sleep schedule. I would have a cup in the morning, then not be able to calm down and fall asleep until about 3:00am. Which is late, even for college sheepdogs! If I had some in the afternoon, forget about any sleep until the following day! So, I cut caffeine almost completely out of my diet. Fast forward 4 years, and now I am just starting to re-introduce it into my system, which is taking it okay. In fact, for the past while, I have been in semi-hibernation mode, where I can go an entire day feeling sleepy, or hazy. To make a short story long, I just gulped a half-caff. mocha in honor of Friday and Wow!Let'srunaroundanddocrazystufftherestofthedayandwhocaresifwegetanymoreworkdoneanditsfridayandwowthisishardtotypewithoutusingthespacebar!!

Anywho! bring on the rabbits and their crazy Friday antics! At least until the coffee wears off :P

I plan on making two more posts today, so stay tuned!

~Hyper Sheepdog~

Friday, January 20, 2017

Thought for the day

*Warning May contain political opinions, rants, and common sense arguments*

Okay, with the disclaimer out of the way, I shall proceed! I had planned on writing a prompt in regards to today's inauguration, including both a historical viewpoint on the importance of inauguration days, what democracy means for our country, and a note about the protestors this year, who seem to be the focus of more conversations than the actual inauguration.

What stopped me? Well, first I got sidetracked by this article:

This was a bit more of an eyeopener to me than it should have been. As I read through it, I found myself agreeing more and more. Equality for all! ...except conservatives. While I know people who are willing to have engaging conversations from various viewpoints, lately, and especially in the news, less and less liberals are willing to listen to opposing viewpoints. Trump supporters are certainly not the first group of conservatives to be publicly berated against, but it sort of highlights the situation.

There is a shocking disconnect here. Even in the education system (speaking as one who is in the education system). I personally find myself keeping my opinions more and more to myself not because of a backlash or losing respect, but because people are just not interested in what I have to say. They assume 1) they already know my views, and/or 2) that my views are misguided. Either way, the implied message (whether true or not) is that my thoughts don't matter. This isn't just grade schools either. Many colleges and universities have an obvious liberal bias. Nick K. outlines in his article some of the challenges Conservatives in higher education face. It is an interesting read.

Towards the end of his article, Nick ends with a plea to the progressives (liberals) to start thinking about mending this gap between viewpoints:
So maybe we progressives could take a brief break from attacking the other side and more broadly incorporate values that we supposedly cherish - like diversity - in our own dominions.

Anyway, feel free to discuss! 

Friday, January 6, 2017

Writing Prompt -Borrowed

Yip and Woof! Happy Friday everyone! Hooray! 
My official plans for the weekend is to avoid driving as much as possible. The last weekend we all stayed home and ate cookies and played parcheese was probably before Thanksgiving! Anyway, not to say we will be doing nothing. :) The bunnies plan on taking a couple different walks, maybe some frisbee golf, and indoor games. If we get any snow we may build a snow-bunny!! 

Anyway, Today's post shall be on a writing prompt borrowed from another blog: Outside the Window...Dance. Not my usual topics, but here goes:

It was spring. The flowers were in full bloom, and the river by the cabin babbled and burbled as it swept the last of the melted snow and fallen leaves away. It was a time of new beginning, of opportunity. So close to freedom, yet so far. She sighed, and gazed out the window at the scene. She could even feel the warm breeze come through the open window and into her birdcage. She was allowed out to fly around, but her masters were always careful to close the window before letting her out. She almost preferred to be in her cage with the window open, where she could smell and feel the spring wind come into the cabin. As she peered out the window, she spotted something in the distance. It was a bird, flittering from tree to tree. It dove and swooped, sometimes flying high, then plunging down toward the ground, only to swoop to a landing. It was followed by another, then another, all brightly colored red and yellow, like herself. Seeing them dance on the wind, her heart leapt. If only she could open the door she could join them. Instead, she watched. They began moving together, diving, gliding, whizzing past each other sometimes so close she was sure they would collide into one another. Suddenly, she had a thought. Perhaps, she could use a loose twig to pry open the door. Grasping the stick tightly in her beak, she thrust it into the small opening between the cage and the door. pulling with all her might. The door moved! It began to bend inward, moving slowly. She flapped her wings, pulling harder. *snap* The twig, reaching past it's breaking point, broke in two, flinging the small cardinal into her water bowl. The door snapped shut.

She let out a chirp of indignation. This wasn't going to work. She began to work from another angle, pushing the broken twig out to attempt to open the lock from the outside. The latch lifted a little. Moving to the other side, she twisted her head to pull the latch open the rest of the way. In doing so, the twig fell from her beak and landed on the carpet. Frustrated, she looked up again out the window. The birds had gone away by that time, and dusk was beginning to fall. Resignedly, she hopped back to her perch, brushing away a tear.

Because of the warm night, the windows were left open. Toward 9pm, after the cardinal had fallen asleep, two lamp-like eyes opened by the large oak just outside the window. A small Hoot Owl belonged to those large eyes. He sat, watching the window, shaking his feathers to finish waking up. Standing up, he stretched his wings, and soared down through the open window and into the room. Lifting the latch with his sharp talons, he slid back and opened the door. A soft hoot rose the cardinal to wakefulness. As she woke, he raised his wings, and soared back to his perch on the tree.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

New Year's Resolutions - Keep This Blog Updated!!!

Allo everyone!
That's right, Sheepdog is back for the *ahem* early Spring? Yes, I know winter has 2 months to go, but somehow with the melancholy task of taking down Christmas, I always like to think ahead to the spring. And anyway, HootOwl is more of a fall writer besides.

So first, for an update! I am please to announce we all survived the Holidays! We finished our cutting board project, much to the enjoyment of everyone. :) We made 16 cutting boards, all handmade, and about 14 inches by 10 inches or so. We may plan to make a second batch starting February, we'll see. We also finished Scamper's Kickstarter project (spoiler alert, it took more time and effort than we planned). We Successfully drove South for a party in the mountains, as well as further South for a party in the sun. :) We just left a weekend full of snow, which included hot tubbing, and snowball fights. We then returned home to find the bunnies completely wiped out from partying, and eating leftover Christmas treats.

Anyways, on to new years resolutions *wot*!
I would like to take a moment to address almost every new year's resolution ever. They last about 2-4 weeks before being ditched. This is why there are so many gym membership sign-ups in January, and so few in march. A clever person may solve this by writing a new years resolution they are already doing, but that would be an old years resolution. Another person may write something with a checklist to cross off everyday, but soon misplace the checklist. Not that resolutions are bad, but if the year goes by and you don't get to them, it's rather a dissapointment.

I suggest writing down 1 or 2 that you want to accomplish and write down 1 or 2 that would be fun to accomplish. Rather like a bucket list for the second two:

1. Read through the bible cover to cover
2. Exercise more often
1. Bake 12 batches of cookies.
2. Take a nap on the beach.
3. Actually jump in the ocean the next time you visit.
4. Go Backpacking. Eat a leaf. Climb a tree. Carve a toothpick out of a stick. Eat someone's business card in front of them. Learn to juggle scones then swallow them whole. Startle a cow by calling it's name. Stay home from work one day even if you're not sick. Do a handstand for more than .2 seconds. Go to walmart and buy the 3 most random things you can find.

Any further suggestions? Feel free to add below!
Woof! Happy New Year!