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A Runic Mystery

Those of you who know me, know that I like language and especially like writing systems, and if you know me really well you know that I have a soft spot for runes, particularly the Elder Futhark. So you will probably understand that this graffiti caught my attention.

Seven runic characters on a barrier to a broken escalator.

I’ve spent the last few hours working on it, and if this says anything I don’t have enough to figure it out. The leftmost glyph I can’t find in any version of the runic alphabets, either it comes from somewhere else or they made it up. The second from the left only exists in one Anglo Saxon inscription, the Ruthwell Cross, which is old enough that we can’t be sure whether the character was only briefly in use, or only used in that region because they had a funny way of pronouncing “K” when it was is followed by a secondary fronted vowel. The last two are jera in the Elder Futhark and calc in Anglo Saxon, I was only able to find those two specific shapes together in the
runic alphabet variant from Gothenburg in Sweden.

So whatever this is intended to mean, it’s not using a historical version of the runes. Seven unique letters isn’t enough to work out even the simplest substitution cipher, and if they’ve done something more arcane like made up their own language it might be literally impossible for me to figure it out. I mean, I still honestly don’t know if that first character is just made up or not.

But that’s boring, and I like to try to figure things out. So I dug out my old runic divination book, loaded up some likely meanings for that Ruthwell rune, remembered that in divination you read the runes from right to left, and assumed that the mystery glyph is a signature or initial of some sort.

I think the best interpretation I came up with was “Danger, the harvest of giants nears completion, seek the chalice, Signed.”

It’s both a very cool feature and a frustrating bug that broad symbolic interpretation is really wide open. I think I mentioned in my post about runic divination years ago that the handy part is you automatically discard the interpretations that don’t apply to you. Going totally in the dark like this, there’s just too many possibilities! And of course we can’t discard the idea that this person just liked runes, much as I do, and took a lot of drugs and felt inspired to write some runes down.

I’m going to ignore that possibility for now, though, for two reasons. First, because this is clearly writing, not just a doodle, and writing is always intended to convey meaning. Second, because on my way home tonight I saw jera, in the Elder style, (that’s the second from the right that looks like two offset angle brackets in that picture), painted prominently on a utility box. With dots to either side, which is important because in a lot of runic writing dots are used instead of spaces. So whoever painted it wanted us to know that it was meant to stand alone.

Look, this could easily be some kid who’s into old writing systems. Hell, during the more troubled years of my youth it could have been me. Whatever it means, I’m really curious about this, so do me a favor and if you see any rune graffiti, please take a picture and send it to me. I don’t just mean people in my area, either.

This is mostly pure curiosity, but there’s also a more serious possible explanation. One group of people, or maybe group of groups of people, who have been using runes and growing in popularity lately, is white supremacists. If this graffiti is coming from neo-nazis active in my city, I damn well want to know about it.

Take care everyone.

NaNoWriMo update, and Chapter 2

I got off to a strong start on National Novel Writing Month, but that didn’t last. I got stuck trying to figure out what to do next, and wound up spinning my wheels a lot. I’m trying to adopt a philosophy of “I’ll fix it in the second draft!” but it’s not coming easily.

I don’t know what my wordcount is right now, but I’m sure that I’m far behind. It may already be too much for me to get to 50,000. And that’s okay, I’m going to keep working on it anyway. For all my whining about this project, I’ve gotten more actual story written than I have for the space opera setting I’ve been planning for over a year and a half now!

Chapter 2 could be subtitled “In which there is much pointless talking, and very little happens.” Neither me nor my characters knew what to do next, so I wound up writing dialogue as they flailed around trying to figure out what to do. There are a few good moments, but mostly it’s just boring.

NaNoWriMo is about quantity, not quality. I’m trying to remember that. When I’m done, if I hate it, I’ll fix it in the second draft!

I honestly hadn’t planned to post any more of this, but since I’ve had multiple people ask me when I’m posting the next chapter I may as well. This means, of course, that you have only yourselves to blame. Read on if you dare!

(Or, go back to Chapter 1)

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NaNoWriMo update, and Chapter 1

So here we are, near the end of Day Two of NaNoWriMo. I’ve been setting my word count goals at 2,000 words per day, on the theory that this gives me some leeway for when I inevitably screw up.

Right now my word count is just over 5,000. I’m feeling pretty good about that, and taking the rest of the night off to watch classic (or at least old) horror movies with popcorn & beer. I’m going to post the first chapter of my incredibly rough draft here for your reading… er…. for your reading.

I haven’t really found my tone for this book yet. And that’s okay, NaNoWriMo is about quantity, not quality. So far it’s looking like a sort of fanfic crossover between Discworld and the Dresden Files. I’ve had a lot of fun dreaming up the world these characters live in. This chapter is going to be under the same Creative Commons license all my blog posts are, which means you can share it as long as you take no money, give me credit, and link back here.

This is a real adventure for me. I never learned to write a proper outline, you see, so while I have a few ideas for how things might turn out, I’m really making this up as I go. With only a few exceptions I honestly don’t know what’s foreshadowing and what’s a red herring or just flavor filler.

I don’t know how long I can keep going before I paint myself into a corner, but I have a few ideas for escaping if I get stuck, including radically changing the genre of the book if things get desperate.

Without further ado, here’s the first chapter of my as-yet-unnamed novel. (The footnote might be a little awkward, sorry about that.)

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Beyond the supernatural

When I was very young I used to search for the supernatural. I’ve always been interested in just about everything, and I had this passionate need to know things. I’d read lots of folklore and heard so many stories, most of which were contradictory, and I wanted to know the truth behind them.

I remember thinking that being a parapsychologist would be a great job. Hunt ghosts and track down the truth behind myths and legends. I used to find occult books to read, talk to people who claimed to have magical powers, or try to get into haunted places. I attended several modern pagan rituals, and probably would again if invited because they’re a lot of fun. I studied religions, and psychology, tried tarot cards and runes and Ouija boards. I even went to a séance or two. I did all this because I wanted to know the truth.

It wouldn’t be honest to say that I never found anything, but I never encountered anything genuinely supernatural. Read the rest of this entry

Ah, rain

I love the rain. There’s something magical about water falling from the sky. It cools things down, cleans the air, and brings happy memories of rainy days and the people I spent them with.

I’ve always wanted to get sick of rain. I don’t mean wish it wasn’t raining because of some other plans I had, but just have it rain for so long that I get tired of it and want it to stop. It probably stems from living where I do, where rain is a rare and special thing. I often wonder how I would feel about it if I lived someplace that gets a lot of rain for a year or two. Would I be happier there, or longing for hot sunny days with the same intensity?

Anyways, I have a mystery for you. Due to several factors, mostly the age of this house and my reluctance to put holes in it, there is a long Cat5 network cable running out my window, across the roof and down to another window where it connects me to the internet. So on this nice rainy morning I found water dripping out of it. Seriously, right where the RJ-45 connects, there was water seeping out of the cable. The router narrowly missed getting drenched.

I cut a few drain holes into the outer insulation so it shouldn’t damage anything, but where is it coming from? Everything’s dry up top and I can’t find any holes or breaks in the cable. Either the outer shell’s become porous enough that the water is seeping through it, or it’s condensing in there. Well, or there’s something else that I haven’t thought of or a hole in the cable I missed. I’m leaning towards the first explanation right now, since this never happened before and it seems likely that a break would be obvious.

Come to think of it, most plastics photo-degrade, and this one’s been out on the roof for several years now. That’s a lot of sunlight. It might be time to replace that wire or install wifi on this thing.

Anyways, that’s this morning’s weirdness. I’m going to tag it for Post a Day, which feels a little like cheating but it’s clearly a post and therefore counts! Blog at you later with something completely different.

A dream

It’s that time of year when I’m too hot under a blanket but too cold without one. When I’m too hot sleeping I often have nightmares, and last night gave me a doozy. Here’s what I can piece together from attenuated memories and the notes I scribbled just before dawn. Read the rest of this entry

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