The Novels

Sociology 500, a Romance (Second Draft) -- The first book in the Economics 101 Trilogy.
Karel and Dan, former American football teammates and now graduate students, meet fellow graduate students Kristie and Bobbie, and the four form a steady study group.

Economics 101, a Novel (Rough Draft) -- My first sustained attempt at a novel, two-thirds finished in rough draft, and heading a little too far south.
What would you do if you and your study partner, with whom you had been seriously discussing marriage, suddenly found yourselves all alone together on a desert island?

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Sociology 500, a Romance, ch 1 pt 1 -- Introducing Bobbie

TOC Well, let's meet Roberta Whitmer. Bobbie entered the anthropology department office and looked around. Near the receptionis...

Monday, March 13, 2017

Sociology 500, a Novel, ch 3 pt 7 -- Family Games and Calendars


On Sunday, our four protagonists were at Bobbie and Kristie's apartment playing a game similar to Pit with some of their roommates and home evening brothers. Joel was there, too, but Dan and Karel did not ask him about Kelly.

If you are not familiar with Pit, the game they were playing used a deck of cards which was divided into commodities. Pit, in it's more common form, uses cards representing commodities like wheat, rye, corn, barley, flax, and such. The object of the game is to semi-randomly trade cards with other players until someone gets all the cards of one commodity, at which point that person rigs the bell or calls out, "Corner!", and wins the round.

Or something like that.

Since trading is not done by turn, but any time a player is ready, at any point in time there are several players calling out the number of cards they want to trade. It's a very noisy game.

Which doesn't really have much to do with the plot of the story at this point. It's enough that you know they were playing the sort of game that you might play as a family.

After the fifth round, Kristie said, "I think this will be my last round for the night. I've got to get my books out and study. Would anyone care to help me with some education theory?"

Karel joined Kristie in the living room, and the two of them spread their books out on the floor. After two more rounds, Dan and Bobbie dropped out of the Pit game to join them, as well.

Michelle called out "Party poopers!" as they left the kitchen table amid laughter and jokes.

"Are you guys as far behind as I am?" Kristie asked, as they joined her and Karel in the living room.

Karel said, "We're not behind. I'm sure a week will be enough time to finish this and do the reports, too."

Bobbie said, "Everyone's behind. Even the teachers are behind. We may need to cut back on the socializing this week. And right before conference week."

Dan said, "Who talked me into coming back for post-graduate work? Remind me not to trust your suggestions next time, Karel. This is hard work."

And they all laughed and got to work, comparing notes, sharing ideas, and otherwise digging in to their assignments..

After about another half hour, the home evening brothers said they had homework and bid everyone goodnight.

A short time later, when Bobbie and Kristie's roommates had retired to their rooms, Dan leaned back and asked, "So, did Joel say anything about his partner on the folk dance team when you guys were at the dance on Friday?"

"Well, yes, he did." Kristie looked up. "Why do you ask?"

Bobbie also looked up. "Dan, didn't you say you were working with someone on the folk dance team on your ward's activities committee?"

"Really, we shouldn't be talking about this." Karel did not look up.

"So, can we infer that there is mutual interest?" Bobbie wasn't going to let the question go without an answer.

Dan said, "Yeah, ..."

And Karel said, "What is and what we should infer are two separate things. I say we keep our hands out of it."

Kristie agreed. "We really shouldn't be messing with other people's relationships."

Dan and Bobbie grinned at each other and Bobbie said, "For now."

During another break a little later, Bobbie asked Karel, "That woman I thought I saw watching us from the stacks on Tuesday, have you talked to her since?"

"Haven't seen her. I'm wondering if she's avoiding the cafeteria when I'm likely to be there."

"What happened?"

"No idea."

Maybe a half an hour later, Dan pushed his books back and said, "I'm beat. Just not focusing on the homework any more. Can we look at the rest of this tomorrow, maybe at lunch?"

Kristie looked up and nodded sleepily. "I think I'm about ready to stop for the night. Karel, did you say we could all eat at the dorm cafeteria if you showed them your residence pass?"

"Yeah, ..."

"That's a great idea," Bobbie said. "I'm done for the night. Let's let this stuff sit, and we can all focus better tomorrow."

"Okay. I'm probably done for the night, too. It's late on the Sabbath, and we're getting close to curfew anyway."

Days of the week. We hardly bother thinking about them.

But there are other ways to organize a year than in seven day weeks. Come to think of it, a month might not be roughly a twelfth of the year and a week might not be roughly a quarter of a month. Etc.

Might not be. But the world of this novel does have a calendar similar to ours. It even has some historical disagreement about whether the Sabbath was the first day of the week or the last. We don't need to know all the specifics, but we might be more comfortable talking about time if we have a bit of an overview.

Uhm, lemmesee. Where did I put those notes? Oh, here they are. 353 days per year in about five years out of seven and 352 in the other two. So they have two skip years out of seven where we have one leap year out of four.

But it isn't exact, of course. They have to further adjust that down a day every 98 years and then up one day every 343 years. Already too much detail, and you're falling asleep?

But they have two moons. Did I mention that? The smaller moon orbits their earth in just under seven and an eighth days, and their larger moon orbits it in about twenty-eight and seven eighths days. About forty-nine and a half lunar weeks a year and about twelve and two fifths lunar months each year.

So their week is really a small month, so to speak. But they set the calendar week to exactly seven days. On the other hand, their calendar big month shifts between twenty-nine and thirty days.

God has different ideas about celestial mechanics, that don't obey our mortal ideals. It's not the sort of mortal clockwork we like to make. So we use various tricks to adjust our calendars to God's.

(While I'm talking about it, the two moons look about the same size in the sky. And they are about the same size in the sky as their sun. And every century or so, they end up with the two moons and their sun nicely in a line, giving a double full eclipse. Partial double eclipses are more common, of course. And I'm really putting you to sleep now.)

Now, I'll admit it, I've been fudging on the days of the week and using the names from our world. In their world, in their language, things line up differently, even though they have named the days of the week after some old, funky, northern mythology. With the two moons and one sun and six planets visible to their naked eye, we might expect nine day weeks. But the period of the inner moon wins on the weeks, while the number twelve is close enough for their months.

Confusing? That's why I've been using our names for the days of the week and our names of the months, and I'll continue to do so. Let me look at my notes again, and tell you how the days of the week actually line up for them. And we'll see if your eyes glaze over.

The innermost planet is named after a corollary of Tewes, or Hermes, or Mercury -- a sort of messenger god in one of their predecessor civilizations.

The second, as I mentioned elsewhere, is named after a goddess of beauty and love, corollary to Venus, or maybe Frigg.

They live on their third planet, as do we. It is just a little larger than ours and, relative to their sun, in roughly the same sort of habitable zone, with similar water-carbon biology. In their time, the world they live on is a blue planet, with high water content and more surface sea than continent, again, similar to ours. And they call it a cognate of "earth", which should be of no surprise.

Big, wet clod of dirt.

Like our fifth planet, the fourth planet in their system never properly formed. The debris from the failed planet was the source of both of their moons. But there are, in the mix of asteroids, two minor planets roughly the size of their larger moon, orbiting each other. Fortunately, those two minor planets are in a stable mutual orbit around their sun that doesn't come too close to their earth, nor to their fifth full planet.

These two minor planets have fairly low albedo, and are not always visible to the naked eye on their planet. So they are sometimes called ghost twins. The common names of these two planets might be considered corollary to Freyr and Freyja.

Their fifth planet is a water ice planet about twice the size of ours. I don't have whether it has a rocky core or not in my notes, but I assume it does. It has seas of methane and continents of water ice. At some future time, well before their sun begins to burn helium, that planet is destined to become habitable by life such as our own. But it now serves to harbor a different sort of life. It shines blue in their skies and is named after a god of the sea from their mythology, more similar to Ægir than to Neptune, if my notes are correct.

Their sixth planet is a gas giant with rings, similar to our Saturn. The rings are quite large, in breadth, thickness, and diameter, and are sometimes visible to the naked eye from their earth, depending on the relative angles of rotation and such. The coloring of the sixth planet in their skies varies from red to brown to violet, depending on the weather there more than on the weather of their earth. It is named after an agricultural god, but there is greater parallel to Gefjon than to Saturn.

And of course they don't see their earth in their sky, so there you have their five planets visible to the naked eye for them.

There are two more minor planets and two more full planets that they have discovered with the aid of telescopes at the time of this story, but those never entered into their historical calendars. And talking about history that is lost to them will only confuse things more. (A previous civilization whose records are lost to them now had not only telescopes but space travel.)

Both of their moons have two common names. For many purposes they are called, simply, Fastmoon and Slowmoon. But the near moon is also called after a cat god, and the far after an elephant god.

So, the days of their week: Sunday, Slowmoonday, Ægisday, Gefnday, Freyday, Tewesday or Tewsday, and Vensday. At least, that's the most popular assignment in their language at the time of our story. And I don't need to remind you that the real pronunciation is quite different.

So, you'll forgive me if I just use the names of the days of the week you are familiar with? And you'll let me skip the discussion of the names of the months and just use the months we are familiar with, as well?

Thank you. It's easier this way, I assure you.

Oh, while I'm talking about numbers, they have five fingers on each hand. This probably has something to do with most of their cultures standardizing on decimal math just like in our world. They have had other bases in common use. The tally, base two, base five, base seven, base thirty-five, and base forty-nine were each historically popular for a time in certain cultures, but that's going too far afield.

Uggh. Ninety-eight year centuries. But that was a different period, in a different culture, not the one of the present story. Sort of.

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[Backup and edit history here:]

[Chapter 3 part 7 is original to the second draft, and is not found in the first draft. Chronologically, it would come in chapter five of the first draft:]

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