From the stacks

Thanks, everyone, for all the well wishes and inquiries on my son’s health. His surgery went well. He’s home for a few days to recuperate, then back to his own house he goes. As for me…I can almost hear the gray hair growing amongst the red.

I mentioned the day before yesterday that I have that case of writer’s block again. Too much on my mind, I guess. I spent all afternoon sorting files yesterday. Good grief I’m a file slob — poorly named files, duplicates, unnamed projects and Publisher files, copies of the same image files. The list goes on. Oh the stuff I hang on to. My document folder is like the junk drawer catch-all in the kitchen — too many rubber bands and wine corks. Ugh. It’s like I have an information-based hording disorder! lol

Some of the things I’ve been holding on to are bits of writing for my two favorite events in April — the Authors in Bloom blog hop and the A to Z Challenge. I like these two because they have next to nothing to do with my romance novels.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m very fond of my novels as they are extensions of my psyche. I know I’ve shared before that I just don’t see myself as a romance novelist. Never did. I’m a romance reader. I only took this route because it was a fast way into the publishing business and I had things to learn for my larger writing project–my 5-book, 500k, as yet unnamed magnum opus (or MO for short). I’ve learned a lot. Now I need to finish all those romance novels in various stages of completion and move on! So many in queue…

While slogging through the pigsty that I call my document folder, I found my previous posts for Letter A in the A to Z Challenge. I thought I’d share them. The universe knows no fresh writing will get done until my son is back on his feet.  There’s nothing so all-consuming as parental fretting. Would that I could take his pain on myself so he didn’t have to.

Here’s A from past A to Z Challenges. I find both topics fascinating.

A for Antheketera Mechanism

When a group of Greek sponge divers found an ancient wreck off the Greek island of Antikythera in 1900, they came upon a lump of corroded bronze that astonished experts in the field of ancient studies. Under that corrosion lay an analog computer more than 2000 years old. Named for the island, the Antikythera Mechanism is the most sophisticated machine known from the ancient world.

Modern micro-focus three-dimensional x-ray imagery revealed a complex machine of small precise gears and fine inscriptions written on the parts. We now know the device was made to track astronomical phenomena, specifically the cycles of the Solar System.
🙂 Fascinating stuff! Here’s a very nice rundown on Youtube.  There are a lot more to be found on Youtube if you’d like to learn more about this cool ancient gadget.

See the facsimile

A for Automaton

Mention cuckoo clock and the first image coming to my mind is a wall clock — one with a small door through which a little bird pops out on the hour and says cuckoo.  Clockwork mechanisms like this are called automatons. Automaton means to act under one’s own will. Like music boxes, these fanciful and intricate machines are built with wheels and cogs and generally wind up with a key or with weights. Once wound, they will continue to move their gear and cog parts which animates their articulated components, until their inner springs fully unwind.

The ancient world knew such mechanical devices. Automatons have a long history and even older mythology. In Judaism the Golem was an automaton made of stone and mud. In Ancient Greece, smithy to the gods Hephaestus built Talos — a mechanical man of bronze who patrolled the island of Crete. And who hasn’t heard of the wooden boy Pinocchio and The Wizard of Oz’ tin man?

Throughout history, inventors have used imagination and clockmaker’s precision to devise all manner of animated creations. In my research I’ve come across many different kinds and from simple to complex. Some are adorable and others are nightmares in the making.

I came across this interesting reference taken from Joseph Needham’s Science and Civilization in China. Sometime during the Zhou Dynasty (around 1000BCE), Yan Shi, a mechanical engineer or artificer presented King Mu with a life-size human automaton. 

“The king stared at the figure in astonishment. It walked with rapid strides, moving its head up and down, so that anyone would have taken it for a live human being. The artificer touched its chin, and it began singing, perfectly in tune. He touched its hand, and it began posturing, keeping perfect time… As the performance was drawing to an end, the robot winked its eye and made advances to the ladies in attendance, whereupon the king became incensed and would have had Yan Shi executed on the spot had not the latter, in mortal fear, instantly taken the robot to pieces to let him see what it really was. And, indeed, it turned out to be only a construction of leather, wood, adhesive and lacquer, variously coloured white, black, red and blue. Examining it closely, the king found all the internal organs complete—liver, gall, heart, lungs, spleen, kidneys, stomach and intestines; and over these again, muscles, bones and limbs with their joints, skin, teeth and hair, all of them artificial… The king tried the effect of taking away the heart, and found that the mouth could no longer speak; he took away the liver and the eyes could no longer see; he took away the kidneys and the legs lost their power of locomotion. The king was delighted.”

I can see this unfolding in my mind’s eye. That tale makes my imagination soar.  🙂

Fun and more than a little creepy, no?


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About ~RoseAnderson

Rose Anderson is an award-winning author and dilettante who loves great conversation and delights in discovering interesting things to weave into stories. Rose also writes under the pen name Madeline Archer.
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1 Response to From the stacks

  1. treknray says:

    Thanks for the Antheketera Mechanism link. There were two very interesting videos about the object. Then there were videos about tribes in the Amazon that were very interesting. The first was about a naked tribe that no one knew if it was real or imagined. The next was about different ethnic tribes. I had to quit in the middle of that one to change the baby and give the other three walnuts. They all love nuts, especially pecans and walnuts.

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