Aphelion Issue 224, Volume 21
December 2017 / January 2018
 
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P&E Top Ten Hello and welcome to the December and January Holiday issue of Aphelion.

Soon, the Predictors and Editors website will start their annual readers poll. As you can see by the image on the right side of this page, Aphelion has been lucky enough to get into the top ten e-zines category last year. So start gearing up for nominating and voting your favorite stories and publications. It would be nice to get up into the top five category--hint hint.

Autumn is ending here in the Northern hemisphere, and Winter is less than 20 days away. The leaves are cascading off the trees after giving us a brief glimpse of their multicolored glories. Walking in the yard is a noisy, crunch-crunch of dried leaves shattering beneath our feet. Geese glide overhead as they perform their aireal migrations, honking to one another with the "are we THERE YET?" frequency of children on a road trip. We've had the first frost of the season a few weeks ago. Deer are in rut, hunters hide themselves away in their stands and blinds looking for that perfect moment to prove that luck and skill can still be counted upon to stock their freezers for next Summer's cookouts. Farmers are harvesting their Fall crops and prepairing their fields for Winter's wheat and other grain to grow in their favored season. People of many faiths prepare for a myriad of Holidays they celebrate, families plan their seasonal gatherings, and the television programming is packed with hundreds of versions of classic tales of the season.

Elsewhere, there are those who do none of these things. Some by choice, some because of circumstances beyond their control. Let us not forget those who are less fortunate than we. Nor those whose beliefs differ from our own. Respect is due them--not just now, but in all seasons of the year. In this Holiday Season, charity is most pronounced in its efforts toward they who need it year-round. This is both good and bad because a holiday should never be the sole motivator towards charitable acts. Nor should respect for differing beliefs be a seasonal affair. But this time of reflection and fellowship and celebration drives a greater impulse toward charitable acts. And each year, people ask where this charity vanishes to in other times of the year. And each year, it does indeed fade away like mist in morning sunlight, as the holidays pass and things return to the concerns of the everyday affairs of living.

I have a friend who has made it a habit to help those in need, but he doesn't wait for a holiday to arrive. For several years now he has made time to help the needy, to feed them, to help whomever he can. He is not a wealthy man, yet he is able to spare a bit of time and effort and income to make some kind of difference. He does this all year long. He never asks for thanks. He couldn't care less about recognition or praise. He never expects to change the world. He doesn't care if anyone else knows what he does. He only wants to do something to help people in need. He helps to the limit of his ability. And he does this all year long--not just during a holiday season. What he does is prepare bagged lunches of foods that don't need a can opener or a place to cook them, or a fridge to store them. He'll go out to stores that sell canned goods in bulk, buys what he can afford to spare, makes up a dozen of these bagged lunches at a time, puts them in his car when he goes about his normal day-to-day affairs, and hands them out to anyone he sees that needs a helping hand that day. Some days he gives out one or two meals. Some days he wishes he'd had more to give out. He has it down to what is practically a science. Each meal costs him a dollar or so to put together: bottled water, vienna sausages, a pack of crackers, some kind of vegetables in a sealed plastic cup, for example. It depends on what he finds when shopping for these bagged meals. It varies. He also adds in one of those sealed packets of plastic flatware that come with a paper packet of salt and pepper and a napkin. He said once that the dignity of having a knife and fork and spoon and a napkin means more to the people he helps than the food itself. I think he's right.

Now, the point of the above is not to shame anyone into following my friend's example. My aim is to relate one man's charitable acts in order to demonstrate that need isn't seasonal. And that making a small difference in someone's life shouldn't require a holiday or a faith to drive the desire to do so. Changing the world one person at a time, one day at a time, is a noble act. If you have the means and the will and the desire, you too can change the world.

Oh, before someone comments about what faith my friend follows, he's never said and I've never asked. As far as I know, he's a viking. In any case, he certainly is a hero.

You don't have to change the whole world all at once
To make a change in your own little corner of it.
Sometimes, if you're willing to take a chance,
You can BE the difference you want to see happen.
If the world needs changing
Sometimes the best place to start
Is changing yourself
To be true to your heart.
If you feel the call,
Then answer it true.
The best you can do
Is for you to be you.

Dan


BOILERPLATE:

This is a little something I made early in the year. It's a little advert for Aphelion. I wrote the music and added a slideshow of past cover art. It's short, and showcases a lot of the changes we've made over the past two decades. Feel free to share it around.


Feel free to share this on Facebook, G+, blog posts, and other webpages. But only with the permission of the page or group owners! Be polite and considerate, always. You'll have to look up the embed code for the ad on You Tube, sorry about that, but the code won't display correctly here. But the Share Code for Facebook and G+ is:

https://youtu.be/23qfziyt9Jo

Mare Inebrium Collection

If you do the Facebook thing, feel free to join us on the Aphelion page there. The link is Aphelion Webzine. As an aside, the Editorial Mafia and I have found Facebook to be very useful. Given our different locations and schedules, it's come in handy as a way to discuss production details of new issues. Sometimes there are several of us using Facebook at the same time, so it's almost like the old chat room days back in the 1990s.

My first collection of Mare Inebrium spaceport bar short stories was published in February of 2015 by Dark Oak Press. It is available in both Kindle an Nook e-book formats, paperback, and hardback. I also have three albums of instrumental music out through the Create Space self-publishing website. If you like, you can click on the photo or the link below to find all the info you would need to purchase my book in your preferred format, or an e-book of Flash of Aphelion, buy a CD of my music, or listen to tracks off of the albums on my Bandcamp website. Enjoy!

Dan's Promo Page

Dan



December

ON THE COVER

Title: Massive Star Makes Waves

Photo Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech


JPL-Caltech