Details, Details

I’ve been trying to prepare for my studies at BYU-Idaho online, now that I’ve been admitted. I have transcript evaluations for four of the five schools I have attended, so I have an idea of what I need to take. Unfortunately, fewer than I would like of my credits transfer to courses that are both offered online and apply to majors I am interested in completing. I have worked about halfway through a new student checklist, but I don’t get to register for another month yet.


For the Knowledge base, I have made significant progress in working the histories of Egypt, Persia, and Turkey back into prehistory and antiquity. This gives me better access to Middle Eastern peoples.


I’ve been thinking of using history as inspiration for fiction writing, with real places populated by entirely fictional peoples, I’m dabbling at creating fictional tribes set in appropriate places, and starting from prehistoric times and working forward. Some of this
may branch into alternate history.
I find verisimilitude highly important in a story, so I’ve been trying my hand at creating maps to go along with them. Rather than drawing them freehand or with a graphics editor, I’ve been using Campaign Cartographer 3+ from ProFantasy. I’ve been wrestling trying to learn the tools and I’m making progress. One of my ideas has been to use images from Google Earth, and then trace and place various terrain features.
One of the recurring places is Africa, where humankind is thought to originate. I’ve tried several times to pick a location, but my choices have been more or less arbitrary. My latest attempt is around lake Caddabassa, on the Awash river in Ethiopia. There are several factors yet to consider, which I may discuss in a future post.


One of the techniques I have been thinking of for some time for world generation is to begin with a rid of semi-randomly determined elevations. A hex grid seems to work best. I pick an origin, and determine the elevation (or depth) of neighboring grids, and work outward from there. The next thing is to begin developing a drainage and contour map, starting from the highest points, and working toward lower ones. Once I have found the water flow, I can then place vegetation, then animals, then communities.

Once a gamer

I mentioned here that I was applying to BYU-Idaho for their on-line degree program.
I got an e-mail notice that I have been admitted, for Spring semester. I don’t get to register until March, but I made it in.


While I was in high school, I used to watch friends playing wargames during lunch hour and after school: “Alexander” was one, “Wooden Ships and Iron Men” and “Panzerblitz” was another. I didn’t own any of them family couldn’t afford it, and I wasn’t good enough friends with any of the players, but I enjoyed watching. Afterwards, the family had a few;
“Outdoor survival”, and “Squad leader”, and I had “Air Force”.
Later, when I was at BYU, one of my distractions was a group that went down to a table in the Wilkinson Center (BYU’s student Union” and played “Dungeons and Dragons”. Later, after AD&D came out, I tryed my hand at worldbuilding and studied the manuals, although I didn’t have anyone to play with. A few years after that, Traveller had come out.

So, I like the challenge of worldbuilding. I’ve been taking advantage of PDF reprints of those games, as well as GURPS, and I have been doing more worldbuilding again. There is a tie to the knowledge base, since I have been playing with constructing simulations of the societies I have been studying. I’ve been looking at fiction reprinted in “Dragon” magazine, and thought “I can do better than that”. Or so I imagine.

So, as I go about worldbuilding, I’m also going about constructing stories for my fictional characters. I may have to do some aggressive filing off of the serial numbers, but I think I can do this.


For the Knowledge base, I have Iran worked back into antiquity. This is allowing me to take the Middle East in general along with it, which will fill in some important gaps in early history.

Like an Egyptian

I got to the point of pulling back the history of Thailand through the 16th century, and decided I had enough for the time being, so I went back to early prehistory.
This time, I’ve managed to pull the history of Egypt the rest of the way through antiquity and late prehistory. This gives me a better hold on other prehistory and antiquity.

So far, so good.

So, Donald Trump is now officially the 45th President of the United States. So far, he’s not doing too badly. Some of his Cabinet nominees have already been approved by Congress, and he seems to be appointing sober, responsible people. Some of his opponents have been showing what public-spirited, high-minded statesmen they are (not) by sponsoring riots, breaking windows, and setting fire to limos in Washington DC, and promising more of the same for the next four years.


For late classical times, I have done some connecting of religion, government, and economics. I am developing some background for the early 19th century. I’ve taken the history of Turkey back into the time of the Roman Empire, and have begun to work Congo back through the 16th century. Although the late medieval and 16th century history of Congo is not particularly prominent, this is carrying Eastern Africa along with it, and Eastern Africa is important. I have biography connected back to the 1st century CE, and for the next little while, will be connecting social foundations to 20-year periods of early modern history.

Persians and Anatolians

I have been working on extending the background of the early 19th century through modern history; the history of Persia through the era of the Parthian empire back to the Seleucids and Alexander the Great’s conquest of the Achamaenid Persian empire; and the history of Turkey back through Byzantine times. I’ve also been extending biography to centuries of late classical, early medieval, and late medieval history.
In the process, I’ve been adding the notes I had previously made on early Egyptian Islamic history to the appropriate centuries of the early medieval period, and I like what I am seeing. This is how it is supposed to work. As each nation gets added in, I can begin to see the pattern of expansion, decline, and succession of peoples.

Mostly Germany

In my work on the SKB, I have a survey of the late 2nd millennium BC which now has a better outline of the religions of the period. I’ve been connecting the centuries of this period to other history. I now have a more complete skeleton for studies of the historiography of the period, and I am connecting the early mid 19th century.

I’ve worked Germany back to about the 12th century BC. This presents something of a problem, because evidence indicates that Germanic tribes were expanding their territory southward during pre-Roman times, and I have little information about the other peoples who may have inhabited the area. I presume these were Celtic peoples, but I don’t know. This will require more details of German archaeology. One of the problems with being a generalist is that there isn’t time to go into all the fascinating details. Next on the list is Iran, and in company with it, the Middle East in general. So far, I have this back to the time of the Parthian empire.

I’ve been connecting areas of anthropology to particular centuries, and in the current pass, I’ve connected demography as far back as the late 2nd millennium BC. Next on the list is connecting biography. I now have a few prominent biographical figures for each 20-year period of modern history listed, and I am working back into centuries of classical and medieval history.

It Goes as it Goes

I don’t have specific stated goals for the development of the SKB. What I do have is a program of development and a commitment to work on it pretty much daily. When people ask about it, which is rarely, I tell them it’s growing like a tree. Imperceptibly, unless you take it over time. I do have unstated mental goals and things I want to get done, but no specific timetable on when I expect to get there.

However, I’m starting to get to a point where I can report progress more regularly. I have the history of Ethiopia projected further into prehistory, which has been one of those unstated mental goals. I have also taken Egypt further back into antiquity, back to the Old Kingdom.

Going somewhere

I thought I had given up on higher education and decided not to pursue a degree. After all, I’ve attended five different colleges and only escaped with an associate’s degree. However, in the last couple of years a few mostly on-line programs have started up, and I’ve been tempted by a poster that talked about “finishing the degree you started at BYU”, aimed at former students of that school. Since that was my first, when I was fresh out of high school, I have thought about it from time to time, in spite of having been invited to continue my education elsewhere.

So, I followed through on one of the New Year’s Resolutions I don’t believe in, and inquired. It turns out that I didn’t earn enough credits while I was there to qualify, but was referred to BYU-Idaho, which has a similar on-line program with less restricive entrance requirements. I went ahead, filled out an application, and wrangled transcripts from all the schools I’ve been to. I’m almost done with the application process: Just one more step, and then wait for a decision.


I’ve made progress in working history back. Getting Vietnam into prehistory and Ethiopia deep into antiquity are useful, but not really revealing. Getting the history of Egypt back into the New Kingdom is a big step in development. I’ve taken Germany into pre-Roman times, and Iran into before the Islamic conquest. I’ve been waiting a long time to get this far, so I’m pretty pleased.

Better Light

There is a joke about a guy who was staring at a parking lot at night. A passerby saw him and asked what happened. “I’m looking for my car keys!” After a few minutes, the passerby said “I don’t see them, either. Are you sure this is where you dropped them”. “No”, came the reply “I think it was over there”.
The passerby asked “Why are you looking here, then?”. The driver said “Because the light is better here”.

I have sort of that same impression when I’m working on the knowledge base. Although I would like to focus more intensely on the Middle East for prehistory and antiquity, other areas have become better developed and more populous, and am using modern population size as a guide. Although I want to outline the process of discovery, I need to get the divisions of the 19th century connected back to antiquity and prehistory.

I checked with the BYU Independent Study office, and it seems that I didn’t earn enough on-campus credits my Freshman year to qualify for their program. However, I may be able to qualify for the BYU-Idaho program.
The admissions process is similar and there is a program that seems that it will meet my needs, so I’ve switched my efforts. Part of the process is updating my records; another part is collecting transcripts of the other work I’ve done. That should take me a few more days.

New Year

It’s time to start a New Year, with goals and resolutions. Actually, I don’t really believe in New Year’s Resolutions because I’ve managed to keep all of two of them. For me, the best thing is to continue with things I’m already working on.

Of course I mean to keep working on the Knowledge Base. That’s now an established daily habit, even though updates and progress reports aren’t. I have made good progress on examining early prehistory. In order to get to middle and late prehistory and antiquity, I need to work the history of Egypt back to anchor the Middle East. Other regions will toddle on behind for a while.
This year I hope to get more specific about religion.


Sometime this year, I hope to include a page with snippets of flash fiction; writing exercises. After several unsuccessful tries at NaNoWriMo, I don’t seem to have the ambition for a full novel yet. However, my studies of history have suggested a few ideas. I was thinking of writing straight historical fiction, but one of my prospective characters spoke up out of the obscurity of my back-brain and said “Like hell you are”. Alright then. He’s sitting back there glowering at me and waiting me to get enough research done to start telling his story.


I had been working on some computer programming exercises, but I dropped them in favor of work on the Knowledge Base. I hope to get back to them, but that depends.


I’ve come painfully close to getting a Bachelor’s degree, and tried about six different times at five different schools, without making it through the program. Financial obstacles and my own cussed insistence on pursuing my own self-education program instead of the school’s requirements have interfered. There is program offered at BYU to help students get their degree. I like the idea of finishing what I’ve started and I intend to look into this. Credentials do matter, sometimes.


I’ve announced my intention on Faceplant to move to Utah Valley this spring. I’ve lived there before, off and on, and I have important family ties tugging me in that direction.


Hi, Ho, Hi, Ho, it’s off the cliff I go…