Category Archives: Life

Early North American Culture Clash

One of the great powers of the 16th Century northeastern woodlands were the nations of the Wendat Confederacy. They were a highly successful, highly organized confederation populating the Lake Huron region.

The Wendat were a maternal society, meaning that women played a meaningful role in the politics and economics of the tribe. All property was held down the maternal lineage and marriages had to be outside the maternal clan. Women were even in charge of selecting the tribal chiefs.

This strong maternal influence on the tribe caused more than a few riffs with the French Jesuit missionaries who were the first whites to establish contact with the Wendats in the 1600’s. There is a story told of complaints by the Jesuits to the men of a village about several outspoken women. The Jesuits convinced the men they were being led away from the path of salvation by these outspoken women. To force them to change their ways, the Jesuits threatened to bind the ankles of the women and tether them to a stake in the ground.

Needless to say, this philosophy did not go well and soon the Jesuits found a way to look past the maternal leadership and influence.

Culture clash…early North American style.


A Words Look: Hamlet, 4.5

I received a daily quote from my Shakespeare app which is usually the first thing I see on my phone in the morning and often the last things I see in the evening on my iPad. There are worse ways to start and finish a day than with The Bard.

“Lord, we know what we are, but know not what we may be. ”                                      -Ophelia, Hamlet, 4.5

Reading and contemplating on this quote by Ophelia from Hamlet, I wonder if this is the perfect description of who we are as a nation. The United States of America is struggling with itself right now in 2017. We are a nation that has entered into its adolescent years. We’ve survived infancy, Independence and setting up a tremendous framework, called the Constitution, and struggled through our terrible two’s during the American Civil War.

Now that we are firmly in the adolescent period, we are struggling internally as a middle school or early high school kid might do. We may think we know  100% more than 99% of everyone else, especially the adults/parents and we often fly off the handle emotionally and physically. With a lack of disregard for the opinions and viewpoints of others, we continue to sludge through the muck, making mistakes, and moving further to opposite ends of the spectrum.

Things may seem crazy now, but we will work through this. We will grow as a nation into the fine young adult stage and maybe figure out a thing or two about ourselves as a nation along the way. The opposing forces in the U.S. currently driving at breakneck speeds away from each other will eventually realize it’s time to turn around and address each other because nobody likes running full speed into a wall.

Have hope America! As we mature as a nation, we may actually find out “what we may be”.

Thanks, Bill Shakespeare! You would have been a great American.

A Words Look: “These Days” by Jackson Browne

These Days is one of my favorite Jackson Browne songs. As I have aged, it has also slowly crept up the ladder for a permanent top-tier spot in my heart and soul.

Middle-agedness seeps from every word and note of this song. Life at a crossroads; the point in life where one contemplates the past and begins to fear the future. It is just a beautiful song.

Surprisingly, one of the first songs a teenage Jackson Browne wrote. Remarkable.

Absolutely, positively, mother-loving remarkable.

“These Days”

Well I’ve been out walking
I don’t do that much talking these days
These days-
These days I seem to think a lot
About the things that I forgot to do
For you
And all the times I had the chance to

And I had a lover
It’s so hard to risk another these days
These days-
Now if I seem to be afraid
To live the life I have made in song
Well it’s just that I’ve been losing so long

I’ll keep on moving
Things are bound to be improving these days
These days-
These days I sit on corner stones
And count the time in quarter tones to ten, my friend
Don’t confront me with my failures
I had not forgotten them

A Words Look: Wordless Rhythm

Drum speak without words. The performance by a skilled drummer creates a mood and feeling out of raw rhythm. It paints a picture in the same way we, as authors, create a world using words. Imagination, talent, and fundamental skill combined to produce something beautiful.

I am a percussion fan despite the fact I have zero rhythm and zero musical talent. Planet Drum, Neil Peart, Buddy Rich, John Bonham…the list of my percussion inspirations goes on and on.

Sometimes I do play a pretty mean drum solo on the Wii Music drum kit. Well, I play a mean drum solo when nobody else is home and the TV is muted. But it is fun to dream, isn’t it?

Here is a very cool video from a early season K-State Wildcats women’s basketball game. The atmosphere Peter Rabbit, along with KSU mascot Willie the Wildcat, creates is magic. I can’t imagine how pumped the crowd would have been in a later season contest with a packed arena.  Enjoy!

#NerdyBookClub: From Nerdy Sea to Shining Nerdy Sea

A clean, well-lighted place.

A refuge in our chaotic and busy modern lives for all things reading and writing and kid lit and teaching and, most importantly, friendship.

That’s what the Nerdy Book Club is.

The NBC is the clean, well-lighted place in cyberspace where a scientist/writer/coach from the beautiful Flint Hills of Kansas can be accepted into the fold of writers, teachers, readers, researchers, illustrators from all over God’s creation.

Educations has always touted the 3-R’s. Nerdy Book Club are those and so much more.

  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Relationships
  • Research
  • Recommendations
  • Reveals
  • Raves
  • Reviews
  • Respect
  • Revelation
  • Revolution

(Challenge: Can you think of more Nerdy Book Club “R’s”? Add them in the comments if you can.)

And, how about this? They let me publish three NBC posts.  Me! An idiotic, stupid-funny, slightly smart-assed, 100% sport-ish, rather large human being can even post essays on the blog. And here’s the supporting evidence:

(Hopefully, there will be at least several more M. Hays blog post in the future as they continue to allow me to slip through the cracks.)

In my opinion, they invented the internet with things like the Nerdy Book Club in mind. Communities of like-minded individuals from every facet and walk of life pulled together by the force of the written word. The Nerdy Book Club is a community; it is a tour de force in the educational and literary world.

Soon, there will be nErDcampMI 2014. Unfortunately, I cannot be there. When you’re a husband/father/scientist/writer/coach, sometimes (often) life replaces the “want to” with the “need to”. Maybe someday.

nErDcampLOGO2014But, I will be there is spirit. I will follow on social media as much as possible and live/learn vicariously through the posts and tweets of the NBC brethren in attendance.

Fellow Nerdy Book Clubbers, have a great two days of celebration and learning. Swap knowledge, swap stories, and, if you have a chance, share freely with us friendlies across the World Wide Web.

And above all else, folks…

Be Nerdy!


We’re not supposed to like reading.
We’re not supposed to like writing.
We appear to be big, dumb jocks.
We look somewhat scary.
We act somewhat scary.
We get tagged as Neanderthals.
From our look,we are
supposed to like certain things,
do certain things,
and act a particular way.
Because of the way we look,
we are judged at first glance,
judged to a stereotype.

I would like to offer an invitation to everyone who has ever swam upstream against the current of stereotype. An invitation to celebrate a love of books and literature despite how we look or act, especially those of us “Neanderthals” who like to read children’s literature .

Me? I fall into the category of dumb-jock stereotype. I guess a big, football lineman-type, multiple sport-crazy athlete and coach, with a somewhat scary visage which often makes little kids cry, cannot also be an intellectually driven, reader and writer of literature. People seem to look at people like me and naturally think, “He’s a Neanderthal.”

  • Maybe its the truck driver looks? (Which, by the way, was the Hollywood descriptor of my extras casting photo when I was given a part as an extra in a movie back in my college days.)
  • Maybe it’s the occasional ranting and raving?
  • Maybe its the Kansas twang of my dialect or the silent “g” in “-ing”?
  • Maybe it’s the smile or the scowl which split time on my face?

Whatever the reason, I have been often stereotyped as the dumb-jock Neanderthal. In honor of fighting against the stereotype, I invite you to join me in a little Twitter fun.

Inspired by The Incredible Hulk, I am going to celebrate reading and literature every Wednesday by tweeting the book(s) I am currently reading under the hashtag, #MeReadBook.

If there is also an audio-book in the mix, that title will be tweeted under the hashtag, #MeHearBook.

Remember: Never judge a book by its cover.


#Nerdlution Round 2!

#Nerdlution Round 1 was awesome. So why not sign for #Nerdlution Round 2? Come on, people! Join the fun. Here’s why.

#Nerdlution is not magic, but it’s close. By merely stating a goal in public, in front of the awesome, friendly, supportive, members of Nerdy Book Club Nation, you make your goal REAL. And when something bouncing around inside your head becomes REAL, I, for one, call that magic.


My #Nerdlution 1 was to write 400 words every day for the 50 days. I did it every day except for a handful of days, missing maybe five or six times. The feeling of knowing if I didn’t sit down and plop down 400 words, I’d let down the NBC, drove me to stay true to the commitment. Lo and behold, at the end of Round One I find myself with a first draft of a new middle grade project.

Bonus feature of #Nerdlution 1: I learned something about myself.

I learned to pay attention to the words I write outside of the task of writing a work of fiction. I realize, after 25 years of working as a molecular microbiologist, I write quite a bit during the course of my work day. Experimental plans, project reports, presentations, correspondence with collaborators, and journal publications are all tasks requiring me to write in my job.

I learned that 400 words a day is very do-able. Most of the time, I’d write a bit and check the word count, which would be around 250. I’d sigh at how much further I needed to go for 400 words, dig back in, and get on a roll. When I would check word count again before scrambling off to work or back from break, some days there would be 700+ words put down to paper. Another thing I’d toss into the Magical category.

So what’s next? #Nerdlution Round 2.

50 more days of committing to self-improvement. I think I’ll stick with another 400 words/day and see if I can finish a draft of book two in the middle grade series. I also want to add something physical to the mix this time around, so, I’m adding PLANKS to my #Nerdlution 2.

For the next 50 days, I am going to:

  1. Write 400 words per day. WIP, blog posts, writerly blog posts, etc.

  2. Five minutes of total hold time of planks and plank variations (birddogs, superman, creatures, etc.)

Good luck to everyone with their #Nerdlution Round 2 challenges. Keep moving forward.

Read. Write. Repeat.