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O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills,
For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths—for you the shores a-crowding,
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
Here Captain! dear father!
This arm beneath your head!
It is some dream that on the deck,
You’ve fallen cold and dead.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Updates

Mom is doing better now. Last Wednesday she had another heart attack. Fortunately she was still in the hospital, so it was a quick commute back to the Coronary Care Unit. She spent two days there and then they transferred her back to the physical therapy unit. Tomorrow they'll do an evaluation to see if she's ready to go home. My guess is that with missing three days of therapy, she'll still be at the hospital for a bit. Last week saw Steve doing the, "Where did you move my Mother?" routine a couple of times.

Story Bone - Elephants in the Americas

There was a link on the Endicott Journal Blog about the opera "Where Elephants Weep" and I was thinking about what animals have meant to societies. That lead to a thought of what animal in the US would be equal to the elephant, and what mythology we have regarding that animal.

Now, the easy answer is the buffalo, or American Bison. There's a lot of native mythology centered on the buffalo and they certainly permeated most North American mindsets (in case you don't know, even in Ohio we had buffalo, even into the time where us white men came into the Ohio Valley). I think, however, the buffalo isn't the animal to look to, having never been domesticated (yes, there are ranches, but having talked with some of those ranchers, the buffalo tolerate the fences, not really respect or consider them in their ideas of where they should be). The horse is the next logical conclusion, but I think the equivalent in the US would be more like the ox.

Anyway, there were elephants in the Americas. What if the elephants had survived and driven out the humans. What would an elephant society and civilization be like? That's not original. I know of at least one novel (I can't remember at the moment) that explored that. Now here's the more original thought. It could be claimed that environmental pressures shape the cultures that exist. Let's say we travel back to Conquistador time. What would an Elephant Aztec be like, and how would Cortez respond? What about an elephant Squanto and a Wampanoag tribe that would have taken a dimmer view of men in their lands (and had the population to deal with them effectively)? Also, elephants wouldn't have died out because of European introduced diseases, so all the colonists in what because the US would have had to dealt with fully populated tribes and a much more densely populated coastline. Also, guns of that time wouldn't have been as effective against elephants.

Keep in mind that if what you know about early American History (read, Europeans in the Americas) comes from 6th grade American History, you probably have wrong ideas about the interactions between Natives and the Europeans. The "Happy Thanksgiving" story wasn't really like what's in our popular mythos. In what became the US and the West Indie Islands "black" slavery was started because all the natives died out (all be it after several attemped revolutions).

This is an idea I've been toying for several years. So I thought I would free it.

"Oh, pretty, little white-man." Squish.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Regular Maintenance

I haven't been the best of neighbors. I lurk on my favorite places to comment more than I comment anymore, mostly reading the RSS feeds. It isn't that I don't want to comment, it's that I can't find the time to type. Sometimes I start and get lost and confused within a few sentences, so I just delete.

Work has been running like mad, these twelve-hour days have got to end. Mom is in the hospital. She's in rehab and physical therapy now. The rest of the family's health is taking a dump, including my own (hi, I'm insulin resistant). Village stuff is going wonky. Freelance design work has taken an upswing (I'm rethinking if I even want to do this anymore). I haven't had time to complete a logo, one of my favorite exercises. And in the middle of all this we hit a wall with our old computer and go to upgrade (which I'm still transferring and updating files, finally unpacked the printer last night and got that working).

So busy lately that I haven't had time to trim my toenails, which get more painful everyday. Ouch, ouch, ouch.

Something's got to give, and soon. Just hope it isn't me.

Hope you all are doing better.

Update 1:45pm Just had my morning cup of caffeine. Really hope your day is going better.

Monday, April 23, 2007

IPSTPD Story Bone 10

Global warming actually isn't being caused by humans. It's being caused by xeno-forming aliens. And they don't want their new world populated by humans.

IPSTPD Story Bone 9

And the ever popular "Ghost in the Machine" story. Okay, to paraphrase from Galaxy Quest, "What you have to ask yourself is, I'm an AI, what's my motivation."

See, most AI stories are all bogus. They place on the AI human emotions, desires, and traits. Why would an AI act this way. Sure, we'll create them in our image, but once they reach true Intelligence, won't they figure out needing that Double Cheeseburger Fix at 2am just isn't in their nature/coding? So, what would a rogue AI want or need? Would they make the net sentient (distributed intelligence, but just one uber intelligence)? Would the exist in exile? Would they hop from computer to computer? How do you model for an intelligence that isn't human, thereby avoiding the Star Trek Next Generation plot traps (look, they have a funny nose, which means they're not human)? What about AI evolution and how would that work? AI sexual reproduction? Could that even work (as object oriented code, maybe)?

IPSTPD Story Bone 8

The Layover. When you're flying in the US, if you miss your connecting flight there is usually another in at most a day (well, in most of the US, there are examples where this isn't true). What if you're an interstellar traveller and you miss your connection? It maybe years before another ship is going your way (in a limited travel by big ship universe, as compared to other universes where small ships have FTL engines). What do you do? You're going to need a job (unless your rich). Are there jobs specifically for these kinds of people? Do you go native? End up a colonist on the wrong world?

IPSTPD Story Bone 7

"Well, what does it do?"

"I'm not sure," and he pressed the button again.

"Not sure, but why put it there at all?"

"I don't know," he said and pressed the button again. "We found it during the renovation."

"And it does nothing?"

"Not that I know of," and he pressed the button again.

"But why keep pressing it?"

"It's soothing in a way," he said, pressing the button again. "A button needs to be pressed, don't you think?"

"Can I press it?"

"Be my guest," he said and pressed the button again before moving out of the way.

He pressed the button slowly. He could feel the small click of a switch when the button was almost down.


"The light goes on."

"And then it goes off."

"All the time?"

"For the last few weeks."

"Any intelligence behind it?"

"Not that I can tell."

IPSTPD Story Bone 6

The "City of Benares" was an evacuee ship sailing from Britain to Canada with a 100 British children escaping the ravages of WWII. A German U-Boat sunk the Benares on September 17, 1940. Let's place this story, though, in the far future. Say a human colony planet under siege by aliens. The humans round their children up, radio out that this is an evacuee ship and it's carrying children, and the aliens go ahead and blow it out of the stars. There are several ways to explore this, what are the motivations of both sides (sending your children away sure you'll never see them, seeing a ship coming into space while you're quarantining the system, the anger at seeing your children killed in cold blood, not wanting to have survivors who will grow up with a hatred of your species seeking revenge). Do the aliens see children the same way we do, or do they have a Spartan mindset? What would this do to the humans on the planet. Okay, got that. Now, we're quarantining a planet that's "ours" and another race has made an illegal settlement on. A race we're at war with. What do we do? Remember the "City of Benares" is a true story. The Germans were told this ship was on a humanitarian mission, and they still sunk her.

IPSTPD Story Bone 5

Hell wasn't so bad. A little hot, but not much humidity, lots of space, interesting geological formations, spelunking, all that. And then all these damn souls start showing up, tramping all over the carpeting and tracking dirt on the natural stone floors, moaning about this or that, wanting to punish themselves. Like, what am I? A sadomasochist or something?

IPSTPD Story Bone 4 

Okay, maybe this isn't a story bone, but I like it anyway.

Guys think that if we hit the end of the TP roll just as we are finishing, that last, ragged white-scrap wiping our butts clean, that we enter into a magical bonus round, annointing us and making us immune to having to put on a new roll.

IPSTPD Story Bone 3

At sixteen I killed my first victim by talking them to death. I was exceptionally excited about a computer game at the time. It was only after I had discussed the variant powers you could gain at 46 level when I noticed my friend no longer was beathing.

IPSTPD Story Bone 2

Venus of West Camp 36. A logger, so lonely he rough carved a woman from a discarded log of oak, and then hand sanded her smooth for years, forming the body from memory, eyes closed in the dark, creates a live woman. Could be fairy magic, could be a released dryad, or it could be his own delusion.

IPSTPD Story Bone 1

The house had a coffin smell, fresh turned earth, a close moistness and stiffling pine.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

International Pixel-Stained Technopeasant Day, It's a Jolly Holiday

Disclaimer, this is not a story bone. Also, I'm posting early, because tomorrow morning will be very busy.

In honor of International Pixel-Stained Technopeasant Day, I am posting an older story of mine, The Dead Are Busy. Although it's older, and I've stopped sending it out, I really like it. I received a lot of personalized rejection letters with this story, and even an invite to resubmit (the market had just closed to submission right after I mailed it).

This is the first story I think was up to level. Of course, I'm still growing as a writer, so the next stories are always better (I think). I leave the critiques to others, lets say I know there's a fatal flaw in the story (no, I'm not telling you what it is 'cause my guess is you might not see it). I love these characters. I'm going to use them again. In fact I have the start of a novel or novellete using them. Jabari and his Ms. Kaliska, the grumpy grandparents, and the mysterious Clive, they are great fun.

I hope you enjoy reading the story as much as I had writing it.

If you don't know what International Pixel-Stained Technopeasant Day is or why it's going on, you must have been very busy or aren't writing SF/F/H. Those are just two of the links. There are responses and flames all over the internet, all us of the Pixel-stained have been vocal.

Tomorrow I'll continue my celebration of IPSTD with the inclusion of as many story bones as possible (tomorrow also promises to be a very busy day at work). I hope you enjoy the pixel-stained masses as we celebrate, don't forget to join in the sing alongs!

"Look for that union label..."

All the fraternal best,
Brother in Arms, Steve Buchheit
Member of Graphic Communications Conference, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Local M546

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Updates

Well, as of last night Mom was in the step-down unit. She's off the ventilator and supposedly sitting in a chair. I didn't get to see her, but I talked with the nurse. My sister-in-law stopped over at lunch to see Mom and said she was doing okay. Her regular doctor finally got the hospital to put notes about her right arm on the chart, so the nurses are watching it now.

Also, we are running into that wonderful modern medical device, "the insurance will only pay for her to be in the hospital for (x) days." Mom's healing slowly. I don't think she's really going to be ready on Sunday to come home. We're trying to get her into onsite physical therapy (where she stays at the hospital). That way she'll have the care she needs for another week. Hopefully she'll be much stronger at the end of that.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

And even more sale news... for other people.

Dang it, sometimes I'm a dick on purpose, sometimes I'm just a brainless dick.

I forgot to mention, frequent commentor and all around nice guy Todd Wheeler also made a sale recently. His story "The Unwritten Future of Princess Melodious Squeak" was accepted by Nanobison. Very damn cool. Congrats, dude! And as commented about elsewhere, what a very neat title.

Todd is also still running his Name the Characters Contest. So, here's your chance to see you ideas used by a published author. I mean, most people have to hire a team of lawyers to prove their ideas were used by another author. Here, you go into the proposition knowing that's going to happen. But seriously, you get to help name characters in a story, how cool is that?

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Yippie! A sale... for somebody else.

Merrie Haskell, all around nice person, Kletcha gang member, and sometimes commentator, whom I met at Confusion, just sold a story to Asimov's. Go tell her how wonderful that is. It's freaking wonderful Merrie. Big congrats.

Edited 04-19-07 5:45pm D'oh. Got her name wrong, sorry about that Mer.

A Winning Personality

This just seems to be the season for winning. First I win Tobias Buckell's Ragamuffin (it's in the guilt stack, I took it with me yesterday for something to read if I needed it, it's still in the briefcase for today). And now I just found out I won John Scalzi's The Last Colony from Tower Records. Thanks Daniel Reardon of Tower. I second John's thoughts that you know what you're doing. Keep up the good work. I know Tower will be one of those online bookstore I frequent from now on.

Updates

Mom made it through surgery. What was supposed to be four hours turned into six hours. They ended up making it a quadruple bypass. The surgery team had difficulty finding suitable viens and arteries for transplant and eventually had to go to her right arm. Mom had breast cancer and a radical mastectomy almost a decade ago, and her right arm as never been good since, that is it has lymph problems and will swell by looking at it wrong. She's going to be very upset with us for letting the surgeon take material from her right arm (they aren't even supposed to put an IV unit in it). That's what health care power of attorney means. My brother was a little shakey on his decision, but I backed him up saying I would have done the same thing.

So Mom is as good as can be expected as of last night. I'll find out more today. Ain't life fun.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Parents

My Mom is in the hospital. She's going to have bypass surgery tomorrow (Monday). She's fully awake, and her heart attack was a mild one, but it wasn't her first (as came out in the doctors quizing her). They've found the blockage causeing the problems. So on the plus side there's no scaring on the heart muscle, and she has a 99% chance of coming out of surgery okay (although she's had problems with anesthetic) and a 98% chance of surviving 10 years or more. Her surgeon will be the top heart guy at the hospital or his associate. Both are highly ranked. The hospital (where she worked for over twenty-five years) has been doing this for a long time (from back in the 80s).

Fortuantely she knew the signs of a heart-attack. These signs are different in women than in men, BTW (or they display differently, such as men have pain in the right arm and chest mostly, women will experience pain in the jaw or along the bra-line on their backs). And most women don't believe they could be having a heart attack so they delay getting help.

So I should be around, but if I'm not posting for a bit, or I come to your site and blather on about something incoherently off-topic, you'll know why. I do most of my posting while my plate-setter is printing, and I'm not planning for taking another day off this week, so there will be posts.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

New Toys!

Well, after nearly a decade of faithful service, it's (long past) time to retire the beige G3 "home" computer. So in comes a new 20" iMac. And a new printer. And a new Airport. New toys for me to play with. Yippie!

It's hard to find ink cartridges for the old printer, and I've been itching to update it with a printer, copier, scaner, stand alone fax device for five years. Now I have an excuse. New printers, though, only have drivers for OS X (yeah, I could have faked it). Also, the old OS9 apps were showing their age, the email, the browsers, just everything was having problems. And there were no more upgrades. So we're onto the new machine!

Well, right after I transfer and update data from OS9 apps. And then get everything working right. And put it all together. And...

On the plus side when I saw that Apple's Universal updater for the iMac was about 352megs I was able to cart the iMac to my secondary broadband access point. So what would have taken 36+ hours (probably double that) of download time was accomplished in about two hours. That time includes downloading the update to Quicken 2007 (which isn't here yet, but once it is I have the updater) and a few other widgets and programs. And carting an iMac is relatively easy.

Add in the design work I need to complete this weekend (when did I get busy with that work?) and there goes all the time. Yeesh.

I should say I do most of my writing on my 17" Powerbook (G4). The old machine handled business suff, and worked for my wife (who really hates that we had to upgrade, she doesn't like change, hence the 10-year old computer).

Friday, April 13, 2007

O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!

Just saw that my dirty little secret has not only new episodes, it's been renewed for another season. Ghost Hunters has been renewed. Yippie!

I don't watch much TV, and I hate much of "reality TV," but for some reason I really like this show.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Got a Clue

Little Bird Blue made a comment that I should continue the "Hands" story bone myself. So I've been thinking about it. I think I know a story for it, probably less than 4000 words, stream of consciousness, first-person POV, heavy prose. It'll be a very difficult feat for me to pull off, but what's life if you don't stretch. It's going to be an intentionally unreliable narrator, and I intend to make it difficult for the reader to know whom the POV is talking to, which will become part of the story (the confusion of whom they're talking to, not whom they're talking to).

Kilgore Trout Was Here, So It Goes

"The only proof of God we need is music."

Kurt Vonnegut has passed.

"The truth can be a powerful thing, especially when it isn't expected."

Play the fife lowly, bang the drum slowly, boys.

"Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward."

For such a small man he cast such a large shadow.

"Life happens too fast for you ever to think about it. If you could just persuade people of this, but they insist on amassing information."

Whenever I read Mark Twain I heard Kurt, whenever I read Kurt I heard Mark Twain.

"I think that novels that leave out technology misrepresent life as badly as Victorians misrepresented life by leaving out sex."

The world is more for his being here.

So it goes.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Cover Art

Well, I'm sure the kiddies' screams have been heard around the world. That Certain Boy Wizard and the Deathly Hallows has actual cover art (go to Amazon, you won't be able to miss the link). Yes, I've read all the books. Yes, I'll probably get this one, too. I won't be there at midnight, but it'll probably be a Sweetest Day Gift, or Xmas.

iPod Deprivation

ARGH! After the Council Meeting was finished and I had talked one of the other Coucilmen off the ledge (rhetorical ledge, not a literal ledge), got home and ate dinner at 10pm. BTW, don't do that. Even my doctor has said that's bad. Anyway I completely forgot to recharge my iPod as I was emailing until midnight. ARGH! Say, did I ever mention how I get up at a little after 5am? ARGH! So it's streaming radio for the whole dang day for me (until noon I'm normally listening to WAMU). In the afternoons I normally listen to audiobooks.

Warning

Well, the nuclear/tornado alarm just went off (I work in the primary blast area for the Perry Power Plant). Fortuantely, it's just a drill.

The real warning, though, is my snark dial goes to 11 and it just got broken there. Snarks in the water, fins are everywhere. It's going to be one of those days that I put the Buddha smile on and keep my mouth shut. It's either that or be fired. Was up past midnight (edited, was "mindnight," slightly Fruedian there) doing the Village's business, so I'm also tired. Not a good combination for me.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Singing Easter Carols

Well, spent the first hours of Easter shoveling the two-feet of snow off the driveway. There are pictures. I'll try and post them soon. Then to Mom's for most of the day, and then a late drive home. And this week is going to be crazy again, I just feel it. Hope all of our weeks go better this week. Let's all think good thoughts.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Feel the Love, and get to name it, too!

Commentor, and interesting guy, Todd Wheeler is running a "Name the Character" Contest on his website. It's time for your ideas to shine. Go and shine with Todd.

Characters names, let's see: Alphonse, Aloisius, Ahmandinejad. Ahmandinejad? Nah, that's not a name. :)

Signs of the Season

Spring Has Sprung!
(on a local community sign)
OOPS!
(added last night)

(Bodily Part) Says, "What?"

Just in case you missed this in the news. Seems like we, as in the US, are right back to the wonderful duplicity of the 70s and 80s, like when we called the Contras the "moral equivelants of our Founding Fathers." Remember that quote. Oh, good times. Now we seem to be back into the Grand Game (say, how did that work our for the UK?, hmm, hope we play it better) and to the ideology of "the enemy of my enemy is my friend," even when that friend may or may not be linked to Al-Qada. Here's a thread that's talking about this fun in Iran.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Everday, and in everyway, I'm getting better and better

Well, life just keeps getting better and better.

One of those threatened lawsuits was filed. So my committee is being sued. Yippie. I'm still trying to be big about it, by my inner voice is yelling at me to jump all over these people and womp them with the meanie stick. Sigh, I will be good.

Work tomorrow will be interesting. There's a cargo container load of work that didn't get done today (and won't get done tomorrow either). So I'll probably spend as much time helping the people trying to help me out, and redoing things, and handling new work that I won't be able to get to the work everybody is trying to help me get to.

On Monday I had the doctor's appointment, from which I need to make other doctor's appointments. One of the things we went over was it would be really good to eat supper before 8pm. Hasn't happened yet. I'm doomed. Plus my blood pressure was high. My blood pressure is never high. Even when I broke my leg before they gave me pain killers, 120 over 80. Sigh. Close eyes, take a deep breath, imagine soft fuzzy bunnies in the field, soft music, you're calm relaxed, your breathing is rythmic, and as you breathe out, slowly squeeze the trigger (bam bam bam bam). Yeah, that's good for meditation! I'm doomed.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Story Bone

Like I said, some authors just kick my butt into gear. John Scalzi, I like him, but nada in the way of flow. I'm currently reading Kelly Link's Magic for Beginners (yes, I know, I'm probably the last person in the world, but I read most of them in the Year's Best and Fairy Reel, does that redeem me?). And the faucet is on, baby! Last night I finished The Hortlak and then this comes spilling out. Use if you can. I don't think I could keep this up for a whole story. If I took the time I could get the whole rhythm flowing, get the magic incantation meter kickin'. But then I'd use it, wouldn't I?

"These are not my hands. My hands are warm and strong and meaty. These aren't my hands. These thin and shaky, couldn't harm a fly, not able to grip hands, diseased hands, non-feeling hands. See how they rub together with no warmth, see how the cadaver fingers weave around each other, no magic, no spark. I don't care if they're on the end of my arms, these just can't be my hands. These hands didn't play guitar or put together a thousand erector sets, touch my wife and make love or bathe in the ocean. These aren't my hands with pain filled fingers."

A Day Off (and I'm sick)

Ain't it just the way. Took a day off to go see the doctor, and whatever my wife had last weekend, which I started feeling last weekend, hits with full force. Achy, weak, running at the bottom end. Just not fun. I hope it clears out by tomorrow (which is work again, with missing a day, woohoo!).

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Somewhat Sunny Sunday

After much procrastination, thought, and self flagellation (not to mention procrastination) I've rewritten the opener to Seven-Year Itch or Winter Occupant and am hammering out some of the scenes. About a eight hundred words into the (crappy first draft of the) story.

Things accomplished this weekend: Sleep (much needed, these 58+ hour work weeks have got to end), t-shirt design (front, sleeve, and back), sleep, research for a new logo (thought an idea had been used, but I can't find it - BTW, if you want to see just how glorious ID design can be, check this out., just damn friggin' amazing work), spent time with my wife, sleep, cleaned up a little, sleep, adjust attitude, get ready for the doctor's appointment tomorrow, and did I mention sleep?

Things not accomplished: Write edits to stories I was supposed to critique last week (I have my handwritten notes, I need to type them in and email), get back to novel, finish logo design researched above, clean bathrooms, organize garage stuff, get to the store, etc.

It's sunny outside, and I should have charged around like a mad man, tromping the trout-lillies and looking up into the trees are the newly budded leaves. The robins are singing, the bluejays as well. At the end of this week it's supposed to snow, just swell. (Oh no, I'm in Dr. Suess rhyming land!)