There's battle lines being drawn.
Nobody's right if everybody's wrong.
Young people speaking their minds
getting so much resistance from behind

Friday, May 30, 2008

Occidental Incremental Poetry

Because I just can't leave well enough alone:

See the story ooze forced meaning and portent
Smell the sweat of youthful naivety
Acrimonious narcissistic nihilism
All too earnest need to fondle
Their unscarred smooth backs
Fearing rejection whiplash

I am the gingerbread-house editor
With windows of clear sugar
And a witch-proofed oven
To keep young mice from tossing me in
Listening to the nibble, nibble, gnaw
Of keyboard keys and laser printers

Who (corrected from whom) is that I hear
Nibble, nibble, gnawing on my roof
On my house
Draw closer my dear
It has been to long since I've torn
Doughy flesh from cracker bone

McCain is on the Twisted Talkin' Express

So, pulling out of Iraq is just off the board for Johny Boy because "My friends, I will never surrender in Iraq."

Uhm, pulling out equals surrender? Okay, let us say it does. Just to get into this wacky world. Just who would we be surrendering to? The legitimately and duly elected government of Iraq which we helped install and support? That's who would be in charge, wouldn't they? Wasn't the "Surge" successful? You said it was. Didn't we win?

John, and those pundits who also repeat this line, you're all off your meds. Time to see the docs.

Also, now we hear that AQI (al Qaeda in Iraq) is very close to defeat. Hurrah! The somewhat limited, barely connected to al Qaeda main, home grown terrorists wack jobs who didn't exist before we invaded, who though it was proper to put diapers on goats, we've got them on the ropes now. Let's celebrate!

You know what. I'm tired as shit of "improvements" and "nearly there" and "very close." Fuck it. Five years and counting, the last super power (as Russia stands up and say, "Not so fast there"), $150+ Billions in direct cost (close to $13 trillion in direct a indirect costs), and we're involved in a logarithmic progression to victory? Sorry, time to cut loses and leave. Focus on Afghanistan and Pakistan and KILL AL AQAEDA. Cut off the head, kill the snake.

John, I liked you in 2000. You've lost your "straight talk" persona and have gone all party wonk. Remember when they called you RINO? Why did you cave in just to get a stinkin' nomination.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Accidental Incidental Poetry

As I told Camille, in some comment thread, there is poetry. Oh yes, there is always poetry.

All around hoopy frood Mer Haskell let loose with some writing podcasts today (and then talks about how she has another story published, down at the bottom of the entry, oh, to be so easy about it - you should go tell her how wonderful it is). While subscribing to the podcast she lists, iTunes offers other suggestions which look okay. So one is a general "literary" writing post where the last episode (which downloaded automatically) had people who won in a contest reading their stories. And that's when the poetry leaks out of my ears.

See the story drip with forced meaning and portent
Revel in the narcissistic nihilism
The all too earnest need to be liked and fondled
Sweat of youthful naivety
Runs down their unscarred back and minds
Fearing the whip of rejection will lash soon

I am the critic in the gingerbread house
With windows of clear sugar
Listening to the nibble, nibble, gnaw
Of keyboard keys and laser printers
My oven has been witch-proofed
To keep young mice from tossing me in

Who (corrected to whom) is that I hear
Nibble, nibble, gnawing on my roof
Come closer my dear
It has been so long since I've torn
Doughy flesh from cracker bones.

So there it is, draft zero of the poem. And how I felt at the end of the podcast. I will download at least another episode and see if I have the same reaction. I'll repeat, this was a different podcast from the ones that Mer recommends. The ones she does link to, I've listened to two episodes and they're very good.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Cheer Up Sleepy Jean

I have one other joke in the book about dreams (well, the joke is the dream, actually, and a second reference to The Wizard of Oz and a commentary on Eden) and I'm sure this will slip in somewhere. It is, however, a direct result of last night.

Some people dream in black and white, some dream in color. It can't be a good sign when I dream in Matt Groening cartoons?

So, it's a good thing that I remember that I was dreaming, that doesn't always happen. And I can't remember what the dream was exactly about, but I do remember that it was entirely done like a Matt Groening cartoon.

Monday, May 26, 2008

The Grapes of Wrath

On this warm and rain threatening we're copying Ken Burns' Civil War. to DVD. Seemed appropriate.

My neighbors are mowing up a storm. I'm debating the effectiveness of grilling out today and working through what needs to be discussed at tomorrow's committee meeting.

McClellan has raised the Army of the Potomac, but now sits in Washington DC, unable to commit to the battlefield. The first all iron ship, the Monitor, set sail. Lincoln sits in Washington consoling his wife over the death of their son. Sherman wallows at home contemplating suicide. Grant has been reassigned to desk duty. The "90 days war" has dragged on for almost a year. The South remains defiant and strong, unknowable in force. Bedford Forest ranges across the west. A dark wind blows across the mountains of Virginia, and Kentucky.

But on this Memorial Day, it's another war which calls us to remember, and a Canadian that brings us to memory.

In Flanders Fields
By Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae
Canadian Army

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Kaboom - pishaw

So, I'm cleaning today. Part of the agreement is that I clean the bathrooms. One hint on keeping things sparkly clean, clean them every week. Just saying.

Of course those who give advice rarely follow it. So I've found some good things to help out when I've let it go a few weeks. A while back I was buying some specialty cleaners at the grocery and decided to buy some Kaboom! I'm sure you've seen the commercials.

They lie like rugs.

Powers through tough soap scum? Sorry, try has trouble removing light dirt. The best thing this product does is make the surface slippery. That's not a plus, btw. And it clogs up the scrubber side of the sponge (which makes cleaning even more difficult).



of Money.

Thank the gods for local hardware stores still open and Lime Away. Not only did Lime Away help break up the dirt, the soap, the hard water stains (something Kaboom! is also supposed to do), but Lime Away breaks up the Kaboom crap left on the surface. (note, Lime Away is not for Stainless Steel. Keep the two away from each other).

So, end result, do not trust Kaboom! to clean anything. Including cleaning itself off whatever you've sprayed it on. (for quality control purposes, tried it on an single piece shower stall)

Friday, May 23, 2008

Great News (for other writers)

Long day at work, various stages of busy and not busy today. Didn't get any extra writing done except the previous blog entry. Stopped by the client's place on the way home (after picking up the meat, btw, my butcher) and got some pictures. Client will be borrowing my camera to take photos (really wish I had ordered by newer camera already, my bad). Was looking forward to a hard sleeping, hard working weekend, until I got my email.

One good writing friend (she ran the first writer's group I went to, also, she's a librarian, and you just know librarians rock!) landed an agent with her (I think) second book. The agent says her book has good potential, that lots of people are looking for just that story. Christina (who I don't think reads this blog), you so totally rock (I sent her an email to such). This is really great. She's worked hard for this. I might have to make a special effort to go to the next group meeting and take her a gift.

Another writing friend, Mary Turzillo, just sold a story to Analog. This is a great story (we read it in the group). It was very funny in a very smart way. You're all in for a treat when this gets published. Congrats, Mary. You also rock (but I've told you that in person).

Memorial Day Round 'em Up

I'm going to be off and on this weekend, depending on the freelancery and chores lists. There may be other posts, if not, enjoy your weekend. As I posted on someone else's blog, "Go out and see your neighbors molting into summer this weekend as they shed the heavy outer coats, shake off the excess liquid, and unfold their wings of gingham in the warm air."

Until we see each other again, here's some linkery and newsery.

Ken McConnell's story, The Renoke, is finally up for your reading pleasure over at Space Westerns. Give it a read and let Ken know what you think.

Charlotte is a Misner! Nathan is up to no good, again. Yes, it's another writing exercise. And it's not SF! Oh, the horrors, the horrors, the... mmm, Fannie Flagg.

Mars landing this Sunday. Phoenix will land this Sunday. While it's not as glamorous or interesting as the Mars Rovers (which are starting to develop problems, four years into their 3 month mission :) ), will feature a powered landing. Very tricky. The video of the landing, "7 Minutes of Terror" is nice (although a bit over dramatic).

Robert Asprin has passed on. I was all set to attend MarCon, where we was Guest of Honor, when the economy put a kobash to those plans. I first knew Robert Asprin from the Thieves' World shared-world anthologies. For a young boy, just starting out in D&D, those books definitely formed much of preconceptions of what fantasy was. They also colored many of my D&D campaigns into rough, gritty, stab before you're stabbed adventures. Then I found his Myth books when I ran out of TW, and I lightened up. A lot. His books probably were the first I found I could quote from memory ("Aahz," he said. "Oz?" Skeeve asked. "No relation.") It was just on Tuesday that noticed there was a new Myth book out (and a collection of the old stuff). If Glen Cook is the serious side of fantasy, and Steven Brust the sits in the middle writing his tales, Robert Asprin is on the other end of the table cracking jokes. The Myth series did to heroic fantasy what Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker series did for Space Opera. It poked a much needed hole in the pretentiousness bubble of high-fantasy to release the gas in a whoopee cushion fashion. As much as I was going to take my Brust books to be signed, I had collected my Myth books together as well.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

danger mouse 2

Today saw a little more dialog, and an edit run through yesterday's text. Yes, I'm not sharing the whole clip. I have to leave you some reason to want to buy the book when it's done. I also added some description. Barry working on the clapboards looks a little like Abe Lincoln, rail splitter, tall and broad shouldered.

I think I ended up with 700+ words, so only an extra 100 or so today. I was really tired after staying up late to watch the PBS show on depression. Plus today was a busy day at work, lots of proofs, lots of lending a helping hand, not much down time to be found.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

dangereux expérience

As she has before, my favorite Littlebird got me thinking. I've been waiting to find or make time in a large chunk to start writing. As everybody who has done this know, one should not wait for time or find time, one must make time. I had been successful with this before. I could make chunks of time available to write. Life has changed.

Now, there is time out there, but there aren't large chunks of it. Most of these blog posts, the ones written during the week, are often composed or thought out during work time. There are one and three minute gaps in work that I could use to scrape out fragments of thoughts, or read blogs while a plate prints out, a file downloads, or an application loads. Time that most of my coworkers would use to chat or joke, I would use elsewhere. Lately there has been more time at work, moments when work just peters out. That's time that is actually harder to use, as I spend more brain power trying to make or find work.

So there are moments, there is time, just not in a chunk. Instead of focusing on catching up on blogs, I'm going to see if I can use it to write fiction. I've already used it to scribble out messages from the Muse. But that doesn't happen every day.

So, today was an experiment. An experiment that yielded 600 words. Not much. As someone who can write a thousand word email without thinking about it, it's not much. But it is mostly coherent and linear (except near the end when there were more notes and "gee I want to write about this" kinds of things.

So here's some of that. First, some background. The character of Barry Mygnot is not a new thought. He was there for a bit, and it was about a month ago I realized, he's how Steve finds the girl (Rachel, still not good with that name). Also, Barry is a now a mortician (although he wasn't always) and works at a funeral home that bears his name (well, his grandfather's name who started the business). This is from Act 1, Second Chapter (even if it may not be Chapter 2 at the end). Ugly Draft Zero text follows.

"Steve had gone to high school with Barry, who was a few years ahead of him in class, and light years ahead of him with the girls. Having access to a large car with both a bench seat in front and lots of lying down room in back was an irresistible turn-on for some of the local girls.

"After high school Barry got the hell out of town, wrestled an associates degree in accounting to the ground, and went into collections for a bank in Cleveland. Forever trying to reach escape velocity from Cedarbank, he quickly found his calling was in finding people and money and moved ever farther away to work as a private investigator in Minneapolis.

"It was only the boat anchor of his father's death that brought Barry back into the gravity well of small town Ohio. And once he was back, he found he couldn't escape again. So he set up shop in his namesake's business, put on a black suit and set a polite smile on his face to answer for the umpteenth time that, no, that wasn't his name on the business, and Mygnot and Sons had been caring for the dearly dead, "planting them," Barry would say in an unguarded three-beer moment, for nearly a century.

"Barry was in back, his black suit coat (he bought them by the gross), sparkling white shit and narrow black tie were draped over a bush, handy incase drive through business may come in. He was repairing some of the wooden clapboard that had rotted through. Under his t-shirt and suspenders he had his cell phone (dead batteries, Steve tried to call) clipped to his pants, his constant worry-doll companion. Never knew when business might pick up, and the dead were always impatient to be dealt with.

"While his retail business was mostly paid through insurance, there were those who never had enough, or any at all. Some of those would try to run out. Then there would be slow payments from the business-to-business aspects. (cash/casket and carry business joke?) He collection days helped the family business collect from the dead beats."

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Misc and Match

Some links of how we're living in an SF world. Still, no jet pack, crystal cities, or moonbases, but progress.

Boeing has made a successful ground text of their air-to-ground high energy laser platform. Personally, the writer in me squees we delight, the former military in me is worried. There's just something wrong with thinking about this weapon being used in an anti-personnel capacity. Vehicles or hardened stationary targets I feel okay about. It's the same feeling I get thinking about an A-10 strafing troops with that vulcan cannon it has, only more intense. Maybe it's the total overkill capacity that's keying off my internal moral monitors.

Real low cost solar energy is soon to be available. Looks like somebody was paying attention to the helios project and said, "hey, we could do that, cheaper, on the ground." Although they haven't matched the solar cells to fuel cells, just the adding focusing lenses to solar cells. (swiped from John Farr)

Vat grown meat is quickly becoming a commercially viable product. Really sets off the squick meters in my head. But, because my wife has advanced degrees in biology so I pick up on things like this, to paraphrase Carleton Heston from the end of "Solent Green", "It's cancer. It's made of cancer." Do a search on the Hayflick Limit if you want to find out why. Sure, you can add telomere bits, but that doesn't go on forever.

And from good friend Dan, not exactly "living in the future" but still important to it anyway, Web Monkey is back. If you know and care, it's big. If you don't, that's okay. Not everybody is an HTML/XML and Javascripting geek. Hand-coders rejoice, da monkey is back!

Same But Different

Still sick, still at work. Although with the help of fresh Nyquil (I think our old bottle was purchased in 2002) I had a decent night's sleep (almost uninterrupted, or as interrupted as usual) so I'm feeling a little better. My mucus is more viscous than yesterday, which is probably more information than what you wanted. Although, right now I seem to be overheating.

Also health related news, tomorrow night on PBS they are broadcasting Depression, Out From the Shadows. Also, there is a link from that site to a non-diagnostic prescreening test. I only started to look at it (I am at work after all), but for the first few questions I wasn't scoring well. And those are also the symptoms that I recognized I was falling into. Lately the big "D" has been winning. I chalk that up to increased stress, perceived duty and being sick. I have already made the decision to talk about medication when I go for my already scheduled appointment. I haven't made up my mind if I will take them, but I have made up my mind that I don't want to go years like this (as I have in the past). I also don't want it to be used as a maintenance drug for long term.

And now, at the moment of finish typing this, the fluorescent tube over my desk went dark. The dark humor part of my brain just loved that synchronicity .

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Wounds We All Carry Are Not All Visible

I'm sick as a dog. I've been attempting to hack up my lungs for the past week and my left eye is twitching. However, I'm not throwing up, which means I'm not sick enough to call off work. I wasn't sick enough to skip the Village Clean-up Day this past weekend, where it rained off and on as we helped people off-load moldy carpeting and wood, which didn't help.

I'm not sick enough to call off work because I'm not throwing up. These are some of the wounds we carry. I know where this function comes from. My mother raised us by herself and had to work. Therefore the hurdle that needed to be crossed for us to stay home from school or anything else was very high. So if my brother or I weren't tossing cookies, we were going to whatever it was we had to go to (school, camp, etc). We couldn't afford for Mom to stay home with a partially sick kid.

This is possibly also where my borderline workaholic tendencies come from. I will work, as long as there is work, until I drop over. That end point keeps getting closer the older I get. When I was younger I could work 72-hours straight (with two one-hour breaks to shower and change clothes). I know this because I had done it more than once. I have worked others into the ground. At my WV job (which most of you don't know about), after one particularly maddening last-minute all-night production session to get art to the printer, my boss, who was younger than I, was asleep on the floor as I burned the final CD and then drove to the local airport to meet the courier company that would get the disks to the printer in LA by noon local time. By the time I got back to the office, his parents (who also were a part of the business) had gotten him home. I, then, got to work another seven hours. Yeah me.

I used to think of that as a strength. I now look at it as my own insanity. Note to kids, a healthy work ethic is a good thing. What I have borders on obsession.

On the plus side, I've never had a problem getting a job with people who know me. I've also made a good chunk o' money in overtime (when I would get paid for it). For the day job before this one, we didn't get paid overtime, so I rarely worked it. Especially after working several weekends to get a catalog on track, with the promise of a bonus. Let's just say with the current day job I made more in overtime in the first four months than I did with eight years of "bonuses" (and that includes Year End/Xmas and Birthday gifts).

Flip side to that I've missed out on being places I should have gone, places I should have been, life passed by that I'll never get back. I lack the ability to relax, which may seem strange to some of you that know me, as I'm a pretty relaxed kind of guy in person. Little do you know that just because I'm kicking back, it doesn't mean that inside my brain isn't running on all cylinders. I am not a person who can nap (unless I'm exhausted in the clinical sense). It's how I'm put together.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

If It's On TV, It Must Be True

So, nothing is really on TV. We spent most of the day at the Cleveland Museum of Art looking at the the amory of the last days of the Holy Roman Empire. It was a really excellent show. It focused a little too much on the armor side (I like the sharp pointy things myself). The armor was fabulous, and in the last gallery they had formations of armor with pikes. "Treguna Mekoides and Tracorum Satis Dee" is you know what I mean. We also had friends along which made it fun, it's good to catch up with friends while seeing new things.

We took our time coming back home, so there wasn't all that time to do anything productive, so we ended up the evening watching TV. Of which there is nothing on anyway (why I'm blogging and surfing).

That's when we chanced upon the SciFi Channel's "The Mystery of the Crystal Skulls."

What a piece of crap. It's so bad you have to watch to see what other incredibly, outrageously stupid they're going to say next. It's the same entertainment value you can get from crazy street people (as in the ones who talk to the air and wear two heavy winter coats in the middle of summer and actually have a tin-foil hat), but without the possibility of having a shiv pulled on you. I'm sure SciFi has a website for this, but I don't want to pollute your minds with it.

What's worse is this is being presented as an actual documentary. For that, the producers have no shame and should be horsewhipped. Yes, I know it's all a part of the media ramp-up to the latest Indiana Jones movie, "The Geritol Years." But seriously. "Face on Mars" being brought up? Haven't we debunked that enough.

This "documentary" leads off with the great non sequitur from the genuine nutjob "expert" saying that the skulls are made of the same thing out high tech computer chips are made of. "Just think of how much information could be stored there?" he asks rhetorically. Because, you know, they're alien artifacts (insert standard, "once humans are evolved enough we'll be given the keys to the knowledge inside" - yeah, everybody has one of those). Except for the fact that silicon is used as insulator, not actual memory storage. Bizzzt. Thanks for playing, but no parting gifts.

And then completely forget that they're mixing Mayan and Aztec mythologies in their "ancient history is all mysterious" brand cuisinart. Oh, and Bette wants me to make sure I mentioned that they squeezed in Atlantis.

But wait, there's more. If you watch now you get the gratuitous Native Spiritual Guides who hold all the secrets (living like his ancient Mayan ancestors in a hut in the jungle with mud floors and with the repurposed Pepsi machine made into a fridge.

Really, truly, terribly bad. It makes Ghost Hunters look positively intellectual.

Edit 10:47pm Okay, Edgar Cayce showed up around 1:26 into the show, and now the main "expedition" (no, really, "idiots running around with cameras following them" is more the case) just entered "the cave" which is guarded (you know, like dragons guard treasure) by a "giant tarantula." OMG. When the horror/slasher movies "based on a real story" look more non-fiction than a supposed "documentary," something is very, very wrong. heck, the trailers to the new Hulk movie look more non-fictional.

Edit 11:06pm Saved by the Family Guy take on Star War on Adult Swim. It's the rescue scene. Love the elevator music. Ah, sanity.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Week's Worth of Advice

And you know just what kind of advice that is, don't you.

Justine Larbalestier wants you to know other writers are crazy (like you really need to go to her site to find that out). Also, she's a Goddess of Writing Advice.

Joshua Palmatier talks about muddling around in the middle. That place where writers begin to question their sanity, and maybe start habits they shouldn't. But hey, free therapy, so you know, you won't start on of those habits. It happens to everybody. I plan to write the middle last. Not sure what that will do to his theory, but something tells me it's an overall wordcount kind of thing, not really a place.

S. C. Butler confesses over at SF Novelists that he hates writing.

Holly Black on the other hand wants to help you find a four-leaf clover (not maybe entirely writing related, but I liked it).

On the other end of the writing life, this week saw two rejections. A form rejection letter from Realms of Fantasy Magazine for Running of the Deer. And Strange Horizons emails what I think is mostly a form letter to reject Journey Haiku. Maybe I should reread how to get that clover after all.

Apropos of Nothing

At work, the most recent 2-liter bottle of pop has lasted a week and a half. For some reason I'm proud of that.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Danger, Muse at Work

One of the tips Tobias Buckell (and others) has for new writers is to find out when then are most active in writing fiction and then write during those times (seems easy, but then the best, hard-won advice and the most difficult to follow always seems easy). When I was starting out, my Muse liked to work late hours (and I think she still does), but now it seems she wants a lunchtime shift. Bad thing for me as I don't get lunches at the day job. So lots o' notes get taken (note to self, maybe a picture of a week's worth of note taking is in order here).

Today's gift (of which the muse says, "Share it, damn it!" My Muse, she's such a potty mouth :) ), goes toward the book. In Act III (Orpheus in the Underworld Redux), I have a character of a cop/administrator/demon (I think his title should be "Deacon") named Karen (actual pronunciation of Charon, it's a guy, as he explains, "It's an old family name"). I've been wondering what he's like, how he works, how he can help the story (he's been standing there tapping his foot every since I realized Steve would need help in the afterlife/Hell's waiting room, waiting for me to pay attention and write him). Turns out Karen is either English or Aussie (could go either way, although I'm leaning English). Just got a part of a scene, mostly dialog.

So, as the Muse commands, so we do. Here it is with all my notes to myself and thinking out loud lines in parenthesis (yes, I write them out so I won't forget). The incredibly horrible Draft Zero edition.

Scene starts midstream, Karen is driving Steve somewhere in an electric golf cart (the afterlife is Green and Hi-Tech, natch), at this point Karen is trying to help Steve find the Girl (still named Rachel, although it doesn't feel right and she's not speaking to me yet because of it - I think Steve is talking about her here, saying how she would be the type that was Raptured).

"The 'Rapture'," asked Karen.

"Yeah, it happened six years ago. Lots of people taken up to heaven," Steve said, making grand gestures with his hands. "You know," he smiled hopefully at Karen.

"Oh," Karen said, shaking his head. "That. What a Holy mess that was. No memos, no planning, no warning and bingo-bango all these people start showing up (need something about like refugees on the shores, "Your tired, your poor, your huddled masses...") Completely overwhelmed us. Total cock-up if you ask me."

Steve gaped, "But I thought it would only be on Heaven's side?"

"Well, they got full up now, didn't they, Busting at the seems they were. Naturally we had to deal with the overflow. Had to set up refugee camps to manage them all. First time the hotel (is explained earlier, "Hotel Hell, there's always room for one more") ever ran out of rooms, and they were packed in their there like cord wood inside. Big fire hazard. Totally mismanaged. Took us months to repatriate everybody once we determined (need better word) they weren't for our side. And those were on top of the normal errors (might need term here for those sent to wrong side of wall)."

"What errors?"

"Oh, it was a mess, I can tell you," Karen looked over and nodded his head in sympathy with himself. "Then we had to clean it all up. I mean, they were really messy people. Trash Filth all over the place (Hell's half-acre?). The maintenance crews did a really good job. Hell is a much nicer place now." (maybe a joke about urban-planning here)

"What errors," Steve asked again.

"What? Oh, well, with such a big operation," Karen waved his left hand in a big circle, "there's always someone who's queued to the wrong side of the wall. Once we got the software working right, we were down to less than three percent in error, " Karen said with some pride. "Pretty good, eh?" (too Canadian?)

Steve was thinking. "Just what happens with these errors?"

"Oh, we process them out as quick as possible ASAP. It's what we thought you were at first," Karen leaned over to Steve conspiratorially. "But you're something else entirely."

"But if I were, what would happen to me?"

"We'd drop you off at the Heavens Gate (Brandenburg Gate, wack-a-loon group mashup) for processing like all the rest." Karen said that, slowing near the end. He stopped the cart and looked at Steve.

"Where," Steve started to ask.

Karen stepped on the pedal and swerved the cart around, "Way ahead of you, mate."

(I don't think they find her there, hey, that would be too easy, but I don't have that full scene anyway, only notes of what it's like, I think I shared those before, and I know Karen helps them out, I don't know how they figure it out, but I know how they do it - mostly, maybe, somewhat, I don't know, the Muse has that smile on her face that she's got something up her sleeve for that.)

Gotta post now, I'm starting to make edits. Must... stop... editing...

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Story Bone

"There are some things I'm under orders not to talk about. However, once I'm dead I'm free to discuss it."

One Less Bell to Answer

Marc Dann did the honorable thing and resigned today.

Note to the anybody still clinging to the Open Sourced Boobs project, Marc Dann was forced to resign over (among other things) a consensual (except, I'm assuming here, his wife) relationship. That relationship, however, lead to what is called a "Hostile Work Environment." Also understand that in the last administration we had several scandals involving the loss, theft, and misappropriation of millions of dollars of State Funds, cronyism, improper business arrangements (pay to play), and lets just say a complete failure in regard for the citizens of the State of Ohio to whom they swore an oath. Marc Dann helped force many of those issues into the public light. None of those in the former administration faced a real threat of impeachment. Marc Dann did, and it was mostly about the sexual harassment case (which has already seen several officials close to Dann resign).

Bells Will Be Ringing

While here in the US we tend to have a strain of subsurface religiosity that runs through most of public life and it's one of those things that when religious leaders say we need more Christianity in the Public Square I counter with we have more than enough already, thanks. If you listen or watch the news with any regularity you'll probably have noticed it. although, being subsurface, it can hide pretty well. The rulers of China, on the other hand, from Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi to the modern day, retain power through the Mandate of Heaven.

The ancestors, Gods and multiverse bestow their blessings on the rulers, until they don't. Blessings can be a tricky thing to divine, removal of blessings, though, are usually decisive and with real consequences. Say, a powerful earthquake for instance can signal the Heavens withdrawal of the Mandate.

China, under communist rule (reformed though they are) is officially atheistic. Being atheistic, however, is not 100% proof against being superstitious. The earthquake in Sichuan could be said to be Heaven serving an eviction notice to the current leadership. This is why you will see these leaders hands on in the disaster area helping victims. If they don't, this earthquake would lead to their downfall, and it may yet.

In other news, having shown their complete disregard for those the rule by holding a constitutional referendum which legitimizes the military rule less than a week from being hit by a major cyclone killing thousands and displacing millions, Myanmar is facing a second battering storm. Some people need to be reminded a second time.

The bad things about all of this is that it's not the leaders that have or are suffering. And here we have some parallels to life here in the US. Our leaders rarely suffer (thinking about that, I wonder how Trent Lott's rebuilt home is coming) as Heaven signals their displeasure with the government. It's always the same poor people who bear the brunt of the wrath. Kind of makes me wonder about the supposed beneficence of the Powers that Be. So either the Gods are just rat bastards, or they have really poor aim.

We also have our homegrown crazy uncles (like Crazy Uncle Pat) that like to use natural disasters to show how God dislikes or favors certain things. They're all wacky in my book.

Raja dharma is a concept that has gone out of favor. I really wish the Heavens would get that and see that offering opportunities for the rulers of the world to remember that by increasing the suffering of the ruled doesn't work. It's much better to send avatars to the rulers to school them in the ways of responsibility and respect for the ruled as much of Hindi legend tells. Other than that and I fear a redawn of "an Age of Reason, like they had in France," as Ulysses Everett McGill says in "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou" (a time otherwise known as "Reign of Terror")

I should also say that all my friends that live in that area of the world, I'm really concerned about. Myanmar isn't exactly a big country, and that was a huge storm that went over it. I'm surprised we haven't heard about other countries affected by it.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Quicky Version

Hey, Jay Lake made it out of his cancer surgery and is doing pretty well. You should all go and wish him well.

I had been thinking about posting about his diagnosis for a time (met him at World Fantasy, but mostly as Fanboy meets BNA). But here's a quick primer on my post.

"Talking to someone with cancer."

I do very badly around people in grief, and getting the Big "C" diagnosis will trigger grief/feelings of loss. Not that I'm not sympathetic, but I don't go all to pieces about it. That sometimes comes across as being cold, and I don't intend that at all. It may have something to do with accepting death as a part of the cycle of life, nobody gets out of here alive. How we live while we're here is the main trick. Anyway, this is veering too close to the long post I've been putting off.

Let's say I'm really happy that he found out sooner than later, and that his surgery is a success. I'd certainly miss all the books he's going to write if either of those didn't happen (even though how he found out kinda sucked).

...but everyone knew her as Nancy

Hey look everybody, my favorite Littlebird has a new name, Poetry Editor! Camille was named Poetry Editor for Diet Soap at their launch party. Very cool. Congrats, Camille. You totally rock!

(g)Oil of My Dreams

The usual Green House Gas Emitters are at it again. They're contributing to global warming by venting off the the traditional thoughts that we need to drill in ANWR to reduce our dependance on foreign energy producers. All while talking out of the other sides of their mouths digestive tracts.

Oil is sold on a global market. Domestic production can not adjust prices. Domestic production, even at the optimistic end, will not provide all our energy needs. Domestic production is only useful to the energy companies because 1) they own the land, 2) they own the wells, 3) they own the transportation, 4) all the profits will stay within one corporate umbrella. So what does drilling in ANWR get us? At best it's a way to keep Alaska from having to start an income tax. It's also a way for the big oil companies to lose money. They know all those profit statements 1) attract the attentions of a revenue hungry government, 2) look bad for publicity and 3) won't last for long (as in decades). Drilling in ANWR, which the oil companies rejected only 30 years ago (yes there were test wells dug, same as Prudhoe Bay, PB had more oil), is a way to increase expenses for a few years, and then control the profit train for another few years (hint, ANWAR is big now because PB is becoming a dry hole and the Trans-Alaska Pipeline is having structural failures).

Back in the beginning of the Bush Administration the President ordered the repurchase of deep-water oil leases from the West Coast of Florida because it would help his brother who was facing a re-election amid speculation that the oil companies were going to start drilling in the Gulf. It was possible that you might see the oil rigs from just off shore (which you wouldn't as the military controls a great deal of that water for training purposes). However, it is estimated (on the low end for Florida and the high end for ANWR) that those oil reserves in the Gulf are ten times those untapped along the whole North Slope (which included ANWR). Deep water drilling is proven technology, ANWR would require some new innovations. The Gulf wells could be tapped and producing within five years (mostly construction time), ANWR would be at least ten years. And yet all the talk is about ANWR. All that talk is bull.

We don't get much of our oil from the Middle East. In fact, the majority of our (US)imported oil comes from Canada. Then Mexico. Next up is Venezuela. After them is conglomeration of African West Coast nations. Only then do we get some oil from the Middle East.

Then there is the issue of transportation. Alaska oil has to travel through a pipeline across Alaska (one of our bigger states), then be shipped down the West Coast, through the Panama Canal, back up the Gulf Coast to the Southern US to be refined (okay, there are some refineries on the West Coast, but not many). Gulf oil is shipped to shore to be refined. Which sounds safer to you?

So, Senators, Congresspeoples, and the general flapping lip class, you want to actually do something about decreasing our reliance on foreign oil? Then increase CAFE Standards to a point greater than what I already get with the car I bought 3 years ago. Stop filling the Strategic Reserve (70,000 barrels a day, 97% filled) until oil prices go lower. Buy low sell high (dimwits), oil is selling for record prices. Increase spending on renewable resources and shift the tax breaks from big oil to renewables (yes, they have some, but big oil gets the lion's share). Cut off corn seed ethanol funding and go for cellulose (the non-food part) production (and other plants that can be used). And drill in the Gulf, off the west coast of Florida. If all you're talking about is ANWR you should be physically labeled (I'd go for the forehead tattoo) the idiots you are. Do all of the other things above, and I'll consider changing my stance on ANWR. edit Only talk about ANWR and you just obeying the oil companies bidding and doing absolutely nothing to help out.

Oh, and while we're at it, take the damn natural gas pipe line from Prudhoe Bay north over to the already existing Canadian pipeline to ship to Chicago (which just typing that is a Felony, bite me Congress). We wouldn't need any price guarantees or billions in government expense to build our own pipeline.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Pomp and Circumstances

This weekend, starting tomorrow, I'm going to be scarce on these intertubies as I will be down in Oxford, Ohio watching my nephew graduate from Miami of Ohio. My wife has her PhD from Miami, so we sort of know our way around the place. Unfortunately, by the time we knew when and that we were going, all the local sleeping places were booked up (would have really liked to stay at Hueston Woods again, but not to be - that photo of the canoe on the water reminds me of the time we got stuck on the lake in a tornado warning, let's just say I was exceedingly pissed when we finally got back to the rental, you don't fly the friggin' fair weather flag during a tornado warning, and you shouldn't be renting boats during one as well) and we're somewhere in Indiana.

Jared wants to be a screenwriter. Last I knew he was submitting a script for Columbia to do graduate work. I don't know what the result of that was. So we get to find out this weekend. And we get to have real Cincinnati Chili again (hot sauce, why, yes, I'd like some hot sauce). I was also hoping to get to the Mongtomery Inn, (the Original, natch) but that also probably won't happen.

On the way back we'll stop by Mom's for Mother's Day. Hope you all have fun.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The Joys of Home Ownership, No. 1,035

My dishwasher is leaking. Oh joys. I wonder if Sears would accept a barter deal? Probably not.

Yes, I know, I need to check the gasket first. I will. Then the hose connections, to see if it's just a connection that's come loose. It's just another thing to do without anytime to get to it.

Shazam! The Muse Strikes Back

Okay, so I may be dense and this is already out there, but in working through the biology of the beast in my Marie Fitzgerald story (which is vaguely Cthulhu mythos like) and listening to the Diane Rehm Show about whale song I hit upon a crucial aspect. How does an animal in space communicate? I've thought about using cephalopod communication techniques (ie. color flashing and changing skin pigmentation), but then it hit me. Sure, no sound waves in space (sound waves require a medium - atmosphere or liquid - to transfer energy), but radio waves work just fine. The tin-foil hat brigade was right, we are receiving transmissions from the mother ship! Or, actually, from sleeping Cthulhu in R'lyeh. The Old Ones and Elder Gods would need to communicate through radio telepathy as both are space traveling species who can survive the void. This is why humans who come in contact with them go insane (the tin-foil hats and all).

I'm sure someone else, somewhere, has already done work on this.

This also helps explain why the characters were having difficulty communicating (some plot bunnies involved here) - radio static jamming. Brilliant! It didn't appear in much of Lovecraft's work because of their were no radios (that I remember) mentioned.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The Bell Tolls for Thee

Marc Dann, you made the Daily Show. I don't give a rat's ass how much your office is working for us. You're a lame duck, you're bleeding out, you can't get the work done. You screwed up royally. Time to resign and write your book. Sorry, dude, you had potential. Too bad you couldn't have learned from the people you pushed out.

Yes, we've met personally (at the Trumbull Country Fair). Yes, I supported you. You can't be effective anymore.

Do You Hear What I Hear

I'm enjoying another podcast lately. WNYC's Radio Lab

Podcasts are now a little easier for me to listen to than reading blogs. I just download, tune in and turn on. I then can look like I'm doing work while I'm absorbing it all.

This is another product from the mind of Robert Krulwich in collaboration with Jad Abumrad. The show deals with the same topics that they digest down to 10 minutes for NPR segments, but on Radio Lab they take almost an hour to explore them. The format is somewhat like an old time radio play mixed with science appreciation. So no hard math, but they do cover a lot of subjects in a way that most people can understand (sort of like History without memorizing the dates).

Monday, May 5, 2008

Today's Serious WTF Moments, all together in one package

Laura Bush gave the press conference today regarding the humanitarian crisis in Burma/Myanmar. WTF? What, were the puppies unavailable? Here is someplace that should be very important to peoples everywhere who value democracy, because of how incredibly lacking it is there. You know, Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi lives (and is still under house arrest) there, and then send the First Lady. No offense to Mrs. Bush, as we all know she's the brains in the family and is probably the only one who can say Myanmar without breaking into a rendition of "Me and My Shadow," but you think the Pres. might have been up for this, or say the Secretary of State.

And then, the most hilarious part of all, in discussing how Burma/Myanmar ("It's Istanbul not Constantinople, now Istanbul not Constantinople, it's been a long time gone...") should accept humanitarian help from the West (seems that military dictatorship doesn't like them dang foreigners hanging around in their country, taking all their jobs, speaking a foreign language, you know, the usual). They should accept this help to feed their people, and rebuild their country. And then in the next sentence she thanks Canada, Australia and England for helping seize all of Burma's/Myanmar's foreign capital, because they're all repressive like.

Comedy gold right there.

Who knows, maybe there's some Senate Seat they're grooming her for. Laura Bush, the anti-Hillary.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Free Saturday!

Well, I didn't expect it to be free, and it really wasn't, but there was a discount on our Saturday. This was the last weekend to go see the Great Lakes Science Center's show, Chocolate. Unknown to us, this Saturday was a visitor appreciation day, so entry into the museum was free. Everything else was still full price. So the show was a few extra bucks, and the IMAX movie was ever more bucks. We saw, "Roving Mars," which was excellent, including the running commentary by the preschool boys behind us ("we could go back and take infinity times a thousand photos now!" was one of the gems). We didn't really see much of the museum itself, running around to find the exhibit, then get in line for the movie, then roam the gift shop (oh yes, we always have to roam the gift shop).

Well, we got up late, so we got there late.

And we decided to take in another museum while we were there, the William G. Mather Steamship. It was a wonderful rainy day here in NE Ohio, did I mention that before. So, in the rain, we hiked over to the Mather (about a five minute walk). Did I also mention, because it was warm we didn't bring jackets? So here we are, about to go into a freighter and go tromping around the deck, in the rain. That sounds like we had a bad time, right? Well, our tour guide worked on the Mather, and he was willing to take us around (we were two of about five people not employed by the museum on board) before he left for the evening. Don was a hoot. He told us stories (like why it's called a windless room) and his love for the old ship really came through. I think he must have worked all over the place. He told us what was there, what had been updated and what it replaced, and what they had to do to make here a museum. I'd call Don an old salt, but he's a fresh water sailor. He talked about some of the cooks on board and how they treated the men. Don's foot was bothering him so he'd send us scrambling around the place while he talked. "See that, that's where (insert story or practical advice here)."

And when we came out from the stern at the end of the tour, the skies were bright, and clear. A beautiful late afternoon sun washed down. Down the dock, where you can look over the water at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, a marriage party was having their pictures taken. Cleveland was bright and beautiful, having just scrubbed her face in the May Dew.