Category Archives: general

Stop Mocking ‘Duck and Cover’

If your grew up in the shadow of the cold war at some point you were exposed the civil defense that instructed the viewers that during an atomic attack that they should, the moment they see the flash, duck and cover into safety.

This advice has become roundly mocked as useless and is often referred to when someone thinks that an authority is proposing a solution that offers no benefit. This is another example of cynicism masquerading as wisdom.

It is true that if you are close to a nuclear explosion ducking and taking cover will do you little good, but if you are truly close you will have at the chance to take such action. The advice is aimed at person who is distant enough that they can see the flash but where the blast is delayed. In that event, taking cover is flipping brilliant.

A few years ago a meteor impacted the Earth over Siberia exploding with the force of hundreds of thousands of tons of TNT. Only the shallow angle of its approach kept the destruction from becoming catastrophic. However scores of people were injured in the blast, and most because they did the exact opposite of ‘duck and cover.’

They saw the flash of the meteor, they rushed to the windows and stared, and then the blast wave arrived, shattering the glass and injuring them.

Sadly with the situation in North Korea and the United States atomic anxiety is on the rise and yes if you are near ground-zero of a detonation the flash and the blast will be nearly simultaneous but if they are not you would do well to remember Duck and Cover.

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New Television

So, one of the reason why I worked so man overtime hours towards the end of last year was to purchase a new television.

My current TV is ten years old, a 42″ HD sett that has worked very well for most of its life and I would have kept going with this one except for a recent fault. In the last two years or so it developed an issue with the backlight that illuminates the screen and that cause a difference in brightness near the top of the monitor. Most of the time it was scarcely noticeable but during dark scenes it became impossible to ignore. (Or at least for me anyway.)

Yesterday I went to a local electronics retailer and purchased my new set and a stand to support it. (Our current stand has begun to bow and the larger set would be too much for it.)

Delivery and set will happen on Saturday morning after that I will be in the 55″ 4K zone for my movie watching. And for a Cinephile like myself that is going to be glorious.

 

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The Reading Habit

Like many other things, reading is a habit you can encourage or one you can fall out of. For me the greatest single challenge when it comes to reading is finding the time. Between the day-job, writing my own stuff, and quality time spent with my sweetie-wife, it can be difficult to find the hours to sit and enjoy a good book. I recently shifted my work schedule around, starting the day-job a little but later in the day and getting home a little bit later. This was done to hopefully produced more time for my writing but it paid additional benefits in opening a little more time for reading.

Sadly the last two genre books, one a fantasy and one a hard SF, failed to work for me. The fantasy I didn’t finish, I found I was uninterested in the main character’s life, and the hard SF I did finish but found it underwhelming. After those two books I was a little concerned that my tastes had drifted enough to create an additional challenge.

Last week I picked up the novel The Spy who Came in from the Cold. I have seen the movie a few times and now I wanted to see how it compared.

Ahh, how nice to fall into a novel that just pulls you along. I’m about half way through it, reading in that snatches of time I can find, and I am thoroughly enjoying the book. (Even if the author has American’s using the phrase ‘ring you’ when we say ‘call you.’) Even setting aside the 50 odd years since its publication it is interesting visiting a very different writing style. It’s more objective and head-hopping than what we generally see for published works today.

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Post LosCon 44

The fact that I did not post during the con is an indication that this past weekend’s convention, Loscon 44, was a lot of a fun. Once I arrived at the hotel Friday evening there was simply too much to do to take time out of my schedule to sit at thee computer and bang out an update.

Friday night I did find a quite corner and completed my writing for the day and the end of the novel is pulling up over the horizon but beyond that it was panels, parties, games and good conversations all weekend long.

For those not in the know LosCon of the Los Angeles Area Science-Fiction Convention and this year was number 44. I have been attended for about twenty years and last year I participated as a panelist though this year I was simply a member having fun.

The convention runs from Friday through Sunday afternoon, but I miss the daylight hour events on the first day, as at my day-job I simply do not have the seniority to take that day off from work. As soon as I got off work my Sweetie-Wife and drove to L.A., listening to old episode of the NPR news quiz show Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell me.

A goof convention, and this one fits the bill, recharges my enthusiasm and revitalizing my creative muse. I am ready for more 10 hours work days and more long session producing prose.

 

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Blogging will be Light

 

For several months there I was pretty good about some sort of update on just about every weekday but that is not going to happen these last couple of months of 2017.

This is the super busy period at my day-job as the applications of Medicare Replacement plans flood our inboxes.

This is good. I make nice extra money working overtime and truly the work is good work, but something has to suffer. I am still maintaining about 1000 words or so a day on my novel and therefore it is the blogging that will take a hit.

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Going on Vacation

Soon, Saturday, I will be heading out on vacation to see my family. I do not know how often I will update this blog. I will try to stay on top of it but there are no promises.

Given that flying coast to coast will be a five hour affair and that I am traveling solo for this trip I should at least be able to get some writing completed. (There are few vacations from writing.)

One project I hope I might get started and finished during the trip is a new horror short story. I shared the central premise with some of the writers of my writers group and it was well received, giving me encouragement that the conceit is new enough to be worth pursuing.

If I do get that story completed I’ll do a public reading of at the Horrible Imaginings Film Festival next month. I will be attended as part of the literature horror panel along with a number of horror authors.

I am also working a big blog post, something else I may compose on the flight, going into detail as to why I find Star Trek: Insurrection the most offensive of all the Star Trek films.

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No Blogging Today

I am suffering a fairly painful bout of arthritis and so no essays today.

I am also not going to my day job or writing.

Today is watching TV, taking painkillers, and icing the finger joints.

 

 

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Another Birthday is History

Yesterday was my birthday and I must admit that I had a pretty good day. Of course I have already mentioned the pizza and movies Saturday the day before while on Sunday it was my sweetie-wife and I alone.

We started with usual Sunday trip to the Zoo and my knees didn’t hurt at all, so that is always good. After the Zoo we lunched at a steak house and I indulged in my love of beef. Then it was time for a movie and we watched the revival exhibition of The Fifth Element. Games, at the table and on line, rounded out our day along with Doctor Who.

As a bonus surprised I received two personalized rejections Sunday, I don’t think that has ever happened on my birthday before. For those not in the know the vast majority of rejections you would get from a magazine, particularly any major mag, is going to be a form slip or email. With hundred of submission flowing into their office every month there simply isn’t time for anything else. When a story gathers a note as to why it was rejected that is special. that means despite those hundred of other stories waiting on the editor’s attention they felt strongly enough about yours, that yours was so close to making the cut, that the editor felt compelled to comment.

Yup, I had a pretty good weekend and next weekend will be my final birthday celebration with a trip to Universal Studios Hollywood.

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Saturday Celebrations

So today is my official Birthday and while my sweetie-wife and I will be celebrating quietly together, yesterday was a larger and noisier day.

My desire for a birthday part was fairly simple I wanted friends, I wanted pizza, and I wanted movies. I got all three

The Pizzas came from Costco, they make a decent pizza at a really good price. My friends showed up at noon and we engaged in a triple feature of genre films.

First up was 1932’s Island of Lost Souls, the first and in my opinion still the best, adaptation of H.G. Well’s The Island of Dr. Moreau. A pre-code movie the filmmakers to the plot into area not only not mentioned in the text but actively despised by the author, bestiality. Despite this there is no doubt the thought put into this movie is top notch and Charles Laughton’s performance is the heart of the production.

Forbidden Planet played next. There is little I can so about the much discussed movie. Inspired by The Tempest it is a serious, big budget, and glossy mid-50’s science-fiction film that actually tries to get its science correct. Heavy on the exposition and hopelessly trapped by the social conventions of it’s period this is still a worthy film.

We finished up with fun and cheestastic Flash Gordon (1980.) Staring Sam J. Jones and providing evidence that there is simply is no line that cannot be delivered with utter conviction by Max Von Sydow, Flash Gordon is thrilling, fun, and an utterly insane romp.

After the films we played card and board games and instead of cake I had some fantastic apple pie.

All in all yesterday was a great day and I look forward to many more years of such celebrations.

 

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Not The Most Productive Day

Today was spent in civic duty. Rising earlier than normal I drove to the local trolley station and journeyed downtown for Jury Duty.

It seems like every two years I get that summons but I have never had the privilege of sitting on an empaneled jury. Don’t get me wrong, I have no mad desire to wield power over my fellow citizens, and I quake at the thought of the responsibility, but I do feel that it is my duty as a citizen to participate in the justice system. I also have a selfish desire to experience it firsthand and expand my horizons as a writer.

Today I got called for a jury pool in the second set of potentials. (That’s makes us sound like Slayers-in-Waiting.) We got to the court and after getting random numbers, mine was 43 out of about 50, we started the selection questioning.

With such a high number I knew there was very little chance that I would end up empaneled. We worked until lunch and then through the afternoon, not getting the final selection in place until 4:30. (They reached the high 30’s, so this year I turned out to be safely beyond fates fortune this time. Perhaps next time.)

One bright spot to the wasted day was the judge, David Ruben. He had a relaxed style and a smooth dry wit. In voice and in mannerisms he was thoroughly a character to be portrayed by Stanley Tucci.

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