Category Archives: life

general posts about my life

Research Can be Surprising

One of the ways to avoid doing the actual work of writing it is do research. Of course your story needs research but it is also an easy out, after all there is always another article to read, another book to check out, another paper to scan. I am no more immune to this than any other writer.

For y next SF military novel I am doing research into PTSD. The question I have is if the bio-chemical and neurotransmitter links of PTSD can be undone and restored by physical treatment what does that do to issues such as survivor’s guilt?

While doing the research I followed some breadcrumbs down a rabbit hole of information and ended up reading about children and PTSD. Not at all germane to my novel as none of the characters are children and certainly not the character for whom I needed these answers, but the research turned surprising in a personal matter.

My father died when I was ten years old and it was quite a blow emotionally. Reading the symptoms and expressions of PTSD in children I was struck just how much of it lined up with my memories if myself during the years following his passing.

Now this was the early 70’s, hardly a time when people would have considered such a diagnosis for a boy, but the tremors of familiarity resonate strongly for me. Today, there are now symptoms of expressions and I am quite satisfied with life.

Writing can be a profession that transforms the writer and not just their readers. I have already had an adjustment t some political thought as a results of fiction heads I have crawled into for their POV and now I have a new take on my own childhood.



A Day Off

Lately I have been working 50-54 hours weeks at my day job as the Medicare application flood in during the Annual Enrollment Period. This week my body informed me that it no longer approved of the extra money I was making and allowed the Psoriatic Arthritis to flare up.

Now, this is not disabling and many people, some close friends, suffer far worse health issues, but the outbreaks, the joint pain, and the lack of sleep do take their toll. This was a result of physical stress and in order to de-stress I took today off.

Surprisingly I slept for 9 hours, which means I really and truly needed it. I operate, happily, on 6 1/2 hours each night and even n the weekends rarely go beyond 7.

This morning has been a lazy morning of burritos, British WWII documentaries, and thinking about my current SF short story.

It had been stuck for an ending but now I have it. I knew the story, and that pointed to the character change, what I did not have was the plot that got me there. Now I think I have that plot. When I awoke this morning I even was struck by an experiment style to pull off the ending. It’s wacky and may not work but I will attempt it. You should write outside your comfort zone.



Loscon 43 Day 3

Sunday was the final day of the convention. in spite of being up past midnight engrossed in good conversations I arose shortly after 8 am and took in a buffet breakfast in the hotel restaurant, A friend, Mark Fogg, joined me for breakfast and the good conversation from the previous night continued.

My bad luck with first of the day panels also continued as the retrospective on Military Sf was canceled. Instead I spend my first block period watching space-related cartoon from Warner Brothers and MGM.

Just a few topics and panels consumed the rest of the convention for me. A nice overview of the science gained from our most recent Martian rover, a lively discussion of tropes and cliché’s in fiction, and I ended it on science with a look at the result of the New Horizons mission to Pluto.

At about 4 pm my wife and I left the convention for home. The drive home passed uneventfully. We stopped for a meal with friends also heading to San Diego, and did a little grocery shopping near home before finally reaching our condo.

I stayed up a littler later than my sweetie-wife watched most of The Martian, but then exhausted I turned in for sleep.


Loscon 43 Day 1

Things went fairly well for me on Friday. Now my day-job requires that I work ‘Black Friday’ as this is also the time of the year when Medicare complete applications arrive in a flood. However I was able to shift my work schedule so I started early and completed by shift at 3:00, then my sweetie-wife and I drove quickly from San Diego to Los Angeles and I arrived just twenty minute before my first scheduled panel.

The panel discussed Science, Fiction, and Politics. Despite the explosive potential the room remained civil and instead on rancor we had plenty of reasoned statements. I sat next to Harry Turtledove and managed to not make a fool of myself.

The evening was hanging out with friends, Ice Scream social, dinner with my sweetie-wife, and open room parties. I even managed to squeeze in about 40 minutes of editing on a new short story. All in all the day was good and ended well.

Now I head into day two and this time I have thee panels or workshops that I will be participating in.


Just a Few Words

I had thought that I might speak a little on the election, now that a week has gone by but I find the subject too painful. The election of our first carnival barker president – and that’s gravely close to insulting carnival barkers – is a low point for the Republic. However I also believe that the Republic will survive and that the long arc of history still bends towards justice, even if we have to fight backsliding from time to time.

It will be okay, but only if we fight to make it okay.

So there a few words on the election’s outcome. I wish I had more to say but today has been a rather difficult day.

I awoke at 2;30 am, my sinuses over-pressurized and a migraine exploding behind my eye. The slight motion of the head set of waves of agony and needless to say I did not go to work.

I am feeling somewhat better. The migraine and sinus meds are doing their thing and I believe I will return to work tomorrow.

So there you have it. I have nothing much to say, I remain slightly depressed only now I have added pain to the experience.



Veterans’ Day’s Thoughts

Today is Veterans’ Day, originally Armistice Day to celebrate the end of The Great War, World War I, the war that to tis day still greatly shapes out world. First let me salute those men and women who have served and are serving in our nation’s armed forces. Even in peacetime it is a tough job and our states of constant war makes it even more so.

Some of you may know that I briefly served in the United States Navy; from 1979 until early 1982. If you know anything about naval enlistments you’ll see that my term of service is odd.

I was not a good sailor. I had not yet achieved a level of responsibility that would allow me to succeed in the military. Like I have already said it is a tough job, even during a period of peace and quiet, and I was not at all ready for that. So in early 1982 the Navy instituted ‘Operation Upgrade’ to allow less that stellar sailor to leave before the end of enlistment and that offer was extended to me.

I do not regret my service. I made good friends, I saw a chunk of the world, and I got a first hand look at people, both my fellow sailors and civilians around the world, that opened my eyes of the incredible diversity of the human race.

The novel that landed an offer of representation in y email box is a military SF adventure and certainly my military background, however scant it is, informed that piece. I have a lot more military SF to write. I have friends that did the full twenty years and achieved retirement and though it was a career path that did not work out for me, I have the utmost respect for those who solider on and carry the weight I could not.


L.A. Trip and 3-D Dawn Of The Dead

Saturday a friend and I made the couple of hour drive from San Diego to Hollywood to fulfill a bit of seasonal entertainment. Using some discount combo passes I got through my day job we planned to do Universal Studios in the afternoon then stay for their ‘Halloween Horror Nights‘ before taking off for the Egyptian Theater on Hollywood Blvd and the World Premier of the 3-D version of 1978’s Dawn of the Dead.

For the most part the trip went as planned. The drive to Universal wasn’t too bad, moderate traffic, but a lot more than what I normally run into when I did the same thing on early Sunday mornings. Our Combo passes allowed entry into the theme parks after 2 pm so there was a lot of time but we of course visited the new attraction, a scarehouse inspired by the AMC program The Walking Dead. We got in a few rides and then it was time for dinner.

After a brief meal we re-entered the park for the Halloween Horror Nights. Here the park has set up themed mazes, more scarehouse really, and themed area with some fo their attractions still running. Because we had a movie to get to at 10 o’clock we knew we’d be fighting time and opted as our first maze the one with the shortest posted wait time – Freddy vs Jason.

Okay it may have had the shortest posted wait time, but it was beyond the park itself at the far end of the backlot. The hike to reach was long, but I did get to see sections of the lot I had never seen before. The maze itself was fun, with clever practical effects.

After that we returned to the upper lot of the theme parks – another long hike – and selected as our final maze Texas Chainsaw Massacre: Blood Brothers. This was a longer line and after the maze we departed straight for the Egyptian.

We arrived and discovered a line that stretched form the box office, through the theaters courtyard, down the sidewalk and around the corner. I had purchased our tickets on line we there was little fear of being locked out due to a sold out performance.

The show time was 10 pm but we weren’t even inside and the appoint hour came and left. We did eventually get in and I turned away from the crowd leading us up to the balcony. The Egyptian is an old school movie palace, huge and lovely. We had pretty decent seats and after getting our snacks settled in for the blood and mayhem.

Before the show there was a short talk by the film’s producers who over saw the 3-D retro-scan, making that start time even later. In the end I didn’t care.

The film looked gorgeous. The image was sharp and bright, the 3-D effect better than many films shot and released in the 3-D today. There were times when I thought to myself ‘This is like looking through a window, not at a screen.’ I was very nice seeing the film in a theater. I own it on blu-ray and consider it to be Romero’s best Zombie movie, but I had never seen it in a proper theater. During the 1979 run I did see the film – at a Drive-in theater with spotty sound, a washed out picture, and while sitting on a bicycle. (I owned no car in high school.) So this was a real treat and worth not getting home until 3 o’clock in the morning. If you like this movie, or bloody gory zombies films, and this plays in your area, see it.


A General Update


So life has been – interesting of late and it has kept me away from my blog.

The principle issue is that ‘minor’ sprain I suffered at World Con in Kansas City. Well I had it x-rayed and while there are no broken bones the doctor pronounced it a serious sprain. I am wearing a brace on my dominant hand and that makes everything a challenge. I can type – poorly and slowly – so I am not out of work at my day job. I am working on my novel — nearly finished — but beyond those items I have little endurance at the keyboard.

However the convention was wonderful. There were events every hour and often more then one that I wanted to attend. I met old friends and new ones. I had a great time and came away from new idea and new energy.

Soon, next week, I will loose the brace and get back to my usual self.


Paramount Studio Tour

Here is a brief and very top level account of my 4 1/2 hours tour of Paramount Studios this past Thursday.

First off I arrived at the studio a full 30 minutes before I had expected and spent a little time decompressing and drinking an English breakfast tea. Then it was off to the studio.

IMG_0988I checked in, got my badge, and was informed that in all likelihood I’d be hearing my name a lot during the day. (Robert Evans is a producer at Paramount and was involved in some of their most famous films.) People waited for the tour in a staging area with items from films and Oscars on displays. Soon my tour guide arrive, Aaron, collected the three other people in our group and we were off. (My V.I.P. tour was just 4 people which made for a vey nice and conversation experience.)IMG_0978

We drove around the lot and Aaron was very well informed and knew his job quite well. We IMG_0988visited the historic Bronson gate where people used to arrive in hope of scoring jobs as extra and bit players. Charles Bronson was discovered there and took his name from the street. (The street is no longer there as the Studio has expanded since then.)

We drove past active soundstages and though Aaron was not allowed to tell us what was shooting on the film stages I worked out from the clues that it was the up coming SF film, The God Particle. IMG_1116Another interesting location was the old production buildings where writers, directors, and star under IMG_0993contract worked. You can see the producers builders in the Star Trek Episode Patters of Force doubling as the NAZI headquarters.

Of course their backlot has a New York set, one locale is where the famous statue of Liberty head comes bouncing down the street in Cloverfield. There was another standing exterior set, The Alley, which is used as the dangerous street/alley in many television shows.IMG_1003

IMG_1109We also visited on of the four film vaults on the property. This was not a film vault per se as it was a vault of VHA, BETA, and all sorts of various storage media for the titles.IMG_1042IMG_1038

They provided a buffet lunch outdoors, picnic style. The weather, though warm, was pleasant and the others guests and the guides all made for a friendly setting.IMG_1082

We visited the archive, which is the closest thing Paramount has to a museum. IMG_1073I have the impression that unlike Warner Brothers Paramount only recently began a corporate culture of preservation of artifacts in the last few decades. However unlike WB they allowed photos in the archive while WB forbade them in their museum.IMG_1076

We ended the tour in the Prop Warehouse, a place where many oversized props are stored and displayed.IMG_1123

Over all I very much enjoyed the tour and would recommend it if you come to Los Angeles.


I’m back


Well, the last couple of weeks were less than fun. A week ago Thursday my sweetie-wife dropped me off at the curb for my day-job. This is all very routine but what followed was not. I swung the car door closed with my left hand. My wife, thinking I had released the door, put the car into motion. The motion jerked my fingers, partially wrapped at the window frame of the passenger window. She stopped at once and I did not think that I had suffered any injury, waved her off and went to work.

Ahh, the lovely delayed action of soft tissue damage.

By the time I reached my desk pain, sharp and deep, pierced some of my finger joints. Within fifteen minutes the swelling grew prominent and it was clear that there had been some sort of injury. I soldiered on for a few more minutes but I was forced to admit I needed to seek medical help.

I logged out and caught on Uber to a nearby medical facility. A couple of hours and an X-ray later I was home with the 3rd and 4th fingers of my left hands strapped to splint, putting me out commission for typing.

The doctors diagnosed the injury as pulled tendons and predicted I would need to wear the splint for 1-2 weeks. Seeing as I type at the day-job for a living the doctors put me on limited duty and I was sent home. I watched a lot of videos, movies, and T.V. shows frustrated that I could not work at either job. My novel had reached 73,000 and my assessment of it was rosy.

Luckily I healed on the faster side of the range and a week later the medics cleared the removal of the splint.

I am back at work at the day-job and back on the novel. Where I had hoped to complete the first draft by this week it now looks like another two weeks before I’ll get there. (There was the one-week down and the book is running a bit long. I think it will land between 85,000 and 90,000 words instead of 80,000.)

Still, it is good to be back.