Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Screw the water, this is what I want to know...

Yep, now the Martians can set up watering stands and wait for thirsty astronauts to crawl by.  They'll clean up.  Mars has a unique status in that someone with even a modest telescope can get a fairly good look at the place.  You can't do that with the other planets.  But there's still a heck of a lot we don't know about the place.  And out little rovers are unpeeling its secrets at a snail's pace. 

Here's what I'd still like to know: [NASA doesn't worry about stuff like this, but I do]

Will potatoes grow on Mars?
That may seem odd. In my forthcoming novel Bonded Agent, which takes place on Mars, I claim potatoes won't grow there.  It was just something I threw in for colour about life on Mars.  Still, I sure wish NASA or the ESA would send up a few bushels of potatoes up there and plant them and see if they'll grow or not.  What's a few million bucks or Euros in the name of science?

If they find some abandoned cabin or some temple ruins, what will they do with them?  

Now, back to this water thing.  What kind of fish do they have? What if they find fish swimming around in some creek?  Will they try and eat them or just let them swim around?  You know how bad some guy with a fly rod would want to go after the first Martian trout?

Can you fly a kite on Mars?  
I'd sure like to know this.  

If human astronauts go to Mars, what are they going to do with all the poop?
Are they going to bury it?  Leave it in piles like they do on Mt. Everest? What?
Heck I've never been able to find out what they did with the poop from the moon missions.


Is this Mars or the moon?

Sunday, September 27, 2015

And Speaking of MHC

And while on the subject of Mile Hi Con, I have a story in a new anthology being released at MHC. It's called Under A Dark Sign.  My story is called "The Venerable Assassin" and is set in California at the tail end of the gold rush era.



Saturday, September 26, 2015

Little Green Men

It was not much of a secret that, back when I was editing Science Fiction Trails, I had a particular fondness for stories involving flying saucers and or little green men.  I'm not entirely sure why that is.I'm actually a UFO skeptic.  Nonetheless, I am somewhat fond of stories with flying saucers in them.  Surprisingly, I've actually had very few such stories submitted to me. 

Why do I bring this up now?  Well, I've been reviewing my notes about Martians.  I'm co-presenting something called 19th Century Martians at the rapidly approaching Mile Hi Con.  Seems a heck of a lot of folks in the 1800s believed there was life on Mars.  Ah, those were simpler times.  And people were seeing canals and getting messages from Martians all over the place.  Why? Maybe there really were Martians. Maybe it was some other things at work.  But that's what the presentation is about.

On a related note, I'm also seriously considering hosting an Invaders party. That would involve sitting around and watching the 1967 TV show The Invaders.  There's nothing else quite like it.  It was a network prime time show put out by Quin Martin--the folks who made a lot of cop shows back then. These alien guys were really mean and had some serious weapons.  And, back then, I thought it was about the coolest thing I'd ever seen.  So, am I reliving my childhood or is there something else wrong with me?  The jury is still out on that.

At least I stopped talking about light bulbs. 

Friday, September 25, 2015

Francis

A few coworkers and I were talking about the pope.  I said I wondered if the pope played chess.  Everyone else thought that was weird.  I said I'd love to play chess with the pope.  That was countered with, "If you could meet the pope you'd just play chess? Really?"

Duh. Yeah.


Thursday, September 24, 2015

Safety

Do light bulbs stop crime? I dunno.  I doubt it. Still, I feel better in a well lighted area.  Our highway system went through a de-lamping phase when the economy tanked a few years ago. I don't know if it affected safety or not.  I've noted they've now got the lights back on in some particularly accident prone areas.  And these are LED lights. Makes sense, really. LED lights last longer and use less energy. And they seem quite bright. 

Ergo, why are home use LED bulbs so blasted dim?  Something doesn't add up right.

And, obviously, all week I've been ranting about light bulbs? When will I stop?  No one knows. Maybe soon.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Random thoughts on light bulbs

Light bulbs cost too much.

A staggering amount of energy is wasted illuminating empty hallways and rooms, especially in commercial buildings.

The energy efficient bulbs simply are not bright enough.

I love going to hardware stores and looking at light bulbs.

I really like the LED Christmas lights.

I have an LED flashlight that works really well and throws way more light than the old style flashlights with bulbs in them. Ergo, if a flashlight puts out more light that brings me back to why are the LED lights for home use so darned dim.

 Why can't they reverse engineer whatever the flying saucers at Area 51 use for light and put it on the market?  Flying saucers put out a lot of light.

People around here have doggie flashlights. They hang around the dog's neck and shine down on the ground.  Dogs don't need flashlights.  And, if the intent is to be seen, a reflective collar would accomplish the same thing.


Monday, September 21, 2015

More Dim Bulbs

People told me that they have brighter LED lights out there.  Well, i sure haven't found them.  I went to the hardware store and they sure did not have anything brighter than 60w equivalent. 

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Dim Bulbs

Now, folks have heard me comment on how stupid people can be. But that's not what this entry is about.  The energy efficient light bulbs are all too dim.  It's hard to even find anything over 60w equivalent in an LED bulb.   That might work in some places but I want a reading lamp and that simply is not bright enough.  So if the dim bulbs who manufacture these dim bulbs could come up with something brighter, I'd be much obliged.


Friday, September 18, 2015

Writin n readin

For a project I'm editing one of the contributors sent me something I have never seen for an anthology before.  I got a story entirely in rhyming verse.  I'll say, I was impressed.  This is something I've never seen before.  To do this successfully requires some considerable skill.  Alas, although I wanted the story to succeed, it did not.  And although I admire it when writers takes risks, many of them lack the skill to pull it off, which is what happened here.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Morons From Outer Space

I recently sent out an email to a whole bunch of people mentioning the Martian moon Deimos. I spelled it Demos.  I didn't catch it.  I'm mortified.  It's not that having a typo is going to end the world so much as that I misspelled a Martian moon and the email was about Mars.  I am simply mortified.  

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Penz

Pens are something you don't really think about all that much.  You just write with one and put it away.  That's why the past week has been so baffling. Every pen I pick up doesn't work.  I must've gone through 20 of the darned things.  They were all either out of ink or defective.  I usually have a pen problem once or twice a year.  To top it off I went to the bank yesterday.  I wanted to fill out a deposit slip and I noticed there were no pens around. Banks always have pens.  The teller informed me they were all out of working pens.  

"Then how do I make a deposit" I asked.

"I'll type it into the computer for you."  And she did.

I guess all of our pens are coming from that large Asian country that's notorious for crappy goods.  


Saturday, September 12, 2015

Clueless in Colorado

One way you know you've arrived  into Geezerhood is when you start thinking young people are hopeless. Why are they hopeless?  When you mention movies or books and they stare blankly at you. I've been thinking about hosting a video party at Mile Hi Con.  I've been asking people which they'd like to watch: Kolchak the Night Stalker, UFO, or The Invaders. And they stare back blankly at me. What the hell is wrong with these young uns? They don't know nothin'.  

God forbid if any Millennials are reading this or even younger, Kolchak:The Night Stalker is from 1974.  UFO is from 1970.  The Invaders was actually a prime time network show from 1967. I grew up on these shows. They made me what I am today. [That's more of an argument to go downstairs and play Scrabble. Scrabble is a board game. It's fun. Yes it is] I'm leaning toward The Invaders, but that's a tough one to find. The librarian stared blankly at me. It's on Amazon, but not cheap.

And then you find out they have no idea how to play chess. 

I guess I'll just start calling all of them Sonny.  I'm going to have to start showing them Far Side cartoons.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Stuff

In case anyone's wondering, here's the current status of things I've mentioned that were in the works.:

I will be at Mile Hi Con next month [Oct 23-25].  More info later.  I'll be co-presenting on 19th Century Martians.  The con schedule isn't out yet so I know not what else I'll be doing.  I have a nifty story in Under a Dark Sign which is supposedly going to launch at the con.

I've edited a new weird western anthology called Heat of the Midday Sun which I hope will be out in early October.  It's a lot of Halloween appropriate content if you're looking for something for Halloween.

I've abandoned all hope of setting up a Halloween author reading.  Can't come up with a venue. 

I have a new science fiction novel that [hopefully] will be out this winter.  There was some discussion about bringing it out at Cosine in Colorado Springs, but that is not a done deal.  I'll update plans when I have more information.  

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

More Parking Lots

Imagine you're sitting in your car waiting for someone to come out of the store.  How many people will come up to you and demand to know when you're leaving because they want your space?  The answer is three.  

The strange thing about this is the grocery store lot was not full.  There were spaces available and people were still demanding mine even though I wasn't ready to leave yet.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Parking Lots

I've observed an astonishing amount of people seem to get their jollies by going the wrong way in grocery store parking lots.  Where it would be faster and more direct to go the correct direction for the aisle, I've noticed someone always seems to feel the need to zoom up the wrong way. If I'm coming down the aisle I will not yield to these people.  So they sit there and stare at me, then I flip them off and they eventually back up and get out of the way.  Did I mention how much I hate going to the store?  

Saturday, September 5, 2015

The Redshirt Freshman of Notre Dame

In honor of the start of college football season I'm running my story, as I do each year.  It first appeared a long time ago in Strange Days Magazine.

The Red Shirt Freshman Of Notre Dame

Otis Claverson didn't look too good when the trainers carried him off the field. His eyes were glazed over and his usually smiling face had been replaced by one filled with searing pain. “Seventy-three,” someone kept yelling. That number seemed familiar. Lizard Murphy glanced down at his jersey. He was number 73. He looked at Elmo Bruno, defensive coordinator for the Fighting Irish. “Lizard in,” the crusty man with the thinning crew cut ordered. Lizard put on his helmet and trotted onto the field. The last game of the regular season, a bowl bid and a national championship were on the line and Lizard had never played for a single minute during the entire season. He lined up at the right middle linebacker spot, replacing the injured Otis Claverson, who was in for only two plays for the starting linebacker.

  He grunted and looked mean for the benefit of the big tight end on the other side of the ball. Lizard glanced down and realized they were practically standing on the end zone. They were down by three points and there was only a minute left in the game and New Mexico State was about to score again — New Mexico State.

  The instant the ball was snapped, the  quarterback stepped back to pass. Lizard scrambled after the tight end. Lizard ran like a truck and had been put in to stop the anticipated run. For a big man, their tight end was fast—much faster than Lizard. Lizard tried to keep up. Suddenly the tight end turned back toward the quarterback. Lizard was behind him—way behind him, and the ball was going straight at the tight end, who was now five yards in front of Lizard. Then something strange happened that would change Lizard's life forever. The New Mexico State tight end vanished—just disappeared. The ball sailed straight into Lizard's gut. Somehow, Lizard managed to hang onto it.

“Down it you meathead!” he could hear coach Elmo yelling.

    There were a lot of the other guys between him and the other end zone nearly 100 yards away, but time was running out. He put his helmet down and charged ahead. The first state guy made contact on the five, a stiff arm sent him to the turf. By the 20, Lizard's lungs were hurting and he still had 80 yards to go. A second guy missed a tackle to his legs. Lizard looked over his shoulder. Micky D. was only a few yards behind him. The free safety was so much faster than he was. He tossed the ball—a perfect lateral to his teammate. Lizard stopped. His teammate sailed past him, dodged two tacklers and headed into open field.

    A few seconds later Notre Dame was back on top as Mick D. Spillner ran untouched into the end zone. People everywhere on the sidelines were cheering and jumping up and down—at least everywhere on the Notre Dame side. The State guys were jumping up and down too, but they were screaming and shaking their fists.

  The New Mexico State coach, finishing an undefeated rookie season, disregarded the fact that Notre Dame was setting up for the extra point and stormed out onto the field. The referee threw a flag and blew his whistle to stop play. “Where the hell's my tight end?” he yelled to the official.
 
After a five minute consultation, the referee ruled that the touchdown stood, and that there were ten seconds left on the clock. Campus security would have to deal with the mysterious disappearance of Buz Bombarella, star tight end for New Mexico State. Disappearing during a play was not covered in NCAA rules.

  Lizard was touched when Mickey D. gave him the football he'd lateraled to him. He vowed to cherish it forever.

 That evening, he was walking back to his room in the company of Juliet Mills, one of the cheerleaders who had suddenly taken an interest in him. He was about to explain how he'd come to be named Lizard, but he had an uneasy feeling that something wasn't quite right. Tearing his eyes away from he r, he looked around. There was a flying saucer hovering over the dorm. He broke into a run. In fact, if he'd ran that fast earlier, he could've scored the touchdown himself. He charged up the stairs and busted through the door to his room without even stopping to turn the knob or unlock it.

  A little green guy with black eyes and two antennae sticking out of his head was climbing out the  window — with the game ball. Lizard lunged after him and grabbed onto the ball. The green-guy jumped off the ledge and pulled Lizard off with him. Instead of falling, they ascended. Three seconds later, they were inside the flying saucer.

    Lizard kicked the green guy with enough force to get his football back.

    Five other green guys were standing around him, each one had a shiny cylinder pointed straight at Lizard's head.      He let the green guy take back the football.

  “It's you!” someone said. Lizard turned around. There was another green guy, but this one was wearing a Notre Dame jersey. The other green guys bowed. “I can't believe it's you. Would you autograph the football?”

  “Hell no.”

   “Please?”   “No way. It's my ball.” Lizard crossed his arms and tried to look as defiant as possible.

   “We'll kill you.”

 Lizard accepted the pen one of them was now holding and scrawled something with his right hand. Lizard was a southpaw and figured that was about as good as a bad forgery. They didn't seem to notice. “What's with you guys?” He handed back the football  

“Go Irish!” they all yelled in unison.An ugly thought entered his mind.

"You guys do something to that tight end?”

  They all started looking toward the ceiling. The one in the football jersey finally gestured for the others to put away their weapons. “You would've lost the national championship.”

“There were only fifty seconds left,” the others said, again all in unison. “A touchdown would've finished you.”

  “Where is he?” Lizard asked. “Did you transport him up?”
   “Out of range,” they all said.
   “We vaporized him. Maybe we got a little carried away.”

“This is too weird. Keep the damn ball.”

   “Ah, thank you,” the one in the jersey said. “You are too kind.”

“When we go to the Fiesta Bowl, you guys aren't going to . . . ?” Lizard asked.
  “No. We regret that little incident.”

  “Besides, Miami doesn't have a prayer. Go Irish!” they all yelled.


   “You wanted to see me?” Lizard asked as he stood at attention in Elmo Bruno's office.

   Bruno turned down the sound of the television. He'd been watching Jeopardy. “This ruckus about yesterday's game. The Fiesta Bowl just backed out of their invite. The boss is in there now trying to get us booked in some bowl in Alaska.”

    “Alaska?”

 “Yeah, and they're talking about going with Alcom State instead of us.”
  “Alcom?”

“I don't even know where the heck that is.”  Lizard sat down in one of the comfy leather chairs. “I wouldn't worry about it, sir. I think Notre Dame is entering a new era of football.”

  “How so?”

 The news team interrupted Jeopardy on the television to bring a report that the stadium in Arizona that was used by the Fiesta Bowl had just been leveled by an apparent earthquake. Police were denying rumors of a flying saucer sighting just moments before the quake. 



Author’s note: The way college bowls are awarded has changed substantially since this story was first published.


Medical Billing

I find it baffling how medical bills work.  I just got one for back in March.  It has a bunch of codes on it, but doesn't say what service was actually performed.    So I'm supposed to remember seven months back?  I just hate the way the medical system works.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Frying stuff up

Well, I broke down and bought a new frying pan yesterday.  I threw out the old one after the handle broke off and I spilled hash browns all over my floor.  I find that every five years or so I must break down and buy something new in kitchen ware.  That pan was bought when I bought my house six years ago. It was the cheapest frying pan I could find. Overall, I can't complain.  I've got some cutlery that goes back to the Clinton Administration.  It still looks just fine.  

Anyway, I bought my new frying pan at a large membership store that also sells lots of other stuff and does not have the word Sam in its name.  I'm not giving them a free plug, so I'm not mentioning them by name.  I cooked some french fries in it for my first project.  I actually do cook other things than just potatoes, the fact it was french fries was mere coincidence.  Keep on cooking!


Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Plan 9

As much as I love obscure science fiction, I'd never actually seen Plan  9 From Outer Space.  I'd heard about it but never bothered to watch it.  Well, yesterday I finally gave it a viewing.  In case you're unfamiliar with it, many critics have dubbed it the worst science fiction movie ever made. Well, I am inclined to agree.  It's really kind of a chore to watch the whole thing.  But, I persevered and managed to make it through to its conclusion.  One school of thought is movies like this are so bad they're fun to watch.  Well, I never felt any sense of joy from it.  I just kept hoping it would mercifully end.  The only thing that's even remotely interesting is the flying saucers.  They're kind of interesting to watch as they appear to be dangling from some sort of fishing line or wire and they bounce around. [I like shiny things].  Other than that, there are no redeeming qualities with this movie.  

A social experiment occurred to me that you could fill a theater and ask people to watch this movie and provide a critique at the end and you'd give them a dollar or something. The true purpose of the experiment would be to see if anyone remained at the end of the movie. I'm guessing it would be an empty theater. 

Still, I'm glad that I watched it, simply because I can now say I've seen it.  The late Aaron B. Larson [who died a few weeks ago and I've written about him] always said he was always glad when they made science fiction on film or for TV. His theory was any science fiction is better than no science fiction. I disagree.  We never actually discussed this movie.  It's the sort of movie that I would imagine they would play in hell, assuming hell has movies. 

If you're in a sour mood and want to torture yourself, it's readily available for download and most libraries have it.  And, if your kids have pissed you off, you could force them to watch it. I think it would be much more effective than grounding them.