Friday, October 2, 2015

The Speculative Fiction Cantina whit Dianna Beirne and R. J. Eliason

Today on the Speculative Fiction Cantina we are proud to welcome Dianna Beirne and R. J. Eliason.

Dianna Beirne
Dianna Beirne

Dianna Beirne is the author of the Young Adult Fantasy series Aurelious Forty which includes Aurelious Forty; Volume One, Aurelious Forty; Volume Two and, the about to be released, Aurelious Forty; Volume Three. Prior to dedicating her time to writing, Dianna taught undergraduate and graduate courses about using literacy in the elementary, middle, and high school classroom.

She graduated from St. Bonaventure University with a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education, then obtained a Master’s degree in Literacy from Hofstra University before culminating her own academic endeavors with a Doctorate in Education specializing in Curriculum and Teaching from Northcentral University.

Dianna lives in New York and is the grateful mother of a son whom she misses terribly when he is away at college.

Dianna's Books:

Dianna's Links:

R.J. Eliason
R. J. Eliason

Ms. Eliason is both a writer and a fan of deeply immersive science fiction and fantasy novels. She loves to share with her fans the worlds she is creating, and the ones she is discovering. She writes contemporary YA novels dealing with LGBT themes under the name Rachel Eliason and fantasy/science fiction under R. J. Eliason.

R.J.'s Books:

R.J.'s Links:

From today's show: Giant Ice Sheet on Mars

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Is All-Wheel Drive/Four-Wheel Drive Good for Winter Driving

I just finished reading an article called "Do you Really Need AWD in the Snow?" The gist of the article was that a good set of snow tires on a car with front or real-wheel drive can be better than all-wheel-drive or four-wheel-drive without snow tires.

What's the difference between all-wheel drive (AWD) and four-wheel drive (4WD)? AWD is permanent, all the time. It is designed to operate in all conditions including dry pavement.  4WD can be turned on and off. It is usually designed only for off-road or slick roads. It used to be (still might be) you could damage a vehicle by using 4WD on dry pavement.

(And why is four-wheel drive abbreviated "4WD" and not FWD? Because FWD means "Front Wheel Drive.")

I currently own a car that is AWD. I didn't buy it because it had AWD. I bought it because, well, I wanted it. The AWD was an added bonus (the car doesn't come any other way).

Last year I put snow tires on it and happened to drive over Snoqualmie Pass on what turned out to be the worst weather day of the year. The State Patrol had turned on the "Chains Required" sign. But, if you have AWD or 4WD and snow tires, you don't have to put chains on. So I didn't (I don't even own chains for that car). At one point I was going uphill in a lane that hand not been plowed or driven in recently and I was passing people (I was doing about 45 mph). It was great. I've never had more confidence going over that pass in bad weather. (And I've done it in a car with fat summer tires with chains required.)

At one point a Dodge Durango passed us going what I thought was too fast. And I was apparently right, because about a mile down the road, he was wrecked, having ran off the road and into the mountain side and bounced back into the road. He managed to stay on his wheels but there were pieces of sheet metal scattered about.

Which brings me to my point. AWD and 4WD will get your car moving in slick conditions. But you still need to be able to stop and turn. And for that you need snow tires. Some people with AWD/4WD think it makes them invincible in slick conditions. It doesn't. It helps, but snow tires help more.

So while the article argued that snow tires might be a better option (and cheaper in the long run), I think it more has do with the driver and their skill and intelligence level. As I said, I took a car with fat summer tires over Snoqualmie Pass when chains were required and didn't put on chains or anything. Because I knew how to drive in snow (having grown up in snowing Southeast Idaho) I could do that. That, and I was young and crazy.

Snow tires help a lot, and are cheaper than AWD/4WD. And AWD/4WD helps, but even still you'll probably want to put on snow tires.

But driver attitude and skill are going to trump technology every time. As we used to say on the racetrack, money can buy a nice car, but it can't buy skill or talent. The same is true for winter driving.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Turnovers Killed Us

In the University of Washington's loss yesterday to the California Golden Bears, going into the end of the fourth quarter the Huskies had given up five turnovers which resulted in 17 points for the Bears. We lost by 16 points (30-24). The game ended when a last-hope drive by the Huskies was stopped by yet another Cal interception, for a total of 6 turnovers.

For a while it look good. The Huskies were on top of a very good California team. But then the turnovers happened. The score actually doesn't reflect the dominance of the Bears. The Husky defense seemed to play most of the game but still did well, often holding the Bears to the field goal or simply forcing them to punt.

I'm still impressed with true-freshmen quarterback Jake Browning. Yes, he made some bad mistakes but he's improving every game. The Bears defense was just better then what he's faced before, except maybe the BSU Broncos in the first game of the season.

This loss moves the Huskies to 2-2 for the season and 0-1 in conference. This is looking more and more like a re-building year and maybe next year we'll live up to the hype that Coach Chris Petersen was hired with.

The Huskies have a bye next week and then on Thursday October 8th play USC in Los Angeles. We can pray for a miracle.

Friday, September 25, 2015

The Speculative Fiction Cantina with Ava Morgan and Nick Olivo

Today on the Speculative Fiction Cantina we are proud to welcome writers Ava Morgan and Nick Olivo.

Ava Morgan

Ava Morgan is a history buff, vintage style lover, and a bibliophile. She'll read anything she can get her hands on, especially steampunk, fantasy, and pulp fiction. When she's not writing, Ava can be found bicycling with her husband, raising two furry canine children, costuming, and traveling.

Ava's Books:

The Aether Alchemist (The Curiosity Chronicles #4)

Dominique’s Dilemma (A Curiosity Chronicles Short)

Transplanted (The Grafters, Book 2)

Ava's Links:


Nick Olivo

Nick Olivo
My childhood consisted of way too many video games, comic books and 80’s cartoons. Add in a healthy appetite for Tolkien and Stephen King, and the end result was a geek who had visions of someday writing his own novels.

And now here I am. Married, kids, and a whole bunch of stories about half-gods, gremlins, and gentleman necromancers. Life is good.

Nick's Books:

Masks of Mayhem 

Jewel of Shambhala

Crimson Mantis

Nick's Links


From Today's Show: Full "Supermoon" Lunar Eclipse Sunday 12/27

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

No Convertables

Ferrari 488 Spider
I just saw on Facebook a picture of the Ferrari 488 Spider. Beautiful car. But, even if I had the means, I'd never buy one. How much do they cost? Well, if you have to ask . . .

Why won't I buy the Spider? Because I loath convertibles. I've had a bit of experience with them, renting them in Hawaii and Florida.

I do not love drop tops and not even for all the good reasons a car guy like me shouldn't (increased weight, poorer handling, etc.). My dermatologist tells me I have "type one" skin. All I know is I sunburn in about ten minutes (no, I'm not exaggerating).

I also have a little (okay, a lot) less hair on top than I did 20 years ago. So driving a convertible to me means 1) wearing a hat (that will most likely blow off if I exceed parking lot speeds) and 2) wearing sunscreen in order to drive the car.

Oh, and sunscreen attracts all sorts of wind-blown road dust and grime, did I mention?  Filthy arms are very attractive at the Ruth Chris.

And God help you when it rains because you have a choice: drive in the rain or pray you can get the top up before the light turns green.  But at least you're no long getting a sunburn.

Side note: Why are sporty convertibles called "spiders" (or sometimes "spyders")? Because of this:

This open-top carriage was called a "spider" because its big wheels made is slightly resemble an arachnid. It was also small and light, sort of a "sports carriage." When car manufacturers started building topless sports cars, they applied the same name to them: "spider."

And now you know.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Huskies Win Again!

I'm getting a little frustrated with PAC-12 Networks. Last week they cut away from the Husky game to show another game so we missed most of the fourth quarter, and this week they didn't cut away from the Nike Ducks game (Phil Knight sure buys them some ugly uniforms) for the Husky game so we missed most of the 1st quarter. It wasn't as if the Oregon game was close. They were playing Georgia State and the final score was 61-28.

Luckily, both times there were no scores made in the Husky game while they weren't showing them.

This week the University of Washington Huskies played Utah State University. USU was not a push-over team and have been very successful that past couple of years, going to and winning bowl games. However, from the start of when I got to see the game, the Huskies dominated. I'm becoming very impressed with true-freshman quarterback Jake Browning. He is starting to show poise, accuracy, and good decision making. On one play he was running from defenders, saw an open receiver (Dwayne Washington), tossed him the ball, and the Washington ran it in for an 81-yard touchdown.

Browning did make one mistake and that was throwing an interception on the first play of the second half. But the freshman came back the next time the Huskies had the ball and connected over and over with his receivers. I can't wait to see how good this kid will be next year.  Also it's kind of fun to say "Go Jake!" again, as we did during the Jake Locker era.

As I've probably said before, the Huskies are a very young team. They can only get better. We may not do great this year, but the next few years ought to be pretty fun.

But I think I've said that before, too.

The final score was 31-17 for the Huskies.

Next week we play a tough California at home. This week, California barely beat Texas in Austin. And Texas is no push-over, either. It's going to be an interesting game.

Friday, September 18, 2015

The Speculative Fiction Cantina with H.R.B. Collotzi and John Murphy

Today on the Speculative Fiction Cantina we are proud to welcome H.R.B. Collotzi and John Murphy

H.R.B. Collotzi
H.R.B. Collotzi

I was born in Berlin, Germany as an army 'brat'. Early in life I found a love for telling stories, but when my parents told me to stop lying, I kept them inside my head. When I got older (and hopefully wiser) I decided to turn those 'lies' into stories again. I began a serious (if you can call fantasy serious) writing career in 2010. The Secret of Avonoa was my first published novel and The Shadow of Avonoa is the second! I have outlines for three more books in the Avonoa series. I also have a couple of modern-day sci-fi novels on the backburner that I plan to go back and re-vamp into young adult novels when my dragon series is finished. I currently live in Minnesota (yes, by choice) with my husband and our three kids. I also enjoy doing martial arts, Jiu Jitsu being my current passion.

H.R.B.'s Books:

The Secret of Avonoa

The Shadow of Avonoa

H.R.B.'s Links:


John Murphy

John Murphy
John Murphy was a Corporal in the US Marine Corps. He went to college, succeeded in the software industry, then wrote, Success Without a College Degree. He’s traveled the world and relieved himself on all seven continents. His wife is a Blackjack ninja; he has three sons: a Marine Corps officer, a video game producer, and a travel blogger. While he enjoys writing fiction and about career success, he smokes cigars, shoots guns, rides Harleys, skis fast, drinks tequila straight, thinks about alien invasion, combat, and the future of mankind, so he wrote Mission Veritas.

John's Books:

Mission Veritas

The Vulgus Chronicles - Part 1

The Vulgus Chronicles - Part 2

John's Links:


From Today's Show: Pulsar Confirms Gravitational Constant is Constant