Monday, June 29, 2015

It's Hot

The high yesterday where I live was (according to my smart phone) 111°F (that's 43.9°C).

That was hot.

I stayed inside where my air conditioner kept the house at a nice 75°F (23.8°C). I was sipping ice water and watching Aliens on my flat-screen television. And I got thinking about how much of what I was doing would be, to someone 50 or 100 years ago, be absolute science fiction.

Fifty years ago, air conditioning in houses was very rare. One hundred years ago it hadn't been invented, yet.

Fifty years ago you could make ice in your freezer, but had to use ice cube trays which limited production. Because of my ice maker, I have a near limitless supply of ice. One hundred years ago, you had to get ice out of lakes and rivers in winter and store it through the summer. The ice man brought it around to put in your ice box.

Fifty years ago the cell phone was a pipe dream and smart phones were in Dick Tracy comics. One hundred years ago the phone was rare and expensive and didn't work very well.

Fifty years ago, television was black and white and the largest screens were less than 20 inches. One hundred years ago radio for commercial purposes has just under development.

Fifty years ago you never watched a movie at home except maybe one interrupted by commercials on your small black and white television. One hundred years ago, movies were silent and black and white.

Can you imagine going back fifty years with your smartphone and laptop computer. You'd probably double the computer power of the world at the time. If not more than that. But people would be amazed at what you could do (of course, there's be no cell towers so you couldn't do much with your phone other than play Angry Birds).

Now think about fifty or 100 years from now. How will things be different. We probably can't even imagine.

Friday, June 26, 2015

The Speculative Fiction Cantina with Robin Tidwell and Jeff Crawford

Today on the Speculative Fiction Cantina we are please to welcome Robin Tidwell and Jeff Crawford

Robin Tidwell
Robin Tidwell

Robin's writing career began at the age of eight, when her grandmother insisted she read Gone with the Wind before taking her to see the movie. Inspired by Margaret Mitchell, she began scribbling little booklets of stories, and was the editor of her elementary school newspaper and a columnist in high school. She submitted a short story to Seventeen magazine and was promptly rejected, but still keeps a copy of the manuscript in her desk.

Robin has worked as a snack bar cook, a salad prepper, a camp counselor, a waitress, a receptionist, a housekeeper, a freelancer, an editor, and an employment consultant and manager. She's also been in car sales, skin care sales, cookware sales, advertising sales, and MLM. She's owned and operated an entrepreneurial conglomerate, a cleaning service, an old-time photography studio, a bookstore, and a publishing house.

Six years ago, Robin and her husband Dennis moved back to St. Louis, after many years in Columbia, Sedalia, Colorado Springs, Durango, and Granbury and Tolar, Texas. They live with their youngest son, a dog, a cat, and a new puppy.

Robin's Books

Robin's Links

Jeff Crawford
Jeff Crawford

I was born and raised in a small community in western North Carolina. I lived ten years in central Florida where I cowboyed for a living during and after graduating high school. I thn moved into the breeding and foaling part of the thoroughbred race horse industry. After moving back to North Carolina, I attended college where I majored in Industrial Management. I worked in a ball bearing factory for ten years than as an engineer where I helped develop cutting-edge critical care beds for hostpitals. I have been helping to run the day-to-day operations in a family owned cut and sew factory since 1994 in the sam county where I was born.

Besides writing I enjoy hunting, fishing, running my own apple cider mill, playing several different musical instruments, and following University of Florida athletics. American history is a bit of a passion for me and it usually comes out in one for or another in all of my books.

Jeff's Boosk

Jeff's Link

From Today's show: Is the Universe Bubbly?

Listen to this show live or in archive here.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Assassins Anthology on Sale for 99 Cents

The Central Washington Writers' Guild anthology Tales of Assassins is on sale for 99 cents this week (until Tuesday) for the Kindle version.
They are a symbol of awe and wonder, a breed that defies the line between what is safe and what is dangerous, the characters genre fiction readers have fallen in love with generation after generation, whether they were kind and noble creatures or terrifying enemies.
Enjoy eleven spine-tingling tales of murder, mayhem, and mystery by talented authors. The genres range from fantasy, science fiction, mainstream, and humor. It's a great opportunity to read a variety of authors and learn their styles.

Oh, and I have a story in there, too.

So while it's on sale (until Tuesday), get your Kindle copy of Tales of Assassins.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Summer Solstice

Today as I write this, it is the day of the Summer Solstice. The word solstice basically means "sun stopping" or "sun standing." It is like the word armistice has the same Latin root and means "arms standing."

A solstice is not a day. It is the time that the Sun reaches it's most northern (summer) or southern (winter) point. The Sun is directly overhead of the Tropic of Cancer in the Northern Hemisphere during the Summer Solstice.

The Summer Solstice was at 6:39 AM Eastern Daylight Time, or 9:39 AM Pacific Daylight Time where I live.

Summer Solstice means that if you live north of the Arctic Circle (66°33′45.8″ degrees latitude) you will have at least one day of permanent sunshine. The city of Fairbanks, Alaska is at 64°50′37  degrees latitude (less than 120 miles south of the Arctic Circle) and will have about 23 hours of daylight today.

For some reason, pagans like to dance at Stonehenge today. Not quite sure why. As if an astrological event can affect people's lives on Earth.

People mistakenly called the day of the Summer Solstice "the longest day of the year" when what they mean is it's the longest daylight of the year. Where I live, sunrise was at 5:01 this morning and sunset will be at 8:56 this evening. That's 15 hours and 55 minutes of the sun being up (if my math is correct).

When someone says "It's the longest day of the year" I usually add sardonically "Yep, 25 hours."

So enjoy the "longest day of the year." Pretty soon (well, six months) we'll have the shortest day of the year, the Winter Solstice.

Friday, June 19, 2015

The Speculative Fiction Cantina With Susan Kite and Frances Pauli

Today on the Speculative Fiction Cantina we are proud to welcome Susan Kite and Frances Pauli

Susan Kite
Susan Kite

Susan Kite was born in Indiana, but moved extensively during her growing up years. The library was the first place she found after a move, avidly reading the works of Andre Norton, Anne McCaffrey, and many others. In her teens, she dabbled in writing, but with college and marriage, writing was mostly put on hold.

That changed about fifteen years ago when the writing bug bit again. A visit to the Mission San Luis Rey in California in 2001 and subsequent research became the catalyst to write her first novel, My House of Dreams. A fantasy short story was included in an anthology published in 2013 called "aMUSEing Tales."

The author earned her Bachelor’s degree in English and a Master’s degree in Instructional Media at Utah State University. She has worked in public school libraries for over thirty years, most recently in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Ms. Kite has been married to the love of her life, for over 35 years. They have two children, seven grandchildren, and are owned by one bossy cat and an opinionated chiweenie-terrier.
Frances Pauli
Frances Pauli

Frances Pauli writes across multiple genres. Her work is speculative, full of the fantastic, and quite often romantic at its core. Whenever possible, she enjoys weaving in a little humor.

Once upon a time she was a visual artist, but she’s since come to her senses. Now she fills her minuscule amount of free time with things like crocheting, belly-dancing, and abysmal ukulele playing.

Frances's Latest Books

Seen (Princes of the Shroud Book Two)

Carried Away (Kingdoms Gone Romance Book 1)

Frances's Links


From Today's Show: Microbes Survive in Space

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

I Want a Pause Button

I want a pause button. Not on life (although that would be nice sometimes while you think about how to react to something), but on GPS systems.

Here's what I mean. I want a button that simply pauses the navigation. This should be a simple software fix and very doable and I'm not sure why no one offers this.

Why? You set up your navigation system to take you on a long trip. But at some point on that trip you might want food or need gas for the car or to take a bathroom break. You pull off the main highway to get what you need and your GPS system freaks out. It keeps telling you to turn around, take a right and then a right, and constantly intones "RECALCULATING."

But if you could hit a pause button, get off the highway, find a gas station or something to eat, then get back on the highway and hit the pause button again to resume navigation, it would be much less annoying.

As I said, this should be a pretty simply software fix. So get on that, please, GPS makers.

Friday, June 12, 2015

The Speculative Fiction Cantina with Natsuya Uesugi and Erik Buchanan

Today on the Speculative Fiction Cantina we are please to welcome Natsuya Uesugi and Erik Buchanan

Natsuya Uesugi

Natsuya Uesugi is a systems analyst and has worked in the design of aerospace, semiconductor and financial systems. With a Master’s degree in International Management and a minor in Japanese Natsuya has been around computers most of his life. He also studied animation and game design in art school, where he finalized the character designs and personalities for the main characters of grydscaen. He enjoys skydiving, cosplay, anime and writing poetry. He would like to make a graphic novel of grydscaen some day.

Natsuya's Book:

Grydscaen: Tribute 

Natsuya's Links:


Erik Buchanan
Erik Buchanan

Erik Buchanan is writer, ghostwriter, communications consultant, fight director and actor living in Toronto, Canada.  He is the author of the Thomas Flarety Stories: Small Magics, Cold Magics and True Magics (out fall 2014) published by Dragon Moon Press, as well as several short stories and over 300 articles on topics ranging from consumer electronics to where to get the flu shot.  Currently, Erik is writing a young adult horror series set in Victorian London, an historical fiction piece set in Pre-Elizabethan England, and a web series where Erik expects he will get thumped about a fair bit.

Erik's Books:

Small Magics

Cold Magics

True Magics

Erik's Links:


From Today's Show: Cubesats

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Not a Good Day

I make no secret of the fact I'm bipolar. However, I feel as if I'm one of the lucky ones. I am type-2 bipolar with dysthymia. This means I'm usually depressed (dysthymic) but I occasionally go manic. My bipolar did not affect my life much other than feeling miserable most of the time. I called it "floating depression" because it was like this dark cloud hung over me. Except when I was manic when I was either unreasonably happy or unreasonably angry (usually the latter). And, for years I'd wake up in the morning and the first thing I would think was "should I kill myself?" And the upside was, if I did kill myself, I didn't have to go to work!

But, I found a good psychiatrist and after some experimenting with meds, we found a combination that works for me. (He first put me on lithium which completely changed my personality). I call it a "cocktail" because I'm taking two prescription meds plus one OTC supplement. And it keeps me feeling pretty good. There are days the brain chemistry overwhelms the meds and I might feel a bit manic or a bit blue. But nothing I can't handle. And I haven't had suicidal thoughts since starting the one med I'm still on.

When people talk about the "evils" of "big pharma" I remember that "big phrama" came up with the drugs that literally saved my life.

Then yesterday I ran out of one of my meds. I take this one twice a day and yesterday I didn't take any. The reason I ran out is we mail order 90 days worth because it's cheaper (a lot cheaper) then getting 30-day supplies at the local pharmacy.

So yesterday wasn't too bad. And the meds arrived this morning via FedEx and I took one (albeit a bit later than usual). But today, I just feel like crap. I have no motivation to do anything. I should be working on my latest work in progress and I don't want to. It's the old floating cloud syndrome.

I'm wondering if I need to get the level of that drug back up in my system. This is the first time I've been without it since I started taking it.

So, just a bad day today. I'm hoping tomorrow is better as I take the drug today. But this is a lesson in one thing: I need my meds.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Television Review: Orphan Black

I don't usually do television show reviews (except for Babylon 5 a while back) but in the case of Orphan Black, I'll make an exception.

I got the first four episodes on DVD from Netflix and all I can say is . . . wow! Even though going in I knew it was about (spoiler alert) clones, I was amazed at the mystery presented. And each episode kept screwing up the tension as more and more (spoiler alert) clones showed up. I can see why this show is popular.

The actress who plays all the (spoiler alert) clones does a great job with each character. Each woman is different from the main character who's a bit of a punk to a soccer mom. It's fun to watch what role she'll take on next.

It has it's quirks. It's set in the US but has British actors (lots of British accents and some American ones) and seemed to be filmed mostly in the UK. And in some cases they just don't get US culture correct.

But you ignore all that because the show sucks you in and never lets go. After four episodes I'm ready to watch them all. I have no idea where they are going to go with this (please don't tell me). If you're not watching this, you should be.

I have two more discs in the first season (I assume 4 episodes per disc). I think the second season is also on Netfilx. And I think the show is in its 3rd season so I hope to catch up to it soon.

Check it out if you haven't. It's really good, especially for television.

Friday, June 5, 2015

The Speculative Fiction Cantina with David Barclay and J. Drew Brumbaugh

Today on the Speculative Fiction Cantina we are proud to welcome David Barclay and J. Drew Brumbaugh

David Barclay
David Barclay

Originally from Baltimore and inspired by Poe, David wrote his first horror story at the age of 10, a harrowing tale of a young boy and an evil monkey. Twenty-five years and 3000 miles later, David is now living in the San Francisco bay area working as a writer and professional game developer.

He released his first novel, The Aeschylus, this past December. During its first KDP promotional event, it became the #1 most downloaded free political thriller on Amazon.

His short fiction has appeared in the Acidic Fiction e-zine and in the quarterly horror anthology, Infernal Ink. His next book project, The Maker's Box, is coming soon from Damnation Books.
David's Books

David's Links

J. Drew Brumbaugh
J. Drew Brumbaugh

J. Drew Brumbaugh lives in northeast Ohio where he spends his time writing sci-fi, fantasy and suspense novels, teaching and training at the karate dojo he and his wife founded, building a Japanese garden in his back yard, and taking walks in the woods with his wife, Carolyn, and their husky, Blue.  He has three novels in print, a collection of short stories, and a co-authored children’s book.  He continues to work on his next book and seems to always have several stories in various stages of completion.

Drew's Books


War Party

Foxworth Terminus

Drew's Links


From today's show: Asteroid Deflection Mission