Saturday, August 18, 2018

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Friendship

Time once again for the 52-week blogging challenge. Today's prompt is: "Friendship."

Being an introvert, I tend to have one good friend a few other friends, but mostly just that one good friend. This was the pattern as I grew up.

When I got married, my one good friend was my wife.

Right now my one good friend is a fellow writer in Canada and we communicate mostly via text. She's a Jeopardy fiend (has tried out for the show) so we often talk about the losers on the show.

I have friends that I met in Toastmasters and friends who are in my writing group. But those aren't close friends. At least not as close as my close friend.

How many friends do you have, and how many are close. Let me know in the comments below.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Friday, August 10, 2018

I Am at SpoCon in Spokane

Today I am at SpoCon in Spokane, Washington. I will be there through Sunday.

The con is at the Doubletree Hotel. Here's the address:

322 North Spokane Falls Court
Spokane, Washington

This is my first time at SpoCon as a visiting Pro. So I'm hoping to have a good time there. Follow this link for my panel and reading schedule.

I hope to see you there!

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Connect

Back to the 52-week blogging challenge. Today's prompt is simply "Connect."

I had to think about that for a while. What do they mean by "connect"?

With the internet I've connected to a lot of people I would never have met otherwise. I have Facebook friends all over the country and some in the U.K. and Canada. I was thinking about this, and I don't have any FB friends in the Southern Hemisphere (even though I've been to the Southern Hemisphere but I've never been to the U.K.). A lot of those distant friends I met through my publisher, World Castle Publishing. Others I met through writing forums, Twitter, and other social media.

My wife a long time ago somehow got involved in a ListServ (remember those) of women all over the world. At Christmas they exchange gifts. It has moved from email to Facebook, I understand.

I've connected to people through being in Toastmasters. Those are all local, Eastern Washington folks (although one moved to Mexico).

In today's world it's easy to connect with a lot of people. And I love learning about other cultures such as that of the U.K. and even Canada has a different culture than the U.S.

Who do you connect to and how? Let me know through the comments below.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Friday, August 3, 2018

Football has Changed

1990s Husky Quarterback
The other day I was watching Pac-12 Network and they were showing a University of Washington Huskies (Go Dawgs) game from the early 1990s. And I noticed something: in the past 30 or so years, football has changed.

In the 1990s the shoulder pads were huge compared to today. I don't know if that's because they can get as much protection with smaller pads today, or it was decided so much protection wasn't needed. I suspect the former. And I think the small pads have changed how the game is played. In the early 1990s, the game was more brute force. Today there seems to be more finesse as players can dodge and scramble to get out of tackles, not just barrel into each other.
Huskies' Current Quarterback

And I prefer today's football. Yes, there is still the rough and tumble part of it. But the quickness and skill of a running back able to dodge tackles and speed down the field is much more entertaining to watch. I love watching Jake Browning (the Huskies' current quarterback) run and throw and connect with his wide receivers moving with near ballet-like grace. Or see Myles Gaskin find a hole in the defensive line and scramble through it.

So the game has evolved, and I think for the better. Can't wait for the Huskies' first game on September 1st against Auburn. Just 29 days away!

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Weekends

Back to the 52-week blogging challenge. This week's prompt is "Weekends." Which reminds me of an old commercial tag line: "Weekends were made for Michelob."

As a freelance writer and author, my weekends are not much different from every other day. I do try to take some time off. And if there's college football (i.e., the University of Washington Huskies) on Saturday, I definitely watch that. (College football starts September 1st, so just under a month away!) And I often watch Seahawks football, but I'm more of a fair-weather fan than the die-hard fan I am of Husky football (I was a fan even 10 years ago when the Huskies went 0-12).

But sometimes my weekends are very busy such as if I have a freelance deadline coming up and I need to get my stories done. I try to schedule my work so I do most of it Monday through Friday, but sometimes that doesn't work. People don't want to talk to you until the weekend so that's when you do the interview and write the story. Or, if I'm working on a fiction novel, sometimes I get a lot of writing done on weekends because I don't have anything else going on.

Lately I've been playing Dungeons and Dragons on the weekends with my son and some friends of his and mine. It's a good way to kill half a day.

Back when I was doing the Speculative Fiction Cantina, I would set up the next show on Sunday mornings. Now I spend Sunday mornings do what I want, unless I have work to do.

What are your weekends like? Let me know in the comment below.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

The Past

T
ime once again for the 52 week blogging challenge. Today's prompt is "The Past."

There's a line the The Princess Bride (the book, and maybe the movie) where Buttercup tries to tell Wesley all the bad things she's done (like get engaged to the Prince), and Wesley says "The past has a way of being the past" (I'm paraphrasing because I don't remember the exact line, but I think that's pretty close).

And I try to live by that philosophy. Sometimes it's tough, the past comes back to haunt you. Past hurts, past screw ups, past embarrassments.

If we're going to remember the past, we should remember the good things. But we don't, not always. There are some people who, it seems, dwell on the bad parts of the past. And there are those who blithely move on from their past as if they weren't responsible for any of it.

We shouldn't forget the past. But we shouldn't linger on it, either. And what happened in the past cannot be changed. So look to the future.

How do you feel about the past. Let me know in the comments below!

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Love

Back to the 52-week blogging challenge. The next prompt is simply "love."

Love is weird. It's something I don't think science can readily explain. Is it only imprinting like a duck for its mother? That can explain the love among families. But what about meeting a stranger, "falling in love," and deciding to spend the rest of your life with them (although that's getting rarer these days).

A lot of people I think make the mistake of confusing desire with love. "You give me great orgasms, so I must love you." They don't consciously think that. But that's what their brain is doing. So they get married and then when the sex gets boring (as it will) they "fall out of love" and divorces happen. You can only hope that happens before any kids come along because divorce is bad for kids. Very bad.

This is why I'm an advocate for no premarital sex. If you love someone without mind-blowing orgasms, then chances are you actually love them. I know that makes me old-fashioned and out of step with the times, but I don't really care.

But I still don't understand love between two strangers. What causes it? Hormones? Pheromones? You spend enough time with someone and they are a decent person, you'll fall in love? I don't know. I don't know if anyone knows.

What do you think love is? Let me know in the comments below.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

On the Inside

Back to the 52-week blogging challenge. The next prompt is once again "A favorite book/music/movie." Which I have pretty much covered before.

So we'll go to the next one which is "On the inside." There's no further information about what that means.

On the inside, I'm all red and squishy.

On the inside, I'm shy and full of anxiety.

On the inside, I'm creative and funny.

On the inside, I'm a procrastinator.

On the inside, I'm me.

What are you on the inside? Let me know in the comments below.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Speed Limits Can be Dangerous

Ask any budget director for any government jurisdiction (except the federal government) and they will likely tell you that fines and penalties are a major part of their revenue stream. And most of those fines and penalties come from traffic tickets. And a lot of those, perhaps a majority, are speeding tickets.

I am convinced that most speed limits are set not for safety, but for maximizing revenue.

But, you might be saying, if you post a speed limit of 35, people will go 40 mph or even 50 mph. That's true, to a point. But the reason is likely the road is safe at 50 mph and the speed limit was set to maximize revenue. Most people drive at a speed they feel comfortable at, and pay scant attention to the actual speed limit. People aren't suicidal. They drive what they think is safe yet comfortable.

I remember when I drove in Idaho with its 80 mph speed limit on rural interstates. And while I was doing 85 (as I tend to go 5 mph over any speed limit as long as conditions permit) a lot of people weren't even going the speed limit. They weren't comfortable at 80.

Washington State was considering raising the speed limit on part of I-90 from 70 to 75. I went to a public hearing to speak in favor of it. One older woman got up and said she was against it because 70 mph is too fast for her. And I was in a Facebook discussion of speed limits and one person said (and I paraphrase from memory) "A mile per minute is fast enough." That's 60 mph.

I am old enough to remember (and have driven) back when the National Maximum Speed Limit (NMSL) was 55 mph. The problem with that was that governments learned they could make money off of low speed limits. And so did insurance companies so they still lobby for lower speed limits. Why do they make money? Because they raise your rates if you get a speeding ticket. Think about that. Say a road had a speed limit of 70 mph. Then the NMSL went into effect dropping the speed limit to 55 mph. Someone going 65 mph might get a ticket for going 5 mph slower than the old speed limit.

Now if the speed limit were raise to, say 100 mph, there would be very few tickets handed out because most people wouldn't drive that fast. Even I may not drive that fast (or 105 mph). Or I might. I was driving in Poland years ago and I was doing 100 mph on the mostly empty road and I got passed by a white BMW with German plates.

Some people think the faster you go, the more you're risking death or injury. If you crash going 100 mph, you're probably dead. But you first have to crash. A study showed that the further you deviate from the average speed (which may not be the speed limit) the more likely the crash. But the interesting thing, shown in the chart below, is it's more dangerous to go slow than to go fast.


Cars travelling faster or slower than average is what's dangerous. So let's say the speed limit on a road is 35 mph but the average speed is 50 mph. People going the speed limit are actually being more dangerous than people going 55 mph. The 35 mph speed limit is a dangerous speed limit. This is why speed limits should be set via engineering methods and not pulled out of the ear of some bureaucrat or politician to maximize revenue. And a person who thinks they're going safe by going the speed limit (or less) is actually one of the more dangerous drivers on the road.

So what's my point? If speed limits weren't a major revenue stream for governments, we might have speed limits based on reality. Roads would be safer and speed limits would likely be higher.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Learning

Back to the 52 week blogging challenge. Today's prompt is "Learning."

The following is my philosophy on learning (should be read in Morgan Freeman's voice): "When you stop learning, you start dying."

And I really believe that. I loved college (primary education, not so much, I was bored). I love learning. So I read, research my books, watch Jeopardy (yes, you can learn doing that), and watch documentaries. If I read non-fiction, I often do learn. If I read well-written fiction, I learn to do my craft (writing) better.

One thing that killed me when I graduated high school (so very long ago) was the kids who thought their days of learning were over. And they were happy about that. And I thought "Aren't they going to get jobs where they will have to learn how to do the job?" I couldn't imagine not learning. And I can't imagine being happy about it. If you want to drive me nuts, don't let me learn anything new.

How do you feel about learning. Let me know in the comments below.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Independence Day

Happy Independence Day!


No, it's not "The Fourth of July." It's Independence Day. Just happens to be celebrated on the fourth of July.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Celebration

Time once again for the 52-week blogging challenge. This week's prompt is simply: "Celebration."

What do I celebrate? My birthday (which is coming up soon and I'll be a ghastly 58 years old). Christmas. Book sales.

I also celebrate my wedding anniversary (37 years in December). And book sales.

This weekend I'll be at a celebration for my son's April wedding as DisneyLand. The wedding was small. The celebration won't be.

Next week I'll be celebrating Independence Day (on the fourth of July).

My writing goal is not to make a lot of money (although that would be nice). It's to be read by strangers. To entertain and perhaps influence strangers. My most pedantic book is probably Rock Killer. Which was my first novel written (and third published). But all my books will have some of my philosophy in it, which, if you haven't figured out yet, is rather libertarian. If, through my books I can make the world a bit more libertarian, I'd be happy.

So I celebrate book sales.

What do you celebrate. Let me know in the comments below.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Rich Girl

Saturday when I was driving I heard the song "Rich Girl" by Hall & Oats. This song came out in 1977 when I was in high school. And there was one girl who immediately got labeled "Rich Girl." Her name was Shelly and her family was well off. They always had a new Cadillac and lived in a big house. I had no idea what her father did to earn his wealth.

One day in English class, the teacher was trying to instruct us not to use vague terms in our writing. So she asked the class what was a "comfortable" yearly salary. She wanted to show the range that people thought that term meant.

I think the low was $15,000. I rather shocked the room when I said $25,000. Then Shelly pipes up with $30,000.

What struck me as I was remembering this is how low those numbers were. Now days $25,000 is about poverty level for a family of four (it's actually $25,100).

So we need to adjust those numbers for inflation. One thousand dollars in January 1977 is equivalent to $4,300 today. So...

$15,000 = $64,500
$25,000 = $107,500
$30,000 = $129,000

Of course, 1977 was at the beginning of the double-digit inflation of the end of Jimmy Carter's presidential term. And we've had forty-one years of varying inflation to degrade the dollar.

Or maybe this is just an indication of how old I am.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Shakespeare

Time once again for the 52-week blogging challenge. Today's prompt is simply: "Shakespeare."

What about him?

In high school we read four Shakespeare plays: Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Julius Cesar, and Macbeth. We read one per year, which was about all I could handle because Elizabethan English was hard. Then in college at the University of Washington (Go Dawgs!), I took a class in which we read four plays in one quarter (about three months). One was Othello and one was The Tempest. I think one was Much Ado About Nothing (it was). I don't remember the fourth. It might have been Antony and Cleopatra. And I found if  you read Shakespeare, the more you read the easier it is to understand. I think we also read some sonnets.

Shakespeare is, of course, considered the greatest playwright of all time. But for modern readers or play goers, it's tough to get past the Elizabethan English (also called "Early Modern English"). Then you wonder if people will be reading David Mamet in 400 years ("Coffee is for closers").

I don't know about that. I know my life was made richer by having to read Shakespeare, even though at the time I hated it.

How do you feel about Shakespeare? Let me know in the comments below.

P.S.: Today is the Summer Solstice in the northern hemisphere. It happened at 6:07 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time (3:07 A.M. my time). Today is the day with the longest amount of daylight in the year. How much daylight depends on your latitude.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Speaking with Kids

Time once again for the 52-week blogging challenge. Today's prompt is "Speaking with kids."

Not exactly sure what they want here. My kids are all in their 20s so I speak with them as adults.

But if I'm talking to a younger child, I try not to talk down to them. I don't use words they won't understand, but I try not to belittle them as I speak with them. When I was a kid, I hated when adults talked to me as if I were stupid or uneducated (even though I pretty much was).

I don't really have a lot of chances these days to speak with kids. My kids are grown and I don't have any grandchildren, yet. But I still practice my habit of not speaking down to children whenever I do speak with young folk.

How about you? How do you speak with children? Let me know in the comments below.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Favorite Movie

Back to the 52-day blogging challenge and the next promote is "A Day in Your Life." Well, I pretty much covered that here. So the next one is "A favorite … book/music/movie." Covered music here. Covered book here. So I guess we'll do movie.

My favorite movie right now is The Lord of the Rings trilogy. My favorite of those three is Return of the King.

Now I'm a scifi guy. Until the release of the Return of the King, my favorite movie was The Empire Strikes Back. I guess that's still my favorite science fiction movie. But there's something about the Ring trilogy that is just amazing. The performances, the music, the action, everything is damn near perfect. And it's even better in the extended editions. Which I have on Blu-Ray and try to watch at least once per year. I know if you're a Tolkien purist, the movies take liberties. But on their own, they are marvelous.

My favorite movie of the past year or so is Dunkirk.

What's  your favorite movie? Let me know in the comments.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Electric Vehicles...

Tesla Model S
I used to be completely against electric vehicles (or EVs in car talk). I thought they were expensive, had too little range, and most of them were probably as fun to operate as a toaster.

But now I'm kind of warming up to them. One reason is, their range is improving. A Tesla 100D has an EPA range of 335 miles. Of course, your range will vary depending on speed, how you accelerate, how much regenerative braking you do, if you run the heat or air conditioning, etc. I'd say you wouldn't want to count on more than 200 miles. But that would get you to Seattle from here.

The other reason I'm warming up to EVs is the performance they are capable of. A high-end Tesla Model S P100D sedan has been timed going zero to 60 mph in less than 2.3 seconds, which many supercars can't achieve. It is very difficult for a gasoline car to match those numbers because electric motors have all of their available torque at 0 rpm while an internal combustion engine needs to hit around 1,000 - 2,000 (or higher) RPM for maximum torque. (Torque, measured in foot-pounds, is the twisting energy a car can put on the road. And as Newton's Third Law tells us, for every action there's an equal and opposite reaction, so the road pushes back on the car, propelling it forward.) Of course, using the "Ludicrous Speed," as Tesla calls it, will drain your batteries fast.

What's keeping me from buying an EV? First is the cost. A Tesla Model S P100D (with an EPA range of 315 miles) is $123,200 after a $7,500 federal tax credit. The least expensive Model S, the 75D with 259 EPA miles range, is still $71,000 after that federal tax credit. You can buy a very nice sports sedan with that kind of money.

(Your state may also have incentives. Washington State doesn't.)

The other thing keeping me away from EVs is recharge time. I can fill the tank on my car and get about 300 miles range in ten minutes. It takes hours to recharge an EV. How long depends on the source and the EV's battery size.

EVs make the most sense for commuting. Unless your commute is more than 150 miles, you can drive to work, drive home, and recharge your car over night. But few people can afford to own a car just for commuting. Which is why I see Teslas and even Nissan Leafs on the interstate. (The Nissan Leaf is one of those "fun as a toaster" kind of EVs.)

If the price can come down and the recharge time can be quickened to, say, half an hour. I might buy an EV in the future. Might. The Tesla Model 3 is suppose to be significantly cheaper than the S. But according to Car and Driver, that depends on the options. And it doesn't have the acceleration of the Model S. It's just a bit more fun to operate than a toaster, apparently.

So we'll see what the future holds.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Smile

Back to the 52-week blogging challenge. Today's prompt is simply "Smile." That's it. So I guess I'll talk about what makes me smile.

So, what makes me smile? Off ramp road racing makes me smile. This is how it goes. You head for a freeway off ramp as full freeway/interstate speed (say, 75 mph). There's no other cars in front of you taking the off ramp (this is important but doesn't happen all the time). You pull off the freeway/interstate and you slow down just enough to make the corners in the off ramp. Tires chirp in protest, the car careens around the corners. And you smile. Usually afterwards because while you're driving around the corners, you're too busy to smile.

That's just one thing that makes me smile. What makes you smile? Let me know in the comments below.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Getting Stuck in Traffic

Traffic Jam on Snoqualmie Pass
And once again, the 52-week blogging challenge. This week's prompt is "Getting stuck in traffic."

I hate getting stuck in traffic. I may complain about the small town I live in, but at least there aren't traffic jams. But when I go to the Seattle area, all bets are off. Seattle didn't invent the perpetual traffic jam, they just perfected it.

Sometimes going over Snoqualmie Pass you get into traffic, especially in the winter. But sometimes for no apparent reason.

And of course, coming back from seeing the August 21st eclipse, I ran into lots of traffic.

Now, as you should know if you read this blog, I like to drive. And I'm not looking forward to autonomous cars. But during traffic jams, I'd gladly hand over driving duties to a computer.

Audi has developed something called "Traffic Jam Pilot." They are going to offer it in their A8 top-of-the-line model. Unfortunately, it's not coming to the U.S. due to the regulatory and litigious environment (we like to sue)*. But I would love to have that on my car for traffic jams. So that is one good thing about autonomous cars: no more driving in traffic jams. In fact, it is thought autonomous cars may eliminate traffic jams. Which would be nice. But I'd still miss driving.

How do you feel about being stuck in traffic? Let me know in the comments below.

*"Traffic Jam Pilot" is beyond anything in the U.S. market right now. It is a nearly autonomous system that doesn't require the driver to pay attention like Tesla and Cadillac do. It would have been the first SAE Level 3 autonomous system sold in the U.S. Until the regulations dealing with nearly or completely autonomous cars are sorted out, it probably won't come to America.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Contribution

Time once again for the 52-week blogging challenge. This week's prompt simply says "Contribution."

So I guess that's open to interpretation.

I contribute money to the Salvation Army, the Alzheimer's Association, and I know my wife gives money to her church. I also contribute to a local arts program.

I contribute to society by writing books that are fun to read and might educate a person a little. I also keep my lawn mowed and drive the speed limit (in my neighborhood, outside my neighborhood, all bets are off).

What contribution do you make to society? Let me know in the comments below.

P.S.: Tomorrow is the 38th anniversary of the eruption of Mt. St. Helens.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Another Blog Interview

Yet another blog interview about me. Check it out here and learn what I listen to while writing (it's probably not what you're thinking).  And a bonus cute kitty pic. Don't miss it.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Author Interview with...Me

Yesterday I was interviewed on JD's Writers Blog. Check it out here. Learn when I started writing and how I first got published.

My Favorite Music

Back to the 52-week blogging challenge. Today's prompt is: "A favorite … book/music/movie."
I talked about my favorite book here. So I guess we'll go to music.

I was thinking about this today. My favorite song of the 60s is probable "Sunshine of Your Love" by Cream. My favorite song on the 70s is likely "Smoke on the Water" by Deep Purple. My favorite song of the 80s is "Money for Nothing" by Dire Straits. That, even though Sting from the Police sings on it and the Police are one of my least favorite groups. My favorite song of the 90s is "Smells Like Teen Spirit" by Nirvana. My favorite song of the 2000s and the 10s is one I don't have to listen to.

My favorite overall "modern" song is "We're an American Band" by Grand Funk Railroad. I love the pounding rhythm of it.

But I don't just listen to modern music. I'd say my iPhone is about half full of classical music.

One of my favorite classical music pieces is from an opera. It's wondrously beautiful. Another is Beethoven's Ode to Joy, which is technically the fourth movement of his Ninth Symphony. The best part is 7:20 minutes into it. But it's all good.

In fact there are too many to list here.

What's your favorite music? And what do you think of my choices? Let me know in the comments below.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Money

Time once again for the 52-week blogging challenge. The next prompt is: "I spend my money."

This probably refers to disposable income after paying for food, housing, etc.

I like to spend money on cars and gasoline. And maintaining them. If I had the means, I would own more cars. I'm so envious of people such as Jay Leno who own a bunch of cool and interesting cars. I love cars. Not sure why. I don't really like working on them (although when I drove on the racetrack, I had to). I just like driving them as fast as possible.

About all I do now is check the oil level and the tire pressures.

I also spend money on Starbucks. Every now and then I look at what my daily trip to Starbucks costs me and I shudder. But it's almost worth it to get out of the house and see people. I also use that time for reading.

I used to spend money on electronics. But other than my iPhone, that's not true. My computer is over seven years old. My stereo is around twenty years old. I replace things as they wear out or break.

So what do you spend money on? Let me know in the comments.


Thursday, April 26, 2018

I Hate the Heat

Back to the 52-week blogging challenge. Today's prompt is "The heat – love or loathe it."

Loath it! It gets over about 80°F (27°C) and I'm dying. I am so glad for air conditioning. If it gets over 90°F (32°C) I'm dead. Okay, not really, but I absolutely don't want to be outside in the heat.

I've often said you can always dress warmer but you can't dress cooler once your naked. And society frowns on that in public.

Once when I was in the Army, we had exercises at Twentynine Palms Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center (also known as 29 stumps). It was in August and Twentynine Palms is in the middle of the Mojave Desert. Highs were in the 120°F (49°C) range. Lows at night were around 90°F (32°C). I was miserable. And that was back when I was in good shape. It was so hot that your clothes would have salt in the creases under the arms, behind the knees, and inside the elbows from your sweat. I remember pouring salt on everything I ate.

I'm not exactly crazy about the cold, either. If it gets below about 0°F (-18°C), I'm pretty miserable, too. But at least I can put on a coat.

That's why I like spring and autumn as seasons. It's rarely too hot and rarely too cold. And the roads are bare so you can enjoy driving. And I like to drive.

How do you feel about that heat? Or the cold. Let me know in the comments below.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

I'm Inspired By....

 I found another 52-week writing challenge. I found it here. It's supposed to be for 2017 but I'm doing it in 2018. It seems to have new questions.

The first one is "I'm inspired by..."

This is kind of funny because one question I asked all my guests on the Speculative Fiction Cantina was "What motivates and inspires you." So now the tables have been turned, sort of.

I'm inspired by being read by strangers. I want people I don't know to enjoy my writing. This is what keeps me writing. That, and I enjoy it. It's not the money (believe me), it's being red by strangers. Of course, the more strangers who read me, the more money I make.

So that's what inspires me. What inspires you? Tell me in the comments below.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Going to Party Like It's 2028

Back to the 30-day blogging challenge that I'm doing in 30 (or so) weeks. Here's one I skipped back in February. So I'll do it now.

The prompt is: "How do you see yourself in ten years?"

Well, older. When you're my age, ten years isn't all that much.

I'm 57 years old now, mostly retired, and I write. When I'm 67, I don't know. I'll probably still be writing. I'll probably have more health problems (or the ones I have now will be worse). I'm hoping I'll still be alive. I might take my self-driving car to the Senior Center and have coffee every morning (my father does that now, well, except for the self-driving car part).

I'm really going to hate self-driving cars. Someone once said, "The speed limit will likely go up with self-driving cars." I said, "What good is a faster speed limit if I can't drive it?"

I probably will have even less hair than I have now, and probably none of it will be red anymore.

I will be fully eligible for Social Security. If that's still a thing.

Probably not a whole lot more will change. I will probably have broken down by then and bought a tablet computer. Or a eyePhone (that's not a typo).

Where do you see yourself in ten years? Comment below.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Technology Traps

Something got me thinking the other day about "technology traps." These thoughts aren't original with me, but I learned the concept from James Burke.

What's a technology trap? Loosely, it's a situation technology puts us in that, without that technology, we'd be in big trouble. For instance, say there's an EMP attack on the US and most of our technology goes away. You can't go to Safeway to buy food because it's too far to walk and if you can get there, there'd be no food because there's no trucks to bring it in. Unless you can farm (without mechanized farm equipment), you'll starve to death. Do you know how to hitch up a horse to a plow? I don't.

I think nothing of driving 100 miles away. It takes an hour and a half, about. But what if that EMP attack happened when I was 100 miles from home? That's a minimum five day walk home. With no food or water. I'd basically be stuck where I was. Even going to Starbucks is a five miles drive. A five mile walk is much more difficult.

Some people have to think about this. If you live in Alaska or Arizona, you need to be prepared for car breakdowns. Otherwise you could freeze to death or die of heat stroke before you could get to safety. A girl transferred to my high school from Phoenix, Arizona. She said all students were required to take a desert survival class. If your car breaks down and you're ten miles from help and it's 110 degrees out... Or your car breaks down, you're ten miles from help, and its 40 below because you're in Alaska.

Of course, with cell phones, it's not quite so urgent. Unless your cell phone battery dies.

I even think about this at times. Driving over Snoqualmie Pass in the winter, I make sure I have a full tank of gas, warm clothes, food and water, cell phones and phone chargers in the car. Which is not everything the Washington State Department of Transportation recommends.


Thursday, March 29, 2018

Small Town/Rural Life Requires Cars

A while back I read an article by a guy who lives in New York City celebrating all that could be had on the block he lived on. There were restaurants and shopping and grocery stores and little mom-and-pop businesses. And he could walk to all of them. And, of course, the next block over, not very far away, were more delectations of city life. Anything he couldn't walk to there were, of course, the subway, buses, or taxis.

He owns a car, but he keeps it at his country house (the guy's a successful non-fiction writer) where it was needed.

And it made me think about the block I live on which I suspect is bigger than his block (it's one mile in circumference). And on my block there are...houses.

I live in a subdivision outside a small town. There are farms a few streets over and there the blocks tend to be one-mile by one-mile squares. People who live out there are miles from their nearest neighbor, sometimes.

The nearest store of any kind to my house is three miles away and it's a gas station/convenience store. The nearest grocery store is probably closer to six miles away. And those farmers, try twenty or so miles to the nearest store.

What about public transportation? There is a bus system, but it's very limited and doesn't serve rural
areas.

Anything exotic is probably more like 70 to 100 miles away in larger towns/cities. Such as good sushi.

I don't think some people who live in cities understand why some of their fellow Americans needs cars. And gasoline cars, not plug-ins. If you need to go grocery shopping, you don't want to wait 8 hours for your car battery to charge. If you need to go to the emergency room, you really don't want to wait.

And we need reasonably-priced gasoline while you're at it.

Now I like cars. But cars are also necessary tools in rural areas. And I think some policy makers from large cities don't understand that.


Thursday, March 22, 2018

A Letter

Time once again for the thirty-day blogging challenge that I'm doing over approximately thirty weeks (I am skipping some). The penultimate prompt is "Something/someone that inspires you." Well, I already covered this earlier. So we'll skip that one and go to the last prompt: "A letter so someone. Anyone."

Wow, need to think about this.............

Okay, here we go:

Dear Naysayers:

You said I couldn't. You said no one would be interested in what I write. But you were wrong, according to my book sales. At least some people are interested. At least some are interested, enough to sell some books. No, I'm not a New York Times best selling author and I may never be. But I'm doing what I love and what I love to do is write.

Of course, the fact I can write for a living has to do with my twenty years working hard in the corporate world, where I did not fit in very well. The corporate world wants creativity in some areas and conformity in all others. Not a good combination, especially for me, a born rebel. But if I had to live off what I make writing, I would be living in a cardboard box.

So, you naysayers, go away. Let me write. Let me live my life as I wish.

Rebelliously Yours,

Evan


Sunday, March 18, 2018

Interview

Today my interview with the Horrible Writing podcast goes live. If you want to hear it, it's here. I talk about writing and my struggles with bipolar. I'm very honest and open about it. And I talk about some horrible writing. Yes, horrible writing that I did.

So check it out on the Horrible Writing podcast.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

I Miss...

Driving on the Racetrack
Time once again for the thirty-day blogging challenge that I'm doing in about thirty weeks. Getting close to the end. And today's prompt is: "Something/someone that you miss."

There was this barista at Starbucks who quit...

Oh never mind.

My maternal grandmother died in the 1980s (I don't remember the exact year, but I'm thinking 1985, "the year of funerals" because that's also the year my mother-in-law died). But I think about her every day, nearly. We were very close. I named my oldest son "Owen" because her maiden name was Owen (her father was Owen Jones Owen).

When I get out of the shower, I turn off the light in the shower even though I'm still pretty wet. I can hear my grandma saying "don't do that!" She was always worried about electricity. I wondered if that was because she didn't have it when she was growing up so it was novel to her. I don't know. I should ask my mother about that. My mother has told me that when she was a little girl their phone number was "7."

My grandma wasn't physically affectionate. I'd sort of have to insist on hugs. But we were still close. She lived with us for a time when I was almost a teenager. She would sit by the window for hours, just looking out. My mother said she was praying.

So I miss grandma, still.

Something I miss? I miss driving on the racetrack. I would do it except for the expense and I don't think it would be good with my health issues.

What do you miss? Comment below.


Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Television Review: The Americans

I have just watched the first season of The Americans on Blu-Ray from Netflix. And my first impression is that it is a very well-made program.

The Americans is about KGB spies in the United States in the eighties. They pose as a married couple (so much so they have children together) who work at a travel agency. But they spend most of their time trying to gather intelligence or turn people to spy for them. Keri Russell, who is always gorgeous, plays the woman and Matthew Ryes plays her "husband."

The show is interesting in that it has you rooting for the bad guys, sort of like The Sopranos and Breaking Bad did. You don't want these Soviet spies to get caught. But then again, you don't want them to succeed. Since it's set in the 80s, you know that they don't.

Their neighbor is an FBI agent who, ironically, is looking for Soviet spies. That adds a bit of tension. He also turns a Russian who works in the Soviet Embassy in D.C. That doesn't go exactly as he planned.

One thing I'm surprised about is how often they use sex to get what they want. But I suspect that's pretty accurate. It's also interesting to see the reactions of the spies to events. For example, when President Reagan was shot, they thought it might be a coup. At times you have to remind yourself that you're watching fiction, not a documentary.

One thing that does bother me is they talk about the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI or "Star Wars") too early, in my opinion. Long before Reagan gave his speech about it, in any case.

The Americans is fast-paced, interesting, and often exciting. If you like watching the cat and mouse games of intelligence rivals (and apparently, I do), you'll enjoy this show.  Its final (and sixth) season starts March 28th. I'm really looking forward to watching all of it.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

It's a Bird! It's a Plane!

Back to the thirty day blogging challenge that I'm doing over about thirty weeks (because I've skipped some).

Today's prompt is: "If you could have any super power, what would it be?"

Well, as I explained here, I'd really like to be able to fly. Like Superman. Up, up, and away!

I've never been a big fan of superheros (despite my watching the Netflix/Marvel series) and never been a fan of comics. But, boy, would I like to fly.

It's interesting. When I was a kid, I would dream about flying. It was like swimming through the air (and just as slow). But I could float in the air and move as if I was swimming under water. I would also swoop down toward the ground then fly upward at the last moment. I think I last had those dreams when I was in junior high school (what they now call "middle school"). So I would have been 12 or 13. And then I stopped having those dreams. I don't know why.

But I'd really like to be able to fly. When I was a kid I wanted to be a pilot. By my bad eyesight ruined that. Then it was no money, then it was no time. Now I have no motivation to learn the complexities of flying privately.

But if I were an eagle....

What superpower would you like to have. Comment below.


Thursday, March 1, 2018

Alone

Lily Sleeping on My Arm
Back to the 30-day blogging challenge that I'm doing over 30 (about) weeks.

The next prompt is "Weird things you do when alone."

Well, the reason I do them when I'm alone is because I want to keep them private. Seems logical.

When I'm alone, I talk to my son's cat, Lily. But I do that when I'm not alone, too. We discuss metaphysical subjects, like if a rattly ball is as fun as my iPhone earbuds to play with.

I google random stuff to see what comes up. This is sort of like when I was a kid and I read the encyclopedia for fun.

Probably the weirdest thing I do when I'm alone is writing. I know, I know, as Robert Heinlein said:
"Writing is not necessarily something to be ashamed of, but do it in private and wash your hands afterwards."
So those are the weird things I do when alone. How about you? Anything you'll admit to? Let me know in the comments below.

Friday, February 23, 2018

The Speculative Fiction Cantina is Over

The Speculative Fiction Cantina is finished. The company, Writestream Radio, that paid the bills has gone out of business. Last week's show was the last one.

The Speculative Fiction Cantina started on October 10, 2014. Since then we've done 177 episiodes, 165 of them live. I estimate we've had about 300 authors as guests. Hard numbers are difficult to come up with because occasionally guests wouldn't show up.

We had four special episodes. One with author/rocket scientist, one with an academic expert on science fiction, and one with a literary agent.

I even had a man who had written two books about how science fiction affected World War II.

It was usually a lot of fun, but every now and then guests would be talk too little or too much, have boring readings and/or read poorly. Or sometimes guests couldn't or wouldn't follow simple instructions.

While I'll miss the show, I won't miss the work it took to produce and host it. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with all my new free time.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

If I Were an Animal

Time once again for the 30-day blogging challenge that I'm dong over (about) thirty weeks
(depending on how many I skip).

Today's prompt is: "If you were an animal, what animal would you be and why?"

So years and years ago when I was in grade school in Idaho Falls, Idaho (Theresa Bunker Elementary) a teacher asked the same question. And I said, "An eagle." Some boy piped up, "That's not an animal, that's a bird." I replied, "Birds are animals." (Even then I was insufferable.) I was, of course, right.

So, what's my answer now, some 50 years or so later?

Same answer: an eagle. For two reasons.

One: I've never had good eyesight. Well, a short time (couple of years) after I got LASIK my eyesight was pretty good. Then it started deteriorating. Turns out I had Kerataconus (read more here). Since then, even though I underwent an experimental treatment to fix it, my eyesight has always been marginal.

Eagles are reputed to have excellent eyesight. I would love that.

Two: I want to fly. Not on a plane, but to fly like an eagle. I think that would be the most fun thing in the world. I envy birds that ability, especially the big ones such as eagles.

The one downside: eating raw mice and fish. I think I could get used to that.

So, I want to fly like an eagle.

What animal would you like to be? Tell me in the comments below.

Friday, February 16, 2018

The Speculative Fiction Cantina with Pamela K. Kinney and Judith D. Howell


Today on the Speculative Fiction Cantina we are pleased to welcome writers Pamela K. Kinney and Judith D. Howell.

Pamela K. Kinney
Pamela K. Kinney

Pamela K. Kinney gave up long ago trying not to listen to the voices in her head and has written bestselling horror, fantasy. science fiction, poetry, and nonfiction ghost books ever since. Three of her nonfiction ghost books garnered Library of Virginia nominations. Her horror short story, “Bottled Spirits,” was runner up for the 2013 WSFA Small Press Award and is considered one of the seven best genre short fiction for that year. Her latest fiction is her first self-published venture, an urban fantasy novel, How the Vortex Changed My Life, that released September 2017.

Pamela's Books:


How the Vortex Changed My Life 

Paranormal Petersburg, Virginia, and the Tri-Cities Area (nonfiction)

"Silence" (short story in an anthology)

Pamela's Links:

Website
Blog
Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest
Instagram

Judith D. Howell
Judith D. Howell

Judith's Books:


Swamp Rites

Swamp Legacy

Swamp Inheritance (coming)

Judith's Links:

Facebook

From Today's Program: No Alien Megastructure Around Distant Star.





Thursday, February 15, 2018

RadCon Schedule

Starting tomorrow I will be at RadCon in Pasco, Washington. This science fiction and fantasy convention is the premier con in Central Washington. It might be the only con.

If they don't change my schedule (like they did last year), here are the panels I'll be on:

Friday:

The Miracle of Critique
5:45 - 6:45 PM
Room 2209

Avoid these Grammar Mistakes
7:00 - 8:00 PM
Room 2205

Saturday:

Alternate History and Social Justice/Injustice
12:45 - 1:45 PM
Room 2207

The Best Writing Advice I was Ever Given
3:15 - 4:15 PM
Room 2209

Book Signing
5:00 - 6:00 PM
Mercantile Table

Sunday:

To Outline or Not to Outline, That is the Question
11:30 AM - 12:30 PM
Room 2203

Come on down, I would love to see you there!

Friday, February 9, 2018

The Speculative Fiction Cantina with Diana Savastano and Dianna Gunn


Today on the Speculative Fiction Cantina we welcome writers Diana Savastano and Dianna Gunn.

Diana Savastano

Diana Savastano
Diana Savastano is a former columnist, food writer, magazine editor, and publisher. She is the author of On the Breath of Angels; Winds of Pood, Under the Puddle; Winds of Pood: In the Blizzard; The Upside Down Inside Out Life of Maureen Kiernan; The Princess Who Loved to Swim; and The Marker, a murder mystery sprinkled with romance and paranormal activities. In addition to writing books, she is working with veteran entertainment advisers penning multiple script projects to bring her book characters to life on screen. She lives in Johns Creek, Georgia.

Diana's Books:


The Marker 

Winds of Pood Book 1 and Book 2 (Middle Grade)

The Princess Who Loved to Swim (Children's Chapter Book)

Diana's Links:

Website
Facebook
Instagram
Pinterest


Dianna Gunn
Dianna Gunn

Dianna Gunn is a freelance writer by day and a fantasy author by night. Her first YA fantasy novella, Keeper of the Dawn, was released through The Book Smugglers Publishing in April 2017. She also blogs about creativity, books and life at www.thedabbler.ca

Dianna's Book:

Keeper of the Dawn

Dianna's Links:

Website/Blog
Facebook
Twitter
YouTube

From today's program: Go Underground to Find Life on Mars, Some Scientists Say.