Thursday, June 28, 2018


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


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.