The other night, Robert, won at poker. Robert is know for his over-the-top performances at the local improv club, and this little video clip is an example of what we have to put up with.
Archive for July, 2006
Yet another free website. This one is everything that Microsoft OfficeLive wanted to be and yet wasn’t. All that you would need is the ability to attach a domain name and you’d have a decent site.
Google would have to add a few widgets and apps, but it could be a useable business starter site.
I like the nice style sheet. It’s much better than the OfficeLive css and w3c standard as well.
This is an odd zine. I tried to sell a story their once and they liked it but it was not weird enough for them. They are having some kind of Issue # Two release party down in Austin at Fado’s (214 west 4th) August 1, 6:30. It sounds like my kind of thing: including $3 drinks and 2 minute flash fiction readings.
If you have never been to Austin Texas, you should try to make it. Austin is a Blues town and every guitar player sounds like Stevie Ray. At night they close the main streets to cars and you can go from bar to bar to sample the music.
Chris claims that she has never heard of the term Bat-Shit Crazy.
Well, Chris, here’s the T-shirt!
My brother had to clean out the back yard. The town has told him that he had to get rid of the old Chevies and his lawn mower collection. He rented a dumpster and started cleaning out the barn so he could store some of his treasures. He dumped piles of stuff including a wonderful collection of vinyl records that he had found at the side of the road.
I went through the records and found a cool Captain Beefheart album, The Spotlight Kid. One of the songs is a psychedelic blues/rock song called “Grow Fins” about a man who meets a mermaid and wants to grow fins so he can be with her.
The song gave me the title for the latest story that I ghosted over at Sciencefictional.com. It’s a flash piece called “Grow Fins”.
The ashes of Scotty (James Doohan), my favorite Star Trek character, are going to be launched into space. The symbolic act would have pleased him, I think. Although we only know the part that the actor played and not the man, from all accounts, James Doohan was every bit as nice a guy as the character Scotty.
My favorite Scotty episode? I like the second generation episode, Relics, where Geordi and Scotty have to escape from a Dyson Sphere. The contrast of styles is wonderful.
I switched over to Hostmerit for some of my websites a few months ago. If you follow the blog, you will remember that I lost a week at the previous host when they shut me off without notice. I was able to resolve that, but I contracted with Hostmerit.com because they were local (Newark, NJ) and they had a good price on a reseller package. I made myself a hosting services reseller.
This has proved to be a mistake. Hostmerit is a very small shop with problems keeping their hosting service up and running. In the past month, they have filled up a disk and they screwed up the config and for the last week non of my websites have been working. My site is up and down during the week and I lose money.
They moved me to a knew machine over night and I lost 9 days of updates (including this blog). I am going to republish the blog and copy over the images again, but this is not a good turn of events. It means that I have to go out host shopping again.
I need 50 gigs of traffic, about 100 meg of storage and 50 domain names. I need php and mySql with graphics installed. Hostmerit was cheap ($12 a month), but I will probably have to pay $25 or $30 for a more stable environment.
The worst about hostmerit is the third world support desk that requires you to explain in detail several times what the problem is, and they still answer from a script about a problem that has nothing to do with what is going on.
Tyree reminded me what happened this week 37 years ago.
Summer of 69 I was working to get enough money to go to college. I missed things. I didn’t go to Woodstock because I couldn’t take off the time from work. I missed the live Lunar Landing because I was working overtime in a dark basement pulling wires as an electrician’s helper.
At the poker table the other night, Jim asked each of us what was out biggest regret in life. I have many, but wasting my time on a stupid job instead of going to Woodstock or watching Armstrong’s first steps were in the top ten.
I have a little list of things that I need to do. I want to meet some people while I can. I want to shake the hands of a few of my heroes. I want to be a witness to events that I care about.
I don’t want to have to watch stuff on TV that I could have been a part of.
I don’t want to add another regret to the list.
But, here I am, in a little cubicle in the middle of a big room, trying to look busy doing stuff I don’t care about because I can’t afford not to.
J. Alan Erwine put me on his blog roll. I know he occasionally drops by, because he has made some interesting comments, but I am used to being mostly ignored on the internet. Except for a couple of mentions in BoingBoing.net, I think that I am a fairly anonymous guy. Google me, though, and you get over 100,000 hits – not all of which are mine. (There is a talented web designer in the UK, another programmer in the Northwest, and a popular minister in the Midwest with my name.) The page count is not because I am famous, it is just because that I’ve been around for a while. There are even references to software that I wrote in 1983. Most of the Google page count means nothing to me in the context of the present.
How should I feel about people reading my blog? I fill the pages with old memories, gossipy news about my family and poker buddies, an occasional cat story, technical stuff about my websites, writing (or lack thereof), and programming projects. Most of it is really not interesting to anyone who doesn’t know me. The blog gets a few hundred readers a day, though. Who are you people? Do I know you?
This begs the question, why should I blog?
1) The main legit reason for me to blog is that it gives me Back-Links to my web sites that sites like Technorati and Google use to rank my other website pages. Blogs are an effective way to create valid cross-links. Whenever I make a post, I use Pin-O-Matic to notify all of the blog aggregators about the update. Almost all of my web pages are Google page rank 4 or higher. I credit the blog for much of this.
2) A semi-legit reason for the blog is to notify my small blog readership of interesting events and thereby generate traffic. For instance, when I blogged about my story that came out recently in the Harrow, I noticed about 30 outbound links to read the story. This makes me look good over at the Harrow and so maybe they’ll publish another story, that is, if they analyze their stats, and if I ever write another story in their style. (tech note: If you have a blog, go to mybloglog.com, register and put the code on your blog template. It will give you some interesting facts about your blog readership.)
3) A not-so-legit reason to blog is ego. I act self-deprecating, but I find myself seeking approval. I don’t approve of my approval seeking, though, and self-edit, hence the (false) self-deprecation.
4) I need to write. Many of my entries are more like articles. I want to develop a good story and tell it. One of my favorite blog entries is The Kid Loves Pook from February, 2005. I thought that this was an interesting romantic tale, even though no one read it. I don’t have time to write a 4,000 word story, but I can throw 400 words into a blog post and get the same satisfaction. In this case, it is the writing that offers some satisfaction and it matters only a little that no one reads it.
5) The least legit reason to blog is to have something – anything, on the blog. I am afraid that if I don’t come up with an entry every few days, you will all go away and not come back. Even when I have nothing that fits 1-4 above, I can come up with a cute thought or a link to an interesting site. These are maintenance posts and I am not proud of them.
There are a few good reasons not to blog.
1) It is best to be anonymous in these dangerous times. Erica has asked me to take off information about her, and occasionally she asks me to remove stuff that I have revealed about myself because it could be damaging. Erica has the common sense in our family.
2) You can’t take it back. I could say something that offends or hurts someone and it will be in the nets forever. WayBackMachine.org has a database of most web pages going back ten years. Google has a cache that will show the original version of a page if it has been changed recently. If I make a mistake or regret something that I’ve written, it doesn’t matter if I recant it. It will follow me around forever, even if I delete the post. At any time, the right search engine query will display anything that I’ve done and said, no matter how stupid. It might be better not to blog at all than to record in stone just what a jerk I am.
3) I am not a good judge as to what is good and interesting. “90% is crap” is the rule of thumb. I can’t tell if it is crap or not, so I just blog it. I don’t want to blog 90% crap, so I convince myself the percentage is somewhat less than 90.
4) People that you meet on the internet seem different, interesting and mostly very nice. The few that I have met in person, however, have been crazy, obnoxious, and/or scary. The internet is a mask. I fool myself into thinking that you all are not bat-shit crazy. This is something that you have to be aware of when you blog. (Especially genre writers seem to be “A Bubble Off Plumb” as my grandfather used to say – no offense guys)
There are the pros and cons. Overall; blogging has been a very positive experience. I would recommend it to every writer. Write an entry every day. Use it to keep your skills up. Use it to challenge you with alternative approaches to old problems. Just be aware of the proper reasons to blog. Be aware of its dangers. Be aware that no one is reading it.
Most of all remember there is an insane person planning to kill you because of some off-hand remark that you wrote in your blog, but have fun with it anyway.
Free Name A Star has registered over 225 stars in its first two months. Ten stars have paid extras. I’ve made about $60 off the sales and another $30 off ads. Traffic is doubling every two weeks. By November I should be a millionaire. Shortly after that, if the progression holds out, I will own the whole wide world. By way of comparison, Name A Galaxy has only registered 1200 galaxies in four years.
The MLB stat sites such as Mets Magic Number are getting about 250 page hits a day and are making a dollar or so a day. The traffic is doubling every month. It will be several years before I can buy the whole world from the profits off these sites. Ebay ads for baseball tickets do very well on these sites, though – who knew?
RockFind, my lyrics site, has jumped from 200 unique users a day to 500 in just the last week. I have no idea why. I am getting $3 a day there from affiliate ads.
ScienceFictional is getting hits, although mostly from search engines. I should have pretended to offer pro rates for the stories that I’ll never buy, but I thought that was pretentious for a new zine. I’m trying to write a new flash story a day to publish under a pseudonym, but I am averaging a story every 18 hours. Soon, real authors may write some free flash in support of my evil plan. Eventually, thousands of struggling SF writers will contribute to my grand scheme to own the whole wide world. (Evil laughter fades off stage left.)
I remember coming home from college and stopping by Erica’s house (long before we were married). Erica’s Dad was a Trekky (sp?). I sat with him and watched an episode of STOS in COLOR! My parents had a black and white set. Because I was spending most of my time during the last original Trek year in New York going to college, I didn’t catch all of the last episodes. I once calculated the probablility of watching a random STOS episode and having it be one that I never saw. Over the years the probability has gone down, but it is not yet zero. There is still hope of catching an episode that I’ve never seen.
The problem is this: There is no Star Trek on TV! I can’t test my theory. I have the nagging suspicion that there is an original series episode that I can still feel the awe of a first viewing. I am also sure that there are Next Generation and Voyager episodes that I missed. (I don’t really care if I missed any DS9 or Enterprise chapters.) Everyone needs time to cleanse their pallete and watch the other garbage on TV for a while before they appreciate a good hour with trek. Star Trek will rise again.
A bad Star Trek episode is still better than the best prime time TV show. You know TV is bad when I look forward to the next Gillmore Girls. (Cool writing, cute chicks – I’ll watch it. Also, I get stopped on the street by people who think that I am Edward Herrmann. I sort-of look like a (younger) Richard Gilmore. Also, Lorelie’s real name is Lauren Graham – a distant cousin?)
Sunday, I bought a large bag of loose books on tape for $5. It was about 50 hours of listening. It included the audio abridgement of the book adaptation of the movie Generations. Without the hammy acting and scenery chewing that goes along with the remarkably low talent trek actors, the story is not half bad. I am getting my Star Trek fix, these last two days.
An old friend of mine, Mike Turabian, contacted me out of the blue. We worked together back in 2000 at IBM. He writes mostly mystery stories now, be he published two SF novels and a bunch of stories back in the early 80s. He came across my blog and read about ScienceFictional.com. He called me and we talked and he wants to be an Editor – what a jerk!
Anyway, I figure that if any one can cure him of this notion, I could. After I finished a complete reinstall of Geeklog at the site, I gave him the passwords and a hale and hearty Good Luck.
Mike is an avid reader of Analog, F&SF and a few other zines. He has old fashioned notions about what makes a good story, so I tend to agree with him.
He’s casting nets for unwary writers as we speak. He may decide to get rid of the themes that I came up with, it depends what stories he can get.
At least if our friendship is destroyed by this, I can comfort myself by the knowledge that Mike did this to himself, of his own free will.
I have decided to format ScienceFictional.com as a prototype eZine. My theory is that the only ones who read science fiction zines are writers who want to get published. I have decided to create a science fiction eZine with no content, only guidelines.
I have the idea that I might make it a community blog where users can post their own stories, but I will wait on that for a while. I haven’t actually seen any community blog software that I like.
I hope to make the guidelines more complex as time goes on and add an essay or two about what I want and don’t want. I expect that I can keep this up for several years.
I bought a mixed lot of books on tape on eBay. There were a few Hemingway titles. I finished To Have and Have Not, yesterday. Back around 1972, while waiting to be drafted, I read every Hemingway title at the Forham Library. I remember being confused, because I had liked the movie. The book has nothing to do with the movie, except for the name of two of the characters and a boat.
The book is a dark journey through the last days of a smuggler from the Florida Keys. Hemingway has an incredible ability to create characters with broad Picasso like strokes. The characters are mostly not very likeable, though. He kills off his best characters and spends way too much time on trivial ones.
I find myself yelling at the tape. “Why the hell did you write that?”
He telegraphs all of his plot points so we get to worry about them in advance, and by the end of the book I was glad the hero was dead and the book was finally over.
I have tremendous respect for Hemingway’s style and control. I am sorry that he was so messed up personally. I wish that I could create such real characters with so little effort, but I’m glad that I don’t have deep emotional problems that cause me to write great novels.
On the positive front, I just found out that I may have four The Who tickets for MSG this September. You guys out there in the blogosphere better be nice to me while I decide who gets to go with me.