Wanderings

Anything you dream is fiction,
and anything you accomplish is science,
the whole history of mankind is nothing but science fiction.
- Ray Bradbury
August 30th, 2006

Rockoons

Rockoons: Rockets lifted by balloons to the stratosphere where they then take off. They save about 50% of their fuel cost and can handle a larger payload because the balloon lifts them for free.

I read about this in an article about Van Allen, who died recently at the age of 91. He discovered the Van Allen belt this way. It is a Steam Punk idea and deserves to be included in a story. I hope I can come up with something, just because The Rockoons is such a good title for a story.






August 29th, 2006

My Magic number sites getting hits

I am not a sports guy, but the math surrounding baseball has always interested me. The magic number is the number of wins that a team must have to guarantee a spot in the playoffs. I wrote a php program the recalculates the magic number every hour based on public stats.

I have several urls, like www.MetsMagicNumber.com, and they are getting hits! My Magic Number sites are getting about 5,000 page views a day, and are growing exponentially. Today they nearly tied the average for HarpAmps.com. When they hit 11,000 a day (any minute now) they will surpass my harptab.com site.

I don’t get good ad revenue off of the site, though. My musical instrument sites pay the best and the lyrics site pays the least. It turns out that sports statistics doesn’t pay as well as the lyrics site. I hope to get about 50,000 hits a day by the end of September. That should earn from $40 to $60 a day. Of course, once the playoffs start, I’ll have no hits at all until next year.

I hope that by next year, some of those 40,000 surfers will remember the site and I can build on that. Maybe I’ll be doing $500 per day in September of 2007. (And in 2008 I can retire.)






August 29th, 2006

ScienceFictional/freenameastar Crash

Warning: intense geek/nerd speak follows:

The IDIOTS at hostmerit.com (never use this hosting company) have fiddled with something that killed the geeklog installation and as a result ScienceFictional is down. I tried installing a fresh copy of the software and it behaved the same way. It seems to be escaping quotes all over the place whereever I use mySQL. I notified them about it, but it is time to dump these chumps.
I will try migrating back to 1and1.com, even though I hate their hosting interface.
I have work to do today, but I will try and stay late tonight and get some of these transferred – especially freenameastar because that makes me money.






August 24th, 2006

On Submitting Speculative FIction

I wrote a little discussion of my submissions stats to elucidate the comment thread from a few posts back. Jim seemed surprised that I had over 100 rejections. I checked and I had over 150. I think that Jim should get in synch with Heinlein’s rules and start submitting until somebody has a lapse of judgment and buys a story. The only way to sell a story is to keep banging it on editor’s heads.

The whole idea of “selling” is suspect, though, if you get less than minimum wage. My programmer bill rate is $76.50 an hour. If I take 4 hours to write a 3500 word story (a quick story indeed), it should be worth more than 8 cents a word. Instead, I feel lucky if I get $20 ($4/hour) for the whole thing and usually accept much less. I would say that you should write for the glory, but there is precious little glory in most websites.

So Jim, send me your stories and I’ll publish one. Use the email link – Contact Webmaster – in upper left hand corner of this page. Do it for the glory. (You can’t submit diretly at ScienceFictional.com. Since ScienceFictional.com is a zine prototype for my own amusement, I disabled the submission link in order to drive authors crazy.)

On Submitting Speculative Fiction






August 24th, 2006

Whichness of What

Heinlein uses the phrase the whichness of what in The Door Into Summer, Podkayne of Mars, and Red Planet. It is a description of the nothings that we sometimes delve into at great depth and deep satisfaction when friends stay up talking to the wee hours. (Or create deep discussions in blog comments that go on for days.)

I googled it today and found very little. The Whichness of the Whatness is a song that Fred Astaire sang in the 1920s by Lloyd Daly. It is the kind of wordplay that would have appealed to Astaire, I think. My conclusion is that whichness of whatness may have been an obscure catch phrase used around the turn of the century. If I had to guess, I’d say it was a college thing, limited to one or two campuses. I have never heard it used in conversation.

It is a great unused title. There are a few blogs that use it, but if I ever have a collection of short stories, I think that I may title it The Whichness of What. (I still like Channeling Murray Leinster, though.)






August 24th, 2006

Dead PCs

I have four PCs in the fortress of solitude in the basement. I recently bought a 60 gig hard drive at a garage sale ($3), so I wanted to test it. I tried booting up one machine after another. I hadn’t used the basement machines in a few months. My main machine was totally dead. This was a foundling I picked up at the side of the road during town cleanup. When I got it, it was so full of viruses and adware that it was unuseable. I had to format the disk and re-install XP and then it worked fine for a year. It was a 1.1 ghz with a 20 gig drive. Another was a 500 mhz 10 gig HP machine that wouldn’t see the hard disk (any hard disk) and I spent 45 minutes swapping known good drives and cables proving this. The two others were older 333mhz machines and they each had some problems. Neither would boot off of a HPFS system disk and I didn’t want to start formatting a new OS on FAT from scratch.

I am without a desktop machine for the first time in 20 years.

I had in the back of my mind that I would ship the 500 mhz to Chris B. and Larry would get the 1.1 gig machine as his PC is crapping out. Now I have 4 boxes to put on the side of the road for some other scavenger to work on.

I don’t know when town cleanup starts, but I hope I can pick up another PC or two.

The laptop that Justine sent me is still pretty good, but the screen is getting flacky. You have to angle it just-so or the backlight doesn’t work. I use the laptop to edit stories or play solitaire when TV gets bad.






August 23rd, 2006

NASA Names New Crew Exploration Vehicle Orion

NASA is replacing the shuttle. The Orion Spacecraft was announced by accident today. They were originally going to announce it August 31, but an astronaut used a non-secure feed when he made the pre-recorded announcement.

I have never thought the shuttle a good idea. It’s too big and too fragile. I think a smaller vehicle, more like a conventional airplane, would be better.

NASA, however, is going back to an Apollo looking device and will be using it for a long term moon base – I hope they call it Luna City.

The new craft is scheduled to launch in 2010.

Heinlein said: Once you get to earth orbit, you’re halfway to anywhere in the solar system.

But Von Braun said: Our two greatest problems are gravity and paper work. We can lick gravity, but sometimes the paperwork is overwhelming.

There are numerous novels and short stories from the late 40s and early 5os that were inspired by a series of articles Willie Ley did for Astounding Stories. Ley was present when the army tested the captured V2 rockets. He was impressed with the fact that they worked, for the most part. It was obvious that these rockets, with a little tweaking, could make it into space.

Heinlein and others wrote about private companies that seized upon this technology and went out to visit the moon and explore the solar system. I don’t know why this never happened. The technology is not that hard. I guess that there was no obvious profit in it. We had to wait for the X-Prize to fullfill the Science Fictional meme.

NASA is now in competition from China, Japan, Great Britain, India and a bunch of consortiums. I wonder if the private sector will talk about anything other than serving tourism?

I have been looking for a while for a job with a space company – one that is directly involved in private exploration of space. You would think that one would need a good programmer with a SF viewpoint and background in Math. I haven’t found anything, yet. I have applied to NASA a few times and a NASA job is about the only job that I would take a major cut in pay and move for – so far no luck.






August 22nd, 2006

FLURB, a Webzine of Astonishing Tales.

Rudy Rucker is one of my favorite writers. I have read his books Software and Wetware several times each. I actually read Wetware first, and I still think it is the better novel in spite of being a sequel.

Rudy is an award winning big-name SF writer. Recently, when putting together a collection of short stories, he wanted to include a story that he had not yet published. Economically, it’s best to sell a story before you anthologise it. The zines don’t usually buy reprints. Rather than sell it to the print magazines, which have a lead time of many months if not years, he tried selling it to a few online zines.

I am assuming that he tried the ones that pay SFWA rates. The results were that he was rejected. I don’t feel so bad now. I have over 100 rejections from the same zines. My suspicions about the poor taste of their editors has been confirmed.

Rudy came to the same conclusion that I did. If you want to be read, it may not be a requirement that you publish in a formal webzine. All you need is a URL, some inbound links and a decent position in the search engines. There is no difference, qualitatively, in publishing in an established paying web market or publishing at your own website.

So Rudy started Flurb.com. He is already publishing better stories than you’ll find at the big name, pay markets. It is full of Ruckeresque cyberpunk gnarly weird stuff that Rudy is creating.

So far his google page-rank is zero. Spec-fic bloggers such as William Gibson, John Shirley and Bruce Sterling will soon get him boosted up there. It takes a month sometimes for Google to recalculate their indexes.

I didn’t see a “guidelines” or “Submit” link. Too bad.

Maybe Rudy will give me a reciprocal link to ScienceFictional.com

FLURB, a Webzine of Astonishing Tales.






August 21st, 2006

Good Weekend

Rather than go to flea markets, Erica and I took a road trip upstate and drove around in Ulster County. I put about 250 miles on the truck and we had a great time. We stopped at a winery, bought champaign, got lost, had lunch in a vintage diner, bought some fancy desserts in a quaint village and took the long way home. It was as close to a vacation that I’ve had in a very long time. I wish that I had brought a camera.
I finished Heinlein’s Door into Summer on tape, and I started right over again at the beginning.
I sold a story to J. Erwine at Martian Wave – thanks J! I finished another story, although it is not spec-fic, and I have no idea what to do about it.
I am nearing the end to Vinge’s Rainbows End – very good stuff – it’s giving me lots of ideas for stories.
Since there was no decent TV, Erica and I watched Tales of the Gold Monkey episodes the last two evenings. I bought the bootleg DVD set last year. This vintage TV series is lots of fun, but like the little girl with the curl on her forehead, when it’s bad it’s horrid. I still enjoyed it, especially watching the giant 8-ball atomic bomb with the swastika on it being dumped into the bottomless pit and Jack the Dog upstaging Roddy McDowall.
It was beautiful weather and Erica and I had good long talks and walks. It was a calming weekend and I hate having to go back to work so soon.






August 17th, 2006

Story Submitted

In late 2003, J and Tyree at SamsDot accepted a couple of my stories. This was a great high, and I started writing down all the ideas that I had been saving up for 20 or more years. In February of 2004, according to my work-in-progress spreadsheet, I started 31 stories. I eventually sold about a dozen of these February stories. After that I slowed down and got back to programming and websites.

I no longer submit stories – too much trouble and stress, but I was going over those stories from 2004 looking for grist for the ScienceFictional.com mill. I found a complete story, but at the top were a list of changes that I needed to make, followed by the comment “send to Martian Wave”. I spent a couple of hours making the changes and then I sent it to Martian Wave – two and half years late. The story has the choppy style that characterized my writing then. I was having trouble with tenses and very complex sentences that don’t bother me so much today, but I didn’t want to totally rewrite it. There’s another story on the list that says I should send it to Fifth Di…, but it needs much more work and I am not that fond of it.

Anyway, I find myself, once again, worrying about a story. I don’t need the stress. I swear this is the last time – I never, never, never will submit a story again!

Publishing on ScienceFictional is so much easier. I just put up a Lovecraftian story with references to The Lurking Fear and other Lovecraft images. It’s much more fun to write, just write, without worrying about who will read it, and what they will think. I might even get back to work on the Fumets novel!






August 16th, 2006

Hosting down again

Hostmerit has screwed me again. They have let the /tmp volume fill up. This impacts mySQL and the user logs. ScienceFictional.com, FreeNameAStar.com and a few other sites are down. My plan was to get rid of 1and1.com hosting. Now, I am slowly moving my websites back there.

Hosting, no matter who handles it, is a nightmare.

When I hit the lotto, the first thing I’ll do is rent a T1 line directly into my basement and host it all myself.






August 15th, 2006

Editorial, Flash, and the Macbre

I put up a couple of more flash stories at ScienceFictional.com last week and this morning published an editorial on terrorism there. I wanted to put the editorial here, but it stretched out to a 1000 words which is too much for this blog.

I have a partially written flash called The Shunned Well that I will put up later. I have been listening to too much Stephen King, Peter Straub, Stephen Coontz, and, of course, Lovecraft. I don’t usually write horror, gothic or macabre stories, but lately all the flash has been coming out that way. I bought several boxes of books-on-tape at garage sales and it’s all been that kind of novel. In order to break out of this mode, I ordered Heinlein’s The Door Into Summer on tape. This is Heinlein’s best, at least to my way of thinking. When it arrives, and I listen to it four or five times, I hope that I can cleanse my pallette and write some real SF. In the mean time, I’ve finished the first draft on a story “Nest of Flames” that takes place in the 1820′s and uses a Rimbaud tone poem for inspiration – very dark – more like Bradbury than Lovecraft, but still macabre.

I think that I have one more (maybe two) flash fiction stories for ScienceFictional.com on the topic of Katrina; that will make 9 or 10 flash stories in a little over a month. September first I’ll start a new topic and see how I do. I have good starts on the three stories for the Oct 1 issue. The theme is Bio Machines. I wish that I picked a more general topic. I am not sure that I’ll have them all finished by the deadline.






August 14th, 2006

TREK XI

There is actually a Star Trek XI in the works. I hope it will be interesting. I never saw the last ST movie. It didn’t seem worth paying the ten bucks to see it in the theaters and I haven’t noticed it on the TV, yet. I was not about to pay $10 to see Data again – he’s not my favorite character. It is a good rule of thumb to avoid Brent Spiner movies.

At poker we had a discussion about who was our favorite ST character. We discussed Spock and Scotty and McCoy. Data and Warf were mentioned. All were highly thought of until one character was mentioned and we all came instantly to a consensus. All the poker GUYS agreed that 7of9 was, without a doubt, our favorite ST character. Of course, the discussion then went to latex foam padding and on to other related subjects until we finally got back to poker.

I hope the article about Shatner appearing in XI is a joke.

TREK XI






August 7th, 2006

Weird Craigslist ad

John (Johnny B. Blog) sent me this. I told him that he should start a blog of nothing but weird Craigslist ads. This is right up there!

Temp. HANDICAPPED Englishman, Intl., Psychic Poker Player needs YOU!

“Temporarily Physically Challenged Psychic Radio Show Host,( emeraldone.com/sebastian) and International Poker Tournament Player and 9yr old VEGETARIAN son and attack Chihuahua need YOU!”

You must be non judgemental ,UNBIASED,very healthy and good at ORGANIZING and being organized yourself, extremely HEALTHY, non-smoking, COMPASSIONATE, caring ,empathetic, THOUGHTFUL and have a good sense of humor.

Please be ready to start TONIGHT! Also please have a lot of PATIENCE and be SPONTANEOUS ready to travel at a moments notice anywhere in the world that will range from the sublime to the ridiculous( always Fun and adventurous BUT safe !( mostly!)

This is more a member of the family than a “Job” as such and “YOU” can be a a man,woman ,couple or possibly small “entourage! LOVE is more important than knowledge and we will be looking for somebody to DESIGN and help RUN our NOMADIC(but luxury), varied ,lifestyle,along with TUTORING my home school son and playing LOTS of first class video games!

LOVE is more important than knowledge ability to DRIVE Safely a luxury SUV is needed and PACKING(up to 14suitcases!) and keeping TRACK of many COMPUTERS and high tech GADGETS and wires and multiple clothing costumes and outfits is essential…..!

Know how to make and keep a PACKING LIST!……….

Also we are by in large “NOCTURNAL!”

Cleaning (like the SWISS,)cooking(like the FRENCH!) and ORGANIZING like a PROFESSIONAL!) would all be appreciated along with being a self starter.

TIME will be given and encouraged for any CREATIVE PROJECTS or studies that you are doing or would like to pursue yourselves-I.E. I am prepared to fund flying lessons etc for those interested or other areas of interest.
Opportunity will be there for the right persons to participate in many creative projects(yours or ours!).
The most recent attempts to find someone produced wonderful responses many of which were mistakenly lost-so please feel free to reapply if you did or did not, get a response last time.

In reapplying/applying please send a letter telling us Who you are and why you would be the best persons for this,along with any conventional resume you may have.
Feel free to include fotos and ask any questions that you would like although I have tried to cover a lot here.

References exchanged and we will provide a tiny stipend ,pay expenses, and the best financial part would be sharing a percent of the tournament WINS!

Thank you for taking the time to read our posting please know that WE are SINCERE and expect the same, please,

………the best to you in all your journeys may you live long and thrive ,……..

your new friends,
The SINCLAIRS and “Squirt”the Chihuahua!