Archive for February, 2008

ANSI Text Spam

Friday, February 29th, 2008

I received this little message in my in-box. It was not marked as spam.

RA lZ 7c
Cp 8p
b3 cw
pM Zc xY IaD5 eKMsF J195 uVHc
pA FM W2 eU lz Sv eZU Uw
WT6L 4W p9JmK q0 jF aO nJkEt
ZScx 4A gW 4C 0r Tq wH Fi qF
63 BF WC fH rD OI p7 GR UQ
uh Sf qX19H NQyVG 4I DgIgG

In the old days of PCs, before the advanced graphics cards that we had today, people often created pictures using colored letters arranged in ingenious ways. Getting this spam made me miss the days where the PC was basically a slow fancy calculator.

I wonder how the filters will catch this type of message?

Final story out 120 days

Friday, February 29th, 2008

The last story that I sent out before I stopped submitting is still out and hit 120 days today. The editor has accepted stories from me in the past, but most of those sales came after a query. Well, I refused to be sucked into his little game. I’ve written it off as lost. I deleted all my market bookmarks so I won’t be tempted to check duotrope, speculations or the black hole.

I have spent a little time formatting two books. One, titled Darkles, will be a collection of my weird tales, and the other, working title Tales from the Silver Streak Bar and Grill, will be a collection of SF. That leaves the high fantasy stories and I am not sure how to collect them. Most are part of a cycle, but the structure is too sparse to tie them together.

I’ll need to think about ways to market any books I finally put together. Putting them on Kindle and the other eText sellers will be easy. I have some of the artwork for Darkles and I am working on a website for it. eJim has been positive about his POD book experience, but I am not fond of the concept. I certainly don’t expect to have enough sales to justify iUniverse and LuLu is over priced. I still have my Indian contact who wants to make a print run, but I am not so sure.

Chick Spec Fic

Friday, February 29th, 2008

The link above is to a blog that lists 20 SF novels that it claims will change your life.

Unfortunately it’s looks like the Spec-Fic version of Oprah’ book club.

There are only three books before 1960 listed. It’s like when Rolling Stone picks the top 100 guitar players and forget most everyone before 1995. There is only one book from the Golden Age of SF. Neither Leigh Bracket or Andre Norton get a nod and either of these women could write rings around most of the modern women writers the blogger picked.

Frankenstein – I’ve reviewed it here. Awful first novel by a bad writer, heavily influenced by dominating men. Has practically nothing to do with the movie, so forget its influence on pop culture.
The Time Machine – Wells’ treatise on socialism. Not much speculative thinking here, just heavy handed Victorian politics.
At the Mountains of Madness – Lovecraft should be on any top 20 list for his short stories, but this book could only appeal to someone who grew up playing video games. Lovecraft is more important for how he influenced people like Ray Bradbury or Stephen King.
I, Robot – Intriguing, but dry, gedankenexperiments, but hardly the best thing that Asimov ever did and not in any top 10 for golden age novels. The blogger must be talking about the movie.

It goes on this way and degenerates into a list of the blogger’s favorite women authors. The only book that I think should be on the top 20 list is A Fire on the Deep, by Vernor Vinge. It was obviously only included in this blogger’s list because the book’s protagonist is a woman.

In full disclosure, I must admit that I’ve only read about half of the novels listed that were written after 1990. I also have been turned off to a couple of the writers listed, either because of overpowering feminist themes or their vacuous romance novel style. I no longer purchase their books.

More Spacecraft Velocity Anomalies — Physics News Update 857

Friday, February 29th, 2008

I kept a notebook in 1971 where, besides writing short stories and calculating the strut size for odd geodesic domes (some based on ellipsoids and higher order volumes), I developed a theory of motion that was able to explain inertia as a gravitational effect of the expanding universe.

This theory was not just the Einsteinian space bending explanation, but one that summed gravitation forces of an expanding universe on a moving body and showed that it would keep it moving, with a very slight acceleration. The acceleration changed for the different models of the universe that I considered. I was able to build up a Hubble type expanding universe with a map to the acceleration which mathematically showed the motion effect on a body. Velocity became a condition of space … well enough of that stuff, because, although I can still intuit the results, I can’t reproduce the math.

Recently, I found the notebooks where I figured all of this out and I spent a few days trying to recover the math. I was a math major in 1971 with more calculus courses than anyone I’ve ever heard of under my belt. Since then, the real world has chewed me up and spit me out. I changed colleges a few times, got married, got fired from a bad job, went on food stamps, and made a living doing flea markets and reading tarot cards. By 1976 I was an accounting clerk trying to make a living and learn enough about computers to get a better job. I forgot all that math.

It is frustrating that there is now observable data that validates my work from 1971. Spacecraft are mysteriously speeding up. They are experiencing the violation of Newton’s first law that I predicted.

More Spacecraft Velocity Anomalies — Physics News Update 857

The Religious Experience of Philip K. Dick

Friday, February 29th, 2008

I came to age in the late 1960s and I can remember spending many hours reading comic books by R. Crumb. I will always be a fan. I recently purchased a large bag full of Phillip K. Dick books, and here again, I can remember hiding away in a corner to read and reread a Dick paperback.

Combine the two and you have the Religious Experience of P.K. Dick written and Illustrated by R. Crumb.

From SF Signal:

In 1974 after having his wisdom teeth removed, Philip K. Dick experienced a profound religious experience. Pumped full of Sodium Pentathol, Dick answered the door to meet a girl from the pharmacy who was delivering his pain medications (if only they delivered now) and, upon seeing her golden fish pendant, experienced what he called ‘anamnesis’.

anamnesis: The idea that the acquisition of knowledge is a process of remembering what you already know – from Plato.

UFO and Ghost sightings Near you

Monday, February 25th, 2008

This site in the link above compiles UFO sightings and weird occurrences by location so you can look at what wackos see in your home town.

First here is the one from West Nyack, where I live. (original spelling left intact.)

So I was playing basketball with my freinds and I saw a flying object in the sky. It was very bright and had three cicles and a sharp point at the end. It was on a diaganel and just disappeared!
I was playing basketball with my freinds. I was going to take a shot. When I looked up I saw a very brigt object. It was pure white. It had three white circles and had a very pointy end. There was only 1.

Next, here is one from Nyack, more than likely sun glare.

When crossing the Tappan Zee bridge my wife snapped photos of the area because she though it would be a nice place to buy a house. I downloaded the pictures and to my surprise there was something in the picture that shouldn’t have been there.
Location: Nyack, NY
Shape: Triangle
Duration:3 minutes.

This next one is probably not Nyack, but nearby Blue Fields Park, which includes an ruined WWI military base with underground passages and rooms. Larry and I explored the ruins in great detail as it was about three miles from Central Nyack, where I grew up. If the underground rooms are not haunted, they certainly feel that way.

We experienced apparitions of a soldier hanging from a beam in the building off of the tunnel.

Here’s one for Nanuet, which is up the hill a bit from my house. It is a bit literary in style, which makes it that much more unbelievable. (I almost believe that the illiterate basketball players in the first one actually saw something).

My grandparents were just pulling into the driveway and I went outside to meet them. I was helping them take suitcases out of the trunk when I saw lights far away in the distance moving really slow.

I figured it was something I just never saw before and I pointed to it and asked my grandfather (retired army guy) ‘Grandpa what is that??” pause…. “Well that would be a UFO” completely deadpan.

It was low in the sky and was approaching very slowly. Dogs started barking all over the neighborhood. We stayed outside and watched it pass over. It was very large and oval and had multicolor lights around the edges that slowly rotated as it moved forward. It very slowly went off into the distance (I think we watched it for a long time) and I ran inside and called the police (more because I was hoping they would say what it was) and the dispatcher said he was getting tons of calls and he was assuming everyone had a lot to drink this St. Patrick’s Day.

The next four hours the sky was full of helicopters with searchlights. The newspapers reported the next day it was likely ultra lights in formation. I have no idea what it was but you could see the solid bulk of it as darker against the night sky. It made no noise either, and the lights weren’t in plane formation. My grandfather read the papers the next day muttering obscenities to himself the entire time. He was quite annoyed that the there was no reliable explanation.

There are a dozen or so more within 5 miles of my house.

Our own personal ghost comes from the cemetery next to my house on damp Spring nights. There is the unexplained smell of perfume that rises from the fog as though a heavily scented woman is strolling through the grave yard. There are no blooming flowers and it usually happens around the Spring equinox, late March or early April, before the plants even start to appear. I don’t believe in ghosts, but the few times that I have walked through the graveyard at night have spooked me. The smell usually wafts over from the cemetery around midnight. I have been over there in the dark, but it is spooky as all get out, and I don’t think that I’ll be investigating the mysterious Perfumed Lady this Spring.

Election 2008: Presidential, Senate and House Races Updated Daily

Thursday, February 21st, 2008

I watched this site at the last election and it has some nice graphs and charts and this very useful map showing each state and how it stands. Although Obama is ahead at the moment, the press is making too big a thing about him winning a large number of dinky states. Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania, and Oregon have many more delegates than the small states that Obama has been winning. Hillary is ahead in many of these states.

There are those 200 PLEOs that are not pledged to any candidate. These delegates are there to offset any irrational exuberance from the voters, and Obama’s supporters are exuberant, although only partly irrational. mentions that the Republican dirty tricks are already painting Obama as a Muslim. They are saying that he used a Koran to be sworn in, which is simply not true. I had previously heard that rumor and I thought that he had indeed done this, but it is just the usual Republican dirty tricks.

I can’t see a Hillary/Obama or Obama/Hillary ticket, but I can’t imagine who else either of them can bring to the #2 spot that would help them win. Surely not Edwards or any of the other also-rans.

I prefer Hillary over Obama, but I can’t say that I would be too upset by Obama getting in. On the other hand, I find it hard to dislike McCain (as opposed to the idiot in office). I think he is being stupid in unconditionally supporting the war and I doubt he is as far right wing as he is trying to paint himself. He is in bed with a bad crowd right now and he won’t get my vote. At least he is more reasonable than anyone in the Republican crowd. He may be too old. I have heard a rumor from John B. that Condie Rice will be McCain’s running mate to offset the race/gender issues that Hillary and Obama represent. I am hoping his running mate is Romney, who just strikes me as smarmy and big a negative. Huckabee at least plays bass in a blues band.

Current national election poles show McCain beating Hillary, but Obama beating McCain, which explains why McCain is dissing Obama much more than Hillary – McCain would be better off if Hillary got the nomination.

Election 2008: Presidential, Senate and House Races Updated Daily

Star Money

Thursday, February 21st, 2008

After a flurry of star sales for Valentines Day, has settled down to practically nothing again. I don’t foresee making many sales until Mother’s day. Then there’ll be some Father’s Day and graduation presents and then a long summer and autumn and then Christmas again. If I am going to retire on my web income I have to leverage the star sales to fill in the dry periods.

Here’s what I’ve been thinking. I want to make a separate site that allows users to register to become Star resellers. I would charge $1 per star. A girl scout troop ,or Tupperware party type person could sell the star certificates for $5 each (or $100, or whatever). It would be a good flea market thing, or Church bizarre thing. Charitable groups doing fund raisers could send them out for each donation. All you would need is a computer, a printer and an internet connection.

I’ve thought of this before, but the gotcha was how to collect the money. My new idea is that I could sell stars in blocks of 50 or 100. I would charge $50 for 50, $90 for 100 and $200 for 300 stars. They could get their ID and get their blocks of stars right from a web page. I would just take the money and help a little with the tech support. Every time they sold a star there would be a count down showing how many stars were left, reminding them to reorder. I would have to be liberal about refunds and some cheaters would have a high refund rate. I have to think a little about cheaters.

I also need better art. I have never liked the star certificate format. Currently, it is a frame with a blotch of stars and the logo in yellow across the blotch. I need something better. The next set of cubicles down from me is the county art department, but I have not made any friends with the artists, since I don’t have any real social skills. I have to wait for an opportunity and talk with them and see if they have any ideas. Talking to actual humans is not something that I enjoy, though.

Humanity’s Most useful Inventions

Thursday, February 21st, 2008

I sometimes read the wwwac list. This is the World Wide Web Artists Consortium. Mostly it’s a bunch of artsy Mac users who complain about technical things. I occasionally learn something from the lively correspondence. (If you join the wwwac list make sure that you sign up for the digest version. This group can get quite wordy and it is an email list. If you don’t want a few hundred email messages a day, go for the digest!)

There was a thread recently about useful inventions. This is something that I’ve thought of in a short story context for a while and I have started, but not finished a story or two about how a simple primitive device saves a spaceship. I think low tech solutions to high tech problems are fascinating and a good source of story ideas.

The obvious #1 choice for greatest invention of the 20th century is Duct Tape. But this is so obvious that Canadian comedian Red Green has developed a whole TV comedy show around a group of men who use Duct Tape to solve their problems.

My brother Larry, has voted for the Drywall Screw. These screws are cheap and ubiquitous. The work on wood, plastic, sheet metal and I’ve even used them to attach things to cinder block. The only problem with drywall screws is that I have pulled more than one out of a flat tire over the years. I have to agree with Larry in that the Drywall screw is damn useful.

There was a story in a 1950s Astounding Science Fiction Magazine about an alien who comes to Earth looking for technology and leaves with mankind’s greatest achievement – Paint! I always liked this story of how a smart Yankee was able to sell the rights to something that men have been using for millennia.

The suggestions from the WWWAC list were mundane or dumb or inventive. Here are a few:

bread slicing machine
pasta maker
the straw
the cane
suggestion box
safety pin
the postage stamp

Let’s hear some suggestions for the most useful modern invention from the spec fic writers out there. Ask this question on your blog, too. I am interested in the answers.

Lunar Eclipse

Wednesday, February 20th, 2008

I took pictures of the Lunar Eclipse, but I don’t have a tripod so they came out blurry. These are from the little Kodak that Justine gave Erica, but the expensive Nikon refused to take a picture due to the low light. There has to be a setting to take a quick low light picture, but I didn’t have time to read the manual.

POI site getting hits

Tuesday, February 19th, 2008

I create a little web page for my GPS (GSF as Erica calls it – Garage Sale Finder). The site allows you to easily make Points of Interest (POI) files. I can load up all of my Garage sales from the web site and drop them on the GPS device and it will take me to each of the garage sales one at a time.

There was discussion about the page at POI-Factory and the active and enthusiastic user base has been making suggestions and reporting bugs. There’s nothing like good users to encourage a guy to do some programming. I made a half a dozen improvements this morning while sipping my coffee.

Cool Cats

Sunday, February 17th, 2008

On a cold February day the cats demanded that I let them out.

Max has been sick and weighs less than half of his healthy weight, but he still wants to go out. He finds a patch of sunlight and watches.
Ollie chases aything that moves and the birds that live in the foundation planting drive him crazy.
Furry has to smell every spore or sign of the visiting stray cats

Ollie and Max curl up in Erica’s seat on the couch and recover from the cold.

Astronomy Lecture – Rockland Community College

Thursday, February 14th, 2008

I keep missing these for one reason or another. Friday night is tough after a week’s work, but I’d like to try this one.

The Great Orion Nebula – Cradle of Creation

This February’s lecture takes us to one of the most spectacular and dynamic nearby neighborhoods in the Milky Way. Located only 1350 light-years away, the Orion Nebula (M42) consists of a large cloud of gas and dust excited and illuminated from within by ultraviolet and visible light from a multiple-star system containing at least 8 stars, including 4 blue super giants. RAC’s planetary expert Keith Murdock will give a guided tour through the features of this stunningly beautiful nebula and its constantly evolving surroundings.

Friday, February 22nd at 8:00 PM
Rockland Community College
Room 1106


Thursday, February 14th, 2008

This neat little thing is a camera that this guy makes. It takes a picture every few minutes and stores them on a an SD card. It costs $60 and you have to buy an SD card for it ($15). It will take about 300 pictures and you can set the interval from every few seconds to every few minutes.

I would love to see where our cats go when the escape the house. Put on one on Willy, though and you will get 22 hours a day of the chair where he sleeps.

Here’s the link to buy one. They also have a complete unassembled kit for $31. The assembled kit is probably the better deal.