Wanderings

Anything you dream is fiction,
and anything you accomplish is science,
the whole history of mankind is nothing but science fiction.
- Ray Bradbury
February 27th, 2009

Bees!

I ordered my bees today. I put the $70 order in at Betterbee.com, which is up in Greenwich, NY. This is very late to order bees. Usually they tell you to order by February 1st. I hope that Betterbee is not sold out. I have not yet received my order confirmation.

Greenwich (pronounced green-witch) is up above Albany over on the Vermont border. Back in the 1990s I road up many times to see my Aunt Jean, who lived in Greenwich after Uncle Eddie died. Her house was two blocks from Betterbee and I remember seeing the signs. It’s about 10 minutes to the Vermont border and several times I bought a Christmas tree at a Vermont tree farm owned by one of Aunt Jean’s friends.

I have to ride up and pick up the bees on May 9th. That will take 3 hours each way and cost me about $50 in gas and tolls.

If you have bees, you need a hive.

I ordered the hive at the cheapest place I could find online. I got an unpainted 10 frame beginner’s set with all the little things that they charge you extra for when you start out. I paid $140 for the less expensive kit where you have to assemble and paint it yourself. The assembled eBay kits cost up to $250 and Betterbee charges over $200. I should get the kit in about 10 days. I can decide then if I need to spend more money.

I hope that someone finds this by searching for Rockland County or Nyack and beekeeping. I would like to be able have a bee buddy to call in case of emergencies. This will be my first time. I went through the very good bee tutorials at http://basicbeekeeping.blogspot.com/. This blog has lots of good lessons in starting in raising bees. It doesn’t seem that hard. The bees raise themselves. There is very little that you have to do to keep them happy.

I will get Larry to come over and video me for each of the milestones so you can see me making the hive and then getting stung. Hopefully he’ll be able to video me harvesting honey eventually.

If you are reading this and Betterbee is still selling bees you may consider starting a hive of your own. All you need is a yard. Bees are very gentle and don’t sting. They are not like wasps or yellow jackets. They don’t attack and you can generally touch them and have them land on you without danger. Your neighbors probably will never know that you have bees unless you tell them.

I will be going up on the 9th, leaving Nyack around 6:30am. It is a three hour ride each way. If you live around here and order bees, I’ll pick them up for you if you donate something towards gas and tolls. You’ll be able to pick them up in West Nyack on Saturday afternoon on May 9th.

***UPDATE****

Betterbee has confirmed my order. Bees are coming!






February 27th, 2009

Voyage to the City of the Dead, Alan Dean Foster (1984)

I read Alan Dean Foster’s Voyage to the City of the Dead.

Good story and characters. It was an engaging read and I recommend it.

Read the Review of Voyage to the City of the Dead, Alan Dean Foster (1984)






February 26th, 2009

My story at Electric Spec Magazine

Electric Spec has my story up.

RepFix by K.P. Graham






February 26th, 2009

Separated at Birth

I don’t usually watch much of presidential speeches. There has been little reason to do this for the last 8 years. Obama, though, is a tremendous speaker and his speech the other night was very interesting and entertaining. I am rooting for him, although I am not sure that any spending or bailout plan will get us out of this hole that we’re in.

Less so was was Bobby Jindal’s speech. After Obama, he came off just awful. He has been compared very often to “Kenneth the Page” on 30 rock. If you do a search on Kenneth 30 rock Jindal, on Google you get 92,000 hits.

Kenneth_Parcell

Bobby_Jindal






February 25th, 2009

Philip José Farmer 1918-2009

Philip José Farmer died today at the age of 91. I remember Mr. Farmer as the Science Fiction writer who finally brought sex to SF, even before Heinlein. His story The Lovers is the first and best story of a love affair between an alien and a human. His Riverworld Series will always be on my list of best science fiction.

He will be missed.

The Official Philip José Farmer Home Page






February 24th, 2009

Brigands of the Moon Ray Cummings (1931)

Ray Cummings is one of the important early writers of SF. He wrote for Astounding and Amazing in the first incarnations. Brigands of the Moon, however, is not readable.

Review of Brigands of the Moon Ray Cummings (1931)






February 23rd, 2009

Rudy Rucker on Self-Publishing

Rudy Rucker was interviewed at selfpublishingreview.com. Rudy is one of my favorite writers. I discovered him when I started exploring cyberpunk, but Rudy is a different animal and his books are more like math-punk. His novel Wetware was the first thing that I read by him, and I still think it is his best.

Rudy has a blog where he is quite open about his job as an author. He describes himself as “mid-list”, which seems to mean that he sells books at a moderate rate, but is mostly ignored by the book industry.

In this article he discusses his adventures in POD publishing. He recently created and published a book of his paintings at LuLu.com. He has thousands of readers a day at his blog and you might consider this as having a built in audience for his work. To date he has sold 10 books.

His experience with eBooks is similar. He re-released some of his earlier books as eBook downloads, but sales over the past couple of years have totaled in the hundreds. This seems to be no way to make a living at writing this way.

He does not give figures for his fiction books as POD sales. I would guess that they are not really much better. I would also be interested to find out how his new books are selling through traditional publishing houses, just for a base of comparison.

He says that traditional publishing has little to offer him except for an advance. They do not promote his books other than to put a listing Locus, (which I doubt many people read). They send out some review copies. Other than that, the traditional book publishers take a big chunk of change for doing nothing more than listing the book in catalogs and shipping out the orders.

In the last few years some of the larger book distributors have gone out of business. You can only buy books at book stores or online today. In the past every department store had a good book department and every corner store had rack of paperbacks near the magazines. The book business is bad, and that means that authors will have to find new ways to reach the dwindling few people who still read for pleasure.

Rudy Rucker on Self-Publishing






February 23rd, 2009

SAO Short Course Week 0

I received the email telling me how to log on to the Swinburne Astronomy Online (SAO) short course.

I managed to get onto their oh-so-slow system. They use a package with clunky java applets and ugly frames – very 1990s. I tried to change my password, which can be easily derived if you know my name, but the system would not let me.

Week 0 is for introductions. The system, rather than use a content system like GeekLog or Joomla, uses a third party course system. The chief communications method is via newsgroups (1980s).

Luckily, the software will not be how I judge the course. If, at the end of the six weeks, I manage to learn something new, I will count it as a net gain.

I learned my astronomy from the likes of Asimov, Heinlein and Clarke. You can’t get better teachers, so it will be interesting to see how this goes. 






February 23rd, 2009

What will be your Edward Gorey death?

Another one of those stupid internet quizzes.

I do enjoy Edward Gorey, though.

What will be your Edward Gorey death?






February 20th, 2009

Novel by Philip K. Dick Gets an Ending

In this NY Times article, it is revealed that Tessa, P.K. Dick’s last wife, has finished the novel The Owl in Daylight that Dick was working on when he moved to the next level due to a massive stroke induced by alien mind control rays mixed with amphetamines.

Interesting that she could not find a publisher for it. I might buy a copy, but now I think I’ll wait for the reviews.

Wouldn’t a lost book by P.K. Dick spark a bidding war? Maybe Tessa can’t write for a damn and the book really really sucks.

Maybe Amazon CreateSpace just pays better in the long run. On CreateSpace you get $6 – $10 for each book. A traditionally published book gets 5% to 15%. So, if Tess got 10% on a $20 book it would be only $2 at a traditional publisher. It makes sense to do the CreateSpace thing in this case because the book will market itself, so maybe the book doesn’t suck.

Here’s the question: Does the marketing done by a traditional publisher justify the difference? Why aren’t there marketing agents who will take a percentage of sales in return for managing the distribution POD books?

By the way, I am still waiting for my first sale at createspace.com. No one out there bought my CD. I was thinking about formatting my kids stories into a book with a title like: 12 Science Fiction Stories for Kids – age 8 to 14. I thought it might sell better than the CD. It would almost have to. I think this might be a good anthology title and might sell better than the adult SF out there.

Novel by Philip K. Dick Gets an Ending – NYTimes.com






February 20th, 2009

The Long Tail

Here is a Bruce Sterling interview (in English and Italian) about The Long Tail.

In the future a million writers with one reader each will be more important than a publication with 10 writers and a million readers.

I think that is obvious. Today the value of one share of stock in the New York Times costs less than the Sunday Times. As Bruce points out, magazines and newspapers are thin anemic things. They have little content and less advertising. No one uses the local classified pages. No one reads the local papers or subscribes to the national magazines. It is cheaper and easier to go on the web and read a dozen interesting blogs than to read a generic publication that has nothing of interest in it.






February 20th, 2009

Status Update

I am getting over a nasty little cold. I have not been doing much of anything, including reading, just sneezing.

I ordered a new pair of glasses online at quite a savings. I got the eye exam at a department store and I am waiting for the glasses. I will blog about the results when the glasses arrive in the next few days.

I registered for the SAO short course in Astronomy. The international balance of trade make it somewhat affordable again. I have received the welcome letter with instructions on how to get started. I will blog about this regularly.

I have found a farm within driving distance that sells beekeeping supplies and they will have a shipment of bees ready for me on May 9th, if I want it. Getting started costs around $350, but there is twofer deal, so I want to talk to Larry about it. I’ve have to drive up just north of Albany to pick up the bees and hive. It would take about 3 hours up and 3 hours down. There is another site that will overnight the bees and hive to you for a total of $400 if I decide not to drive. I want to do this, but I don’t want to kill the bees.

There is a satellite launch on March 5th at the Kennedy space center. You can view the launch from a beach in Cape Canaveral. Air fares to Florida have dropped so much that it is silly to not go. I will ask Larry or the poker boys if anyone is willing to go down and share expenses for a motel room and the rental car. We could go down the night before, watch the launch and then get our ears at Disney World, or just hang at the beach all day. If I can pull this together I will post the hotel where we are staying and anyone out there who wants to meet us there can join the party on the beach. I’ll be bringing my harmonicas.

I have been taking a course in web design. I know, I know, I have been designing web pages for years and even taught 4 semesters of a course in it. I decided that I did not have a well enough grounding in the actual esthetics of the design process even if I have the mechanics down pat. Everyone agrees that I make ugly web pages. I would like to see how another instructor deals with the topic. I have been in some interesting disagreements here at work about creating simple effective pages without all the fancy clutter. http://webdesign.about.com/

I got a rewrite request on my story The Dinosaur Dance Floor, but I have not been able to get myself excited enough to do the work. Antihistamine pills take all the creative oomph out of your life.

FreeNameAStar.com had a bang up Valentines day, even better than Christmas. It has slowed down since then, but I am still running better than 50% over the same period last year.

I have a camera full of pictures from January and February. I have not found time to empty it out and now there has to be a dozen blog entries worth of stuff in it so I am shirking this. I will try to get to this on the weekend.

In order to save money, all contractors working for the county of Westchester have to take an extra week off without pay. This may go up as the year goes on. It means more free time for me, but less money in the bank. It also means that I may be staying home on a few Fridays over the summer in order to catch some of those Friday afternoon garage sales.






February 19th, 2009

Dreams With Sharp Teeth

Harlan Ellison is a total asshole. He’s also a good writer. I’ve got the first part down pat, although I don’t think I’ll ever be a good writer.

See a talk by Ellison and the trailers to this movie about him: Dreams With Sharp Teeth






February 17th, 2009

Free Public Domain Movies

The link is to an interesting blog that finds public domain movies.

There are hundreds of movies that did not have their copyright renewed and went into public domain before the current Mickey Mouse copyright act went into effect.

Most of these are “B” movies or were filmed at studios that went out of business or were bought up by the big guys and then forgotten. Some of the movies look very good.

I have started downloading some of these.

Here are a couple of examples:

My Love For Yours (1939)

Bill Burnett, a resident of Bali, visits New York City, meets and falls in love with Gail Allen, the successful manager of a Fifth Avenue shop, who is determined to remain free and independent.
AKA: “Honeymoon in Bali”

The Limping Man (1953)

Riveting suspenser stars Lloyd Bridges as a former American G.I. who crosses the sea to find his wartime girlfriend, whom he hasn’t seen in six years. Arriving in London, the reunion is complicated when Bridges learns that his paramour is caught up in a web of deception, murder and blackmail. Can he clear her name before they both become the target of a sniper?

Free Public Domain Movies