Archive for May, 2010


Thursday, May 27th, 2010

I went to a Science Fiction Convention once and it was very very bad. It was full of low esteem nerds dressed up as barbarian princesses, wizards or hobbits. The people and events were sad and disturbing.

Reluctantly, though, I’ve decided that I might ride up to Readercon in Boston this July to see some writers that I’ve corresponded with and perhaps listen to some of the panel discussions where some fairly famous people will be talking. I’ll bring books and try to get them signed.

Readercon is a convention for readers and does not have an art show, gaming, films, or costumes. This means that it will not offend my own inflated sense of dignity.

Another good thing about this con is that you can go for one day on the cheap. Most cons seem to cost a hundred dollars of more. All it will cost me is $35, gas and snacks. I have until June 19th to decide if I want to register for all three days at $55.

Still, Boston is a good 4-1/2 hour ride. When the alarm goes off Saturday morning at 5 AM it is very likely I’ll turn over and go back to sleep. I wonder if my brother Larry (not a reader) would like to ride shotgun.

Everything I Touch is Sticky

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

I accidentally put this in the wrong place. I am re-posting it here. The original post date was May 24, and I harvested the honey Sunday May, 23.

I built a honey extractor out of odd parts and tried it out yesterday. I immediately twisted itself into a corkscrew shape. I need to redesign.

In the meantime I had pulled 15 frames of honey from Connie. Connie is one of my beehives that is very very successful and I had a hive box full of honey from last year and another half a box full of honey from this year.

I scraped off the comb by hand and use cheesecloth to strain it. I now have two and a half gallons of raw honey. I filled a dozen 12 oz bears, 18 small baby food jars and 1-1/2 64 oz containers with honey.

I have taken two hot soaking baths since, but I still feel sticky. The honeycomb gets on your skin and won’t come off. It softens the skin and it is used in cosmetics, but doesn’t wash off. I have about 3 pounds of raw honeycomb in the cheesecloth that I have to melt and filter. I also have a quart of “chunk” honey for Jim, who likes his honey unfiltered with the occasional dead bee in it.

I ate so much honey in the process of straining and bottling the stuff that I feel icky today.

I am giving away the baby food jars at work to coworkers and the guy at the coffee shop from Pakistan who used to keep bees.

Girija had her baby

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

My coworker, Girija, had her baby girl today, and we are awaiting pictures.

Why Bad Scripts Sell

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

Someday I am going to find time to write one of my movie script ideas. I realize that it will never sell and probably never read by anyone who cares, but I am going to do it anyway.

The ScriptShadow blog has great articles on writing screenplays and this is one of the best.
ScriptShadow: Why Bad Scripts Sell and Why It Shouldn’t Matter To You.

Forbidden Planet Trailer

Monday, May 24th, 2010

YouTube – Forbidden Planet Trailer.


Monday, May 17th, 2010

Erica bought a month’s subscription to to search for her past. She can trace a huge amount of stuff and has connected with distant cousins also looking for information. It is slow going, though and tracing common names back to Ireland can be frustrating.

I am using it to document my family and I have made some interesting discoveries. I have basically three heritages in my DNA. I have the Dutch who settled in the Hudson valley. I have the Irish who came over in the middle of the 1800s, and have the English who came over in the Mayflower and the century following.

It is interesting that I can trace my Dutch ancestry back to 1470. I seems more interesting that I discovered the passenger list for the Steamship Great Western that carried Robert Fitzgerald of Armagh Ireland to the New World in 1862 along with his family.

You can see my great-great grandparents Robert Fitzgerald and Jane Totton (Totten, Taughton). Uncle Daniel, who served in the Civil war and spend time in Andersonville Prison is there and Sarah Fitzgerald, age 7, my great grandmother.

My current puzzle involves one Samuel Hunt who lived in Hunterdon, NJ around 1800. I think his father is Jesse Hunt, but I have to verify this with my mother. Jesse Hunt founded Cincinnati, Ohio and may be related to Jesse James.

Ward on TV

Monday, May 17th, 2010

My little brother Ward is supposed to appear accidentally on this video. Larry says look for the guy with the white hat? I missed him. Wait, I just saw him behind the flight attendant trying to stuff stuff in the overhead! He appears again with his back to you waiting on a line.

Ward’s 2.5 seconds of fame.

Backyard Travel: | NBC New York.

Cats, Pens

Monday, May 17th, 2010

Frank Frazetta Dies

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010

The man who did more than any writer to define the look and feel of high fantasy died yesterday.

His Conan style paintings covered best selling paperbacks from the 1960s on.

Frank Frazetta Dies – Comics Illustrator Was 82 – Biography –

$20,000 in a week

Friday, May 7th, 2010

I lost some money this week in the market crash. I hope to make it back next week. You can’t think about this stuff. The stock market goes up and down. I never really had the money in the first place. This is all paper money. I won’t start taking money out until I retire and that’s a few years off. Then I’ll worry about it.

Retracing Rover’s Steps out of Victoria Crater

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

This incredible animate gif loops through retracing Rover’s Steps out of Victoria Crater. I love the Mars Rovers. Let’s think of a good story where the rover saves the day. Maybe a murder mystery where the guy who programs the rover is murdered but leaves a clue in the path the rover is programmed to make.

Mars Exploration Rover Mission: Features.


Thursday, May 6th, 2010

Each morning I open a bunch of blogs and read them during the day as I get bored.

This morning about half of them were blocked by the County firewall software. It looks like the county has blocked most of the blogger blogspot sites. I will now have to wait until I get home to keep up what is happening in the world. – who knew?

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

I just found out that has been accepting short stories and pays pro rates. I missed this entirely. They are not listed in Duotrope or any of the other market guides.

Their current response time is well over 6 months, but they have just hired on another editor and that may change.

Now, all I have to do is find tome to write another story. A 4,000 word story pays a whole grand. I could use the cash.

Submissions should henceforth be sent via email to the newly-created welcomes original short SF and fantasy, broadly defined. We’re particularly interested in stories under 12,000 words, although we’ve made exceptions in the past and will do so again. We pay 25 cents a word for the first 5,000 words, 15 cents a word for the next 5,000, and 10 cents a word after that. Although we try to employ common sense in dealing with edge cases, “original” means original—not previously published. Contrary to some previous reports, we do not want you to query first; to submit to, just send us your story. Stories should use standard manuscript format and be emailed as Word, RTF, or plain-text attachments. Stories sent inline in the body of an email will be ignored. Questions? Send them to

(Is it me or does that semicolon in the sentence that starts “Contrary” look hinky? It may be right but it just doesn’t look right. The sentence should have ended with the contrary clause, but only because it fun to nit-pick editors.)

Asimov’s Opens to Electronic Submissions

Monday, May 3rd, 2010

The big pro magazines have required snail mail submissions forever. I always thought that the $3 postage cost of submitting to them was a kind of toll gate that was maintained to keep the submission levels at a tolerable level.

As it is the pro slush piles are 10s of thousands of stories per year to fill a dozen slots. There is very little chance of standing out in slush piles of this magnitude – even with a great story. There is even some talk that they clear the slush from time to time and reject everyone at once without any stories being read whenever the piles get too high.

Asimov’s has now created an online submission form to combat the huge inflow of paper. I guess just physically handling the submissions – opening envelopes, printing rejections and mailing the rejections out – costs too much. In fact the paper submission process has to be very inefficient. Even if they doubled their submission numbers the digital system should pay for itself.

(I am an expert in Document Management systems, having written dozens of systems over the years. I have managed and maintained systems that handled hundreds of thousands of documents per day, creating terabytes of online data and controlling the work flow associated with these systems.)

Asimov’s can now reject thousands of manuscripts at once by clicking “select all” and pressing the “reject” button. A staff of paid readers has been replaced by one secretary who will take five minutes off from doing her nails each month to wrangle the slush.

I have a half finished story about cell phones (yes, I wrote another one, and yes, I hate cell phones. This is the fourth story about how much I hate cell phones). As soon as I finish it I will try out the new system.

J.J. Adams has an online system for slush at his pro zine, and I would have used it, but I feel more comfortable with SamsDot for certain kinds of stories. The stress of waiting on an unknown market is too much for me. I wonder if he is still in business? I have an idea for another story that may be easy to write, if I only didn’t have to attend all these stupid meetings.

Asimov’s Science Fiction – Manuscript Guidelines.