Archive for July, 2010

Reinbeck Brouhaha

Friday, July 30th, 2010

If you have read this blog for a while you might remember that in the late summer and fall Erica and I like to go up to apple country. Dutchess county is beautiful in the fall. Erica and I like Red Hook and Reinbeck. We do some of Christmas shopping there and the Beekman Arms has one of the best Sunday brunches anywhere.

The sleepy little town that I have enjoyed is being co-opted this weekend by politicians and celebrities. I am embarrassed to see the crowds of people on the streets looking to catch a glimpse of someone famous. The Clinton Wedding has ruined the place.

I can only hope that it all settles down by Labor Day. I want to drive up and buy my apple pies and have lunch at the diner in Red Hook. I hope that the Reinbeck goes back to sleep after all of this is over.

Friend or Follow

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

For just $1.99 you can be my friend on FaceBook, or have me follow you on Twitter.

I think that this is a reasonable amount to charge. Friendship, after all, is not so easy to find that I could give it away for free.

Blues Week

Monday, July 26th, 2010

Every year about this time I get to feeling bad because I am not in Elkins, West Va. at Blues Week. I went a few times back in the 1990s and had a great time – some of the best times of my life. My friend (and 8th cousin) Phil Chadeayne went down with me a couple of times. He had a great time, too.

Phil’s son, as a surprise, paid for himself and Phil to go down and they had a blast. Did they ask me to go? No, they didn’t. I’ve been saying “maybe next year” for the last 14 years. Well, maybe next year I’ll go.

I remember a few of these guys with Phil from the times I was down there. Phil is the second from the right. It looks like they all enjoyed that southern cooking. (I remember that the barbecue was great, and one night they had white lightning.)

Phil at Blues Week

Life in hospital due to insurance gaps

Monday, July 26th, 2010

I worked with Mike Stanzione for at least ten years at a previous job. I haven’t heard from him in a long while, but a post on Facebook led me to this article. He’s suffering from Pompe Disease which is sapping his strength and has weakened his lungs to the point where he needs a respirator. (Pompe’s was the subject of recent movie: Extraordinary Measures)

His insurance has required him to stay in a hospital for over a year. He is a good programmer, and if he was able get home care, he might even be able to work remotely. His insurance won’t pay for the home care, so he is stuck in the hospital.

This is a frightening prospect. He has lots to contribute, but is being held back by red tape. He can lead a good, if limited, life in spite of his illness, but he is forced to remain in a small hospital room away from his family. Man faces life in hospital due to insurance gaps.

Beekman’s Precinct Revolutionary Pledge 7/25/1775

Sunday, July 25th, 2010

While doing some genealogy for my mother I discovered that my Great-Great-Great-Great Grandfather was Albert (Elbert) Adriance who signed the Beekman’s Precinct Revolutionary Pledge in 7/25/1775.

After the battle of Concord in April of 1775, the Dutch settlers of the Hudson Valley, who never liked the British, were quite angry and decided to resist. They wrote up a declaration of their refusal to submit to British rule called The Revolutionary Pledge, and it was signed on July the 15th, 1775. This almost a year before the boys down in Philadelphia got around to writing up their declaration of Independance.

Here is the pledge, full of spit and vinagar as befits these hardy settlers.

Persuaded that the salvation of the rights and liberties of America depend, under God, on the firm union of its inhabitants in a rigorous prosecution of the measures necessary for its safety ; and convinced of the necessity of preventing anarchy and confusion, which attend the dissolution of the powers of government, we, the freemen, freeholders, inhabitants of _____, being greatly alarmed at the avowed design of the Ministry to raise a revenue in America, and shocked by the bloody scene now acting in Massachusetts Bay, do, in the most solemn manner, resolve never to become slaves and do associate, under all the ties of religion, honor, and love to our country, to adopt and endeavor to carry into execution whatever measures may be recommended by the Continental Congress, or resolved upon by our Provincial Convention for the purpose of preserving our Constitution, and opposing the execution of the several arbitrary Acts of the British Parliament, until a reconciliation between Great Britain and America on constitutional principles (which we most ardently desire) can be obtained ; and that we will in all things follow the advice of our General Committee respecting the purposes aforesaid, the preservation of peace and good order, and the safety of individuals and property.

Submitted a Story

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

I don’t often submit stories to Pro magazines. 5 cents a word is not much and hasn’t changed in 30 years. If you figure that John W. Campbell was paying a penny a word back in the 1950s, and that there has been a bit of inflation since then, 5 cents is just awful. In the 1950s a short story sale was the equivalent of a month’s salary. Anyway, I write for glory, not money.

I submitted my story Speed Trap (23 rejections and counting) to Asimov’s, today. I don’t think that the story is very marketable, but over the years I have learned to love this dark little tale, and I think it has a chance somewhere. I have purposely not sent it into the free venues where I know it will be published. I want better things for it.

What prompted me to submit it is that I was testing my Weasel Word Checker. I ran it through the software and found about 30 vague or empty words that I eliminated. I also fixed all the grammar in the dialog. I wrote Speed Trap back when I did not know the correct dialog rules and I shudder to think what editors thought of my story. I then ran it through MS Word’s style checker and fixed up about a dozen instances of passive tense. I did a reread and got rid of some awkward sentence structures and shortened some long sentences.

I used the Asimov’s electronic submission form and sent them my bright shiny new version of Speed Trap. I have high hopes for it.

If life were only like this

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

Today’s is Marshall McLuhan’s birthday.

AussieCon4 :: “Make Ready” Short Story Competition

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

I did not win this, although I did write a story for them. I was informed that I made it through several rounds before being eliminated.

I researched the Australian countryside and included local color in my story, but in the end, I was not Australian enough to finish in the money. The winners were all Australian authors, one even from Wollongong, New South Wales, where my story was set.

AussieCon4 :: “Make Ready” Short Story Competition.

P.K. Dick: Neo-Nazis, Syphilis, and World War III

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

Letters of Note has letters from Phillip K. Dick to the FBI and the county sheriff’s office about plots by Neo-Nazis to insert coded phrases into Science Fiction. He even claimed that Thomas Disch’s book Camp Concentration had some of these phrases.

Phillip, of course, was not well and was probably schizophrenic. (He was never actually diagnosed, but these letters exhibit behavior that is not normal.)

The coded information which Kinchen wished placed in my novels (I of course refused, and fled to Canada) had to do with an alleged new strain of syphilis sweeping the U.S., kept topsecret by the U.S. authorities; it can’t be cured, destroys the brain, and is swift-acting. The disease, Kinchen claimed, is being brought in deliberately from Asia by agents of the enemy (unspecified), and is in fact a weapon of World War Three, which has begun, being used against us.

Letters of Note: Neo-Nazis, Syphilis, and World War III.

Weasel Word Detector

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

I wrote a Weasel Word Detector. This finds those vague and empty words and phrases in your prose and highlights them in red. The results when I run my stories through it are sobering.

Weasel Word Detector.

I just added an Adverb Detector using the same code.

I also added a detector for theLake Superior State University Banished Words List.

Sold a story

Friday, July 16th, 2010

My Science Fiction story about murder at Carnevale in Venice, Italy has been accepted by Tyree Campbell at SamsDot publishing. It will be out June 2011. I’ll just have to wait.

Heinlein Biography

Friday, July 16th, 2010

There once was a time that I would watch the magazine racks and the bookstores for new works by Robert A. Heinlein. He is gone now, but I keep watching for news. His estate occasionally finds treasures like his lost novel or an outline of an unwritten story, and I always buy and read these.

For a long time, Heinlein’s wife Ginny was very careful about Robert’s image and some writings and details of his life that might have been less flattering were suppressed. Ginny Heinlein is gone now and stories have been coming out about the great man’s life and accomplishments as well as news of his feet of clay.

Now a very in-depth official biography has been written by William H. Patterson, Jr.

This looks to be a good read and should answer at least a few of the questions that I’ve had about what made Bob Heinlein tick. I have pre-ordered it and the book should arrive in the second half of August.

There will be series of articles over at about RAH.

MERGILI harp-amp “The Amphibian”

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

This is what I want for Christmas. Start looking now.

(I’ve decided to break out my harmonicas and start playing again.)

YouTube – MERGILI harp-amp “The Amphibian”.

When Science Fiction Goes Bad

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

This is a paragraph from Rockets In Ursa Major, by Fred Hoyle and Geoffrey Hoyle. Fred Hoyle was an astronomer and science writer who did a lot of work for the SF Magazines in the Golden Era of SF. He even wrote some SF. He was not a bad writer. He probably knew better, but this is just dreadful.

I climbed in beside the driver. He picked up his punch cards, and selecting the Cambridge one pushed it into the reader. This meant that information was fed to the central transport computer which would work out the best possible route, height and speed for the journey. All this information would then be passed to our destination so that, once we were in the air, automatic homing devices would take over and whisk us to our destination without traffic jams and accidents. The police have their own link-up with this computer. It greatly helps in crime detection, but I fell it is an infringement of individual liberty.

Aside from the rambling sentences, wandering focus, a dearth of commas, and passive tense, the whole thing can be reduced to: “I took a cab to Cambridge” or (if you want to be sciencefictional)  “I took a computer controlled cab to Cambridge”.

Fred should have known better.

This started out as a play by Fred Hoyle and was produced in 1962. I could not find any reviews. (Probably better lost in the depths of time). I suspect that his son Geoffrey rewrote it as a novel and that he responsible for the god awful paragraph above.

I am trying to read this on the bus, but I may give up on it. I stopped on page 10 when I hit this paragraph.

And, yes, there is more:

A few seconds later a green light appeared on the control panel. The driver fired up the small rocket motors and we lifted into the air, rising vertically until picked up by a homing frequency. The great advantage of the jet against conventional motor is the the smoothness it offers as well as a slight increase in reliability.

It was a clear night, with the stars getting brighter the higher we went. With a light jolt the helicopter stopped rising and moved off in a forward direction.