Archive for May, 2012

New Yorker: The Science Fiction Issue

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

The New Yorker has published its Science Fiction issue with all Science Fiction writers and articles. Ray Bradbury, Ursula K. Le Guin, China Miéville, and Margaret Atwood. Not exactly the style of SF that I like, but you can’t say no to Bradbury.

I walked over to Barnes & Noble, but it isn’t out yet. I will try again all this week and if I don’t get one, I’ll try over the weekend. It is going to be a collector’s item.

I read a review this morning that was a little wishy-washy. It is described the issue as just OK. SF is divided into many sub-genres. It seems that the editors at the New Yorker don’t actually read much SF, and chose to include Bradbury – the icon, but then went within their comfort zone, which appears to be feminist SF, while eschewing the more popular hard Science Fiction styles.

The Science Fiction Issue : The New Yorker.


Larry coming home

Friday, May 25th, 2012

The hospital is sending Larry home today. He is feeling well enough to walk around and annoy the nurses, so they have to get rid of him. I’ll talk to him tonight and find out what is going on. When he called me, his voice was still bad. I am wondering if he is going to get or even need any therapy. He was moving around OK when I saw him last night. I assume that they gave him another MRI and the stroke is not getting worse.

I was thinking that Larry might use the small amount of brain damage to good purpose.  The part of his brain damaged deals with muscle coordination and I think it will be difficult for him to play the guitar for a while. His fingers won’t have the coordination that all of his practicing gave him and he will have to train new brain cells to move his fingers on the guitar. This might be a good thing and he could relearn how to play without any of the bad habits one picks up when first starting. He already “knows” how to play, not all he has to do is get his coordination back and he might gain speed, accuracy and control by having to wire the new circuits.

Larry Called Me

Thursday, May 24th, 2012

My brother, who had a stroke two days ago, is feeling better. He is up and walking around. Almost all of the symptoms are gone. He is coming home from the hospital this afternoon, he thinks.

My friend Koch gave me a cell phone. He had used it for a few months but didn’t like, and so he went out and bought a smart phone. (I helped him load the Google Sky app on it and he loves it.)

The cell phone is an inexpensive one, the kind you get free on the cheap plans, but it is fairly new and the battery is still good. I activated it and put $30 worth of minutes on it. He didn’t use it because he didn’t want to use up the $30. Now that he is in the hospital and lonely, he is calling all of his friends and really enjoying the phone. He has accidentally called me three times so far because he has trouble reading the small letters on the little phone. He had to send a friend back to the house to get the charger for it.

Soon I will have to take him to the Verizon store and show him how to add minutes to the phone.

Forgetting a good idea

Thursday, May 24th, 2012

Every writer has thought of a good idea, explored in his imagination how the story might develop and the characters will work. Every writer has let himself become distracted for a bit and then forgotten it all.

I haven’t written much lately, but while I was working on computer program here at work, I thought of a nice idea for a story. I saved my work, found the icon for my word processor and then started that up. My fingers were set to type, but in that short time I had completely forgotten the idea. All I had was hole in my memory where the story had lived temporarily.

This is frustrating. I keep a pen near my bed in case I think of something in the night. I keep a pen and notebook in my computer bag so I can write down things that I think of. I keep notes programs on my phone and iPad so I can record ideas. This, however, happened at my desk at work. I like to knock off 15 minutes before I leave and fiddle with a story idea. This is where I write, so it is frustrating to forget a story so easily.

The problem was that I had not completely solved the programming problem that I was working on. My mind was still trying to work out the IFs, LOOPS, INPUTs and OUTPUTs of my program, so that I stopped thinking about the story while I saved my work and opened the word processor. In that moment of inattention, the line of thought was lost.

New England Foliage

Thursday, May 24th, 2012

Folger-Pine-hill-cemI take great pleasure at wandering in Upstate NY, Connecticut, and Western Massachusetts with Erica in the Fall. I happened across this site because the author uses one of my WordPress plugins, and, wonder of wonders, he bought my book!

I bookmarked this page and this Fall I’ll check on it before Erica and I go out gallivanting.

New England Foliage | Fall Foliage Routes and planning resources.

Larry’s Back in the Hospital

Thursday, May 24th, 2012

After an MRI, it was discovered that my brother Larry had a stroke. It is a very small stroke in his brain stem, but enough to screw up his equilibrium and coordination. He still has trouble speaking, moving his arms, and his face is numb. It is quite possible that he will make a full recovery, but for now, he needs watching. He is not very happy, but he feels safer in the hospital, even a poor one like Nyack hospital.

I hope they send him home today. He lost his job last year and when the benefits ran out he bought the cheapest insurance that money can buy. He’s not going to be able handle the cost of all the tests and a day in the hospital.

Larry not feeling good

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

This story started when my Blue Truck lost its brakes at the Palisades Mall Parking lot where I pick up the bus to Westchester. I got off the bus at around 5pm, put my foot on the brake pedal and it went to the floor. Erica came to get me.

I talked to my brother Larry, and he said he’d look at it. I told him that I needed a diagnosis, but that I did not want him to do anything major.

Larry showed up yesterday at the truck with his tools and decided to replace a short length of rusted out brake line. He had trouble with it. He seemed like he may have been confused, and could not get the couplings to fit together. He was lying under the truck for several hours holding his head up in a cramped position, straining on the rusty fittings.

While he was working, he suddenly started to pass out and was soon too weak to move. He was stuck under the truck. He lost the ability to move his arms and his face was numb. He managed to crawl like a worm up to the bus stop and when a bus stopped, he asked them to call 911.

When I arrived at the bus stop after coming back from work, I saw his car and the truck. His tools were scattered under the truck, something that he would not leave out to be stolen. I made phone calls to my Mother and Erica and nobody had heard from Larry for several hours.

I walked all around the parking lot and even followed a path through the woods looking for him. I went home and called my Mother again. I then rode around the mall and up and down rt. 59 looking for him. I eventually found a Mall Cop in a patrol car who told me he had collapsed and an ambulance had taken him to Nyack Hospital.

I rode to get my mother and we found Larry in the emergency room where he had been for a couple of hours with little or no treatment. I stayed with him until late that night while he had two CT scans. He was released without ever talking to a doctor. Nobody seems to know what was wrong with him. The CT scans came in clean. The one of his head showed no strokes or other problems. The one of his neck arteries showed no occlusions.

I was able to get him to my truck and get him home, but he was weak. I called this morning and he is still weak. I think it was a vasovagal syncope. This is caused by many things and can have different levels. I think Larry had a pretty bad episode because his arms still feel weak today.

I called him this morning and demanded to know when he would finish fixing the blue truck. He didn’t seem amused.

Give Larry a call and tell him to feel better, or email him – he’s centralnyack at gmail.

Willie is Gone

Monday, May 14th, 2012

Willie, a favorite cat for over 17 years, passed away today.

He was a great cat and will be missed.

1969 Airstream

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

Larry found this on eBay. I’ve always wanted one of these Airstream trailers. This one is in rough shape out in Michigan. It is going (at the moment) for $105. I feel like bidding on it and refurbishing it. Larry and I would have to drive to Michigan to pick it up.

Imagine a trip to Maine for vacation. There would be plenty of room for Erica and the cats, but I’d have to leave the chickens at home.

1969 Airstream

Willie is in the Hospital

Monday, May 7th, 2012

Willie is our oldest cat. He came to visit us 17 years ago. Willie has been suffering from diabetes and I have to give him insulin. He crashed over the weekend and nearly died. He had zero blood sugar and was in dire circumstances. Erica gave him some honey and he woke up be he was a very sick kitten, so we took him to the vet.

His kidneys had shut down. The vet thought that since he was not awake enough to eat that he would die.
Erica would not give up on him so we have been force feeding him food by squirting a puree into his mouth when we visit the vet. He was swallowing but as of yesterday he was still near death, even though his numbers had improved somewhat.

This morning his blood sugar was way up and he was standing up and yelling about the accommodations. His blood work is much improved. The force feeding was working.

It looks like he had a kidney infection and stopped eating. I did not realize this, so the normal dose of insulin crashed him, shutting down his kidneys.

He is an old cat and the diabetes can deteriorate his organs. He is still not well, but he is no longer in danger of dying right now. I hope we can get him to the point where his kidneys are working better and he eats on his own so we can bring him home.

Since this incident is costing us $3,000 to $5,000, Willie may soon be our most expensive cat. It seems silly to waste the money on a sick cat who would only have a few years more even if he was healthy, but if you’ve owned a cat, you know why I did it. I don’t spend money on travel, new cars, fine clothes or luxuries. My money goes to books (cheap), Harmonicas (cheap), and bees (not cheap, but they turn a profit). Allow me to spend money so that a good friend will feel a little better as his life winds down.

John Shirley in Soho

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

Larry and I drove down to the city last night to see John Shirley read one of his stories. He was good and it was worth the trip. Occupy Wall Street was making a stink with the traffic and we had to walk the last 7 blocks.

Here’s a picture of me shaking his hand. Damn cell phone doesn’t take a good picture.

John Shirley in Soho – YouTube.

Cubify – Express Yourself in 3D

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

I am fascinated by 3D printers. These are printers that create three dimensional objects by “printing” them with some kind of plastic. I’ve seen some that use sugar and the one in the link uses some kind of rubbery vinyl.

Cube Hero
I don’t know, yet, what kinds of things that I’d like to print. The print cartridges look pricy – much more than printer ink – but eventually I want something like this.

Cubify costs $1299 list and will be released any minute now.

There are many others on the market, but all of them cost more than I can pay.

I think one that could print in hard styrene or some kind of epoxy mixed with metal would be very useful. The first think I would print would be copies of antique microphones that I could sell on eBay. I guess a rubber microphone would be cool.

My guess is that in these early machines, a 5 inch cube of plastic would cost $50 at least. It is not yet cost effective for actual manufacturing. It would be good for making prototypes.

Cubify – Express Yourself in 3D.