Saturday, June 9, 2007

Writing Update

Today, 1250 new words for a grand total of 23,840. Some scenes come easy and some come hard. I find changing scenes difficult at times. If I know where the story is going at that moment, then I flow into the next scene and write away. If the story isn't coming easy then I struggle. The best advice for this is for me to really try to become the characters and decide what they would do. Characters must act with their own personality and in their on perceived best interest or the plot will not work.

Friday, June 8, 2007


720 more words, for a grand total of 22,590. Let the grinding continue.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

900 words yesterday, for a total of 21,870. This book may get finished someday. Actually, this is a complete rewrite. I wrote the book several years ago. I sent it to some friends that read it and liked it, or so they said. The book then went off to a professional editor, a woman that edits a scifi/fantasy magazine in Australia. Her critique was a fifteen page assault on the gaps in the story and shortcomings in my writing. She was not harsh, but honest. Unable to face reality, I hid the manuscript and critique away for a year. Recently, I took them both out and read the review carefully. This led to me deciding a complete rewrite was needed. Thus began Pursuit of the Prophet 2.0. The goal is 100,000 words, give or take a few thousand.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Writing Update

I'm writing a book, Pursuit of the Prophet. It's a fantasy novel. My writing goal is 100k words. Yesterday, I wrote 800 new words, and this puts me at 20,970.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Our Absent Minded Commander and Chief

This post points out either the ineptitude of the current administration or the total lack of concern by the citizens what our president does to the law.

I really wish someone read this blog for no other reason than to spread this story as much as possible.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Advice from the Slush Pile

For any writers that may make it to this page, I offer this link. It's advice from a writer and what he learned from combing through the slush pile for a magazine. Some excellent advice is included.

'Common sense is the knack of seeing things as they are, and doing things as they ought to be done.' Harriet Beecher Stowe

Thursday, March 29, 2007

World of Null-A

I just read the World of Null-A by A. E. Van Vogt. The book, published in 1948, is Van Vogt's attempt to integrate the philosophy of Alfred Korzybski into science fiction. Korzybski developed General Semantics as a response to the flaws he perceived in Aristotelian logic, the logic most people use without knowing anything about it.

The World of Null-A works as an entertaining science fiction book, but fails as an endorsement of General Semantics. The reason for this seems simple, a book of fiction cannot preach too much or it risks alienating its audience. The book works better in today's world because of the easy access to information. Hopefully, this book will stimulate those who read it to seek out more information on General Semantics. I'm not attempting to conver anyone, but broadening one's horizons is never a bad thing.

The book is well written, but a little campy at times, no surpise given the publication date. The ideas in it our stimulating and fit well with the story, which moves quickly. I won't tell you too much, no spoilers here, but I suggest all fans of Science Fiction should give this book a chance.

For a better understanding of General Semantics, you can attempt the humongous book that is Korzybski's 'Science and Sanity', or you can check out the very accessible 'Quantum Psychology' by Robert Anton Wilson.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

His Dark Materials

This looks flat out awesome, the trailer for Philip Pullmans' the Golden Compass, which is book I of the His Dark Materials trilogy.

If you haven't read these books then I highly recommend them.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Predicting the Future

Of all the science fiction movies, or any movies, that predicte the future, which one came closest?

I know the answer, but I'm loathe to tell you.

'The Running Man'

Don't believe me? Watch the reality contest shows, then change the channel and watch ultimate fighting, then switch to 'Cops'.

Reading Ability

I don't read the same way I did as a younger man. When I was a teenager and twentysomething, I could sit for hours reading. The books would so transport me that I ignored people talking to me. The world the books represented felt real, and often I longed to join them.

Now, at the ripe old age of 36, I read more clinically. I can read for 45 minutes to an hour at a time, no more. My attention is less on the story and the world, because a part of it keeps an eye on what's going on around me. I just noticed this difference the other day.

I have two kids and a wife, and think this is part of my change. Anyone else experienced anything like this?

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

For Visitors from Miss Snark

(This is the beginning of a children's book I wrote. If you want to read more, 12 of 13 chapters are posted at


The demon stood above Nick. Looking down he smirked at the young man.

"You thought you could control me? You fool. Did you learn nothing from your teachers?"

Nick picked himself up off the ground and planted his feet. He made a point of dusting off his clothes before addressing the demon.

"I can control you. You are mine to control. It is you who have learned nothing. Your power has made you proud and arrogant. You learned nothing during your banishment. Pride leads to the fall, always."

Mestaphor threw his head back and laughed. His burned and blackened features playing hideously in the light of flickering flame that always surrounded him.

"You are brave Nicholas. I grant you that, but now I must destroy you. My freedom stands near."

"No." Nick said. "Now you will do as I say or you will be banished back to the nether world from which you were summoned."

Chapter 1

Nicholas scratched at his wrist. He did this when he became nervous, and he was nervous. Just last week he enjoyed the life of a normal twelve-year-old boy, but now he faced an uncertain future.

These thoughts crossed his mind as he, and his parents, stood outside of a monstrous and brooding old house. The building sat shaded by trees, and Nicholas could see a large porch that protruded from the front of the house. To his left branching off of the house was a large pavilion with tables scattered under the shade. On top of this pavilion, he could discern what looked like a balcony extending from the second floor. Above the second floor rose another floor, and above that an arched roof reaching up into the foliage of the ancient trees that shrouded the property.

Nothing made any sense. What was this place? Why was he here? Why was his mother crying?

"Mom," he asked, "what is going on? I'm scared."

His mother looked at him and her body convulsed as she continued to cry. His father gave the mother a hug and then knelt down to speak with the boy.

"Son," he said. His father looked away for a moment before returning his gaze to his son. His son's deep brown eyes looked at him, pleading for answers. "Son, there are some things in life that cannot be explained. These things must be learned. This is one of those things, and in time you will understand why."


"Nick, your mother and I love you very much. We would do anything for you, and that is why you are here." His father stopped speaking and stood. Someone had come out of the house and was walking down the front walk to greet them.

Nicholas watched this unknown woman approach. She seemed pretty, but in a severe way. A raven black headband pulled her equally black hair away from her face and forehead. She wore a red dress cinched at the waist with a black belt that matched her hair. Black high heels clicked on the concrete and completed the black-red-black theme. As she reached them, she bowed slightly.

"Mr. and Mrs. Darkstrom?" She asked. His father nodded. She bent down and looked at Nicholas. "And you must be Nicholas." He nodded weakly. She rose again. I am Mrs. Hornby. Do you two have any questions?"

Mrs. Darkstrom shook her head.

"No, all our questions were answered when your husband and the headmaster visited our home," Mr. Darkstrom said.

"Good," she answered.

"I have some questions," Nicholas said. His heart had sunk to his stomach, but he wanted answers.

She looked at him and smiled. "I'm sure you do Nicholas, and they will all be answered in time." She looked at the parents. "This is always hard. I will give you a few minutes." Nicholas watched as Mrs. Hornby strode a few paces toward the house and stopped.

"I love you Nick," his mom said. She then engulfed him in a hug before turning and walking swiftly toward the car.

His father knelt again. "Nick, everything is going to be alright. You'll understand before too long. I love you, and we will see you soon." He hugged Nick and then gave him a little push toward Mrs. Hornby.

Nick did not immediately go to the strange woman, but he watched as his father walked to the car. He could not be sure, but he thought his father was crying.

"Nicholas." He heard her voice calling from the direction of the house. "Nicholas, come with me. Everything will be alright."

Reluctantly, he turned and faced this woman, and this new place.

The two of them walked onto the porch and up to the large front door. As they approached the door swung open. Nick stood just inside the door as his eyes adjusted to the dim light. He could see tables and chairs spread throughout the room. Each table was set with silverware, napkins, and glasses. It looked like a restaurant.

"What is this place?" He asked.

She smiled at him. "You will know soon enough. Come on, let's go meet the other boys."

She led him into a hall to the left of the dining room. Along the hall he noticed smaller rooms also filled with tables. At the end of the hall, they arrived at a steep staircase. Up the stairs she led him. The passed a door to the second floor, which revealed only a wide hallway with doors on either side. They continued up to the third floor. As they neared the top of the stairs Nick could hear voices. The voices quickly died as they came to a door at the top of the stairs. Mrs. Hornby opened the door.

Inside Nick saw about six boys. All of them seemed the same age as him. They were gathered at a table that sat in the middle of the room, around the room he could see bunk beds, and on the beds he saw suitcases much like the one he carried.

"Boys, this is Nicholas." She herded him into the room with the other boys. "I'm sure you young men have a lot to talk about. Make yourself at home Nicholas, and I will come get all of you later for dinner." She left the room and closed the door behind her.

Nick stood there in an awkward silence.

One of the boys, a plump fellow somewhat shorter than Nick, spoke first. "You have any idea why you are here?"

Nick shook his head. "No."

"Well, join the club."

Nick walked over to the table. "I'm Nick," he said.

The short plump fellow said, "I'm Roger."

"Steven," said one blonde headed boy as he offered his hand to Nick.

In quick succession all the boys introduced themselves. Along with Roger and Steven there was Sebastian, Sherman, Trey, and Geoffrey. Geoffrey seemed the least friendly. He offered his slender hand with a limpness that rankled Nick.

"So none of you know why we are here?" Nick asked.

"Nope," answered Roger. He seemed to have taken on the role as spokesmen for the group. "Tell us your story and we'll see if it helps with the mystery."

Nick took off his jacket and sat down. "Well, I don't know much. Life was going along pretty normal. One night these two fellows came by the house and spoke with my parents. I couldn't hear much, but from the way they talked it sounded as if they had sent my parents several letters, and my parents seemed to be expecting them. I tried to listen as much as I could, but they were real secretive. From what I could gather they were discussing what to do with me. My mom seemed very upset, and Dad was angry. I didn't get much more."

Roger rubbed his chin in a motion that reminded Nick of an adult. "Yep, that sounds like the story."

"Do you have any other ideas?" Nick asked.

"Well," Roger said, "we've been able to piece together that this place is some type of school for boys. Why we were chosen, or our parents chose to send us here we don't know. All the adults have been real secretive about the whole situation."

"Have you guys looked around this place?" Nick asked.

"Just what we saw as they brought us up here. Looks like some kind of restaurant downstairs. We tried to look around, but the door is locked." Roger motioned his head towards the door. "We haven't seen anybody either except for that Mrs. Hornby that brought us all up here."

"I wonder if we are the only ones here?" Nick asked, but no one had an answer.

They spent several hours closeted in what appeared to be their new home. None of them had any idea how long they would be here or what they were going to do here. They knew the evening had come because they could see the daylight fade through the window on the far wall. Outside the window all they could see was a field and trees in the distance. Eventually it became too dark to see even the limbs hanging near the window. There were lamps in the room, and they turned these on.

Finally, they heard steps coming towards the door. The doorknob twisted and Mrs. Hornby opened the door.

"Good evening Gentlemen," she said. "I don't suppose any of you are hungry."

"Yes ma'am we are hungry," Roger answered.

The others nodded their agreement.

"Well then, follow me." Instead of down the stairs she led them down the hall. The doors on either side of the hall were closed. At the far end of the hall was another stairwell matching the one near their room. She led them down these stairs. They came to a door that led into the dining room they had all passed on their way in. Nick studied everything, looking for some clue to help him unravel the mystery of his new circumstances.

Sitting at the tables were other boys their age. Nick guessed there were thirty boys or so seated around the room. Adults occupied several tables near the front of the room. Most of the adults were men, but a few women were present.

Mrs. Hornby motioned for them, and she led them to two empty tables.

"You boys sit here," she said. Then she nodded her head at the tables where the adults were sitting.

On her cue a dour looking man in a pressed brown suit and bow tie stood. He raised his glass and tapped it with his spoon.

"Good evening everyone. My name is Timothy Gladship, and I am the headmaster of St. James academy for boys."

This caused a stir as the boys at all the tables began murmuring.

"Yes," Mr. Gladship continued, "this is a school. A boarding school for young men with special talents."

Again the room erupted with murmurs. Mrs. Hornby hissed and they quieted down.

Mr. Gladship nodded at her and then began again.

"I realize that most of you have no idea what you are doing here. I will explain what I can. St. James is an academy for young men with special talents, as I said. Now, most of you have no idea what this talent is, but I promise you it exists. In time you will realize the extent of this talent, and you will understand why you are here. As for how you specifically came to be here I will attempt to explain. We," he motioned at the other adults, "have searched all over the country in an effort to find each one of you. There exist certain signs that helped guide our search. Once we found each of you we then contacted your parents and began recruiting you to our little school."

He took a sip of his water before continuing.

"Much more about why you specifically are here I cannot say, but you will be aware in time. Regardless, you are here now. While you are here you will continue your schooling under our excellent staff." He waved his hand again at the adults present. "The staff will direct your studies of English, Science, and Math. They will also direct your studies in other fields." The boys all looked at one another. Mr. Gladship paused and looked around the room, a serious expression on his face.

"Now, I must tell you that your special talents can be dangerous and difficult to deal with. That is why you are here, and that is why the school must operate with a certain amount of secrecy. For this reason the existence of this school and its true purpose is not general knowledge to the public." This caused more murmurs once again hushed by Mrs. Hornby. "To the public at large we operate a school for troubled young men, and these young men, you, work in the St. James restaurant, the restaurant in which you now sit. The restaurant helps fund our programs and provides some misdirection while we pursue our primary goal.

"At St. James there are several rules you must know. First, each of you will work in the restaurant." Then he smiled, "we find that a little hard work helps our students build character." A light chuckling came from the adults in the audience. Mr. Gladship then became serious again. "Second, you are never to leave the grounds without an escort, and finally you are never to discuss the true nature of our school with any of the patrons of the restaurant, or any other outsider. Any questions?"

Questions abounded in the minds of the boys, but none would dare ask.

"Good. Other than those rules I've outlined St. James follows the same rules as any other boarding school. During dinner I will come around and meet each of you in turn. Now, on with dinner."

Mr. Gladship clapped his hands. Waitresses entered from several doors and began serving food and drinks.

After the waitresses brought the drinks Roger leaned toward the middle of the table.

"Well, that clears things up wouldn't you say."

"Oh definitely," said Sherman. "It all makes sense now. I see why my parents brought me five hundred miles from home. They want me to learn to bus tables."

Everyone laughed, but it was a nervous laugh.

"Any of you know of any special talents, dangerous or otherwise?" Roger asked.

They all shook their heads from side to side.

"Me neither. I think this whole thing is hinky."

Nicholas looked at Roger. "Henky?"

"Yeah, hinky. You know, not quite right."


They looked up to see Mr. Gladship standing above them.

"How are you boys doing?" He asked.

"Peachy," answered Roger.

Mr. Gladship nodded knowingly at the sarcasm. "Yes, I can understand your confusion, but"

"We will eventually understand why we are here," Roger finished.

Mr. Gladship looked at him and Roger seemed to sink in his chair.

"Listen boys I know this is hard. I have been here for twenty years and every new class faces the same questions and problems. Let me reassure you that you need to be here. You are here because your parents love you and want only the best for you. Your parents trust us with you and we want you to trust us as well. Your future depends on it." He paused to let his words sink in.

"Now enjoy your meal. When you are done Mrs. Hornby will come by and take you back to your room. Sleep well tonight because tomorrow work and school begin in earnest."

Mr. Gladship then made his way to the next table of boys.

"Hmph," was all Roger could manage.

Confused and scared the boys finished their meal in silence.

Nicholas lay in bed that night staring at the ceiling. He had chosen the bottom bunk nearest the window so he could look out at the stars, but tonight clouds filled the sky. In the darkness he could hear the other boys breathing. A feeling of dread crept over him. He closed his eyes, curled into a ball, and tried to ignore the questions running through his mind.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Writing Advice

The best writing advice I've ever heard actually comes from the world of golf and you can find it in the Little Red Book by Harvey Pennick. Here is this piece of advice,

If someone tells you to take an aspirin. You don't take the whole bottle.

I think the meaning of this is clear, but it is especially relevant to writers, so I'll explain it for you. If you read a piece of writing advice, use it in moderation. For example, you read some advice that says you should limit your descriptions because they bore the readers. Fine, limit your descriptions, but don't abandon them. Otherwise, you'll find yourself writing stories set in bland environments that lack atmosphere. This is just one example, but there are hundreds of pieces of writing advice that if taken to the extreme can do much more harm than good. Also, once you head down this path of heeding a certain piece of advice, then reclaiming what you've lost is very difficult.

Agree? Disagree? Anybody out there?

Didn't think so.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Literature Map

This is one of my most frequented web sites, at the moment. Type in the name of any author and you get a map of other authors with similar books. They don't have every author in their database, but it is pretty good. I've found this to be an excellent way to discover writers I otherwise didn't or wouldn't know about.

If there are any wannabe writers out there (or if anyone is out there) then I suggest you check out the Evil Editor. People send him their query letters and synopsis (how do you make that plural?), and he proceeds to rip them a new one, in a constructive and comical way. This blog is somewhat similar, but not really, to that of Miss Snark, an anonymous agent doling out the query wisdom (with the help of her dog Killer Yapp.)


Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Cover Art Link

Here is a story or review or critique of some fantasy cover art. The author compares two book covers, one good and one bad. I happen to agree with the author's assessment of these particular covers.

This puts me in mind of book covers in general. Most covers I find simply neutral, they don't impress me, but they don't repulse me. Some covers I dislike, such as Enders Game and its sequels by Orson Scott Card. Something about the lettering bothers my senses. On the other hand, I like the cover to Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson. It is dark and oddly evocative.

Here are two covers I like. The first is the Chinese edition of John Scalzi's Old Man's War (Amazon link here), and the second is Blood Debt by Sean Williams.

Now, I believe that the traditional space ship floating before a planet theme has been overdone in scifi, and this seems like a default scene for any science fiction book. It gives the impression that the artist and publisher didn't bother to read the book and find an interesting scene to depict or a captive mood to represent.

The default in fantasy is the colorful picture of characters standing. If you're not familiar with this one then check out these examples, here and here, and then you'll know what I'm talking about.

I think cover art is an area where publisher's could improve. Why? Because cover art is one of the four things that get readers attention in the book store. The four things are the 1) author, 2) the cover, 3) the blurb, and 4) the first five pages (and this list is in order of importance.) You may not always have number one. And, if you don't have number four then how did the book get published? The only variables are two and three, thus the need to make them intersting.


Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The Secret? A Load of Bleep

Apparently, Ellen Degeneres and Oprah have both touted the book The Secret by Rhonda Byrne. If you aren't familiar with The Secret, and I wasn't until I saw this article on, it is a self help book that is selling like it actually works (for the author.) The premise of the book sounds like the power of positive thinking. It claims, according to, that if you think good thoughts and avoid bad influences that these positive steps will 'attract' more positive results, specifically the ones you want.

This 'secret' is nothing new. The laws of attraction have been touted for years in various books, such as Excuse Me, Your Life is Waiting by Lynn Grabhorn and others to numerous to mention. But, Rhonda Byrne, again according to, tries to dress the idea up in metaphysics. To this end she enlists the aid of a couple of Quantum Physicists, Fred Alan Wolf Phd. and John Hagelin Phd. Don't get impressed just yet. Both of these 'scientists' also appeared in the movie What the Bleep Do We Know, a movie that attempted to explain how quantum physics can lead to a deeper understanding of life and a better life. A little research on the net shows that this movie was funded and produced and features many people who are followers of a woman named JZ Knight. Knight gets her wisdom because she claims to channel some ancient being known as Ramtha. See where I'm going with this? These ideas are not new, and they are usually latched onto by people involved or willing to believe in New Age movements. The Secret does not propound a new idea, and it doesn't even seek out new people to promote the idea. It is a total rehash of an already questionable idea. Yet, Oprah and Ellen are among the millions who have bought this book, and made it one of the fastest selling self help books in history. Woe to us. Of course, this is a perfect example of the economy of the new millenia; take a tired idea, dress it up in pretty marketing, and sell it to a public reviled by the reality of hard work and patience. Today, people want their reality from others, in a one hour prime time show.

The trouble with books like this is that they taint the idea of holding a positive outlook on life. It seems like common sense that, despite our cynical view of the world, most of the time good things happen to good people and vice versa. If bad things happen to you are you a bad person? If good things happen to you are you a good person? I didn't say that. It is a question of probability, seized and missed opportunity. For a deeper and well researched look at this idea, I suggest you pick up Breaking Murphy's Law, by Suzanne C. Segerstrom. It is a well thought, well written, and statistically grounded look at the topic The Secret turns into mystic gobbledy gook.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Best Science Fiction Books Ever

I've often looked for a useful list of essential science fiction reading. Well, I found it. This list was compiled in 1996, I think. The author of the corresponding article compiled various best of scifi lists, and came up with this list of 162 books, each with an associated score, based on his criteria (you'll have to read the article to get the details on the scoring.)

I'm ashamed to admit how many of these books I haven't read, but now that I have the list, I intend to get busy.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Yet More Rejection

More rejection this morning, this time from a literary agent. I already doubted my writing, and this doesn't help. Will I stop writing and offering myself for sacrificial rejection? Of course not, but my may wallow in my self pity until the rest of the family wakes up.

Saturday, February 24, 2007


I stink when it comes to dilligence. I don't seem capable of maintaining focus over any length of time, thus no blog entries in more than a week. But, I'll continue to try.

If the tone of this entry feels depressing that's because I'm depressed. I received a rejection email today. If I haven't told you, I'm an unpublished writer, and that title will not change today. I submitted a story that I felt good about, but the editors didn't. So, I'm still just a veterinarian with a dream of becoming a published writer.

Initially, I felt down regarding the letter and then I tried to spin it in a positive light. 'All writers get rejected, this just makes me one of them. I'll come back strong.' This fabrication worked for about ten minutes, but then I went down again, quickly.

If there was anyone out there, how would you deal with repeated rejection?

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Current Media Intake

I'm reading two books, 'Fire Upon the Deep' by Vernor Vinge and 'Starfish' by Peter Watts. (I mentioned FUD early, but I've gotten distracted and haven't finished it.) 'Fire Upon the Deep' won the Hugo in 1993, and 'Starfish' didnt, but at the halfway point the latter book seems much better to me. I love good ideas, but I want characters that compel me to continue reading. So far, Vinge has not produced those characters. Perhaps this part of the book will improve, or maybe there is a slam bang ending, but right now I'm a little dissappointed. (I'm a big believer that a good, or bad, ending can redeem, or kill, a book, but that is another post.) Starfish has some very interesting characters, but the plot hasn't progressed much, assuming a plot exists. Still, it's too early to decide on either book, but I was struggling for a topic today.

It's funny. I thought a blog would be easy, but there isn't as much going on in my noggin as I imagined. My mind constantly turns over thoughts, but many (most) of them seem unworthy of an entry. But, I think these ideas will begin to leak into the blog from sheer desperation.

So, I just watched 'Dune', the David Lynch version. This proves one of my guiltiest pleasures. Despite the bad reviews, I like this movie, always have. Oh the acting can be terrible, such as when Kyle MacLachlan repeats his girlfriend's words,

"Tell me of your home world" big pause "Usul."

Awful, but in a great eighties kind of way. Hell, I even thought Sting did a decent job.

My attention span is flagging, thus I'm off to watch 'Soylent Green'. I've never seen it, but I'll let you know. Goodnight.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Righteous Indignation

From the definition for righteous,
1.characterized by uprightness or morality: a righteous observance of the law.
2.morally right or justifiable: righteous indignation.
3.acting in an upright, moral way; virtuous: a righteous and godly person.

From the definition for indignant,

feeling, characterized by, or expressing strong displeasure at something considered unjust, offensive, insulting, or base: indignant remarks; an indignant expression on his face.

Now, to address righteous indignation. Get over yourself. I had this epiphany the other day in the car. Another driver cut me off, quite rudely. Normally, I would speed up and give the offensive driver the finger, but I didn't, and it felt good. This country is chock full of people swollen with righteous indignation. I'll give you two examples from the extremes, Bill O'reilly and Keith Olberman. Both of these blowhards need to stop taking themselves, and everyone else, so damn seriously. The world is a serious place, we don't need to wallow in it at every chance.

So, to all of you out there convinced of your moral superiority, or any superiority, bite me. If more people let go of their righteous indignation and tried to improve their lives, without worrying about everyone else, then the world would prove a happier place. Am I righteously indignant about all this? Damn right!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Family Tragedy

I haven't posted for several days, we had a tragedy in the family. I won't go into specifics, but it has proven a rough few days. During our time away, I began rereading 'Quantum Pshychology' by Robert Anton Wilson. The book walks a fine line between science and speculation, but Wilson does this admirably. For those of you who don't know, Wilson died recently. If you aren't familiar with him then you definitely need to read some of his books, and perhaps check out his wikipedia entry.

For beginners of Wilson, I suggest the 'Schrodinger's Cat Trilogy' if you prefer fiction or 'Quantum Pshychology' for those of you that prefer nonfiction. He's probably best known for
'The Illuminatus Trilogy' with Bob Shea.

Wilson has influenced writers from many fields, but perhaps most from science fiction. One example is Cory Doctorow of BoingBoing fame and author of 'Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom'. Doctorow, among others, has sighted Wilson as an influence. Also, podcast host and writer R.U. Sirius (another person to check out on the net) was influenced by RAW.

I find myself really attracted to the philosophy espoused by Wilson, and I'm unwilling to attemtp to distill it for easy consumption. I think someday he will be regarded as a visionary by more than a handful of admirers and readers, and you would do well to familiarize yourself with his work. So, here is to Robert Anton Wilson.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Kid Reading

My daughter is reading the fourth book in the 'Gregor the Overlander' series; she is an avid reader, and really seems taken with these books by Suzanne Collins. And, I just started reading my son 'Redwall.' He seems to identify with Matthias, and I like the book myself. It is taking him a little while to get into the book. Jacques uses language that is descriptive and beyond most five year olds,

"A curious thrush perching in a gnarled pear tree watched the two figures make their way at a sedate pace in the direction of the Great Hall, one clad in the dark greeny-brown of the order, the other garbed in the lighter green of a novice."

Perhaps your advanced five year old knows what gnarled and novice mean, but mine doesn't, yet. We're going slow, a few pages a night, but we'll finish it eventually. Goodnight, I'm off to the world of Redwall.

Smartphone Review

I have a Treo 700w. I've been using it for almost five months, and I'm not that excited by it. First, the keyboard is almost too small to be useful. You can pop of a quick text message, but anything remotely involved is out of the question. Web surfing on a cell phone is a useless experience, I don't care what browser you use. The screen is too small to provide any kind of positive user experience, not to mention the poor speed of the connection (I'm hooked up with Verizon.) It can be useful occasionally, to find a phone number (so you don't have to pay the completely damned ridiculous $1.50 for information), but not much more. Email? Forget about it. In today's world where tech from different companies don't play nice, unless your email account, smartphone operating system, and mobile provider are all on the same page then your screwed, and mine aren't. I can use my phone to check my email, but it isn't push, despite what I was led to believe at the Verizon store where I purchased the phone. Actually, several things I was told by my sales person did not prove true, but pushy lying sales people is another post entirely. Let me just say the email experience is less than ideal. I have enjoyed text messaging, but this is a function available on almost every phone now, and you don't need an expensive smartphone. Camera? Yeah, it has one, but I've never understood the allure of that feature anyway. I have some blurry pictures of my wife and kids on there, but nothing more. I'm not a high powered businessman, so I can't give you any low down on things like Excel. My smartphone has a version of Word on it, but for what? Hell, you can't type anything on it. I suppose I could use it to ferry documents around, but I don't.

I do like my calendar and notepad. For this purpose I use Pocket Informant and Phat pad, yeah, I had to pay extra for those, but they're nice.

I've heard you could connect to your Sling media player, but why?

I may not be the best person to review a smartphone, I'm neither a power computer guy or businessman. The best I can say about the phone is that I can use it to make calls, expensive calls, and I'm addicted to Bubble Breaker.

My advice, for alot less money get a simple phone and a really nice notepad and pen.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Political and Media Punditry

I love this move pulled by several of the cable news media giants. They pick an unworthy news topic, let's call it the XYZ Affair. Then one of their cable news shows dissects why the 'media' insists on reporting this non news, and in doing so they give an extraordinarily detailed report on the XYZ affair. Somehow, we're supposed to by that this news media network is not part of the 'media', and their reporting on the XYZ affair is just an expose' on the other media networks. If you've ever watched any of the cable news channels, then you've seen this tactic in action. The sad part? Loyal followers of these channels buy the crap, and point the finger at the 'media', but not their beloved Fox News, MSNBC, CNN, etc...

We are sheep.

Monday, February 5, 2007


The post dated for Saturday, while written Saturday, wasn't published until Monday morning. I guess the posting date is the date it was saved as a draft. Seems a bit daft to me, but I'm just a humble veterinarian.

Yeah, I have a day job, and it isn't as a rich blogger or a world famous scifi author, much to my chagrin..

Well, I posted this morning, but it appears as though I posted Saturday. How to alleviate the guilt I feel over missing this morning? Oh yeah, I avoid guilt, but I may have popcorn anyway and watch 'Soylent Green'.


Sunday, February 4, 2007

Day Off

It's Superbowl Sunday people. Take the day off.

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Procrastination or Addicted to Potential

How many people start a diet, but never follow through? How many people start writing a book, but never follow through? How many people start projects of a regular basis, but never follow through?

Yep, almost everybody, and most of them bemoan their lack of focus, dilligence, and will power. My new theory is that people fail and then restart for a completely different reason, we are addicted to the potential of a new beginning.

Relationship books and articles abound discussing the intense emotions found early in relationships and how this fades over time. Well, the same is true of any project. Start a new book and burn through the first few chapters, but then the novelty (pardon the impartial pun) wears off. Those original embers of creative passion are gone, and you find yourself slogging through the book (the real work of real writers.) The antidote? For some, we call them successful people, the push on with the chose project. The rest of us? We crave the fire of a newborn volcano, and we begin a new project (or book or diet or choose your passion.)

Unfortunately, I have no answer to this affliction, but isn't knowing about it supposed to help?


Magicians use misdirection to help them trick people. The place where you are looking is usually not where the real action is taking place. I bring this up with regard to politics, and the example I'll use is the 'civil war' vs. 'not civil war' in Iraq debate. The answer? Who really gives a shit. The people involved, politicians (all of whom are criminals and should be jailed), have managed to distract the public with frivolous discussions. Here is an example of how they work.

Person 1: "You killed that man."

Person 2: "Did not."

Person 1: "Yes, you did. Look there is his dead body. I saw you plunge a knife into his back."

Person 2: "That is not murder."

Person 1: "What the hell do you mean? That is not murder? How could that not be murder?"

Person 2: "Using the definition of murder from, murder is 'the killing of another human being under conditions specifically covered in law. In the U.S., special statutory definitions include murder committed with malice aforethought, characterized by deliberation or premeditation or occurring during the commission of another serious crime, as robbery or arson (first-degree murder), and murder by intent but without deliberation or premeditation (second-degree murder).' By that definition, I did not murder this man.

Person 1: "This is outrageous. You murdered him. You stuck a knife in his back, that took some forethought, if even a couple of seconds worth."

Person 2: "How many seconds worth of forethought is required to consider an act murder."

Person 1: "Let me consult the experts."

Off screen, Person 1 is gathering his pundits to make his case, and Person 2 is moving on to bigger and better things, because everyone is going to wast time discussing what constitutes 'murder'. Meanwhile, the feckless media has taken up the debate ad nauseum, producing polls and pundits in vomit inducing quantities. The sad part? Everyone knows it was fucking murder, yet the debate will rage on until something else newsworth pushes the murder story out of the headlines. Misdirection.

I hate politicians. Once you decide to run for office you automatically become a criminal to me. You may have honorable intentions, but it wont salvage your soul.

Friday, February 2, 2007

Tech Island Nation

The idea of starting your own country on a tropical island for the sole purpose of abolishing laws related to technology, the wired world, copyrights, etc... has been in the news lately. I think the idea started with the Pirate Bay guys. You can read what Ars Technica has to say on the subject here.

But, I first came across the idea in Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon. I know this is the second time I've discussed Stephenson, but I swear I'm not a fanboy.

Boston 'Situation' Redux

Here is a link to Will Wheaton's blog where he gives the media the middle finger for their role in the Boston 'Terrorist Hoax'. Amen.

Thursday, February 1, 2007


I just finished reading Eight Million Ways to Die by Lawrence Block. It was good, but not great. I've read such good things about Block that perhaps my expectations were too high. Before I pick up another of his books, I'll do some research into which books are his best.

I also read Deep Blue Good-By by John D. MacDonald. It is a very entertaining book. MacDonald is one of the early writers, if not the earliest, to feature South Florida as his prime backdrop. Since then other writers such as Hiaasen and Leonard have mined this apparently rich landscape. Speaking of Florida and writing, I like Laurence Shames. Check out his book Scavenger Reef, which is set in Key West.

Now, I've picked up A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge. I just started, but the man seems to have a brawny imagination.

Boston 'Terrorist' Hoax

The whole uproar over the Boston 'Terrorist Hoax' proves that everyone in government is a moron. And, these morons all take themselves way too seriously. The whole world is reaching a point where everything is overanalyzed to the point of absurdity. Take for example the discussion on Fox's O'reilly Report where they discussed the comedy of John Stewart and Stephen Colbert. One of the commentors, in response to 'why are these guys so popular?', said roughly, 'because they are making fun of people, bringing them down, and everybody in our mean society likes to see people taken down a little.' WRONG. They are funny because the point out the patently absurd behaviour that people such as yourselves take too seriously and pundit into the ground. Come on America, you don't have to get your sense of humor back, but at least loosen up a little.

Snow Day

It snowed last night, or it pretended to snow. If you go outside there is snow on the grass in the shade of a tree. And for this small amount of snow, every school system within 100 miles is closed. It's almost as if the people running the school don't want to go to work. Almost as if they want a day off as much as the kids. Actually, they cancelled school last night, hours before the first snow flakes fell. They have much more faith in the predictive abilities of the weather channel than I do.

I guess this jibes with the local attitude toward snow inclement weather in general. Everytime the weather channel predicts snow, there is a mad rush to get to the grocery to buy milk and bread. You can't live without milk and bread, and god forbid it really did snow, then you'd have to wait until the afternoon sun melted the snow to go to the snow. Or, gasp, you may even have to go 24 hours with out fresh milk and a loaf of bread. Someone please tell me, how much milk do people drink? A gallon lasts 4 days in my house, and we go through a loaf of bread in 10 days.

By the way, I live in Tennessee, just so you'll know. I like snow. Hell, I love snow, but the whole city doesn't need to shut down over a 1/2 inch of the stuff. Enough complaining, I'm going outside to play in the leftover snow with my kids.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007


Nanotech, the technology of amazingly small devices, is one of the fastest growing areas of research in the world. Combine that with nanotech's near limitless potential and with the truly limitless imagination of Scifi authors and you get one of the premier topics of current Scifi (I've even written a short story myself centered around nanotech, unpublished of course.)

One of the books that thrust nanotech into the light of science fiction's radiant lamp was "Diamond Age" by Neal Stephenson. Here is a typical review,

"Snow Crash drew its manic energy from the cyberpunkish conceit that anything is possible in virtual reality; in The Diamond Age the wonders of cyberspace pale before the even more dazzling powers of nanotechnology." The New York Times Book Review

I write this tonight because earlier today I saw "Diamond Age" on my ipod. I bought the book originally, but couldn't slog my way through it. Spurred on by the continuous praise for the book, I purchased it through, and found that I couldn't even listen to it all the way to the end. Don't get my wrong, I like Stephenson's books. I devoured "Snow Crash" and
"Cryptonomicon", but I found "Diamond Age" dreadfully slow and tedious. That's just me however, and this shouldn't stop you from reading the book, but I imagine you've already read it.

Interested in nanotech? To catch up on the latest go to


TV Ruminations

Try this expirement. Sit in front of your television, put it on the channel that annoys you most (MTV, MSNBC, Fox, etc...), and then turn it off. Now, sit there for five to ten minutes in silence. I'll wager that some of you cannot handle the silence or lack of stimulation. If you do manage to sit there quietly, then what thoughts go through your mind?

I immediately began to wonder why this black box takes up so much of our lives. It sits there dark and empty. When it comes to life, I'm not the one putting images on the screen, that job belongs to other people, people I neither know nor trust. Yet, I give them access to my brain for countless hours a day, week, or year. Then my thoughts go deeper, much of what we 'know' about life comes from the 'idiot box'. Quick, imagine a gunfight between the cops and a suspect. What did you see? It was some version of a television or movie gunfight wasn't it? That is your only reference to such an experience. And this type of television as life scenario is not limited to the extraordinary, like gunfights, but to all facets of life, we just don't realize it. The television, unless you do not watch, invades our brains. Have you ever met people that couldn't distinguish things they remembered from real life or television? I think this goes on in everyone's mind, but it occurs with such frequency and such subtlety that we don't know it. Little facts about life that you 'know', you actually learned from television. Why? Because you haven't exprerienced everything in life and your brain takes all input and processes it as knowledge, of one sort or another.

Do you want to experience life through somebody else's eyes and interactions? I don't. Maybe I'll turn off my television for a while, but probably not.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The Writing Life

I like to write, and if I keep plugging away then I may earn enough from my writing to buy a nice breakfast (that's a rip from a 1980s sitcom. Name the sitcom and its star and I'll give you a star.)

Here is a link to the blog of Charles Stross, science fiction author of Singularity Sky and Accelerando. The entry talks about the 'writing life'.


Television, Internet, and Me

I don't watch as much TV as I once did. Gone are the days of crashing in front of the boob tube for hours on end, watching whatever the program directors decided. When I was younger I could watch Grease, Roadhouse, Pointbreak, or any thing starring Jimmy Stewart, no matter how many times I'd seen them already. I didn't follow any weekly sitcoms or dramas. Occasionally, my friends and I would visit Blockbuster in our pajamas, rent all the Star Wars movies or all the Eastwood spaghetti westerns, and then visit the grocery for pound bags of MMs to eat with our delivered Pizza. I took pride in my movie trivia acumen.

Those days are long gone. Now, I feel like I'm wasting time if I sit still for one entire movie. My TV attention span stretches one hour, unless there is an election in progress. MMs and pizza? Only if I want to guilt myself into two hours on the treadmill the next day.

But, I can waste hours on the internet without the guilt. Why? Well, I don't feel compelled to nibble when surfing the net (it doesn't feel as natural), thus no food guilt. Also, I can convince myself that I'm stimulating my brain and learning something, that my pointless browsing on the internet is 'research.' Alas, these are only fictions I tell myself.

What is the point of this entry? None, and that is the beauty of a weblog. See you later

Monday, January 29, 2007

Scifi Podcast

The universe of the Podcast has grown in leaps and bounds. One of my favorites is the science fiction podcast, Escape Pod. This podcast is provides weekly science fiction and/or fantasy short stories. They have featured authors as well known as Robert Silverburg and Robert J. Sawyer. The host, Steve Eley, offers an informative and intersting commentary prior to and just after the story. Escape Pod has been around since May of 2005, so if you haven't listened then there are eighty plus stories back logged for you.

One of my favorites is "I Look Forward to Remembering You" by Mur Lafferty, a sweet story of time travel and true love. I also enjoyed listening to "Squonk the Dragon" by Pete Butler. I listened to this with my kids, and my nine year old daughter loved.

It isn't new or news, but if you haven't listened then check it out.

Pan's Labyrinth

I'll begin this blog with a review of the movie, "Pan's Labyrinth." Here are some blurbs from the official website.

"Beautiful and exhilarating, a fairy tale for grown-ups." Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

"An adult fairy tale and an outstanding work of art... On the same altar of high fantasy as the Lord of the Rings Trilogy~It's that worthy." Lisa Scwharzbaum, Entertainment Weekly

They forgot to mention terribly depressing, and overtly violent. After the movie my only thought was that I would never get those two hours back. This was a very bleak movie with a little fantasy tossed in to try to make it seem less fatalistic.

The story revolves around the little girl, Ofelia, and her mother. The mother has married a sadistic Captain in Franco's late World War II Spain. She is pregnant with his son, and is brought to a lodge in the mountains where the Captain is in the process of killing a small group of rebels. Meanwhile, Ofelia learns that she is really a princess from an underground fantasy land, and to claim her birthright she must complete three tasks given to her by a faun. Ofelia's story, while portrayed as the main story, is actually a side story to the violence of the Captain and those he subjects to his outbursts.

The characters were all flat and unbelievable. A problem I have with these characters is they do not act in their own best interests, or with any intelligence. This brings the bile of unbelievability into my throat more than fairies and fauns. This movie strikes me as stereotypical of the loss of subtlety and skill in modern movie making. Shocking images can be useful, but only when used properly, something the director did not do, in my opinion. I did not even find the fantasy elements to be that well done, and this was the calling card for the film. I'm sure many people, as evinced by the blurbs, will consider this a wonderful piece of film making. Me? I went to the bathroom twice, went to the lobby to check the price of a bottle of water, and exited once to play with my phone, any excuse to escape this movie.

The last five minutes of the movie are by far the best, but this doesn't redeem the movie. Where a bad ending can ruin an otherwise good movie, a good ending cannot resurrect two hours of dreariness.