Friday, November 30, 2007

I'm Busy

I talk about how I'm so busy I have to work at home today on my Gleemax game blog:

Sometimes so many things are going on in the office that the only way to get anything done is to work at home. Yesterday I went from one unscheduled 'conference' to another, end to end, for pretty much the whole day. Many were in my cube, many more were via email, and a couple actually occured in conference rooms.

Which means that when all was said and done, I had written a grand total of about 700 words. Not to say that all the mini-conferences I was involved in were not also work--I'm leading two books simultaneously right now, and both have several writers working on them, and it's my job to keep everyone appraised of everyone else's work, to make sure everyonoe is actually on schedule, and to mediate disagreements on approach. Plus, I am responsible for an equal writing contribution. Whewh!

Anyhow, here I sit, working at home. At the very least, it's given me enough time to post here!

Thursday, November 29, 2007


I've considered joining SFWA a couple times (the sci-fi and fantasy writers association of America).
I never quite pulled the trigger, for reasons I won't go into here.

But it looks like I may have made the right decision. One of my all-time favorite writers, Charles Stross, takes SFWA to task for a recent decision. Click here to see how mad he is.

Yes, here's the place where I tell you that Charles Stross was one of the designers of the original Fiend Folio way back when, responsible for such favorites as the slaad, the githyanki, and death knights.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Prius Tips

Do you have a Prius? I usually get about 45 miles per gallon in the summer, and about 38 miles per gallon in the winter. I've heard about people using special techniques to achieve much better mileage than than, but I've just now discovered what those techniques actually are (click here to see).

I'm going to give these techniques a shot and see if I can't raise my mileage to 80+, even in the rainy winter. I doubt I can get to 100 mpg with the resistance the rain offers, but I guess it'll be an experiment!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Pecan Pie

Now that the second big-eating holiday is over (Halloween was the first, in case you were wondering), I find myself with a pan of pecan pie only about 1/4th eaten. The pie is too rich to eat more than a half-slice at any one sitting. Dee won't eat any--she doesn't like pie (!). So it's all up to me. One golden, sugar-saturated-gooey-pecan-filled morsel at a time, walking the tight-rope between sugar-high and sugar-crash. Yep, it's only 10 o'clock in the morning, and I'm already thinking about the tiny piece of pecan pie I'll be eating tonight. Oh yes.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Obama 1, Clinton 1

I've been down on Ms. Clinton in previous years due to her support of a trendy, anti-gaming bill.

Thus, I've sort of been supporting Mr. Obama to get the Democratic nomination, not only because of the gaming thing, but also because Mr. Obama hasn't taken much (if any?) in contributions from major corporations. I'm slightly freaked out by the rampant corporatism that so defines our times.

However, I was a little sad to see that Obama recently indicated he'd delay the NASA program to finish the space-station and move us onward to something actually worthwhile to help fund education reform. The 0.5% of the national budget NASA still gets is is too much? I suppose I can see things from his perspective, but I ask you, how are we going to inspire a new generation of scientists and engineers without a viable, exciting space program? Science fiction will only inspire so far. His perspective on this issue is too narrow.

On the other hand, Clinton came out with a space policy statement that pretty much delivers what I'd like to see. Her release says:

Hillary is committed to a space exploration program that involves robust human spaceflight to complete the Space Station and later human missions, expanded robotic spaceflight probes of our solar system leading to future human exploration, and enhanced space science activities. She will speed development, testing, and deployment of next-generation launch and crew exploration vehicles to replace the aging Space Shuttle.

Now I'm in a dead heat between these two. Maybe slightly back in Hillary's camp, to be honest. Ms. Clinton said in her biography one of the reasons she ended up in politics was because she was told she couldn't be an astronaut when she was young.

Bussard IEC Fusion Rockets

Bussard IEC Fusion Rockets are the sort of break-through propulsion technology that could actually reasonably/affordably put up a constellation of solar-power satellites that, in turn, could turn the tide on the energy-demand avalanche that is crashing down on our environment in a slow-mo, decades-long disaster.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Cooking Preparations

I've been hard at work the last few hours preparing the harvest pie I'll bake tomorrow. I found this recipe in a copy of Vegetarian Times several years ago (during my 2nd dalliance with eating no meat). I haven't seen it since--a cursory search online reveals several fruit type pies or shepherd pies, but not the particular harvest pie I'm making.

Anyhow, this recipe calls for several layers of vegetables. Some of the layers are separated by mini-layers of feta or mozzarella cheese. Every ingredient is sauteed to remove excess moisture and concentrate flavor. The layers include tomatoes and garlic, spinach flavored with a touch of nutmeg and pepper, minced mushrooms, and carmelized onions. The whole thing is wrapped in filo dough and baked.

The process of sauteing each layer down takes almost 3 hours. I usually put each layer in the fridge the night before, then assemble and bake the next day.

And, I'm also making a pecan pie. MMMmmm!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Say No to Antibacterial Soap

Did you happen to watch CBS's 60 Minutes episode about MRSA? MRSA stands for methyl resistant staph aureus (or, more properly, Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus). I've known about MRSA, the ominously labeled "community acquired" version (as opposed to the kind that hospital patients fear), for about a year or so, though its been around much longer, especially in the UK. But it's here in the US now, too.

MRSA is fancy way of saying flesh-eating bacteria.

Used to be if you got a staph infection, well, it probably wasn't too serious.

Now however, the staph bacteria living on your skin might be resistant to most antibiotics. And we have only ourselves to blame.

Mainly, it's because as a society we failed to put two and two together.

I mean, we've known the principles of evolution since Darwin, and those principles have proved true in the nearly 150 years since they were advanced.

We also know that bacteria churn through generations like mad; some divide every 15 minutes.

So we should have recognized that applying a selective pressure on organisms that throw off iterative chances to survive antibiotics every 15 minutes would lead to something like MRSA.

Well, some people did, but no one listened to them.

Anyhow, now that such bacteria are out and about everywhere, there is something you can do right now: stop using antibacterial hand soap.

I'm serious. Antibacterial soap doesn't remove bacteria from you hands any more efficiently than regular soap. All you are doing is driving normal, healthy bacteria toward antibiotic resistant status. In truth, all the antibiotic soaps, cleansers, and wipes in your house are doing the same thing.

See, you're covered in bacteria. More than that, you are filled with bacteria. You may not realize it, but you are a human-bacteria hybrid. When you begin to kill off portions of yourself by overusing antibiotic, bad things happen.

Antibiotics were a wondrous cure, but we've overused and abused them, and their effectiveness is fast approaching 0. Don't be part of the problem, be part of the solution. Save the antibiotics for when and where they are actually needed.

Also, if you're a legislator, know a legislator, or feel like bringing up this topic with a legislator, urge a ban on the routine use of antibiotics in farm-bred meat. This practice is probably the single biggest source of antibiotic resistant bacteria. At least one company is already stepping away from this practice: Tyson says it'll stop putting antibiotics in its chicken.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Should Writers Be Paid for Online Content?

This is how a striking Daily Show writer answers this question . . .


Hey, guess what? In addition to reviewing Stardeep, Grasping for the Wind interviewed me about the novel and writing. If you want to hear me talk more about the novel, character flaws, why I love animals, kickboxing, and the potential pitfalls of unswerving policy/ideology, go here:

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Stardeep Reviewed

John Ottinger at Grasping for the Wind reviews my new novel Stardeep here:

While John notes he would have liked to see more treatment of a few of the secondary characters, it seems he was quite favorably inclined toward the novel overall. Thanks John!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

East Hill Pet Sitting

My wife Dee has just launched her new business, East Hill Pet Sitting!

If you or a friend need pet care while away on a trip or want someone to daily walk your dogs, consider Dee! (assuming you live in Renton, Kent, or selected areas of south King County, WA.)

Dee is also launching a pet blog, which willl recount her experiences as an animal lover and pet sitter. Subscribe here.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Stardeep Published

Hey, guess what? My novel Stardeep is published and now available! You may recall I published to promote the book and to provide additional resources, including:

1) an audible reading of the first couple pages by the vocally talented East Hill Players.

2) a free email address with as the domain name.

Also, if you want to discuss Stardeep with other readers, Candlekeep is hosting a book club for Stardeep, where you can discuss the book with others as you progress through the novel.

Candlekeep Book Club Discussion, Stardeep Chapters 1-6, 7-12, 13-18, 19-24, and 25-29.

Stardeep is part of the Dungeons series, but like all the Dungeons series, it is a stand-alone novel that takes place in and around a dungeon environment.

Though it truly is a stand-alone novel, it turns out Stardeep is a prequel to a novel trilogy pending in 2008, the first book of which is nearly through its first draft; 73,000 out of 90,000 words are complete, but I can't disclose the title or topic quite yet. If you read Stardeep, it's possible you will be able to guess.

Buyer Beware, or, Apple Done Me Wrong (UPDATED: Apple Done Me Right)

UPDATED (see bottom of post)

I have an iPod nano, 4 gigs (Red). I got it in January of this year. About 6 months in, it stopped working. The Tukwila, Southcenter Apple Store here in Washington replaced it under warranty. Great!

Today, the replacement stopped working. The unit was still under the original iPod's year warranty. No problem I thought. But as I learned at the Apple Store today from Josh the manager, the warranty doesn't cover 'corrosion.' He pointed at the slot in the bottom of the iPod and said, "You must have got it wet--see, corrosion. We don't cover it."

Since Josh the manager was the 2nd guy up the chain I talked to at the store, I realized I was out of luck.

I've never dunked the iPod in water, nor do I use it around liquid; I carry this thing around in my jeans pants pocket day in and day out. If it's corroded, it is through normal usage. The fact that the warranty conveniently doesn't cover the issue mostly likely to be the culprit in causing this model to go on the fritz strikes me as slimy business.

Apple, you've let me down. This after I've been such a loyal customer, buying your computers, your web service, and your iPods. I had even been toying with getting an iPhone. Well, f___ that. I'll wait for the gPhone now. I'll pull my old 3rd generation hard-drive based iPod out of storage and replace it's battery.

What I won't do is buy another piece of corrosion-prone crap from you.

Oh yeah, and I'll tell everyone about my experience with your so called 'one year warranty.'

UPDATE: So, I went home, got out a can of pressurized air, and blew out the connection slot on the bottom of my iPod. All the 'corrosion' immediately dispersed; it was pocket lint! Like I said, this thing lives in my pocket. Unlike my old 3rd generation iPod, the slot is on the top, and apparently acts like a collection bowl for stray lint.

So I went back to the Tukwila Apple store, hoping there was not some sort of 'lint exclusion' in the warranty.

Jake, the original tech, and Josh the manager weren't on premises anymore. So I related my story to a new Apple employee. He was taken aback, but didn't have time to check it right then. So I made an appointment for the following morning (this morning). I showed up, and a new tech, Mark, checked out my iPod. He immediately ordered me a new one, paid for by my warranty.

So, I've learned that it wasn't the faceless Apple the corporation that did me wrong. I apologize, Apple, for being so quick to anger.

It was Jake and Josh who did me wrong.

Of course, Jake and Josh are still you're employees, so you're not completely off the hook, Apple, but I'm mollified. Thankfully I decided not to take their refusal as my final answer, and to investigate the 'corrosion' claim on my own. And, thanks to Mark for following through and honoring the warranty my $200 purchase was due.