Puppy Dialog

I told you, I want some of the crunchy stuff with the gooey hot stuff on it. You put it in the box with the red light and it comes out crunchy and hot and good. Unless you leave it in the box too long. Then it comes out smelly, and black and uck. Why do you leave it in there that long? You just throw it away then.

You get the gooey stuff out of the big cold place. Only it’s not gooey then. It is soft and cold. It gets gooey and hot when you put it in the box with the red light. If I bark at you maybe you’ll do it right. Wait! Where are you going? You left the good stuff in the box with the red light. If you leave it there too long it will get black and uck.

Maybe if I bark at her she’ll come back and pay attention. She went in that little room with the round white place to sit. I think she pees in there. I pee on the pad. Unless I mess up. Then I pee whereever I am. But when I pee on the pad, I’m a good girl.

Come on, the stuff is going to be black by the time we get back to it. Here she comes. The stuff is still good. Hurry up, let’s get it and take it back to the den and eat it. You’re the best human. Except when you make the crunchy stuff black.

Sweet dreams, don’t forget to tell the ones you love that you love them, and most important of all, be kind.

Manifesting a Brave New World

So I talked myself into writing a thousand words a day in my journal, average at least 1667 words a day to top the fifty thousand words in thirty days goal of NaNoWriMo, and yet I totally forgot my commitment to blog daily. As that comes to another three hundred to a thousand words, I have set myself up for writing between three thousand and 3667 words a day, give or take a few. At the rate I typically write, that is around two hours a day worth of writing. If I survive, I’ll have writing muscles as big as beach ball. I may write some of my novel in my journal which reduces the total daily word count by five hundred words or so. I’ll see what happens.

I’m a little bit apprehensive about the project. I think it is a good kind of nerves, kind of like opening night butterflies in the theater. I have done some preparation but I’m not wanting to do too much. I’m a big believer in discovering the story as I write it.

There comes a time where you have to put up or shut up. I have been writing my journal for six years now. I have written the draft of one novel. I have written several chapters for several non-fiction books. The lesson that I need to focus on at this point is to finish things. I plan to edit my first novel after I write this new one. When I finish editing the first novel, I will reassess. I will probably undertake another non-fiction book. It may be one of the two that I started before or it may be a new one. Then I’ll edit the second novel. I don’t want to plan two editing sessions back to back.

I hope this is some interest to my readers. It may help to explain to them the quantity of writing that I do on my blog in November and maybe the quality of it as well. I probably won’t edit my blog posts as rigorously as I like, given my schedule.

I’ll also be starting a new assignment at work in November. I’m not sure exactly what I’ll be doing. I am hopeful that it will be as exciting as it sounds. I am told that the assignment has a great potential to last long enough that it may be my last before I retire. That prediction cuts two ways though. It may be the last assignment before I retire because it lasts a long time or it may be that it gets on my nerves to such an extent that I retire to escape it. I hope it is the former.

It’s almost Halloween. Be scary, be safe, and have fun. Life is what you make of it, so make the best of it that you can. Imagine the world as you think it should be and then make it so. That’s my plan anyway.

Sweet dreams, don’t forget to tell the ones you love that you love them, and most important of all, be kind.

This and That

I was tired last night. Not an excuse, just reporting fact. I didn’t read my post before I pressed publish. That was a big mistake. I think I wrote a better book review in sixth grade. Sometimes I let my stubbornness get the best of me. Last night was such a case.

Today, I played with a couple of my tiny computers. I started out trying to get my C.H.I.P. computer to work. At first, I tried to figure out how to log in through a USB connection with my computer. That didn’t work. Then I tried to hook it up to my television set through the cable that came with it. That didn’t work either. I’m not sure why.

Next, I got out my Orion Omega. It is a cute little computer with built in WiFi. Little is the operant word as it measures an inch by an inch and a half. I successfully got it up and logged in to it. I updated the software on it and played with it using the web browser interface. Then it was supper time.

There’s only two more days until the start of NaNoWriMo. I’m not really ready for it to start but I’m going to dive in anyway. I have some ideas of what is going to happen. I’ve thought out the end that I’m shooting for. I’ll discover how we get from the beginning to the end by the seat of my pants.

When I finish, my new MacBookPro, the one with the sexy touch bar where the function keys used to be, will be here. I’m going to use it to edit the novel that I wrote during NaNoWriMo in 2014. I may actually salvage something out of that effort. I will probably have to do some major rewriting on it.

That’s the way these things go. It will be worth the effort though, whether I get a salable product out of it or not. I’ll get the experience of editing a novel length work. I’ve never done that before. I expect this won’t be the last time. I imagine I’ll turn right around and edit what I write this year when I finish editing the 2014 effort.

Sweet dreams, don’t forget to tell the ones you love that you love them, and most important of all, be kind.

Rocky Horror for Halloween

I watched the new production of The Rocky Horror Picture Show tonight. I started to compare it with the first movie and stopped when I realized that it wasn’t fair. That was a different cast and a different time. I started to say that the first one was better but then I realized that it was a remake of the stage production.

I ended up deciding that while the first movie was more familiar and I liked it a lot, the new one was good, if different. I suspect the new one is closer to the original stage production.

I think the latest one is a little more brazen than the first movie. The standards are different. You can get away with a lot more these days. The music was great.

I liked that Tim Curry was a part of the new production. It was almost as if he was giving his blessing to the production. I also liked the addition of the audience. It was a tip of the hat to the fans that made the first ovie the cult classic that it is.

Sweet dreams, don’t forget to tell the ones you love that you love them, and most important of all, be kind.

Pleased or Displeased?

I’ve been trying an experiment. I imagine what I would be doing if I could do anything that I wanted to do. Luckily, I am not a mean or perverse person so I didn’t even have to rule out things that are cruel, immoral, or illegal. Then, I tried to make that situation happen by sheer force of will.

Surprisingly enough, this experiment was a huge success. The only thing that I can’t explain is why it took me so long to come up with this plan. Actually, it didn’t. I’ve been running this experiment since I was a teenager with ever so gradual progress toward ultimate success the whole time.

Which reminds me of a story. A friend of mine had a six  year old son. It was back in the days of arcade games like Missile Command, Centipede, and PacMan. Her son loved to play PacMan. And the thing is, he always won. His secret? He always played the ghosts.

That story illustrates that living a successful life is all about being careful how you define success. You have to define success in terms of what makes you happy, not what everyone else expects would make you happy.

Happiness is a state of mind that you choose to be in. One of the early employees of Google once taught a class in happiness. It consisted of three steps. First, think of something that would make you a little bit happy, for instance if you are thirsty, think of a sip of water. Second, take a sip of water and notice how it makes you feel. Third, experience the joy that you feel. Repeat.

It’s funny but that is also the reason that I enjoy programming so much. When you program you repeatedly are faced with a problem, you figure out a solution to the problem, you feel really good about solving the problem. This happens over and over again, often several times a minute. And, if it takes longer than that, you feel even better when you solve it.

I’ve been writing every day for six and a half years. I’ve figured out that writing makes me happy. I will probably continue to write. I might even try writing more than I do now. But if that doesn’t make me more happy, I’ll go back to the way things are now.

Don’t be afraid to experiment. If you aren’t happy, figure out why, try to do something about it. If you succeed, great! Keep it up. If not, try something different. You won’t magically become happy if you keep doing the same old things that make you unhappy now.

And another surprising thing that happened to me when I started this process. I discovered how happy I actually was. When I tried to imagine what would make me happy, it was largely, more of what I was already doing.

Sweet dreams, don’t forget to tell the ones you love that you love them, and most important of all, be kind.

ET Phoning Someone?

Here is the abstract of a Canadian study that has found some interesting signals in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. Notice in particular the mention of extraterrestrial intelligence (ETI). This is not proof of ETI but it is evidence of a phenomena consistent with signal signatures that a prior paper postulated might be generated by an ETI that was trying to communicate over interstellar distances.

Discovery of Peculiar Periodic Spectral Modulations in a Small Fraction of Solar-type Stars

Ermanno F. Borra and Eric Trottier

A Fourier transform analysis of 2.5 million spectra in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey was carried out to detect periodic spectral modulations. Signals having the same period were found in only 234 stars overwhelmingly in the F2 to K1 spectral range. The signals cannot be caused by instrumental or data analysis effects because they are present in only a very small fraction of stars within a narrow spectral range and because signal-to-noise ratio considerations predict that the signal should mostly be detected in the brightest objects, while this is not the case. We consider several possibilities, such as rotational transitions in molecules, rapid pulsations, Fourier transform of spectral lines, and signals generated by extraterrestrial intelligence (ETI). They cannot be generated by molecules or rapid pulsations. It is highly unlikely that they come from the Fourier transform of spectral lines because too many strong lines located at nearly periodic frequencies are needed. Finally, we consider the possibility, predicted in a previous published paper, that the signals are caused by light pulses generated by ETI to makes us aware of their existence. We find that the detected signals have exactly the shape of an ETI signal predicted in the previous publication and are therefore in agreement with this hypothesis. The fact that they are only found in a very small fraction of stars within a narrow spectral range centered near the spectral type of the Sun is also in agreement with the ETI hypothesis. However, at this stage, this hypothesis needs to be confirmed with further work. Although unlikely, there is also a possibility that the signals are due to highly peculiar chemical compositions in a small fraction of galactic halo stars.

I haven’t attempted to read the whole paper yet. It may be a bit beyond me. It is exciting though to think about the possibility of technologically advanced civilizations creating signals of this sort. This was the high point of my day, thus proving once again what a complete nerd I am.

Sweet dreams, don’t forget to tell the ones you love that you love them, and most important of all, be kind.

Dreams of Creating a TV Series

I was watching Bull, Michael Weatherly’s new show, on TV tonight. It’s a great show by the way. Anyway, I realized why the actor who plays Chunk Palmer, Bull’s ex-NFL, gay, fashion adviser, looked familiar. He’s Chris Jackson, the actor who played George Washington in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s hit Broadway musical, Hamilton. I have to say, the man has got incredible range as an actor. I hope they make a film of Hamilton. Otherwise it is likely to be years before we get to see it out here in the boondocks.

I don’t watch much TV these days. I try to watch a British mystery on Sunday afternoon and we watch several British game shows on You Tube when we can. But Tuesday night I spend three hours in front of the TV set. I still write my blog post, it just gets pushed back to ten o’clock. I watch NCIS, Bull, and NCIS: New Orleans. They are well written, well acted, and each tell a bigger story than any individual episode can account for.

I’m learning the craft of writing by pushing myself to write. I write little sketches sometimes here in my blog. I participate in NaNoWriMo. But what I aspire to is to write a bigger story. A series with heart and a broad story like the shows that I watch on Tuesday night. My show won’t be about federal agents or jury consultants. It will probably be urban fantasy if I can pull it off. But I will have shows like the various Star Trek franchises, the Star Gate franchises, and the NCIS franchises to thank for teaching me what good story telling is all about.

I want to push the medium to new places that it hasn’t been before but I’ll be flattered if someone should happen to say that a show that I create reminds them of one of these shows that has inspired me.

Sweet dreams, don’t forget to tell the ones you love that you love them, and most important of all, be kind.

I Go Through a Lot of Pants That Way

There is a constant struggle between the part of me that thinks I need to plan out my writing projects before I sit down to write them and the part of me that just wants to sit down and wing it. Being the lazy kind of guy that I am, the part that advocates winging it usually wins. That is, in general, a good thing. Except when it comes to big things like details upon which the plot turns. Those, it would be nice to have figured out before I find myself having written fifty thousand words and not gotten to anything resembling an end.

I am pretty good at thinking of premises. I have a page full of them that I came up with a couple of weeks ago when I was trying to figure out what my NaNoWriMo novel was going to be about. I am also decent at dialog and character development. What I truly struggle with is laying out the major plot developments.

I have been attempting to work through the plot for my project while writing my journal entries the last couple of days. I have discovered all sorts of interesting details about the characters that will be in my novel but I still haven’t  figured out where I’m going with it. I have every confidence that I will figure it out. It just bothers me that I’m setting out on a journey and I have no idea where I’m heading.

The last time I did that, as you may remember if you read my serialized novella in this blog recently, I punted at the end. I thought it through and decided that was the best ending for the story but I still felt like I had left the story unresolved. In this case, it was intentional but it is not a trait that I intend for all of my stories to share.

So I will continue to wrestle with that part of the preparation for the next week or so and when the time comes to start, ready or not, I’ll dive in. What can I say? I’ve always done the “seat-of-my-pants” approach to writing. Why change now?

Sweet dreams, don’t forget to tell the ones you love that you love them, and most important of all, be kind.

Generational Differences

I’ve got the idea for my NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) novel for this year. I’ve only got about a week to get ready. I’m excited. I’m going to tackle a new genre this time. I’m going to write a science fiction thriller. This is bound to stretch my imagination to new dimensions. I’m not going to say any more about it until after I’ve written the first draft. I’ve got the first draft of my last NaNoWriMo novel (from two years ago) lined up ready to start editing as soon as I finish writing this year’s entry.

I watched a video today, Why did Millenials Ruin Everything, on YouTube. It was very thought provoking. It put a new spin onto the comments I was making the other day about how things were really better than they ever have been before, we just didn’t know exactly how bad things were.

In this case, the presenter is talking about the impact of a society where the culture of previous generations is preserved in TV, film, photography, etc. This makes it hard for subsequent generations to synthesize their own world view.

It got me thinking that the acceleration of advances in technology have many sociological ramifications beyond the prima facia functional impacts that they bring. Things like the narrowing of the number of years, or is it months, between generations.

The common definition of a generation refers to people of approximately the same age such that they have many shared experiences. This includes such nonintuitive things as not knowing what it was like to live in a world that had no concept of things that are taken for granted in the world as we now know it. The example often sited of this is cell phones.

Of course the distinction that I claim is that I never knew a time when we didn’t have TV. My daughters can claim they never knew a time when we didn’t have personal computers. Another common example often sited is the lack of pay phones in the modern world.

The video takes the discussion much further and I highly recommend it. I intend to watch it again myself. It helps me understand the world as seen by people with a vastly different perspective on it. That is both liberating and a little disturbing.

Sweet dreams, don’t forget to tell the ones you love that you love them, and most important of all, be kind.

Computer Rambles

I used to listen to my dad talk about cars. I never knew much about what he was talking about but I liked to listen anyway. This post is similar except it is about computers. If you aren’t interested in computers, I won’t be offended if you stop reading now. If you are interested or you just like to read what I write, read on.

I used to own a twenty seven inch iMac. It was a Cadillac of computers. It had a nice big screen and it was a joy to use. And then two years ago, it failed catastrophically. It had been having problems for several months before that but that last failure was absolute.

I had just spent a good bit of money on new iPads for me and my wife as well as paying for new iPhones for us both. The budget for high tech gadgets was well and truly spent. My wife graciously allowed me to use her laptop to do my daily online computing, blog posts, reading email, etc. This went on for a little over a year.

At that point, she was beginning to resent my using her computer all the time. It was starting to get long in the tooth. She lost some files and the backup software had not been working properly. She was understandably angry at me.

I figured out how to meet my computing needs in the least expensive way possible. I was able to take an Amazon gift card that I  had received an buy a refurbished computer with it. It wasn’t a Mac but I loaded Linux on it and it was better than nothing. I almost forgot, I tried to make do with a Raspberry Pi 3 but I quickly learned that it wasn’t up to the kind of daily use that I give a computer.

It has almost been another year. Pam is getting a new computer. I am getting a new computer. I am going to get a Mac mini. She is probably going to get a new MacBook Pro or whatever it is they announce this next week. She is excited. I intend to recommend that she back her files up to Apple’s online backup service as well as a local backup disk.

I intend to set up my computer so that I can switch my monitor and keyboard between multiple computers. I’m not sure exactly how I will do that but I will figure it out. There used to be a device called a KVM switch. KVM stands for Keyboard, Video, Mouse. The problem is, the technology for keyboards, mice, and video monitors has changed. I’m not sure how the same thing is best accomplished these days. I suppose I will learn.

I seem to have drifted off topic a bit. I wanted to talk about how good it felt to use the iMac when it was new and working properly and how I hadn’t had a computer since then that gives me the feeling of having the best tool for the job. My computer is adequate but not outstanding.

As I think about it, I come to the realization that it may not be that my computer is less capable than the iMac that it replaced but rather that my expectations have grown. Our ever expanding expectations of computers are growing beyond the capacity of any one machine.

I have been reading up on the way that large computing operations are approaching delivery of their software these days. For a while they did it with server farms that had load balancing schemes that directed clients to the next available machine to service their request.

This progressed until they were running virtual machines that allowed multiple “servers” to run on any given hardware computer. This allowed them to tailor the capability of each server to the needs of the software without having to replace the hardware that it was running on.

This progressed to the idea of containers. Containers allow software to have custom environments with shared operating system services. They are even more efficient than virtual machines.

These developments equate to on demand computing capability. You still need a certain basic capability on your desk top but beyond that basic service, you can get the rest on demand.

One of my Computer Scientist heroes, Danny Hillis, postulated that we would have computing capability as a utility. It seems that his prediction has come to pass. I’ll have to think about how I’m going to integrate that approach into my daily computing.

Sweet dreams, don’t forget to tell the ones you love that you love them, and most important of all, be kind.