Huh…

It looks like I made the final ballot for the Campbell Award for best new sci-fi writer. With only one published book (and one short story, also in the same universe) I figure I’m a long shot, even if I have a re-write, a sequel, a prequel, and a children’s historical book scheduled for this year. In any case, even getting to the final ballot short-list is an honor… Well, interesting, anyway. No clue what the competition is like, but it should be fun to watch unfold. I can almost hear some brains exploding from here.

Also on the list: Wesley Chu*, Jason Cordova, Kary English*, Eric S. Raymond (*Finalists in their 2nd year of eligibility.)

Mixed words on making the short list for the Prometheus. But as I hear the competition is strong this year, so I’m a long-shot there, too. But how many people manage to make both a “best new X” list at the same time they make the list for some other category in the field competing against long-time pros?

Just getting nominated for either award is proof the universe has a twisted sense of humor. If I happen to win, I know that my little corner of the cosmos is a very strange one. Not a bad one, mind you, just more than a little bit odd.

‘Well, you know what I meant!’

Actually no; quite often I don’t, so why not just come right out and say it clearly and directly?

From Vanderboegh. I like it. It illustrates exactly the sort of ridiculous things I picture in my mind when most people speak, about anything.

I was listening to a caller on a talk show this morning, for example, who went on and on and, so far as I could gather, never said anything. The host caught on right away and after several unsuccessful attempts to prompt the guy into saying something he ended the call. A lot of words were coming out of the caller’s mouth, amounting to nothing.

That little anecdote describes much of my life. Many times I’ve sat through a whole hour of some video someone or other thought I should totally see, searching for one little bit of clear meaning (anything that didn’t require some inference or projection or other) to end up with nothing.

Two truths and a lie

Yesterday at work they told me to prepare for a group meeting where I will be introduced to everyone. I’m supposed to tell them three things about myself. Two of which are true and one which is a lie. The group is to guess which is the lie.

This sounds like so much fun I’m going to prepare for it here. But since the readers of this blog know so much about me already or could easily search the blog for many of the answers I’m going to give you a bunch more truths to better hide the lie.

I’ll update this post with the answer in week or so. In the meantime post your guess in the comments.

  • When in grade school I had to milk the cows before and after going to school.
  • I went to grade school in a two room school with two teachers and eight grades.
  • I sometimes walked through snow drifts to get to grade school.
  • I first drove on a public road with the permission of my parents when I was 10 years old.
  • I used explosives to remove hundreds of tree stumps from fields before I was teenager.
  • In high school I figured out the combination to locker of the beautiful girl next to me so I could “borrow” her hard-core porn books but I was too shy to ever initiate a conversation with her.
  • I built an electronic alarm system for my high school locker.
  • I made contact sensitive explosives in high school and scattered tiny pieces on the hallway floor.
  • I have never illegally used any recreation drug except for that one glass of beer when I was 17.
  • As a college freshman three women invited me to drive to Montana with them where the drinking age was 18. They all got drunk and we shared one bed together but I was so shy I never so much as kissed any of them.
  • I won first place while playing for the University of Idaho chess team in the Association of College Unions Intercollegiate Tournaments in Region 14 (Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana).
  • I had never drank any hard liquor until my girlfriend accidently switched glasses with me a few months ago.
  • I maintain three blogs and make at least one post each day.
  • I own an explosives production facility where I make about a ton of explosives each year for recreational purposes.
  • I wrote software for the CIA.
  • I took a training pistol from the chief instructor in a handgun retention class.
  • I went to Blackwater (a private military company and security consulting firm) for “summer camp” for free and was taught by one of the top handgun shooters in the world.

I think there are only two people in the world who I currently know that can identify with certainty which one is the lie.

Update: The lie is:

I won first place while playing for the University of Idaho chess team in the Association of College Unions Intercollegiate Tournaments in Region 14 (Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana).

The truth is it was second place:

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The reason only two people I currently know who, “can identify with certainty which one is the lie” are Barb L. and Barb S. Barb S. because she was around when I played in the tournament. Barb L. because she could have looked in the trophy case to confirm or deny my claim. My kids never paid much attention to my trophy case and I have lost contact with all the other people in that tournament.

The comments to this post were some of the most fun I have had on this blog.

In answer to Ubu52 who doubted I had built the electronic alarm for my locker here is a picture of the remnants of it I found in one of my recently unpacked boxes:

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It has a single silicon controlled rectifier so it is electronic. The magnetic reed switch is for turning it off. There was another reed switch for triggering the alarm after a delay created by the resistors and capacitors. But I replaced the reed switch with just a couple of bare wires after someone used a huge (something like 25 pound) horseshoe magnetic on the outside of the locker to trigger it. The Sonalert was a new product on the market then and I used one of those for the sound producing device. It was eventually used in a different project of mine and I don’t know if I even have it any more.

And repeating for completeness this is the picture of the girl, Mary Ann, with the locker next to mine which I “borrowed” the porn from when I had the alarm in my locker:

Mary Ann

As far as the consumption of alcohol and other recreational drugs all the things I said are true. I’m even pretty sure that Barb switching the glasses on me was an accident.

The one glass of beer I had when I was 17 was my first day of college when I fell to the peer pressure, felt bad about it during and after, and didn’t do that again.

It was interesting the response my kids had to this post. Xenia hasn’t said anything about reading it but James and Kim both had the chess story and the three girls in Montana story on their short list. Kim correctly suspected that one of the women was the much older half sister of one James’ best friends in high school who was, eventually, the first girl I ever kissed (she is now college literature and women’s studies professor in a long term lesbian relationship–just so you know the sort of damage kissing me can inflict). Either I never told James about that or he forgot it. When I started to tell him about last week he cut me off as it being just too weird.

Unexpected question

Barb got a new water heater installed recently and one of the installers poked his head in the laundry room to ask Barb to turn on the hot water facet in the kitchen to get the water to drain.

Some time later he asked, “Who here works for Blackwater?”

Barb told him no one, but that I had got a tour through their facility. That wasn’t exactly correct (see also here) but it was close enough.

Apparently he saw the hats hanging up in the laundry room:

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Rattlesnake Ridge

Barb, Maddy (Barb’s daughter), and I went on a hike up to Rattlesnake Ridge yesterday. It was cloudy and there was some precipitation but not bad. It was about two miles each way with quite bit of elevation gain. Because of the dreary weather I hadn’t anticipated there being any great photo opportunities so I didn’t bring my SLR with me.

The view was nicer than I expected and we took a few photos with our phones:

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Mugme Street news

The following event occurred one block from what Barb and I fondly call “Mugme Street”. This has been my bus stop on the way home for a year and a half:

Police arrested a man who was seen counting his heroin stash Downtown Monday afternoon.

Bike officers were on patrol Downtown when they noticed a man acting strangely at 2nd Ave. and Stewart St. just before 1 PM. The officers approached the man and could plainly see him counting baggies of heroin, all of which were individually marked with a price.

Police arrested the man and collected the heroin as evidence.

I’ve had very strange people approach me at this location. When I’m waiting for the bus here I get and keep my back to the wall until the bus arrives.

I don’t want to work in downtown Seattle.

Prunes!

Why should the word “prunes” be followed by an exclamation mark? Because they’re MY prunes, or rather they were planted on the property I currently own, long before I bought it.

Do you know the difference between a prune and a plum? I didn’t, though of course I’d heard several of the theories that float around, at least in the Pacific Northwest. According to the orchard owners hereabouts (and who would know if not them?) a prune has a free pit, meaning that if you rip the fruit open the pit falls right out, whereas a plum has an in-grown pit and you have to cut, or chew, around it. That would mean I have prunes.

I’ve heard that there are peaches with free pits and peaches with in-grown pits, and they’re all called peaches, so go figure.
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Mugme Street news

From the Seattle Police Blotter:

Bike patrol officers noticed a man near 3 Ave and Pike Street make a suspected narcotics sale around 2:30 PM. Officers contacted the man and found him to have a Federal warrant for his arrest.

After arresting the man, officers found him to be carrying about twenty-eight grams of methamphetamine valued at around $2000. Officers also discovered a loaded gun on the 40-year-old man, which had been reported stolen in Seattle.

3rd and Pike is ground zero of Mugme Street.

Stuffing gas!

I’ve warned people in the past of the potential dangers of stuffing gas, but it’s never been taken seriously. Last thanksgiving while we were putting away leftovers, I gave out the warning again.

“DON’T use aluminum foil over the stuffing!”
(Der…)”Why not.”
“It dissolves the aluminum in short order, and I don’t want to eat stuffing with that much metal dissolved into it.”
(Derp) “Heh. Don’t be silly.”
“I’m telling you, I’ve seen it many times.”
(Rolls eyes, like I’M the idiot) “OK fine, we’ll put some turkey over the stuffing. That way no stuffing will be in contact with the tin foil.” (still thinks foil is made of tin – go ahead and try to find actual tin foil at the grocery store)

Less than two hours later I opened the fridge and this was the result. The stuffing gas had wafted up past the slices of turkey and eaten dozens of little holes in the aluminum.

Stuffing gas!

Stuffing gas!

If stuffing gas were to be weaponized, no aluminum structure would be safe. Keep an eye on Mrs. Cubbison!

There is some truth in this

Study reveals average tech worker’s wardrobe is 85% free tech t-shirts:

A team of UC Berkeley researchers has discovered that the 85% of the average tech worker’s clothes are free tech t-shirts, hoodies, and other assorted clothing.

The study of this prevalent free clothing, known by tech workers as “swag,” has come at the same time as a massive tech boom that has swept the Bay Area. On a normal weekday in San Francisco, you’re liable to see dozens of young hipsters walking down the street wearing t-shirts, jackets, hats, and even socks emblazoned with the names and logos of companies ranging from tech titans to ten-person startups. Tech companies hand out free logo-festooned paraphernalia at career fairs, company events, and almost any opportunity available.

It’s a joke article but there is a lot of truth in it.

Most of my casual shirts and some of the shirts I wear to work have some gun reference to them. But probably 10% of my shirts are Microsoft branded. MS gave out a lot of shirts, hats, coats, sweatshirts, etc. and I still have most of them. There are other tech companies represented as well but it’s far from 85%.

Pretty pictures

Last weekend Barb and I went to California for Stanford’s Parents Weekend. It is Barb’s daughter, Maddy, who is attending there and I was mostly along for support such as carrying heavy objects, navigation, and donating excess heat to Barb as needed. It was colder than we expected and we even had rain. I’m not really complaining about it. Mostly just trying to rub it in a bit to others. While others were dealing with snow and cold we went for a walk on the beach.

When not performing my normal duties I took pictures. We drove to Venice Beach and hiked a little more than 1.5 miles south were some of the prettier ones were taken. Some other time I’ll post pictures of the two mile long particle accelerator we toured.

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As shown by the unruly hair it was a little windy.

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It was a little bit cold. We only saw three women in bikinis and I only saw one of them get into the water. While we were glad we brought coats and long sleeve shirts for a time it was comfortable with short sleeved shirts.

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We saw a group of about 15 or 20 people on horseback. I’ve never ridden horse on a beach before. I might like to try it sometime. But it probably would have to be without Barb. She doesn’t care for riding horses.

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This is probably a radar station but I preferred to think of it as a giant golf ball on a tee.

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There were a fairly large number of seagulls and I was a bit concerned they were on “bombing runs” sometimes when they flew over but they were actually well behaved.

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I took this one with my phone. I wish I had used my SLR. With a longer focal length Barb would not have been so distorted in size compared to Maddy and the higher resolution would have made it something I would have cropped a little bit, printed, framed, and hung on the wall.

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This is probably my favorite. The dramatic clouds. The active ocean. The disappearing tire track. Even the seagulls in the distance really appeal to me.

Appliances

Guns are, in a manner of speaking, an appliance. They have a function, and they do it well, for a very long time under most usage rates. The technology is pretty straightforward, the cost is competitive, the technology generally improves with time, and they are easy to operate.

Major home appliances? Not so much. Continue reading

What ball game?

XKCD gives me the intro:

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Be sure to check out the image caption by hovering over the image with your mouse.

My hobby results in conversations similar to this:

Someone: What did you think of the game?

Joe: Which game?

Someone: The Hawks.

Joe: Is it the Sea Hawks? [If I could pronounce it differently I would say “See Hawks”.]

Someone (hint of confusion in their voice): Yes.

Joe: They play football, right?

Someone (they get a shifted eyed look, perhaps looking for an escape route): Yeah…

Joe: Good! Glad I got that right. Do they play with a spherical ball or the funny oblong one?

Someone (grim look): [Crickets]

Joe: I missed that game. I was probably shooting, having sex, or doing something else fun or productive. Was the game on Sunday? There seemed to be a lot of woman interested in me the other day.

Prometheus

Cool. Very cool, and very unexpected.

Just got word from Vox Day that The Stars Came Back has been nominated for a Prometheus Award for this year. It’s the award given by the Libertarian Futurist Society.

Past winners include Sarah Hoyt, Harry Turtledove, L. Neil Smith, Vernor Vinge, Terry Pratchett, Ken MacLeod, Poul Anderson, James P. Hogan, J. Neil Schulman, and many more big names. Even if I come in last place, just being nominated to potentially stand amid such a group of names is quite an honor.

Mugme street news

From downtown Seattle on the street Barb calls “Mugme Street” via the Seattle Police:

Two men were wounded by gunfire Wednesday evening in downtown Seattle.

Officers on foot patrol near Westlake Center heard gunfire just after 8 p.m. Wednesday and ran toward the sounds of the shots. Police saw a large group of people running from 3rd and Pine St, where officers found two men with gunshot wounds.

I don’t even like being there during the daytime.

Lessons Learned

Some background; local cops have been out for me and my family. Not in a big way, just looking to take advantage of opportunities. Both of my kids have had run-ins with the law. Some serious and some very, very, laughably trivial. I was once the victim of selective enforcement regarding dogs being off-leash ($100 dollar ticket) on or the day after the local cops were subpoenaed to appear in court as witnesses on one of those trivial cases, they’ve threatened to have the dog destroyed, and recently one of the cops was seen prowling in my yard, and was not forthcoming as to why when I called him on the phone afterward. One of the former cops from the same department had been “hitting on” my under-age daughter and her under-age friend. That’s 2.

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