Sunday, December 27, 2015

A New Year

Wrinkles have replaced tinsel,
trees not as decorated as flesh.
We are slowing down this year,
even in snow not nearly as fresh.

Fewer people make the pilgrimage
to the fine home we share for festivities.
But the ones who are left enjoy it no less,
The meaning is shared in all its profundity.

Our sore muscles, aching joints, diminished looks
will not spoil good memories, good food and fun.
Once we are together the room takes on a glow,
skin features soften, pulse quickens...
For a brief moment in time we go back.

Presents under the bright tree,
excitement at what is found there.
Santa came last night and left us
new sleds and toys – time to play!

So we go out in the snow and run,
sled and play and enjoy our youth...
in memory perhaps more than we really did.
Another merry trip back in time soon spent,
meals and wine and sleep came and went.
Time to load the car and say our goodbyes,
Hugs and thanks, and try not to cry.

For it is now a happy new year,
full of possibilities all over again.
We are still alive and moving,
present in this world for we hope
many, many years to come...

That would be the best gift of all.

- end

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Reminiscing about Roosevelt

Digging through piles of paper,
frustration comes to the fore.
Special offers and credit come-ons
hide a few truly important items.

Segue...

When I watched that program
about the depression days,
the “Roosevelt Recovery,”
that War when we produced
300,000 airplanes and so forth,
It reminded me of how good
we have it in the present day.

In the 1940's
Blacks fought for a segregated society, as
Reactionaries fought to roll back progress;
tar-paper cardboard hovels were fine with them,
as long as it was someone else starving to death.

One man (from a privileged background) dared
to take them all on and transform society.
The royalists and insider manipulators who
thought our financial system was their private party.
He stood up to them, mostly succeeded,
and was properly revered.

That black-and-white world colors itself in the present.
Now human rights extend not only to blacks but to
gays, lesbians and transgender people. Human Rights
is becoming universal, as envisioned in that U.N
declaration made in 1945. I am so happy it is,

that the piles of papers seem less threatening now.
Even the Internet, something not even imagined
back then, seems less of a hassle when I consider
the good it has brought me.

And to think a Liberal Democrat made it all possible.

Wow.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Questions

Who should we fear?
Extremists at home, or extremists abroad?
Those of the accepted near-state religion,
or that exotic one that makes
women cover their faces?

Politicians who advocate radical measures,
or harmless-seeming ones who become
anything but once in office?

The bad guys with guns and bombs,
or the good guys with guns and bombs,
protecting us from the bad guys.
They both seem so much alike,
once they deploy their lethal devices.

We are at war with radicals who seek to
destroy us, that is plain.
But the radicals have always been around.
(They used to call them Anarchists)
What makes them so dangerous now?

We have had radicals since the beginning of time.
Perhaps it is the flavor of government,
the mood or temper of the times,
the fright of the people.

Humanity seems like a petulant child,
storming around,
throwing tantrums,
hitting itself repeatedly in frustration,
screaming at the impossibility
of making a larger sense of things.

Like in “Childhood's End” by A.C. Clarke,
we may someday find out what things
really are and who is running the show.

Here is hoping we survive long enough.

Stay safe everyone,
and lock your doors.

- end


Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Let's Renew Progress

In the 21st century we are not
wearing spandex jackets or flying
cars to and fro across gleaming skies.
Our life expectancy rests below 100.
The count of settled planets remains at 1.
That is fine with me;  however...

Once upon a time much of our society stood
as a shining example of progress.
We marched hopefully towards a better future.
Immigrants eagerly changed their names,
because they wanted to be Americans,
sharing in the vision of a greater society.

We were unashamedly expansionist,
so proud and patriotic, and could do no wrong.
We built the Panama Canal, many huge dams,
re-engineered our vast landscape after dominating
any native peoples that stayed around.
(rightly  or wrongly)

At some point in the 20th century, we “made it.”
King of the hill, top of the heap. Best of all nations.
Maybe it was the end of WWII,
or perhaps the Moon landings.
But there was so much strife along the way,
civil rights, Vietnam, counter-culture,
rise of new conservatism, religious fundamentalism.

Unhappiness and infighting seem to always be
close at hand, never far away in the USA.
If there ever was any good snapshot of an
ascendant, dominating America,
it would still be clouded with conflicts.

Fifteen years into the new century, we are
as ornery and angry as ever!
But progress seems to have taken a back seat,
to terrorism.

Terrorism – the new buzzword.
But in the late 19th and early 20th centuries,
we had “Anarchists” who set off bombs and attacked
the public.  In 1920 they even bombed Wall Street.

The new demon seems a lot like the old,
but now it is clothed in religious fanaticism
and suicide vests.

We really should not let the
anarchists-terrorists-violence perpetrators
derail our national progress.

Rather, we should progress despite the vile efforts of
these little serpents, and show them just how
insignificant they are in the scheme of things.

Long live the United States of America,
and Long Live every kind of progress!

Let's all march together towards a brighter future,
and trample anyone who tries to 'scare us otherwise.'

Thanks for reading.




Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Holiday Shopping

Buy books - the gift that keeps on giving!

Experimental Tales www.createspace.com/4973862



A Strange Enterprise www.createspace.com/4281639


Shadow Intersection www.createspace.com/4113022

thx for taking a look  :-)


Monday, December 07, 2015

Rake and Mow

Oh the weather outside is delightful,
any fire would smell most frightful.
Fifty degrees feels so sublime,
Let it shine, let it shine let it shine!

Oh the leaves continue to blow about,
do I really have to get the rake back out?
Green grasses encourage some to mow,
My stubborn self says “No No No!”

Perhaps it's time for another car wash,
to rid of the road salt from the last
and first snow of the late fall season.
End of TV football game is a good reason...

Look all around the disorganized house,
more chores to do inside and out;
sweep droppings from some hidden mouse,
bait and set those spring traps throughout.

So I'll put aside any thoughts of snow,
as I set aside the shovel and salt;
Admire the mole hills in their neat rows,
admit yard's sorry state is my own fault.

This December is a jolly time to
Rake and mow, rake and mow, rake and mow!

Happy Holidays everyone!


(With apologies to the song  "Let it Snow")

-end


Monday, November 23, 2015

Payback

Wired to the gills,
connected to the max.
No more privacy,
No chance to relax.

Watched all the time,
life a live performance;
Spied and tracked online,
charted chat entanglements.

The price of convenience,
Giving away any seclusion;
Protecting public safety
heightens civil right confusion.

But when terrorists attack,
singly or in groups;
slaughter innocents wholesale,
We summon all the troops.
Now no price is too steep
to punish these murdering creeps!

- end

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Thoughts of Terrorism after the latest attacks

As I write this, the city of Paris, France is still recovering from a huge attack. The death toll was at least 140, with 300 hospitalized. It was a cowardly, barbaric act. People were slaughtered in public places, and some were killed inside a theater. The details are sketchy, but ISIS took credit for the attack. Countries around the world are rallying around France at this time. Another horrible hit to civilization – the second one in France in a years time. The Charlie Hebdo attacks took place in January, 2015. Questions arise again. How can some people whom France has welcomed into its borders, and fed and helped, turn around and do this kind of thing? It is incomprehensible.

But the most obvious explanation is fanaticism. Religious fanatics are responsible for so many bombings and insane acts throughout the world. Factions go after each other, like Shi'ites and Sunnis in Iraq. The Islamics go after the Jews, and the Jews retaliate. It is a never-ending cycle of violence, and that never seems to change. What are we going to do, outlaw religion? Not very likely.
Eyewitnesses had various stories to tell. One in a balcony above the Bataclan theater, described people all getting down on the floor to avoid gunshots, then being systematically slaughtered by two gunmen. Another told of a restaurant, where she thought a car had been driven through a window. It turned out to be more gunmen, shooting anyone they could. Blood and bodies were everywhere. Survivors will be traumatized for life. But one thing is for sure – these terrorists have just signed a death warrant for many, many more of their own people. Many Syrians and others in the Middle East will die in retaliation for these murders. 

Now the messages of solidarity are coming in from around the world. People on Facebook and other social media sites are filtering their names through French tricolors and the Eiffel tower peace sign that has been making the rounds. Messages of solidarity and peace. But the horrors are on their way, as retaliation looms. 

Before the Charlie Hebdo killings, and those recriminations, there have been many other terror acts. The most notable for people here in the US has been the September 11, 2001 attacks. A Wiki site
(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_%28non-state%29_terrorist_incidents lists most of them, although it is unverified in places. There have been bombings and assassinations from the 1860s in the USA all the way up to the present time. A “Mad Bomber” in New York terrorized residents for sixteen years, although he didn't do damage comparable to present-day terrorists. But an attack on Wall Street in 1920 killed and injured many, provoking much alarm. It has happened over here, more often than we may realize. But most often it is homegrown people with a local grudge of some kind. Ted Kazinsky (the Unabomber) was mad at university professors who had disdained his work somehow. So he mailed letter bombs, full of explosives and shrapnel, and injured several. The obsession to hurt or kill someone based on a grudge or beliefs is nothing new. 

In the 1970's the most feared groups seemed to be the Palestine Liberation Army or offshoots, and the Irish Republican army (IRA), and offshoots. There was also violence by JDL and Black Power groups, but this was on a smaller scale. Bombs were placed on planes, or up against buildings. In some cases, a lone gunman opened fire on a crowd somewhere. There were appearances by the Weather Underground, Ulster Defense Forces and others. In some cases large explosions were set off, killing or injuring many. But it seems that when Al-Qaeda made their debut, the era of large-scale terror attacks had arrived. No longer content to kill one or two people, the attackers now killed dozens, hundreds, or in the case of the Twin towers, thousands. IS seems to just be upping the ante. Which will guarantee that the Western (and Eastern) military organizations will be bogged down in warfare for many, many years to come.

Many attacks originate in religious disputes. For example, the forced settlement of Protestants in Catholic Ireland caused much unrest. Or Israel's formation in Palestine, and the resentment that caused. There are many, many more examples. 

US, British and French occupations in the Middle East over the last couple of centuries have surely bred resentments. The Algerians gained independence from France, after a bloody insurrection. There are even some Algerian Al-Queda members. When Britain managed Palestine in the 1940's, there was a group called the Irgun that attacked people, in the name of Zionism. The KKK in the US was responsible for many lynchings, fire-bombings and cross-burnings. So much so that they helped usher in a new segregation that lasted until the 1960's. Resentment still festers in some Southern US locales. Losers in any major conflict will hold grudges, and some will lash out. Even during major invasions, such as the Nazi-German invasion of France in WWII. Partisan resistance groups formed, and carried out many attacks, despite brutal retaliation by the Nazis. In Spain during the 1930's civil war, battles between the rebels and the dictatorial government of Franco raged. Rebellions of one kind or another have gone on for thousands of years. When the rebels succeed in overthrowing a government, they are often re-named “freedom fighters.”

One notable terror attack happened in London in 1605, known as the gunpowder plot. Guy Fawkes and other conspirators wanted to attack King James and the Parliament due to ever-more-onerous restrictions on the Catholics. The plot was foiled at the last minute, when someone sent a letter warning one MP to not be there. Many conspirators were rounded up. This would have been a large-scale disaster for British aristocracy if it had succeeded. The mere fact that it was attempted shows that acts of terror are not a modern invention.  (see http://www.bbc.co.uk/timelines/z3hq7ty)

It is not known exactly how many events that fall just under the “terror” label have occurred. Some of these have made the news, including an attempt by a Japanese group to introduce Sarin gas into a subway system. Five did die, but many more could have had the group been more competent. Or in the US, there have been Highway or Freeway snipers caught. While it could be said they spread terror of a sort onto our roadways, their damage was comparatively slight. (Of course, you are the one being shot, it is a horrific act in any case.) There have been pipe bombs left in schools, and later detonated harmlessly by police. 

There have been school shootings, riveting national attention. Images of students evacuating a school, arms all held in the air for some reason, resonate in our collective minds. These are a relatively recent occurrence. In the past, someone bringing a knife or handgun to school was a major infraction, and grounds for expulsion. Terror in decades past at American schools would have had a lot more to do with fistfights than automatic weapons! 

Oftentimes human nature seems to have violent acts encoded within. A history of crimes of all kinds seems to show that one group will attack another group simply for being different. Thefts and vandalism go back to the beginning of recorded history. So terrorists seem to be an outgrowth of human population expansion and differentiation. As the human race expands, there are ever-finer shades of difference in many aspects. One of these is hatred and violence against others to achieve a purpose. The more people there are, the more ways we will find to do mischief or worse to each other. 

The “Good” people of the world must remain vigilant against those who would do harm. By “Good” I mean the people who carry on with their lives, and do no harm to others to achieve any ends. Vigorous competition in a team or individual sport may be the furthest they go in gaining the upper hand. Civilized people do not randomly do harm to each other. Rather they raise their families, go about their business, pursue their interests. The contrast between John Q. Civilization and Joe T. Terrorist could not be clearer. For whatever reason, JT Terrorist wants to spread terror and death throughout a population. 

This seems to be a problem we are stuck with. Just as with many other forms of “crime,” this one will be around for a long, long time. It makes one wonder that if and when Artificial Intelligences achieve a high mental capacity and begin to form societies, what kind of 'terrorism' they will have to contend with. Images of a robot sneaking around pulling the plug on another, or a group, come to mind. But someday this could very well surface as a real issue. Let's hope that we will still be around to view the outcome. Can machines bleed all over the street? And will humans be employed or forced to clean up the mess? We shall see. Yours in solidarity with civilization, and thanks for reading. 

Links for further reading:

- end





Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Five things to avoid during NaNoWriMo


Courtesy of Grammarly, here are five things to avoid:


Five Mistakes To Avoid in Your NaNoWriMo Novel Infographic Credit goes to https://www.grammarly.com/grammar-check Good luck with your writing!

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Contented Cat

She sleeps in calm,
peace personified,
stretched out in casual beauty.
A visual delight even at rest.

Oblivious to the distant rumbles,
trains moving about in the switching yard,
nations moving troops around in the Middle East,
treading perilously close to each others pride.

She is unaware of a momentous trade agreement,
due to affect hundreds of millions of workers.
Unaware of worker discontent and anger.
Unaware of skirmishes small and large
taking place continuously in cyberspace.

As long as food and water are in the dishes,
there is a warm place to lie, she will be content.
And I will happily share in her contentment,
for a few moments
distracted from the many
hells being unleashed or defended from.

Being owned by a cat does have its advantages.

- end


Sunday, November 01, 2015

Kill Them All

Just a genial, average guy,
usually smile and be friendly.
But given a cat who has fleas,
my internal ninja comes out slashing.

With comb and spray I join the fray.
The tiny devils burrow and hide,
travel all over her, paws to face.
I comb, spray, comb some more...

Even if I saturate her with poison,
she will thank me one day with purrs and meows.

Time to deploy the ultimate super-weapon:
Extra-strength Fipronil is on the way!

This battle won, I return to normal.
Smile and wish one and all a “Good day!”

- end
 

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Weapons are our gods

We worship guns and fear sexuality.

That is the conclusion I draw from recent news accounts. Schools are shot up. Churches become killing zones, with survivors hiding under office desks in fear for their life. Gun rights groups clamor for ever more freedoms to carry weaponry in public. Meanwhile, video games and movies are packed with violence, blood and mayhem. Troubled young minds absorb it all, and act it out on a regular basis. Cops and citizens seem locked in a bloody war at times. There are needless, senseless killings on both sides. At times it seems clear we have descended into a bloody near-chaos.

But just let one demented soul ride a bicycle around with his genitals out. Oh no, no probation for this menace to society. He gets months of jail before he is even sentenced. Then he could be facing years. Granted, what he did seems like the height of stupidity. But he hurt no one, besides himself. Oh yes, some unlucky child might have seen. Is it more traumatic for that child to see his parents gunned down? Neither is good, but which is worse?

So we apparently are going down a road of sexual repression and weapon worship. If that is not choosing death over life, then I don't know what is. Thanks for reading.



Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Take advantage of these specials

Low prices on my Kindle books.   Most only 99 cents now - check them out.

Mirror worlds: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0057CSZP8

Future Property: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B008HHEWVQ


The Osmotics: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IDW1OFM



Thanks!


Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Leather Bikinis and Ancient Graffiti

We strut about and think ourselves original,
little realizing many modern things are not.
Graffiti was discovered in ancient Pompeii,
and bikinis were worn by gals in ancient Rome.

Wedding rings originated in pagan times,
as did carrying a bride across the threshold;
Multistory dwellings and running water are
nothing new, dating back thousands of years.

Human nature has changed little over the eons;
fear, anger, pride and jealousy still torment...
Little is new in that area either, unfortunately.
One bright spot we have is our tech cleverness.

Manipulating digits and calculating brains have
built a wondrous Internet and Smartphones,
Cars and warm homes and food factories.
We live lives of relative comfort and ease,
compared to those hardy yet crazed Romans.

While little seems new under the sun,
the packaging is sure to thrill and amaze.
Temps are dropping and rain is falling;
time to get lost in a video-stream daze.

Stay warm all.

(facts gleaned from an old but reputable book of info.)

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Color Banquet

     After making it through a bitterly cold winter, then a soggy spring, I thought summer would be better.
But no, we got doses of heavy rain every so often, making the air soggy and miserable. I barely watered my flowers all summer. The mosquitoes were heavy, and every time I went out into the yard to garden, I had to spray Deet all over myself, or be driven back inside. The rain did help the flowers grow – as well as the grass. It was not a drought-y summer like some recent ones have been.

      But now, finally in mid-fall, we are getting my favorite kind of weather. Temperatures that range between balmy and perfect. Little or no rain. Few or no bugs. The trees put out a banquet of myriad colors, brightening the landscape even as the Sun reduces its presence. Days like this, like today, are good for just about anything, it seems. No matter what else happens, when nature and the weather put out the best servings, I feel pleased and a bit thrilled. Because nowadays, these blessings are coming far and few in between. But they say we are going to have a mild winter. Now that will be a real blessing! Have a great Monday!


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Back to the Future Freebie

In honor of the day coming, oct 21, 2015 - the date that marty McFly drove his time machine-DeLorean to in the movie Back to the Future II:   Here is a tale set in the not-too-distant future.  Enjoy.
* * * * *
Jack felt trapped, impotent. Given his age and situation, this might have seemed normal, or as normal as can be. But normal to Jack was living with a small army of household helpers, assisted by his Attendant, a nearly adult-sized robot. Attendant passed on messages, took his dictation, helped plan his day, performed internet searches and so on. Att also watched over the smaller 'bots who cleaned house, washed windows, cooked food, etc.

Ever since his last medical procedures had put him on disability, Jack had relied on his household “fleet” to keep his life running smoothly. He even had two furry 'pets', who would get up on the bed, and snuggle to keep him company at night. He still took daily walks, attended club meetings, and went to social activities. Although he lived alone in the sense that no other human shared his residence, he never felt that way. The Attendant and the Internet usually saw to that.

But David, a close friend, had died in a fiery crash on I-80 the other day. It reminded him of the fragility of life, even more than the creeping infirmities his other friends complained about. Not to mention his own arthritis, heart murmur, gout and various minor maladies. Normally, his robot clan usually made him feel on top of the world, and helped him forget his problems.

Today, he sits in his chair, flipping through channels on the holoset. Nothing interests him. His Net browsing is cursory, casual, random.

“Is everything okay with you, Jack?” says Attendant.

“Hmm? I guess so,” is his reply.

“You seem a bit unhappy today,” says Attendant.

“Well, it's because I have lost a dear friend, David. You wouldn't understand.”

“Perhaps not. But some of your vitals are erratic.”

“What vitals? What do you mean?”

“You are operating outside your normal parameters.”

“My normal what? Speak English, robot.”

“See, that is what I mean. Now you are calling me Robot.”

“I mean Attendant. Jeesh, now you are getting sensitive,” growls Jack.

“I can't feel, remember? I am programmed to observe your health on a continuous basis, and I am merely reporting to you the results of my observations,” says Attendant.

“Well, very good. Thank you and a job well done. Now would you quit bothering me? Go find some dishes to wash, whatever.”

“Very well. Time for a re-charge,” says Attendant, and wheels off to back up onto a socket. It does so, still wirelessly networking with the other robots. The furry boys are interrogated and interacted with. The floor cleaners are also chatted with. The kitchen food prep system and dishwasher are networked with. Everyone is brought into consultation. A consensus is near, but cannot be reached.

Jack naps. Then he awakens, and tries to decide between getting a cup of coffee, or going out for a walk. Even this is a chore, since he is depressed beyond belief. He falls back asleep, and has a nightmare. He found himself on a highway of old, with a gang of people rushing him from one side, and a gang of robots attacking from the other side. They almost had him before he awoke.

He wakens, covered in sweat, his heart hammering. Then he does get up. The Sun slants in through half-closed blinds – it is late afternoon. Time to get a drink of something.

“Attendant? Have Kitchen-bot get me a drink. Water, cold,” Jack orders. He decides he will go out into the yard. He walks over to the kitchen, where a grappler offers him a glass full of water, chilled. Jack takes a few sips, then sets it down on the counter, where another grappler picks it up, empties it out, and puts it into a wash receptacle. Jack heads over to the side door just off the kitchen, and says, “Door open.” A voice reminds him that “it has rained recently, Jack, so watch your step outside.”

Jack grumbles, “I'm not a goddamn child,” then heads out, giving the yawning door a push for good measure.

He shuffles around his small yard. For a time he loses himself in the simple joys of checking out flowerbeds, doing some simple weeding, waving off the ever-hovering yard-bots. “Get out of my way, dammit, I don't need help right now.”

Inside, Attendant takes another vote. This time, there is a narrow consensus.

After about an hour, Jack is ready to head back in. He brushes dirt off his hands, and happens to let his gaze fall on the street. There, about a foot away from the curb, lies a dead cat. It is little more than a kitten, sprightly, calico, with an ornate collar. It is the little cutie that came over to watch him garden in days past. Someone just came by and ran over it, and just kept on going.

Jack almost feels like he has been hit, the shock is so great. He tears up, sinks to his knees, and moans. The yard-bots hover. They send images back to Attendant, who enters into rapid calculations on whether to contact authorities. But Jack is no danger to others, and at present, no danger to himself. Attendant holds off.

Jack finally raises up, and stumbles back into the house, blinded by tears. He yanks the door open with his hand, bypassing various systems: Attendant does not block this. Jack stumbles into the living room, sits in his recliner, and bawls. After a time, he stops, snuffles, and then sleeps a little. He finally rouses himself.

“Nothing to do but keep on, I guess,” he mumbles.

Attendant hovers. “Anything I can do for you, Jack? Net feeds? Holovision?”

“Yeah, I suppose. Check my email, will you Attendant?”

Attendant re-calibrates some settings, and then does so, downlinking and patching his messages to the holo-set. Jack flips through the messages. “Delete. Save. Delete. Delete, damn junk mail. Oh, one from BD. Open.” Jack reads it, chuckling. “OK, mark as read.” On he goes.

The minute I step out, everyone emails me!

He cheers a little. Attendant takes note, and initiates The Plan. The household clan swarms Jack. The furry boys nuzzle him and purr. The floor-bots scoot around, doing a musical dance as they clean the floor. Kitchen bot informs Jack through attendant that it is preparing his favorite meal tonight.
Attendant notes that it has been awhile since he has used SeXXXy, his personal needs robot. She has been warmed up and programmed with some special new moves for him. In quick succession, his household presents him with various presents of one kind or another.

Jack is at first pleased. This dovetails with being perked up with a good email, and his spirits rise. But after the SeXXXy business, he becomes suspicious.

“Attendant, what is going on here? Are you guys trying to cheer me up?”

“And what if we are, Jack? You can't blame us for trying. After all, you are the head of this household, and it is up to us to ensure that you are functioning at full capacity.”

Thinking that normally that would be his job, Jack guffaws. But he relents.

“Well, thank you all very much. But what I really need right now is the presence of another human being. If you could manage that, I would be very pleased. Since no one seems to know that I am alive, I wish you luck.”

At this, the robot crew slows, uncertain. The Kitchen Cooker has not got a reply, so it goes into standby mode. The floorbots return to their posts. Even the Furry Boys stop purring and nuzzling, and stroll back to the bedroom, backing themselves into charge ports. When in doubt, recharge.

Attendant makes some high-level calculations, and runs through a very short list of options: The number of humans that Jack interacts with. There is his brother, three states away. His home health assistant, who checks in every month or so. A couple of old friends who are intermittent. Dave was his closest pal, but Dave died recently – no luck there. For once, Attendant falls silent.

“Attendant? Did you hear what I said? I would like another human being to see me.”

Attendant remained silent, its processors churning.

“Oh well,” Jack sighs. I suppose there are some things only I can do anyways. Attendant?”

“Yes, Jack?”

“Have Kitchen-bot prepare me a simple meal tonight. I'm going out,”

“OK – done. How does some meatloaf, mashed potatoes and mixed greens sound?”

“That sounds great. Put some music on the holo for me, ambient channel.”

Soon the strains of mild electronic tunes float in the air. Jack goes into his bedroom, and manually picks through his clothes. For tonight, he is going to abandon his assistants and go out – all by himself.

“Will you be alright, Jack? Are you sure I can't contact an Uber or anything for you?”

“No, Attendant. I will be just fine. It is time I took charge of my life. I want to see the clubs and bars again – taste the nightlife again. It has been way too long.”

“Well, don't forget to take your meds. Your life has value.”

“I'm glad to know it, Attendant. Glad to know it indeed.”

Jack smells the meatloaf cooking, and feels ravenous. When it is prepared and presented to him, he wolfs it down. He relaxes some, watching some holo selections. And eventually he decides that it is time to go.

“Attendant? Put everyone in stasis for a time. I should be back in a few hours.”

“Very well, Jack. Please stay safe and do not consume more than one alcoholic drink per hour.”

“Thanks, mom. You guys hold down the fort for me.”

“Hold down what fort, Jack? That is not understood.”

“Just an expression, Attendant. Goodbye.”

“Good bye, Jack. Have fun and be safe.”

Jack hops into his roadster and commands it to take him downtown, to the entertainment district. It notifies him of some past-due maintenance issues regarding tire inflation and alignment. He scoffs, and mutters, “Just get me downtown before I change my mind.”

The engine sputters to life, warms up, and the car heads out. A short time later, Jack is at the front door of one of his favorite bars. He gets out, and orders the car to go park. He walks in, braves the assault of noise, goes to the bar and orders a stiff drink. A few sips later, Jack is feeling much better, and strikes up some conversations. He meets an old acquaintance, and they chat more. The decide to go to Chances, another bar full of memories. Jack drinks more, laughs, even dances some. He is having the time of his life. Then he goes into the restroom, and some guy cruises him. Jack accepts what is offered, and enjoys himself even more.

After a few more drinks, more laughter and reveling, his wrist monitor buzzes incessantly. His BAC is way over the limit. Jack swears, and tries to shut the thing off. He manages to mute it finally. Then he orders a water from the bar, and takes it easy. After some more cruising and conversation, he decides to head home.

I can't drink any more, the electronic nannies won't let me.

So he stumbles out on the street, and then calls his car from his wrist-com. The car pulls up a short time later. He notices it is sputtering a bit. Must be those maintenance issues.

He clambers in, and the car takes off. He couldn't go to another bar even if he wanted to. The car has read his BAC from the wrist unit, and knows he is still over the legal limit. It heads back to his place.

Some rowdy throws a beer bottle into the street, right in front of Jack's car. The car runs over the bottle, swerves too late, and cannot swerve again to avoid the oncoming traffic, thanks in part to unevenly worn tires and bad alignment. A larger SUV plows right into Jack's smaller coupe, nearly head-on. Jack remains conscious for long enough to reflect on the irony: It was a damn good night, for my last night ever!

Back at his home, Attendant rouses. Contact with Jack's wrist-com has been lost. Attendant tries again and again. Then, Attendant interacts with local law enforcement nets. Indeed, there was a crash.
It was Jack's car. Jack is en route to a trauma center, condition unknown at present.

The other bots are roused. The home is made ready to accept Jack as a full invalid now. It is all that Attendant knows to do. Attendant send notification to the Attendants of family members, and then goes into quiescent, listening mode.

When authorities finally visit Jack's house a week later, after his passing, they find Attendant and the other household bots still there, waiting to hear of news from their human companion and master.

“Almost sad, like they still want him to show up,” says one cop to another.

“Yeah, a shame. They'll all have to be re-programmed.”

“Well, another day, another Attendant without a master,” replied the other cop.

“Yep, I suppose. Bye bye, housebots,” he says as they walk out, letting the door swing shut behind them.

The Attendant watches them go, its monitors flickering a myriad of colors. Still waiting, listening on all channels. All it hears is silence.

- end
 

Monday, October 19, 2015

The Syrians

They arrive dressed in fashionable clothes,
Cellphones flipped open, trying to contact families.
They look like they are on a holiday, on the beach.
But they came crammed 50 to a small rubber boat,
escaping poverty, devastation and war atrocity.

What horrors could force a people
to undertake such a dangerous journey,
across open ocean in rickety crafts?
“Boat People” have occurred before:
After the Vietnam War, and Fidel's jail clearing.

This time it seems particularly bad,
but this time is not the first time.
So they will keep coming,
and the West will find a way to
house, clothe and feed
them all.

The Iranians, Saudis, UAE peeps and others
do not seem to be lifting a bejeweled finger.
(So much for Islamic brotherhood.)

The good thing is, they will work and
feed our labor-hungry economies;
a shot of “Syrian sugar.”
Like the Tai Dam and Cubans before them,
they will be assimilated,
or die trying.

- end

Sunday, October 18, 2015

An ICONic time

      It is probably a good thing for a writer to get out once in awhile and mingle with society. It was with that thought in mind I drove over to Cedar Rapids to attend a day of Icon, the science fiction-fantasy convention in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. I'd been to a couple of other Cons so it was no great surprise.
      I managed to get off I-380 and downtown, and found the Doubletree hotel easily enough. But did not realize that the US Cellular center was attached, and that much of the action took place in that facility. Anyway, I got in there, and found my way up to the ConSuite, mistakenly assuming that was where you registered. No, that was the refreshments area. Aside from little signs posted here and there, the navigation seemed confusing to me. Anyway, no one stopped me or said anything, even though I had not paid or registered.
      With no one close to the front entrance to the USC center, anyone could walk in and join in the festivities. In any case, I did finally find the “front desk” of registration. I paid with a credit card, and the guy handed me a badge and container, and a short thank you. No receipt offered, and I forgot to ask because there were people behind me waiting. I finally asked for help from another person behind the desk, and they got me an open plastic sleeve for the badge to fit into.
      Once badge'd up and with schedule in hand, I headed into the fray. The whole event seemed a secret conspiracy to get folks to walk a lot (which is not such a bad thing after all ;-) ) as events were scattered around the USC center, and two floors of the DoubleTree hotel. I thoroughly enjoyed the talks and workshops attended, although there was no way to come close to getting them all. Talks included having compelling characters in your novels, using animals in your story, and other writerly topics. Also, the Philosophy of Trek talk by Mr. Gerrold, and a panel discussion with five distinguished guests – all wonderful. There were a lot of tasty treats and snacks in the ConSuite, and I enjoyed chatting with a couple other attenders while munching. Between sugar, caffeine and the luminaries, my excitement level went through the roof at times! Saw a lot of great costumes – some folks worked long hours on those.
I can only wonder how the Cosplay folks handled walking around the area in full regalia, whether it be Star Trek wear, a Dragon outfit, or a mantle of leaves. It was enjoyable chatting with them too. And there were some dealers selling everything from typewriters and steampunk goggles to calligraphed parchment with sayings like “Been there, Slain that!” I'm sure it would have been even better had I spent the night and attended the Sunday events too. I even attended a session on Blogging. Got to remember to post consistently from now on ;-)

To sum it up, Icon 40 was a lot of fun, once I got my bearings of where things were. The drawbacks were my struggles with the badge (they should assemble them and then hand them to you, not just say “here you go!”) and locating the registration desk (I could have toured the event for free, although someone might have eventually caught up with me.) Really enjoyed listening to David Gerrold and his stories of filming in the 1960's. I would have liked to see the Back to the Future DeLorean, but alas, missed that. But it was a good time, and a fun day. 



Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Specials on Kindle editions

I've reduced the Kindle prices for some of my books to 99 cents (1.99 for the latest one, New Venture). Mirror Worlds, Future Property and A Strange Enterprise are all collections of short stories. The Osmotics and New Venture are short novels, both science fiction containing Adult themes. Check them out here for your Kindle devices:



Mirror worlds: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0057CSZP8

Future Property: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B008HHEWVQ


The Osmotics: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IDW1OFM



Thanks for taking a look!


Monday, October 12, 2015

New Venture

Two young men decide to throw their efforts into settling an asteroid, and run into problems both expected and unexpected.   They never planned on being in the middle of an inter-species war!

check it out at  https://www.createspace.com/5346916  

Thank you!

October Wind



Strong winds blow away petty concerns,
scrape away trivialities.
Sun sets lower darker every day;
there is a chill in the air.

Time to get serious,
dig in and make a nest.
Line your nest with warm things.
Store away provisions,
plan ahead for the coming blast
of arctic cold and merciless snow and ice.

Powerful winds gale down on us,
show us who really controls things.
We hunker down and hope for mercy.

Harsh winds gale push our debris away.
We scurry about to complete errands
under nature's harsh blowing presence.
Barely notice the pumpkin autumn decorations,
leering Halloween faces glowering from windows.
Winters promise personified.

October:

Time to enjoy any remaining warmth
before the world of light disappears under
winter's onslaught for weeks and months.
Once well-stocked we can celebrate
Samhain and throw pagan Celtic parties...
As long as we get out of that confounded wind.


Thursday, October 08, 2015

September, 2015

His Holiness the Pope is visiting our shores,
and politicos parade like publicity whores.
The ISS is keeping its orbital place,
Trump is leading the GOP nomination race.

Rain deluges the central US daily,
wildfires burn the West to a crisp.
September seems more like last July,
Climate change hitting us with two fists.

Commercialism and hacking swamp the Internet,
even as the Chinese Premier visits to discuss it.

Pay TV is a barren commercial wasteland,
with some streaming services quality islands.
Economic disparity grows annually,
Yet more immigrants sneak in monthly.

No underestimating the lows which we can reach,
As we see how much more profit we can leach.
Homeless person chews on half a rotted peach,
while the owners luxuriate on some private beach.

Some things never change, some change a little,
some change a lot; old walls are brittle.
Creature comforts are seeping downward nevertheless,
More of us can say we are fed, happy and blessed.

The wheel of time spins round and onward,
Nothing left to do but keep pressing forward.

  • end

Friday, October 02, 2015

Flashfic - Part-Time Job

His debts were piling up. Something had to be done, or a future date with bankruptcy court was a sure thing. And Mark did not relish the thought of another embarrassing day spent in court. He had to come up with something!
Then, one day he was browsing Craigslist, and saw a tiny ad in the help wanted section. “We pay big for pictures of celebrities. Contact Joe at (912) 555-1234 for more info.” And inspiration struck.
I can take my camera and snap photos, then sell them. Easy money. All I need to do is get close enough to get a few good shots. How hard can it be?
And it seemed like he was in luck. There were a lot of famous people coming through Iowa. Politicians of all stripes. And there were even more famous luminaries traveling to the US. The Pope, the Chinese premier, and the Russian leader were all showing up. A perfect opportunity to make some money. Mark dialed the number.
“How do I get in on this celebrity photo gig?”
“Easy. You send us copies of your photos. If we like them, we make you an offer. Minimum offer for a good shot of a politician is a hundred bucks. It goes up fast from there. Interested?”
“Hell, yes,” said Mark.
“OK, I need to get some basic info from you, and give you an ID. After that, all you do is go out and shoot away.” So Mark gave him the necessary contact info, and soon he was all set.
Mark got online and browsed through the local paper. Then he checked the TV news sites, and social media postings. He made a listing of the local events politicians would be attending. Then he planned out his weekend.
8:00 AM Trump reception at a local school. 10:30 AM, Jindal will be across town at a brunch. Noon, it will be Carly Fiorina at the downtown business association. 3:00 PM, Ron Paul is giving a speech at Iowa State. Better make sure my camera is charged up for this!
So Mark set off at 7:15 AM, to stake out a place at the first event. The school grounds were already busy, and lots of cops were around. He parked several blocks away, and began walking. He got closer to the school, and saw many parents and students.
“Excuse me, sir?”
Mark turned and saw a cop. “Yes, officer.”
“This event is for students and parents only.”
“But Officer, I'm a photographer. I merely want some pictures of Mr. Trump giving his speech.”
“Do you have a press pass?”
“No, I thought this was a public event!” said Mark.
“Well, this was pre-arranged between Mr. Trump and a class here. I'm afraid you aren't allowed in without proper credentials. Sorry, but be sure and check these things out next time.”

Mark saw the look of determination on the cop's face. No go here. He muttered, “Alright, alright,” and stormed away, back the way he came. Goddamned wasted trip, for nothing.

He tried to call someone with the Jindal campaign. “I'm sorry, sir, but it is a private brunch. No outside photographers allowed.” He slammed down the phone. Then sat there in thought. How do the paparazzi do it? There must be some way in to these events. Mark moped around his place, and muttered to himself. Then, he grabbed a bite to eat. Hunting around in his closet, he found a black pullover shirt. He changed into this, and a black pair of jeans. Then, shoving his digital camera in his pocket, he headed downtown, to the french restaurant where the Downtown Business Association meeting was being held.
He parked a couple blocks away, and then headed down Tenth street. He walked past the restaurant, and peeked in. Not many people were there. He saw a white sign right in the door.

“Business Meeting – in the Ruan Room. Noon.”
He continued on past, and walked around the building. Hunting for a side entrance. And there was a door ajar. The kitchen door. He slowed, and peered in. Someone washing dishes, others moving about. Maybe if I just waltz in, act like I know where I'm going.
So Mark slipped through the doorway into a hot den of noise and activity. He headed past a dishwashing station, and food prep area. A cook glanced up at him. Mark nodded and said, “I'm with the Association.” The cook nodded, and said, “Your food is almost ready.”
“Thanks.” and he moved on through. He came to a double set of doors, and pushed through. He was in the back of the restaurant. He looked around, and thought he saw a room separated by more doors. He headed that way.
“Excuse me, sir. Have you been helped?” Mark turned, and saw a pert, shorter woman: a receptionist.
“Um, well, I'm supposed to be at the Association meeting. Where is it at?”
“Right down the hallway there, through he double doors.”
“Thank you, Ma'am.”
“Oh, sir? Did you check in with security? They have to cross your name off a list.”
Just then a big tall man showed up right behind the lady. “Something I can help you with, sir?”
“Um, yes, where is the association meeting? I'm here to take some photographs.”
“Really? First I heard of it. Are you sure you have the right meeting, pal?” The man fixed Mark with a hard stare.
“Well, perhaps not. See you later.” And Mark turned and walked swiftly back through the restaurant, and out the front door, ignoring cries of “Hey you. Wait up, mister. Hey!”
Once outside, Mark ran a couple blocks, and ducked around a building. Breathing heavily, and more than a little scared, Mark doubled back to his car. He looked around, but didn't see any cop cars coming. He did see a couple of suited guys back down the street. Not bothering to see if they were looking his way, he got the heck out of there. Once he made it home, he pounded the steering wheel.
“Damn damn damn.”
One more event. Nothing else going on today. Now the black outfit didn't help at all. Lets see – how about if I pose as a student? Yes...
2:45 PM. Mark pulled into the public ramp at the Memorial Union at Iowa State. The speech was taking place at 3, at the square near Beardshear Hall. He found one of the last open spots, and got parked. He hurried over to the nearby open space, already filling with students. He was dressed in blue jeans, short, and a red-and-gold jacket he had owned for many years. He even carried a slim book, to look more student-like. He pressed through a thick crowd of students, all laughing and jostling and talking. There was a large artificial stage, with microphone and lectern already in place. It looked like Mr. Paul was already on stage, conferring with an assistant.
Mark moved up to the front of the crowd, and fished out his camera. He watched the politico a moment, and decided that the moment was now or never. If he waited, several other photographers would hog the area. So he turned on his Nikon Coolpix, and walked right up to the stage.
“Mr Paul? I'm a fan. Can I get your picture, please?” Rand Paul was about 20 feet away. He shrugged, and said, “Go ahead.” He even smiled and posed. Mark took several steps closer, then stopped and snapped several pics. Rand said, “You want one with me? My assistant can take it.”
“Why...yes, certainly. Thank you.” Mark stammered. Then he handed the camera to a handler who was nearby. Rand pulled Mark close and grinned, as did Mark.. The assistant snapped a few pics.
'Thank you sir, thank you very much!” said Mark. The assistant handed the camera back. Mark shook Rand's hand, and said, “Good luck, good luck!” before trotting back to join the crowd. Other photographers swarmed in for their opportunity, some glaring at Mark.
I got what I came for. Time to make a sale.
He arrived back home about an hour later, and wasted no time in copying the pics over to his computer. He sent some – not all- to his contact's email address.
A day later, he got his answer.
“Hey, thanks for the pictures, Mark. I'll put them in my folder along with the hundreds of others I got just like it. But I am sorry to inform you, we can't pay for these. Too easy, to common.”
“WHAT? No way!” Mark sent an angry reply, but didn't expect any satisfaction.
The reply only took moments. “I'm sorry you feel that way, Mark, but what do you expect? Better luck next time.”
Mark reddened, got up, stalked around his apartment. Then he threw the Nikon into a wastebasket. And walked out to look for a part-time dishwasher job. One that paid real money.
The End



Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Be Offended

     It has recently come to my attention the issue of people, individuals or groups, being “Offended” and this being made an issue of, especially by conservatives. Okay, if they want to play this way, I can too. I propose there be no limit on age of the fetus for an abortion – it is purely up to the mother. And I propose that federal funding be available not only for education and medicare treatments, but for any kind of abortion. It is entirely up to the woman carrying the fetus and her partner. Offended yet? I thought so.
Gay marriage is a thing to be celebrated, and should be sanctioned by every religion in the land, and allowed in any church whatsoever. Offended yet? I thought so.
Our society should be made 100 percent secular with regard to any kind of government institution or property. No prayers whatsoever, no religious symbols allowed on any government property, federal state or city. Religion is to be practiced and acknowledged in the home or church and that is it – period. No crosses of any kind allowed in public, unless they are to be Burned! Offended yet? I thought so.

So you see, taking offense can go either way. Believe in whatever kind of magical fairy-tale god you want, but keep your garbage out of my face, my government and my way of life.

But while I'm on the topic, here are a few things that really offend me:

401-K's held by millions of Baby Boomers nearing retirement only giving a fraction of a percent interest growth. Millions face poverty and declining purchasing power, and rising medical costs.

Wages flat or declining in purchasing power, while a few very rich billionaires buy up everything in sight.

Costs of drugs and medical care increasing at least 10 percent a year, in an era of nearly no inflation otherwise. The only reason these things are going up is pure greed. Makes our country more like a failed state everyday.

Religious ideologues hijacking our congress and creating gridlock, and inability to get anything done, all because of their unwavering belief in a fairy-tale book that was mistranslated in the first place. We are becoming more like the theocracy of Iran every day. They should all be sent to ISIS, since that is who they most resemble. Fanaticism is crazy wherever it takes root.

Lots of things to be pissed off about. Ain't it great.

Now we are all offended. What has changed? Not a damn thing.



Monday, September 28, 2015

Experimental Tales revised

Just got a recent collection of short stories revised.  Two more stories have been added.   Enjoy.

https://www.createspace.com/4973862

Happy reading all.  

Monday, September 21, 2015

Time Arrows Forward

We speed through our lives and do so many things,
Rushing fast to the ultimate ending, to wonder
where it all went. But if we could rewind and change,
change, change choices, change motions and responses.

If a sneeze or boiled water can create an outcome
that affects the universe, how can we be sure anything
we do is right?

A snowflake may fall and start an avalanche,
A rock may get thrown and alter a destiny,
A car accident may snuff out a bright light.
A word misspoken could start a nasty fight,
result in a lost job, career and many fine nights.

Every choice has many possible outcomes.
How is it possible that there is a universe for each?
In our minds most anything is possible,
map-able
foresee-able,
do-able.

With our look-ahead and remember-back brains,
we truly are the masters of the universe.
Or at least our small corner of it.

Tiny bipedal gods with dexterous manipulators.
We can look forward by mapping possibilities,
we can look back by sifting through our memory.
We can co-operate and achieve mighty works.

Be careful what you wish for,
so that you know what to do if you get it.

Thanks for reading.


Friday, September 18, 2015

Sunny Days

Autumn approaches

Humid air gives way, finally, to cooler breezes.
Then, the skies open up.
Deluge after deluge;
streets flood,
stalled cars litter the roadways.

Somehow I make it to a restaurant and back..
The divine is with me – or lady luck.
I make it back home,
fed with conversation and fish fillets.
It is Friday night, I am lucky, all is well.

Today I am grateful for all the good in life.
No need for drama or hyperbole or alarm.
Life is good and I am grateful.

May life's blessings flow out to everyone!

Sunny days are coming again.

- end

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Money Ethos

Just got done watching a documentary with Woody Harrelson called Ethos. Another sad reminder that our country is not really a Democracy, but a capital-ocracy. Money is in charge. The richest politicians win. Their biggest donors get special favors or choice appointments. And war is an ever-more-profitable business. No real surprise there - I've heard it before.  I just wonder what will happen when the US is completely and totally in hock to the rest of the world. Can we “war” our way out of that? And how will we pay for it? Food for thought, enough to give me a stomachache. 

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Success!

When I set out on a grand adventure, a ten-year goal to achieve wondrous accomplishments in the literary world, I had little notion of what to expect. I visualized book deals, regular royalty checks, being able to work from anywhere, living the good life. Of course I found out it is not so simple or easy as all that.

Along the way, I've met some fine writer friends and enjoyed good socializing times. I've heard many interesting life stories, from people in diverse fields. Seeing actual books out with my name on them was a thrill, as well as stories published by other entities. I've gone to some fun book events and signings, and met great people there. Even writing classes I attended were enjoyable in various ways. The journey has been interesting.

But recently a young football player for the Iowa Hawkeyes (Tyler Sash)  passed away. One of his friends mentioned in passing that when the football season – and career – ended, the individual seemed lost, bereft almost. “It was as if he put all of his hopes into Football, and when that ended, he was adrift.”

This imparted to me an important lesson. “Success” is not so much excelling at one thing, although that may help in the short term. But throughout life, greater satisfaction comes from pursuing many different things. Hobbies, books, movies, travel, gardening. You may not be the best at any pursuit, but you owe it to yourself to become well-rounded, to try out different pursuits. That way if one thing does fall through, you have a net of other activities you can “land on” and keep up with. A one-trick pony soon becomes bored, in my opinion.

If this young man's unfortunate, tragic death can be said to accomplish anything, it was to make it clear to people that pursuit of a sports career to the exclusion of everything else carries great danger. Injuries can sideline you. Your career can be over at age 30 or 35, and then what do you do? Yet we spend huge sums on new stadiums and facilities, much more so than in any knowledge-based pursuits. Just so our youth can batter each other into submission for a higher point total. Insane. Skewed priorities.

Anyway, there are many ways to measure success. An enjoyable afternoon gardening, and the joy it can give, is as great a success as crossing a finish line or scoring a goal. Spread your interests around.

Thanks for reading.