Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Slog Through Years Pass

Another year drags to an end,
while many celebrities meet theirs;
Cherish those whom you call friend,
Together make merry and postpone cares.

Economic upheavals and presidential elections,
killings and riots and natural disasters aplenty.
This year has exceeded the usual standards
of bittersweet news shown in prior years.

Amid mall riots and superpower threats,
any and every dark imagining come true –
Take heart and remember:
You could be out plowing a field with a horse,
or huddling in some medieval shack starving.
You could be a slave suffering to a swift death,
or soldier slowly dying on some distant field.
You could wither under onslaught of black plague,
typhus, malaria or one of many other maladies.

When the Ipad chimes, the phone dings, the computer hums
quotidian refrains you can get down on your knees and thank
any god you please to be born in the here and now.
Even as we go forth to another miserable year
of terrorism and stupid political tricks...
Best of luck to us all.

- end

Monday, December 26, 2016

Good Riddance 2016

They all left us too soon:

Anton Yelchin,
Leonard Nimoy,
David Bowie,
George Michael,
George Kennedy,
Muhammad Ali,
Robert Vaughn,
Florence Henderson,
Gene Wilder,
And many others.

2016 seems a line of demarcation;
the old passes, the new awakens.

Loved and favored actors and actresses
who gave their all for us,
give way to
ubiquitous, pervasive Internet
Artificial Intelligence,
Robotics maturing,
New Cold War,
and a bevy of younger entertainers
moving into the mainstream.
Time to yield the stage to the new greats,
the ones whom Millenials will mourn
many years from now, or in some cases,
not so many years after all.

We can cherish the good memories
they have all given us over the years.

- end

Thursday, December 22, 2016

A Low Point

With tensions rising between the US, and the Russian-Chinese alliance  (might as well admit it), the international scene is reaching a low point nit seen since the 1960's.    And all of these Tweets from the Silly-sphere aren't helping matters any.    The new Administration will have its hands full on damage control alone.  I just hope and pray that it is verbal damage control, and not actual FEMA post-nuclear activities.   And we're not even to the Inauguration yet.  

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

A Rogue Surprise

Kyber Crystals concentrate the Force,
but get misused by the Empire.
Rebel bands disagree on tactics,
but are forced to co-operate anyway.
The scenes hop from world to world,
fast as a rebel X-wing fleeing Darth Vader.

The action comes fast and fun in this
latest epic episode. One strategic item
becomes sought after by everyone who
is anyone, or wants to help someone else.

Before it is all over,
bodies and wreckage are strewn
on many planets around the Galaxy.
Audience members preconceived
notions of what this movie is like
also get shattered – but in a good way.
This Rogue of a film delivers big time!

Hope one and all enjoy it as much as I did.

- end

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Living in the Shadow of Empire

     Back in the 1970's, things seemed hopeful. But then I was a young man, just starting out in the world. Job offers were aplenty. And even though the US was licking its wounds from a drawn-out war in Vietnam that had cost so many lives, and so much treasure, things still seemed bright.

When I was hired on at an insurance company in 1977, they let me know of a probationary period. If I passed that, I was a permanent hire. They proceeded to lay out a banquet of benefits. Insurances, pensions, investment plans. A cornucopia of perks. The future indeed seemed bright to a 20-year-old new hire of a large life insurer.

The 1980's were scary from a cold war standpoint. But there were still many good jobs to be had in the USA.

Over time, from the late 80's up to the present, there have been a steady stream of factories moving to Mexico or overseas to China. Many people have traded good-paying jobs with benefits for outsourced, contract-style jobs with much less security.

A young person nowadays can start out in fast food, or working at a discount store. Or they can get a “contract job” in IT or customer service. These are anywhere from 3 to 18-month contracts. Some will make you pay your own SS withholding taxes, and buy your own benefits. They may seem lucrative, but in effect are a bargain for those offering them. They have no more responsibility for benefit administration of any kind. In our brave new world, young people coming out of ever-more-expensive colleges have ever less to look forward to.

In the meantime, the US has managed to expand our military presence to many more countries overseas. Former soviet-bloc countries, African countries, etc. Even as we spend more and more of our GDP on the military, opportunities at home seem to be fewer and fewer. Plenty of crew jobs at fast food joints – not so many good-paying union jobs. You would think that somehow with this huge footprint we have around the world, we could make things economically better for people at home!

Now a new Administration is taking over the White House. Business tycoons and former generals are being brought in. They say they want to “Make America Great again!” Time will tell if they do that, or they simply enrich the few tycoons at the top while continuing to impoverish the rest of us. Then, to salve their conscience they might announce some new aid package to Africa with our tax dollars. We have seen this movie before, and it doesn't end well. Right now the political rhetoric is flying thicker than a January blizzard in Iowa. It is difficult to sort truth from fiction. So time will tell whether we are heading to a new golden age, or “Muddling towards frugality.” Hang on, it could be a rough ride.
                                                      - End

Thursday, December 08, 2016

His Last Flight

    The news that John Glenn passed away at age 95 may seem sad. But he did live a long and illustrious life. Even before he launched into space at age 40, in 1962, he fought in two wars as an aviator. He was a public speaker, and later, a Senator. At age 77 he flew a Shuttle mission, serving as a human guinea pig for medical experiments. Not unlike what he had to do in his first Orbital flight back in 1962. He led a long and accomplished life – one most of us would be proud to say we achieved half as much as he did.

The depressing part to me is that he died without seeing the US return to “Manned” or human-crewed spaceflight with our own vehicles. We are apparently close. I've heard 2018 bandied about as a possible date for the Boeing and SpaceX craft to send astronauts aloft. (I suspect it will be more like 2020 – hope they prove me wrong) So they are re-inventing the “wheel” of human flight over again. Maybe they can do it cheaper and better, I don't know. I hope it is at least safe. We had an operational, re-usable spacecraft called the Shuttle, but ended it, due to (it seems) the very high expense. And of course, the element of danger, of failure, was still present too as we found out so tragically. But it seems unfortunate that Glenn had to pass away without seeing any viable Shuttle replacement on the horizon.

Here is hoping that the generation who watched him rocket into space will not have to all be dead before the US can figure out how to send an astronaut into space again, without buying a ride from someone else. Oh well.

Sunday, December 04, 2016

Fabulous bubble surrounds him

That onetime club trendsetter and event-creator, Michael Alig, continues to fascinate me for some odd reason.  Perhaps it is the circumstances he had to combat to make it from his home in South Bend, Indiana, to get excellent grades and win a scholarship to Fordham.  He put himself in NYC, and once he did that, he proceeded to re-write the rules by which sucessful clubs operated - at least for a while.  Until he got addicted to several powerful drugs - it might be argued they took him over, and cuased him tu ultimately murder his dealer.
     These were all young men, around their mid-20's, immersing themselves in paryting and making a great living by doing it.  Sad, in a way.  Michael never got to experience the joys of buying his own home, or any of a host of conventional things one gets to enjoy as a law-abiding  "ordinary" citizen.    But he rejected convention, and turned it on its ear.    He created his own scene or 'bubble' and then it followed him around.
     Even now, out of prison for a few years, he is newsworthy.  Has adopted to the Internet world, starting a weekly Youtube show.  At his heart he is a very creative soul, who we will be hearing about for many years to come.  I just hope he can stay clean and off the drugs.  But if he re-immerses himself in the club scene, who knows - all bets are off.  Anyway, whatever else you say about him, he is a cultural icon - not quite an Andy Warhol, but perhaps one of his best students.   Famous for a lot more than 15 minutes.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Long, Strange Trip of one computer user

    One perk (or bad habit) of being in your late 50's is to look back at where you have been. It can be fascinating to do that in regards to computers. The first computer operating system, or the master program that instructs the computer what to do, I ever used was on IBM mainframes. Of course, then it was all about running “Jobs” on the system to calculate values, or update life insurance policies or some-such. When I bought my first personal computer, it seemed nothing short of miraculous. My very own computer! The first was a Radio Shack Color Computer. It had some kind of resident ROM compiler. You could type your own Basic programs, and run them or save them. Or you could buy ROM cartridges to play games and such. There was really no interaction with an OS. You either did one of a narrow set of things, or it didn't work – period.

My next computer was a bit more friendly. Purchased in the late 1980's, this one was an IBM-compatible Laser system, complete with a screen and a printer. But no internal hard disk. The OS was DOS 3.3, and it ran on a 5 ¼ inch floppy drive. The second, identical floppy drive was to copy programs onto. There was no Internet to play on, no streaming video anything. Just type some stuff with a word-processing program that set me back around 30 bucks. Or play a primitive flight simulator program. Or play around with DOS a bit. Yes, there was by then some substance to the OS. Not much, but some. I think I sold it at a garage sale a couple years later, for a big loss.

In any case, I always wanted another, but never got one until 1991, in Florida. I charged one on a credit card, and installed it at the beach house near Largo. I had a lot of fun with it for a couple of weeks, until I sold it. That system did have some kind of hard drive, and ran Windows 3.0 . It had a built-in modem, and I got onto a primitive BBS called Prodigy. Still, I did enjoy reading some messages on different forums. Did not last long, since I had to sell it for moving cash. But for some reason I was always having to reboot that system – it seemed to lock up a lot.

My next computer ran much better. Running Windows 3.11 (My first NOS) It was a 486 DX2-50 Ambra. 8 megs of RAM, and a hard disk with 420 megs of ample room (for the time). And a 14.4 modem built in too. I got on AOL first, then poked around on that for a time. And from there, it was a short hop to BBS's, and finally, the Internet. I dialed an 800 number with Win terminal to a computer in Des Moines, and accessed the Internet through that. I also got on some BBS's in New Jersey and San Francisco. Those were amazing days. I would grind through a long workday cleaning offices. Then go home, and roam the world through my phone line. Get on Gopher and hop through universities, or Lynx – text-based web, and hop anywhere and everywhere. One time I finally downloaded a .9 beta version of Netscape, and then the Web really came to life, pictures and all. From then on, I never looked back.

But another move prompted the sale of the Ambra. My next PC was a Packard Bell 100 Mhz Pentium, purchased in 1995. With that machine, I used to sit up and surf the net until late into the night. I got on Common Link local BBS and chatted some, and AOL chat rooms. I actually met a few new friends that way.

The 100 MHZ was sold after a time. My next computer didn't come for another year. It was an Apex system, with a Cyrix/AMD processor, 166 MHZ, and Windows 95. By then I was studying DOS books. So I got much better at copying, moving and organizing my text files. (I even started an online 'zine, and put out 8 or 9 issues of that, posting it on Usenet Newsgroups.)

I found that the more I learned about PC's, the less I realized that I really knew. It would have been better to focus on one narrow discipline in the computer field. But I wanted to know it all, at least for a while. I did learn some about assembler language, visual basic, and a bit of C. And some Unix/Linux commands, as I was installing various flavors of Linux on later PCs.

After the Apex 166, I purchased a house with a spare bedroom. Now I had a dedicated computer room. And bought a 200 MHZ DIT, a 300 MHZ Gateway laptop. And finally, a 500 mhz Ohio Scientific. I just couldn't get enough of computers. I had them all networked, and was copying files from machine to machine. It was great – until my money ran out. Then, I was turning around and hocking them all. For a while I learned quite a bit about network operating systems and the like.

But filing for bankruptcy, and moving into a guys living room does play havoc with your computer budget. Somehow I managed to purchase an Emachines computer. The Emachines had Windows ME onboard. Buggy – the thing crashed a lot. But it served me well for a few years. Until I got some credit back. Then purchased a Windows XP system – a Dell. It had 2 gigabytes ram, and a decent enough HardDrive – probably 250 GB. With a 3.00 ghz Pentium processor. It had a great flat screen on it, and I really enjoyed it. Downloaded music, played around with web pages. And tried my hand at some creative writing. I always retained my ability to use PCs, even on my down days. But some career instability made it tough to hold onto anything. Finally learned that it is best to hang onto PCs for longer than one or two years.

After the XT system crashed and burned, I bought a little Netbook computer. Bare bones, Linux OS. But after getting sick and tired of that, I went back to Win-tel, and bought a Dell laptop – on credit, of course. My last two PCs, one Dell-AMD with Windows 7 on it, and one a knock-ff with Windows 7 also, were bought with help from the inheritance I got from family. I still have those. If I ever buy another PC, it will most likely be using a credit card or account. I sure know a lot about PC's – have forgotten more than many know. But it has cost me dearly. There are some benefits, sure. But could I have done nearly as well by, say just using a free library PC and a Yahoo or Gmail account? Probably. At least I have produced a lot of writing projects, and gotten things published, by virtue of having home PCs and a printer. I doubt I would have gotten nearly as much material put out by trying to use a library computer. Such is life.

I recently met a friend whom I had not seen in 30 years. It was fascinating talking about the changes wrought in 30 years. But most everyone is computer literate now – we have to be, to get on the internet, do our banking and pay our bills etc. And programs are all moving to mobile platforms now. Smartphones are pushing PCs out of the mainstream of “computing” and this has been underway for quite some time.

A “Motorola Razor” flip-phone was the first color-screen phone I owned. I was able to e-mail myself photos that it took, and pull a stock quote from the Internet with it. This was an advance over the monochrome Nokia phones so popular a couple of years previous. My present phone is a 6-year-old Iphone imitator. Cannot now afford to buy the very latest phones – Like the PC in earlier days, they are very expensive. Unlike in earlier days, I don't want to go broke trying to own one.

But my PC's do so much more than that first Color Computer ever could. I take it for granted that I can remotely connect with thousands of websites, download pictures, videos and complete books. Or stream movies and TV shows right to my Smart TV. The future has arrived, and in many ways it is pretty darn good.

As a song once said, “What a long, strange trip it's been.” But in many ways it was exciting and wonderful, too. Who can say what the future holds for computing and communication devices. But I hope it is cheap, whatever it is – I want in on it as long as possible.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Cyber Monday Book Steals!

Here are titles available in both paperback and Kindle editions.  Under my name and my nome de plume.
Thank you for at least taking a look at them!  And happy Holidays.

Future Property – Michael Wilson

Experimental Tales – Dycen Alexander

The Osmotics – Dycen Alexander

New Venture – Dycen Alexander

Epic Prime Collection – Dycen Alexander

Crime Spree – poetry - Mike Wilson

A Strange Enterprise collection of speculations

Shadow Intersection - poetry

- end

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

We live in a civilized country

Racial battles have been fought over and over.  These problems should be relegated to the last century.  But a small noisy minority keeps pulling us back, keeps bringing up the ugliness.  Racial hatred, bigotry, segregation and all.  Over and over the lesson has been driven home, from such notables as Henry Wallace earlier in the 20th century all the way to present clergymen and leaders:  Our nation gains strength from diversity.  Like a rope of many strands, a nation of many different peoples is better, stronger, than a homogeneous society.  We can learn from each other even as we lift each other up.  MLK's dream is still a shining beacon for humans to work for.
     But somehow we have elected a new president who wants to make "America great again."  *sigh* here we go again - the same old battles fought over climate and race, international trade and exploring space.  Sometimes I think that all we Americans do is eat, sleep and argue with each other.
Will we ever learn?

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Stunning upsets

The election was a real shocker, as everyone knows by now.   Not only Trump taking the White House, but the local elections in Iowa, losing control of the Senate to Republicans.   All I keep telling myself is that I made it through several other Republican administrations.  What is frightening about this one is the degree of seeming hatred and vindictiveness this man has projected during his campaign.  I sincerely hope and pray that in some corner of his mind, he remembers that this is a representative democracy, which celebrates liberty, freedom of thought and action.  The USA is not a private fiefdom of any businessman to order about and do as he wishes.

     A president must attempt consensus, broker agreements, negotiate, and appeal to the masses.  This is not a dictatorship, Mr. Trump.  Act honestly, fairly with sincerity of purpose for the best of all.   The least are as important as the most.  Democratic presidents have talked to Republican legislators and gotten things done, and Republican presidents did the same with Democratic leaders.   A good example is President Ron Reagan and Tip O'Neill - two unlikely partners who still came together to get things done - for the good of the entire USA,

      Not many things will get me into a church these days, but this election may just do that.    I will pray for the best outcome of this for everyone's sake.

thanks for reading.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Election Day 2016

Time to put bitter acrimony to rest,
get down to the business of voting.
Chaotic democracy put to the test,
one side will get what they are hoping.

Facts have been released by both sides,
falsehoods floated to gain an advantage.
Redaction and retraction matters little
once the hoped-for damage has been done.

Such joy extant when this civil war of words
comes to an end and a choice is made.
Most people will be reasonable and
accept the outcome, however unfortunate.

But a few nasty souls will take things to the extreme;
we must beware angry letters and nasty Internet memes!

Be sure and vote today – good luck out there.

- end

Monday, November 07, 2016

Momentary Breaks in the Thin Blue Line

Two were shot the other day,
cold-blooded ambush ended their 
lives while simply doing their duty,
fully embracing their chosen
occupations: serving the public.

They seemed born to do police work,
Anthony Beminio and Justin Martin...
And these were liked by the public;
No mean-spirited cops here.

Now respect is paid,
wreaths and honors are laid,
Two more gone this year.
Our community acknowledges
their sacrifice and shows appreciation.

Another shooting tragedy burdens our
thoughts and weighs down our hearts.
We say, “No more! Enough is enough!”
But fate seems to always have other ideas.

It seems to help us to let the officers
still on the job how much we appreciate
their unflinching dedication to keeping us safe.
Thank You.

Thursday, November 03, 2016

What a crazy world

Police getting gunned down,
buffoons running for office
followed by hordes of supposedly
rational business people.
Anything can happen, anything at all...

Hell, even the Cubs can win a World Series.
Now I know life is getting totally surreal.
Just waiting for the first visit by extraterrestrials -
can that be far behind?

Everything else has happened  :-)

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Fast Boost to Mars

A main problem is providing astronauts enough food and water, and other necessary supplies for a long journey to Mars.

Considering that it took around 10 years to fully construct the ISS for habitation by six. Spend 10 years assembling your Mars spacecraft. Also assemble an accompanying rocket with supplies. In the meantime, launch a couple of test missions, with the chief objective being to see how fast we can get a test vehicle to Mars and back. Put some plants on them, some detectors and such. It will be money well spent, since this will help determine how to get humans there Fast. Less bone density loss, less exposure to radiation and etc.

Let's not plan for a 6-month trip. Let's plan for a six week trip, or less. Let's be optimistic and get this done. Werner Von Braun would already have it done by now. Develop your fast-boost spacecraft. Not a tortoise, but a hare is needed to get us there and back.

Let's plan for a shorter time duration trip to Mars, to save on supplies and astronauts radiation exposure. Boost them three times as fast towards a Mars approach orbit. They would get there, have a month to explore, and could lift off in time to make a fast Earth approach return. We could test this with a pathfinder mission specifically designed to test a fast-speed trip to Mars, orbit once and return to earth. This would be well worth the cost, to prove the idea that you can get people there in a shorter time span.

This Pathfinder mission could test the concept of a rapid trip to mars and back. You would want to take along some plant life or even animal life to test the effects of radiation during a fast trip. The caveat, of course, is that we would need to boost up a lot of fuel for the trip there and back, to boost the spacecraft to, say, 250,000 MPH. This does not seem impossible to me, since we have already sent craft speeding to Pluto at 50,000 MPH.

For a Mars mission, to boost up all of the extra fuel needed, along with the requisite cryogenic storage systems would certainly be expensive. But it seems to me that would be less expensive than keeping a 6-person crew alive for at least 18 months, if not longer. It took us over 10 years to assemble the ISS in LEO. If we spent around that time assembling a huge fuel storage cache and a Mars expedition craft, we could achieve a fast trip there and back, and bring back healthier astronauts as well. How about it – let's get there sooner. We can do it if we try.   

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Deeper Tides

Pity the poor smartphone generation,
helpless – hooked on the latest updates.

Those who can work their way to
owning their own house get to glimpse
deeper, more enduring time currents.

Gardeners and outdoor enthusiasts
think in far longer sequences.
Daily rhythms give way to weekly
and finally seasonal stretches of time.

Last springs seedlings grow yellow,
spindly with seed-heads and final blooms;
sinking inevitably to the ground.
These get cut and added to compost,
to help feed future crops of food and
beauty. The cycle continues.

Gadget batteries go dead or burn up
in less time than a seedling reaches
maturity and begins to blossom.

The deeper tides of life satisfy
one more fully than any tweet or post
ever could. Time to shut down the PC
and go back outdoors to enjoy more.

- end

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Fiction - Be Happy, You Lunkhead

    He kept reminding himself to be happy. In ages past, taking a flight like this would have been impossible. It was all once science fiction, just as other things had been in previous ages. It didn't seem to make a difference.
After all, this is 2175 now. A short day-hop to Mars is no big deal, his anger centers answered. People are flying out to Titan now, like they used to travel to the Hawaiian islands. No big deal. All Jase knew was that he had forgotten his nic-ene ampules. Damn that Stuze, she kept climbing his nerves about any little thing. So he had rushed around their pod, grabbing things in haste. He had not wanted to leave with both of them mad. But every time he tried to work into an apology, she would step on some other nerve. He had to get out of that situation.
But now here he was, going to visit his folks in Bradbury City. He was mad, he had forgot his nic-ene, and he had not shaved in four days. Things were definitely not looking good. And now the brats two aisles down were making cracks and laughing. Couldn't he ever get any peace? He clenched and unclenched his fists, trying to control his temper.

Then came a sudden crunching impact, and then blaring alarms, and lights flickering out. A canned voice began repeating some warning, but was soon overridden by the robo-pilot AI.
“We have been impacted by a medium-sized asteroid. Please grab your Oxy-kits just under the seat. Unfurl the masks and put them on. We are in no danger unless we get hit again.”
“Shit. It figures,” grunted Jase. He felt weightlessness full-on now, since they were no longer under acceleration. But still managed to grab his Oxy-kit from under the seat and pull it out. He struggled with unfurling the mask, which was supposed to auto-activate. But how old were these units? wondered Jase.
“Hey, um, man, can you help us out here?” Jase heard a plaintive plea from behind
“I'm busy, give me a sec.” Damn teenage brats. Serves them right.
More atmosphere hissed out several cracks in the hull.
But Jase finally got his mask on. He turned to the brats, and tried to guide them with hand signals. They finally got it figured out. Meanwhile, the ship hull managed to auto-seal most of the cracks. But then the robo-pilot cut in again:
“I need the assistance of an able adult passenger, please. I cannot seal two of the hull breaches. If we do not get them sealed, all 45 passengers face death by asphyxiation. Please, I need assistance immediately. Would an able adult please move forward. You will apply some emerg-seal to hull breaches. I will guide you, but human hands are needed for this operation.”
Jase looked around the cabin. Mostly older people swivelled their heads, with shrugs and 'who, me?' looks on their faces. He swore, then yelled, “All right. I'll help.”
“Pardon me? Who spoke?” said the Pilot AI.

“Me, here, in aisle 7.” Jase stood and tried to wave. But he found himself doing a somersault. He managed to get righted. The weightless practices he had along with everyone else back in middle school helped out a little here.
“Oh, Jase Edwards? Thank you, sir. Please move towards the front of the liner. Thank you so very much. The rest of you sit tight, and try not to breathe too heavily.”

Jase grabbed the seat backs and carefully maneuvered himself towards the front. A narrow door slid open. “Please proceed through here, Jase.”
He did so, and then the door slid shut. Jase was faced with a flickering control center (at one time called a “cockpit”). There was no humanoid here – just rows of circuit cards, in racks. And a center bulkhead facing him, with an ugly gash, leaking out atmosphere.
The voice sounded tinny in here, but Jase could still hear it.
“Please grab the patch kit on the side, Jase. Remove a large patch and press down onto the opening...”

Jase followed the instructions of the robo-pilot, resident in the racks all around him. He got the larger gash sealed fairly quickly. He simply laid the patch over the hole. It was pressed against the hole by atmospheric pressure, and nano-elements within the material gripped, making the patch and the hull seamless. But the other gash was under some of the electronics racks.

“OK, Jase, all you need to do is to remove the lowermost rack. The toolkit is to your right...”
But naturally, it was to the Robo's right, and his left. He hunted around, locating a uni-driver tool.
“Good, Jase. Now, tap the four fasteners, and unscrew....”

The fasteners were covered with grime, and hidden. And Jase's mask kept getting in the way. He was dripping sweat by the time he got the screws undone.
He pulled on the rack, and it came out – but there were wires holding it in.
“i can't yank it out without disconnecting these. I'm getting dizzy, too...”

“jase, can you press the patch in underneath, just moving the unit a small amount? Try that...”

Then the robo voice went staticy.. A connector had pulled out of the small rack he was holding. Shit!
Jase grabbed a medium-sized patch, yanked it out of its wrapping, auto-activating the nano-tech embedded within. He would have to hit the hole the first time, or that patch would try and grab down on any surface it touched. So he pulled the rack out more, disconnecting two more wire assemblies. But now he could see the hole, a long, jagged crack already accumulating debris with the air leaking out. He aimed carefully, and slapped the patch right down over the hole, almost on the floor part of the forward area he was in. Immediately there was a change, as the patch grabbed hold and sealed.

“Pilot? Can you hear me?”

Jase saw some lights flicker on a small display. Words appeared.
“Atmosphere integrity restored. Voice unit disconnected.”

Jase looked down at the rack he still held with one hand. He carefully pressed two tiny wiring assemblies back into their sockets. He heard bursts of static. Looking at the display, he saw the problem.

“Voice unit reverse polarity. Please correct.”

Jase getnly tugged out the wiring groups, and re-connected them the opposite way. Belatedly he saw the color of the sockets matched the modules. He moved the rack closer, and managed to get the third one in, after more struggle.

“Hull integrity restored. Voice unit functioning. Thank you very much for giving me my mouth back, Jase. Our Oxy supply is stabilized, but will only last two hours, with a tiny reserve.”

“Two hours? What the hell? Do we even know where we are? Will we all die here anyway?” Jase was so upset he couldn't find any more words.

“Relax, Jase Edwards. We had a collision with a small asteroid. We are currently in the asteroid belt, approximately halfway to the Martian orbiting base. I've already sent out several distress calls. There are three rescue craft en route. The nearest should arrive in 27 minutes.”
There was a shift in volume, and robo-pilot repeated his reassurance to everyone over the shipwide intercom.
“We will be visited by rescue craft beginning 27 minutes from now. You may remove your masks, as there is a two-hour supply of breathable air on this craft. Everyone please relax and enjoy the view of the asteroid belt. We will be visited shortly. Please follow all instructions you are given, to make our transition swift and safe for all concerned....” Jase grunted his thanks to the intelligent racks around him, then moved shakily back to his seat. He was met with a chorus of “thank you's” and scattered applause from everyone, including the unruly teenagers.

Less than 24 hours later, Jase Edwards was at his parent's pod In Bradbury City. He had freshened up, and even shaved, borrowing his dad's razor. “After all, I have to look good for the mayor,” he said aloud to himself, grinning.

At a hastily-arranged award ceremony, Jase Edwards was presented with a special commendation, for helping save the lives of 45 people on an express liner to Bradbury city. That went well – Jase stayed on his best behavior. But a couple hours later, when his girlfriend called to try and patch things up, his inner demons rose.

“Get lost, Stuze, I've moved on now, since every gal here wants to date the person who saved 45 lives. I don't need your shit anymore. Have a nice life.”

Jase had a lot of fun the next several Sols. He only heard later about Stuze's suicide attempt. Then he thought to himself, Yeah, she screwed that up, just like everything else. He only felt a twinge of regret. Sometime he even surprised himself.

                                                                        - The End


Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Removing Summer's Friend

The nights grow darker,
days cool off degree by degree.
October rears a scary face,
we all know what is to follow.

The furnace kicks on for the
third night in a row -
my cue to pull out the window AC.
Jut one, not both – no need to hurry.

There are days in the high 70s
still coming up on us.
One cool source fan may yet
be a blessing on hot days ahead.

That heavy window unit gets pulled,
and the double-pane glass slides home
with a gentle tug. Quietude!
Now I can turn up the TV,
and bang on my little keyboard all night,
without fear of disturbing the neighborhood.

#enjoy the fall-winter is coming.

Sunday, October 09, 2016

Perpetual Warfare

She naps upon the kitchen counter unaware,
until I creep up slowly with the green ampule.
Her ears twitch and she fixes me with a stare,
I freeze, then move up and croon reassurances.

“We're gonna get rid of those fleas, honey,”
I say, snapping open the applicator –
and swiftly put it down on her neck,
emptying a tiny bit of expensive medication.

She only moves a short distance away,
not even taking off like before.
She knows I am waging war on the
biting bastards making our lives hell.

After more reassurances, I go off to do
other chores. She sits on the counter and waits,
uncomprehending and shocked at what occurred;
Soon she notices a change and hops down.

Maybe by next spring I'll get rid of them,
then April will arrive,
she will want outside,
and the whole war will start again.

Friday, October 07, 2016

School Memories

Dad knocks on the door, says it's time to get up.
Time to roust out of bed and get ready for school.
Get up, get dressed, hurry downstairs.
"Did you wash and brush your teeth?"

Eat some cereal, throw on a coat,
get out the door and off to school.
Make it inside through the throngs,
hurry to homeroom and Mr. Yoder.

Bow your heads for a prayer –
no, a moment of silence.
There's the bell, now it's off to first period.
Geography, Mathematics, Shop class and Art.
Gym class and dodge ball and flag football.

There was an intensity about those years.
Your future was in others hands,
simplifying most day-to-day planning.
You had to think, but not very hard,
leaving the mind-numbing planning to adults.
Your world was day-to-day,
much more so than now when you are
nearing sixty and worrying about everything.

Now the only person you answer to is yourself,
and as easy as that can be sometimes,
at others it is the most difficult thing.
One can always quit one's job and suffer
the consequences, but oh no,
even thinking about your fathers reaction if you
said you were going to quit school...

Well, that was simply unthinkable, and wise
youths just did not go there, period.

This too shall pass.

Thursday, October 06, 2016

Pigeon Woes

Sweeping along the sidewalk one day,
a brown lump came into awareness.
Upon jabbing it with the broom,
it animated itself most surprisingly.
A little pigeon, with broken wings.

Tried to give chase with broom and bucket,
but the thing had legs and used them!
It scurried up to the doors and past,
entering a nearby office building.

Perhaps seeking respite from the
cold concrete canyons,
or looking for food or comfort.
Alas, it was not to be.

I swept it up finally,
took it back outside and released it
to the air and elements.

My boss would not want me to
allow pigeons into a building
that we are supposed to keep tidy.
I swept up the feathers scattered
inside the doorway and moved on.

Another day, another pigeon
shown the stoop.

- end

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Shifting to normality

Morning sun gleams bright into office windows,
a poor match for the operator's dark interior mood.
For he must walk out into the world, his day finished,
everyone else's just starting. His whole life feels
like one big misalignment of energy and purpose.

When he is rested, entering the computer room
at start of shift is a thrill: Indicator lights flash,
tape reels spin, printers chatter and clatter.
The room hums with life and excitement,
he is an integral part of the whole scene.

As the night wears on, his initial energy
fades and a coffee break is called for.
As he sips and gazes out a window,
he sees outside night life fading to a halt.
Soon the streets are empty,
pools of light and shades of darkness
permeate empty streets and alleys.

The city has gone to sleep,
but he and his co-workers must continue
to process insurance data with high mental acuity.
Any mistake means setback and do-overs;
The next day's processing might be delayed!

So the third shift hero keeps soldiering on,
dreaming of that bottle of beer and good
day's rest coming at end of shift.

That is,
if the kids and cars and commotion of
the following day will allow him anywhere
near his preferred seven hours of rest.

He has been doing this for six years now,
and sleep does come, easily enough.
But on weekends he reverts to night-sleep,
and that Monday change-back is sheer hell.

Sometimes he says to himself,
“One of these days I'll just quit -
say the hell with it!”

Then the day comes when he does.
he makes the call and quits over the
phone – just like that.
After hanging up, he sleeps soundly,
without a care in the world.

He has returned to the normal world
from the depths of night.
What could possibly go wrong?

Saturday, October 01, 2016

It's October

October – time for raking leaves and cleaning up the yard,
Octoberfest and the fall party season.
Football games, sweaters and hoodies, talk of Hockey,
planting bulbs and harvesting late tomatoes...

Perhaps a walk in leafy forestland,
or hunting for your favorite game;
Leaf-viewing drives in the country,
preparing the homestead for winter.

Caulking windows, insulating spaces,
checking the furnace and buying filters.
Perhaps purchasing a space heater,
maybe throw rugs to keep the place warm.

Must get prepared for the coming onslaught
of snow, ice and bitter cold right around the corner.
Prepare to endure it while snuggled inside,
all while thinking of that ultimate reward come spring.

It's October again – full of the varied colors
of human and animal activity,
all preparing for what is ahead.

And a good time for a visit to a steakhouse too!

- end

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

No contest

An exercise in poetry.

It was no contest.
The tiny single-engine Cessna,
though perched diffident in challenge,
crumpled before the onslaught –
A thousand pounds of angry meat and horn
smashing into propeller, frame and wings.

An aerolon skitters away beneath flying hooves –
trhe bull charges on into the evening mist,
leaving a tumbling fuselage,
twisted metal struts;
A wing slowly twirls to a stop.
Distant hooves drum away into silence.

- end

Thursday, September 22, 2016

They Should All Live Forever

All of our Video Stars should last forever.

The original Batman, Adam West, should remain
young and vigorous, along with Burt Ward. The
“Supermen” of the small and large screen should all
be here, not six feet under, drenched in memorials.

The favorite beloved actors throughout the years,
John Wayne, Cary Grant, Marlon Brando, etc
should all be kept in suspension in some other
dimension, ready to be re-animated whenever
desire strikes. Same with the mega-stars of the late 20th century.

James Garner, Gene Wilder, James Doohan and Leonard Nimoy.
David Bowie, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix et all.

Would that they could all co-exist in some universe,
pleasing and adding joy, and even talking to each other.
Besides that of one's memory, so fallible and riddled with errors.

(Lacking such a wonderful universe,
where Howdy-Doody, the Mousketeers, Leave it to Beaver,
Lost in Space, Land of the giants, Daniel Boone
all the way on up to the latest pop sensations could
exist forever, we are left with the online electronic equivalent...)

Google, Youtube, Wikipedia and the rest will just have to do.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Fall not really

How hot can it get the day before Fall officially begins.   Seems like a record, to go outside in scorching heat, to a scorching car seat.  The sun is setting earlier and earlier, on schedule.  But the plants are wilting, the ground is sun-baked like desert tundra.  And the A/C units are working as hard as ever, pumping still more heat out into the summer-like air.   Someday I feel confident the cooler temperatures will arrive.  But climate change seems to be rearing up, and Mother Nature keeps reminding us she is in control.  We are just luckless passengers, hoping and praying for the next break.

Hang in there, everyone.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

New Fundraising Campaign

Dear Mr. and Ms Politician,
Thank you for your numerous emails,
addressing me by name, urgent
reminders of how desperate your
situation is, and that of our country.

It is nice to receive up-to-the minute
updates on dire world conditions.
I was unaware that your evil opponent
nearly seized power and ran everything aground;
But you made me completely aware.

Now I must make you aware of my
equally dire financial situation.
I struggle to make expenses and income meet,
simply paying monthly bills and my mortgage.
While I do give a small bit occasionally,
I am unable to send money every day,
in response to your urgent pleas for help.

However, some of you politicians are fairly affluent,
and (I'm certain) live better than I on my janitor's salary.
Therefore, I make my own urgent appeal:
Just $5.00, nay, even $3.00 will help me today.
Especially if you give tomorrow, and the day after...
You know, like your emails suggest that I do?

Thank you very much in advance, and
I await your generous donations into my
local checking account.
(However, I am not holding my breath.)

John Q. (broke) taxpayer.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

KindleBooks for sale

Get them while they're hot, if a stream of bits can be hot:

Shadow Intersection – Poetry

Future Property – Sci-fi short stories

A Strange Enterprise – Short Stories and Alternate History -

Epic Prime Collection –

Experimental Tales –

The Osmotics –

New Venture – First Contact in the Kuiper Belt –

Thanks for taking a look!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Post-Coital Fusion Song - fiction

 It seemed like magic long ago, as I look back on it all now. When we all had energy worries and struggles, from how to fuel our vehicles, to heat our homes and the like. When two inventors came up with a solution for achieving fusion reactions. All while lolling about after a night of partying. The rest is history.

Martin and Jack were known for good sex parties. Often on weekends one could find them sleeping on the floor, amid a tangle of blankets, mattresses, lube and sex toys. A tangle of human bodies that had spent every spare drop of their reproductive seed in an orgiastic frenzy. The two twenty-somethings awoke from one of these, one drowsy Sunday morning over three decades ago. They looked at the woman between them, and grinned. Martin extricated his lanky frame, covered with blonde-red fur, carefully from the woman, Lydia's, limbs, and crawled around to Jack. He laid down next to Jack's dark-haired, slender body, and tousled his hair. Then lay facing each other, and whispered.

“That was one amazing night, man,” said Martin.

“Yeah, wasn't it great,” replied Jack, grinning.

“Suitable exercise for us. Tomorrow is the next firing of the LLNL Dielectric experiment”

“Think we'll get there this time?”

“Probably not. Just another burst.”

“Another particle orgasm, yeah. Then, nothing.”

They looked at each other, and stared. Martin spoke first;

“You know, I was thinking. Humans can expend so much reproductive resources in one orgy. All that life, in one party. How can we make the Fusion process more lifelike?”

“You mean trick up a fusion reaction somehow?”

“Yes. I mean, instead of simply blasting the fuel with a billion-watt EMF charge, why couldn't we modulate it. Inform it with a pattern?”

“A pattern?” said Jack, looking bemused.

“Yeah. Instead of the typical oscillation, change it. I mean, when I look at the Sun through a filtered telescope, and watch the undulating flames and coruscation, it is almost as if there is some kind of burn pattern going on there.”

“Hmm. And you think if we could create some kind of a pattern firing or burst, we might create some kind of a reaction that would be self-sustaining. Kind of like AC Current, which alternates and therefore sustains itself through much longer distances.”

“Yes, only much more complex. Come on up to my room, I want to sketch it out a bit....”

So the two naked, bi-sexual 20-somethings left the sleeping Lydia on the floor, and headed upstairs.
Sitting on his bed, Martin got out a spiral-bound notebook, lay it on his lap and began scribbling equations.

“Hmm, yeah, yeah. Wait, let me add something here...,” said Jack.

Within an hour they had sketched out a rudimentary regime for oscillating and modulating a high-frequency RF source to create a plasma and engender fusion compression. The two high-fived each other, not noticing the soft clink of a door shutting.

“OK you can have first shower dibs. I ought to go check on our guest...”

But when Martin went down to check, Lydia was nowhere to be found. Not in the kitchen, the downstairs restroom, nowhere. He peeked out, and of course, her car was gone. His next thoughts were darker.

He looked around at the living room. And there, on the floor, were both of their wallets. The paper was gone, but the bitch had left their credit cards. As if that would make some kind of difference. But hey, at least we don't have to cancel them. Goddamn it.

He started to yell, then realized Jack was in the shower. He sat down heavily, and sighed.

No more cash. But at least we have an idea for a sustaining fusion reaction. If that works, we can write our own ticket. Modulate the firing intensity and pattern. Make a song – the fusion song. And if we hit the right notes, we could be rich.

“Who cares about that bar bitch. We might just make ourselves rich,” Martin finally said aloud.

“What...” came from the stairs. Jack was standing there, drying himself with a good bath towel.

“That Lydia just helped herself to our cash, and then left.”

“What the hell? That effing bitch.”

“Well, I didn't have a lot. And anyway, we are rid of her. Meanwhile we have one hell of an idea.”

“Yeah, if it works. I'm calling the cops on her.”

“Um, really?” Martin motioned around the living room scattered with remnants of last nights party, to the coke powder residue, and joint roaches.

“Fuck! Maybe not,” said Jack, shaking his head.

“Chalk it up, dude. Tomorrow we are going to make history.”

“If it works.”

“It will work. It has to be better than we've been doing.”

“Anything is that, dude.”

Well, those two succeeded beyond their wildest hopes. They got several others interested in their idea, and then they managed to calculate and program a modulated power burst. That succeeded in sustaining a twenty-five second flash with Sun-like temperatures. A seven-to-one energy profit return. Succeeding attempts produced ever longer sustained reactions.

Today, thirty-three years later, we have had a Fusion reaction going for several years that shows no sign of lessening, and we are drawing off power from it. New Fusion plants are under construction around the world. And for once, things are looking up on the international scene. Optimism is the latest dominant theme in the media – that is incredible in itself. I guess you just never know. Of course, now the two young scientists, Martin and Jack, are billionaires. And I hear they are going to name a local high school after them. I don't know what ever happened to the one-night stand that took their money and ran. She may still not realize that she had sex with, and then stole from, two guys who changed the history of the world.

Wednesday, September 07, 2016



Uncle Charlie has long hair these days. Reminds me of my old deceased friend Gordon. It looks good on him, and he has lost weight too. Domiciled in Wisconsin, he is subject to their cold winters, so maybe he is just growing enough 'fur' to combat the cold, I don't know. We chatted about weight again – as we once did long ago. Back then he had talked about letting his pants out a notch so they still fit well. This time, he talked about his tailor taking his pants in a bit – so his pockets were very close together (and made his butt look funny).   

Uncle Thad is still kind of sharp, but forgets things every so often. At 80-plus, he is entitled to a senior moment. He talked about specially modifying mousetraps, with a piece of monofilament so the mice couldn't run off with the traps. Things that inform the mind even as my heart is warmed by the sharing of relatives who surely have many aches of their own.

It is so much fun when my uncles are like Uncles. Humorous stories, quips, observations. We become family again, and the long years are spanned in an instant. Suddenly I am 9 years old again, taken in by an Uncle's joke or humorous quip with a surprise punch line. And my heart is warmed – even though that heart is older than those Uncles were, when they first sprang their humor traps on an unsuspecting nephew so long ago.

The memories accumulate along with new offspring. This non-proliferating relation, now an uncle and great-uncle himself, can stand to the side and be amazed at it all. The sadness of loved ones now gone can be tempered with the happy memories, and the warmth of belonging to such a large, varied and wonderful family.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Roof Ecology

                    I look out on a surface was re-laid around 12 years ago, all black rubber and tar seams. It was pristine, replacing the mess that had bushes growing out of the surface. Over the years, though, things are bound to change. A reverie unfolds.

From somewhere comes gravel. First, just a pebble here and there. Then, larger accumulations collect near the drains. I suppose rain washes them into piles, but where do they come from in the first place?
My theory is that high winds pick them up off of fields and riverbeds, watersheds etc. Particularly tornadic-speed winds, which can throw a semitrailer like a toy. These must be carried aloft, and then eventually fall down with rain to collect on rooftops.

Anyway, the pebbles slowly accumulate. Pigeons make this particular roof their way-station and meeting-place – I'm sure they do with most other downtown roofs as well. So their droppings sprinkle the roof surface along with the pebbles. Sometimes there are larger droppings, since the crows like to roost there every winter. It would seem to me that all of these materials, along with a bit of silt carried in from the wind, could easily create topsoil on the roof surface, eventually. (If no maintenance were done, and if water was perhaps allowed to accumulate a bit more instead of being drained off.)

Do not know if roof maintenance includes spraying off bird droppings and gravel. But in any case, there is a substantial accumulation of debris on even a high roof over time. The birds pay a visit, the gravel and raindrops patter away, and the roof slowly wears over time. On this particular roof, the company has satellite dishes located, and such things. So undoubtedly there is some kind of cleaning routine that goes on. Despite the birds best efforts, the roof gets maintained, and any nests located too close to some kind of critical infrastructure get unceremoniously dumped.

But I like to play out a fantasy in my mind. The building, and the downtown area, gets vacated, by some major event. No more human occupation, it is left to nature. The 10-story building interior has no more air movement or ventilation of any kind. After a decade or two, the interior walls are covered in mildew and mold. Insects run amok in the basements. Perhaps some mice have made it inside. And the roof surfaces begin to get more coated with bird droppings, silt and eventually, seeds in the droppings. Some grass seeds sprout in the “topsoil” and grow. Soon, the roofs have a sparse carpet. More birds make their home – crows in the winter, perhaps sparrows, pidgeons and songbirds in the summer. Windows that were once tightly sealed develop tiny chinks as the building settles over time. Moisture that penetrates the building, along with any animal droppings and windblown silt, provide the new 'carpeting' on which more flora grow.

     The basement and interior floors might be populated by forests of fungi several feet tall, on the walls and floors. Bugs and rodents would make their way around in here. As our imaginary clock moves forward, to say over a hundred years, to two hundred, more windows get cracked by storms, or chinks develop. Minor building damage that would have been repaired is left to the wind and elements. More cracks and holes develop, and many more creatures get in.

     Small trees on the roof send their roots deep into crumbling masonry, speeding the process. Floors become caves full of detritus. Small critters battle it out, and some become food for larger prey. Birds populate the roof greenery, and the ground floors are crawling with rodents. Every few years, with enough wind and weather events, the building settles or crumples a bit further.
     At the 500-year mark, the building is hardly recognizable as a building any more. It is a tall mound of greenery. Interior spaces are largely populated with decomposed materials, soil, roots and the like. Where the roof once sat exposed to the elements, now there is a foot of topsoil with many growing plants on top. 
      At the 1,000 year mark, the building is a large mound, with very few intact elements.
Some of the plastics may survive in a browned-degraded state. Otherwise it is all streaked, discolored dirt and clay. And future civilizations returning to the area can only speculate and wonder what function this barely hinted-at structure performed. If they even detected that a structure existed.

Then I shake my head, awakening from this daydream. There is work to be done here, while I am around and alive and the building is intact! Onward, ho.

Monday, August 22, 2016

The adventure continues

     The great piano learning experiment continues. I try to forget the fact that I'm in my late 50's, and perhaps my dexterity is not as good as it was earlier in life. I practice playing some songs, and go through some built-in tutorials on my Casio Keyboard. (Unhappily, I find that trying to change the tones to a different sound I.E. to a synthesizer or guitar sound, will no longer work properly. Damn cheap defective keyboards.)   But as long as the grand piano sound works, I can use that to practice. Some songs are coming easier as I gain familiarity with the keyboard. It is a real pleasure to sit down and play some song running in my head, or at least the melody of it.
As for reading notes off of a songbook and playing them – or playing a bass line with one hand and the treble with the other -these skills are still far off. It seems enough for now to just get the feel of the keyboard and make the “correct” sounds. This musical adventure is gaining some tedium, some difficulty as I find the need to practice a whole lot. Sometimes my fingers go their own way, not the way I want them to. Sometimes I bang out a whole melody near-perfect one time, and can hardly do it the next. But it seems worthwhile to keep at it. After all, two months ago I didn't know playing a piano from teaching astrophysics. In a years time, who knows.  What fun  :-) 

Sunday, August 14, 2016


Visiting a place I attempted to move to 30 years ago.    Deep regret felt at first.  then the memories came of the people I met during my brief, 5-month stay there.   My roommates trying to set me up with someone.   Another buddy met, good times had, that Vietnamese restaurant he turned me on to in dinkytown, The Brie and crackers he served up in his tiny high-rise apt back then.  Several fine, kind people doing me good turns.  How could that be a waste?   That was a real boon, a benefit I would not have enjoyed had I not moved up there and gone through all the difficulties.

There is good and bad is everything.   Got to keep counting those blessings.  Like now I am so much older, yet still healthy and spry enough to go back and enjoy a tourism visit.   Thank goodness.

Monday, August 08, 2016

All Keyed up About Notes

Taking note of finger positions,
I launch into a tutorial.
Musical dreams come to fruition
only occasionally among all the
mis-pressed piano keys.

Videos are watched and easy guides read,
more practice is undertaken.
Slow progress,
fits and starts,
flashes of brilliant melody
punctuated by key misses
and some loud cussing.

I wonder if it was this hard
for the children starting out
in elementary grades,
Visualize teachers hovering over,
guiding and chiding and helping.
Those kids think they are miserable,
yet do not realize
how lucky they are.

I was the same,
which was why I avoided
music study in the first place.

Now I chat with folks who
learned five instruments by the
time they were thirty or so.
My eyes are opened anew,
even as my ears study the tunes
that correspond to this fresh
language of sound I am learning.

The wonder of discovery,
thrill of new achievements
just barely
make it all worthwhile,
even now.

Going to spin myself dizzy
on the Circle of Fifths,
so may you all
have a happy, musical evening.