Wednesday, May 31, 2017

See these bargains on Kindle and Amazon Today

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

29 Stories – Kindle Edition – collection of short fiction:

    ------------------->    Thanks for taking a look!

Monday, May 29, 2017

Memorial Day thoughts 2017

  Putting a flag out on relative's graves, memories come back. Of a time when I was younger, and there was an entire older generation present, with all of their dramas and concerns. I was unaware of their issues for the most part, as I had mine going on. (Little did I realize the power that my mere youth itself had, in many myriad forms.) Now as I get older, I wonder if I could have done more to show appreciation, or thank them for what they did. But understanding is there that it was only natural for them to want to do things for their children, to give them the very best chances in life.

     Since I don't have children of my own, I can only speculate and observe others. My nieces and nephews are full-grown, some raising children of their own. Time's fast flight makes one shake their head in wonder. Some of us must sit on the sidelines and watch the whole circus go by. What is a parade without spectators? But any sadness soon disappears – I had ample opportunity to interact with my family's offspring, some squandered, some enjoyed. Their success brings me joy and pride.

     Memories of the older generation who showed me kindness, help, and even stern reproaches at times roll by. Their jokes and quips live on in repetition from my lips. The line of family memories follows every time I pass something on. Uncle Jack's corny jokes. Nanny's made-up words. Uncle Curly's memories of his family in Nebraska having a goose for Christmas dinner. On and on. All of them tolerating my phases of living in their own ways. Now they are gone. The youngsters of today go through their dramas and joys, not yet aware of how fleeting time is.

     This is to thank and honor all of my late relatives who added so much to our lives. Not to mention my parents, who of course gave me life, raised me up, took care of me, and saw me out into the world.

     Seems a good idea to cherish your loved ones before they become memories. Gives a continuity and meaning to our harried and hurried lives. Best wishes all.

- end

AI Format - Smarter people will have to implement this.

Components might include an Overmind – or a higher function center. This would evaluate alerts from the sensory areas, as well as contain the basic drives to motivate “It”.

Sensory centers:

Sight – detection of obstacles and forms, with a huge library of objects. Each object could return one of several conditions. Library could be added to upon seeing new objects, and detecting conditions.

Sound – mics that would evaluate and screen sounds. Library built up, meanings assigned, reactions adjusted accordingly.

Tactile – touch-sense, with a library of alerts if sharp pressure, heat or cold.

Taste/smell. To the extent possible, chemical detection and a library of alerts to return to higher functions.

Higher function core:

Receives alerts, and makes decisions on actions. IE, if hot/cold/pressure limits are exceeded, move away from source. Else, move a bit closer, and re-evaluate.

Builds a library of experiences. If one of these affects conditions, they might be changed. IE value of excessive heat might be upped or decreased, and re-written into tactile memory.

Operation is directed by basic drives. Hunger overrides, then curiosity, then loneliness, then pack-rat. Or a varying combination of the last three (hunger always wins in the end). Modeled loosely after human drives – what better template to use?


Hunger – every so often, needs to re-fuel at a charging station. If a low voltage (below a threshold) is returned from battery, then an alert is returned to the higher core, and It rolls to the charging station. First might test (locate charger) to see if there is a charging station in the vicinity.

Loneliness – tests to see if humans are around. If so, launches query’s and conversational routines. Builds a library of conversational experiences. A random module allows it to sift through words, and build some new databases, then use those.

Experiential craves – wants, needs to add to experiential libraries, so it feels the need to travel, to roll out into the world. Wants to add to it's knowledge in many forms.

Perhaps a pack rat impulse, to pick up and save small objects. To handle them, and add to experiential libraries.

A Life timer. For a period of a month, or a year, the AI will recharge itself, chat with humans, query, and build its experiential libraries. Then it will end, terminate, and download some kind of result, or a dump of its final experiential libraries. Including results of sifting thru and recombining words, testing them, and adding to an experiential database.

The memory required for this thing to “work” will be huge, so short lifetimes could at first be implemented. Later, longer and longer lifetimes could be used.

Talk to others of its kind: message back and forth with other AI's. Form a collective of AI's that each add to and test each other's knowledge libraries and experiential databases.

Then sit back and watch the world change.

(With thanks to Andrew)

Friday, May 26, 2017

Metaphysical Matters of Financial Import

    Whenever I used to start some savings program, I would get an initial boost of confidence by thinking of it a certain way. If I put, say, $25.00 a month away, and forget about it, surely I will create a big pile of money, especially since the interest would compound. At that precise moment, a picture would flash in my mind, of an indistinct but large pile of wealth, growing almost by itself.

     However, the moment I would begin calculating exactly how much I could save in a year, some of the magic would dissipate. Let's see, 25.00 x 12 = 300.00. I would save 300.00 a year, plus a couple percent interest, makes it around 306.00 after the first year. Not bad – impressive. But $306.00 lacks the magic, the mystique, of a “pile of growing money,” that indistinct but magical impression in my mind of my money growing. More magic would dissipate when I would think, 'well, gee, I owe around 900 bucks on my Mastercard, so maybe I should just try to pay that down instead.'
     On the surface, this might seem a wiser choice. The interest rate charged on money owed is always higher than a regular savings account, usually several times larger. But I have to make a payment on that card or cards anyway. Looking back on it now, I think the better choice would have been to try and save a little back, regardless of interest rates. It would have been an act of faith, an act that would have created a “buffer” account for use in emergencies, created a better credit rating (with potentially lower rates charged on loans, etc) and given me a bit of real wealth I could call my own. This is part of the metaphysical nature of money.

     Money is not all about dollars and sense. It is partially a mental construct, and how you manipulate that construct can control how much of the real currency you can end up with in the long run, and how you feel about it all. Stated another way, how we look at money and all it implies can affect our long-term prospects of holding onto more wealth in all its forms, and how effectively we use that wealth once we do get our hands on some of it.

     When walking through my usual budgeting process, I find myself wanting to tighten the screws on spending, to try and save some more. Ironically, when I do this, it tends to lead a part of me to want to binge spend at some point. Almost as if I am creating increased pressure by compressing some gas or liquid, until it finally explodes. Conversely, If I budget in some pleasures along the way, some kind of entertainment weekly, it may cost me a bit more. But now being more content, I am much less likely to binge spend and wreck my finances. One has to feed the inner need for enjoyment, that intangible but very important human need for something more than the constant “nose to the grindstone.”
     Another case to discuss is stocks. It is certainly a good idea to study the statistical information available on a company before you buy the stock. But once you have made your purchase, you can just watch the price jiggle up and down every day on the stock exchange. Or you can comfort yourself knowing that you own a piece of a company. That, in effect, all of those workers are working for you, in part. You are an owner now, and every annual meeting that comes up, you have a vote in matters before the board. That is power in a real sense, even if it is highly diluted. The positive mental aspect is that you are a partial company owner, and you don't have to do any of the work!
When one buys a house, they enter into what could be the biggest financial transaction of their lives. They agree to make up to 30 years of payments, taxes, insurance. They commit themselves to investing in a piece of land and a home to live in. Aside from the financial facts and figures (interest rate paid, equity built up over time, escrow fund depletion, etc), there is that emotional component. They will become part of the fabric of a neighborhood. They, and perhaps their kids, will become part of a social community of sorts, making memories and living out life's dramas over their formative years. A house is not just dollars and cents, it is life experiences and emotional swings. The metaphysical component is strong. Some people move every few years, while others stay in one house all their life and build neighborhood memories.

     There is always a positive way of looking at financial transactions. As long as you can keep your bills under control, and leave your investments alone, you can enjoy the sensation of being a diversified owner of various financial instruments without obsessing on dollar amounts. While you should check on things occasionally, keep in mind that positive metaphysical aspect of all things financial.

     How money is perceived at the time we get our hands on some can make a difference in how we spend it. When you have an efficiency apartment, no car, and few prospects, a few thousand dropping into your hands is looked at far differently from if you already have a car and a house. It is never easy making these decisions. But in my humble opinion, the metaphysical aspects of finances cannot be ruled out. Indeed, when talking about human beings with all their fallibility, the emotional and mystical components of money must be factored in for a complete picture. This should help a person get a better, more complete grasp on managing their finances. Good luck out there!

                                                   - end

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Short Story - Eric's Peace

Originally posted in Aphelion-webzine's May Flashfic Challenge, and now here.  What would you do if you could control everyone's mind on Earth?
      Eric told himself it was all luck. He daydreamed a lot at work, sometimes good ones, sometimes vengeful. Then he would notice something on the news. A manager at some company known to defraud others set a fire and burned down headquarters. A group of disparate people gathered together and donated a large sum of money to a homeless shelter. Or an annoying co-worker suddenly quit, and left town.
He thought it was egotistic to think that he had anything to do with these events – it was just fate being kind. But things seemed to be taking a strange turn. Like that program he had recently seen on TV, called The Secret. “Ask the universe what you want, and the universe will deliver it.” And indeed, Eric's track record of getting wishes granted was getting good.
So it was that one day, he decided to focus his thoughts on something good and useful for humanity, as he saw it. He concentrated on world peace. He envisioned results from all nations putting down their arms, laying off most of their military people, except those needed for emergency rescue operations. The benefits of this seemed obvious to Eric: more resources available for humanitarian purposes all over the world.
And gradually it came to pass. Wars in the Middle East and Africa petered out. New treaties were signed. Spokespersons said, “War has gotten old and tired. There must be a better way for humanity to settle differences.” Suddenly populations that had lived in fear could settle down and get on with the business of living. Even reports of atrocities among tribes-people in Central Africa dwindled to nothing. Humanity sighed with relief.
Eric was so overwhelmed with the results that he hardly dared think anything else for fear it would take hold. But he soon realized, ephemeral 'housekeeping' thoughts and impulses had little or no effect. It took frequent, concerted thinking on a subject to bring about effects. Still, some things needed doing, and he did them. His boss decided to give him a large raise, the restaurant he frequented decided to give him free meals more often than not, and many, many strangers suddenly bought the books he sold online. When Eric found a stylish penthouse condo he liked, it took some concentration. But the management soon held a special promotion of some kind, and Eric won the condo for $1.00.
The county tax assessor decided on a whim to value his property very low, so his taxes were minimal. The grocery store he frequented awarded him a first prize of free groceries for a year. Some people remarked on his amazing luck. But if anyone got too close, he would concentrate, and their thinking soon changed. Eric had no trouble convincing desired sex partners to party with him. However, one time he had multiple partners, and things got out of hand. He couldn't concentrate on willing them to perform, and enjoy whatever he was participating in, at the same time. So some lost interest, and hastily left his condo. He learned to modulate his control and his desires to keep things within safe limits and under control.
The world slowly changed. The pace of living slowed. Peace and calm were good, but day-to-day life became nothing but more and more of the same dull routine. Eric started getting bored, and more than a little annoyed.
So it was that one day, Eric began to meditate on total freedom. He had seemingly turned humanity into compliant sheep, moping along, doing nothing but his bidding. Now, he decided to set them free.
He began meditating on the concept of total freedom. “Do what you want! Take what you want! Get wild! Get crazy! Get naked! Live a little!”
At first, nothing happened. Folks at the grocery store talked in the usual dull monotone. People at work spoke in hushed, peaceful tones . Eric persisted. Maybe it is like turning an ocean liner – I need to keep at it.
So he focused on people having an orgy in the street, or robbing a liqueur store, or staging a walk-out, before he went to bed.
Eric awoke with a start, hearing an incessant wailing. He rose, looked at the clock: 3:07AM. What the hell?
He looked out his wall-sized window, and saw flickering lights. Looking down, he saw mayhem. Crowds in the streets, fighting and throwing things. A few firetrucks and police cars, surrounded by mobs. Smoke rising, fires burning. Uh-oh....
He composed himself, and sat down. He began to think of peace, calm, settle-down thoughts.
The knock on his door brought him up short. He rose and slowly walked to his entrance. He peeked out the tiny spyhole, a seeming anachronism a short time ago. And saw several rough, angry people. They pounded on his door.
“Yeah, you. Come on out, you rich pig, we want to talk to you!” One of them spit on the spyhole.
Eric yelled “go away! I'm calling the police!”
“They're a little busy right now,” yelled one of them. “C'mon, give me that crowbar. We need to get in there and show this guy who is in charge.”
As the door splintered, and the lock gave way, Eric tried a last maneuver: Thinking calm, peace...
You want to put down that crowbar, you want to walk away, and leave the nice man alone...
Then, Eric 'heard' an overriding voice in his head. “Attack that rich bastard, and kill him! Destroy everything. Anarchy rules.”
The bearded, mustachioed man came up to Eric, but didn't hit him right away. He laughed out loud.

     “What? You think you are the only human being with a talent? I'm only surprised at how easy it was to turn everything around. Almost like I had help or something...” Then the man shrugged, and swung his crowbar.

                                                                        The End

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Poem-ing on a Saturday Night

Here I sit on a Saturday night,
to do nothing instills me with fright.
Shouldn't I be out sitting at a bar,
or scooping the Loop in my car?

Doing laundry and sifting memories,
I hear voices of people recently visited.
Nice to have had these earlier soirees,
Consoling to know I wasn't always alone.

Work and preparation and phone conversations
left me feeling rushed, harried, overwhelmed...
Travel and dining out and pleasant inclinations,
partaking in comfortable close companionship.

After it ended I wonder where it all went,
how could the fun times enjoyed go so fast?
Yet at times a person has to stop,
catch a breath,
take stock and take measure.
 Life isn't all pleasure.

So I resolve to count my blessings and tally the
score of fun encounters, incrementing by one.
Another Saturday passed and it was lots of fun.
The swift stream work week will take me soon enough,
memory's growing fields savored at break time once again.

- end

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Amazing Amazon Link

Annnnd, here is the Amazon link for my new collection of short stories:

Thanks for taking a look.

Modern Mess

Twitter spews characters a-plenty,
Facebook spreads our humorous feces;
Clickbait advert crap clutters the web,
“Newspapers” pump videos full of ads.

What happened to the old days,
when information appeared as
monochrome text that actually
meant something besides “buy!”

Seems they are gone forever,
thoughtful discourse discarded
in favor of instant-moment blips
of entertainment flash and fluff.

Everything changes,
nothing stays the same,
If I worry about it,
will drive myself insane.

Just shrug and say “Oh well,”
life in these modern times.
Check twitter feeds again,
for latest presidential gibes.

Have a great weekend everyone,
Hope y'all can have some fun.


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Another year, another book...

Feels soooooo good to get another collection finished.    Hope you like it.

Monday, May 15, 2017

How soon to Impeachment

Blustering through press releases and twitter blasts.   Firing an FBI director on some imagined affront or other.  And now, today we hear he is giving away sensitive intelligence to the Russians.   Can you say   "loose insane cannon in the White House" ?   Someone needs to take the reins, even if it is Mike Pence.   The Trumpster is gonna run us so far into the ground we'll never dig our way out.   Still thinking I should wake up from this mess and find that the election went the other way - but that is too much to hope for.

Even the Republicans need to get a leash put on him - they stand to lose a lot more than us peons, who don't have a lot to begin with.  Very dangerous times.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Changed Right Before My Eyes

Back in the late 70s when I was young,
Momentous events were occurring in Des Moines.
A new Civic Center planned, Botanical center too.
Then gleaming skywalks to link it all together.
A new Marriott hotel to host the expected tourists.

Nollen plaza, Civic Center, modern art, water features.
Bob Hauser, Rich Wilkey, Mayor Olsen, John Ruan -
The big movers and shakers moved and shook.
Riverfront area got cleaned and landscaped,
They even paved a recreational trail to Saylorville.

Such excitement for a twenty-something to
witness firsthand, as he delivered documents
as a messenger, all over this bustling downtown.
Welders and cranes made the city glow and hum.

The young man got wanderlust, and moved on to
other metropolises, promising more excitement.
But he returned and fell into a new routine.
One day he woke up and was approaching 60!

The old names had long since retired or died,
only one former congressman surviving into his 90s.
A new crop of leaders had taken the helm,
and made a lot more happen: A new Sculpture Garden,
Riverwalk and Pedestrian Bridge, ballpark renovation.

Miles and miles of new bicycle trails, all over
Central Iowa, including a high trestle over the river.
Enhanced bus service, and a new bus terminal.
A copper-and-glass sheathed library,
riverfront parks and pedestrian walkways.

The city continues to evolve and grow,
the new condos downtown fill up,
more are planned, even as historical
landmark structures are lost to demolition.
Older gent now feels sad to see the legacies go,
and amazement at the fresh structures coming in.

Ingersoll avenue transformed from a dilapidated
area to a sleek modern shopping avenue.
Downtown gaining two new skyscrapers,
as well as more condos and skywalks.
Whatever else could be said about Des Moines,
no one can ever say it had stagnated or stood still.
The old guy is pleased to have witnessed it all.

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Space Colony advocate SSI turns 40

    It has been around 40 years since some big ideas were first floated about the feasibility of large, orbiting space colonies. The L5 society, and the Space Studies Institute both came up with ideas and plans for large, orbiting colonies of many thousands of people. L5 would place theirs in the no 5 Lagrangian point in space where the Earths and moon's gravities cancel each other out – a stable point to place a large colony. The SSI had similar plans, and even came up with a prototype mass driver. Those could be scaled up, and used to 'ship' large quantities of ore from the Moon's surface, to be smelted in orbit, and used for colony construction. Studies were performed that validated the technologies involved. ( The plans seemed grandiose, and expensive. But thanks to several years of effort by Dr. Gerard K. O'Neill and others at Princeton University, the idea of a High Frontier space colony certainly seemed possible. The idea being, “We landed on the Moon 8 years after setting out, so just think what we could do in a few decades.”

     So here we are in 2017, 40 years after the founding of the Space Studies Institute. We do have a large orbiting (research) space station, with an international crew. We are performing life sciences experiments, partly on how humans can endure long-duration stays in weightlessness. It seems like we are steadily working through some basic problems of life in orbit around the Earth. But to get from here to a huge colony that spins itself to obtain artificial gravity, and houses millions of people comfortably, still seems like a huge undertaking. Many intermediate steps are obviously called for.

     First, we need to build larger habitats. These could contain from dozens to hundreds of visitors, scientists, or tourists. The first experimental spin-gravity systems should be tried out. Some habitats could be single-purpose based, such as astronomy modules, or asteroid mining facilities. Once more of the bugs are worked out with closed-cycle environmental systems, ever larger facilities could be constructed. Recreational habitats could pay their own way with exotic entertainments. The dot-com billionaires currently investing in launchers could certainly lead the way here.

     Nowadays, in a larger office building, maintenance personnel have a full-time job managing the HVAC systems necessary to keep office workers comfortable, including lighting, air flow, and odor issues. These include dehumidifying systems need to drain off water, and humidifying systems need to use it – all to make the surrounding air comfortable, or tolerable, to work in. Space habitats will present greater challenges in some respects. To be fair, Earth weather does lend itself to wide swings in temperature and humidity.
      In Space, you deal with heating and cooling depending on Sun exposure, interstellar radiation exposure, and gravity or the lack thereof. In some cases it seems the variations are simpler, yet in others, especially radiation, the problems become immense. But these will have to be closed-cycle systems, since one cannot vent dirty air, or take in clean air, from the surroundings. Current experiments being carried out on the International Space Station are furthering our knowledge in this area.
       In any private space habitat, the founders will need deep pockets and loads of patience. But if everyone can remain committed, the problems can be worked out. And the resulting payoff to the human race promises to be immense. Limitless materials available in the form of asteroids and water ice. Living room for the ever-increasing amounts of humanity that just keep coming. New technologies and new vistas to discover. And of course, the distant possibility of meeting up with another civilization somewhere out in space, and all of the intrigue that will mean. The rewards are definitely out there.

The ISS and private space efforts are laudable. But to really make Space pay off, we need to keep thinking bigger, and pushing further out. The future will be amazing, and we can decide who will lead the way there. Thanks for reading.

Further reading:

Spring into Literacy - Buy a Book Today

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 shopping here  :-)

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Let's see, what to write about

Terry Branstad is going to China, making this
Iowa's first governor to become an ambassador;
US-China relations are crucial for many issues...
But there isn't much to write about today.

Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin chatted
on the phone about Syria, while SpaceX launched
a NROL recon Satellite to orbit. North Korea
attempted another ballistic missile launch. But
there really isn't that much to write about today.

Prolonged two-year drought on the Horn of Africa
is causing starvation in local tribes – children are
catching many diseases due to weakened immune
systems from starvation. Water is being trucked in,
but there is seemingly never enough. But
there is very little to write about today.

A 1.1 Trillion budget was passed by the US House
today – there are key compromises throughout.
Funding will not be cut for many important things,
and funding will Not be provided to build a border wall.
But there is not much on the radar to write about.

But I heard Caitlyn and the Kardashians got into a big
catfight – lots of screeching, scratching and screaming.
Makeup smeared, wigs pulled off and thrown,
lipstick hurled about like so many deadly missiles.

Now I have something important to write about...

Let's see.....

The Kardashians go Nuclear: Caitlyn hits the ground hard!
Even Paparazzi not safe in lipstick-hurling melee!
Strangulation by wig attempted – last-minute intervention
saved the life of someone or other!

The keys are warming up nicely now.
Time to write a few thousand words
of meaningless bon mots and snide asides.

Stay tuned :-)