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Journal: I'm shocked, SHOCKED! to hear they sifted the docs 3

Journal by smitty_one_each

As the House Select Committee on Benghazi prepares for its first hearing this week, a former State Department diplomat is coming forward with a startling allegation: Hillary Clinton confidants were part of an operation to "separate" damaging documents before they were turned over to the Accountability Review Board investigating security lapses surrounding the Sept. 11, 2012, terrorist attacks on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya.

I sure am glad that both Harry "the Cadaver" Reid, plus Pravda on the Hudson (NYT) did such a stellar job on the case. They, and the sad little sycophant throne sniffers one encounters on this site, are encouraged to locate a large supply of shame and prepare to feel it in a big way.
On the other hand, the investigation could exonerate the whole sorry lying lot of them.
I may be wrong in my assessment, and will be happy to eat crow.
Also, the sun may rise in the West.

User Journal

Journal: Mars, Ho! Chapter Fifty

Journal by mcgrew

Mars!
        John and Destiny left the houseboat parked on a space port pad they had rented at the spaceport at the Meridian Bay dome and got in a cab. Destiny said "I don't want to shop on an empty stomach. Taxi, take us to a restaurant that serves eggs and pork sausage this time of day."
        "Wow," John said. "That's going to be an expensive place."
        "Well, I'm buying. You said you never tried pork sausage, now's your chance, it's my treat. Besides, I've been thinking about pork sausage for half the trip and I don't want to wait any longer!"
        Dewey was on his way to Mars when he finished reading Knolls' report. He sipped on the coffee the captain had brought and switched on the news. They were digging the deep hole in Mars again.
        Plans were being made to tow the tragic Venus station to drop into the sun. It had been argued that if they dropped it on Venus it would incinerate from the friction with Venus' thick carbon dioxide atmosphere, but some lesser educated people were afraid that the disease might somehow survive Venus' hellish surface.
        Charles was back on TV talking about pirates. He was glad it was Charles and not him, Dewey hated TV cameras.
        He emailed Kowalski, telling him that when Kelly got back to Earth to have a couple of his best electrical engineers, one who was good with batteries and one that was good with engines, to talk to him and find out how he got a third gravity out of batteries. Nobody else had managed to do that before, and some engineers claimed it was physically impossible.
        John and Destiny were really busy on Mars the next few days, mostly shopping. First shopping for a wedding ring, then for real estate; they would buy a house and a bar. The houseboat was big as houseboats go, but was a bit small for someone as wealthy as Destiny who had lived all her life in very large homes, especially since the houseboat was half full of beer. After signing papers for the house they went for breakfast at a nice restaurant, where Destiny bought John another omelette and pork sausage. John wasn't any more impressed with this sausage than at the other restaurant.
        Then they visited Tammy in her hotel room. Her face was still a little bruised but she wasn't wearing the sling.
        "Hi, come on in, guys. Want some coffee?"
        "Sure," Destiny said. "So how are you coming with your research?"
        "Well, we haven't had time to do much except move them into the facility and acquaint them with it, but Rilla had really come a long way and Lek was almost cured already, at least from the physical withdrawal symptoms, by the time we got to Mars. She's to the point that withdrawal is still torture to her, but no longer deadly. She's still in mental and physical pain but she's not dropping any more. The physical pain should be gone in a few weeks. Of course, full therapy will probably take years."
        John said "Yes, Lek sure did change during the trip. This is great coffee, Tammy!"
        She laughed. "It's robot coffee!"
        "No way," John said.
        "Yep, and it's one of your company's robots that made it, too!"
        "No way in hell!" John exclaimed.
        "It's true," she said. "Your company updated all their coffeebots' operating systems and other programs. And it perks a whole pot of coffee in five minutes, and a cup in less than a minute. You have one of their robots, now it can make good coffee. I only found out because they're advertising it all over everywhere. I'm surprised you didn't notice."
        John said "I saw the ads, I just didn't believe them."
        Destiny laughed. "Dad must have tried a cup of his own robots' nasty coffee, I think he fired his head engineer. He should get here in another week."
        John said "Bill lands in two days. I'm still reeling from the trip here. God, but that was a damned nightmare!"
        They continued chatting a while before going home. They would be moving into their new home about the time Bill showed up two days later and would have more shopping to do; they would need furniture and appliances.
        John and Destiny met him at the spaceport, and they stopped at a bar for the beer he'd promised John. He bought John and Destiny several, in fact. John tried to buy a round and Bill wouldn't let him.
        "Excuse me, Bartender, but I want to buy a round," he said. The bartender told John what they cost.
        "Wow," he said. "That's pretty high! Is it like that everywhere here?"
        The bartender told him the reason was the cost of shipping it to Mars from Earth. He was going to clean up in the tavern business, it seemed, since Destiny would get a huge discount on shipping. He decided that while he was learning business he'd learn how to make beer and open a microbrewery in his tavern, too. He'd have really cheap beer, at least compared to other taverns, that he could sell for a huge profit and still be way cheaper than anyone else's if he could learn to make good beer.
        Bill said "Bartender, don't take his money, this is all on me. I have to write a damned report tomorrow, I don't know why" he said, turning to John.
        "I had to write one and they really wanted detail," John said. "Maybe they changed policies and everybody has to write reports now."
        A few days after that they met Dewey at the spaceport. After Dewey and his daughter hugged she said "Where's Mom?"
        Dewey said "Come on, Destiny, you know how your mom is. She's scared to death to even get on an airplane, let alone a space ship. I'm going to wear a camera at the wedding, though, so she'll be there in a way."
        He stuck out his hand. "Good seeing you again, John. That was some great work you did on that trip. We're going to be rewriting the book. I wish I could talk you out of retiring."
        "Well, thank you, Mister Green..."
        "Call me Dewey, John. You're family now."

User Journal

Journal: Mars, Ho! Chapter Forty Nine

Journal by mcgrew

Landing
        The alarm woke me up. Still asleep I thought "damned whores" out of habit, thinking we were having an emergency before I remembered that we were due to enter orbit and I'd set the alarm myself the night before. We had been on approach since late yesterday afternoon and would be in orbit and docking with the maintenance facility at nine this morning. The landing boats would already be docked there and we would be on Mars' surface by late this afternoon.
        The alarm woke Destiny up, too, and she got up as I was making coffee. Destiny told the computer to make steak and scrambled eggs with toast, and we took a shower together.
        Wow! We were finally entering orbit around Mars and would be docking at nine and we hadn't died! Not yet, at least. The way this trip had gone we'd probably crash land on Mars, or get assassinated at the spaceport. I did have a price on my head, after all. Of course, they most likely didn't know my name or what I looked like, but the boat's new captain would probably be in danger.
        We put on the news and started eating breakfast and the doorbell rang. It was Tammy.
        "Hi, Tammy," Destiny said. "Want some breakfast?"
        "No, thanks," she said, "I already ate, but I'll take a cup of coffee if it isn't made by a robot. So, who's going to be your bridesmaid?"
        "Well, who do you think, silly," Destiny said. "You, of course. Who's going to be your best man, John?"
        "Bill, of course, but he won't be here for a week or more, he's on batteries."
        They started talking about clothes and I just kind of zoned out and nodded once in a while.
        At five 'til eight I went in the pilot room to finish getting us in orbit, and by eight thirty we were weightless and would be docking in a few minutes. I floated to my quarters.
        At quarter to nine the three of us started floating towards the docking bay that still worked without tearing up somebody else's docking bay and didn't have my boat attached, so we could meet the landing crafts' captains who would escort passenger and cargo to Mars. Then we'd take off in the houseboat and Tammy would go down with the droppers.
        I got on the PA. "Attention, ladies. Please assemble in docking bay one for landing."
        The boat docked a few minutes later as the droppers started showing up, and I greeted two of the three landing pilots, Tom Farley and Jim Woolsley. I'd known both of them for a few years, so we talked about old times as Destiny and Tammy said their goodbyes and cargo streamed in.
        They and Tammy started escorting the droppers to the landing boats while me and Destiny went to my houseboat to land on Mars. Lek walked by and said "Thank you, Captain."
        We undocked from the ship and flew down to Meridian spaceport together. Now if you guys will excuse me I need to buy a wedding ring.
        See you.

Next: Mars!

User Journal

Journal: Mars, Ho! Chapter Forty Eight

Journal by mcgrew

Engines
        We'd be in orbit around Mars and landing on the surface tomorrow. Only one more day of this horror movie! We might all live after all!
        Destiny was still asleep. I got out of bed and went to the head, went in the kitchen to start coffee (stupid robots) and put a robe on.
        Yeah, in that order. Fuck you.
        Anyway, I told the robots to make me some breakfast. Destiny got up and went in the kitchen while I got dressed. The robot was almost done frying my eggs and sausage and had started cooking hers.
        "Good morning!" she said. "Been up long?"
        "'Mornin', sweetheart. Maybe ten minutes. Computer," I said, "What time is it?"
        It read "Oh seven thirty three."
        We ate our breakfast and drank coffee and watched the news in the living room as the robots cleared the table. They were still trying to figure out what do do about Venus. It also had something about the battle the fleet fought, but Destiny said that they didn't mention me or her charity that the company was hauling for but they mentioned Bill's boat and its sabotage. I didn't get to see the whole thing. They had an interview with Mister Osbourne, but I had to go to the pilot room and I missed that part.
        We didn't need a course correction, but there were red lights on engines sixteen and eighteen, right next to seventeen. I shut those two down and the two next to them as well and went to inspect them, stopping at home to fill my coffee. There was some politician talking about shipping and pirates on the news while I was there.
        "Trouble?" Destiny asked, seeing my frown.
        "Only a little, we have two more broken engines right next to seventeen. I'm going down to inspect them now."
        I was astonished when I walked past the commons and saw Tammy talking to the German woman, and the German lady was actually wearing clothes!
        I trudged down the five damned flights of stairs and inspected engines fifteen through nineteen first. Sixteen and eighteen had shorted out like seventeen, so I left fifteen and nineteen shut down as well in case it was something spreading from one engine to another like they did on that Titan run, and I ordered the computer to leave all five alone. The book doesn't say to do that and I don't know how those engines work, but I saw a pattern here and I wasn't going to take any chances, anyway. I plugged repairbots in diagnostic mode into the four I'd shut off, hoping they wouldn't melt like the two that had tried to fix the dead number seventeen, but maybe they could record something engineering could use.
        I logged it all, but the rest of the motors and the working generator were exactly like the tablet said they were supposed to be. Busy morning!
        I trudged up all those damned stairs and took off my nasty boots and went straight to the shower. UGH! Damn but it was nasty down there.
        I put on clean clothes and inspected cargo next, thankfully for the last time; no more inspections. Tomorrow morning we would dock at the repair facility and Destiny and me would leave on the houseboat, and the company's boat and the stench downstairs would be somebody else's problem. I couldn't wait to get off of that damned boat!
        The only ones who were in their rooms were all asleep, and the rest were in the commons, maybe thirty or so. It was noon, I was hungry, and decided to finish inspections after lunch.
        "Done already?" Destiny asked.
        "No, I was downstairs longer than normal. I still have to inspect the passenger section and the commons and the sick bay. Want to go for a walk with me after lunch? I'm starved."
        "Sure," she said. "Robot, two rare ribeye steaks, mashed potatoes and gravy, and coleslaw."
        We ate, and she came along as I finished my inspection. I did the commons last, and by then the only two people in there were Lek and the German woman. Lek was drinking coffee and the blonde was eating some kind of sandwich, and both of them were wearing clothes. I guess the blonde didn't want to be an animal, either. It was nice seeing people in the commons and nobody was naked for a change. Destiny said "hello, ladies, I like your dresses." Lek said "Cup coon mock; oops, that Thai for âthank you very muchâ(TM)."
        The heavy German woman said "thank you" in her heavy German accent as well.
        We were due to enter orbit around Mars the next morning, so Destiny came in the pilot room with me as I watched over the computers for our final approach. "You're going to be happy and the droppers are going to hate it," I said. "We'll be weightless when we enter orbit and dock tomorrow."
        We had walked slowly and by then it was almost suppertime, so when I finished getting us ready to go into orbit we went home and had the robot make pizza and bring us each a beer. I'm getting used to Newcastle, I might keep drinking it on Mars. Well, I was going to have to drink Newcastle for a while anyway, because I still had an awful lot of it crammed in my houseboat. I don't get many chances to drink much of it on a journey. My boat's half full of beer!
        After supper we moved our luggage to the houseboat, and Destiny put on the third Lord of the Rings movie and we ate the pizza while we watched the beginning of the movie, then we cuddled while we watched the rest of it.
        Those are some a long movies! We listened to some Vaughn and then went to bed. I told the computer to wake me up at six.

Next: Landing

User Journal

Journal: Odds and Ends 1

Journal by mcgrew

scriptis Interruptus
I've been spending six to ten hours a day, seven days a week, working on Mars, Ho!. But not Wednesday; Wednesday I visited a surgeon. It was the least fun I've had since my last eye surgery in 2007.

I've had a serious case of advanced periodontitis for several years. Surgery for the condition was scheduled for this past Wednesday. The anesthetic was painful as hell; the guy was a lot better at cutting than at sticking. There was a sharp stab of pain when one of the teeth came out, too. Scraping the bone and suturing didn't hurt... yet. He inserted my new dentures, the nurse inserted gauze, and I couldn't get my lips together because of the swelling and the gauze. My clothing was bloody by the time I came home. I was deeply uncomfortable.

When the anesthetic wore off I was in severe, extreme pain. I'd been prescribed a bottle of hydrocodone pills for the pain, but I refrained from taking them because I've never liked the opioids. I took naproxin (generic Alieve, same drig at 1/3 the price) instead, despite the fact that I knew it would make the bleeding worse.

By eight thirty I broke down and took a hydrocodone. I can see why people with chronic pain get addicted to those things, because the pain went away completely a half hour after taking it. Like any addictive drug, long term use causes tolerance for the drug and the user needs more and more for the same effect. It didn't seem to dull my mind like the opiates I took after that car wreck in 1976, although like codiene it made me itch all over. Far better than the excruciating pain I'd been in.

By midnight I felt like I might be able to sleep. I rinsed my mouth out with the prescription antibiotic mouthwast they had prescribed, took another hydrocodone and another naproxin and went to bed.

I didn't sleep well; the teeth kept waking me up. I was up and drinking coffee by six AM. I took another naproxin and hydrocodone as soon as I woke up, and used the nasty mouthwash that I have to use three times a day. At eleven I visited the dentist, who adjusted the appliance and made it much less painful. I didn't need any more pills, although the dentures are gooing to need more adjustment.

I went through sixteen chapters after the dentist, made nine changes, and left the book five words shorter than it had been Tuesday. It's getting closer and closer to being finished.

I didn't have to wear my teeth last night. I slept like a log. My mouth was fine when I woke up, but it was hard getting the teeth in. They look good, but so far I can't eat with them; all I had yesterday was soup. I couldn't even eat cottage cheese. All I'd eaten the day before was breakfast, but I had no appetite whatever after the surgery.

I did manage to eat an egg this morning, but barely. This will take some time.

I'll post another Mars, Ho! chapter tomorrow; there are only three left.

Nobots
I've changed the format of the paperback version of the book. It's now "pocket book" size, still seven bucks.

Paleobiology
Yesterday's Ilinois Times had an article that will be of interest to those who have an interest in paleobiology, and face it -- we're nerds, if it's science or technology we're interested.

The article is titled 300 million years ago, and I found it fascinating.

A warm, moist breeze blows through the swampy forest at what is now Danville, Illinois. An eight-foot-long millipede scurries by. Nearby, a dragonfly with a foot-wide wingspan zips through the 100-foot-tall fern trees. Itâ(TM)s 300 million years before the present day â" before the supercontinent Pangaea broke apart, and long before any dinosaurs walked the earth.

That swampy forest has survived for millions of years as a field of fossils buried 250 feet below the surface near Danville. Discovered in 2007 in the Riola and Vermillion Grove coal mines, the forest has given scientists important clues about Illinoisâ(TM) ancient past.

The article is four pages long in its printed version (free almost anywhere around here).

And no, I'm not affiliated with that newspaper.

User Journal

Journal: Mars, Ho! Chapter Forty Seven

Journal by mcgrew

Captures
        I got up about seven thirty or so, and Destiny was still asleep. I started coffee and told the robot to make breakfast, and then I shit, shaved, showered, and got dressed. Destiny was still asleep and I had to be in the pilot room in fifteen minutes so I started eating by myself. At five 'til I filled my coffee and took the rest of my breakfast to the pilot room. Huh? Eggs and bacon. What? Of course it was turkey bacon. Now knock it off before I walk out of here.
        At a minute to eight I put it down, of course, and when readings were done I finished eating, and went back to my quarters to fill my coffee. If I told the stupid robots to get me a cup they'd pour the pot of good coffee down the drain and give me a cup of that nasty robot coffee. Stupid robots. Stupid robot programmers. What the hell is wrong with them? Ain't they never been on a boat? Don't they drink coffee?
        I had a full inspection today. I'd talked to Ramos, the fleet commander, about parts for the busted generator but he told me it would have to be fixed on Mars because nobody had the parts out here and it was going to have to be rebuilt in any case. At least the robots got the other one fixed with a part from another one of his boats. He said he could spare a few maids, which was a relief, it really stank downstairs. Maybe they'd have it cleaned up before we got to Mars.
        Tammy came walking down the hallway, with her face still badly bruised and with her arm in a sling, looking like she was in pain. "The medic released you?" I asked.
        "Yeah. It gave me a bottle of some kind of synthetic opiate but I'm not taking them, I need a clear mind. I'm taking Ibotrin."
        "That better than naproxin?" I asked.
        "Not much," she said. "Maybe a little. Look, I need to control the medics, I need readings on all the droppers and the computer says I don't have clearance for what I need to do. Can you fix that for me?"
        "Yeah," I said, pulling out my phone. "Computer, give Doctor Winters complete access and command control to all medical robots for the, uh, duration of the trip."
        "Acknowledged," It said.
        "Thanks," she said.
        "No," I said, "No need to thank me, you're trying to keep me and everybody else alive and you're researching how to cure monsters. Look, Tammy, I have to finish my inspec..." an alarm went off, it was Ramos. "Captain Knolls, it's Commander Ramos. There is pirate activity, what are your orders, sir?"
        Sir? What the hell, I work for a living!
        "Have you done this kind of thing before, Commander?"
        "Yes, sir, we're very experienced. I studied at Annapolis and was a commander in the Marine Space Corps, and my men are all ex-military as well. And we've been seriously kicking some pirate ass lately, too, sir." There's that damned "sir" again.
        "Good," I said, "your orders are to protect our people and property. Wait to transfer the robots until things quiet down."
        "Yes sir, Captain."
        "Don't call me sir, God damn it, I work for a living!"
        "Yes si..., uh, yes, Captain Knolls.
        "Call me John. What's your name?"
        "Joe." I wondered what the whores would call him?
        "Just do your job and we'll be okay, Joe. Okay?"
        "Yes, Captain." Shit. Oh, well, these ate-up military guys never change. I know, I spent a hitch in the Army and all the lifers were ate up like that. I hear the Marines are the most ate up of all the military branches. Assholes...
        I let Ramos worry about the pirates, that was his job now. I had a bunch of drug addicts that were all worse than vampires and werewolves to deal with. Lots more dangerous than stupid damned pirates, especially with a fleet and an experienced commander protecting us from the pirates and nobody but ourselves to protect us from the monsters. And I still had inspection. And I didn't know if Tammy had gotten them under control yet. Or even if she could all busted up like that.
        Nope, not gonna inspect cargo today again, still way too damned dangerous, I don't care what the damned book says. I called Tammy and asked her to call me when the cargo pens were relatively safe.
        Nothing caught fire when I inspected the empty passengers quarters that the company is stupid enough to power and have maids clean.
        The starboard generator was fine, engine seventeen... wasn't that the one that shorted out earlier? Yeah, it was. Anyway a robot was working on it, damn it. I unplugged it, sealed the plug hole with epoxy and told the computer to keep the damned robots away from it. I was done with everything before noon, except the damned cargo inspection. I wanted to hear from the doctor first.
        Destiny was sitting on the couch watching the news with a cup of coffee when I got back. "Youâ(TM)re a little early today," she remarked.
        "I didnâ(TM)t inspect cargo," I said. "I want to make sure Tammy gets the monsters under control first. Iâ(TM)d inspect the Frankenstein monsterâ(TM)s house before Iâ(TM)d inspect a dropless drophead's house. Damned addicts. Is there any good coffee left?"
        "I just made another pot. Are you hungry?"
        "I could eat. What are you having?"
        "I donâ(TM)t know, maybe a grilled cheese sandwich and a bowl of potato soup."
        I told the robot to make lunch and poured a cup of coffee and a glass of water.
        The news was talking about the Martian terraforming project. They had the hole halfway drilled and something went wrong and the machinery caught fire. It must have been built by the same morons that designed our old robots. Three people were in the hospital, one in critical condition.
        The hole they were drilling was for a big magnet. The lady on the news said that without a magnetic field, a planet canâ(TM)t hold much of an atmosphere and there's no shield against solar and cosmic radiation. The whole terraforming project was expected to take a few hundred more years to complete, but when it was done Mars would have Earth gravity or close, a similar atmosphere, lakes, rivers, and oceans, and they wouldnâ(TM)t need the domes any more.
        Everyone on the Venus station was dead. They were debating what to do with it.
        Commander Ramos called with news that the pirate boats had all been eradicated, fifteen had been captured and the crews put in detention. Damn, but he's good. Four of them were our companyâ(TM)s boats, and eleven were from two other companies who would be paying us recovery fees. Hell, they did have some of our boats! I hadn't thought they could do that. Of course, they would have had mine were it not for Tammy's monster blockade and then the fleet showing up.
        Then Tammy called and said it was safe to inspect cargo pens, so I did. The German woman was in the commons eating and the rest were all sleeping, except Lek, who was apparently reading although I wouldn't be able to read it. It was obviously in Thai and they must have a completely different alphabet than us, because it was just squiggles to me.
        I complimented her on her dress. She smiled weakly despite her bloodshot eyes; Tammy's book said she was in pretty much pain right now and no other drug would ease it. She would have to put a drop in soon, even though she didn't want to.
        We would be docking at the repair facility the day after tomorrow, and the landing boats would already be docked at the facility. Destiny and me will fly down in my houseboat.
        It was finally safe to drink a beer or two. I went back to my quarters and opened one, and Destiny had the robot bring her one, too, and asked me what I wanted for dinner.
        "I don't know, pork chops, caviar, and Champagne maybe?"
        She laughed. "Yeah, on gold plates and silver cutlery! Fried chicken and mashed potatoes and broccoli sounds good to me, what are you having?"
        "Chicken sounds good."
        The robot fried the chicken and cooked the vegetables and wheeled over with the food. Robots make pretty damned good fried chicken, lots better than I can.
        Then we watched some really weird movie from the end of the twenty first century, and went to bed. No, I don't know the name of the stupid movie.

Next: Engines

User Journal

Journal: Mars, Ho! Chapter Forty Six

Journal by mcgrew

Awake
        I woke up about quarter after seven, and Destiny was already up and had coffee started. "Hungry?" She asked.
        "Yeah, I am. Did we even eat dinner last night? Did you tell the robots to start breakfast?"
        "No, I wanted to try something new for breakfast and wanted to see what you wanted to eat first. You know I'm a history buff, well, I found a really old recipe in the computer called a âbreakfast horse shoeâ(TM). They used to have them in the twentieth and twenty first centuries in a city in the American midwest."
        "A horse shoe? That doesn't sound too appetizing, What's in it?" I asked.
        "Well, the recipe I found calls for ham or pork sausage, but turkey or beef or chicken or almost any kind of meat will do. It's a piece of toast covered with cheese, with meat on the cheese, more cheese on the meat, scrambled eggs on the cheesy meat, cheese on that, hash browns on that and more cheese on top of the hash browns."
        "Sounds cheesy," I said. "Sure, I'll try one."
        We took a long, fun shower together while the robots made horse shoes, and I only had enough time to finish half of it, but I had to go to work.
        That horse shoe was pretty good. The recipe was so old I was surprised it was in the database, but Destiny probably brought her own history database along. She really likes history, and she's getting me interested in it.
        No shower yet today, I was going to need one when I was done with inspections anyway.
        All of the readouts were okay in the pilot room, except for that I probably wouldn't be able to inspect those hundred and twenty two engines that I still hadn't been able to get to because of all the nastiness blocking the halls, and number seventeen was of course still not working and it was one of the ones I couldn't get to. That didn't really matter, though, because I'd be damned if I was going to light it again, even if the robots could fix it without melting.
        Maybe the maids had paths cleared out by now so I could inspect the rest, they'd made lots of progress when I was down there yesterday.
        No way was I going to inspect cargo today no matter what that damned book says, that would have been crazy fucking stupid dangerous. Some of the dropheads might be low on drops and there's no way I'm inspecting a monster's pen. Fuck that God damned book, I wasn't going to do it.
        I went to inspect the sick bay first. Tammy was still in a coma, and I was worried. What were the droppers going to do when they woke up?
        The maids had indeed jettisoned a lot more of the gross, nasty mess and I was able to get through the halls and inspect almost all the engines this morning, although there was still a hell of a lot of stinking gore and I still couldn't get to the generator or two engines.
        There was a different robot working on seventeen, with a smashed up robot next to it, probably damaged in the excitement. Damn it, I wanted that damned engine dead. I unplugged it, took a lead off of the battery that powered the robot and plugged it back in, hoping another damned robot wouldn't reconnect the battery. Anyway, I trudged back up those damned stairs. As I was climbing stairs I foned the computer and told it to "alert me when Doctor Winters regains consciousness." The stupid computers, they only understand military nerd talk. I took my filthy boots off at the landing at the top of the stairs, it was still really gross down there. I took my shower when I got home.
        Destiny and me had roast beef sandwiches and fried potatoes and salad for lunch. I was starved, I'd only had time for half my breakfast and that was probably my first full real meal since yesterday morning. I don't think we ate that pizza we ordered for lunch the day before.
        While we were eating, the alarm went off; Tammy was awake. Thank God! Both of us took off at a run toward the sick bay. I told the robots not to clear the table, if I didn't the stupid things would throw the rest of my lunch away.
        She was sitting up on the medic with the oxygen mask still on her face and the needle still in her arm. She was taking the mask off, looking a little groggy. "The droppers!" she said, her speech a little slurred.
        "I know," Destiny said. "Tell me where the drops are and lay back down, you had a serious concussion. You've been out for two days and we're worried about the droppers."
        "You two can't handle them," she said.
        "We have to," I replied. "you can't."
        "You could overdose them!"
        "Better than underdosing," I said.
        "Not much. Look, John, there is a trunk in my quarters with a false bottom, the drops are in there. They're in small bottles and there are plenty. Just put one bottle in each addict's quarters when you do inspection and I'll adjust dosage later when the gurney lets me go."
        "Okay," I said. "What do I do if one is starting to go through withdrawal?"
        "Drop the bottle and run like hell!"
        That seemed logical to me. Hell, opening the door and just tossing a bottle in seemed even more logical, these girls were freaky scary without drops. Scarier than Destiny's old gray horror movies, even.
        "We'll be back when we're done," Destiny said.
        There was a melee in the commons. I locked the door and gave them nitrogen instead of air while Destiny tossed bottles into all the rooms. Then I went in after they passed out and put a drop in each one's eye. Their eyes were all pretty bloodshot but nowhere near monster red yet.
        I hope Tammy's better soon, she's pretty busted up, damn them whores. We're lost without Tammy. The medic's readout said she'd had a very severe concussion, dislocated shoulder and a few broken ribs. At least she was awake now and the medic read "condition fair".
        I should have let the robots clear the table, lunch was way past by now so when we were done we ate dinner... huh? Steak, potato, and salad. I hadn't hardly touched my salad at lunch. Huh? How the hell am I supposed to know what kind of damned potato, potatoes are potatoes as far as I'm concerned. The robots cooked them, anyway.
        We had a bottle of wine to go along with it, but this time we only drank one bottle, then watched another Rawhide together, then a really, really dumb movie about California beaches from the nineteen sixties that we turned off after fifteen minutes and finished the Star Wars movie. I was surprised, this one wasn't as funny but it was still pretty good.
        It was still early and the bottle was only half gone, so Destiny put on that old prison movie. Halfway through it she said yeah, that was from the book she was reading and "this one follows the book pretty close except it was Popeye fucking Olive Oyl in the book" and that they'd left a chapter or two out in the movie. She added "Except for the flies coming out of the big black prisoner's mouth, and the scene where the guy gets burned up, and the magic shit I thought it was good, even if it wasn't a hologram."
        Then we put old music on and cuddled a long while and went to bed.

Next: Captures

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Journal: VDH is an academic, so I guess that makes him an 'expert', or something 25

Journal by smitty_one_each

America is suddenly angry at the laxity, incompetence, and polarizing politics of the Obama administration, the bad optics of the president putting about in his bright golf clothes while the world burns. Certainly, no recent president has failed on so many fronts â" honesty, transparency, truthfulness, the economy, foreign policy, the duties of the commander-in-chief, executive responsibilities, and spiritual leadership.

It's a great article, but, if it doesn't translate into candidates offering real reform if elected, then it's just so much whinging about.
Furthermore, Obama is a symptom, not the disease. Had his golfing fixation crippled him in 2008 the way it does now, the NTRCU (No-Talent Rodeo Clown Union) would have provided a similar piece of work.

User Journal

Journal: "What's even more interesting is how you can distinguish Obama from [Reagan]" 72

Journal by smitty_one_each

Let's see. . .
For a random example, Reagan's leadership directly led to the fall of the Berlin wall, indirectly to the fall of the Soviet Union.
Obama's has led to. . .a golf course.
Your juxtaposition of the two is so farcical as to rate a JE, so more people can laugh at it.

User Journal

Journal: Mars, Ho! Chapter Forty Five

Journal by mcgrew

Injury
        We both woke up around seven, still cuddled up on the couch. We'd been asleep for fifteen hours on that thing. We cuddled a little while more, then Destiny started coffee while I took care of the ship's air and corrected the course, since I was sleeping when the generator came back online.
        We took another shower together after drinking a little coffee and she told the cook to make pancakes and sausage, and we watched the news while breakfast was cooking. That robot makes pretty good pancakes. The sausage is pretty good, too, but my mom could do better.
        There was nothing new on the news except Venus and pirates, and pirates sure weren't new to me. More people on the Venus station were dead and the rest weren't expected to live. That must be one nasty disease!
        There was some sort of scandal where some politician was caught having financial connections to the pirates, was impeached, charged with violation of banking laws and bribery, fined, and put on probation.
        I'd have shot the God damned son of a bitch, or at least put him in prison. Fucking bastard was a God damned traitor. The pirates they'd caught on Earth earlier had all been sentenced to prison, which is what led up to the politician's arrest; his pirate friends had ratted him out in hope of lighter sentences.
        At eight I checked the readings, which of course was fine because I'd just been in there an hour earlier. Then I did inspections. The monsters were all sleeping, even the German woman, and everything was fine upstairs.
        I had to check the engines and generators but could only check half the engines and only the starboard generator because all the hallways halfway from port to starboard were completely clogged with body parts; I couldn't check the port side engines or the busted generator.
        It would take the maids weeks to clean up all the blood. They'd still be working on it when we got to Mars. God, but it was a nasty mess down there, and it was starting to stink really bad. You couldn't smell it upstairs, thank God, but going downstairs made me want to throw up. And it looked as disgusting as it smelled.
        I took off my bloody boots at the top of the stairs and put on the shoes I'd worn there. I was going to need another shower.
        There was a commotion in the commons on the way back to our quarters; Sparkle was in there and obviously low on drops. Dangerously low. Tammy came walking quickly up.
        "So youâ(TM)re going to visit Sparkle?" I asked her.
        "Are you fucking crazy, John? Of course I am! I must not have been clear in my book. If one of these women runs completely out of drops, weâ(TM)re all dead. Really. Trust me on this, this is my main field of study."
        "They knocked you on your ass and stole your drops the last time."
        "It was... well, a gamble. It paid off, I got knocked out but how many pirates died?"
        My phone rang; it was Sandy, a chubby red haired girl, wanting to know why the maid didnâ(TM)t show up. Of course, they were all in the engine and generator rooms, cleaning up blood and guts and the nasty stuff that's inside guts. It really stunk bad, worse than when Billie blew herself up. Most sickening mess I've ever seen, or smelled.
        I told her they were only coming half as often because of the sickening mess downstairs, and hung it up... where did that phrase "hang up" come from? And answered Tammy.
        "From what I can tell, thousands."
        "Where are all the bodies?"
        "The robots jettisoned them. Lots of them, anyway, there are an awful lot still downstairs. Now theyâ(TM)re all little bitty comets, except the ones that haven't been cleaned up yet. But there's still one hell of a mess down there in the engine and generator rooms and it isn't even all the way cleaned up upstairs, here."
        My fone rang again; a heavy German accent asking about the maids.
        I hung up the fone after telling her and wondered again why we said "hung up", and why the damned thing was called a fone. But then, why is an apple called an apple? Why are robots called robots? I'm called John because that's the name my parents gave me. I should go to college. Maybe I should read, like Wild Bill and Destiny does.
        I got on the PA and informed them that maids would only be there every other day for the duration of the trip because they would all be busy in the engine and generator rooms. I went the rest of the way back home and took a shower.
        While a pizza was cooking we watched another Star Wars movie because the first one was so funny, but we only got to see twenty minutes or so before an alarm went off: Injury to passenger.
        "Pause it and come on," I said, hurrying to the door. "Tammy's hurt." I talked to the fone. "Where is Tamatha Winters?"
        It said "Cargo eighty seven."
        "Is she alone?"
        "Affirmative." Damned computers.
        "Is a medic on the way?"
        "Medic en route." Why did this thing type "en route"? Why not in route? I ain't French.
        "Where's Sparkle?"
        "Unable to process order or question, please rephrase." God damned piece of shit computer! Who programs these damned things, anyway?
        "Where, is, Sparkle?" I repeated.
        "The term âsparkleâ(TM) does not exist in the database except as a dictionary entry."
        Shit. "Destiny, whatâ(TM)s Sparkleâ(TM)s real name?"
        "I donâ(TM)t know."
        Shit. "What are you going to do?" she asked.
        "I don't know," I said, and then I had an idea. I'd done this before. "Computer, when I say so I want you to replace all air except here and the sick bay with nitrogen and inform me when everyone in, uh," damned computers, "the affected areas are asl... uh, unconscious."
        "Affirmative," it said. Stupid computer. I could find Sparkle's picture in the computer but it would take too long to go through two hundred pictures.
        "Is doctor Winters in sick bay?"
        "Affirmative."
        Damned computers. "Condition?" I asked.
        "Critical," it said, and Destiny got pale. I probably got pale, too. There was no way Destiny and me could handle those dropheads without Tammy.
        I decided to look for Sparkle before knocking all of the droppers out; I don't want to damage cargo, let alone hurt people.
        It only took a few minutes to find her; she was in the commons noisily attacking the two Thai girls who had the same names. I thought it looked like she wanted to eat them, as in take them apart and swallow their flesh like a cannibal or a lion or a wolf or something, and her eyes weren't even all the way red yet. Her eyes were still really scary, though. The gruesome picture of the generators and all along the halls by the engines haunted me; it looked like some of the remaining flesh had been partially eaten. There were even bones with teeth marks on them. Nasty. But the two Thai girls were holding their own; I didn't know it but both were excellent at martial arts; Lek told me later they practiced Thai kickboxing. I have no idea how they got hooked on drops. They were easy to tell apart, now that one of them had started wearing clothes.
        I had the computer shut the door and flood it with nitrogen and hoped Sparkle passed out before the Thai girls did. When they did I had two medics bring the Thai girls out and I cuffed Sparkle, wrists and ankles. Then I went to Tammy's quarters in search of drops; angel tears were all that was going to save all of our lives now.
        I looked everywhere. She'd hid them real good, because I couldn't find them after looking for an hour and a half, so I called Destiny. She didn't know where she kept them, either.
        Shit. We were all dead.
        Maybe not. I'd had Lek, the Thai girl who talked kind of all right and knocked me out (I think, I'm not sure) but was acting human these days who I'd had took to sick bay. The other Thai girl hadn't been injured but the one that talks good was still unconscious and sporting a black eye. If Sparkle didn't get her drug she was going to die horribly and if she wasn't chained down we were all going to die horribly, and maybe even if she was chained down we'd still all die horribly.
        I went to the sick bay to see Tammy and Lek, hoping Tammy was going to live. Her medic said she was stable, but she still wasn't awake. I guess stable is better than critical, which is what she was before, but I ain't no doctor. The whole side of her face was purple.
        Destiny was there. "John," she said, "Shit, what are we going to do?"
        "I don't know," I said. "If Lek wakes up maybe we can save Sparkle and if Tammy wakes up maybe we can save everybody, but without those drops we're all dead."
        Lek stirred a little. "Give her time," Destiny said. "Let her wake up."
        But she was already sitting up on the medic, ripping off the oxygen mask. "Sparkle need drops! She be animal! She no have drops she die! We all die!"
        "I know," I said. "But we don't have any. Do you have some?"
        "I no want be animal and dealer hurt real bad," she said, glancing at Tammy. "All I got is all I got!"
        "You're lucid," Destiny said. What the hell does lucid mean? "If Tammy dies we're all dead, you can see that. Now we're trying to save Sparkle. We don't want anyone going through withdrawal. How much would it take to save Sparkle and how much do you have?"
        "I no have enough," she said. "I be animal before I get to Mars."
        I got mean; this was one of those God damned times I really hate, when I had to be an asshole just to keep people from dying.
        "Lek, what you got is what you got unless you're willing to share. And you know what you got won't get you all the way to Mars, we'll all be dead first. I'll tie you up and let you die from withdrawal if you won't help Sparkle."
        "You would not do that!"
        "Watch me, bitch. My job is getting all of us to Mars alive, or at least as many of us as possible. Now where are your God damned drops and how much does Sparkle need?"
        She pulled out a bottle, one of the kinds with a dropper for a cap. "She only need one drop now, only in one eye, give rest back, okay? I no want be animal."
        "Thank you," I said, "I'll give you your bottle back. I know that's why you want to go to Mars. You don't want to be a dropper."
        "I want be human again," she said. "I not dropper, I drophead. I no want be animal. I hope Tammy wake up or we all dead."
        Yeah, me too.
        We would be okay if Tammy woke up in time, but she was still in a coma when it was time for bed. At least the medic's readout had said her "condition was upgraded to fair".

Next: Awake

User Journal

Journal: Mars, Ho! Chapter Forty Four

Journal by mcgrew

Nitrous
        I pulled out my fone and called the fleet commander who I was amazingly boss of and told him about our little power problem, then asked the computer what the robots were doing about repairs. Or tried to, anyway.
        "Computer, what is the, uh... status of..." and the God damned machine interrupted me, of course. Who programs this junk anyway?
        "All cargo unconscious except specimen in commons area. Danger to cargo."
        "Computer," I told the piece of shit, "God damn it, how much oxygen will keep them alive and asl... uh, unconscious without damaging them?"
        "The percentage is..."
        "Add it, you piece of shit!" Yeah, getting pissed at a machine is really smart, ain't it? But I really needed sleep. "Computer. Where are them fucking robots?"
        The stupid thing replied "Robots have no sex and do not engage in..."
        Jesus. "Computer, where are the..."
        A robot carrying oxygen bottles and masks came in, the door opening quickly, it entering quickly, and the doors closing really damned fast. I thought nitrogen was harmless? It turned out that the nitrogen wouldn't hurt us but monsters would; they were all outside the commons trying to get in to kill us and eat us. We would have been dead if we'd tried to get to the houseboat.
        We got to work making the vampires and werewolves and frankensteins and whatever the hell kind of other monsters these damned dropheads were back into humans, or something not really all that different from humans, again. Some had some pretty bad cuts, we gave them their drops first and then medics took them to sick bay to treat them. I ordered the computer to put normal air in sick bay.
        Poor broads. I really feel sorry for them. I hope Destiny's charity that Tammy works for can help them, it sure looked like she was getting results from Lek. Lek was wearing clothes and acting like a respectable lady, although her eyes were usually a little bloodshot and she wasn't smiling much, especially for someone who came from the Land of Smiles.
        That God damned stupid fucking computer must suck at arithmetic, because I barely got the last drop in the last monster's eye when she started waking up. Scared the shit out of me, how would you feel if you were putting eye drops in Dracula's eye and he started to wake up? Especially if he had scary red eyes like a mad dropper? Christ, I almost had a coronary!
        Now I had to see what the hell was wrong with that damned generator and do a full inspection of the engines. Shit. Well, it wasn't as bad as that Saturn run when all the engines blew out, at least I had plenty of full batteries and all but one engine was working.
        You guys know, of course, that you can only run fifty eight engines on batteries. That's only point twenty five gravities and usually not even much, I don't know how Bill managed more but he's a nerd that reads a lot of technical manuals. The whores ain't gonna like it one little bit. And if more pirates come... I mean, we ain't that near to Mars yet, we have a while. I'm just glad I have that fleet. And its commander said I was in charge! Wow, I ain't never been in charge of nothing but machinery before.
        Tammy called. "John, we need nitrous oxide, a precise amount, in the atmosphere. The computer said I don't have the clearance to accomplish it."
        "Give me a minute," I said, and hung up. Hung? Up?
        "Computer," I ordered the fone, "add whatever Doctor Winters asks for to the atmosphere." What the hell is nitrous oxide and why did Tammy want it? I called her back. "You're getting your nitr, uh... whatever. What the hell is it and why does it need to be in the atmosphere?"
        "Nitrous oxide. Laughing gas. It will calm the droppers down and they won't mind the low gravity much at all."
        "Will it affect us?" I asked.
        "Of course it will," she answered. "What, you think it's something that only affects droppers?"
        "Well, I'd hoped so. What will it do? Look, Tammy, if I can't think straight we might die. It's bad enough with me being so damned tired and sleepy, I already can't think very straight."
        "I've seen you drunk on wine!" she said.
        "Not when there were pirates after us and running on batteries and with another hailstorm coming that we'd been past if our only working generator hadn't broke and when I'm in charge of a God damned fleet and I ain't never been in charge of nothing before. Captains may not have to know as much as they did when they had to go to college, but we got to know when it's okay to drink and when beer will kill you. And this is one of those times. I can't get intoxicated!"
        Intoxicated. Them two is rubbing off on me. "I can't be breathing laughing gas. It could kill us all. Because right now I need what little brain I have left."
        The computer interrupted with an alarm. "Meteor shower ahead".
        She thought a second... maybe not even that long. "Get an oxygen generation belt from sick bay and breathe from that. Your thought processes may even be clearer depending on how much nitrous you ingest."
        "I what? âIn jestâ(TM)? What's funny got to do with it?"
        "Breathe. Drink. Eat. With this itâ(TM)s just breathe. Keep the oxygen mask on and you should be okay."
        "Okay," I said, and told the computer to flood the pilot room and my quarters and Tammy's quarters and engines and generators with normal air, with Tammy's laughing gas mixture in the rest of the boat, and then I went to the pilot room to steer around the space rain.
        After driving for fifteen or twenty minutes, by hand, no less, and I almost never do that even though I did fighting all those God damned pirates, but I had to because I was on batteries, I was around the rocks. I clipped the bottle of oxygen to my belt that a robot had brought, and put on the mask. I had to see if the robots were having any luck with the generator, and I still had a hell of a lot of engines to inspect down there.
        There were a hundred giggling, naked women in the commons. I guessed Tammy and Destiny were in my cabin where air was normal and they wouldnâ(TM)t get stoned, and that Tammy had been generous with drops. She sure knew what she was doing.
        I went back down the five damned flights of stairs to the starboard generator. God, but it was a nasty, stinking, bloody mess down there, so many body parts piled in the hallway I wasn't going to be able to inspect half the engines or the other generator. Where were the damned robots? I pulled out my fone. "Computer," I said, "why arenâ(TM)t there any robots working on the generator?"
        It replied "Repair machinery is removing parts from the port generator that were not damaged when the generator incinerated." I wondered how the hell they got there past the stinking mess.
        "Can they fix it?"
        "Negative."
        "Why not?"
        "We are lacking a replacement pressure regulator. Port generator pressure regulator was incinerated."
        Damn. "Okay, computer, How long is it going to take to replace everything except the regulator?"
        "Between one and three hours."
        It sounded like time for a movie, I thought, so tired that I forgot how badly I needed to sleep. I inspected the engines and was amazed that there wasn't anything wrong with any of them after what I'd put them through. At least, the ones I could get to, bodies and parts of bodies were piled three or four meters high. I started back to my quarters, but stopped when I had an idea. I called my "second in command"; heh, how about that? Anyway, I asked Ramos "Does anybody in this fleet have a spare pressure regulator that will work on my generator?"
        The answer was a "yes"; one of the boats could shut down a generator and remove the regulator, whatever the hell a "pressure regulator" is, dock, and my robots would install it. Of course I had to get paper from the company, but we had three hours. I sent paper to the company and went home. I called Ramos again and told him to to dock and supply when the paperwork came in.
        I left my bloody boots on the landing and walked home in my stocking feet.
        We didn't even bother with dinner, we just took a shower together and then sat on the couch cuddling to Clapton. This had been one hell of a long, trying day. In fact, today had been several days long. At least tomorrow we would have normal air and better gravity.
        We both fell asleep on the couch, cuddled up together.

Some programming languages manage to absorb change, but withstand progress. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982

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