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Journal Journal: Thirteen: The Final Chapter 4

It's that time of year again. The time of year when everyone and their dog waxes nostalgic about all the shit nobody cares about from the year past, and stupidly predicts the next year in the grim knowlege that when the next New Year comes along nobody will remember that the dumbass predicted a bunch of foolish shit that turned out to be complete and utter balderdash. I might as well, too. Just like I did last year (yes, a lot of this was pasted from last year's final chapter). But first, the yearly index:

the Paxil Diaries
A Paxil Diary Christmas Story

If I wanted to be nagged I'd get married...
The rogue animal
An Open Letter to Google
Beam me up, Scotty!
John thinks I'm a space alien
Why does McDonalds want to make me fat?
The phone
What a wonderous thing I have in my pocket!

Last year I predicted I'd get the book out, and damned if that one wasn't accurate! I gots balls of crystal. It's selling like hotcakes!

You know the hotcakes I'm talking about, the ones in the dumpster behind iHop that they couldn't sell. But hell, I didn't write it to make money, I wrote it so people would read it.

But nobody's following the links to the book. Guys, you saw a preliminary sketch at slashdot, the book is the painting. Maybe you're all waiting until the whole thing is posted... I hope.

I also started another sci-fi book, this one about ferrying crackwhores to Mars. The working title: Mars, Ho! Here's what's sketched out so far, although I haven't worked on it in quite a while:
Whores in Space
More of the new book
Uh, three?
The Eyedropper On Board
A routine inspection. With a hangover.
Bill's crippled boat
Um, what chapter is this?
Tammy's book

Last years' stupid predictions:
100% accuracy!
Someone will die. Not necessarily anybody I know...
SETI will find no sign of intelligent life. Not even on Earth.
The Pirate Party won't make inroads in the US. I hope I'm wrong about that one.
US politicians will continue to be wholly owned by the corporations.
I'll still be a nerd.
You'll still be a nerd.
technophobic fashionista jocks will troll slashdot.
Slashdot will be rife with dupes.
Many FPs will be poorly edited.
I'll finally get that book in paper form

Nailed it! Here's one to replace it, as I'll just keep the same list: I'll retire and/or die. Actually, I retire at the end of February. I'll have a lot more time, maybe I'll get all the editions of Nobots formatted, The Paxil Diaries in print, and the Mars book finished. Maybe.

Happy New Year! Ready for another trip around the sun?

User Journal

Journal Journal: Nobots Chapter Sixteen

Online now.

A lot of people have the flu around here. Leila's sick, so we won't be having lunch today. Ruthie, the bartender at Felbers, had it last week. I dropped by there after work last night.

"Hi, Steve!" Ruthie said. "Sell any more books?"

"Not in a while," I replied. Billy's ex girlfriend, whose name I can never remember, was sitting on the other side of the extremely obese young woman sitting to my right. She said "You wrote a book?"

"Yeah. A science fiction novel."

"I love to read. That's why I have such a big purse, I read on the bus. There's four books in it right now. I'd like to read it."

"There's a copy here, just ask Ruthie. You can read it here."

Ruthie got the book for her. Someone asked "What's that?" Ruthie answered "It's the Felbers book!"

"Felbers book?" the obese woman asked.

"Yeah," I said. "I wrote part of it here."

Billy's old girlfriend complained that she couldn't concentrate in the bar, and finally talked me into loaning her a copy. "just leave it with Ruthie or Rachel," she said.

I drank a couple of beers and went home and put in a science fiction Christmas move I'd forgotten to watch, The Life of Brian. I think I fell asleep before the outer space scene with the weird aliens.

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Journal Journal: Nobots Chapter Fifteen 3

Like I said... OK, that aside. I was wondering why I can't watch over the air TV on my phone? I mean. it has a radio.

Then I realized -- not enough room for the antenna. Microwave antenna are tiny, TV antennas range from six inches to a meter depending o if UHF or VHF. Duh!

Then a couple years later KSHE is advertising this NextRadio app that lets you hear local FM radio without streaming. Huh? How did they do that? FM is right between channels 6 and7 on the VHF band. that's at least a meter's wavelength (I haven't done the math). How the hell?

It seems they use the ear bud or audio cable wire as an antenna. I'm impressed! Now, the next phone I buy can I watch channel four on it?

User Journal

Journal Journal: Nobots Chapter Fourteen

Actually it was posted Saturday and I never got around to journaling. I'll post the next chapter today or tomorrow.

I was at Felbers yesterday, and who should come in but Tammy Seger, who I haven't seen in the couple of years since I broke up with her; She's the one known as "Skinny Tammy". I'd broken it off because she'd gotten into some business I wanted nothing to do with, and she said a lot had happened. She'd been in the hospital a couple of times and everything was different with her.

She wound up spending the night.

I didn't get much sleep.

We got up early, she had to return the car she'd borrowed, I had to give her a ride home, about 30 miles away, and Leila and I had planned on traveling down to Belleville to visit family on this Christmas Eve.

It was hellishly cold this morning, two degrees with a -10 wind chill. That's -17 for those of you in the civilized world, with a wind chill of -23.

My car wouldn't start. Damned battery was probably frozen solid. W decided I'd roll my car into the street so she could jump me. No sooner than I had the flashers on a cop came by. I told her we were jumping it and it would only take a minute.

The trunk was frozen shut. I couldn't get to the jumpers. I told the cop I have roadside assistance through my insurance and would call them. "It's only 6:30," she said. "There won't be anyone there."

"Yes there will be," I said. "They're staffed 24/7." She was dubious and asked again what tow truck I would like to come. "I have them on the line," I said.

The insurance lady said it would be two hours. "But," I protested," I can't wait two hours, it's blocking traffic and the police are parked behind it."

"Oh dear, let me call again." Shortly after I was able to report to the cop "twenty minutes." Twenty minutes later the mechanic had trouble getting it to turn over, but it started. The radio wasn't working and the CD changer's lights were flashing in a weird pattern, the ABS light was lit, the brake light was lit. I backed it into the driveway and went inside to warm up.

I felt downright ill when I got inside. Damn, gettin' old, I guess.

The trip to Edinberg was a nightmare, driving straight into the sun. I mentioned I was retiring in February. "That's great!" she said. "What are you going to do?"

I grinned. "Any damned thing I want!"

"You're going to get bored."

"No I won't."

"There's only so much TV you can watch until you're sick of it."

"I've been writing."

"Oh, yeah, you told me about your book. That's an accomplishment! I'd like to read it some time."

"You should have said something, we could have brought a copy."

"I thought you only had the one."

We finally made it to Edinberg and she thanked me, said she loved me, and went inside.

The trip home was fine, with the sun behind me. I called Leila and Mom, picked up my notebook and started typing this journal...

User Journal

Journal Journal: Nobots Chapter Thirteen

Online now.

I went out and cleaned the snow off of the lights and windows and drove off. It was really slick. I cashed a check, drove home and called the cleaning lady. "I'm not making you go out in that," I said. "You get a paid vacation today, I'll give you thirty next week." She works an hour on Saturday mornings. She's been here to clean once and the house is a lot better.

Princess staggered out of Patty's bedroom. "Princess? Are you OK?" It was pretty obvious that she wasn't. I'd have to take her to the vet Monday.

Leila called, and I told her we'd have lunch the next day when it was less slick. Actually, she suggested it. I asked if I could borrow her cat carrier, telling her Princess was sick. She said I could pick it up when I saw her.

The next day Princess seemed normal but I was going to take her to the vet, anyway. I took Leila to lunch -- and we both completely forgot the carrier. I went by Felbers on the way home. Not much going on there, but there was someone with pot. I was glad I could get some, it's been scarce and I was almost out.

I couldn't get Princess in until Tuesday afternoon. I went to get Leila's cat carrier, came home and got Princess. I picked her up, and she's lost a lot of weight. I was worried.

That carrier was completely necessary, as I found out last year when she had the ingrown toenail. She doesn't like the outside at all. She'd started howling and clawing as soon as we went through the door. I still have scars from the clawing.

The vet had very bad news; sixteen year old Princess wasn't sick, she was dying. She had no diseases but all her organs were shutting down; she was literally dying of old age. I went ahead and had them do bloodwork and inject plasma because she was severely dehydrated.

I started crying in the vet's office. At least, a tear or two left my eye despite my efforts to keep those damned tears in. "I can't even bury her," I said. "The ground is frozen solid."

There was pained empathy on the doctor's face. "We have cremation facilities," she said. "Talk to your daughter and see if she wants euthanasia." She had some fancy cat food that was for cats that refused to eat, and some appetite stimulation pills. "Don't get your hopes up," she said. I got Princess to lick at the food once, but that was it.

I'd tried to call Patty from the vet's but had gotten no answer, probably at work or in class, I thought. My pocket buzzed against my leg on the way home. I took Princess inside and checked my phone.

It had been Patty calling me back. I called her back. Phone tag. I made Princess comfortable on the couch next to me. Little One came up, jealous. I tried to explain to the silly little cat that Princess was dying and needed me, and started crying hard. Uncontrollably.

The phone rang. It was Patty. "H-hello?"

"Dad? Are you ok?"

I sobbed some more, powerless to stop. Princess was Calie's kitten, the last surviving one in the litter. Patty's been in Ohio for almost ten years but her cats stayed here. I was losing an old friend. No, an old family member. I was probably crying as much for Patty as for myself.

I told Patty about the vet visit, how Princess had no disease but was just too old to stay alive much longer. "Like Bill last year," she said. He was my step father, "Grandpa Bill" to Patty who had known him all her life.

Getting old sucks. The worst thing about it is everybody dying all around you. My dad is next, he's dying of liver cancer thanks to whoever manufactured all that polychlorinated biphenyl transformer oil he was exposed to in his career as electrical lineman.

At least I have a valid reason for the blues now. Happy lights won't help, just time. Ironically, Princess is beside me right now, and healing won't start until she's gone.

But no more pets. When Little One is gone that's it. It just hurts too damned bad when they die.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Nobots Chapter Twelve 2

Now online.

I hate this time of year. Not the holidays, they're the only bright spot in this dreary time of year. The short days, long nights, cold... and damn but it was cold last week.

I'm never much good this time of year, mentally, physically, or emotionally. It lasts from the middle of December to the middle of January when the days start getting a little longer. I haven't done much about the books except piddle around with the Paxil Diaries; it takes all I have to get out of bed and go to work. I believe I have a touch of Seasonal Affective Disorder. I suspect that everyone has at least a little, considering how surly everyone gets.

Fridays are especially nice this time of year. Two days of freedom coming! So yesterday they were predicting rain, sleet, and snow. I looked out the window about three and the snow had started. By the time I got off work the streets and sidewalks were slicker than snake snot.

When I looked out the window this morning, Springfield looked like a Christmas card. It was still dark outside. There must be six inches of snow. And damn it, I have to go out in it, because I need to cash a check to pay the cleaning lady with.

Damn but I'll be glad when Spring gets here.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Nobots Chapter Eleven

Online now.

Damn but it's been cold this week, I feel like I'm stuck on McMurdo. Hey, it's summer there, isn't it? Probably not much colder than here. January seems to be a month early this year, our high temperatures are our normal lows. It's supposed to be zero tomorrow morning -- that's about minus 17 C. Damned cold.

Amy called Monday and said she read a little of Nobots when she was at Felbers. "It's certainly, uh, different," she said.

Well, yeah, I sure hope so!

Those of you who have copies or get them soon may have something valuable in the future. So far there are only 16 copies in the format you have, and I'm not quite satisfied with the size; 6x9 is too big. I've been reformatting it to 5x8, and after I submit it and get a copy to review, the 6x9s will be gone.

I told Amy I'd be lucky to break even on my book. "Yeah," she said, "Uncle Richard barely made his back." I knew Richard twenty years ago when he was writing it. His sister had won the lottery, and bought him a computer. Twenty years ago computers were damned expensive.

He worked in the same building as me, and they moved my unit before he got it published and I lost track of him. He died about five years ago. A Vietnam combat veteran, he'd written the book, Letters from Home, about his wartime experience. I read the copy they have in the library, it wasn't bad.

Amy had wanted a copy but it had been long out of print. She'd looked for used copies at the Elf Shelf, and they told her that they'd had an almost ruined, rain-soaked copy a week earlier that had sold for two hundred bucks! It seems rare books are expensive.

You have a rare book -- or will have when the 5x8 is out.

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Journal Journal: Nobots Chapter Ten 8

Online now.

Not a whole lot has been happening. I took Wednesday off because they forecasted sixty degrees, probably the last time I'll see weather that warm before I retire.

I got stoned and wasted the day working on my books. I have the paperback version of Nobots formatted to the smaller page size and typeface up to chapter 31. I got a postcard from a printer in St Louis that probably spams everyone who buys and ISBN, and their prices are more reasonable than Lulu's, but you have to buy in bulk and I'll have to call or email to find out if they do 4.5x7 inch newsprint paperbacks.

I got The Paxil Diaries mostly formatted, but converting the dumb quotes to smart quotes may be problematic, since "replace" in Open Office replaces a dumb quote with another dumb quote, even when you paste a smart quote into the "replace" field. There's surely an easy way, I'd hate to have to do it by hand. And it's twice as long as Nobots.

I haven't touched Mars, Ho!. I'll have to re-read what I've written to write more of it. I may try to stretch it to 100,000 words (20,000 more than Paxil) and see if I can get Baen to publish it when it's finished. 100,000 words is their minimum book size.

I worry that making it that long may make it boring. I don't want to write an All the Lives He Led, I returned that book to the library when I was only half finished with it. Was Pohl getting paid by the word, or was he trying to write a futuristic Lord of the Rings?

My new cleaning lady is supposed to show up in an hour, but I won't blame her if she doesn't show. It's only nine degrees out there, that's roughly -13 C.

I sure don't want to leave the house. I think I'll watch Christmas movies this afternoon -- Die Hard, Die Hard Two, Lethal Weapon, Lethal Weapon Two...

Nah, I'll work on the books.

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Journal Journal: Nobots Chapter Nine

Online now

"I brought a copy of my book with me," I told Mom, "But Mike bought it."

"What book?" she asked, puzzled.

"I told you last time I was here. I wrote a book."

"No you didn't."

"Yes I did." Mom's eighty four years old. She frowned, a kind of puzzled look on her face... like maybe I did tell her but she forgot. She's still young for her age, goes bowling every week.

"What kind of book?"

"Science fiction. You wouldn't like it, there's some harsh language."

"Oh, that's normal these days," she said.

"I should read some James Patterson," I said. "Almost every time I see a woman with a book, it's one of his. I need to find out what it is about his writing that women like so much. That guy must be a gillionaire."

"There's a James Patterson book by the door you might like," she said."It's his only science fiction book. I didn't care too much for that one."

"What does he usually write?" I'm thinking it's probably romance novels, fifty shades of green paper and the like.

"Murder mysteries."

Mom loves murder mysteries, always has. I never cared much for them, I guess it's a woman thing and why Patterson is so popular among women. Although I did enjoy Asimov's "Baily" trilogy, but I don't think I ever read anything by Asimov I didn't like.

I've been reading the book she gave me, When the Wind Blows.

Maybe it's hubris, but I think I write better than he does, especially since he has editors and proofreaders and typesetters. The story's pretty good so far, though. He's readable.

I did find a problem with my own writing Saturday. Betty came by with a friend who cleaned houses, and mine's filthy, so she brought her over to meet me. I'm going to pay her fifteen dollars for an hour's work Saturday mornings.

"I love your book," Betty said. "I'm on chapter three, I think. Except... some of those big words... are they real words I can look up in a dictionary?" She took a hit off the doobie and passed it to her friend, whose name I've forgotten.

"Most of them," I said. "Some are made up, like 'Stratodoober'."

I thought of the character in Mars, Ho!, the book I'be been working on but neglecting. "I ain't never went to college," the character says.

Betty's friend grinned and looked at me. "Yeah," I said. "It's something you get high with.

"Damn," Betty said. "I'm zombified. We have to go and I just want to sit here!"

They left and I got back to work on The Paxil Diaries. To use an old blacksmithing cliche, I have too many irons in the fire. I'm getting "Paxil" in printable form because people keep requesting it, getting Nobots into paperback form, working on the Mars book, and I've started one about my old Quake site. The computer's aging battery died, so I plugged it in and picked up the Patterson book.

He doesn't write bad, I'm sure I'll finish it. Nowhere near as bad as Stephen King says he is. King says Patterson "is a terrible writer, but very successful."

Marketing beats quality every time. That's a skill I wish I had.

Half a dozen people at Felbers have said they want to read Nobots, so I left a copy there yesterday. I guess I need to order some more...

User Journal

Journal Journal: Christmas on Stroggos

From 1997 to 2003 I had a Quake web site, The Springfield Fragfest. Every December it sported presents: skins, maps, MP3s, Quake Christmas Carols. It's been fifteen years since it's been up.

Alas, it's not quite as good as it was -- it's been at least ten years since I've done any programming and I can't seem to get the javascript to work. On the original page when the javascript worked, if you moused over the Strogg on the right, Sonic the Hedgehog came out and did battle with it.

I also can't find the "binary wallpaper". It was a small animated GIF of green ones and zeros on a black background that changed from zero to one seemingly randomly until they disappeared maybe thirty seconds later when the images at the top finished loading at 56k.

However, the MP3s of a twelve year old Patty singing "Rudolph the Four Legged Stroggie" and "I Saw Mommie Killing Santa Clause" are there.

Probably half the site is still up at archive.org.

Since I have a site again to p1mp my books with, I thought I'd re-post it this year, just click the link at the beginning of this JE. Enjoy!

User Journal

Journal Journal: Nobots Chapter Eight

Spies is online.

Thursday was the first time in 125 years that Thanksgiving and Hanukkah fell on the same dates. According to the news reports, it won't happen again for another 70,000 years.

I picked Leila up about eight for the journey down to the St. Louis area. It was only 22 degrees F and the cold wind was blowing hard. It was almost as cold as Leila's mom's heart.

Leila has a habit of bringing most her electronic toys with her, even when they're redundant. I'd had a hard time returning the extra phone they'd sent, and since Leila had said she wanted it I'd given it to her as an early Christmas present. She brought it for the camera, her tablet for music, her CD player for more music, and a big bag of snacks. I'd talked her out of bringing her notebook; she had the tablet.

All I took was what's always in my pockets, a copy of Nobots (three were delivered Wednesday) and two bags of frozen Brussels' sprouts that I was going to cook at my mom's and take to my sister's.

We stopped off at Mike's place in Columbia on the way to Mom's. He'd asked me to drop by and look at his teenaged grandkids' XBoxes to see if I could fix the CDs. I hadn't looked inside an XBox but figured I might be able to replace them with CD players from old computers.

I've known Mike for forty years. He's probably my best friend.

"Come in," Rita responded to my knock. We did.

"Where's that old man?" I asked. Mike's ten years younger than me.

"He's still in bed. He was up until four drinking and bothering me while I was trying to cook. Go get his ass up!"

I went and turned on the light in his bedroom. "You're early," he said.

"No," I replied, "We're running late, stopped for breakfast on the way. It's ten thirty, get out of that bed!"

Mike Junior poured me a cup of coffee and Mike Senior came out. "Look what I have," I said, handing him the book.

"Cool! What do you get for these?"

"Twenty five bucks."

"What do they cost you?"


"I'll give you a twenty."

"Deal," I said. What's five bucks between old friends? Especially since he feeds me pot, beer, and food almost every time I visit.

"I still have that pocket knife your dad made," he said. After his retirement my dad made hand-crafted, very high quality pocket knives completely from scratch. Like I've mentioned, eye-hand coordination and creativity runs in the family -- his brother had gotten filthy rich making medical prosthetics. Fortunately for Uncle Dan his partner was an amputee and a born salesman, and salesmanship is something that doesn't run in the family. I couldn't sell a glass of water to a rich man dying of thirst.

Alas, the CD players in the XBoxes are entirely proprietary, with completely different form factors and electrical connectors than in a computer.

We stayed an hour or so. Mike gave me a couple of hits off his hitter. I asked him if Mike Jr. could get me one of the vaporizers he'd had the last time I'd come down and what they cost. "Ask Mike," Mike said.

It turns out the vaporizer was ninety nine bucks and the hash oil for it was hard to come by. "There's only one guy I can get it from," he said.

Pity, that thing was great -- I'd "smoked" out of it the last time I'd been down. Damned thing is one step closer to a stratodoober. Oh, well, when that new medical marijuana law they passed in Illinois comes into effect my insurance company will buy one for me and supply the oil. For my arthritis, of course.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Nobots Chapters Five and Six

I've changed the release schedule for the HTML. Instead of a chapter a week I'm doubling it. Chapter five and chapter six are online now.

I have a new working title for the new book: Mars, Ho! I've hardly looked at it lately. I've been working on the web site, reformatting Nobots for the paperback edition, and yes, working on getting a printed version of the Paxil Diaries. Ykant asked about that a couple of days ago but I was already working on it.

And I've been watching The Big Bang Theory. I'd downloaded season six at the end of the season but didn't have time to watch them. I thought I'd seen all of them, but MeTV has been showing syndicated reruns and I saw one I hadn't seen before. I saw the boxed set at the store and picked it up. I'd missed most of the season!

I've hardly been at Felbers at all. I've just had no time for drinking.

Yesterday they shipped the three copies of Nobots I ordered. I wonder when they'll get here?

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Journal Journal: Nobots Chapter Four 4

Chapter 4 is online.

Betty dropped by Saturday night for a visit. I'd asked her before I published if she'd proofread it, as she found the two deliberate typos in The Paxil Diaries (which I should publish in book form). She'd been in the middle of two other books and didn't want to take on a third.

"Already published," I said, handing my copy to her. "And sold a few." She opened to the first page and started reading -- and grinning, a good sign.

"What's 'Ezekial'?" she asked.

"A book in the bible."

"There's no book of Ezekial!"

"Yes there is," I said, getting my bible. I showed her.

"How 'bout that?" She said. "I love what I read so far. Most books it takes a chapter or two before I get sucked in, three paragraphs and I have to finish this!"

Wait until she gets to "Stratodoober Madness".

She went home with my copy, signed with the inscription "To my friend with benefits."

Not only are people buying it, it got me laid! I imagine that she's fantasized about writers before...

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Journal Journal: Nobots Chapter Three 1

Chapter Three is online as you read this, but not as I write it; tomorrow is Veteran's day, so I'll be at Felber's tomorrow with my fellow veterans. Probably this afternoon, too.

I got a piece of snail spam that may affect the book. There's an outfit in St Louis that wants to print copies in lots of 50. They're cheaper but that's a lot of cash for me to put up front. I think I'll get in touch and see what they want for 4.5x7 newsprint "pocket book" paperback.

It's today now. Robably commented that he got his copy yesterday, which is strange since he wasn't the first to buy a copy, and I ordered a copy to replace the one I gave Patty before anyone else. And he lives in the UK. My copy came today, so the rest should be delivered in a couple of days. Unless anybody else wants to buy one...

Chapter three adds quite a bit to the draft that was posted at slashdot. You're introduced to Angela Picard, who is an explanation for why the military and sports are so looked down on on Mars. He plays a part in later chapters in the life of one of the main characters.

He isn't all that was added to this chapter.

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IN MY OPINION anyone interested in improving himself should not rule out becoming pure energy. -- Jack Handley, The New Mexican, 1988.