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User Journal

Journal Journal: Like Owen Wilson in Armageddon 7

So the Fuckhead Of The United States is having literally the worst first month of a presidential term and his big idea is a 2020 campaign rally in fucking Florida this weekend?

Oughtta just nuke the whole country, it's the only way to be sure at this point. Fucking Yanks.

User Journal

Journal Journal: The Printer 5

(Illustrated version here)
        After buying copies of books from my book printer, finding errors to correct, and giving the bad copies to my daughter who wants them, rather than discarding them I realized I was stupid. It would be a lot cheaper to buy a laser printer.
        An inkjet wouldnâ(TM)t work for me. The printer is going to be sitting idle most of the time, and inkjet nozzles clog; Iâ(TM)ve had several, and all clogged if you didnâ(TM)t use them at least every other day. Plus, the ink dries out in the cartridges. Being a powder, toner has no such problem.
        So I went looking at the Staples site, and they badly need a new webmaster. This little four year old laptop only has a gig of memory, and a lot of people have far less. The poor little machine choked. That damned web site took every single one of my billion bytes!
        Or rather than firing him, make him design his websites on an old 486. Or even 386.
        So what the hell, I just drove down there; I didnâ(TM)t want to wait for (or pay for) it to be shipped, anyway, I just wanted to see what they had.
        Buying it was easy. They had exactly the printer I was looking for; Canon, a name I trusted since we had Canons and other brands at work, wireless networking, and not expensive. They had a huge selection of lasers; itâ(TM)s a very big store. I paid for the printer and sheaf of paper, and man, lasers sure have gotten a lot less expensive. I expected at least $250 just for the printer, maybe without even toner, but the total including tax and paper was just a little over a hundred.
        When I got home, of course I pulled out the manual like I do with every piece of electronics I buyâ"and it was worse than the âoemanualâ that came with the external hard drive I ranted about here earlier. Cryptic drawings and very little text. At least the hard drive didnâ(TM)t need a manual. All there is is a network port, a USB port, a power socket, and an on/off button. Plug it in and it just works. With the printer, I really needed a manual.
        Kids, hieroglyphics are thousands of years out of style and I donâ(TM)t know why youâ(TM)re so drawn to emoticons, but there was an obvious reason for these hieroglyphics: globalization. Far fewer words to be written in three different languages.
        I could find nothing better on Canonâ(TM)s web site. So I followed the instructions in the poor excuse for a manual for unpacking it and setting it up, as best as I could.
        I couldnâ(TM)t find the paper tray.
        Iâ(TM)ve been printing since 1984 when I bought a small plotter and wrote software to make it into a printer. Afterwards I had ink jets at home until now, and lasers at work. All the lasers were different from each other in various ways, usually the shape of the toner cartridge, but all had a drawer that held the paper no matter what brand of printer.
        I couldnâ(TM)t find it. Sighing and muttering, I opened the lid to the big laptop and copied the CDâ(TM)s contents to a thumb drive to install the printer on the smaller notebook. Thereâ(TM)s no reason to make two calls to tech support, because an installation screwup is never unexpected when youâ(TM)ve been dealing with computers as long as I have.
        And why send a CD? Fewer and fewer computers have CD or DVD burners any more. Why not a thumb drive? All computers have USB ports these days, and have had for over a decade.
        The installation was trouble-free but still troubling; I didnâ(TM)t think the wi-fi was connecting, as it said to hold the router button until the blue light on the printer stopped flashing. I held the button down until my finger hurt and was about to call tech support, but as I reached for the phone the light stopped flashing and burned steadily.
        Maybe it was working, but Iâ(TM)d have to find the paper tray to find out. But it had installed a manual, one I couldnâ(TM)t find. So I plugged the thumb drive back in and searched it visually with a file manager, and found an executable for the manual. Running it took me to an offline web page which wasnâ(TM)t too badly designed, but I would have far preferred a PDF, as I could put that on the little tablet to reference while I was examining the printer in search of where to stick the damned paper, instead of a bulky, clumsy notebook.
        I finally found it, and it wasnâ(TM)t a tray, even though thatâ(TM)s what the documents called it. I havenâ(TM)t seen anything like it before, and the documentation was very unclear. But I did manage to get paper in it, and sent a page to it, and it worked well.
        Meanwhile, I wish Staples would fix their web site, and Canon would fix their documentation.
        When did clear, legible documentation go out of style? Hell, the lasers we had at work didnâ(TM)t even need docs. Good thing, too, because IT never left them when they installed crap. Another reason Iâ(TM)m glad Iâ(TM)m retired! Work sucks.
        At any rate, a few hours later I printed the cleaned up scans of The Golden Book of Springfield so I could check for dirt I missed looking on a screen. I saved it as PDF and printed it from that. And amazingly, this thing prints duplex! It only took fifteen or twenty minutes or so to print the 329 pages.
        Iâ(TM)m happy with it. Man, progress... it just amazes me. But when I went to print from Open Office, the word processor Iâ(TM)ve used for years, I didnâ(TM)t try sending the print job to the printer, but it looked like Oo wonâ(TM)t print duplex.
        Then I discovered that they may stop developing Open Office because they couldnâ(TM)t get developers; the developers were all working on Libre Office.
        Damn. The last time I tried Lo it didnâ(TM)t have full justification, which was a show stopper when Iâ(TM)m publishing books. Iâ(TM)d tried it because someone said it would write in MS Word format. I was skeptical, and my skepticism was fully warranted. It could write a DOC file, but Word couldnâ(TM)t read it. Plus, of course, the show stopping lack of full justification.
        I decided to try it out again, since Oo may be doomed⦠and man! Not only does it have full justification, it has a lot Oo lacks that I didnâ(TM)t even know I needed. It appears to now actually write a DOC file that Word can read, even though when you save it in DOC the program warns you it might not work in Word.
        And it might⦠I havenâ(TM)t tested it⦠might arrange pages for a booklet. Iâ(TM)ll test it with this article⦠when itâ(TM)s longer than four pages, as it is now.
        This was all over the course of the last week as I was working on a PDF of the Vachel Lindsay book. The computer nagged me that the printer was running low on toner (it has a small âoestarterâ cartridge), with a button to order toner from Canon. I clicked it, and damn, the toner cost almost as much as the printer did.
        Then I ran out of paper, so I went back to Staples, where I discovered that the printer I had paid eighty something plus tax for was now twice that price! So I got the toner and five reams of paper.
        At any rate, I tried to print this as a booklet, and this is what came out:

        Itâ(TM)s backlit; the picture on the top left and the grayer text on the bottom right are on the other side of the page.
        But a little fiddling and yes, it will print booklets. It isnâ(TM)t Libre Office doing it, itâ(TM)s the printer itself!

        I like this printer. Iâ(TM)ve figured it to about a penny per page, and I donâ(TM)t think thatâ(TM)s too expensive, considering a page is both sides.
        And then I had this document open in Libre Office, tried to insert a graphic (the second one in this article), and it simply didnâ(TM)t insert. Maybe it doesnâ(TM)t like JPG files, I donâ(TM)t yet know. A little googling showed me that Iâ(TM)m not the only one with this problem, and none of the fixes I found fixed it. I have Open Office open now.
        And here I was going to uninstall Open Office. Iâ(TM)d better not, I guess. Iâ(TM)ll need it if I want to insert a graphic; inserted in Oo they show in Lo. Puzzling.
        A week later and Iâ(TM)ve found that sometimes it will insert a graphic, but only if you go through the menu; using text shortcuts never inserts it. And sometimes it simply doesnâ(TM)t insert the picture, and sometimes it says it doesnâ(TM)t recognize the format when Iâ(TM)d just put the same graphic in another Lo document.
        Well, Iâ(TM)m not uninstalling Open Office yet, anyway. Not until Lo solves the graphics show-stoppng bug.
â¦
        I wrote that a few weeks ago, and have been using both. Libre Office has a horrible problem with keyboard shortcuts, and those shortcuts save a LOT of time. But except for its horrible bugs, itâ(TM)s a better word processor than Open Office. So both will remain installed.
        Itâ(TM)s possible I may uninstall Microsoft Office, depending on how well Loâ(TM)s spreadsheet works. I havenâ(TM)t even fired it up yet, but Ooâ(TM)s spreadsheet is almost useless.
â¦
        The above is several months old now. Lo does lack one important thing Oo has: controls to move to the next or previous page. Not good when youâ(TM)re writing books. Also, it still has graphics problems. Often, simply opening a document in Lo removes any graphics.
        After sitting idle for a month or so, I needed to print a return label. Iâ(TM)m starting to become wary of buying anything from Amazon. Iâ(TM)d bought a new battery for this laptop a year or two ago, and the battery came from someone other than Amazon, and it was the wrong battery. I got the right battery directly from Acer.
        Then I ordered a long throw stapler to make booklets with, and staples for it. The stapler came a week later; no staples. So I bought a box from Walgreenâ(TM)s. A week later, the staples came, again not from Amazon, and they had simply thrown the box of staples in an unprotected envelope. The box was smashed, the rows of staples broken.
        Then I ordered a DVD, Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I watched the first six, put the seventh in the DVD playerâ"and it was region coded for the UK! Some company from Florida sent it. WTF is wrong with people? So I needed a return label.
        It wouldnâ(TM)t print; it just hung in the print queue until it timed out. After a little digging, I found that the router had assigned a new IP address to it.
        So after a lot of googling, I gave up and cringed; I was going to need tech support, which is usually a nightmare. I wind up on the phone talking to someone with an accent so heavy I can barely understand them, if at all, who is ignorant of the product and reading from a checklist.
        I found Canon was one of those few companies that actually care about keeping their customers happy. Support was over email, painless, and effective.
        I have to say, itâ(TM)s the best printer Iâ(TM)ve ever owned.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Bar Bots

(If the text is borked, you can read it here)

Some highly paid people seem to not be very good at thinking straight... or at all.

Weâ(TM)ve all seen robot bartenders in movies: Star Wars episode one; The Fifth Element; I, Robot, etc. Ever notice that human bartenders often have a lot of screen time in movies, but robot bartenders donâ(TM)t? The reason is simple: robots are boring. Which is why we wonâ(TM)t see many robot bartenders in real life, and this real life robot bartender is going to go over like the proverbial lead balloon.

I suspect that the engineer who designed the thing doenâ(TM)t frequent bars, but likes science fiction movies, because nobody goes to a bar to drink. From my upcoming Voyage to Earth:

âoeIs Mars still short of robots?â

âoeNot since that factory opened two years ago.â

âoeIâ(TM)m surprised you donâ(TM)t have robots tending bar, then.â

âoeScrew that. People donâ(TM)t go to bars to drink, they go to bars to socialize; bars are full of lonely people. If thereâ(TM)s nobody to talk to but a damned robot theyâ(TM)re just going to walk out. I do have a tendbot for emergencies, like if one of the human bartenders is sick and we donâ(TM)t have anyone to cover. The tendbot will be working when weâ(TM)re going to Earth, but I avoid using it.â

Someone who doesnâ(TM)t visit bars inventing something to use in bars is about as stupid as Richardson in Mars, Ho! , who assigned a Muslim to design a robot to cook pork and an engineer who didnâ(TM)t drink coffee to make a robotic coffeemaker.

Just because it works in the movies doesnâ(TM)t mean it works in real life.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Keep fucking that chicken 2

A warning for Trump:

You run into an asshole in the morning, you ran into an asshole. You run into assholes all day, you're the asshole,

User Journal

Journal Journal: How long until President Pence? 43

Game theory would seem to point to sooner rather than later. As of right now, there is almost zero downside (and quite a few perks available if done right.) Of course, this assumes the GOP congresscritters could organize a piss up in a brewery, something that hasn't been a surefire thing since the 90s.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Sixteen: The Final Chapter 2

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 knowledge 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).

Some of these links go to /., S/N, mcgrewbooks.com, or mcgrew.info. Stories and articles meant to ultimately be published in a printed book have smart quotes, and slashdot isn't smart enough for smart quotes. Reviews for The Golden Book of Springfirld and Black Bead were front page articles at Soylent News only, and not a journal.

As usual, first, the yearly index:
Journals:
Random Scribblings
the Paxil Diaries
2007
2008
2009
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
2015

Articles:
Useful Dead Technologies Redux
The Old Sayings Are Wrong
How to digitize all of your film slides for less than ten dollars
GIMPy Text
The 2016 Hugo convention

Song
Santa Killed My Dog!
My Generation 21st Century

Book reviews
Stephen King, On Writing
Vachel Lindsay, The Golden Book of Springfield
J. D. Lakey, Black Bead

Scince Fiction:
Wierd Planet
The Muse
Cornodium
Dewey's War
The Naked Truth
The Exhibit
Agoraphobia
Trouble on Ceres

Last years' stupid predictions (and more):

Last year I said I wasn't going to predict publication of Voyage to Earth and Other Stories, and I was right, it's nearly done. So this year I do predict that Voyage to Earth and Other Stories will be published. I'm waiting for Sentience to come back from Motherboard, who's been hanging on to it since last February. I may have to e-mail them and cancel the submission if it isn't back by this February
I'll also hang on to last year's predictions;
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 (but not S/N).
Slashdot will be rife with dupes.
Many Slashdot FPs will be poorly edited.
Slashdot still won't have fixed its patented text mangler.
Microsoft will continue sucking
And a new one: DONALD TRUMP WILL (gasp) BE PRESIDENT IF THE us!!! God help us all! (He can't possibly be worse than George H. Bush or James Buchanan, can he?)

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

User Journal

Journal Journal: Rogue One 1

Yeeeeesh. Kinda the opposite of the The Force Awakens, weirdly: There's an actual serviceable plot, but none of the characters are given time to develop personalities or motivations. Also, between shitty lines and an underfunded costuming department, Vader looked and sounded like an idiot.

There are a couple of cool moments, and there's a certain satisfaction and integrity present in the fact that R:O is a (mostly) standalone story. But, one thing a Star Wars shouldn't be is boring, and this delivers in spades on that front.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Shocked, I tell ya 1

Sheriff Joe Arpaio to hold press conference on Obama birth certificate investigation

Verily tingling with anticipation.

In related news, Cornell Belcher details how race and racism still had a part to play in the 2016 election:
 

Jenée Desmond-Harris

A question a lot of people ask around the question of the role race and racism played in Trumpâ(TM)s election is, âoeHow can you say Americans are concerned with race when they elected Obama?â I know the long answer is in the data presented in your book, but whatâ(TM)s the simple response to that?

Cornell Belcher

They didnâ(TM)t. Thatâ(TM)s the thing here. The majority of whites did not elect Obama, and thatâ(TM)s the wolf at the door. The vast majority of whites did not support President Obama and President Obama won back-to-back majorities, and that caused the realization of their power waning. Mitt Romney ran up a higher score among white voters than Ronald Reagan, when Reagan had a landslide in 1984.

Conservatives may want to take note of this, however:
 

In battleground states, particularly more diverse states, the percentage of white people voting Democrat decreases significantly as that population gets more diverse. So diversity is having an opposite impact that is harmful to Democrats.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Santa Killed My Dog!

They say that Santa's coming,
He comes 'round every year.
He comes he'll meet a shotgun slug
'cause he ain't welcome here.

Five years ago this Christmas
The fatass came around
With jingle bells and ho ho hos
And looking like a clown.

He came in for a landing
As I let out a yawn
My house is pretty little
So he landed on the lawn.

I didn't have the time to yell
As he came in through the fog;
He came in fast and and came down hard
And landed on my dog.

He looked around all furtive like
As I reached for my gun,
Then jumped in sleigh, yelled âoegiddie upâ
And took off on the run.

And so, that fatassed bastard
Better stay away from here
'cause ever since he killed my dog
I have no Christmas cheer.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Trouble on Ceres 11

I'm not even bothering to paste it, since slashdot would render it unreadably, so I'll just sent you to mcgrew.info.

I really wish they'd fix that horrible bug...

User Journal

Journal Journal: Donald Trump is leader of the Free World 66

That, right there, is one very useful phrase, I'll have to admit. I've used it in all kinds of contexts, and for different effects, and it works great. It's like a rhetorical swiss army knife.

Moving on, talk about getting shafted! I'm glad my political gambling is a hobby, not an addiction, cuz Cheeto Mussolini just fucked me out of 5K. Although I'm even more glad of my Senate side bet since it helps take the sting out of it.

Congratulations to all the Republicans out there! It's been exhausting work pretending to care about the deficit, unemployment numbers, and whether or not the rest of the world thinks the US is a laughingstock, so I'm sure you'll all be glad for the break.

Last but not least, commiserations to all the kids out there, the ones who'll get punched repeatedly in the face as they struggle through life because global warming as a solvable problem is gone for at least a generation, whilst us Boomers and Gen Xers get to pop our clogs before the really bad shit starts. Time to start volunteering for those Mars missions, I guess.

For any non-Yanks out there, there is a small silver lining: Between, incompetence, corruption, and taking advantage of these historic circumstances to finally bury the Dem party forever, the incoming administration may be too busy trying to fuck over the US to have any time to fuck over the rest of the planet any more than they have already have. Fingers crossed!

User Journal

Journal Journal: Agorophobia 2

âoeSay, Ed! How was your trip? Lager?â
        âoeHi, John. Yeah, Iâ(TM)ll have a lager. The whole trip was lousy, a journey through hell all the way.â
        âoeDidn't you fly Green-Osbourne?â
        âoeWell, yeah.â
        The bartender swore; he was a wealthy man who owned the bar he was tending and quite a bit of Green-Osbourne Transportation Company stock as well. âoeWhat went wrong on the trip?â
        âoeThose stupid talking robots. God but I hate those things.â
        The bartender laughed. âoeEverybody does.â
        âoeWhy do you have them talking, then?â
        âoeAdvertising and engineering want to point out our superior technology, including AI.â
        âoeWell, it's too much A and not much I at all. Those things are really stupid.â
        John snickered. He hated talking robots, too, but had been voted down at board meetings. The tendbot he used when it got too busy for a single bartender to easily handle heâ(TM)d special ordered, with no voice, only screen printouts and beeps. Most people thought talking robots were creepy.
        âoeWell, look, Ed, they canâ(TM)t really think. Programmers just use humansâ(TM) built-in anthropomorphism and animism. It's a parlor trick, one of our engineers explained it to me once. So what did the stupid thing do?â
        âoeIt was dinner time, the first night of the trip. I'd bought a business class ticket and somehow wound up on a first class flight... Say, did you have something to do with that?â
        John just smiled. âoeGo on, Ed, what did the stupid robot do?â
        Ed gave John a funny look and continued. âoeWell, I'd never had pork before. I thought it must be extra tasty, considering how ridiculously expensive it is.â
        âoeWell, it's environmental regulations.â
        âoeHuh?â
        âoeSure, it's why Earth buys all its ores from space miners. Mining is pretty much illegal on Earth, because poisonous pollution from mining, farming, industry, and transportation nearly ruined the Earth's ability to sustain life a couple of centuries ago. It... Oh wow. Want to get rich, Ed?â
        âoeNot particularly, why?â
        âoeSomeone will. We should build hog domes and farm pigs in them, and sell the pork to Earthians. Iâ(TM)d do it but Iâ(TM)m way too busy, what with Green-Osbourne, the bar, the brewery, and the farm I grow beer ingredients in.â
        âoeWell, I'll talk to a few folks. It would help Marsâ(TM) economy. Fill me up, John,â he said, sliding his glass across the bar. âoeUh, what were we talking about?â
        âoePork and robots.â
        âoeHuh?â
        âoeYour trip.â
        âoeOh, yeah, pork. Why is it so expensive?â
        âoeLike I said, environmental regulations. They almost made Earth unlivable a couple hundred years ago. Pigs are just too nasty to ranch more than a dozen or so in any one place there.â
        âoeWell, Earth was damned filthy, thatâ(TM)s for sure. Almost as dirty as it was heavy. Anyway, porkâ(TM)s way too expensive for me. I wouldnâ(TM)t even be able to afford pork on Earth, let alone on Mars, so since I had a first class ticket and meals were covered, I wanted to try pork. So I told the servebot I wanted ham and beans.
        âoeThe stupid thing said there was no âHammond beanâ(TM) listed in its database. So I said âNo, you stupid junk pile, ham, and, beans.â(TM) It said âThe word hamand is not in my database.â(TM) stupid thing.â
        John grinned. âoeSo what did you do?â
        âoeWhat could I do? I ordered a barbecued pork steak. It was really good! But the damned robots annoyed me like that the whole trip. The very next morning I felt like a turkey cheese omelette so I ordered one. The stupid robot said âThere are no Turkish cheeses listed in the database.â(TM) So I said âA turkey omelette with cheese.â(TM) So it says âthere are no Turkish omelette dishes listed in the database.â(TM) Stupid computer.
        âoeSo I said âI want a cheese omelette with turkey meat. A turkey omelette has nothing to do with the country called Turkey...â(TM) Whatâ(TM)s so damned funny, John?â
        John was laughing uproariously. âoeExactly the same thing happened to Destiny when we first came here, only the computer was printing it out instead of talking. Let me guess, it said âParse error, please rephraseâ(TM).â
        âoeYep, exactly. So I said I wanted an omelette with turkey meat, and it goes âThere is no meat that has come from that country listed in the database.â(TM) dumb machine! So I says âTurkey the bird, damn it!â(TM) it said...â
        âoeIt said âParse error, please rephrase,â(TM) didnâ(TM)t it?â John interrupted.
        âoeSure did. So I asked what meats were available for omelettes. It said pork, chicken, duck, turkey, and beef. So I said âA cheese omelette with turkey meat.â(TM) the idiotic thing repeated âThere is no meat from that country.â(TM) Iâ(TM)ll tell you, John, that damned thing was really making me mad by then. I finally said âDamn it, computer, I want a cheese omelette with bird meat.â(TM) it said âPlease name the bird.â(TM) I told it turkey and finally got my breakfast.â
        âoeThereâ(TM)s a trick to it,â John said. âoeTell it you want a cheese and turkey omelette and it wonâ(TM)t give you any trouble. If you would have asked for navy beans and ham you would have gotten your ham and beans. Like I said, they donâ(TM)t really think.â
        âoeNo kidding. That must the dumbest computer I ever saw. Well, the tendbot in the commons may have been even more stupid. It didnâ(TM)t know what a Cardinal was.â
        John groaned. âoeEd, thatâ(TM)s strictly the Martian name for that drink. Everybody else calls them Bloody Marys.â
        âoeOh. Why do they call them that?â
        âoeBecause thatâ(TM)s what they were called for hundreds of years before anybody ever came here, before they had space travel, even. Before your ancestors ever left earth.â
        âoeSo why do we call then Cardinals then?â
        âoeFrank Harris was responsible for the name. He was a farmer who came here from Earth and started growing tomatoes, under the âCardinalâ(TM) brand.â
        âoeBut why cardinal?â
        âoeThereâ(TM)s a bright red Earthian bird called a cardinal, so he named the bright red tomatoes after the bird. Bartenders here had never had a Bloody Mary before, because nobody here had tomatoes before Hardy brought them. So when they thought they had invented a tomato drink, they named it after the brand of tomatoes.â
        âoeHow do you know all this stuff?â
        âoeMy wifeâ(TM)s a history buff. Sheâ(TM)s been getting me interested in it, too. So what happened after you got to Earth?â
        âoeOh, man, it was pure hell, painful torture and terror. You know I've only been off Mars a few times in my life, mostly to Ceres or an asteroid dome out in the belt. But Earth... oh man. It was nothing like I'd ever experienced before. Or even imagined, it was horrible!â
        âoeFirst was the weight! That was part of what was wrong with the trip, when the robot was arguing about the turkey cheese omelette it was already getting really heavy. By the time we reached Earth I couldnâ(TM)t walk at all and had to use an electric chair to get around. How do those people live like that?â
        âoeEd, you should have been working out for months before going to Earth, especially since youâ(TM)ve never had more than Mars gravity.â
        âoeWell, I did walk.â
        âoeWalkingâ(TM)s not nearly enough.â
        âoeNo kidding, I couldnâ(TM)t even stand up there. Had to have a robot help me in and out of bed. It was torture!
        âoeWhy didn't you use a walker?â
        âoeYou have to have gravity close to Earth's to learn how to use one.â
        âoeBill Holiday uses one, and he's from Ceres. All the asterites grew up in less gravity than you did and he goes to Earth all the time, it's part of his job.â
        âoeHe would have had to train to use it, those things weigh over a hundred kilos counting the power, and training takes longer than I was going to be on Earth.
        âoeThe horrible weight was bad enough, but it was horribly scary there as well.â
        John grinned. He was an immigrant, who was born in St. Louis and had settled on Mars in late middle age. He hadn't thought of how it must be for a native-born Martian or Asterite on Earth. âoePretty scary, huh? I mean, not having a protective dome.â
        âoeWell, I've been outside the dome plenty of times, but being outside without an environment suit...â He shivered visibly. âoeGive me a shot of Scotch.
        âoeIt was night when we got there, and they used what seemed like they use here on Mars to connect the ship to the terminal. On Mars it's so passengers don't have to wear environment suits, but I don't know why they do it on Earth. Probably so us spacers would feel at home.â
        âoeWell, not really,â John said. âoeIt gets hot and cold there, and it rains. It's so passengers don't have to have coats and umbrellas. They were doing it like that before the first spacer dome was built.â
        âoeYeah, I found out about rain and cold the night I got there, and heat the next day. In the entrance way to the terminal there was a flash in a window and a loud boom a second or two later. I thought there had been an explosion.â
        âoeThunder.â
        âoeYeah, and it was really loud! I almost jumped out of my skin. Anyway, we rented a car and I told it to take us to our hotel for check-in, and the first lightning flash scared the hell out of me. It looked like a crack in the sky and made me feel like all the air would escape, and then the thunder. I've never heard anything so loud!â
        âoeYou should hear a chemical rocket with a heavy load taking off!â
        âoeI have, down here on Mars, and it's nowhere near as loud as thunder.â
        John laughed. âoeEd, there's hardly any air outside the dome. Haven't you noticed how much quieter it is outside the dome?â
        âoeThere's nothing out there to make noise.â
        âoeWell, if there was it wouldn't be loud.â
        âoeI guess. Anyway, parking at the hotel was outside, but the car dropped us off under an awning before it parked itself. Lightning flashed again, and it really gave me the willies. Then it thundered, even louder than it had before. It was so loud you could feel the sound. It was really scary!â He finished his beer and slid his glass to the other side of the bar. âoeFill 'er up, John!â
        John poured another beer for Ed as Ed continued his traveling horror story. âoeMan, all that water pouring out of the sky. It was really strange, and even the water was scary and I donâ(TM)t know why. And it was cold. Must have been under twenty.â
        âoeIt gets well below zero some places.â
        âoeHow do they live like that?â he repeated. âoeI was all right as long as I was inside, except that first night when it stormed. I hated that storm! I sure am glad we donâ(TM)t have anything like that on Mars!
        âoeThere was a bar in the hotel, thankfully, so I didnâ(TM)t have to go out until the next morning. But the storm scared the hell out of me.â
        âoeSo how did your meeting go?â
        âoeWell, I had to take the car there, meaning I had to be outside. It was fine in the dark, like a room with no lights turned on, but walking outside without an environment suit when you could see the sky really freaked me out. I finally told myself it was just a big blue dome.â
        âoeDid it work?â
        âoeNot really. It was really hard rolling around out there in my electric chair, and it was really hot outside! I never sweated before, and I hate it.
        âoeBut worse than that was bugs. Some of them bite. Some of the bugs they called âbutterfliesâ(TM) the Earthians thought were pretty. I thought they were creepy and scary.
        âoeAnd barking dogs. I never saw a dog before, and John, those things are scary as hell, just downright terrifying. And there are a whole lot of them there.â
        âoeOkay, how did the meeting go?â
        âoeLousy. Between the weight and the storm I didnâ(TM)t sleep well. And the weight, the bugs, the dogs, the outside, the heat, the storm, all of it had me so rattled I couldnâ(TM)t think straight, and we didnâ(TM)t get the contract, DA2 did. At least it was a friendâ(TM)s dome.
        âoeGive me another shot, John. Man, but Iâ(TM)m glad to be back home here on Mars. Earth sucks. Now I know what people mean by âhell on Earthâ(TM). Earth is hell!â
        John grinned again. âoeSo... I take it youâ(TM)re not going back?â

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