Thursday, September 26, 2013

My Book, My Thoughts, My Blog

Yesterday I logged on to Amazon and looked at my book, My Mother-in-law Misadventures. I don't look at the sales often, because, frankly, I gave the book away to pretty much everyone that asked for one. So sales are not really that good. There might be someone in Alaska who read it; I'm not sure I understand the metrics well enough to tell.
What amazed me was that I had a review on Amazon! Woo-hoo! Except it was a single star. "Wow," I thought, "someone really hated my book. I wonder what they thought was so bad about it?"

So here's the review, by Toots456:
"This man disliked his mother-in-law. He constantly belittled her in life and is trying to make a buck off her death. Guess getting all her money wasn't enough for him. Don't waste your money on his version of reality especially when one considers this was his 3rd or 4th mother-in-law."

That was a bit hurtful, but there are really only two people who might write that review - Darling's brother (P) or his wife (E). After looking at the other items reviewed by Toots456 I can deduce that the reviewer was E.
I'm trying very hard not to call her nasty names in return. 
Sales don't indicate that either P or E bought the book. I didn't send them a copy, not in electronic format or paperback (she reviewed the paperback).
To be truthful, I did dislike my Mother-in-law at times. She was hard to deal with and headstrong and sometimes just plain mean. I don't think I put those stories in the book. In fact, I know I left a lot of those stories out of the book, and I left out a bunch of stories involving P and E - because they just are not nice stories.
I did not "constantly belittle her in life." Over the decade we spent living in the same house we certainly had our disagreements, and a few of those were pretty loud. In my defense, Frau couldn't hear too well, so that is a little bit understandable.
I certainly didn't belittle her in the book. I took great pains to remove parts that might even seem offensive, which meant I often removed stories about P and E. If you'd like to see some of those, just drop me a note. I have plenty, and a recorded version of a voice mail message from P as evidence of one incident. I'll let that go.
I'm not "trying to make a buck off her death." Oh, I'm certainly trying to make a buck off stories about her life, but so far this book has cost me money, not made me money. I apologized to Darling about that just the other day and she smiled and told me it was sweet of me to write the book about her mother.
I won't even address the money comment, except to say Darling didn't have to give P and E any of the inheritance, but they got quite a bit anyway. If you knew how much you'd be wondering how they can complain.
"Don't waste your money on this version of reality" - well, I do write fiction, too, but these were real stories. I'd like for thousands of people to spend money on a few stories that make them smile.
"… especially when one considers this was his 3rd or 4th mother-in-law." Really, E? Really? Didn't P have a previous mother-in-law? What in the world does that have to do with anything? She was, by the way, my third mother-in-law.
I wrote a comment to her review, but decided to delete it. That's what my blog is for.

If you are a member of Goodreads (dot com), you'll see some reviews by people who did read the book.

Alison gave it 4 stars:
This book was a quick read for me, and really should be for anyone else at 67 pages. It is a touching memoir of a son-in-law's memories of the time spent living with Frau, his mother-in-law. Some stories are funny, some a little goofy, and some will make you appreciate the "Fraus" in your own life.

The quick snippet stories remind me of a blog, one that was then compiled into a book. Maybe that's the case here and I missed that fact. So the nature of the short stories led to a little bit of repetitiveness in some details. A little more editing with that in mind would have made for a more cohesive book. 

But all in all, this was a fun, lighthearted, and touching read. I enjoyed it!

Christina gave it 4 stars:
What a cute quick read that truly reminds the reader to cherish what you have while you have it, and those around you while they're there.

Dawn gave it 5 stars (she was a give-away winner):
Wonderfully written and laced in wit! Thank you for my autographed copy!

Lachlan rated it 1 star, but didn't say why. April rated it 3 stars but also didn't give comments.

I appreciate the comments. They will help make me a better writer and that's worth something to me.
A review from my sister-in-law means pretty much nothing to me, but it sure is annoying. I notified Amazon that it was offensive and defamatory, and that she didn't even read the book. I hope they pull the review down.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

My Smashwords Interview

As most of my readers know, Darling and I published our first book on Amazon last October. In Preparing for the Fiscal Cliff we outlined some of the issues facing our country at the beginning of 2013 and listed some ideas to protect yourself from the consequences of the government-induced Fiscal Cliff. As far as I know, we were the first book on Amazon to address the issue. Very few of those issues have been addressed by our representatives in Congress, so the book is still relevant. You can get a copy free from Smashwords, but it's still 99 cents on Amazon.
I published my book, My Mother-in-law Misadventures, on Smashwords last May, following it up with a version on Amazon shortly after.
Both books are available on Smashwords and Amazon now, and you can even get them in paperback. Indie publishing was quite a learning experience.
Smashwords just published an author's interview on me on their site. If you have other questions for me, please feel free to post them or drop me a line. I'd be glad to answer almost anything.
You can find copies of the book on Smashwords or on Amazon.

Just a personal note about the current, existing review on Amazon. There's only one - from my brother-in-law's wife, and she didn't even buy the book, but felt obliged to attack me personally. What fun. I didn't even add the stories about them into my book!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Bits and Pieces - September 20, 2013

The new TV series Agents of Shield starts next Tuesday on ABC. 'Nuff said.

Technically Speaking
ARS Technica did a thorough review of iOS 7. It is certainly complete and worth a read.

One of my favorite new features is the call-blocking. Finally.

Upgrading to iOS 7 right away isn't my plan. I want to do it, but reports indicate it will slow down my iPhone 4S (a little bit, anyway). My reasoning for not doing an immediate upgrade is pretty simple, though. I'd like all the initial bugs shaken out before I bother with the upgrade process. In fact, there is a security bug that allows someone to bypass your lock screen - but, well, you'll have to see how it's done. I give the guy kudos for finding the flaw, that's for sure.

If you're tired of the upgrade cycles for smart phones (and I'm getting there) this might interest you - one phone for the rest of your life. The idea appeals to me. If it was available and not simply a concept I might be tempted. (As long as I could play Candy Crush - darn that game!)

Hackers for Hire. These guys are not only good, they are some of the best hackers in the world - and they are for hire. That is a little scary, but should quiet all the privacy people. After all, someone can find your information on the internet, regardless of how well it is secured.

Orbital Sciences sent the Cygnus spacecraft to the ISS on Wednesday, launching it from Wallops Island in Virginia. All systems are "go."

It isn't a snake. It's a legless lizard. I didn't know there was a difference, honestly.

Politics, not religion
Yeah, I know most people think I'm anti-Obama. I'm not - I'm anti-stupid government, preferring the government stay out of my business and tax me the minimum amount to keep required services functional. I don't mind paying taxes, but I certainly mind paying taxes for a bloated government and subsidizing programs that don't help people. I do think Mr. Obama is a bit full of himself, but I think that about almost every politician I know. After all, politics is sort of like Facebook or Twitter - the more likes or followers you get, the higher up the food chain you go. That takes quite an ego.

That's a bad segue into the Affordable Care Act. The Obamacare issue is once again (still?) at the forefront of USA politics. Some people would rather pay the penalty than enroll. I'm not sure I understand all the financial aspects of Obamacare yet, but the numbers in this article are striking to me. A couple earning $50,000 per year "would receive a roughly $1,300 subsidy, leaving them to pay about $4,750 in premiums for the year. But that compares to a $300 penalty." I think I might pay the penalty, too. As one person said, "I don't really want to pay a penalty, but it's more economical for me to pay $300 a year [in fines] than $200 to $300 a month for insurance I don't use."

Of course, the penalties increase over time. For 2016 and beyond, the penalties for ignoring Obamacare are $695 per adult or 2.5% of the family income. Ouch.

Once again the two parties in our federal government are baring their teeth at each other, using the end of the fiscal year (the end of September) as leverage to force changes to Obamacare. And, once again, the government would need to raise the debt limit in order to fund running the government. They'll find some way to push the decisions down the road a few more months. That's just our government's way of funding themselves with money that doesn't really exist. The biggest problem is the cuts the government will institute will directly affect many of our fellow citizens, employed by the government. Congress, of course, will keep getting paid, as will our Executive branch.

By the way, you can't run your household or business that way - you'd be broke, starving and homeless.

Iran's president appealed directly to us, the citizens of the USA, to help end the hostile relationships between our country and theirs. Hello? Congress? I liked what I read. Would somebody please go talk to the guy? I mean, the entire world doesn't have to do things our way, and we should still be able to get along with them.

Which is pretty much what Pope Francis just said. "Thomas Groome, a professor of theology and religious education at Boston College, [said] 'He doesn't want to just harp on birth control and gay marriage, he wants to bring us back to compassion, mercy, outreach to the poor and inclusion of the marginalized'." Well said.

Just Weird
The coming Apocalypse (did you read the political stuff above?) is going to be easy to solve. One company developed a system to modify our bodies to help us survive. I won't even go into the details, but a renal implant? Ouch. That does sound like the government!

I actually prefer the twelve-course meal in a can idea.

Blizzard will discontinue the Diablo 3 auction houses next March. Right after Diablo 3 came out, the Lad made more money on it than I did in all my apps combined. Ouch.

Here's a funny one. The Subutai Corporation (with Neal Stephenson) ran a Kickstarter project to fund developing a motion-controlled sword fighting game. Backers successfully funded the project with over the $500,000 they were asking for to develop the game. Now the company is saying they don't have enough money. It isn't their fault, they say. This is actually a pretty funny article to read, especially all the excerpts from Subutai about why they ran out of money. I think they must have been using the Federal government plan for budgets!

This guy is developing a Starcraft Universe and he's doing it with all the legitimate tools provided by Blizzard. It does look very cool. It's more a Diablo III game than a World of Warcraft, but it might be fun.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Bits and Pieces - September 18, 2013

Let me start by mentioning that Mike Rayburn is one of my favorite guitar players, right next to my buddy Andrew Bateman (Andrew went to Africa on the same mission trip I did). Mike's wife, Tara, has a book called 100 Easy Healthy Habits. Well, I like the title, but a lot of books are called "Easy." Now there are a lot of simple things in life, but not too many that are truly easy. What caught my eye was that she says the solution must be tailored to each family. I bought her book and I'll let you know in a future post. If you want to buy it, here's the link to her book on Amazon.

A few months ago Rick Warren's son killed himself. (Rick Warren is Pastor of Saddleback Church in CA and author of The Purpose Driven Life.) He and his wife just had a heart-rending interview with Piers Morgan.

When my wife and I wrote Preparing for the Fiscal Cliff we suspected the government would push off as many major decisions as they could. They did. Now those decisions are coming due, and the government faces a shutdown. Seriously. From Fiscal Cliff to Fiscal Chasm. That should be our next book on the subject, actually.

If you need a little extra cash, NASA is paying people ten grand to lie in bed for seventy days. There are stringent requirements, though, so get your application in early.

The numbers published by the CDC in their new report about antibiotic resistance threats in the USA scare me. They should scare anyone.

Liv Tyler is coming to an HBO series. Okay, she's a footnote about the new Damon Lindelof series The Leftovers. Think of the Christian Rapture, except the people who vanished from the Earth are random, not devout Christians. The series is based on a book by Tom Perrotta. I don't usually pay much attention to writers and producers, but Lindelof was co-creator of Lost and produced Prometheus and Star Trek Into Darkness. Just that last one would have me checking out the series - if I had HBO (which I don't).

There's a new player in town for creating, editing and managing documents. Well, apparently they aren't new, but they are new to me. is building the "Document Engine of the Future" which sounds very cool. Box has one of the creators of Google Docs as a VP and input from one of the creators of the Microsoft Office Suite. Box Notes allows completely collaborative editing. It's something to keep an eye on, but it's currently only available to a limited set of people (in CA, of course). I don't know if it's news, but I thought it was.

Much as I love the construction of Apple™ devices, other computer companies are stepping up and providing the same excellent build quality. Dell just introduced a series of laptop computers to compete with the Macbook Pro and Air. Wow. I went to the Dell site and cannot find the ones mentioned in the article, but I'll keep looking.

Based in Boulder, CO and San Francisco, CA, Occipital has a new project in the works - a 3D scanner that attaches to your iPad. With a bit over a month to go they are almost halfway to their $100,000 goal to produce these items. You can think about jumping in, but the lowest pledge to actually receive hardware is $329. That's not too bad for a 3D scanner, though, but I don't know what I'd do with it. Scan the cat? I could scan the cat!

Lifting the cruise ship from the sea bed was an astounding engineering feat, and kudos to the people who pulled it off. I've read many of the stories, but I liked the one with the pictures best of all.

Here's a picture that should make you smile. It sure made me grin! Not only can this guy surf - the dolphin thinks so too!

Other thoughts
If you made it this far, I congratulate you and appreciate that you read my blog. 

A couple things. My phone contract is complete (finally) at the end of October. I hate phone contracts, so I'm switching to a plan with no contract, for sure. However, I am also pondering whether I should switch to a dumb phone from my smart phone and blog how I do with that. Call it Untethered or something. Just to be clear, that's just my phone I'm disconnecting, not myself, though I might consider that in the future (and how would I blog that, I wonder?).

Also, I notice I don't do much personal blogging any more. I guess that's the nature of a blog - I really don't lead an interesting enough life to keep a long-term blog going, I guess. Should I switch the Bits and Pieces to a blog site of its own? I might be able to call it Bits and Pieces. What do y'all think?

I'm really only expecting one response to that last question, so thanks in advance, Mary!

On the personal side, today is my Darling Daughter's 22nd birthday! Happy Birthday, little girl! She's a professor now at ACU and too busy to read my blog, so she probably won't see this. She's now at that age where she will start having birthdays without family, unless she ever moves back into town. Early adulthood. Those were some tough times...

I also sent my DNA in to Ancestry to get it tested. I've wanted to do that for a few years, but never got around to it. When Ancestry had a sale (and sent me an email) I decided I'd go ahead. I'm not sure what it will tell me, but I'll keep you posted on that, too. 

This guy bought his own island (with some friends). Very cool. AND cold.

I think that's all. God bless you all, and my heart goes out to the murdered people at the Naval Shipyard, as well as to all the people affected.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Bits and Pieces - September 16, 2013

There was almost no news on Friday. Not surprisingly, there isn't much news for today, either. The best I could come up with are pretty mundane. (So, no Syria, no Apple™, and no Dennis Rodman in North Korea - isn't that wonderful! And what ever happened to Paris Hilton, anyway?)
Isn't she pretty?
The winner of the Miss America pageant is a young lady of Indian heritage. The cool thing is that this is what America is all about; we all came from somewhere (yes, even the Native Americans). There are a couple of sad things, most importantly that this is considered news. Now, it might be news if a man won the Miss America pageant, but why is ethnicity newsworthy? The saddest thing is the coverage of the racist tweets after she was crowned. People - really? Get over yourself and be happy that you get to look at pretty girls in color on television in your nice, safe homes. Oh, and news services? It's a fun event - publish the cool tweets and ignore the rest.

Foreign banks are telling citizens of the USA to take their money and go home. The banks don't want to deal with the US government regulations on bank accounts. Yes, this includes those Swiss bank accounts. When will the government figure it out? If people want to hide their income or want to evade taxes, they will find a way. The USA has some of the worst tax laws in the world and they aren't getting better.

There is an interesting butterfly at the Houston Museum - it's half male and half female. I'm not really sure how they know that…

I have some friends who graduated from Texas A&M (that's Aggies to Texan folks). These folks are loyal to their school. One buddy of mine went to the football game last weekend and planned a tailgate party. That used to be a station wagon or pickup truck with the back end down and somebody grilling hotdogs on a hibachi and everyone in lawn chairs. This year he brought his fourteen foot trailer to carry the gear and they put two television screens up to watch the pre-game show. People started showing up on Wednesday to get in line to stake out their parking lot territory. (At noon on Saturday they all make a run for the spot they want and claim it - kind of like a gold rush or something.) I knew Aggies had a lot of school spirit - but then I read about a guy just bought the ten-year rights to a vanity Aggie license plate for $115,000. I don't even tell people what schools I went to (the schools prefer it that way).

You know the news is running low when I have to find cartoon creatures to post. This is a list of history's most terrifying sea monsters ("here there be monsters").

In the world of gaming, there are two articles that caught my eye. Zynga, the top gaming company five years ago, has been on a steady decline, losing $600M in the last few years. Ouch. That's probably not the business model to emulate, unless you cash in early.

Finally, League of Legend players with good attitudes play better. I'm not sure how that's news, but since The Lad is a gold-level LoL player (world-wide ranking in the top ten percent) so LoL articles catch my eye.

Okay, one more thing. Here's an article on Dale Vince, a guy who is sort of the Elon Musk of Great Britain. I should give the guy a call.

Okay, one more one more thing - a fascinating story of a seventeen year old from Mongolia who is now attending MIT. Genius will find a way, it seems.

We had some friends over on Saturday evening for dinner and we all played Boulderdash™. I didn't do that well. Hey, anybody carrying a ryepeck is certain to be juffling along, aren't they?
I should totally make an app with all those words…

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

9-11, Apple Announcement and a bit more

The big news of the day is that it is, once again, the anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attack on the US by Al Qaeda. Twelve years ago I watched in horror as the planes crashed into the Twin Towers.
The USA was never more solidified than the months following 9-11. I loved that about our country.
We swore we'd never forget. We didn't forget the incident, but we've certainly forgotten the binding influence.
For many young people, 9-11 is simply an historical moment. For the rest of us it remains a painful scar on our hearts.
God bless every person that died that day or was affected by the deaths that day, the victims in the towers, the brave first responders and all the victims who never saw a loved one again. God bless everyone affected by the deaths of our brave military men and women since then.
God bless us all.

Off the Cuff
I started my day with a bowl of chicken soup. I don't know. I was just hungry for chicken soup, so I ate my lunch for breakfast. I'm not sure what I'll have for lunch, though. I saved the crackers. Maybe I'll eat those.
My friend Kelly has a son in the Corps at A&M. It's hard, but he's a bright kid and feels prepared for all the tough stuff that comes with being in the Corps. The food, for instance: he told his mom the food was okay, that her cooking prepared him for institutional food. (Hmmmm. I'll have to think about that one.) He also mentioned he might be bringing over twenty cadets to stay at their house so they can attend Wings Over Houston on October 26-27. She's a little panicky about that one. I'm not sure where I'd put twenty kids at my house. Even our back yard is too small…

The Apple™ Announcements
Frankly I was underwhelmed and don't have much to say. The iPhone 5, sweet as it was, is now history, replaced the iPhone 5c and iPhone 5S. The low-end phone remains the iPhone 4S. The new iOS is not really news. The 5S has improvements in the camera, an upgraded chip, a dedicated movement chip, and a fingerprint scanner. Other sources cover the details so much better than I can.
Wired gives some advice on which is the phone to buy - I don't agree, but that's okay.
They also have more photos.
There are some hands-on reviews, and I liked those.
One nice thing is that Apple™ makes the iWork Suite free for anyone who buys a new iOS device. That's nice. I already own them all and like them when I use them.
PC Magazine feels the iPhone 5c is just the iPhone 5 in a colored, plastic shell. I think they make a good point.
TheiPhone 5S, however, they call "the most luxurious mainstream phone on the market." It still doesn't mean I won't jump ship and buy a Galaxy phone. Let's face it, the A7 chip is fantastic for gaming - but who wants to do fantastic games on the tiny screen the iPhone has? And, yes, Apple, I consider the iPhone screen to be tiny now. The ONE thing people wanted was a larger screen. Fail. And I like Apple™ products.
USA Today has the best summary - all in pictures. I notice they'd make a good pop-up book.

This doesn't have anything to do with the iPhone. This software will make a 3D model from a photograph. It isn't perfect, by any means, but it is cool.
I said near the end of my blog post on August 30 that "Eventually they'll make a scanner that will take a 2D image and convert it to a 3D printing model." Apparently, we're much closer than I thought we were.

AutoDesk just came out with a circuit simulator that is free to use. Maybe I'll go design a different kind of iPhone.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Bits and Pieces - September 9, 2013

There isn't much new today. I guess it was a slow weekend. It was slow for me. Darn that Terraria! is sending me a genetic testing kit this week. It was on sale and I've always wanted to give it a try. If I understand the tests, though, it won't give me much information on Mom's Dad, which is where the big gap in our knowledge is. I'm thinking of signing up and doing some genealogy again. Last time I did any work along those lines was in 2003.

My last word on Syria (I hope)
I hope this is the last thing I post on the potential of the US government bombing Syria. The American people don't want it to happen. No doubt the Syrian people don't want it to happen. So why the push? Just to show we're the biggest kid on the block? To display our outrage at the deaths of the Syrian people? I don't know. As the article states, however: "The White House has left open the possibility that Mr. Obama would proceed with military action if a vote in Congress fails." That concerns me. This is a republic, right? "Of the people, by the people and for the people" yet the people don't want this action in Syria.

There is an article explaining how Scientists Use Video games to Improve Older Brains. Since I play a lot of video games, my brain should stay young forever! Turns out it is a custom-designed game and it doesn't look all that fun to me.

In other science news, we're halfway through the Hurricane season, and no storms have spun up.

Divers might have found the remains of 24 American soldiers from WWII at the bottom of an Italian lake. Leave no man behind is still a good motto.

Stranded in the Andes for four months, a 58-year-old Uruguayan man survived on raisins and sugar and some food in mountain shelters and seems in pretty good health despite his ordeal.

On the Technical Side
There are lots of rumors for the Apple event tomorrow. If you want to look at them, that's okay, but you really only have a day to wait. Otherwise, check out the pundits at CNN and PC Magazine. The anticipation is fun, but I'll still wait and see what Apple has for the show.

Still on the technical side, Margaret Stewart wrote an excellent article on Red Burns, a woman I never heard of but whose influence pervades most of the computer work I do every day.

This is a cool keyboard, the width of a human hair and flexible.

CNN has a list of the world's happiest nations. Most are Scandinavian countries, and the US comes in at seventeen, not quite in the top ten. (Canada is, and so is Australia.)

Tossing in a little culture, there's a new Van Gogh painting. I think it's pretty. AND it's in the museum in Denmark, number one on the list of the world's happiest nations. Of course they're happy! They have a bunch of Van Gogh paintings!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Bits and Pieces: Sept 6, 2013

Syria is still the top topic in the news, and it probably should be. My mind is already made up on what we, the US, should do as a country, but you know what? Washington still hasn't called to ask me! Remember people, we are not a democracy, but a republic - and it looks more and more like a government-controlled nation state every year.
CNN has a very good article about who the Syrian rebels are. I found it fascinating that "some" of them are al Qaeda and some are also suspected of using chemical weapons. These are poorly organized, non-interacting groups and they all have different agendas. Oh they all say they want to remove the al-Assad regime, but I guarantee every group has a different idea of what to replace the regime with.

As I told a friend the other day, my brother can beat me up, and I might fight back, but when a stranger steps in to stop the fight, we'll both turn on him. Why does the US government not see this? We are not, nor can we be, the policemen of the world. In fact, our actions to do so have made us the bully of the world.
A headline on CNN says "Obama says because of U.N. Security Council paralysis on Syria, countries should be willing to act without authorization."
Where were our good intentions when the first 100,000 people were killed in the Syrian civil war? For that matter, where were we in 1994 when Rwanda was ripped apart by the genocidal mass slaughter of the Tutsis and over half a million men, women and children were killed? The choices of the US government about when to intervene in foreign atrocities are patently political in nature and not humanitarian.

There. That rant is complete for the day, but I still await the decisions made by this administration which will affect how I am viewed by the rest of the world, a world I have only compassion and good wishes for.

I know everyone was anxiously awaiting the final installment of the Soylent saga! Lee Hutchinson posts it here, and almost makes me want to go on a Soylent diet, even though that isn't the intended purpose of this food replacement, which isn't soy (and isn't people).

This is the coolest bug I've ever seen. Possibly over ten feet long, this bobbit worm lives in the oceans. When you read how it snaps its prey in half, you'll understand the nature of its nickname.

Some Tech Stuff - Keep reading.
The iPod will probably be discontinued, which is funny since we just found one at the house and I'm thinking of charging it up and putting all my music on it. That device still rocks (pun intended).
There are good arguments for letting the iPod die a quiet death, or at least Jacqui Cheng thinks so.
There are other rumors about next Tuesday's Apple™ announcements, but I'm just willing to wait and see.

My eyesight is getting worse. I blame age, but maybe I can place some of the blame on my computer habits.

There's a new reading service called Oyster. I don't know what else to call it. For about ten bucks a month you can read all you want, or so they say. I spend more than that each month on ebooks, so it might be worth considering if I knew those same books were actually available. After all, I still download classic books from Gutenberg.

Virgin Galactic's SpaceshipTwo succeeded in its second trial flight this morning. I'm sure that made Richard Branson very happy. It sort of annoys some of the guys here at Boeing - we don't usually talk much about Branson.

Elon Musk is planning to drive a Tesla across the country. Good luck to him. Charging the car might be an issue. I think the Tesla is a dream car, but I can't afford one. Neither can anyone I pal around with.

At least we're not still talking about Elon Musk's train! Now we're talking about the Japanese train that hit 310 mph last week. Bet the Tesla can't do that…

The BIG tech news this week was Samsung's watch, the Galaxy Gear smartwatch. I still wear my Pebble™ and love it, but we'll see what Apple™ says next Tuesday (back to that again!).
Others are waiting to see what Apple™ intends also, but they sure like the Samsung watch.

The SolidRun company just came out with a $45 computer which is only two inches cubed in size. No kidding. I could lose that in the couch.

By now you know I love photos and thinks space is cool. So what better than a combination of the two? Historical images. Take a look.

Scientists reversed Down syndrome in mice with a single injection. Medical science rocks sometimes!

Let's do a little financial stuff and call it a day!
A few blogs ago I posted Jerry Coon's Tax Attic article explaining Obamacare in simple terms. I really liked it.
Jerry gives a few more details here. I'm glad someone could simplify it for me.

The Marketwatch web site gives you a lot of information on finances. What I recently discovered was the Retirement section, where I can play with the Retirement Planner tool and help figure out when (and if) you can retire. It's a fun tool to play with and a well-made program. I discovered an extra million dollars would help me. I'd better get to work on that…

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Dad's high school photo

Today is my Dad's birthday.
He died in February, but he would have been 78 today. This is the first birthday that I cannot call him and wish him Happy Birthday.
I don't really know what to say about Dad. My brothers and I always laughed that you could introduce Dad to the President of the US and they'd be on a first name basis in ten minutes. Dad was easy-going and loved to laugh. He took many hardships without complaint, especially his failing health in the last months of his life. That was just the way he was.
(A deep and heartfelt thanks to my brothers Barry and Tim for being there for Dad during the bad times. You were great sons to Dad and you are great brothers.)
I'm grateful for the many good things that Dad did for me in life, and I smile at so many of the things he wanted to do for me. There are some stories there…
Dad had his flaws. He and I didn't always see eye-to-eye, that's for certain, but the bottom line is that he was my Dad.
I miss you Dad. Happy Birthday.

Dad looks happy. Tim looks bored.

Dad at 11 months

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Tidbits - September 3, 2013

They say the hint is in the picture...

So this is September 3, 2013 and that means that ONE WEEK FROM TODAY Apple™ has a new event. Speculation runs rampant concerning what they plan to introduce or expound upon. Just mark your calendar: September 10th. Do we care? I don't know. I'll wait and see.

Lee Hutchinson and Day 4 of Soylent. He posted this one on August 30th and nothing since. Perhaps it didn't go well… Only one more post to wrap this story up, and I'm waiting for it.

Diana Nyad swam from Cuba to Florida successfully completing the epic marathon Monday (September 2) on her fifth try since 1978. Nyad is now 64 years old. She swam about 103 miles. When I first saw the title of the article I thought the author misspelled naiad - which is the word for a water nymph.

Along with sword-makers, knife-makers fascinate me. Here's one of the best (according to the article).


Syria dominates the news for now.
Syria is in the Middle East and encompasses 71,479 square miles, which is about twice the size of Maine and a bit less than the size of Utah. Syria has been embroiled in a civil war since 2011, with over 100,000 people killed. The chemical attack on August 21 killed a little over 1400 men women and children.

Syria. What is the issue? CNN did a good job of explaining in this article.

Mr. Obama is considering a "limited, narrow" military action against Syria. Is he becoming the reflection of the President his party maligns?

Could Syria strike back if we attacked? Wouldn't you?

On Boeing and Space
The Boeing Dreamliner is a beautiful machine. See how they are made in this series of photos.

Two companies now compete for the resupply contract to the International Space Station, and neither is Boeing (at this time). Orbital Science has the Antares rocket and Cygnus capsule. A demo resupply mission is scheduled for September. Elon Musk and SpaceX have the Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon capsule. A Dragon capsule successfully docked with the ISS in May, 2012.

I don't have a lot to say about an article on Labor Issues in Sci-Fi and Fantasy, except I really like it. I need to thoroughly study it. After all, I write Sci-Fi and Fantasy and I'd like my stories to be good.

Financially, I have to begin to worry about my Pension and Profit Sharing… How about you?
Your Pension when the Unexpected Happens. Talks about how the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) handles a number of different pension problems, most notably divorce (which just gets ugly).

Not Your Father’s Retirement Plan. How to handle your retirement assets so you don't run out of money - or at least help mitigate the risks of running out of money. One of the big hints was to spend less. That applies even before retirement!

Charitable Donation Tips for Boomers. There are some good tips here, many I never thought of. That's why I read articles like this.

Some games deserve a little recognition.
There is a little bit of news on Bioware's Dragon Age: Inquisition game. It does look awesome, but there won't be any health regeneration - gee, like real life. I'm not sure I like that.

Ars Technica's Kyle Orland wrote an article on Godus - and he likes it. That makes me very happy, since I backed the game on Kickstarter and am looking forward to its release. That looks like September 13th for the pre-release. I need to get a PC…

I also backed Wasteland 2 and am awaiting my swag, but I don't see any articles on that one.

Let's look at some Tech!
You know that some people are considering creating smart roads, right? Roads with the ability to recharge your car as you drive? I forget where, but someone is making one right now. Here's a new one - recovering the energy from bumps and bounces - from the suspension in your car. I love this!

Yes, I'm still looking at phones. Darling says she doesn't need a smart phone. Well, here's a beautiful "dumb" phone, but I think Darling would object the first time she couldn't find Candy Crush (darn you, Candy Crush!).

Microsoft bought Nokia. I have no idea how this one will play out, but Nokia currently makes the very best camera for a phone! Of course, it is a Windows phone…

Control a Mac or PC from your iPad. This is cool, but a bit pricey, at $80/year.

Google might have been planning a smart-watch for a long time. C'mon. We all know Dick Tracy thought of it…

I'm always looking for some way to turn me into a real artist, like Darling. This probably won't help me, but maybe it won't hurt either.

This is cool, but I'm not big about wearing rings. Maybe if they made it into a bracelet of some sort? And included some touch spots to manage my phone? And added Bluetooth connectivity for my headphones? Oh, then it's like my own-design iWatch or something, huh?

Remember the translators used by the crew of the original Enterprise? It's here.

Hey, I could have my own mini-batcave! Sort of… I'd want to get a really cool car, though. I don't think the Camry makes the same impact as the Batmobile (or a Porshe).

In the How-To department, they show us how to make a fake wall. They say it's for a television in a rental place. That's cool, but this would also work to create a hidden room, wouldn't it? I think my study might soon disappear behind a wall! Combine that with the mini-batcave (above) for my car and I'm well on the way to becoming a superhero!