This is much more uplifting than killer robots. Yes, you can use leftover Easter peeps in your own kitchen to determine the speed of light! With surprising accuracy! Let’s let these NPR guys tell it:
Samsung is already making these things, and South Korea is using them at the border (though not yet autonomously, thank God).
Elon Musk has been trying to warn us about these killer robots. They belong in dystopian SF, not in the real world.
Allysen’s mom came home from the rehab center not quite a week ago (following a broken hip), which caught us off guard due to poor communication from the rehab center. We did not expect The System to spit her out quite that soon. It’s been an absolute maelstrom of activity, finding out what we need to know about equipping the apartment, acquiring the equipment, setting up 24-hour care, learning a million things we never needed or wanted to know before. Early on, Allysen hired a care manager, without whose help I don’t think we would have survived the transition. But we’re getting there. Here’s a picture of her with Allysen and Jayce.
Meanwhile, Captain Jack smolders about being confined to a single room at a time, and wearing the Healing Hat, a.k.a. Helmet of Courage. (We do not call it [Cone of Shame] in this house!) Drugs are wonderful, when they work. But other times, the border collie spirit sneers at sedatives. Drugs? We don’t need no steenking drugs!
Moonlight has had to learn some navigational tricks, getting around the newly barricaded apartment. She’s almost twenty, and she can’t really vault over child gates anymore. Here she is, checking out the Bridge to the Future that I built for her at one checkpoint.
Captain Jack came home from surgery on this Good Friday (a day barely noted by his frazzled humans), having had surgery yesterday for his blown-out ACL. The surgery, called TPLO by the docs, actually involves reshaping the joint somewhat by cutting the tibia end and securing it with a metal plate at a slightly altered angle to the femur side of the joint. (They can’t repair the actual torn ligament the way they do in humans; they’re tried, and it just doesn’t take). Jack has to be kept uber-uber-quiet for two months or longer. And that means keeping him separated from A’s mom’s dog McDuff, who is living with us because of A’s mom being in hospital and rehab for a broken hip!
A’s mom is coming home very soon, BTW, and will be continuing physical therapy at home. Jack, while she’s doing that, will in a few weeks be starting physical therapy at the animal hospital! He’ll get to do his in a tank of water—treadmill in a tank. Stay tuned!
Oh—I probably won’t have a chance to post this weekend, so Happy Easter, everyone! (Happy Spring, if that’s more your style!)
There has been enough chaos around here to make me feel like our lives are being whirled in a Vitamix blender, which would be fine if the result was a margarita, but this is different. Allysen’s mom spent a couple of days in the hospital after her hip operation, at which point nature decided to drop the third Nor’easter in two weeks on us—this one a blizzard delivering nearly two feet of snow—in the middle of which the Powers That Be transported Allysen’s mom from the hospital to rehab. Which meant Allysen had to go out in the blizzard to be there for the move (while I stayed home wielding the snowblower and shovel, resting a bit, then wielding the snowblower and shovel some more, resting a bit, then wielding… etc.).
Today I got word that Captain Jack needs surgery for his torn CCL (dog version of ACL), which he got while playing in a meadow with another dog, so he’s scheduled for surgery in two weeks—following which this border collie mix will have to be kept inactive and very quiet for a month, and pretty quiet for another month. Are we kidding? Nope, we’re not.
Coming home from that, I received word that my brother Chuck’s cancer treatment has hit some bumps—though the last MRI offered some encouragement, so they’re forging ahead with treatment.
And Stephen Hawking died. Well, damn.
On the other hand, the date is 3-14, so Happy Pi Day!
Make space for dragons with my first big sale of the year: Dragon Space: A Star Rigger Omnibus is just two bucks, for two novels, for three days! Any way you count it, that’s a bargain, especially if you like science fiction with dragons. The two novels are Dragons in the Stars, and Dragon Rigger, with a map of the dragon realm sandwiched in between. These two novels are set relatively early in the chronology of the Star Rigger Universe, though I wrote some of the later novels before them.
If you already have the two novels as separate books, then you don’t need this, unless you really just love a good deal. But if you don’t have both—even if you have one but not the other—this is a fine way for you to complete the pair. Regular price is $7.99. Regular price for the two separately is $4.99 each. Did I mention that the sale price is $1.99? Go ahead—buy it. Get your friends to buy it. Make this a good promotion. Please. And if you like the books, and you haven’t already posted a review at Amazon or Goodreads or BN or Apple or the like, you could help more than you know by doing so now.
Thanks! And watch out for low-flying dragons! Not to mention a cyber-parrot named Ed, and those ghostly ifflings.
Allysen’s mom fell and broke her hip Friday evening. She lives in our downstairs apartment, and I walked in with a slice of pizza for her, only to find her on the floor in the dining room. She said her leg hurt, so I didn’t move her—and in fact, EMTs and the fire department were already on their way, because she’d pressed the medical alert button she wears hanging from her neck. Allysen was out for the evening, so I accompanied her for the ambulance ride, complete with wailing siren.
The ER staff at Mount Auburn Hospital were terrific. By the time Allysen and I left for the night, her mom was scheduled for a partial hip replacement the next day. That was Saturday, and it went very well. I expect there will be a couple of weeks of rehab in our immediate future. I think she was especially annoyed about this in light of her having just gotten cataract surgery; she was really tired of people (us) hovering around giving her eye drops. Doctored-out, was how she put it, just a couple of days before her fall.
Ironically, after all the work put into the apartment to eliminate tripping hazards, it was playing with her dog McDuff that toppled her. She’d turned 88 just a few weeks ago. Old age is definitely not for sissies. She’s recovering well, so far, though.
“I didn’t do anything!”
It’s been a month since my Asus laptop, Antares, died from motherboard failure—a year to the day after I purchased it. After much nudging, pleading, and cajoling on my part, Asus agreed to take it back for warranty repair. It came back this week, running again, but with Windows restored to a factory-new condition. Good(-ish)! I run a lot of software, and that means a week of reinstalling everything… unless… unless I can restore it from backup.
Before I sent it in, I’d pulled the hard drive and made a disk-image backup using Aomei free backup software, and a second backup using Paragon backup software, just in case. You can’t be too careful.
So I plug in the backup drive, run Aomei, and tell it to restore the drive from my backup. What could go wrong? Runnnn… brrrrrrrrr…boom, restart computer, and we’re back to Feb. 8. Right?
Restart computer. Boom. “Boot device not found.” Thud.
“It’s still dead, Jim.”
Two days later, and I’m still running different permutations of the restore, using a boot thumbdrive that Aomei created for me. (Paragon created one, too, but it didn’t boot.) No response from an email to tech support. And then, on the user forum, an admin casually notes that my backup procedure was flawed—can’t backup the system files from a drive in a USB enclosure. Oh, shirt.
As a temporary diversion, I spend an hour playing Mr. Fixit, replacing the faulty inlet valve in our dishwasher. At least that works!
I have more backups, though, right? Surely I do. Here’s one from November. This is my last hope. I run it. Brrrrrrrrrrrrrr… (it’s on a different backup drive, a slower one). Two hours later, restart. Boom. My heart leaps as I hear the Windows welcome chime! I have my desktop with all my stuff as of November! Restoring the missing data is just a detail, and I’m back in business! Aomei Backupper, you came through!
Antares is alive again!
Mars Reconnaissance Observer (MRO) took pictures from orbit of the Phoenix Mars lander, roughly ten years apart. If this animated gif from NASA works correctly, you’ll see a blink comparison of the site ten years ago, and now. The evidence could not be more striking: Little Green Men (LGMs) have been systematically covering our lander with sand! They work slowly but steadily; they’ve even hidden the parachute (bottom). My theory is they’re part of the Flat Mars Society and are covering up evidence of life from off world. How devious.
This, combined with the famous hex-wrench socket on top of Saturn (see in motion here), offer clear proof of aliens meddling in and around our solar system. I suspect they live inside Saturn and go in and out through the hex hatch, but this has not yet been shown. Sciency research continues.
I worried I was getting old when I turned 50 and started getting mail from AARP. And then, when I wasn’t looking, I suddenly became eligible for senior discounts. (No, that can’t be right. My parents were seniors, not me!) And now…
Readercon, once one of my favorite conventions, has decided that—well, let’s let them tell it in their own words: “You won’t be receiving an invitation to participate in programming for Readercon 29. We’re deeply grateful to you for your years of participation at Readercon… but…” But so long, and thanks for all the fish!
They go on to say that they’re making room for fresh, young writers—which, if I thought that were the real reason, would at least be understandable. The truth, of course, is that Readercon has always been welcoming to new writers. I was one myself once, and Readercon always gave me a place at the table, as they did others. In fact, one of the things I liked about it was the yeasty mix of writers of all kinds, all ages, genders, creeds, etc. It made for great conversations. I guess the newer team of organizers are aiming for a new shape for their demographics. Either that, or they think they’re comping too many memberships to program participants.
I’m not the only one to receive this letter, of course. A number of older, white male writers (including my friend Craig Shaw Gardner) have received the same email. I don’t know if any female writers have received it or not. I’d be interested in knowing. (Update: I’ve received a secondhand report that a woman-writer friend of mine, also in my age group, got a similar boot to the backside.)
Perhaps the icing on the cake was the offer to register ahead of time (for $5 off!) by using the coupon code PASTPRO. Ouch. Does that say what they really think? Or did they just not think what that said?
—This report brought to you by Captain Dunsel.
I seem to recall that, in end, Kirk and Spock overcame the odds and prevailed, as they always do.