Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Greatest Generation

It's no wonder they are known as the greatest generation. They possess a unique combination of courage, common sense and compassion...and a great sense of humor.

Wonderful Painting

Browsing on the net the other day I discovered a beautiful painting by Jean-Léon Gérôme. It is titled Pelt Merchant of Cairo. It inspired me and I am planning on writing a short story based on the painting.

The Continuing Ironman Story

The Theater Hopper webcomic continues to relate a funny storyline based on the film's imminent release.

Friday, April 25, 2008

The Most Likely Use...

Admit it. This is the most likely use of holodeck technology based on the current trends displayed by the Internet.

Iron Man Reigns Supreme

It looks like everyone is getting into the excitement of Iron Man. Below is one of the webcomics I read regularly. He has hit on the level of enthusiasm that few non-geeks reach.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Hancock is Coming

Will Smith's new movie Hancock looks to me like an interesting new take on the super-hero genre. I am eagerly awaiting its release.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Abomination? I'll Say!

I am eagerly awaiting the upcoming Hulk film, but if this is any indication, I'll have some problems with it.

Where are the distinctive ears that made the character so memorable. Hell, this could be an overgrown zombie. They got the hands and feet right (especially the feet), but the head and color are disappointing. Hopefully Tim Roth can fill this below-par rendering with enough of his cool, sardonic wit that I won't care.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Open Heart

The story below is a short exercise I completed for the writing group I attend. It draws on some of my hospital experiences from last year.

Open Heart

Two masked and gowned figures stood over the prone form, peering into the open chest cavity. The heart within showed obvious stitches where silvery, artificial tissue had replaced old, diseased muscle.

"Maintaining the open incision gives us easy access to the heart, but the risks are severe,” Dr. Davey broke the silence.

“Nonsense,” Lanscomb replied, “We simply administer a nano-pantibiotic and the risk is limited.”

“But we have no idea how the nanos will respond to the convergent tissue. If it isn’t close enough to the subject’s, they could react…” Davey began to counter.

“Davey, if the convergent tissue isn’t a close enough match, the nanites will be the least of our worries.”

“No shit. I would have never have guessed that. I just think that there are risks.”

“There are always risks…but, in this case, I am willing to live with them.”

Davey shook his head. “Of course you can live with them, Lanscomb. I just hope the patient can.”

“Bite my ass! I’ve been a surgeon for a lot longer than you have. We still used bypass machines when I started.”

Davey held up his hands. “Look, I’m not saying it isn’t they way to go. But this gent has enough issues to deal with. Adding another variable to the equation might not be in his best interests.”

Lanscomb sighed, seeming mollified by Davey’s explanation.

“The patient had no prospects before the surgery. You know the procedure was very experimental to begin with. What good is the experiment if we can’t closely observe the results? Anyway, I’m satisfied that the nanos will take care of any infection.”

* * *

Tiny, molecular machines swam through freshly oxygenated blood, plucking small bits of O2 from the red cells’ treasure trove. Individually, the nanos were dumb, like ants, but collectively their purpose emerged.

Analyze, Synthesize, Rebuild

Analyze, Synthesize, Rebuild

Analyze, Synthesize, Rebuild

Analyze, Anomaly Detected, Analyze, Anomaly Confirmed


Synthesizing New Pattern, Rebuild

Analyze, Synthesize, Rebuild

Analyze, Synthesize, Rebuild

Analyze, Synthesize, Rebuild


Doctor Davey rubbed his goatee, feeling each bristle brush against his wired nerve endings. He peered over at Lanscomb in the room, also wearing a doctor’s smock.

“So, Lanscomb, any idea how to proceed?” He asked. “As you can see, the nanos have interacted with the Myolon[1] in a very unanticipated way.”

Lanscomb’s eyes flashed. “You love this, don’t you?”

“Uh, I love the concept of you being wrong.” Davey pointed at the man on it table. “But it sucks for him. The nanos have gone berserk and are replacing his normal muscle tissue with Myolon. We have no idea how far they will go.” Davey looked up from the monitor, a strange expression in his eyes.

Lanscombe’s voice betrayed his growing concern. “There is no way I could have predicted this.”

“I agree. There is no way you could have predicted this…because it would have required you to take your head out of your ass. Did anyone die the last time you came up for air?”

“Shut up! All we have to do is inject him with the nanos’ disabling agent and they’ll stop. They haven’t gotten very far. Besides, his heart still appears to be pumping fine.”

“You’re brilliant, Lanscomb. That was the first thing we tried, but the nanos are not responding. Whatever caused them to malfunction is interfering with the agent and we haven’t figured out how to shut them off yet. They’ve replaced nearly all of the normal heart tissue with Myolon.”

“Well, um…” Lanscomb sputtered. “What do you suggest we do?” Some of the anger in his voice, replaced by concern.

Davey’s brows knitted. “I had my databot find out what agents are used to deactivate Myolon producing nanos. The lab is synthesizing a non-toxic variant. The original compound is very nasty.”

“How long does the lab think that will take?”

“The lab rats assured me it will be done in a few hours. I pray it is not too late by then. If it stops the nanos I guess we close him up and hope for the best.” He sighed and stepped back from the table. He met Lanscombe’s eyes. “If not…”


Ignorant of the torrent of activity singing through his vascular system, Duncan Wilbury slept; senses dulled by narcotics, his thoughts swimming in murky, addled dreams. Dream after dream came; dreams that seemed backed by a chorus of harmonizing voices. They washed over him, drowning him in sensations. Duncan’s mind, struggling to make sense of it all, crafted intricate explanations of what it all meant. Each crumbled with the slightest breath of logic.

Slowly, painfully slowly, his conscious mind began to emerge from the fog. At first, all he caught were identifiable sounds, snippets of the nurses’ conversations, the sound of a squeaky wheel on the food tray, the wet slopping of the janitor’s mop. The pieces began to fit together again. After a time Duncan began to test himself, prodding at the edges of awareness.

The mental fog burned off revealing a clear mind with no active thoughts. Like a scene from some cliched movie, Duncan could hear his own voice in his head asking the question.

“Where the hell am I?”

His eyes shot open.

In a torrent, reality gushed back in: the diagnosis of an aortic aneurysm, getting his affairs in order, his wife’s worries, the surgical prep. In less than a week, Duncan’s life transformed from ‘blah’ to ‘holy shit?’ Again, it sounded like some movie tugging at the heartstrings about discovering what was truly important. He smiled, or thought he did. He’d have to reassess his classification of movies. He planned to do that as soon as he got out of the hospital.

Hospital? Of course, a hospital, but this didn’t look like any recovery room he had been in before, and with plenty of sick relatives, he knew what to expect.

Luck favored him in the form of a smiling nurse. “Oh, good morning. It’s nice to see you awake.”

Duncan tried to respond, but no voice came out. The nurse’s smile widened.

“That’s okay, child, you’re fine. Don’t try to talk. You won’t be able to for a while until they take you off the ventilator.”

Duncan’s eye widened No words came out of his mouth, only a groan.

The nurse nodded. “Yes, Mr. Wilbury, you are on a ventilator.” The nurse’s soft hand stroked his cheek lightly, radiating calm from the point it touched. “Relax, child. You’re going to be fine. Just rest now.”

With a smile, she strolled from the room, flipping the light switch off as she passed. Darkness enfolded Duncan. Sleep arrived next. He passed out.


Analyze, Synthesize, Rebuild

Analyze, Synthesize, Rebuild

Analyze, Synthesize, Rebuild

Analyze, Reactive Compound Detected, Analyze, Power Down

A single nano, heeding the commands of its programming, sent out the chemical signal heralding the end of its existence. The power down signal spread through billions of the tiny machines, causing each to cease its meticulous task and commit robotic suicide, breaking down into component molecules. Each nano passed its chemical death sentence to the next in a chain of quiet destruction.


“Mr. Wilbury? Mr. Wilbury, wake up.” An unfamiliar voice raised Duncan from the depths of sleep but lacked the strength to bring him to full consciousness.

“Child?” A more familiar voice beckoned. “Please wake up. The doctor needs to talk to you.” The voice was accompanied by a gentle touch on his shoulder.

Duncan’s eye flickered open, then slammed shut against the bright fluorescent glare from the overhead fixture.

“Hold on, darlin. I’ll turn the lights down.” The glow penetrating his tightly-shut lids dimmed. “That should be better.”

Duncan diffidently lifted his eyelids, relaxing his furrowed brow. While still bright, the light was now at least tolerable. His eyes couldn’t quite seem to focus on a largish fuzzy shape floating above him.

“Good morning, Mr. Wilbury,” the fuzzball said. “I am one of your surgeons, Dr. Davey.”

“Mornin,” Duncan croaked. His eyes widened in panic as he recalled the earlier talk of a ventilator. His hand feebly reached toward his mouth.

“Don’t worry; we took you off the ventilator. You can talk now.”

Duncan sighed. That single uttered word left his throat sore and dry. Avoiding another attempt at a painful verbalization, he simply shrugged and gave the doctor a pleading look.

“Just rest for now, Mr. Wilbury. You have a long recovery in front of you.”

Duncan shrugged again. A question in his eyes.

Davey nodded. “Yes, there were some complications…but your vital signs are stable. The initial procedure went just as we planned, but we had some trouble getting your heart restarted. After inserting a temporary micro pump through your leg, to aid your heart, we administered some nanos to prevent infection. There was an unexpected reaction from the nanos.”

Doctor Davey watched as a cloud of confusion passed over Duncan’s face.

“Congratulations, you are now the owner of an unbreakable heart.”


WTF? What fever dream did this emerge from? I guess nerds have to fill up all that free time they have from not getting laid.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Podiobooker - 11 Commandments of Podio Production

This is a direct cut&paste from I plan on following most of these. It depends on my laziness ratio for the week.

11 Commandments of podiobook production

Well, commandments might be a little strong, but I’ve been called egotistical before…
Tips and and Tricks of Success

So you want to make a podiobook, either out of your work or out of some Creative Commons material, do you? Excellent. You’ve made a wise choice in embracing the concept that “information wants to be freed”. The good news is that the path has been well-blazed before you by authors who have learned things the hard way. We highly recommend you do not fight against the tide, but rather stand on the shoulders of giants and embrace these eleven tips for success.

1. Listen to Other Serialized Audiobooks — Forget the fact that
you have the seminal work in your hands for a moment and think about the delivery of the message. After all, that’s why you’ve chose to create your own podiobook — to get your work and your name in front of the masses.
Please understand that the masses have expectations for how you should deliver your missive to them via this method. That’s a long way to say this: listen to other books and give people what they want. I can’t tell you how many times I go through the set up process for new authors, only to discover that they have never listened to any book. I don’t get this.
Hey, I’m all about breaking the rules and marching to the beat of my own drummer, but it pays to at least know the rules and be able to recognize other beats for what they are.

2. Write, Edit, Re-write… and THEN Produce — In That Order
Writing is hard work. Editing is harder still, and re-writing can be — to speak the common tongue — a huge pain in the ass. But all of those steps are important and should not be — must not be — skipped over, skimped on or skimmed over. Yes, there are a few notable examples that fly in the face of that. Yet I can categorically state that your book would be much improved if you took the time to have it edited (by someone other than
your mom, please) and then re-written — an iterative process that need not stop for a few rounds.
In fact, the work and dedication required to self-produce a serialized audiobook version of your works is pretty simple
in comparison. Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of work to be done behind the microphone and in front of an audio editor. But don’t assume that mad audio production skills can some how make up for an inferior story that could have been made better with some judicious editing. Make the best written book you possibly can, even if you never plan on it seeing life in printed form. Then you can make it into a podiobook.

3. Find Your Quiet Place — The first step in having quality audio starts with having a quiet source. While it may be impractical to spend a thousand dollars turning your family room into an isolation chamber, it certainly is worth the investment to find a quiet spot to do your recording, as well as ways to minimize ambient noises from your recording equipment (e.g. computers are such noisy things).
A relatively noise-free audio track allows you much more flexibility when producing without having to worry about bring up the background noise, too. Caution: noise reduction software rarely works as well as you would like it to.
Some prior authors have done wonders from recording inside of their walk-in closet (the hanging clothes do a great job of absorbing echoes), making creative use of wall tapestries and investing in computer-less recording devices (like the Zoom H4). Noise should be eliminated (or at least reduced) before coming into the microphone, rather than trying to scrub it out.

4. Treat Yourself To Quality Headphones — Ask any audio recording professional and you’ll get the same answer: quality headphones is the most important piece of equipment you can buy. I’ll go out on a limb and say that editing without using headphones (like using room monitors or your computer’s speakers) is tantamount to taking a photograph without looking through the viewfinder.
Headphones should block out much of the outside world, allowing you to hear the finest detail of your audio. When you hears something that isn’t quite right, like a chair squeak,
barking dog or annoying plosives (as made on the letter “p”) — fix them! I always use headphones when I record — cranked as loud as I can stand it — to catch these noises at the source. I also recommend using headphones and listening to your final file all the way through. Yes, even though you spent an hour editing. Listen again!

5. Buy a Decent Microphone — Notice the word “decent” in that
title. I’m not suggesting that you go spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars on a microphone. All too often people assume that all of their problems will be solved with One New Microphone. Truth be told, that’s rarely the case. But that doesn’t mean you should be satisfied with the $20 USB headset you use for online gaming, or the stick that came with your computer.
There are many things to consider when shopping for a icrophone, and I’m not going to get into any of them here. Want more information? Buy a book or ask a friend. The arguments on what you should buy will go on forever. My advice? Go to your local music store and try out a Shure SM-58 microphone. That is a quality mic and you would be well suited to start shopping there. After that, try out other models. When you’re happy, figure out a way to integrate it into your current recording setup.
Additional components may be required. And now you know why it’s not my first recommendation to you!

6. Practice Anal-Retentive Audio Editing Skillz — I’m going to
dispel a horrid rumor. This will probably get me kicked out of the podcaster’s club, but here goes: Editing audio is easy.
There. I’ve said it. To go one further, you can achieve fantastic production quality utilizing free audio editing software. Audacity works on PCs and Macs, and unless you have a good reason not to use it (e.g. you have experience with and access to better tools), then you should be using it. Plenty of your Mac-addicted fellow authors also use GarageBand, which is also a fine tool. The trick to both of these (any audio editor, really), is to be incredibly meticulous and methodical in your editing process. In other words, don’t rush through it and don’t try and cram more than one step together. Think of it this way: you don’t try and format your text while you type your chapters, do you? And when you are formatting, you’d correct any misspelled words or subject/verb disagreement, right? Then please do the same in editing your audio. Mispronounce a word? Re-record it and replace it. Hear that unnatural pause when you turned the page? Cut out some of the dead space. Wish you would have left more space for effect? Add it in! Audio editing tools are designed to to just that — edit! Go slow, take your time, and play around until you are as good with your editor as you are your word processor. I promise you that it’s not any harder.

7. The Levelator Is Your Friend — While cutting and pasting
inside of an audio editor is simple, raising and lowering of sound levels inside of the file is less so. And that’s where “The Levelator” comes in. This free piece of software works magic on spoken-word audio files by doing exactly what it says — it levels out the file. Note that I said “spoken-word audio files”. The Levelator is used before you add in sound effects, transition cues or bed music. Using it afterwards is, well… bad. You won’t like it. Trust me. The Levelator also makes your audio file the
correct “loudness” — a trick that many people have a hard time pulling off on their own.
Many audio engineering gods will profess that they can do a better job on their own without using The Levelator. I’m not here to argue against them and have heard many fine recordings where the Levelator was not used. So let me state it this way: If you are not using the Levelator and you do not have a good reason to not use the Levelator, then you should be using The Levelator.

8. Enhance the Experience With Bed Music — In the olden days of audiobooks, adding in music and other effects was strictly verboten. Yeah, well… rules are meant to be broken. This one in particular. If you take a look at the most popular podiobooks, they all feature the appropriate use of bed music before and after the episode. Music — when chosen wisely and applied correctly — can enhance your audience’s listening pleasure buy
setting the tone and tenor of the book. Got a creepy horror book? Use creepy music. Full on bodice-ripper? Bring on the sultry. Check out the Podsafe Music Network and sites like Magnatune for music, and make sure you have the correct rights to use any music you may find.

9. Make a Promo — In case you hadn’t noticed, we have a lot of
books on, and we’re always adding more. If this is your first jaunt into the podosphere, then you may not know it’s a community where your fellow podcasters like to share what they find interesting. And a great way to do this is with a short promo about your book. Keep it under a minute if you can, though slightly longer isn’t going to kill anyone. We’ll list it with your book plus add it to our own podcast feed as well, increasing the chance of someone hearing this tasty morsel and deciding to give your book a chance.

10. Release Weekly Recording and editing audio — while not the most strenuous of activities — does take time and commitment. When your book is in “release” mode, your audience expects to hear new episodes for you each and every week.
Yes, I’m not kidding.
Hey, don’t blame me: that’s an artifact from podcasting that gained support by many of your fellow podcast novelists and authors who figured out what the people wanted and started giving it to them. If you can’t commit to a weekly schedule, then I highly recommend you do the recording and editing for all
episodes before you give them to us. If not, you’re just asking for listener complaints and people canceling their subscriptions early.

11. Interact with Your Fans —
We’re changing the rules
of engagement with this medium. Podcasting gives listeners access to those who create their content in such a way never seen before. Capitalize on this. Embrace this. Look at the popular authors. In almost every case, they have incredible amounts of interaction with their fans. Read comments. Actively seek conversations. Participate in forums. Answer your emails. Go out of your way to embrace and encourage these people to keep spreading your words far and wide.

Two Minutes of Flighty Fun has 2 minutes of Ironman learning to fly and it racheted up my anticipation even more.

Readability Level

I was emailed an interesting link that allowed me to check the readability level of the blog. The results are shown below.

blog readability test

I am not sure if that means you have to be smart or crazy to enjoy my blog. Probably a little of both.

Friday, April 11, 2008

My Visit to the Siglerverse

I just got back from a signing by the author Scott Sigler. Check out his stuff at He podcasts all of his stuff for free. He began the evening by reading chapter one from his new novel, Infected.

After that he did a 30 minute Q&A. After the Q&A he signed stuff that people bought. This guy is genuinely nice. The picture below is me getting my copy of Infected signed.

Free Books

I found a really slick website that offers a whole bunch of free PDFs. When they are downloaded they are personalized with the user's name, so they are your copy. I was able to find one of my favorite comics from the 80s, Alien Legion. You can download a maximum of three per day. I now have over 400 books in my queue. Click on the image below to check it out.

The Stuff of Nightmares

Thanks, now I am going to have nightmares. This reminds me of one of the creatures from Where the Wild Things Are.

Free Fonts

Howdy Peons,

I have decided to gift you with a couple of free fonts that I created years ago.

Blades - A symbol font featuring swords
Dungeon Designs - A symbol font featuring mapping symbols for dungeons

Have fun,

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Rockin' the Hand Horn

I can only dream of the day when I can do this. Check with my wife if you think I am kidding.

Monday, April 7, 2008

The Least We Can Do...

I found this site that outlines a great idea called the Gratitude Campaign. It is a way to show your gratitude to our American service men and women without having to speak, which can seem awkward.

Please take a look!

Friday, April 4, 2008

I just threw up in my mouth a little!

Can you imagine what this must taste like?


When I lived in Germany they mixed beer with Pepsi.

Uh, oh...Now I HAVE to start writing again

I have been serializing a couple of my books on my other blogs for a while now. I am about 2/3 of the way through one novel (which is completely written). However, I have reached the last of the completed chapters on the other. Now I am forced to take up the writing quill again or face not having anything to post.

Wish me luck.