Submission Rejected

Not bad turnaround. This century really is better than the last one for turnaround times.

This one had a good note. I was intending for my story to be humorous, so the response works for me:

There are some amusing lines in here, but the beginning of the story didn't grab me fast enough so I'm going to pass on it. Best of luck to you placing this one elsewhere...

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (Alan Bradley)

could be the offspring of


Lawrence in Arabia (Scott Anderson)

might be the offspring of


It's a Small World After All

(Don't worry, this video is not that horrible song.)

Utah Philips gives us a little advice on how we can work the NSA to our advantage.

So, I was IMing with a friend who called me a beach bum because I'm moving to a beach town. (Gosh, just one more day. One more day. I'm moving from tiny Nevada City to the even smaller Cayucos.) I remembered this old bum song and searched for it on You-Tube.

The great thing, aside from the fun song, is that the guy up there in the video? He lived for 20 years in Nevada City.

That's what they mean by 'small world,' man.

Submission Transmitted

First of the year.

I'm hoping this year is a step up in production.

Travel Fun

Last week was rough. It's hard enough to turn a year older, but I had to spend the week out in Boulder interviewing folks. I've got three slots to fill and I'm sensitive to getting this right after the problems of the past year. I think the interviewing itself went well, but the travel bits were not all that great.

I like the airport at San Luis Obispo so far. The parking is easy and walkable to the terminal which has exactly one gate. Check in and swimming through TSA is quick and easy. There are no naked scanners and no need for a special lane for rich people. The drawback, though, is that it only has two airlines and a limited set of flights. The direct flights are to Phoenix, LA and SF. Which is good enough, if everything goes well, because that gets you on to wherever you might want to go.

Sadly, neither airline is Southwest, so I don't have a lot of confidence about things going well. It took me 13 hours to get to Denver, and the delays were not due to weather. The flight from SBP was delayed by 90 minutes because of a mechanical problem. This pushed me back four hours in Phoenix because I missed my connection. But then the Phoenix to Denver flight was further delayed.

The announcement overhead said, and this is really what they said, "The flight to Denver is delayed. This delay is due to your plane being late."

Amazing example of reasoning.

The flights back were uneventful, though, only about 4 hours all told. So that's not so bad.

One of the nights in the hotel was interrupted by a fire alarm about 3 in the morning. (Folks, it's cold in Boulder.) The place didn't burn down and eventually, we got to go to sleep. In the morning, there was this note under the door.

I particularly appreciate the extraordinarily gracious offer of free coffee. Couldn't have gotten that anywhere else, except, of course, in the room itself where there is already free coffee.

Cyber Circus (Kim Lakin-Smith)

might be the offspring of


On The Road Again

In more ways than one.

Moved out of the vacation house into another seedy motel for the final week of homelessness. Or for what I hope is the final week of homelessness. When I checked in, the receptionist said, "When we said we take pets, we meant dogs." But they let me keep my cat anyway, which is good, because I've already lost my favorite plant. Hate to lose Tubby. I suppose cats can be smellier than dogs, but a cat won't keep the people in the next room up all night by barking, unlike some other animals I could name. (I'm looking at you Room 105.)

I took my first bike ride of the year today, and the first in six months, at least. I went up to Grass Valley in December specifically to get my bike, but it's been hard to ride from where I was staying before. It's easy from this motel. Gosh, it's soooooooo flat here! I only rode for a little bit because I don't have bike shorts down here, but I still got 8 miles in without thinking about it. I think this place is going to be healthier for me.

So, if I was able to do 10 miles of walking every week last year, I need a new goal for this year. I am leaning toward this: a progressive scale that increases every quarter, starting at 20 miles every week, with at least two different types of activities -- so I can't do the whole 20 with biking, I have to also either walk or kayak. That's my new goal. Let's see how it goes.


I really like these minimalist posters from Hydrogeneportofolio. I particularly like the one for Grace Hopper:

Ancillary Justice (Ann Leckie)

So, last year, I tried to write down the first line of every book I read. I found it interesting, but not as informative as I'd like. And I still got to the end of the year and had to struggle with remembering what some of the books I had read had even been about. It's hard to remember things as you get older, you know.

Or when someone interferes with your memory banks.

As I was reading Ancillary Justice, it kept calling up the ghosts of a couple of books, so I thought that this year I'd offer Book Mates -- the book I read must have been the evil love child of what two other books?

Now that I've read Ancillary Justice, I see commentary everywhere. It's a bit like when I bought that CRX back in the 80s. I hadn't really noticed them before I bought them and suddenly there were CRXes everywhere I looked. It's like that with Ancillary Justice. It's getting good reviews everywhere I look.

And this book is completely up to the hype. What a ride! This book has restored my flagging faith in the science fiction novel. Yep.

I picked it out because I had run out of reading and flailed a bit for my next pick and I remembered Neil Williamson's buying list from WFC back in November.

So, now, I'm going to buy the other books on Neil's shopping list. Is that creepy?

So, what two books got busy to make this one? There's a little bit of EmbassyTown in this book and a little bit of the Miles Vorkosigan books, but there are two better choices.

I think that Ancillary Justice is what you get if The Left Hand of Darkness and The Ship Who Sang got married and produced offspring. This book jumps right out of the gate playing with gender. I can't say it's not in your face, because it's obvious, but it's not a distraction or badly done. It continued to be an excellent reminder of my assumptions during the whole read-through.

I think it's the humming that made me think of the Ship Who Sang.

Good stuff.

EOY: Reading

2013 was a year of mysteries, it looks like. It also looks like a bit of a comedown in quantity. I was down to 42 titles from 2012's 56.


Here are the three best I read this year:
  • River of Stars (Guy Gavriel Kay) This follow-up to the fantastic Under Heaven is not quite as good, but Kay's writing is so completely immersive that it's hard not to ride along for the joy of just being there. This is not a direct sequel, but rather takes place centuries later. Start with Under Heaven, but go on to this one.
  • Have Mercy on us All (Fred Vargas) I devoured the Fred Vargas mysteries this year, for sure, but my favorite of the lot was the first I read. (Be aware that it's not the first of the series, but that didn't affect my reading of it.) These books are a bit bloody, though not (IMHO) as bad as The Girl Who... books. What I liked about this one was the different characters, especially the one who we follow at first and who takes up an interesting re-invented job.
  • The Good Lord Bird (James McBride) By far, this was the best book I read all year. It's the story of John Brown's raids told from the point of view of a young slave who is masquerading as a girl. I don't think we get enough of John Brown in school, or at least I didn't. A lot of the lead up to the Civil War is covered as the political maneuvering. I think it'd be much more interesting to cover what was going on on the ground among the radicals pushing for change, as well as those resisting it, and (in Kansas) both putting their blood on the line for it.

Here are some other stats:

Genre (by my guess)

  • Mystery: 12
  • Speculative: 16 (includes 2 YA)
  • Historical: 6
  • Other Fiction: 4 (Life of Pi, One Good Hustle, The Litigators, The Wasp Factory)
  • Non-Fiction: 4


  • Physical: 24
  • Electronic: 18

Books by Women Writers

  • Men: 22
  • Women: 20

Lots of repeated authors this year. For 42 books, there were 31 authors. The authors were overwhelmingly American. Fully a third of the US authors were born in New York.

Birth Country

  • US: 21
  • England: 4
  • Canada: 3
  • France: 1
  • Turkey: 1
  • Scotland: 1

Birth Decade

  • 1880s: X
  • 1890s:
  • 1900s:
  • 1910s: XXX
  • 1920s: XX
  • 1930s: X
  • 1940s: XXXX
  • 1950s: XXXXXXXXXXX
  • 1960s: XXXXXX
  • 1970s: X
  • unkwn: XX

EOY: Exercise

Looks like I didn't record my decision last year, but somewhere early I decided that I'd establish a goal of walking at least 10 miles every week of the year. I use Runkeeper, which is a nice app on my phone that keeps track of my movements when I ask it to. I like the little maps it makes automatically.

Sometime around March, I tried to impress a woman at a conference. "Check it out," I said. "I've been trying to exercise more and this app on my phone keeps track. I've been walking at least 10 miles every week." She reached over, patted my arm, and said, "Don't worry. Summer's coming. You'll do better."

That's when I realized that these metrics have to be for me or they weren't going to work.

So, did I succeed? It depends on how you define success. I drove about 30 miles today to go to a Target. I thought I'd be able to find a scale and weigh myself. But when I got there, all the scales were in boxes. (I wasn't going to actually buy one, you know. I'm homeless.) I went over to the nearby Walmart, where I couldn't find any scales at all. So, I don't know what I weigh, but I _feel_ like I'm heavier now than at the start of last year.

But I don't blame that on the walking. I blame it on living without a stove for three months.

So, out of my 52 week experiment, I failed to make 10 three times. In those weeks, I walked 5.2, 8.9, and 5.6 miles. Now, I think that's not too bad. After all, I'm not wearing this while I deliver a class or walk around the house, so I am indeed doing more intentional walking on top of normal movement. So, a better way of looking at it is: I succeeded 49 times.

The year in numbers then is:

Average miles per week: 16 Total miles: 836

Not terrible for an old guy, but the bad news is that while I had 23 bike rides in 2012, in 2013 I only rode 3 times. Part of that is because 2013 was a heavy travel year (though not a diverse one), but I think the walking did affect it. If I had time to do some movement, I opted to walk because I wanted to always make sure to hit my goals. So, this year, which will start officially when I finally have a home, I'm going to make up some sort of formula for weekly goals that include walking, bicycling and kayaking every week.