Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Just found this Timeless advice from my grandmother

"I was thinking of becoming a writer when I grow up. Any advice?"

"Study hard, be curious about everything you see... and marry somebody rich."

True that... true that.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

According to legend, this and a chainsaw was in a "homesteader kit" in the Sears cat. (20s ish)

According to my neighbor, his grandparents bought this "homesteader kit" out of a cat. back when where I live was all woods.

They used the chainsaw (included) to clear the land, then used the tiny tractor to drag the trees to the saw, where they turned it into the very planks and beams of their first house. They only had to buy nails, shingles, windows, and sinks and such, everything else it made.

Can you imagine that kind of pioneering spirit?? It wasn't all that long ago :)

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Old school emergency generator

When I was in my twenties, (long long long ago) I built a generator out of an old ten speed bike and an alternator out of a wrecked ford escort. Total price... $20.

Believe it or not, this thing actually worked. If you pedal your ass off for an hour, you'll make just enough electricity to run a tv for about 20minutes. With a small LED, you might get two hours of viewing.

I learned the hard way that the average person can produce about 100watts. And its exhausting to use.

100watts is pretty much nothing as far as electricity goes.

But it was awsome as a piece of exercise equipment for my RV, it slid back into the wall and was out of sight. And it did something productive... if minuscule.

Ah, my 20s...

That was before back problems, failing eyes, when if I had a wild idea I just went out and did it.

Such a long time ago.

In my head, I was thinking that it would be a huge amount of free power. I was going to save SOOOO MUCH gas by making my own electricity :)

Hard to believe I was that nieve. But pictures speak a thousand word.


Like a lot of people, I have a love/hate relationship with Amazon.

When I joined KDP (kindle) in 07, I loved it. KDP is something only authors and publishers have to look at, so it ain't got to be pretty with all the slick bells and whistles, its just got to be able to upload a cover picture and the book itself, and in the beginning, amazon kept it short and simple and to the point.

It was so perfect in 07 to 12 that you could upload a book with dialup or even over just about every cellphone out there, anywhere around the world.

But amazon wasn't happy with something so simple, easy, and perfect that only authors and publishers had to look at.

They worked long and hard to build into it tons of bells and whistles. They added the latest version of flash, so that most PCs using XP were locked out. They bloated the bandwidth so that it takes 20 megs to upload a 1meg jpg. They crammed 5megs of sloppy HTML fancy formatting bloat into each page so that on most cellphones it takes minutes to load a page instead of seconds.

Most cellphones can't do flash anyway.

It looks intentional and it reminded me of a highspeed internet company that put 6megs of graphics on pages aimed at getting dialup users to switch to highspeed... the only problem was dialup people had to wait 20minutes until the pics downloaded before they could tell the info they really wanted was on another link.

As an indie author, I have been on a bean and rice diet for the last six years. I can't afford highspeed. I can barely afford this $30 smartphone and a $25/month contract with a scant 200mb/200min/month plan.

Well, in case I'm not alone in this, let me say this. Firefox (on an android) will let you penetrate the cracks in the Amazon wall of frustration, and it will let you upload covers and content to KDP.

But firefox is a beast of another kind. It gobbles data like you had an unlimmited plan, and it gobbles phone MBs too. And its slow.

But it works, for now.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Apocalypse tips

First food.

I recommend dry seeds, mainly hard red wheat, lentils, pinto beans, black beans, and rice. Walmart will deliver you 26pounds of hard wheat in a 30yr safe bucket for about $15, that's nearly as cheap as rice. 25 pounds of flour goes for under $9. Lentils are best gotten off the shelf, but beans can be delivered too. For $50 you can get enough food to last a few months if needed, and optimized with lots of sprouting, you can stretch it to 6 months or more.

These will take you a long way all on their own and don't require a crazy amount of prep. Plus, if the s hit the fan, seeds can be planted and turned into a crop, something you can't do with MRE style foods.

Bulk flour is always good to have on hand too. Bake a loaf and eat for days, no cooking required.

You can easily make vacuum bags for long storage (5yrs) with any average cleaner and a plastic trash bag. Fill it with dry food, suck out the air, twist and tie the end, double bag, and put away in a box to keep it from mice, but its preferred that you use the food as food once a year anyway.

Cooking can become a problem if you lose power.

I keep oil lamps on hand for those occasions. Most ovens will let you put the lamp down low by the element and still put a pot or a pan on the top rack above it. Use foil to make a 'cup' (like an upside down pot) that reaches from a few inches above the flame to the undeside of the rack. This will trap the heat and focus it onto the pot and speed up cooking. Keep a fire extinguisher, a bucket of water, wet blankets, or something handy when using lamps to cook. Fire can go wrong fast, but having it inside the oven will help contain anything that goes wrong. Use oil lamp for cooking inside, if you have it, because kerosene has a smell. Keep a window cracked open, if possible, for fresh air.

Oil lamps are very handy to have around for cooking, but even making a bowl of rice will take you an hour, they cook slow. Remember to cover your pots with a lid to trap in heat. I've increased cooking speed by using coathangers to hold a bag over the pot like a ten gallon hat.

Lentils and wheat sprouts can not only count as fresh vegies, they can also be eaten raw, no cooking. But NEVER eat sprouted beans raw, it'll make you sick (cooked is just fine though).

A lot of people will suggest lots of ammo for firearms, but that's very pricy today. Some suggest getting into reloading, but that's not cheap either. Muzzle loaders are just as lethal for hunting, and you essentially get to shoot at the price of reloads. With lots of improvising you can make your own ammo and powder... indefinately.

Crossbows and arrows are another way and can take down anything up to a deer with a high reusability rate and no added expense. Remember, arrows don't last forever and tips get damaged. Don't overlook BB guns that are more than powerful enough to take down birds, squirrels, and rabbits, you can pick up thousands of BBs and a rifle for under $50.

This last piece of advice is perhaps the most useful, and that's to have a sleeping bag, even if its a cheap one. If you lose power, you lose heat, but a sleeping bag will keep you warm no matter what. Its better than being well stocked with firewood and costs less than $20 every spring... when its out of season. Rope and plastic sheating can be used as a tent or a way to collect rain water.

Solar isn't good for much, but it will put a charge on your cellphone, and a lens will start a fire.

Having a bike and camping supplies handy isn't a bad idea either. A shovel can be invaluable. Ivory bar soap keeps well and can be used for shampoo.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Bachelor bread

For the last few years I've been eating what I call bachelor bread, mainly because it goes from dry flour to toasted bread in under 20 minutes for a single serving size (ie bachelor) and it requires almost no measuring.

Key is a 16ounce water bottle kept in the fridge.

The night before, fill the bottle with water and a tea spoon of BAKING SODA (dirt cheap). If you use a regular spoon from the drawer, about a half (no mounding) is about right. When using regular baking soda, it is important to mix it with water the night before because most brands use large grains that require time to disolve completely.

Add as much or as little flour as you want to eat in a sitting, for me its about a half a cup, but this requires NO MEASURING. Just add the flour to a bowl.

Add a tablespoon of vinegar, apple cider is better but it doesn't really matter. If you use a lot of flour, add more vinegar, but again, amounts don't matter that much.

Stir it in until the vinegar is absorbed. This takes less than 10 seconds. 99 percent should be dry flour with just a few clumps.

Now, just stir in the baking soda water, adding a splash more until there are no dry spots remaining. DO NOT add so much that it gets watery. And DO NOT stir for more than 20-30 seconds or you'll have hard bread. You'll note that it gets foamy, this is desired for a fluffy bread. If you want pizza dough, leave out the vinegar.

Put it in the microwave for a minute or two, depending on the model. This cooks it just enough to be solid, almost like a slice of cake. Take it out of the bowl and finish it off in the toaster. For me. I hit the toast button three times for a perfect crust.


I add salt and oil to give it a pretzle taste, also put a dash of cayenne in for some added heat. Sprinkle on sessame seeds sometimes. For dog treats, dissolve in a bullion cube. Pour on some wet sugar for a doughnut substitute, its very versital and can be made fresh in under 20 minutes with a toaster and a microwave.

If you want a big batch for a larger family, you can skip the microwave and use a cookie tray and set the oven for 350, bake till done.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Islamic State of mind.

Unlike Alquida, the Islamic State is a real state, it's just its boarders are in a state of dispute. It collects taxes, sells oil, and has a GDP.

Unlike with Alquida, we can actually declare war on the Islamic state, and that would give us the legal right to kill them however we chose, it would also subject them to UN rules of warfare, sanctions, and elevate their atrocities to war crimes subjecting their state and all its citizens to pay the penalty for the state's actions.

Congress should NOT pass the president's 'run out the clock and make it the next presidents problem, JV' plan, but should instead simply declare war with the Islamic State.

If they want to call themselves a state, treat them like one.

And try anyone returning from there with treason.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Squandered opportunity to crush ISIS

For a brief period since the creation of ISIS, we had a major opportunity to deal them a lethal blow and we squandered it like all the others.

The world was focused on thousands trapped on the top of a mountian, it was the kind of headlines ISIS couldn't buy...or afford to let slip by.

The mountain was in a very remote area, such that it could be reasonably assumed that any and everyone arround the mountain was ISIS and there for a legit target.

What should have happened is we should have cried about it on TV, pretending "women and children" were still stuck up there while secretly evacuating all the civilians and dropping in some vengeful marines to hold the high ground and bleed ISIS DRY.

Making it look like a ripe, media rich target, would draw them from every corner of Iraq, out of their urban hiding spots and into the open by the thousands... ripe for the slaughter.

But that's not how this WH Thinks. They want out of the middle east a thousand times more than they want a victory over AlQuida 2.0


This could have been a brilliant October surprise by the Democrats.



Monday, August 11, 2014

Amazon vs Hachette

Let me start by saying Amazon is making the right arguments for the wrong reasons.

As some know, Amazon accounts for over half of all book sales and even more of all digital sales. That gives them enormous power that they, naturally, can't resist abusing. Hachette is big enough and powerful enough that they don't feel like nuckling under when Amazon tells them to.

The arguement is simple. Amazon says they're looking out for the readers and trying to drive prices down for everyone and Hachette should thank them for it.

This is, in a way, true. As an author, I make more selling larger numbers of 2.99 books than I do off selling a few 9.99 books. Readers like it, I like it. Win win.

But the dirty secret is Amazon profits the most from this. They make as much as the publisher on every sale (without doing any real effort)... while this practice also hurts publishers other than KDP (amazons publishing wing) and punishes writers who publish with publishers other than KDP. Authors using KDP get to keep 70 percent instead of 35 (for now). On top of that, amazon has discovered that digital books are way more profitable at a fraction of the risk than paper books, and since they own kindle, that gives them near monopoly status. Digital's only competition is paper,and so it is in amazons interest to set pricing policy that makes digital the most attractive (best value/cheaper than paper)

But Hachette sees things differently than Amazon. They want to sell their books at a price they pick, not one Amazon tells them to use. They want the right to price digital and paper the same, if they want, whether or not it is wise to do so.

They see their initial digital release the same as hard cover books or movie theater tickets vs dvds. For the price of a movie ticket you can buy the dvd and watch it as many times as you want. But people are willing to pay a premium to watch a movie in a theater. Dvds aren't released before movies because they would cut into that profit/premium some are willing to pay. In essence, Amazon wants to sell $1 DVDs on opening day of new movies because amazon makes a lot of money on dvds and digital downloads.

Hachette sees ebooks the same as hard cover. Standard practice in publishing is to release the high priced hard cover first, then the paperback. Hachette believes there is a market for expensive "hard cover" ebook editions of their work, and I think the market is the only way to find out if they are right.

There are really two arguements being made here. Both are right, both are wrong. All are dripping in self interest and none have anything to do with what's in authors best interest.

But what amazon is doing by making Hachette books unavailable during the fight is evil, heavy handed, and likely criminal.

And by forcing Hachette to use Amazon approved prices IS PRICE FIXING. It doesn't matter if you price fix too high or too low, the law calls fixing prices illegal. Amazon (KDP and CreateSpace) is a publisher, and when two publishers get together to agree on prices that is the legal def of price fixing, and that is exactly what amazon is doing to Hahette.

Worse, amazon is using coercion in order to fix prices with other publishers.

I like amazon, and I like the Kindle and am on KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing). But I don't like their practices and they're trending worse. They can be hostile and they use a lot of bullying practices that you don't see any place else.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Beware the law of unintended consequences

#Obamacare, love it or hate it, was ruled a tax and has been the law of the land for a while now. It enjoys a rare status as being the most partisan law the democrats ever passed since Jim Crow, with Zero republican votes.

Just recently it came before the courts again reguarding subsidies, with one saying the feds can give subsidies to those buying from the federal exchanges and another saying only state exchanges qualify.

It should be noted that one of my favorite sayings is the best way to repeal a bad law is to fully impliment it.

What looks likely to me is that the supreme court will bar the IRS from giving subsidies to people in states without state exchanges, as that was the wording and intent of the law. Those exluded from subsidies would largely be republican states that didn't want anything to do with Obamacare.

But there are two consequences to this.

First, the intended is that the people in these republican states will cry foul and put preasure on the states to comply with DC. This was slated to be a key strategy for the democrats to take control of state governments, and it may just work out as planned if it angers enough poor voters.

But the unintended outcome is that, in those states that rejected obamacare, the employer mandate is also unenforceable, because they have the same language requiring a state exchange. So what is likely to happen is that the states that opted out, largely republican states, will effectively have a $8,000 per employee tax advantage over democrat states that adopted Obamacare. In other words, it will cost A LOT LESS to employ someone in a republican state than a democrat one.

This accidental tax advantage could, single handedly, destroy the economies of every democrat state for decades to come as manufacturing leave by the droves. It will also drive prices up for those businesses that stay, making a gallon of milk or a burger noticeably more expensive in democrat states, where the poor will have healthcare but be unable to afford food. The poor in dem states will have an impossible time finding work, while republican states will be paying well over the minimum wage with full employment for everyone that wants to work.

This would turn a lot of boarderline states into Detroit over night, the rest would fall a few years after that.

In essence Obamacare would become an $8,000 per employee tax that only applied to democrats, signed into law by only democrats, with republicans getting to opt out of the biggest tax in history.

And it wouldn't be the first time a policy backfired.

The dream act and the refusal to enforce dreamer deportations has exploded on our boarder and has directly led to the deaths and rapes of thousands in Texas alone.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The trouble with Lucy

The trouble with Lucy

I am SO TIRED of the old "you only use 10% of your brain" thing.

Yes, it's true... in an irrelevant way.

So there's a new movie where Lucy gets to use 100% of her brain, stop me if you're sure you've seen this before. Me too.

Anyway, the fastest man on earth doesn't even come close to using 100% of his heart. He doesn't even come close to 50%. Half of the heart is at rest at all times, that's how it was designed. If all of your heart was contracting at the same time, you call that a heart attack and you die. You can't use 100% of your muscles at the same time either. You can't use 100% of your lungs. An argument could be made about ears and eyes, but I'd argue against it too.

Wait, I know, you can actually use 100% of your muscles, and hundreds of people do... when they are electrocuted. And the usually break their own bones, rip tendons, and other horrible things.

And you can use 100% of your brain, people do that to... while having seizures.

A Pentium computer chip has billions of transistors on it. When windows reports that it is being used at 100% it doesn't mean every transistor is being used, it means that 0.0001% of the transistors are being used, and 100% of the clock/bus is being used, not all the transistors.

Human minds work along those same lines. You can't/don't ever want to see 100% of the neurons firing at the same time. 1% or so is the Mona Lisa, 100% is black paint covering the entire canvas.

Can you tell it pisses me off?

Friday, July 4, 2014

Paranoid me :)

If I wasn't wearing my tinfoil hat, I'd swear my new Kyocera smartphone was made by the NSA.

I've only been using it for a week now, and already I'm noticing phantom data usage well beyond what I was used to with my old LG phone. According to my AVG anti-virus app, my browser and email apps only used 8 megs of data, yet it tracked over 13.

I suspect some sort of spy agency, NSA specifically, though I wouldn't put it past the IRS either.

Or, it could be the Chinese.

Or... or even more sinister and pure evil... dare I even mention their- yes, yes I dare. Google.

Any what way, whoever it is, they'll be sadly disappointed with the web habits of this obscure author.

Ok, hat off, it's most likely a bunch of Google crap that's trying to update something or synchronize something or the likes. For most people that can afford unlimited data, this is no big deal and, at most, costs them a few seconds of delay on every page load. For me, I can only afford a tiny 200 meg/month plan, so for me this is kinda a big deal.

If it persists, I'll be putting my hacking hat on and start nuking drivers, deleting caches, and all those other things that generally risk ruin.

It promises to be fun.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Sprites, lightning, and other foggy things

Just watched Nova 'Above space' or something like that, it was about lightning and 'sprites' which usually means 'must see tv' for me.

Sprites are these blasts of lightning from the clouds up to the ionosphere that, prior to the 80s, scientists believed were completely impossible, according to consensus.

The bolts only occurred when storms were incredibly powerful, 'ordinary' thunder storms simply wouldn't do and almost never came with them.

In two of my books (Houdini Scientist and Patent Mine) I talk about lightning some and talk around it a little more. I firmly believe that a good deal of what science knows about lightning is wrong. No, not about it being electricity, I'm talking about its origins. What powers lightning, science believes, is friction between ice crystals in the storms, which is obviously wrong because if it was true then blizzards would have more lightning than snow.

In the Nova special, they said that these super bolts from the cloud to the ground CAUSE the sprites to flash from the cloud to space.

Again, I have issues with this.

I've grown up with old cars all my life, and I remember going out on foggy mornings and looking under the hood and watching 'lightning' crackle across the warn wiring on the high voltage ignition system (10,000 volts).

Now, I'm not a scientist, mind you, but I never looked under the hood and thought "this has to be the work of friction and ice crystals", I've always thought that, "Hey, fog (clouds on the ground) sure is more conductive than dry air." We lived near high voltage transmission lines, and whenever it was foggy, they would hummm and crackle louder than on dry days, louder ever than in the rain.

To me, lightning has always been solar powered. The sun blasts the planet with a stream of charged particles. One side of the earth's atmosphere rubs against the stream and the other side rubs with it. One side of the earth's magnetic shield rubs against it and the other side rubs with it. On one side of the planet there is a massive surplus of electrons from the sun and on the other side there is a stark absence. Between these massive charges is a conductive planet made of dirt and aluminum and iron. But keeping these charges from that aluminum and dirt is a hundred miles of the best insulators ever invented, dry air. Its what allows power lines to work, but instead of just a few feat of air the planet uses dozens of miles to keep this massive charge from shorting out.

Along comes clouds, or fog that it high in the air. My contention has always been that the highly conductive nature of clouds, in addition to their massive surface area, is what allows this shorting to take place. Electrons flow from the ionosphere to the top of the cloud, usually so dispersed that sprites are not observed, until the cloud burns a bolt from the cloud to the ground.

Did you know rockets and the space shuttle routinely get hit by lightning? They do, or did. The hot gas coming out the back is more conductive than a cloud (depending on what fuel they use), and this causes them to get hit by lightning on a regular basis. Of course, it doesn't help that so many of them are launched from Florida, the lightning capital of the USA.

Back to my books.

Houdini Scientist and Patent Mine both feature a powerplant that harvests lightning, right out of cloudless skies, by firing a 'comet' of frozen super conducting 'dust' into the air, leaving miles of that conductor in their wake. Because its only a super conductor because of its frozen nature, it thaws into common dust within seconds of use and becomes inert when it falls back to the ground. The miles of super conductor also increase the yield by lowering the resistance -- most of a bolt's energy is consumed by vaporizing miles of air -- with the superconductor to ride it's like taking an ten lane interstate instead of a windy gravel back road.

Rockets reformulated their fuel to try to avoid being hit by lightning, I propose the opposite and suspect that triggering sprites on a cloudless day could be achieved with a mere ten or twenty miles of comet trail, fired from something much like a rail gun firing a dirty snowball into the sky.

Fifty years from now, children will laugh when they are told about our backward beliefs of lightning being powered by ice crystals rubbing together, and it will be accepted that lighting and sprites are interconnected with the solar winds and the ionosphere shorting their way to ground through conductive clouds.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Taking too long to finish 8th hummingbird series

God is still laughing.

My plans to finish the eighth book in my hummingbird series hits another series of roadblocks. First, my three year old 'smart phone' is automatically rebooting itself two times a day, and when it does work right it can only hold a 3G data connection for about two minutes.

The good news is I have one of those long floaties (originally about 5' x 2") and I have found that it allows me to beat the daylights out of my phone without actually hurting it in any way. It's actually very therapeutic but since my only link to the outside world is a glitchy Google phone, it doesn't actually solve anything.

I plan on doing a hard reset that should turn it back to its manufacturer's settings, but that path is wrought with problems too. I'll have to download updates, synch address books and calendars and countless crap I dread... and even after I do all that, assuming I do it right, it still might not fix the problem.

But that's only a hint of what's been bogging me down.

Laptop hard drive, now over 11 years old, keeps crashing. Fortunately, I backup everything, keep copies of my work on compact flash, USB drives, and DVDs when needed so I can never lose more than 20 minutes of work at any time. But re-installing the operating system and all the programs and drivers is an all-day royal pain that I've done three times last month and once this one.

11 years is a very long time for a laptop. I should be happy it has lasted this long, but I have to scrounge the carpet for loose change every time I want to mail a letter. This might be my most profitable year yet as an author, but most of my books are free in an attempt to be heard through all the noise, an even so it's barely enough to pay my $27.39 phone bill and my $35-40 a month electric bill. The good news in that is that I officially am a writer according to S King, because, as he said, you really haven't made it until you can pay at least one bill every month with it.

I've been using my sister's old Gateway as a backup for when my laptop eventually crosses the line where it can no longer be saved, but it has a backlit screen and, after just 30 minutes of trying to read it, it gives me a splitting headache.

I have very bad eyes, they can't stand normal computer screens because of the backlight. At first I thought it might be the flicker (most older screens used fluorescent tubes) but even the flicker-free LED ones give me headaches (even faster).

The transflective (Think old Kindle and Nook with the E-Ink that was black and white but had no backlight at all and could be used in direct sunlight, the Daylite did that in color) screen on My NEC laptop has proven to be the only way I can tolerate the eight to ten hours of typing and staring at a screen I have to do to write a book.

Unfortunately, even if I do manage to keep it running indefinitely, my eyes are getting worse in other ways too. I'm having problems reading the 10" screen (about the size of an iPad) I'm already working off of memory to know what icons are what.

I had planned on finishing it by December of last year at the latest, but since then I've come down with the flu twice, diarrhea and two fevers, bruised three ribs, twisted my ankle and knee, and thrown out my back.

I think all my bad luck that I've managed to avoid for so long has finally caught up with me, and mercy doesn't seem to be anywhere on the table.

I expect my first IRS audit by November : )

Sunday, June 1, 2014

CO2 is irrelevant to the global warming equation.

I cringe when I hear news reports about global warming.

I actually cringe.

When I entered highschool, our science book was all about "the coming of the next ice age". Our science teacher was so whipped up about it she actually got our class to sign a petition to president Reagan pleading with him to do what a consensus of scientists wanted to do. . . and that was to spread black soot all over the north pole in an effort to melt it so we could avert the new ice age that was "Just a decade away" and we had to act NOW because we were months away from "The tipping point."

For thirty years I had to listen to "if we don't close all power-plants and stop fishing, our oceans would be dead in five years."

For me, this is too much crying wolf.

As an author, global warming is the goldmine that never stops giving, like 'the triad', or any of a dozen other conspiracy theories.

It's sad, though, because it's such a serious issue that should never have been politicized like it has. But sadly it has been politicized all my life.

What makes me cringe the most is when 'consensus' is invariably used in the same sentence as 'scientific'.

Science has never -- EVER -- been decided by consensus. The ONLY thing consensus -- by definition -- ever decides is politics. Consensus requires the taking of a vote. Votes are NEVER the way you prove or disprove a theory. And history proves that almost every theory that has ever been disproved had once enjoyed a 'consensus'. The coming ice-age was consensus, and it was so highly politicized back then that it has obliterated any good will it could have earned today.

And that's a shame.

Because we have a real opportunity to control the weather in a meaningful way.

No, I'm not talking about CO2. CO2 is the most over-hyped gas ever discovered, and its effects on the weather are at the center of a political divide far more contentious than abortion.

But banning or taxing CO2 is not the only way to change the weather. Irregardless of what its effects on the globe really is, the world simply is never going to stop burning fuels.

So employing other options for effecting the desired change is the right path to follow. And controlling the weather IS of global importance, for agriculture if for nothing else.

But there are ways, and very inexpensive ones too, to change the weather on a global scale.

Most power-plants are thermal and use steam turbines, all of which employ cooling systems. And the choices these companies make on their cooling systems are capable of affecting the weather.

First, let me take a sidetrack for a moment and say that every power-plant that uses or could use ocean water as their coolant is wasting a huge opportunity to make millions of gallons of distilled water a day. The typical cooling system is just a few tweaks away from a distillery. In fact, all closed loop systems first boil the water, pipe the steam through the turbines, then condense them back to distilled water before piping it back into the boiler again.

One of the biggest complaints about power-plants is that the cooling towers waste a lot of 'municipal' water, usually vented to the environment as steam. With a condenser on the top of any such towers, you can capture most of that steam as distilled water, an expensive addition ONLY IF you're not allowed to sell that distilled water (which is currently the LAW in most states).

Atmospheric water content controls both the amount of rain and the number of reflective clouds in the sky. Reflective clouds have 1,000 times more control over the greenhouse effect than CO2, and we can, and should, control clouds.

Increasing the rain over Texas could be easily accomplished by increasing the amount of humidity put into the air over California. Decreasing the amount of floods along the Mississippi could be done by ending the added humidity over California... in California's perpetual-drought case, this should be done by condensing that steam and selling the added water to farmers if needed (the price would be low).

All power-plants, with the exception of windmills and solar, can be used in such a way. Additionally, sea water can be piped to any power-plant for use as a coolant, with distilled water piped away or vented as humidity to the atmosphere, whichever is needed most.

Adding to cloud cover at night, as anyone knows, traps the heat in. Adding to clouds during the day, increases the shade and keeps the heat down.

We can control the weather, to some degree. We can add fuel for the rain several states away, or distill millions of gallons of sea water (essentially for free) for use locally.

But what the politicians do, instead, is talk about CO2, banning coal, and banning oil, none of which will ever happen in my lifetime, all because the same 'consensus' that wanted to spread soot all over the poles now wants to limit CO2.

Maybe they have it right this time.

Maybe not.

For 30,000 years man burned wood and plants for fuel. Then, for a few hundred years, we burned coal. For a little over 100 years, we've burned oil and natural gas.

A school near my house still has a basement for COAL DEPOSITS that they burned to heat the place every year. When was the last time you heard of someone burning coal for winter heat?

We didn't need laws or a CO2 tax to stop burning coal, we found something better, and, more importantly, CHEAPER, like gas and oil.

Uranium, thorium, and deuterium will easily be able to meet all the world's energy needs within the next 150 years. They will all be cheaper and CO2 free, and every one of them will come with cooling systems capable of controlling the weather as I've described. We will, without any prodding from the government, eventually drop oil just as we stopped burning coal in our home stoves for heat, not because it was environmentally right but because it was cheaper and easier to do it with something else. Uranium, thorium, and deuterium are all cheaper than dirt, and in a sane political/regulatory world, we'll naturally be using them long before any 'theoretical' CO2 damage can really occur.

The 'looming catastrophe' was never real, except as a political weapon. The way you can tell it was political is by the repeated misuse of the word 'scientific' with 'consensus'... as if science had ever been subject to a vote.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Mung bean report

Mung Bean report:

Ok, so, I like sprouting things. My favorites to date remains lentils and wheat. Wheat has a nice 'snack approved' taste and is full of fiber and such. And Walmart will send you a 26 pound bucket of wheat (with a 30 year shelf life) for about $15. That's about as cheap as it gets, and the sprouts are almost sweet. Now, don't expect a sugary sweet, but they are the sweetest sprout I've found thus far.

Lentils are packed with flavor and can be bought all day long for about a dollar a pound, making them very affordable too. Sprouted, lentils actually pack more flavor then they do as seeds.

And sprouting takes just a few minutes a day, about a gallon of water a day, and some form of plastic containers (think Tupperware). It couldn't be easier, and a tablespoon of seeds easily makes a cup of sprouts.

But my mung bean experiment is a bust.

Yes, they sprout faster than anything else, but they are 4-8 times as expensive as other seeds, so to be worth it they would have to be scrumptious. And they were just OK. Actually, I like the taste of lentils much better. Mung bean sprouts simply didn't add anything to my meals. Cooked, they were much like flavorless noodles, which is what I'll probably end up using them for.


I had high expectations for mung beans, and had heard SOOO many good things about them. But in a way I'm very relieved. They were very expensive per pound and rather difficult to get.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Autonomous road rage

I'm a big fan of autonomous driving cars, I think it's the future and I can't wait... except that there are HUGE problems with it.

Let's start with auto-braking systems.

On the surface, this sounds fine. Cars that take over the braking if the driver doesn't react fast enough is much like ABS brakes of the 90s. People didn't like the idea of the brakes not being in the driver's control, but ABS has prevented lots of cars and trucks from losing control and is now an accepted technology.

But as similar as these sound, auto-braking is not just a fancier and better Anti-Lock brake system.

Auto-braking can be hacked, and it will not require a pimply teenager to do it (although they will be among the first to discover the hacks)

Today, if you cut someone off and slam on the brakes in front of them, the driver in the rear has the option of ramming into you for your bad behavior. In a future with auto-braking cars, the computer will take that option away from you.

So, if the auto-braking car is being followed too closely by a human driven car behind it, and some pimply kid with a learners permit cuts off the auto-braking car and slams on the brakes in front of it, the computer will react and prevent the front end collision – While reacting faster than the human behind it could possibly react, THUS causing a rear-end collision to occur.

I also foresee other hacks.

When cars use optics and radar to 'see', both can be hacked. Painting illusions and such on roads could trick auto-driving cars into changing lanes when no human would. And radar can be jammed. This will become the high-tech equivalent of tossing rocks from overpasses.

It will happen.

Mung bean sprouts Day2

Solar powered roads to poverty

Let me start by saying that I'm a fan of solar and wind. When I was a teen, I made a solar cooker out of cardboard boxes and a roll of aluminum foil. But these alternatives are often asked to do things that they simply can't, like cooking at night or breakfast in the morning, there ar things they simply can never do. In the case of the cardboard cooker, you 'can' use it to make breakfast or dinner after midnight, but you have to 'bake' a 40 pound brick of concrete during the day, then store it in an insulated 'stove' or 'hot box' and use the stone for all your cooking. This is hugely problematic and takes an inexpensive cardboard and foil design and blows a billion dollar hole in its budget.

I see the same thing happening with solar and wind. We are told they're cheaper alternatives to messy and complicated coal, and in a cardboard and foil sense, everything we're being told is true. But to make them work in a world that likes breakfast before sunrise and dinner after dark, you have to do some truly expensive things that you just don't have to fool with with dirty coal and oil.

Today I saw where millions of our tax dollars are going to building expensive solar panels into roads. Yes, roads, where heavy cars slam on brakes, burn rubber, and sling mud. Ok, forgetting that this plan hinges on placing billions of expensive panels where they are the easiest to steal, and forgetting that this means that car wrecks that damage the road could now result in electrocutions of both drivers and rescue workers, and overlooking the whole pothole problem we have with traditional roads, where oh where are they planning on storing all this daytime electricity for night-time use? Wherever it is, let me assure you it will be insanely expensive and it will only be discovered that we need it AFTER the roads are wired up.

Sadly, there IS a way to use roads as a power source.

Stirlings, a very old kind of thermal engine, are very capable of harnessing temperature differences as little as 10 degrees.

By leveraging underground geothermals (averaging 60 degrees) against road surfaces, it would be easy to harness black surfaces like roads, but unlike the proposed photovoltaics, thermal engines can be made to run WHEN THERE IS A DEMAND for ELECTRICTY, not just when the sun is shining. And, geothermals would allow you to melt the snow on such roads WHILE it was making electricity AT NIGHT. So long as the surface of the road was 10 degrees hotter OR COLDER than the underground geothermal, it could make electricity.

But this is NOT what tax payers are spending money on.



Instead, we are gluing expensive panels where they will be exposed to the highest wear and tear imaginable, if they don't get stolen first.

There is no source of stupidity greater than a politician with the ability to make grants.

Thursday, March 6, 2014


I've been a big fan of fusion for a long time. I follow the work at LLNL.gov and their laser compression system, as well as the Z-pinch work being done and the Russian style plasma tokomak. All have their virtues and problems, one of which is they all tend to suffer from tunnel vision.

These are all multi-billion dollar projects, and what happens when you spend that kind of money is you tend to 'stay the course,' even if it would be wiser to take a few detours along the way.

There are those that say that fusion is an impossible dream, and it's easy to see where they get that from. It's been a theory since the early 1900s and, as yet, nothing has proven it feasible... except in bombs.

Hydrogen bombs have proven several things about the theory, beyond that there is something to it after all. They've also proven just how difficult the physics is to get right.

In a conventional fission bomb, like an enriched uranium bomb, all you have to do is put enough pure uranium in close enough proximity of each other and a runaway reaction will ensue. If you don't use enough uranium, or it's impure, the runaway reaction will just cause a lot of heat and radiation, much like a reactor meltdown. But, if there is enough uranium and it's pure... boommmm!

The more difficult to build and get right is the plutonium fission bomb. The physics are more difficult, but the materials are easier to get, thanks to breeder reactors that literally make the stuff. These, like the fat man dropped on Japan, are generally ten to a hundred times more powerful than uranium style, but require a near perfect squeezing of a ball of plutonium by high explosives to spark the runaway reaction.

With a uranium bomb, you could set it off just by putting too much in the same room, where a plutonium bomb wouldn't go off if you dropped a ton of dynamite on it. This is, in part, why most nuclear reactors use uranium instead of plutonium to generate power. It's much easier.

Going back to the bomb comparison, they add a pocket of fusion fuel to the center of a plutonium bomb to turn it into an H (for hydrogen, the fusion fuel) bomb. The explosion from the plutonium fission bomb is needed to compress the hydrogen into fusion. Nothing else will do. You can use high explosives to squeeze plutonium hard enough to go off, but not hydrogen. It takes the explosive power of a fission bomb to do that.

And that energy requirement translates into civilian reactor designs as well. It takes very little power to control a fission reaction. But it takes the power of a nuclear reactor to power a fusion reactor.

There are ways to do this. LLNL are using lasers to pinch a pea-sized pod of fuel. Sounds easy, but it takes 192 of them, each insanely powerful, and the laser array is bigger than the biggest Walmart you've every seen.

Others use what's called Z-pinch, where they pump a lot of power down ordinary wires, vaporizing them into plasma and creating a massive magnetic vice that implodes on the tiny capsule of fuel. This process has shown remarkable results, but like with the lasers has always fallen short.

The Russians are stuck in their soviet empire mindset of a tokamak, a giant magnetic doughnut that if filled with plasma instead of jelly. It's never worked, like all the rest.

In my scifi I've gone about it a few ways.

In Personal Space I follow the work of LLNL and use laser confinement. I add the twist of pre-compressing the hydrogen into a metallic state inside a diamond anvil capsule, but otherwise I'm fairly traditional. It was, after all, my first book to include fusion.

It comes up again in Waffen where it was revealed that the HB-4 (her plane) fired diamond-anvil pellets filled with fuel at the enemy, and could use its laser array to detonate them, in theory. Before the ridicule begins, keep in mind that being pre-compressed to metallic hydrogen lowers the threshold to fusion (less additional energy needed) and that a typical jumbo jet, if its turbines were used to make power instead of flight, could achieve the power needed at LLNL to achieve fusion in their tests. So the math is as close as I can get it. These would have been very low yield explosions, except for the life-killing neutron component.

But there's also another design in the mix, a kind of diesel-fusion with diamond anvils for pistons and Z-Pinch ignition. It's the most theoretical of them, but scientist believe hydrogen becomes very electrically conductive as it approaches its metal state, a state that can almost be achieved in traditional diamond anvils today. My design would etch a pattern into the anvil heads that would guide the metallic hydrogen into a Z-Pinch geometry (this lets you use the hydrogen itself instead of vaporizing miles of wire, and also adds the heat energy that is lost in a traditional Z-pinch).

You get some heating by the compression stroke, some heating by the Z-pinch, and if you need a little more, the diamond is perfectly able to transmit some external laser light if needed. The resulting explosion would drive the piston down, and much like in a traditional diesel, that energy would be channeled into compressing another cylinder, where the Z-pinch would occur again.

Obviously, the physical size of this engine would be tiny, and I wouldn't expect the man-made diamond pistons to last indefinitely.

And then, even later in the book, it occurred to me that if you used low power X-Ray lasers to watch hydrogen atoms floating around in a chamber (something we are just beginning to be able to do) you can, eventually, predict when they will position themselves into just the right geometry to be 'pinched' by more powerful lasers. This is based on the hunch that most of the power lost in the traditional approaches stems from the disorganized chaos of dealing with gasses of the smallest atoms in the world, in other words, they're trying to sink all the ball on a billiards table with the break, instead of just picking them off one or two at a time. This drastically reduces the energy inputs, assuming solid-state x-ray lasers come to fruition

A few days ago I read that the people at MIT (I think) are adding lasers to their Z-Pinch experiments in an attempt to reach a breakthrough.

Good luck to them.

The math is compelling, and I do believe that it will, ultimately, be a combination of technologies that unlocks this power source for the world. But I also think they're thinking too big, with massive gigawatt plants, when a few kilowatts and tiny diamond anvils may do (if you could find a way to mass produce them).


Sorry for such a long time away for the blog.

I rely on a google phone for all my internet, and I live in the boondocks where one bar out of seven is typical. I live on the edge, and most of the time it works fine. One bar is really all I need most of the time. But for the last three months, 3G was out, and when I could get on line it only lasted for about 30 seconds.

Today it's back up and working.


So, I got a 'new' computer over Xmas.

New, however, is not the right word for a 2002ish Gateway desktop.

Whenever I get a new computer, I have to customize it, as most people do, with all those little software programs we just can't live without. I also know enough to realize that it WILL CRASH, and backup disks need to be made AND TESTED before it gets turned into my new writing computer.

I'm a fan of XP. I know it and all its quirks and I don't like change when what I'm used to still works.

I also believe in backups and redundancy. PCs should always have 2 hard drives AND a USB thumb drive for multiple reasons. First, as an author, it's always a good idea to save copies of what you're working on in multiple PHYSICAL places (2 hard drives and a USB drive). My archiving Macro writes a copy of whatever I'm working on in a folder on each Hard Drive and the USB drive every 20 minutes. I've had Word garble a paragraph in the middle of a save before, but with archives being saved every 20 minutes, I'm always able to dig out the original paragraph and fix it. It costs about 500mbs of HD space to archive a novel as it's being written. But sometimes, instead of messing up a paragraph, the entire drive becomes corrupt and, in those cases, it's great to have a second physical HD inside the computer, with a mirror image of the work. And the USB is a fantastic way to transfer it to another computer, or take it with you in case the house burns down (yeah, I am that paranoid).

But duel drives have other benefits. When editing video or making DVDs, it's nice to do all the reading from one and the writing on the other, this, when done correctly, can speed up video processing greatly by cutting down on the seek time of the heads. If you listen carefully to a PC while it edits a huge file, it sounds like it's scrambling eggs. Doing the reading on one and the writing on the other takes a lot of that scrambling out.

But having dual drives goes beyond that.

Even an old XP install disk that gives you a 30 day temporary pass, installed on the 'extra' drive as the new master, will let you make a backup image of the original HD (make sure it excludes NOTHING). Then you swap them back to the OEM as the master and the extra as a slave and 'restore' the backup overtop the 30-day temporary HD. This lets either HD boot for when you eventually have problems later on, and gives you a restoration point to work with.

But all this takes time.

When I was in my twenties, or even my thirties, this kind of thing was fun. Installing, fdisking, burning disks, testing builds. But I'm not in my twenties or thirties. The last few months have been annoying and distracting my from writing.