Friday, December 29, 2006

Darn I wish I had a cellphone

Finally looked at my phone after about 4 hours and saw I had a message. The guy- who does have a cell - had called from the tunnel at 2:30 to say he was running late...presumably because he was stuck in the tunnel.

Of course by that time I had already left, but at least he made the effort.

Still believe he cheated me, though. There is absolutely no way it took him *10* hours to type 20 500-600 word articles. There is just no way.

But most of my anger is not really at him but at me, since I should have known better than to let either of these two situations develop (the clipping and this).

Oh, well. Lessons still learned.

I'm now alternating between Sleepy Hollow and CSI (which has just ended) on TV, while working on my laptop. I don't care for gore so it's kind of hard to watch CSI, each time they show something graphic I switch to Sleepy Hollow...and of course there we've got Johnny Depp digging into someone's decapitated neck with one of his forceps or whatever...still if you can ignore the gore in Sleepy Hollow most of it is pretty good...don't really care for the ending but what can ya do?

I will go see Night at the Museum tomorrow and write a review of it.

Rant pt 2

I ended up not going to the movie the guy who has just stolen $56 from me also kept me waiting 30 minutes before he did it.

He lives in Norfolk, I live in York County. To make sure we both didn't have to drive a heckuva long way, we compromised on the Casemate Museum inside Fort Monroe, a well-known landmark just as you get off the tunnel from Norfolk over the James River. (Or whatever that particular body of water is!)

THe first day we were supposed to meet there, so that I could give him the stuff to work on, he never showed up. I waited for 30 minutes before leaving. He said that he hadn't realized that Fort Monroe was still an operating fort...and apparently didn't try to go inside and look for the musueum. (I had forgotten it was called the Casemate Museum and just called it the Civil War museum - but there is only one museum, period, inside the fort, so he should still have been able to find it.)

But, I'm easy going. So I decided to meet him there the next day. This time he was 15 minutes late. But he flourished a couple of maps that he'd used to try to find his way inside the fort (it's a big fort, and there's a building you can stop off at to pick up such maps, and the signs to the museum suck), so I cut him slack again. (Although to my way of thinking if you're meeting someone at a place you don't know, you leave early so you can get there early, in case you need some extra time. But, that's just me.)

So, today, I'd arranged to meet him at 3 pm. 3 pm in the Norfolk tunnel is not a good time, especially on a Friday...but I'd forgotten about that and he who lives on the other side of the bloody tunnel should have taken it into account.

Anyway, I waited for 27 minutes. (Actually, I waited for 45 minutes. I know Fort Monroe and the location of the museum well, but I'm always 15 minutes early for any meeting. If I'm not familiar with where I'm supposed to meet someone, I'm usually there *30* minutes early, just because I leave myself enough time in case I get lost.

So, I started driving away, was on the 'home stretch' out of the fort, when he drove past. He waved, so naturally I had to turn around and drive back to the Museum. Have to admit I was swearing. I'd been tempted to leave 2 minutes earlier than I had actually done - if I had done so I would have missed him entirely and could have saved my $56 - because I would have told him via email that he could keep those articles in lieu of payment and to heck with him.

Anyway, he did say he'd been caught in the tunnel - and I had turned the radio on on my way out and it had said that there was congestion in the tunnel so I knew he was speaking the truth....but if you've got an appointment to meet someone, and you know a certain tunnel is a b*tch at a certain time of day, you leave early, just in case.

So, he gives me the box I had given him, and a red binder. All of the articles were in plastic sleeves, and I'd told him as he finished each article to put it in the binder. (Why else would I have given him the binder?) Well, he hadn't done that. He'd put everything back in the box.

Where did you stop at? I asked. I wanted to take hold of the pages he'd typed, howsoever many there might be, and say, "It took you 10 hours to type this?" (Sure, each page was 8 X 10. But the article in question on each page took up, at the *most*, 2 columns of the page, and none were more than 600 words each, if that.)

Anyway, he starts paging through the sleeves, going deeper and deeper into them, and I'm just thinking...Christ. But, I just said, "Never mind." And handed him $80. So, he in essence stole $56 from me, because there is no way in hell that he worked 10 hours on that project. He worked 3 hours - at about 30 words per minute. That's what I think.

So, obviously I shouldn't have paid him the money...but I just wanted to close the situation and move on.

So, I've learned a couple of lessons now. Expensive, but I've learned 'em. Later on tonight I'm going to work on my newspaper clippings for exactly 1 hour. At the end of that hour I will know exactly how many pieces were done, and I will type up instructions for my next person which will state that I expect her to get that many pieces done each hour. She'll have the option to disagree with that production rate and decline the job - but if she agrees to it, then that's how I will pay her.

As for the typing... I've got to earn a few more bucks from Elance before I can have someone work on that project again. Then I'll advertise it in Craigs List again at a flat rate of $24 - 3 hours at $8 an hour, for someone who can type at least 70 wpm. If someone takes it, fine. If not, fine also. (And at the end of three hours however much that person gets done will give me an idea if I'm justified in my rage right now, or not. I'm thinking I'm quite justified, but we'll see.)

From now on, that's the way I'll be working.

So, sorry for the rant. I feel better now.

Hard to get good help these days

Today I'm just going to vent about what's been going on in my life recently. I am not a happy camper.

I am so busy running my various websites that I don't have time to work on my own projects - my newspaper clippings and a shipwreck database. Since I've got some extra money coming in these days thanks to Elance, I decided I'd go ahead and advertise for help on my local Craigs List and pay some entry level people to do the work for me.

So first I tried my newspaper clippings project. Woman did 9 hours before she said she had to stop as her husband was being transferred. (Military). So I came and picked up the material I'd given her - several boxes, etc, with instructions to separate out pages that had articles on both sides (since she didn't have a copier). Well, she'd filed things in appropriate files as I'd asked her, but she hadn't separated out the pages. And, from my experience doing the same work, there wasn't 9 hours of work there. 5 hours, maybe. *Maybe*

I didn't say anything, I just paid her for 9 hours and took the stuff away. Then I re-did the ad and lowered the pay rate, and got someone else who is going to start after the new year. I'll institute a few more controls - telling her exactly how many pieces of paper I expect to be done in an hour, etc., so she knows what to shoot for.

Then, there was the illustration fiasco, which I believe I talked about here. I do have someone lined up but since I'm about to have to overpay on yet another project I'm not sure if I'm going to go through with this one.

I've got a notebook full of shipwreck articles. Each one about 500 words long, if that. I wanted them typed into a word processing file. From there I'd take the information cotained within, massage the data (since to upload articles "as is" would be to violate their copyright) and then upload them onto the web.

I counted out those articles, and there were 60 of them. The guy who I chose for the job said he could type 70 words a minute. As I handed over the stuff, I said, "It shouldn't take you more than three hours." And I agreed to pay $8 an hour.

So, two days later he calls me and asks me if I want him to continue with the job, as he's worked for *10* hours and is only half way through. There's 116 articles there, he says.

And I was just flabbergasted. I wouldn't have minded so much paying this guy $80 for the project if he'd actually finished it, but to tell me he's worked for 10 hours and isn't even halfway through - that is just plumb ridiculous.

Obviously, he should have stopped work at 3 hours, seen how much longer it was going to take him, and called me then, not done 7 extra hours and *then* called me.

And he's sent me everything he's done...and it's obvious from that as well that there's not 10 hours worth of work least not for a typist who can type 70 wpm.

I was extremely tempted to tell him to keep all the stuff I'd given him and whistle and wait for his money, but finally I thought, no, just pay him off and take this as a lesson. Either he's deliberately cheating me or he simply has no idea how to conduct business. If someone expects a task to take only 3 hours, and you can tell at the end of 3 hours it's going to take much longer, you contact the person THEN. You don't do an additional 7 hours work. Or if you DO do an additional 7 hours work, you finish the job in that time.

So, I'm not too happy right now. On top of that I've been redesigning my The Thunder Child site, and since I don't have a content management system I'm having to redo each page separately and that's taking forever. I didn't want to have the expense of a content management system - also I like the freedom of being able to modifying the layout of a particular page if it's necessary for the look of the article - but the time I've wasted --- I'm changing my header to remove the banner advertising I'd put up there, which I've decided looks tacky, as well as not generating any money-- is just too much.

I'm going to have to go see Night at the Museum this afternoon to cheer myself up. 3 hours out of my day that I can ill-afford, but I need a break!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Granny Basketball

If you're a woman in your 70s, or know of one who is, then you've got to show them this clip!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas!

Yes, I wish everyone a merry Christmas - this regardless of your religious affiliation. I myself am an atheist, but it's the idea of the Season that I wish for everyone - peace on earth, goodwill to Men. (As in, all people, men and women.) is the link for BBC radio 7. I've been remiss in daily listing the Sci fi stuff they've got on offer. You've missed part 1 of Out of the Silent Planet. You've also missed Parts 1 and 2 of the Paul McGann Doctor Who Chimes of Midnight. I'd enjoyed the War of the Worlds takeoff they'd done, but this one was just too grim - all about the murder of a servant in Edwardian London - and I decided I wasn't in the mood for it. is the home of American Old time radio. Stan Freberg (not Frieberg, or Freiberg, which is how I thought this was supposed to be spelled, even though I must have seen it spelled properly dozens of times. It's like Quartermass vs Quatermass - we see what we expect to see) hasn't been the host since October 6, 2006, according to Wikipedia, but it doesn't say why he's no longer there. COnsidering that he is 80 years old and was still broadcasting, I'm assuming it's ill health rather than a desire to retire that has made this occur.

Classic radio bit, which Freburg put on his record album is most famous for a bit in which, through the magic of sound effects, Freberg drained Lake Michigan and refilled it with hot chocolate, whipped cream, and a cherry, saying, "Let's see them do that on television!"

Anyway, looks like they're changing the Radio Spirits site. It's been a month since I've been there, and I no longer see the Archives and the Upcoming Schedule! How stupid is that?

Friday, December 22, 2006

Uncommon courtesy

Since courtesy doesn't appear to be common anymore, "Uncommon courtesty" is a more accurate title of this entry. There's all too little uncommon courtesy out in the business world these days.

If you go to any usenet board discussing sports, film, whatever, you'll find that rudeness is the order of the day. There's always at least one person on any board who likes to stir up trouble, and there are always a few others who will respond to newbie questions with sarcasm, etc. etc. People like to put other people down in order to puff themselves up.

And that's annoying, not so much that they're rude as that it heightens one's curiosity - are they as big-mouthed in their private lives as they are in the anonymity of cyberspace? I'd really like to know!

Anyway, my tale today is of two people, both of whom are just starting out in their careers, both of whom have just lost any chance of employment from me.

A couple of weeks ago I decided I wanted to find an artist to draw illustrations for a young adult book I'm writing. So I placed an ad in Craig's List, in the one for my local area.

I got one response with samples enclosed, from an artist who did good work but not in the way I liked. His work was more of a "hang on the wall" static, variety. So I said thanks but no thanks.

Then I got an email out of the blue from someone who was just the epitome of a conceited young man. (The kind who thinks he knows it all and can do it better than anyone else in his field, despite the fact that others have 30 years experience and he's just out of college -- I've seen them several times in my various places of employment.)

Anyway, I had offered $10 per illustration, and wanted 10 illustrations, of which 5 would illustrate action from the book, and the others would be simple generic drawings like fish or shells. And I specified I wanted line drawings. Not too time consuming, I thought. I'd seen caricaturists in malls draw people in five minutes, for that price, so I assumed it'd be a good 'entry-level' wage.

This guy didn't see it that way. "Takes 2-4 hours to do a decent illustration, and you want 10, that's not even minimum wage."

Now, if he had said just that, and that alone, I would have emailed him back and said, "Okay, I hadn't realized. Send me some samples and tell me what you'd like per each, and let's discuss it."

But that's not what he did. His entire message to me was redolent of sarcasm, as he accused me of trying to get something for nothing, and told me I should "dip a finger in some lampblack, draw as best I could, and tell my readers it was abstract art."

And I'm looking at this message and feeling kind of shocked. If the rate of pay isn't up to snuff for you, just laugh, shake your head, and move on. But this guy chose to contact me and bawl me out, and so I'm the one shaking the head.

So I emailed him back and said, "Hey, thanks for educating me, I hadn't realized. Had you done so in a professional manner, we could have discussed it and you might be looking at a job right now. But since you chose to be a smartass about it, you're not getting this job, you're not getting any jobs from me in the future, and you won't be getting any jobs from my friends whom I could have steered your way."

And, heck, potentially that could have added up to ("added up" being the operative phrase) some big bucks for this guy. I have several websites to which I'd like to add illustrations, and if I'd liked this guy's work he could have had those jobs. I know other people with websites, or who want books published and need illustrations, and he could have had *those* jobs.

But because he just *had* to put down a total stranger and exercise his cleverness and wit, he lost out on it all.

Then I got another response, from a young woman this time, who didn't have a problem with the $10 per illustration. But, the samples she sent me were of murals, not of actual illustratiuve art. So I sent her an example of a woman diver - who looked the way I wanted this woman's stuff to look, and said, hey, this is a test, redraw this for me very quickly (because I didn't want her to have to spend a lot of time on it).

And she misunderstood what I wanted, and thought I was going to send her clipart for her to redraw, and she thought she'd be cheating if she did that.

And, if she had voiced this concern in a professional manner, I could have said, "No, you misunderstood, it was just a test."

But she didn't. She went all ballistic and sarcastic on me, and I'm reading her illiterate rant and just throwing up my hands thinking, "Is no one teaching these kids manners or common courtesy or how to communicate in a professional manner any more?"

These kids have been watching too much American Idol, or sitcoms in which the people sit around exchanging verbal abuse, and think that they can get away with it in real life as well.

So, anyway, I emailed the woman back and said "Good luck in your future career."

The ad has another two weeks to run. I wonder who will email me next?

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Fat vs Hair

I'm staying up way past my bedtime, watching a show called The King of Queens. I've only watched bits and pieces of it before...but I've never cared for it. Basically, an overweight guy is happily married to a slender, beautiful woman. Anyone ever see a sitcom where a plain, overweight woman is happily married to a handsome, in shape man?

The episode tonight that I'm going to watch til its conclusion is one in which the husband Doug had intended to lose 25 pounds to go to his high school reunion. But he can't stand to drink lite beer so he says, I am what I am, and he gives up on his weight loss plan. So he tells his wife that she'll have to look good for the both of them. But, he doesn't like her new hair style - she's got it up in a bun, and doesn't want her to go to his reunion looking like that.

So the wife asks Doug's friend what he thinks of her hair, he tells her its ugly, and so she decides to wear it down, despite the fact that she likes it and her female friends tell her it looks good. She goes to her husband's reunion, where he shows her off as a beautiful woman, and she cooperates to show off her body to his ex class mates.

So what's the message being given out by this particular episode? The guy has a lousy job but because he's got a beautiful wife he can hold his own with the other guys who makes tons of money? [We see no old female classmates whom can comment on how much extra weight he's put on to the wife...] So the fact that *he* is a fat slob makes no nevermind.

And the show has just ended and because the late librarian at the school used to wear her hair in a bun, and looks like a bad tempered spinster, the wife decides to remove the bun.

Exactly how I thought this predictable episode would end.

Piece of crap.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Bad Orson Welles

Just saw this in the news today.

There was a spoof announcement, on a major Belgian television station = that the French speaking portion of the country had separated from the rest of the country. Thousands of people took it seriously and news stations and websites were inundated with questions.

Considering that Belgium is part of the EEC - at least, I think it is - I don't know what the big deal is. There is no Belgium anymore, surely, it's all Euros and Europeans...

Sunday, December 10, 2006

And now for something completely different - sci fi!

This is a science and science fiction blog, and I've been talking about other stuff recently...

So thought I'd better have something sci fi...

Went to see The Prestige today. Didn't much care for it. But it is sci fi, or perhaps steam punk would be a better I'll be writing up a review of it for this blog shortly...for all that it's been out for at least a month already!

I've never seen Blake's Seven, but I like a guy who starred in the show, Paul Darrow. He guest-starred on a Colin Baker Doctor Who, Timelash, in which he portrays a character who looks remarkably like Richard III. And funnily enough, many years later I was walking around the Renaissance festival held in Minneapolis and came across a poster stall, and saw a Richard III portrait which used Paul Darrow as the model. P.D. Breeding-Black is the artist.

Anyway, did the ol' search on Youtube and came up with this 4 minute clip of a Monty Python song by Eric Idle set to Blake's Seven. IT is really hilarious. But I'm going to have to get this series soon and check it out.

Bruce Lee

I've only seen Bruce Lee as Kato, in Marlowe with James Garner, in Longsteet, and Enter the Dragon.

There's plenty of stuff at Youtube, so I thought I'd put three of 'em here.

First one is silent, and he's showing moves out of a horse stance. The next two have sound.

The Eye of the Beholder

I'm a fan of Pat Summitt - coach of the Tennessee Lady Vols. I'm a fan because she's the winningest coach in NCAA Div 1 history, women or men, her athletes graduate, and she has a lot of class. I think she'd win a few more games if she'd change her offense to a motion offense, but that's just me.

Anyway, I frequent a few WCBB message boards during the college season - most often the Summitt which is the Lady Vols board and the Boneyard which is the UConn board. The Lady Vols and the UConn Huskies have a rivalry going back since 1995, when Geno Auriemma brought the program into national prominence. He's also beaten the Lady Vols more often than not in the last ten years.

So if you go to the Lady Vols boards, Auriemma is a jerk, UConn fans are jerks and Pat is the greatest coach ever, and if you go to the Boneyard boards it's the Lady Vols fans who are the jerks and Auriemma who is the greatest coach ever. (I've yet to seen anything bad written about Coach Summitt as a person - certainly no one has called her a jerk.)

And, occasionally, UConn fans go over to the Summitt to post, and vice versa.

I spend most of my time on the Summitt board, so I see the reaction of the Vols fans to these posters, and I have to admit its getting on my nerves.

Let me preface the following comments by saying that this occurs everywhere. If you go to usenet and check on the boards for any and all sports teams, there are posters there who are as vicious and savage and childish as anything you'll get at the Summitt. (Well, the Summitteers don't get *quite* as vicious because there is a moderator who goes about locking threads - I've yet to figure out what the trigger is to getting a thread locked...but there ya go.)

Anyway, the point of this is whenever a UConn fan comes over to the Summitt defending their program against comments made by the Summitteers, a great many - not all, but a great many - of the Summitteers react in a rude and childish fashion. And yet a thread today is accusing the UConn people of always being the rude ones and initiating the conflict.

And I just had to laugh. Pot - kettle - black.

I've attempted to point out this childishness and unfairness in specific threads on a couple of occasions, and was privately chastised by one of the 'BWOC' for "preaching". Well, I didn't think I was preaching - I'm not religious and even if I was I wouldn't try to force my god down someone's throat on a sports message board - but I was pointing out rudeness and idiocy and making a plea for common sense and common courtesy. Well...perhaps it is true to say that good manners are my God and in that sense I was preaching...but why should good manners be allowed to entirely disappear from this earth?

My concern though is not about the lack of good manners but that these people who are so rude apparently don't realize that it is they who are being rude. They say something demeaning about the UConn program, a UConn fan comes in and denies it, and the UConn fan is accused of being rude.

It's this kind of "blinders" situation which makes you realize that there's never going to be peace on earth between countries, between religions, between sports fan, because even when people speak the same language they don't comprehend what the other is saying.


Friday, December 08, 2006

Story of my life

This song, "Breakaway" by Big Pig, is from the movie Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure from 1989. It spoke to me then and it speaks to me now.

The singer is Sherine Abeyratne. I haven't been able to find out what she's done since the band disbanded just a couple of years after it formed, around 1991, she's got such a great voice I'm surprised she didn't make it big with someone else.

"Remixed" trailers make you see movies in a new way

I was browsing through Youtube today and found a few funny trailers.

Sound of Music - really highlights the Nazi aspect of it.
May Poppins - renamed "Scary Mary". IF you hadn't seen the original you'd get a fright!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Lose Weight and Keep it Off - Guaranteed!

A few days ago I edited a website designed to sell a weight-loss book. It was and is a lousy website, but at least now it doesn't have any mispellings or grammatical errors.

The theme throughout the entire website was that you could lose weight *without effort*. No need to diet, no need to exercise, no need to deprive yourself. All you need to know is this one 'secret' and you'll lose weight.

And that of course is garbage. Or rubbish - for my UK readers.

And that is why most people who try to diet and lose weight fail. And will continue to fail.

The culture today - in the States at least - is that nothing must take any effort. Hard work is not to be encouraged. It's not the fact that you're sitting on a couch watching TV and eating cookies all day long that's got you overweight, it's the fact that you stop in at those nasty McDonalds and eat their food - so *they've* got to change the way they make it.

Well, I'm not prepared to give an opinion on how healthy the food at McDonalds or other fast food restaurants is.

But I do know that if people are going to successfully lose weight, and successfully keep that weight off, the ONLY way to do so is by making a complete life-style change. And yes, it's going to be hard work to start with, but so what?

The emphasis on 'never feeling hungry, don't kill yourself exercising, don't make any effort, just lose weight' - is EXACTLY the reason why 99% of all people who want to lose weight fail. They want it to be easy, they expect it to be easy because they read the advertisements that promise them it will be easy - and when it turns out they actually have to make some kind of an effort, they get discouraged, and continue to wait - and weight - around until someone actually does invent an effortless way to lose weight.

But the only way to lose weight, and keep it off, is to make a complete lifestyle change. To stop doing the things that cause you to gain unwanted weight.

There is no need for fad diets, of course. Eat what you want to eat --- just eat it in moderation. Get out and exercise or play a game for 30 minutes a day. The main thing to do is give up pop like Coke or Pepsi. I hate to say this, being a Pepsi drinker myself, but if you're overweight and you drink more than 5 Pepsis a day - give up those Pepsis and don't make any other changes and indeed you will lose weight.

(I have to say that because I managed to give up Pepsis for 3 months and indeed did lose weight, then I went off the wagon and it all came back. What can I say - I love my Pepsis too much.)

And that's a cautionary tale. People who drink coffee know it's easy to get addicted to coffee - you can't do anything before your first cup in the morning. For me it's the same with Pepsi. Try to keep your kids from drinking anything but *real* fruitjuice with no sugar added...and they probably won't have problems in later life.

Having said that, I'm all for leaving candy and pop machines in schools. For goodness sakes, this is the US of A. Government doesn't have the right to tell us what we can eat, how we have to prepare our food, how much we can or cannot weigh.
If the government really wants to get its Big Brother paws on everything, they should clamp down on the media that perpetuates the idea that women should be skeletally thin at all times, and that their only role in life is to please men. Get rid of that insidiousness and a lot of the problems - in the Western world, at any rate, would be over.

If you are legitimately overweight, and want to lose weight, more power to you. It's going to be a battle. Accept that it's going to be a battle. You might have to feel hungry every day for a while, until your stomach acclimates. Just accept it. When you feel hungry you know you're losing weight. Drink a lot of water to fill up your stomach to dull the hunger pains, realize that once your stomach gets used to eating less it will soon stop making you feel so hungry, etc. etc.

Depressed people have a harder time losing weight than happy people. That's because food provides comfort. So that can make it tough as well. Try to get your comfort by buying and reading a good book instead, or watching a fun TV show.

Stay away from fad diets, fad supplements, fad this and that. You can lose weight, as long as you accept that it's going to take effort. Make the effort, and you'll be glad you did.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

It Came From Outer Space trailer

Richard Carlson and Barbara Rush in It Came From Outer Space
Richard Carlson as himself introducted 3D
Not the greatest quality, but interesting.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Peter Sellers as Laurence Olivier as Richard III

My goodness Youtube has a lot of fun stuff.

If you've never seen the 1955 movie Richard III starring Laurence Olivier, you will probably not fully appreciate this clip - but if you have, it's hilarious. And if you havn't - go out and rent it now!

I love Richard III the play. Having said that, it's great theater, not history. In real life Richard did NOT kill his nephews or usurp the throne!

Thursday, November 30, 2006

11/30: Casting bread upon the waters

Two months ago I decided I needed to have some more income coming in, since my various websites aren't generating as much as I'd hoped. I visited the blog of someone who was going to show people how to make money on the web, and they provided the link to Elance.

It cost $60 to join, at the level I wanted - bare minimum! - and they take a $10 commission minimum on each job, which I wasn't too happy about. Nevertheless, I looked at the dozens of jobs offered in my field - editing, rewriting, etc., and decided that it had possibilities. So I decided to chance that $60. I lowballed a few projects, got one response, and have done work for that individual ever since. And I've got two more projects I'm working on - one of which I *think* is going to lead to long-term freelance employment. So I'm pretty pleased with Elance.

The reason why I bring this up is because I can't help laughing at the short-sightedness of some people. Along about the time I joined Elance, I also placed an ad on a different site, looking for writers for my various websites - science fiction, Virginia history. I specified that I could pay nothing, but they'd get nickels and dimes from my links to on their pages, etc.

Nevertheless, I got quite a few responses from people, whom, when I reiterated the compensation package, never got back to me, so I can only assume that they didn't pay any attention to what I'd written the first time around.

One woman, I think in her late 20s, emailed me, offering her services. She had a blog, which I looked at, and I confess I wasn't impressed with her writing skills. (I myself am somewhat careless with my grammar on this blog, but I hope people can tell the difference between someone who knows grammar and skips it on occasion, and someone who doesn't know grammar, period.)

Anyway, her blog made her sound a bit desperate for money, so I suggested she try Elance. "All it takes is a $60 investment," I told her, and there's lots of jobs there. [I know she has *some* money, and $60 isn't that much - get it from a relative or friend or something if nothing else!]

She emailed me back and said she "wanted to make money, not spend it." In other words, she didn't like that $60 fee. Well, I emailed her back and pointed out that I had earned back that $60 fee on my first job, plus $40 over that, and everything else I'd earn in the course of the year was gravy.

"I'll think about it," she replied, which I understood very well to mean that she was going to do nothing. She was going to continue to haunt the writing sites where people could post for free, and email people looking for paying jobs - when Elance is right there.

I'm willing to bet that this woman hasn't made a dime doing any writing in the last two months, whereas I've made quite a bit. Relatively speaking, of course.

And I just don't understand it. I don't think her writing skills were such that she could do any of the jobs on offer at Elance, but she seemed to think she did have skills...

If it had been a question of a $100 fee to join...I confess I would have hesitated at that myself. But $60? With the rule that the minimum bid you can make is $50? It's obvious that you'd make back that fee in one job alone, plus Elance is a well-known site, thus quite safe to join and trust.

So, all I can say is I cast my bread upon the waters, and I ended up not with soggy bread but with some fresh bread!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Nancy Lynn Memorial video

Nancy Lynn, stunt pilot, was killed in an accident at the Culpepper Air Show earlier this year.

I just visited Youtube and there were two videos there, which I thought I'd share here. (Youtube provides the code so that people can embed videos into their blogs or webpages.)

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Tennesse Lady Vols win today

I'm not a really big fan of basketball - football and baseball are my games of choice...but I keep an eye on the Tennesse Lady Vols because of their great history. Their coach, Pat Summitt, has won more NCAA games than any coach, male or female, in history. (Although there's much debate as to whether she deserves to have the "or men" phrase in that announcement. Basically because the men's program has been a lot stronger than the woman's program over the last 20 years - hardly surprising...)

I watched a few games last year, and frankly I thought the Vols style of play was boring...they'd walk the ball up the court, throw it to Candace Parker or someone, and everyone would stand around until the seconds ticked down...then someone would make a move...the shot'd go up, miss, be rebounded hopefully by a Vol and put back in.

Whereas the style of...I think it was LSU...memory's going on me..anyway it was a run and gun offense and a lot more fun to watch.

So, this year the Vols have a couple of new guards (last year their point guard, Sade Wiley-Gatewood, decided halfway through the season to transfer to Maryland, where she'll sit until next semester...), leaving them without a true point guard. Anyway, haven't seen them on TV yet but from what I've read on the Summitt message boards the team is very fast and has a very different offense. So that's nice to hear.

Anyway, in one of my visits to Youtube I did a search on Candace Parker and found a couple of videos of her dunking, and one with her and Michelle Snow dunking. (Frankly, I didn't see as many videos as I thought I would.)

Anyway, I decided to start a Lady Vols appreciation website and put those videos on it, and then announce it on the Summitt, and hits to that page have been going through the roof.

Not translating into clicks on my Adsense ads...but I guess we can't have everything.

Anyway, the Vols, who are ranked 4th in the nation by ESPN, play a tough schedule - 13 games against ranked teams. Meanwhile #1 Maryland and #2 North Carolina play a grand total of 5 ranked teams each. That's just ridiculous. They should probably go undefeated considering their cream-puff schedules, but I won't be too impressed with the feat. Meanwhile, if the Vols manage to do it, it will really be an achievement.

I hope they do, because that will generate a great deal of interest in the game. It's always an undefeated season that grabs the interest of the 'casual' fan as opposed to the dedicated fan. (Indeed, that's how I got into it a few years ago.)

And I hope my website, which will be full of info for the first-time fan, will draw 'em like flies...

The Lady Vols - WCBB Standard Bearers

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Quatermass and the Pit - the trailer

This is a really fun trailer for the movie Quatermass and the Pit (1967).

The movie starred Andrew Keir as Quatermass, James Donald as the actual hero of the piece, Barbara Shelley and Julian Glover.

There's an homage to the movie Them! here. In one scene a terrified man screams, "They're coming. Them! Them!" he's referring to the Martians of course, not giant ants.

Robby the Robot Jeep - clip

Only 30 seconds long, but kind of amusing.

This was posted by a robot store,, to which I am not affiliated, however it looks like it's got some fun stuff.

Obviously this robot is not yet able to really drive a vehicle as the real Robby was, but perhaps one day...

I myself am a fan of the classic robots - Gort from The Day The Earth Stood Still, Robby from Forbidden Planet, Robot from Lost in Space, etc.

Isaac Asimov speaks on computers - clips

He doesn't say anything new, it's directed towards children, looks like - but I've never heard him speak before so it was interesting to hear his voice. Looks like this was done during the last two or three years of his life.

Isaac Asimov: 1920 - 1992

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Star Wars trilogy light saber duels - clip

And here's another clip.

Several light saber duels set to the music of O Fortuna (from Carmine Burana - most people know it from the classic Excalibur or, perhaps these days from Sean Hannity's radio show intro...)

Yoda comes in at the end (it's an eight minute clip) fighting Duku and then the Emporer. Unfortunately I think the action is speeding up so you don't get the full impact of "his" moves.

As a connoisseur of cinematic duels I'd say that some of the scenes hold up and some don't. Obi Wan vs Darth Vader in the original Star Wars is perhaps the poorest - I really, really hate it when they make one opponent perform a spin move - turning his/her back to his opponent - when there is absolutely no reason to do so.

Metropolis clip

To get this blog back to its original intention, which was to discuss science fiction in all media, I present this clip from Youtube, of the robot Hel being turned into Maria. Or vice versa. Whatever!

Brigitte Helm as Maria. Of course starred Alfred Abel, Rudolph Kleine-Rogge as Rotwang, was written by Thea von Harbou and directed by Fritz Lang.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Beta Blogger - horror story

I wanted to start a new political issues blog, and because it's a blog about political issues I wanted to change my photo to something other than the GG that is now ghost guns. So I decided to create a new account. And if you create a new account, you don't get to go to Blogger, you're taken to their Beta Blogger.

And it sucks, big time.

They treat people like idiots. They have all these "elements" that you can arrange on your new template. And they're boxes which you can cut and paste, I guess because most people don't want to learn Html to do their own additions, modifications, etc.

Well, I know html, so I went into the template to add a counter for my new blog, and it won't let me. I don't have the time or inclination to find out why.

Basically what they've done is make is sssssssssso simple that people who don't know what they're doing can do things - but won't be able to modify what they do afterwards and will never understand what they've done. It's idiotic and as you can tell, I'm kind of annoyed.

The main thing that has me angry is that apparently, pretty soon ALL blogs will be migrated over to the new system whether they want to be or not. And since the new feauturs suck 90% of the people at Blogger Help forums are screaming about it, but of course you can't email anyone directly, and no one from Blogger looks at these complaints, obviously...

Of course it's a free service so who am I to complain, eh. If I don't have to pay for it I don't have the right to complain, I suppose, except that it's just symptomatic with what's wrong with the computer world today. There's all these programmers out there who have to earn their salaries by breaking things that weren't broken to begin with, and no one talks to the people who actually *use* the things....;

Friday, November 10, 2006

Opnion Polls America

I've never been happy with the questions asked in polls and questionaires. As the critics say, it's easy to skew results by asking questions in such a way that you get the results you want. Or, the questions are so vague that the answers aren't really representative of what people would like to say.

So I've started a new website called Opinion Polls America that features polls on political issues. One poll I put up was opinons on Rush Limbaugh. I announced this on various usenet political boards, expecting thousands of responses, and got ....zilch.

After going more thoroughly into these things, like and alt.politics.bush, I'm really not surprised. If there are any people there who'd like to have a calm, rational discussion on politics, they are snowed under by people - undoubtedly 99% guys! - who just want to call each other, and the party opposed to theirs, names.

So, I guess I'll wait for the domain name to "resolve" and then try to interest political bloggers and websites in it.

Anyone interested?
is the URL right now.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Morning After

I have to confess I'm eagerly awaiting Rush Limbaugh's program this morning. On his website he's got his usual smarmy questions, including 'What Happens if the Democrats Lose?"

Looks like he should have asked, "What happens if the Republicans lose?" For it looks like they've lost control of both House and Senate, and that Nancy Pelosi will indeed become the first female Speaker of the House.

When the Democrats had lost, Limbaugh was saying how they always pretended as if they'd won. We'll see what he has to say about Republican losses, now, and how they deal with it. And how he deals with it.

Have to confess I voted a Republican ticket except for James Webb. That ridiculous fuss about writing in his fiction books made by George Allen and propigated by Sean Hannity really disgusted me.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Uber sensitive people

A couple of weeks ago I advertised in various places for writers for my new website, Ghost Guns. I got a reply from one woman who said she'd like to give it a try, so I gave her the assignment of looking up the 1st Rhode Island, a Revolutionary War light infantry regiment composed of African-Americans.

She sent me back 500 words. She obviously hadn't put it through a spell-checker, or a grammar checker. I had a second look at her resume and it still said the same thing, she'd graduated with a degree in journalism.

Well, I figured, no problem, she's eager, she's willing to do the work, I'll work with her. So I sent her an email asking for a clarification on one point. She sent me something back.

Things have intervened, and its been about 3 days since I've had contact with her. I wanted to ask her to do a re-write on her story. Since this is the first thing we've worked on, I wanted to show my good faith, so I sent her a paypal payment for the article, even though I had told her previously that I'd only pay when the article went online. I figured that by paying her (a ridiculously low amount, admittedly, but it's all I can afford and she had agreed to it) I'd make it clear to her that I was operating in 'good faith' and not trying to stiff her.

Did my plan work? Nope.

I got an email from her today, a few hours after I had sent her payment and a request for the rewrite, in which she gives me a curt one sentence, "I guess you didn't like the article then, since I haven't seen it up yet."

I responded asking her if she hadn't gotten my previous email of the day. She says no, resend, so I did.

Then, also to try to show her that she was valued and that I wanted to work with her, I asked her if she was a member of MagWeb, a site where this one article she had referenced originated. My intent was to say, "if this is so, great, because there's lots of good stuff there ...and if not, I'll pay for it so we can all use it." But it never got that far.

She's just sent me an absolute rocket, saying that I'm accusing her of cheating (because I require that all articles submitted to me have bibliographies). No she isn't a member of MagWeb, and apparently my asking this question was another instance of me accusing her of cheating, although how she worked that out I can't fathom.

"Journalism doesnt' require bibliographies, and none of the articles on your site have them," she says. Well..the articles currently at Ghost Guns are travel articles recounting my experiences at various sites, and an interview with a living history re-enactor, and don't need bibliographies. But when I'm trying to publish factual articles, to be read by people who actually know their history backwards and forwards, I need a bibliography, and so I told her.

I sent her a final email telling her the above. What I would have liked to have told her, but didn't, is that the article she sent me was amateurish - poorly written and not spell-checked, and if she's an example of what journalism schools allow to graduate today with degrees, it doesn't say much for schools. And that she's showing signs of incipient paranoia or low self esteem or something!

I'm really tempted to try to unsend my $5, since to make her article usable there's quite a bit more work to be done on it, but I guess I'll let that go and chalk it up to a learning experience.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

No November issue for The Thunder Child

I spent so much time working on the Clive Francis website, and on my new Ghost Guns Virginia site, that the November issue of The Thunder Child simply didn't get done in time. I've got a lot of material, though, so should be enough for the December issue already, plus a few thing left over for the January issue, further to my goal of having each issue done a month ahead of time.

On the political front, listened to bits of Neal Boortz, Limbaugh and Sean Hannity on Friday. They're all saying the same thing - Kerry insulted the troops. Well, he didn't. I thought about emailing each of 'em and requesting that they play the *entire* clip - which would include the Bush in a state of denial comment which he made before he made the 'stuck in Iraq' comment, which makes it clear what he was talking about.

And also contrasting their attitudes. They all rose to Limbaugh's defense when he critizized - and was misquoted - about his statements about Michael J. Fox. Kerry was subject to the same attack but on the other side.

Other than that...I'm getting one of my dehibilitating headaches so don't think I'll be able to accomplish much today, on any project.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Limbaugh's at it again

It really is amusing, if infuriating, to listen to Rush Limbaugh at times. Today, he's hammering on John Kerry again. It's been 3 days since Kerry made his unfortunate comment, it's over, but Limbaugh doesn't follow his own rules. When the Foley case broke and Foley resigned, according to Limbaugh that should have been it, story over.

But Kerry's apologized, he's no longer campaigning for Dems, story over, but not for Limbaugh, who's apparently been spending the whole morning quoting from comments Kerry made in the 1970s about an all volunteer army. He persists in saying Kerry was lying when he says he was talking about Bush, not the troops, but I say again if you see the whole clip it is *obvious* that that is what he is talking about. He'd just insulted Bush once, he was just doing it again. But of course the only thing people ever see or hear is the statement about 'stuck in Iraq,' much as Limbaugh was pilloried for his Michael J. Fox 'acting' comments taken out of context from the rest of what he was saying.

So...they all do it... pot, kettle, black. Limbaugh is just more annoying because of course he has to call Kerry 'Lurch' to insult him. (Never mind the fact that Lurch was a much loved character on the Adams family).

Then Limbaugh says that unlike Kerry, Bush doesn't suffer from "foot-in-mouth" disease. Limbaugh is conveniently forgetting Bush's comments post-Katrinia, when he asked somebody, "What went wrong?" after they'd said, "Nothing had gone right for FEMA." I can't quite remember the context but basically he came across as not realizing that lots of people had unneccesariliy suffered and died because FEMA hadn't reacted promptly (although much of that can be traced to the incompetentness of the Louisiana and New Orleans politicians, too.)

Then, Bush is talking with one of his wealthy friends, and says, "We're going to have your house built back here in just a few months," meanwhile the poor are still waiting for the city to be rebuilt.

The above are vague references...if you search on Bush's speeches and actions post Katrina you'll get the complete stories in more detail.

Anyway, I have to admit I'm leaning towards voting for Webb, even though I am a Republican. I believe in abortion, I believe in the right to gay marriage, and if the ads are to be believed Webb believes in those things too. And the attack on his writings is frankly what persuades me to vote for him.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

More thoughts on Kerry

All I've seen of Kerry's speech was that little soundbyte of "getting stuck in Iraq." Kerry's explanation is that he was talking about Bush not doing his homework, which resulted in our being stuck in Iraq. And frankly, based on his phraseology, I'm prepared to believe that that's what he was trying to say.

Because, it's true, I think. Bush got us into Iraq with no idea how to get us out. With no idea how those psychos over there with their psychotic religion would act ... the whole Middle East has really been destabilized...I don't know what the solution is, but mebbe if some missionaries are prepared to take their heads in their hands (very poor joke, but apt) and go over there and try to convert them all to Christianity, or better still, atheism - there might be chance for peace there.

So, back to Kerry. He'd better fire his speech writer...unless he did make that clear either before or after the soundbyte that he was talking about Bush and not the troops...I'd really like to see the WHOLE thing before I make a decision, but at the moment I'm prepared to give the benefit of the doubt to Kerry.

Meantime, heard an ad on the radio today about some amendement to vote for next week 'Protecting Marrige.' One woman calls up another wanting to get the scoop, the other woman says, "It's about making marriage between one man and one woman." and "Saving marriage for our children." And I had to laugh at this. Statistics lie all the time, of course, but I think statistics do say that 50% of marriages end in divorce. Lots of people get married 3 or 4 times. Lots more people never get married but have dozens of kids and a dozen "baby daddies."

I say if gays want to make a committment to each other and get married, let 'em. They'll have the same success/failure rate as anybody else, because people are people. Simple as that.

John Kerry's comments, and abstinence

John Kerry's comments on UTube

is the recording of John Kerry saying that "If you don't do well in school you get stuck in Iraq."

How about, if you don't do well in school you get stuck in welfare lines waiting for money to feed your five illegitamate kids? If you don't do well in school you get stuck in New Orleans/ [These were comments from callers to the Neal Boortz show].

Yeah, Kerry just annoyed me. My father served in Korean and Vietnam, my brother was in the Navy, my sister and her husband are in the Air Force, both have pretty good lives despite the fact that they've each had to go, at separate times, over to Saudi Arabia during Desert Shield...

Lots of men and women go into the military - most of them do it to get a free education and serve their country. If they're betrayed by the politicians in power - Republican or Democrat - it is the fault of the politicians, not the people who serve.

I'm really getting tired of these dirty politics. Here in Virginia, Allen calls someone to whom he's talking a 'macaca.' Regardless of what he thought the word meant, he meant it in a derogatory way, otherwise why use it? So losing ground he has his people read James Webb's book and pull out paragraphs from *fictional activities* designed to elicit the horror of war, the horror of what goes on, and try to make out he wouldn't write this stuff unless he liked it. And Sean Hannity picks this up and runs with it. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

I think the whole US political system needs an overhaul. Ban political action committees. Allow line-by-line vetoes of bills. Don't allow polticians to vote themselves raises. Get rid of pork barrel spening.

Latest news today is that the Republicans are going to spend OUR TAX MONEY promoting commercials and such for adults 20-29 to try abstinence. I guess because they're tired of seeing all these illegitimate babies - a drain on the welfare system - as indeed I am. But abstinence isnt going to work. Teach 'em to use condoms. Or birth control. That's the only way. Better still, teach young women to have more respect for themselves and their goals so they don't have illegitimate babies in an attempt to prove they're attractive enough to 'get a man,' which I suspect leads a lot of young girls into sex, and having a baby to prove they've had sex.

And that's the rant for today.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Frivolous lawsuits

Haven't had much time to spend on The Thunder Child in the past few days, I've been working on the Clive Francis website and the Ghost Guns Virginia website.

Read in the Daily Press today, October 30, 2006, that Norfolk Souther and Amtrak have been found 'at fault' in an electrocution case, and awarded two men $24.2 million dollars.

IN 2002, two 17 year old boys *trespassed*, i.e. illegally entered an Amtrak yard in Lancastar PA, touched overhead power lines, and were burned over much of their bodies as a result.

And, gee whiz, Amtrak didn't post warning signs saying those power lines were dangerous, so they were negligent, so they should have to pay those two poor boys millions of dollars.

And I'm thinking to myself - those two boys were *trespassing* on private property. They were where they weren't supposed to be, where they had no right to be. Why should there have been warning signs telling illegal intruders not to touch overhead wires? And if they were stupid enough to touch them (although apparently all they did was get near them, and the electricity coursed over) - what happened was their own fault.

But of course, that's not the way it is in the United States. Doesn't matter if someone enters somewhere illegally - if they're hurt on that property through their own stupidity, the property owner is going to have to pay because he, or she, is the one with the money.

Stupid. Sad. So much for personal responsibility.

Sunday, October 29, 2006


I post, it won't publish

A Test Post

Tried to make a post to my Ghost Guns blog and it wasn't accepted, so I shall make one here and see if it will go through.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Sean Hannity disappoints me

I've never had much respect for Rush Limbaugh, but I'd had a bit of respect for Sean Hannity until today. I had him on the radio for a while, and he has picked up on the George Allen campaign to assassinate James Webb's character by quoting salacious paragraphs from *fiction* books Webb has written. Moreover, books that take place in the Far East where homosexual activity, activity demeaning to women is common place.

I will be very surprised and disappointed if thousand of authors do not write to this idiot, not to mention Rush Limbaugh who also thinks he's scoring points, and point out that they write crime novels without killng anyone, they write sex novels without having performed the acts, etc. It's *fiction*.

And it's just stupid. Frankly, I'm tempted to vote for James Webb just on the strength of this ad, although I hadn't intended to prior to this.

This matters because I live in Virginia. Now, what about George Allen. Apparently he called someone a macaca, and instead of owning up that he knew it was a derogatory word, just said he made it up. Oh, please. Why not just own up and apologize? And regardless of whether he knew what it meant or made it up, it means he's stupid. There is *no* politican or on-air personality these days who can say anything even remotely 'demeaning' or, 'can be taken as demeaning' without the media getting all over it. So the fact that Allen called this guy 'macaca' instead of his name, for whatever reason, means he's stupid.

By the same token, of course, Limbaugh calls John Edwards 'the Breck girl' which could be taken as meaning that Limbaugh is calling him gay, or at the very least is referring to him in a way that is meant to be demeaning...has anyone called him on this, I wonder?

Dirty politics...getting stupid now.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Ghost Guns Virginia

Well, I've just launched my new website, Ghost Guns Virginia, which is concerned with (mostly) military history of Virginia.

is the URL for anyone who wants to check it out.

I'm kind of annoyed...I bought the domain a couple of days ago and thought I could host it on my Ipower server along with The Thunder Child, but although it's possible to do this feature with the package I bought ---now, apparently when I bought this hosting package this service wasn't available. *I think.* I've emailed two different times about this and each time I get an ungrammatical answer that doesn't really address the issue, so I'm assuming Ipower has outsourced their help desk overseas and the people there simply respond by rote.

So, I have a pointer from to a folder on my Thunder Child site. And I did this pointer a couple of days ago and GhostGunsVirginia (the domain) still isn't showing up, let alone directing it to the proper place. So I'm going to give it another day and then try to email them again.

Meanwhile, I took out a Google Adwords ad...and they're going to charge me 20 cents a click for my keywords which is absolutely ridiculous. I was hoping for 5 cents a click - that'd be reasonable.

So I'll see how it goes...I don't want to put it on search engines until I've got the domain name issue sorted for now via Adwords is the only way people will find out about it.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Lies about Limbaugh

I'm not a fan of Rush Limbaugh. He says many things that annoy me, he acts in many ways that annoy me (the whispers for emphasis, the rattling the papers, the mispronouncing of people's names in order to ridicule them, referring to John Edwards as "The Breck Girl", etc) but he is being wrongly accused today.

A couple of days ago Limbaugh commented on a commercial by Michael J. Fox for a political candidate, in which that actor, who suffers from Parkinson disease, was clearly in the throes of that disease while he was being filmed.

Yes - Limbaugh did state that he'd never seen Fox act like that before and wondered if he were exaggerating for the camera.... *but* after a commercial break Limbaugh said, on air, that he'd received many emails or comments from people saying that yes, they had seen Fox act like that before.

So Limbaugh *apologized* for saying what he'd said, and merely made the comment that Fox must have been off his meds (which Fox has since admitted he was) when he made the commercial, and that stem cell research has nothing to do with the cure for Parkinson's disease.)

And he continued on to lambast Fox for trying to exploit his disease by doing the commercial while off his meds...and a caller chimed in that if a drug company had shown the before and afters of a victim of Parkinson's disease on a commercial, they'd have been accused of exploitation also, ya da ya da.

Anyway, the point is that all the fuss is apparently being made because Limbaugh said Fox was *exaggerating* his symptoms, when he'd already admitted he'd been wrong on that subject and apologized for making the assumption, and admitted that Parkinson's is a horrible disease and he wasn't downplaying that, and so on.

So Limbaugh's detractors are taking *one sentence* out of Limbaugh's comments about Fox, taking it out of context, and making a big deal out if it, when the larger issue for me is - does stem cell research promise a cure for Parkinsons, eventually, and if not why does Fox even care about it?

I personally have no problem with stem cell research. If God can create all kinds of races to be subject to others (as Christian fundamentalists like to believe He has done), why can't man create babies to take stem cells out of? [And I'm being ironic may have a benign purpose but you know anything to do with big business is gonna be corrupted some way... there was a BBC radio program called Jefferson 37, about "harvesting" clones for their organs, that called that into relief.]

Remember when you were happy

I'm in a rather bittersweet mood today. Clive Francis has just sent me lots more pics - focusing on his television career. A few days ago it was his theater. All these performances that I never saw, of course - and will never get a chance to see. That's because the BBC has a tendency to "wipe" programs so it can reuse the tapes, and I'm sure the studios in the USA followed the same practice. Oh...there are a few shows out there you can get, but the vast majority of an actors ouvre before..the 80s will probably never be seen again.

And then of course there's the theater. Live performance. An actor on stage can give the best performance of his life - unrivaled in the part, and at most a few hundred people will see it and they'll have forgot everything about it (except the emotion generated) in a year or two.

Many years ago I was able to travel to England once a year (sister stationed over there, Air Force) and we'd go see plays in the West End and at Stratford, and I loved 'em, and we'd see 'em twice because I liked 'em so much and I hoped that by seeing them twice I'd be able to remember every second of them later on...and now its 20 years and I can maybe remember a line here, a line there...

I used to live in Minneapolis and attended the Guthrie Theater there regularly - saw Richard III with Byron Jennings and loved it, saw the entire cycle of the History Plays and was there on closing night when they got standing ovations between Henry IV and Henry V and after Henry V was so special... but ask me to recount every scene that at that point was so vividly impressed on my mind and I couldn't do it.

Copyright laws prohibit the filming of stage plays, I'm sure, or the Actors Guild, or something, but it's a damn shame because every actors performance, in every play, should be saved for posterity. For *me!*

Anyway, Clive Francis guest-starred in one of the Sherlock Holmes mysteries, The Man With The Twisted Lip. I present for your edification a photo of Clive and Jeremy Brett larking about on the set.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Busy Busy Busy

I haven't had time to post here in a few days. I'm starting a new website called Ghost Guns Virginia and I've been working to get that ready, I'm still working on the Moskowitz article for The Thunder Child, and Clive Francis sent me a boatload of photos that I've been uploading to his website.

Meanwhile Kenny Rogers seems to have been caught cheating in the World Series. According to one article I read today, during the Yankees series he was also seen with brown stuff on his pitching hand...which is a wee bit suspicious. I find it hard to believe that the Yankees didn't notice it at the time, though...mebbe the color wasn't as conspicuous as it was yesterday.

Anyway, I guess time will tell...if the series goes back to Detroit and he gets a chance to pitch again - will he have clean hands and will he be able to pitch well? Because the fact remains that after he washed his hands off in the 2nd inning, he still managed to pitch very, very well...

But it's a pity that this had to rear its ugly no matter how much success he has in the future, if any, it'll be tainted. Muyd sticks...

Meanwhile the Giants won tonight and those stupid 'free throw' celebrations are really getting on my nerves...although I suppose they're better than players shimmying around or stomping their feet or doing other stupid "look at me" things....

Bledsoe gets taken out for Romo, who didn't do a very good job either, and apparently Bledsoe wasn't supportive of him, which is too some class, man. On the other hand, it wasn't Bledsoe's fault he was sacked a gazillion times, when guys kept on running unblocked to him and throwing him to the ground...

Gettin' cold here in VA...winter's coming. Not my favorite time of year but at least there'll be very little snow, if any, here.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Happy Birthday to me

My birthday's tomorrow, I'll be celebrating it by going to Yorktown and checking out the Tall Ships in the harbor and walking around the city...or village, or town, whatever the technical term for it is.

I've started a new website, Ghost Guns Virginia, to focus on my other interest - military history - in this case the military history of Virginia. I've bought the domain name, I have to wait a couple of days before its active but I'm building the pages now.

Not much else to say right now, will try to get back to my full reports tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Gorgeous necks

I listened to a few minutes of Rush Limbaugh yesterday. He was talking about Hilary Clinton. He doesn't like her. That's fine, I don't like her either. But the things he continually maunders on about are just tireseome. Basically, Hilary Clinton has always told folks, apparently, that she was named after Sir Edmund Hillary who climbed Mount Everest. This is a lie, Rush Limbaugh delights in saying, over and over again. Hillary didn't climb Everest until a few years after Hilary Clinton was born.

Yesterday, he revealed that Hilary Clinton now admits that this isn't true, but that her Mom always tod her so, to inspire her to do great things. And Limbaugh scoffs. "That's right, blame it all on Mom." And I'm thinking to myself, why shouldn't this be true. If its true - her mother must have told her about it to begin with. So if its not true, it still makes sense that her mother would have made it up. (Although, if I'd been told I'd been named after someone, I'd have looked up this person's life and found out everything about them that I could, just on general principal, so I'd have found out right away if the dates didn't match.)

But that's a moot point. The point is...big deal. She used to think she was named after Edmund Hillary, or she wanted to think she was named after him, turns out it wasn't true. And on *this* point Limbaugh thinks he should spend presumably valuable air time castigating her? Over and over again. Why doesn't he raise other points - political points - where she's clearly been untruthful, that would be a wee bit more important, rather than his repeating his same old story about her name.

Also, according to Limbaugh, Hilary Clinton has only very recently taken to wearing a cross around her neck. This is a ploy, says Limbaugh, to cater to the Conservative Christian vote. But since she's only recently started wearing a cross you know it's a ploy.

Well, fair enough. I have no opinion on *that* particular subject. Except of course to say that Hilary Clinton isn't the only politician, Democrat or Republican, to alter her appearance or habits to appeal to different segments of the population at different times. Why else did President Bush appear in jeans and workshirt at some photography event when he was trying to mend fences in New Orleans?

No, what annoyed me was that Limbaugh said that Hilary Clinton was wearing this cross "around her ...gorgeous neck."

I put those three periods in there deliberately, because Limbaugh definately paused before he said the word "gorgeous".

And that's the thing. Male politicians don't have to worry about their appearance. I suppose if they're incredibly fat or or wear some kind of stupid facial hair like a soul patch they'll get some kind of remark, but overall if a male politician wears his suit and appears in Congress, any criticism of him (by Limbaugh at least) is of his words, not of his appearance. (Although Limbaugh does seem to think he does a good Clinton impression and likes to maunder on and on and on in that voice on occasion.)

But women politicians are fair game. I don't remember which one Limbaugh was talking about, some Democrat, but Limbaugh referred to her as "chattering" on, when she was giving some sort of talk in the house. That's a dismissive way of referring to a woman...the stereotype that women chatter on and on saying nothing important and won't shut up. Well, that may be true but when Limbaugh goes off on his Clinton impersonations or his long talks about the TV show 24 or other things of no importance, I too think he's just full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. I call it maundering, he calls it chattering, same difference.

Where was I? Oh, yes, Hilary Clinton's neck. I believe that a lot of people don't regard Hilary Clinton as very pretty, and Limbaugh is one of them. And for Limbaugh, to put down a politician who is a female, he never misses the chance to dismiss her as a female, rather than as just a politician with whom he disagrees. Thus he refers to Hilary Clinton's ...gorgeous neck, when what he thinks is obvious to his listeners, and what is obvious, is that he's really thinking "ugly neck under an ugly head."

There was another case, several months ago, when Martha Burks, of NOW, was trying to force the Augusta National Golf Club to open its membership to women. Women can play there, but they can't be members. And on one point I agreed with Limbaugh - there are soo many problems facing women in the United States and more urgently around the world, so that for time and effort to be spent on getting a rich man's club to open up to a bunch of rich women was just stupid.

But, according to Limbaugh, she was doing it because she had a face like a.... he stopped himself in time, but that's what he started to say. She couldn't get a man because she wasn't attractive, and she was taking her revenge on men by doing this. Poor Margaret Burks, she's not attractive (to Limbaugh, anyway) so of course she has no right to speak. Back to the kitchen with you, Margaret Burks!

My own opinion is...there's alot more important things you should be worrying about, Ms Burks. Head into the Muslim enclaves here in the States and start teaching women to take off those stupid veils, start insisting men treat them with respect, and etc. etc.

Oh well, enough of a feminist rant for one day.

Monday, October 16, 2006

10/17: 4. Space headlines

Not in the mood to write anything else.
Dancing Asteroid Mapped in Motion
NASA weighs power source option for Mars rover
NASA says built it and infrared surprises will come
Another New Mars: NASA orbiter ready for new Mars science
Space elevators hurl themselves skyward
Active volcano may explainchanges in Titan’s bright spot.

Nancy Lynn, RIP

I've gone from great happiness to great sadness today. Earlier today got another commission from this freelancers website I found a couple of weeks ago.

Then just half an hour ago read in the paper that Nancy Lynn had died in a plane crash at the Culpepper Air Show. I saw her last year at the Langley Air Show and thought she was great, both in the air and on the ground talking to her fans.

She died doing what she loved to do. RIP Nancy Lynn.

10/16: 2. Women are still obsessed with their weight

I listened to a few seconds of Rush Limbaugh today. He was coming back from a commercial break, and made this big production of having the music playing, then he breaks in to announce "Breaking news: College study shows women worry more about their weight than men do." Then he has the music start up again, then he breaks in again and says the same thing. It didn't quite come off because the music was supposed to start up again and it didn't (wonder if Limbaugh will have the sound guy fired over the miscue?) but nevertheless, although I thought Limbaugh's antic was Over the top, he was right about one thing. Women obsessing about their weight, while most men could care less about theirs, is not news. WHy even do a study about it?

If Limbaugh said who had conducted the study I never heard, but apparently it happened on college campuses across the US and the upshot was that women worried about their weight, men didn't. I would have been interested to know if these women were asked *why* they worried about their weight.

Women today, even the best and brightest, are obsessed with their appearance. Why? Because men are obsessed by their appearance, and women are taught from day one that they *must* look good for men. It starts probably before kindergarten, when the mommies take their little girls in to get their ears peirced. Then they have to learn how to put on makeup so they look nice. I admit I haven't paid much attention to the appearance of the young girls in my neighborhood...there's a handful who I think are 8 or 9...but it wouldn't surprise me at all if they weren't already spending an hour in the morning putting on makeup so they could look pretty at school...where of course they wear the shortest of shorts and shirts that reveal their belly buttons (even if they're tubby...which is not a pretty picture, believe me.)

And I admit it just rankles. Mothers buy into this schtick and get their girls addicted to to "Appealing to boys is the most important thing" at a young age, and all the female role models in later life who achieve great things won't matter a hill of beans. A girl can be a straight A student, intelligent, bright, funny, but if she doesn't have a boyfriend she'll feel herself worthless. He can have a beerbelly out to here, and that's okay, but she's got to be little miss skeletal.

Case in point. I read the news today on the website about this actress who had undergone plastic surgery to have her breast enlarged and to give herself a 'six-pack' stomach. This actress, Tara Reid of American Pie, tells her story to US weekly and I take the liberty of reposting it here:

She tells American publication Us Weekly, "I got my breasts done for the first time because my breasts were uneven. I was a 34B, but the right one was always bigger than the left. I weigh 110 pounds now, but I always used to fluctuate by 10 pounds, so my skin was kind of saggy. I figured, 'I'm in Hollywood, I'm getting older, I'm going to fix them.'" The 30-year-old says the operation went wrong from the very beginning saying, "First of all, I asked for big Bs, and he (the doctor) did not give me big Bs. He gave me Cs, and I didn't want them. At all. Right after the surgery, I had some bumps along the edges of my nipples, but the doctor said, 'Don't worry, it's going to be better.' But after six months it started to get worse and worse." The actress says her breast implants made her self-conscious - especially when it came to being intimate. She says, "Guys I was dating would be like, 'What's wrong with them? They look really bad. You know, you should really get them fixed.' So embarrassing. I mean, you definitely need to turn the lights off, that's for sure." Reid also underwent liposuction on her thin frame at the same time to make her muscles appear more sculpted. She says, "I got lipo because even though I was skinny, I wanted - I'm not going to lie - a six-pack. I had body contouring, but it all went wrong. My stomach became the most ripply, bulgy thing." Reid underwent reconstructive surgery last month and has endured a painful recovery, but insists her life is back on track. She adds, "I'll never be perfect again, but I've got my self confidence back."

This woman is 110 pounds. 110 pounds. A woman that slender doesn't need liposuction, period, let alone liposuction that she'll have the appearance of strong stomach muscles. Why not just do some situps, a little bit of jogging, and get it the old-fashioned way, by earning it?

Well, she'll never be perfect again (was she perfect before she had the surgery then? If so, why have it?) but at least she has her self-confidence back. Yeah. Right.

10/16: 1. Fire these folks

A few days ago, Steve Lyons was fired from the broadcast team of the Tigers vs the As because he joked about not wanting to sit close to Lou Pinella, the implication being Lou might want to steal his wallet. He also said tht Pinella was good at "habla-ing" Spanish. (Pinella is of Mexican or Spanish descent.) And he was fired for this. What's the big deal?

Meanwhile, this spinach outbreak of E-coli has killed a few kids and sickened more. Yet in a report given to the newspapers the spokesperson said (and unfortunately I didn't write down his name) "We haven't found the smoking cow yet." (Cow manure coming into contact with spinach is what caused the e coli outbreak.)

And to me, that statement reeks of bad taste. It's a play on words of the "smoking gun" in criminal trials, but to say "smoking cow" when there are children dead because of this just rubbed me the wrong way.

Then, in the October 16, 2006 issue of my local newspaper Daily Press, and I'm sure in papers around the US, the family Circus cartoon is Billy praying: "and thank you for not letting Popeye get sick." This is supposed to be funny? Children die, lots more are sick, and the author of Family Circus thinks its funny for Billy to thank God for not letting Popeye get sick?

Well, that's all of a piece, of course, for religious people who see thousands of people die in a natural disaster. One person survives, because of "the grace of God." Thanks alot, god.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

10/15: 1. Darn power failures

I live in Virgina, not Hawaii, which today I'm happy about. Hope everyone in Hawaii pulls through okay. (For those who don't know, a 6.8 earthquake hit the Big Island this morning. No tsunami, apparently, but buildings on the island were damaged, power out, etc.

Anyway, in my case, for the last week or so it seems like the power goes out at least one a day, for just a few seconds, if that long. Of course everything that's on gets turned off, including my computer, which I always leave on during the day regardless if I'm in front of it or not.

And today, for some reason, the power outage seems to have wiped out my settings for my google home page, so all my space and science newsfeeds have disappeared. And I can't find any way to get them back...which is very annoying and speaks of bad design by somebody...these newsfeed choices should be somewhere where they're easy to see, and they must have been like that at one point otherwise how would I have found them in the first place?

Been spending the day watching football. Cowboys won, which was good, but Owens had a good day, too. Boo, hiss. Vikings had a bye. Redskins lost to the Titans...looks like Vince Young is the real deal. Tonight I'll be switching between the Mets vs St. Louis (unless it gets out of hand early) and the Raiders. I'd really like to see if they ever throw the ball to Randy Moss. That guy has been a real bust for the Raiders, that's for sure.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

10/14 2. Brave New World and 2001: A Space Odyssey

10/14/06 - Saturday

Computers are pretty strange. I have a PC, my dad has a Mac. He did a search earlier today on Old Time Radio, and came across a site called...something, that offered hundreds of MP3s on CD for just a few dollars, and yet when I did the search on my computer, I can’t find it (On my dad's computer, it came up int he listing of 'sponsoring links' for a search of Old Time Radio. On my computer it didn't). There were only 4 science fiction CDs for sale, but they had X Minus One, Space Patrol, Dimension X, and Flash Gordon.

So now I’ll have to wait until tomorrow to get the URL from my dad so I can send off for those shows.

I’m keeping a list of “out of copyright” or “public domain” books available at Gutenberg. There’s quite a few there and I’ve got to start reading them - Jules Verne and Edgar Rice Burroughs of course I’ve read, but H. Rider Haggard, and a few others I have not. I wish I’d named the file PublicDomain.html instead what I did name it - OutofCopyright.html....sounds so stilted.

Mets suck! I hope Tom Glavine can win his game, but pitching on 3 days rest...don’t know... Of course the Mets will have an excuse, Pedro Martinez isn’t available. That’s okay, I’ve never liked Martinez.

Still not in the mood to rewrite my Open Season review, but I’ll do that tomorrow. I’m going to make an effort to put lots of reviews on this blog - mainly of the radio drama I listen to on Radio 7. For example they’re doing 2001 A Space Odyssey now. In 15 minute installments. And they’re doing Brave New World. Interesting that Brave New World - with its horror tale about cloning and people being all alike, is coming true...much more so than George Orwell’s 1984, frankly.

Space headlines
Jupiter's Little Red Spot Growing Stronger – Science Daily

10/14: 1. Review Open Season

Earlier today I had written a review of this movie, which I saw today. It was a long was really going good..I hit the Publish Post button and the website timed out on me so I lost the whole thing. Annoyed me no end.

I'm not in the mood to rewrite it tonight, so I'll just post this pic of Ashton Kucher and Martin Lawrence. The movie's...okay...nothing very original...indeed, not original at all, with lots of bathroom humor (literally)...

Friday, October 13, 2006

10/13: 2. Late night notes

Friday night, Oct 13, 2006

Topics covered in my late night entry:
1) Website
2) General
3) Radio
4) Reviews
5) Issue Notes
6) Space/Ocean Headlines

1) Website

This site on Robots and Automation hasn’t been updated since 2004, but it’s still got some interesting stuff:

2) General
I’ve been watching too much baseball recently - but it’s been fun. I want Detroit to win, and so far they are...and had to watch Glavine pitch yesterday - I’ve always liked Glavine. Today watched all of the first game and most of the second (Mets vs As again.)

When I started re-designing my Clive Francis website, I really got the bug. I have a website for another favorite actor, Conrad Veidt, which I also created many years ago and which is looking like it is...something created by an amateur. So I’m redesigning it also - basically just using the new Francis design...but the CV site has so many more pages it’ll take a while.

3) Radio
I listened to Maurice and His Educated Rodents today at BBC Radio 7 - it’ll be at their website for two more days. It’s really fun. Starts off slow, but picks up speed. It’s written by Terry Pratchett, so it’s clever and thoughtful with characters you care about, even if they are rats.

4) Reviews
I’ve got sooo many books to review. I will be sending off some to my new reviewers. I’m going to start Lives of the Monster Dogs tonight, I think.

5) Issue Notes
Got an article about Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (movie and TV series) yesterday from one of my new guys, and he’s now working on an article about Planet of the Apes. So I’m pleased with him. My other new reveiwer can only review two books a month...well, that’s better than nothing.

6) Space/Ocean Headlines:

Rising Ocean Temperatures, Pollution Have Oysters In Hot Water – Science Daily

Saturn's Rings Show Evidence Of A Modern-Day Collision – Science Daily
Wirefly X Prize Cup: Rocketry Takes Center Stage –
The Orionid Meteor Shower: See the Legacy of Halley's Comet –
Antimatter and matter combine in chemical reaction – New Scientist
A Boost For Solar Cells With Photon Fusion – DailyScience
Flies In A Spider's Web: Galaxy Caught In The Making – DailyScience
Ariane 5 Rocket to Launch Satellite Trio Today –
Mock lunar landers to go head to head in X Prize Cup – Science Daily’
Ariane 5 Rocket Orbits Two Satellites, Antenna Prototype –
Shuttle Discovery's Next Astronaut Crew Examines Spacecraft –
Ariane rocket delivers satellites – BBC News World UK
Shuttle Discovery's Next Astronaut Crew Examines Spacecraft –

New Mammal Species Discovered In Europe – Science Daily
Does Missing Gene Point To Nocturnal Existence For Early Mammals? – DailyScience

10/13: Space headlines for 10/12

Didn't have time to post these last night:

Big-headed 'prehistoric' mouse is alive in Europe — New Scientist
Trouble in Darwin's paradise — New Scientist
Combing the Cosmos at High Speed: The Allen Telescope Array –
Jupiter's Small Spot Changes Hues –
Kamikaze comet ripples Saturn's ring – New Scientist
Cassini Image Shows Saturn Draped In A String Of Pearls – Science Daily
Ad Astra: Taking Spaceflight Into Our Own Hands –
Apollo-Era Mission Control Room Revived For Space Station –
Distant Planet is Half Fire, Half Ice –
Large Galaxy Caught in the Making –
Space Station Gyroscope Powered Down After Glitch –
Astronomers First To Measure Night And Day On Extrasolar Planet – Science Daily

Thursday, October 12, 2006

10:12/ 1. Incoming Books

Revieved the following books to review from Warner Books:

Warrior and Witch, by Marie Brennan. "When a witch is born, a doppelganger is created. For the witch to master her powers, the twin must be killed. Until now..."

DC Universe: Helltown, by Dennis O'Neill. Prose fiction. The Question, Batman, Lady Shiva.

DC Universe: The Trail of Time, by Jeff Mariotte. Prose fiction. Superman, the Phantom Stranger, The Demon. Jonah Hex.

Fledgling, by Octavia Butler. "An unflinching parable about race, identity, and science...a layered family sagaa that embraces the bloodthirsty basics of a vampire thriller."

I'm kind of bummed about this last one...I wanted to get some Octavia Butler to review but I don't like vampire thrillers. Neverthless, I'll give it a fair go, or send it to one of my new reviewers who likes this kind of thing. It's easy, if not enjoyable, to review books in a genre one dislikes, you just read the book on its merits and report on 'em.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

10/11: 2 Space headlines

I'm not in the mood to write my regular blog entry tonight, but I will share the Space headlines. No oceanography headlines today. Anybody surprised?

NASA Jet Bears Nose that Grows for Sonic Boom Tests –
Comet missions reveal striking differences – New Scientist
Difficult atmosphere for finding aliens – New Scientist
Earth's wobble killed off mammal species – New Scientist
Scientists Nudge Closer To The Edge Of A Black Hole – Science Daily
Titan's Surface: Dusty Dunes? –
Saturn's Shadow Sheds Light on Rings –
UP Aerospace Delays Second Suborbital Rocket Launch –
Bizarre "string of pearls" adorns Saturn –

10/11: Predictions on the aftermath of death of Cory Lidle

It turns out Yankee pitcher Cory Lidle was on board the plane that crashed into the New York highrise. My dad, who is a pilot, thinks there must have been mechanical failure, since single engine planes don't normally fly that low...and he mentioned what happened to that golfer..Payne Stewart...who died when his plane lost pressure and the passengers lost consciousness and the plane just kept flying on autopilot until it crashed.

Anyway, terrible for his family, of course, as well as for the family of the instructor and the two other people on the ground who also apparently died.

And now if I may become cynical:

Predictions (which I hope will not come true)
1. Cory Lidle's family will sue the family of the instructor (who obviously didn't teach Lidle well enough) , and the airplane manufacturer, and the facility where the craft was supposed to be maintenanced.

2. The families of the flight instructor, and the two other people who died, will sue Cory Lidle's family, and the plane manufacturer, and the airport they took off from, etc.

3. The owners of the high-rise building will also sue the people listed above.

4. Passers-by on the street will also sue the people listed above, since they were traumatized when they saw it happen.