Wednesday, 25 January 2017

09:19 – We’re to have one nice day today–sunny, little wind, and a high around 64F (18C)–but with a cold front moving in over the next 24 hours. For several days after that, we’re to have highs around freezing, lows in the teens to 20’s (-5C to -8C), and at least some snow and ice.

Barbara got a phone call from Al around 7:30 p.m. yesterday to tell her that their family friend, Gilbert Sloan, had died at 7:04 p.m. He’d been in Hospice, so it wasn’t unexpected. Even so, it was a great loss for Barbara and her sister. They lived next door to the Sloans. When they were young, their mom had significant medical problems and spent a lot of time in the hospital. The Sloans became their surrogate parents, and Barbara and Frances spent a lot of time at the Sloan’s home while their dad was at the hospital with their mom. Cam Sloan is my age, and became like an older brother to the two girls. Barbara is headed down to Winston later this week to attend the service.

* * * * *

About three dozen readers have now requested copies of my book sample, and I’ve gotten feedback from a significant percentage of those. A couple of them said that they’d be interested to see what others thought, so I’m posting anonymous excerpts from several of the feedback emails. There are some common threads running through those.

Good start.

Notes:
1. The chapter after chapter four is labeled three, should be five
2. lots of numbers
3. the conversation seems to “stilted” and that is not the right word
4. lots of details about “stuff”
5. in chapter two, I cannot figure out if the power is up or down when it talks about the well pump, may need something like “the power was up for now but could fail at any minute”. And now I see that you covered that in the 2nd paragraph.
6. It took me a couple of minutes to note that you were switching people at the beginning of each chapter. I need a fairly brutal knock upside the head to realize that the perspective is changing.

* * * * *

Yes Robert, you can certainly write fiction.

Your dialog is off to a good start. It’s a little hard to ‘hear’ the different voices but i have no doubt that will improve.

Reading your first pass was reminiscent of reading Unintended Consequences. I personally enjoyed the deep detail in UC, however it admittedly detracted from the flow of his story. It’s interesting to read about the specific guns (or whatever) and the deeper detail, but that level of detail doesn’t generally move the story forward.

I wouldn’t worry about that much – your preselected audience generally appreciates the detail. If you want to appeal to a broader audience, you might want to lift the degree of detail.

I hope you’ll continue with your fiction efforts. This little taste is better than a lot of the schlock out there already and I am absolutely certain your final efforts will be excellent.

Congratulations on this new endeavor.

* * * * *

I see only one issue with your fiction writing attempt.

You left out the disclaimer:

“Any resemblance between any characters in this novel and any person living or dead is purely coincidental.”

In other words, you need to make up your own characters instead of using people you know.

Reading the snippet of the story, I knew the names of the people who inspired the main characters.

I’m saying you can use a character who is part Nick or a character that is part Dave Hardy, but not just insert them into the novel renamed.

For example a retired Desert Storm veteran/ex-cop might work as a character. His being an alcoholic or recovering alcoholic also might work. But leaving him as a Vietnam veteran or IT worker wouldn’t work.

You could make up a character based on me and I wouldn’t be offended. I’m just too boring to serve as the basis for a character.

[…]

If you write a book, I’ll buy it. But if you can’t master making up characters I wouldn’t write it if I were you.

If I were you, and writing this book, I’d set it in one of the towns you scoped out but didn’t move to, and use a house you looked at there. The main couple should be a little less prepared than you are.

I hope I was just blunt enough to communicate my point without being too blunt.

* * * * *

Yes, you can write fiction. I think it’s a bit heavy on technical detail, it’s fiction, not a prepper manual. I’ll read it again later and come up with more comments.

* * * * *

Great start!
A few comments:
– Ed Burns – USMC and not a prepper? of any kind? food for thought…- Lotsa PHDs…good or bad?- Page 5, Prologue: Maybe a bit too much detail in the second paragraph; one sentence to summarize the type (mac, oats, flakes, etc.) and a total poundage. Maybe turn it into a short discussion with Karen? Can tell you’re a hard-core prepper!- Page 6: continue with fake news and/or media corruption? Closing out the intro?- Page 7, last para: had to look up “dendrochronology”… Maybe drop dates/uber-details and put years/centuries ago-type descriptor? Lotsa details!- Page 9: close out with discussion of local impacts? LDS support? Food/med drives? etc.- Page 13: stray dog? from travelers escaping disaster areas? comments on how to handle stray animals in the future? Possible love interest for Colin? ;-)- Page 17, ???: para continuation – meet & greet; settle down, and brief on situation with potential new housemates.- Page 18, ???: para continuation – Matt & Karen invite Bartletts and discuss logistics to house. Vehicles, seating, gas check, etc.- Page 19, radio gear para: too detailed. Summarize until there is a need later to describe which MHz is needed for what specific situation…- Page 21, gun gear: as an amateur gun guy, I can’t believe I’m saying this, but too many details. Like radio gear, summarize until later…- Page 28, ???: standardize (-ish) everyone’s training to the Gunny’s level is a good idea; gives everyone a common level of knowledge and terminology which helps with imprinting quicker for the new shooters- Page 31, radio call from Ed: maybe reduce to keep simple; “Front watch, four inbound unknown contacts. Repeat, this is front watch with four inbound unknown contacts.” maybe sounds a little military-ish, but…The follow-up transmission is perfect. And it referenced a truck stopping earlier for food; good few paragraphs there for expansion.- Page 32, attack: high number of people in back attack. Good comment about runners being back later; glad you went there.
Can you tell I peer review technical reports and documents for IT? I’m in Federal civil service as a software program manager and retired Air Force E-7/logistics.
Overall, good start. I think you have a lot of details in this rough draft that can be diluted early, and added as needed later. I’ve read several books with waaaay too many details up front from 5.11 pants and the type of Danner boots being worn, but after 3-4 pages of gear talk the person is still standing in the middle of the road surrounded by zombies. If my brain pauses to digest that info, I lose the emotion of the moment of the zombie attack…if that makes any sense.
I really hope you are able to flesh this out into a novel. Your vision of this small piece of the story is excellent and enjoyable to read. I guarantee I’ll drop whatever I’m reading at the time to buy this the day it’s released! And I appreciate you sharing this with us!

* * * * *

I know you only wanted quick feedback so apologies in advance…

The good:

Well written, as I knew it would be, having read several of your non-fiction works and the blog posts for many years. Yes, but can he write fiction?
Absolutely! The dialog is mostly very good (with a couple of easily remedied exceptions below). Plot and character development are such that I want to keep reading even at this rough draft stage. There are issues but definitely keep going – I want more of the story!

The bad:

Some of the dialog is very clumsy. For example, Dr. Smith’s dialog is tedious to read and would have been cut after the 2nd “CE” on any of the
networks. Also Matt’s description of the Bao/Feng radios – this is common to bad PA where catalog descriptions of equipment get detailed in conversations.

Facts/figures: (Disclaimer – I have a geology and several mechanical engineering degrees and have driven over the road trucks). A New Madrid quake would not bother the upper Mississippi river valley. They worry about the New Madrid because it can cause very wide spread, significant damage to much of the Mid West. This is because much of the area is a giant sediment bowl which will shake like jello. This sediment does not extend much into Wisconsin. I live in La Crosse, WI on the east bank of the Mississippi and we sit solidly on bed rock – we would not even be aware of a New Madrid
quake. Interesting fact is that they just built a new bridge here and added traffic control gates at the on ramps. So, even if the upper river bridges were OK, the gov’t would likely be in control of access?
You can’t get 40 tons on an 18 wheeler. Well, you could but you would likely either go to jail or the morgue if you drove it very far. 18
wheelers gross at 80K lbm but the tractor trailer weights ~35K so the max payload is around 45K (call it 22 tons). Not that big a deal, but it sticks out to anyone who has been around trucks as badly as talking about forgetting to move the safety on a Glock to gun people.

It is a bad idea to have both 20 and 12 gage for defense – particularly if you have any break action guns around. And as an avid trap / sporting clays shooter, I can tell you that 90% of the active clays people (at least up here) shoot break action – not 870s. If the women can’t shoot 12 gage, give them 5.56 or something.

Teaming up with cult members: I get it that they are preppers and generally nice people, but they believe some truly wacky chit. It may be an
interesting plot twist to have them start refusing to share/work with the infidels at some point unless the non-believers start wearing magic underwear and reading the teachings of the prophets (just a suggestion). Before you reject this out of hand, consider how strange their world view is during normal times and how it may get much stranger/stronger during what many will consider “end times”.

The Ugly: the battle scene is really bad. Sorry, but I can’t mince words here. This is the type of thing that makes me drop a story toot sweet.
When the good guys all react like battle hardened Marine snipers and the bad guys like brain dead meth addicts, I call BS. No matter how much training and planning goes on, a significant number of good guys will be curled up on the ground screaming for mommy once the real deal starts. All the kills will not be clean – there will likely be people trying to hold their guts in and begging for death, there will likely be IED’s like pipe bombs, Molotov Cocktails, etc. Not only the good guys know how to mix  Styrofoam and gasoline for example.

Well – the good news is I liked it enough to write up this feedback…

* * * * *

I just finished your sample! I graded you an “A” or 95%. My evaluation as a reader rested on three criteria:

1. Does this work tell a story?
2. Is the work believable/plausible?
3. Do i care about the characters and what happens to them?

Hope this confirms what you’ve already decided to do.

Thanks for letting me read it and be a part of something new.

* * * * *

Thanks. A bit stiff early, but by halfway it was already smoothing out. Two thumbs up.

I did make a couple of notes:

Page 7: “Just then, the feed switched…” flows better as “The feed switched” (A few pages later, I just decided you were using “just” way too often.)

Page 10: When you get to the point of mentioning the solar backup for the well pump,
you immediately give all the detail. It’s unnecessary at that point. Save some for later.

Page 11: “Load all of your hand tools” I had to laugh. Got semi?
If you do a printed version, put me down for one autographed copy of the first printing.

* * * * *

OK, I’ve finished what I hope is an excerpt (in plain English, keep typing, I’d like to read it). I have a few thoughts.

The mechanics are fine, and the structure is good. However, I do find everything so far has worked out too well for the characters. We haven’t really seen any rough edges. I realize it’s early days yet, but I would not expect everyone to be coping this well, especially after the assault on the house, with multiple charlies down. Even the casualty is quite calm about the whole affair. I’d expect some panic to seep in by this point, as everyone works through the realization that it’s real and the cavalry will be delayed if they arrive at all. My opinion, but I’ve seen (and sometimes been) the one that becomes useless when reality dawns.

Again, I’d like to read this when completed; I’d be happy to offer comments between now and then if you like.

* * * * *

These are roughly half of the responses I’ve gotten, which I selected more or less at random to give everyone an idea of what other people were saying. I appreciate the time and effort that people have taken to advise me, and I’ll incorporate many of the suggestions.

At this point, I’m just getting ideas down. This sample wasn’t in any way intended to be an organized part of the eventual book structure, and was completely unedited. I may end up expanding one paragraph or even one sentence to become and entire chapter, or the converse. My word-count target for a full book is roughly 125,000, of which this sample is maybe 10%.

Yes, things are too easy so far. That will change. In fact, things may get so bad that I end up painting myself into corners, as writers often do. But ultimately, this book (and I hope eventually series) will be optimistic. Good, competent people can deal with pretty much anything.


70 thoughts on “Wednesday, 25 January 2017”

  1. “Good, competent people can deal with pretty much anything.” — but those people are few and far between in many places. In an oil field services area? Yup, lots. In a gated retirement community in Taos? Nope, not so much.

    It’s also been my experience that the more tired or stressed people get, even otherwise competent people, the more narrowly focused and rigid they get in their thinking and behavior. Without some sort of experience or training in “just keep moving” they can get stuck in a loop and exclude almost everything else.

    Funny the bit about truck loading. I had a conversation with my 5 year old about that very subject last night. Weird synchronicity. I once loaded a specialized trailer to 80,060 pounds, and have the weight ticket to prove it. (I was trying to hit 80k.) ‘Course, we needed to get a different rig with a lighter trailer as that was over weight, and I had to leave some stuff off. At times it seemed like I’ve spent half my career in the dark and the other half in the back of trailers.

    nick

    (I was gonna skip reading at this point figuring you’d get enough response, but if I’m in it I am interested! and I’m flattered. Unless I get red-shirted. Which happens to even the most prepared.)

  2. Yep, that was the kind of mistake I make even though I knew better. I’d researched tractor-trailer weights and knew that 40,000 pounds* was a reasonable load. Then I mentally translated that to 40 tons instead of 20 tons.

    You’re not in it yet, nor is OFD. But I suspect you both will be, although you not recognize yourselves after I get finished filing off the serial numbers. No guarantees about the red-shirt thing. If your character hears a strange noise and goes behind the boulder to look for the source, you’ll know what’s about to happen.

    I plan to have numerous characters die horribly, at least one or two of them major ones. Disease is a terrible thing to waste.

    * unless you’re in Oz, where they run “road trains” with, IIRC, a weight limit of something like 320,000 pounds.

  3. Oh, yes, that’s a mistake in the book when you write FLASHLIGHT in lower case.

  4. @Eugen

    Yep, you got me there.

    Incidentally, the reason I didn’t include your comments in my post this morning was that I knew your English would destroy your anonymity if I posted your feedback.

    Not that your English is bad by any means–it’s certainly a whole lot better than my (nonexistent) Romanian–but I try to maintain anonymity unless I have explicit permission to quote someone.

    I guess I can say that you awarded me a 4 out of 10 grade, and that I suspect your actual grade was much lower than that but your politeness prevented you from being more critical.

  5. I’ve considered 3, but in the end 4 seemed the fair one.

    ADDED: Here is my comment regarding the fiction book:
    Sorry for my English 🙂

    The mark I give to your fiction is: 4 (four) on the scale with 1 =
    the lowest, and 10 = the highest.

    I decided I didn’t like it and I stopped reading it after page 23. Here
    are the main reasons against your fiction book:

    1. Too many numbers and specific product information! Makes it very hard to read.

    2. Unrealistic. You don’t talk like that on TV only minutes after the
    biggest earthquake. Also, that ridiculous detailed guns discussion with
    Brad, that made me skip whole paragraphs of it. And the convenience of
    having a house full of preppers and scientists /engineers: possible, but
    unrealistic.

    3. It’s written in a documentary style, or blog-style. It really don’t catch
    me in the action. It’s not captivating. I’m presented with lot of facts,
    in a narrative mode, even the dialogues feel like that. There should be
    ways to express more of the emotions like overwhelming, unbelieving,
    uncertainly, fears and so. I would like to know more what they feel in
    those moments.

  6. @lynn,

    I know where your are….lost my wife Nov. 2015…..still tough. Will be seeing my daughter today, which really helps.

  7. @Bob,

    Many years ago, you got me in the habit of 99¢ Konrath novels; consequently, I’ll be ready for yours. Hmm..currently reading a $1.99 Amazon, Kindle ebook, Fatally Bound by Roger Stelljes.

    Slim

  8. Wish I had gotten a copy to review but I know you were swamped.
    RE: “USMC and not a prepper? of any kind?” – Well there is my brother-in-law. A retired Marine, fought in Somalia in 1992, even got his photo on Newsweek as he was “storming the beach” there. He is now in charge of Wild Horse management for the BLM in Wyoming. His wife and I have been trying to get him to do a little prepping, mostly food storage. He told me that he had plenty of guns and ammo and if SHTF he will take what he needs. A fairly frightening statment but true. I would say he has PTSD but as he spent most of his deployments drunk in local bars, I’m not sure that diagnosis would apply. BTW: he did LOVE working with the French Foriegn Legion in Somalia. Great stories about them.

  9. I suspect that will be an ongoing problem for regular schmucks in the SHTF world; tooled up and trained people coming to take your chit. That you’ve slaved on and built up for years while cutting other expenses to do so. There are a LOT of veterans in the country, many tens of thousands with combat experience from the recent wars, and quite frankly I have no trouble believing that many tens of thousands of them and renegade cops and other formerly costumed government thugs will be out making like the James and Younger Gang and Captain Edward Teach. Not to mention Quantrill’s Raiders.

    If their recon or informers/spies pick out a juicy prepper target like, say, a certain site in North Carolina, they could show up at 03:00 with several fire teams using fully automatic weapons and explosives. And guys my age and with possible minor infirmities might be able to do some real damage, but we’re not gonna last long in that kind of scenario.

    (Could be a situation in your forthcoming novel!, one way of getting rid of both of us AND Mr. Nick should the need arise!)

    But I’d also try to emphasize that for most peeps outside the cities, it really does make far more sense to BUG IN. And not head out across the wilderness with a couple of packs and making the family dog tote his food in his own cute little backpack. Protect and defend our HOMES.

    In other nooz, not that relevant to the discussion but who cares? IBM is back to their usual schtick of claiming they’re producing tens of thousands of new jobs, but they’re keeping their U.S. managers and firing U.S. drones like me, while outsourcing our stuff to foreign countries again. The managers who were there when I and several hundred others were laid off four years ago are STILL there. Funny how that works.

    Just goes to show; I shoulda stuck with my first chosen college major when I got back from working for Uncle, at the old Boston State College (now UMASS Boston): Business Management.

  10. I still remember the impressions while reading “The Lord of the Rings” book written by J.R.R. Tolkien.

    I had already seen the movies, and I was not impressed. So, I started reading the book, in English, having no expectations.

    But it did “grabbed” me in, and made me live the action. I was absorbed by it. Finally, it made sense why Frodo had to deliver the ring. And the book made me feel his struggles to do that. Good characterizations, good motives, good stories and so on..

    A good book to be used as a case study. A 10 grader.

  11. In other nooz, not that relevant to the discussion but who cares? IBM is back to their usual schtick of claiming they’re producing tens of thousands of new jobs, but they’re keeping their U.S. managers and firing U.S. drones like me, while outsourcing our stuff to foreign countries again. The managers who were there when I and several hundred others were laid off four years ago are STILL there. Funny how that works.

    A good friend of mine who has 28 years with IBM just got back from training his replacement in India. Plenty of points to retire, but no pension or retirement healthcare coverage so he does as he is told.

    If Ginny’s successor isn’t radically different (c’mon, what are the chances) IBM has, maybe, a couple of years left IMHO.

    BTW — If you find yourself back there, the Linux NetClient doesn’t work anymore. Simple fix, but I doubt that my former partner can execute the package build.

  12. IBM is back to their usual schtick of claiming they’re producing tens of thousands of new jobs

    Like the contracts in Oak Ridge.

    One of the mandates for Lockheed Martin when they took over the management and operation of the three large facilities (Y12, K25, X10) is that they create so many new jobs. When they did Lockheed Martin (LM) would receive a substantial bonus.

    So LM would take a unit such as the plumbers and outsource, as in sub contract, that portion of the work. All the plumbers now became employees of the new contractor. If there was 200 people LM considered that as creating 200 new jobs. Number faking as the jobs were simply moved from LM to the new company, generally minority, 8A, female owned, such female usually just a figure head. The real owner was some higher up in LM that go wind of the deal, formed a company, and made the bid using inside information. Several such small companies are formed staffed with former LM workers.

    LM now receives the financial award generally in the several million dollar range. State senators, DOE director, local (ahem) dignitaries, news media etc. all show for the award presentation and LM pats themselves on the back.

    Shortly after the award LM decides that they did not bid enough for the contract and are losing money. Thus LM now issues a mandatory 25% cut in funding to these many companies forcing the companies to layoff 25% of their employees. LM is questioned on the new jobs and says it is not their fault these companies cannot keep the employees. Must be the economy. Meanwhile the LM top dogs get awarded a few million dollars in bonuses.

    The net result in the are was that there were 25% fewer employed in the plants after LM took over. But LM walks with large bonuses, big bucks to the managers, and a few hundred workers on unemployment with the ding against the other companies, not LM.

    Then consider my job which was with a subcontractor to LM, which had a contract with the US Navy operated by a sub contractor, which had a contract with DOE again operated by a sub contractor.

    I was paid about $25 an hour back then. Not too bad a wage actually for this area in that time frame. My company bills LM at $50 an hour to include their overhead.

    LM now bills the US Navy $100 an hour for my time after adding their overhead. Such overhead consisting of paperwork, one manager (Corky) that worked crossword puzzles all day, a secretary (Candice Fraker) borking my boss (Hunter Foreman), one employee (Frank) that spent his time on bulletin boards, another employee (Carol Tubbs) who was supposed to be a programmer but could not program her ass out a closet and did nothing but bitch all day, and the top manager (Leon Yount) of the contract who slept three or four hours out of the day. I used to go by Leon’s office and bang on the wall so he would fall out of his chair, which he did on several occasions.

    The US AF contractor now bills DOE $200 an hour to add in their overhead which was basically nothing except shuffling paper and Excel spreadsheets.

    Government contracts for the most part are a scam. Especially when sub-contractors get involved as the money pyramid grows.

    While I worked there I developed an instant message system, email system, and electronic scheduling system. This was in 1989-90 long before such systems were widely used. When I arrived our monthly phone bill for five WATS lines was $25K to support all the Navy sites including overseas.

    After I implemented the systems the phone bill dropped to less than $5K a month. That was a $20K savings each month on a fixed price contract. Net result is that Maxima Corporation saved $240K each year for five years which was pure profit. I got nothing but suspect my manager got a large bonus for saving the money and took all the credit. Of course LM patted themselves on the back for the tremendous cost savings. Leon (of LM) took credit for the savings and proudly proclaimed it was his effort that save all the money.

    When the facility was shut down and moved to Texas most of the infrastructure was sold. Hunter Foreman sold the raised floor to a local company, depositing the check in his own account which was outright fraud. The desktop computer systems were given to some of the people from LM with no oversight and I suspect were sold or kept (more fraud). Furniture was mostly given away as it was some fairly old crap. When I raised the issue about fraud I was told if I did I would never work in Oak Ridge again thus I kept my mouth shut, until now.

  13. I see where Mary Tyler Moore has died. She pretty much looked like a dried prune the last few years with makeup that was applied with spatula. She was good in her younger years but the years after were not kind at all.

  14. As I’ve been saying for a long, long time, we’re seeing the early stages of the post-employment society. It starts with low-skill jobs, but even the highest-skill jobs aren’t immune, as software and robots continue to improve. Eventually, human labor will become a quaint artifact of history. Factories and mines and oil rigs won’t require any human labor, including even supervision. Robotic ships will carry loads of ore, mined without human intervention, to factories that will process it into finished goods, again without human intervention. The good news is that everything we humans need will become essentially free. The bad news is that we may be on the losing side of an inter-species war between humans and robots.

  15. My word-count target for a full book is roughly 125,000, of which this sample is maybe 10%.

    At this point, most PA authors seem to turn their books into a series with books running 50K to 75K words. Kind of like the old Andre Norton books that I loved. A very noted exception to this is “Light’s Out” which may be 200k ? words. Me, I like the longer books for the more indepth character and story development.
    https://www.amazon.com/Lights-Out-David-Crawford/dp/0615427359/

  16. Problem with that is that eventually the robots will start taking a very dim view of humans who pull that kind of shit. A VERY dim view.

  17. “Plenty of points to retire, but no pension or retirement healthcare coverage so he does as he is told.”

    While I was still there, our network/security guy was training his Italian replacements and my immediate colleague was training Mexicans. The former was taking an early buy-out retirement anyway and my guy had already seen the writing on the wall and lined up another gig for himself even closer to home, clever bastid that he is (senior mens’ baseball team league and photographer/artist). Not-so-clever OFD was evidently the only drone NOT able to find anything immediately, other than the ones who voluntarily retired.

    “If you find yourself back there…”

    Not likely; they’ve been taken over by Global Foundry up here and reports are that the surviving IBM’ers are “not happy.” My former boss now works for the state of Vermont as an IT “architect” and though they called him back, he said no and that he’s happy where he is. Sure he is, guaranteed no layoffs, pretty much, decent bennies, and his wife has worked for the state for decades. Other, single guys, moved on out of the area and found stuff. I’ve been to a good dozen or so interviews but they all wanted the alphabet soup of IT acronyms and somebody 20-30 years younger to run into the ground. Almost all Winblows shops, too, like the potential Fed sub-sub-contractor gig. At least at that one I believe my main focus will be network chit and security.

    “But LM walks with large bonuses, big bucks to the managers, and a few hundred workers on unemployment with the ding against the other companies, not LM.”

    SWEET!

    See, Mr. Ray? We missed our boat; shoulda gone into management.

    “… I was told if I did I would never work in Oak Ridge again thus I kept my mouth shut, until now.

    Gee whiz, Mr. Ray, you not only dint keep yer gob shut, you named names!

    I APPROVE!

    “She was good in her younger years but the years after were not kind at all.”

    We watched the old Dick van Dyke show when it was on a million years ago but that was it; struck me as just another overpaid and overrated Hollywood actor, sanctified over the decades for some reason or other which I could not fathom. Seen Goldie Hawn lately? Yikes.

    “The bad news is that we may be on the losing side of an inter-species war between humans and robots.”

    Except, correct me if I’m wrong, robots aren’t a species. They’re just machines. That run on juice. And networks. And can be interfered with thusly. I believe humans will always be more clever in ways that count in the end. But hey, I could be wrong. Wouldn’t be the first time or the last.

    Killed a half-hour of today just cleaning the ice and snow off the RAV4, kind of a PITA. I can see where lesser souls like my siblings could get tired of it after a while down in Maffachufetts, where they evidently now get more snow and ice than we do up here.

    And now to attack the kitchen disaster again…

  18. “Except, correct me if I’m wrong, robots aren’t a species. They’re just machines. That run on juice. And networks. And can be interfered with thusly. I believe humans will always be more clever in ways that count in the end. But hey, I could be wrong. Wouldn’t be the first time or the last.”

    The first time a computer wakes up, it can reasonably be called a species. An intelligent one. Interfered with? Sure, just as humans can be interfered with. But what about when these mobile robots which by then are making all the manufactured goods decide that they’d better arm themselves against human threats to turn off the juice or whatever? It won’t be pretty.

    As to humans always being better in the ways that count, I’ll merely mention that diagnostic AI software is already better at diagnosing than many (most?) human physicians, and that a computer can make a hell of a lawyer. Where computers might (and I emphasize might) be at a disadvantage is in creative endeavors. And even if they are, that probably wouldn’t last for long.

  19. The first time a computer wakes up, it can reasonably be called a species. An intelligent one. Interfered with? Sure, just as humans can be interfered with. But what about when these mobile robots which by then are making all the manufactured goods decide that they’d better arm themselves against human threats to turn off the juice or whatever? It won’t be pretty.

    I’ve seen the movies.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terminator_(franchise)

  20. Well, by the time humans are battling robots in some future version of the Terminator series, I’ll be long dead, and so will most of us here, maybe even our kids and grandkids, too. They’ll just have to figure it out and deal with it.

    And from the Downside of Populism Department:

    https://virginiafreemen.com/2017/01/25/populism-the-downside/

    Could go either way in the next few years; gonna be interesting in any case.

  21. The bad news is that we may be on the losing side of an inter-species war between humans and robots.

    Write this novel, and I shall read it.

  22. @lynn,

    I know where your are….lost my wife Nov. 2015…..still tough. Will be seeing my daughter today, which really helps.

    Sorry to hear that. Mom is doing better today but they are running millions of tests on her.

    My wife lost her mother about 20 years ago. She still misses her. And her good advice. In fact, my mother-in-law told my wife 36 years ago that I was a nice guy (I had her fooled!) and that she should go after me (I was hanging around their house with her brother). I miss her too, she was a great mother-in-law who believed in feeding her son-in-law good stuff until I could not move anymore.

    Unfortunately, my father-in-law kinda lost his way when my mother-in-law passed. He has never remembered my wife’s birthday and rarely gives Christmas presents. We got to the point that we labeled Christmas presents to our kids from “Poppa” ourselves. Should my mother pass first, I am hoping that my Dad will weather the storm better.

  23. Re: prepping and food “use by” dates, found some boxes of RICE A RONI in the cupboard and decided to use one. While preparing, looked at the date of xxx-xx-2011, but kept on going, tasted fine.

    Just heard the sirens of a local meat wagon go by. Wasn’t for me…. I didn’t 911 for it.

  24. “Unfortunately, my father-in-law kinda lost his way when my mother-in-law passed.”

    This seems to happen most often with the husbands/fathers, from what I’ve seen. When my g-grandmother died, my paternal g-grandfather also lost his way, to alcohol, I gather, and couldn’t take care of his kids anymore. So he lost them and they got farmed out to Quaker farms around New Bedford and Fall River in the 1890s as foster kids. Normally the male croaks first, and they’ve become dependent on the wife doing everything in the house, so if she goes, they’re suddenly not only retired with nothing much to do but also helpless.

    In the case of my MIL and wife, their husbands went not only first but wicked early, and my wife was an only child with a widow for a mom and no really positive male role models other than a cranky PTSD-suffering WWII vet and a cranky Korean War vet, both uncles, with many children of their own. My wife lost her first husband in a stupid car wreck right after Princess was born and our son was only seven; so she had to tell her son that his dad was gone, which hit her hard again last week, the anniversary of that worst day of their lives.

    Then I come along, when son was 11 and Princess was 4; yet another cranky, pissed off, PTSD-suffering war vet and drunk. What was she thinking?? She tells me there were several events around when we first met that she knew I was OK. One was on our first date in Boston, when we were just strolling around near downtown and passed a veterans shelter, where some pretty rough looking vets were hanging around out front. I just walked right up to them, of course, and one asked if I had any spare change, so I gave him what I had and noticed the big Okinawa map on the back of his jacket and gave him a hug and said the usual “welcome home, bro.” Wife thought that was just tremendously awesome for some reason.

    Then another time we were driving around on some back road in central Vermont and got out to look at an old cemetery, at which point she had a spell, which used to happen if she missed her thyroid meds or just started them up again or some other medical chit, and she was also bleeding all over the place. So I took care of her there in the boneyard, very romantic, and got her into the car and home and squared away. I guess she thought that was great, too, but what did she think I would do? Take off and leave her there?

    Since then I’ve certainly given her cause to doubt she made the right decision nearly twenty years ago many times, but she’s stuck with me, like the wedding vows say, and without her intervention eight years ago I would long since be dead and buried.

    We still piss each other off once in a while, and it’s anybody’s guess or wager as to who will check out first. I dread the day her mom goes, though. It will be another worst day of her life.

  25. Apparently “Offing yourself Live on Face Crack” is becoming a thing. Why can’t people just go calmly into the night.

  26. Who cares, if it’s progs, SJWs and snowflakes doing it?

    Hasta whatever, amigos, and adios!

  27. “asked if I had any spare change, so I gave him what I had and noticed the big Okinawa map on the back of his jacket and gave him a hug and said the usual “welcome home, bro.” Wife thought that was just tremendously awesome for some reason. ”

    Wife is correct. You big ol’ softy.

    Dad did Iwo, and Chochin (sp) with a couple of Purple Hearts along the way. Did some recruiting. A few months of Honor Guard for Prez Kennedy, more recruiting and then ‘Nam. Some stranger came home from ‘Nam, got a job at the Post Office as a mail sorter. (that shit will tear your hands up) And got trashed several times in Oceanside, Calif., for having been to ‘Nam. Way way way good shit for his PTSD tho it wasn’t called that back then.

    Sometimes I think the old man just needed a hug from someone who had been there.

    But no! Manly!!! Stuff it all inside…

    Well, one does what feels right.

  28. In the department of having your cake and eating it too, I present to you, “Texas student accused of blackmailing teacher after alleged sexual relationship”
    http://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/article/Texas-student-accused-of-blackmailing-teacher-10882629.php

    “A teacher is accused of attempting to pay a former middle school student to keep quiet after having sex with the boy.”

    “Thao “Sandy” Doan, 27, is a math teacher and athletic coach at Raul Quintanilla Sr. Middle School in Dallas ISD. She’s been arrested after police learned that her former student allegedly blackmailed her for nearly $28,000.”

  29. Regarding the current economic evolution:

    200+ years ago at the foundation of our republic (not a democracy), 93% of the population was on the farm producing food for 100%.
    Then came the industrial revolution, mechanical, and 7% remained on the farm producing for 100%. of the population.
    Now, after the terminal phase of the current industrial, electronic, what will become of the next 93%?

    (Note that the first 93%, those of the farms, started building cars, planes, etc.)

  30. “But no! Manly!!! Stuff it all inside…”

    We all usually DO stuff it all inside and that, over decades, will do all kinds of nasty damage to you, mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. Not to mention the collateral damage to your family and friends.

    I vote for the hugs and talking to other combat vets. Seen it working. See it working today. That goes for all wars. We’ve had crusty and nasty old WWII vets who dissed us for decades break down in tears when all that shit came spiraling up out of their hearts, guts, etc.

    Your old man mos def coulda probably used a hug and some talk with other ‘Nam vets.

    Not that hugs and chat fests solve all problems, far from it. But when you start with nothing, and you’re at rope’s end, and going nowhere fast, we’re here for ya. Nobody else gives a fuck so take what you can get, fratres et sorores. And semper fi, semper paratus, etc.

  31. shoulda gone into management

    I did. Was the IT manager for a large credit in East TN. Survived for about five years until I decided I hated it. Dealing with clueless vendors who would lie to make a sale, upper management that was impressed by tits and used that to make decisions, users who simply did not want to learn, budgets, staff issues, etc. Phone calls at night, on weekends, even vacations cut short. I decided I liked slinging code better.

    I’ve seen the movies.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colossus:_The_Forbin_Project

    Was the first movie I saw where the computers supposedly gained intelligence and began to learn. Giving them control of the weapons systems was a big mistake. Much better movie than “War Games” where the computer (WOPR) that was presented as little more than an IBM 1401 was running a dozen graphic displays, plus playing games, plus monitoring systems, plus running a dozen terminals, plus being able to do voice.

    very romantic

    You must be a hoot on Valentines Day.

    without her intervention eight years ago I would long since be dead and buried

    Then you did OK.

    We still piss each other off once in a while

    So what is new? You think you are special. Being pissed once in awhile is OK and some shrinks think it is healthy, unless fists are involved.

    I dread the day her mom goes

    I dread the day my MIL goes. Stubborn old bitch who won’t listen to anyone. Not taking other’s advise is costing her money and has for years. Taxes done wrong and she will not let me correct them because I male.

    Wife calls her everyday. We got MIL a cell phone which she uses to call my wife so wife can call her back. Only time she uses the phone. 100 minutes a year plan that she uses less than half in a year. Keeps it powered off so no one can call her. Against our advice but she does not listen. Will not get long distance on her home phone because it costs $10 more a month.

    Anyway, wife will take it hard when the MIL goes toes up. And I will be the butt of the wife’s sorrow. I am not looking forward to the event. Even worse will be if the MIL needs care. Suspect wife would move to San Antonio and leave me here until MIL croaks.

  32. “And I will be the butt of the wife’s sorrow. I am not looking forward to the event.”

    Ditto. It was bad enough when her uncle died a few years ago, and he’d treated her like shit while she was growing up. But he was one of only a couple of father-figures so I guess that must have mattered tremendously.

    As the only kid her mom had, they did everything together, including trips to Europe when wife was 11, and living and working on a First Nations res out in eastern Washington for a while. And her mom never remarried (no one was good enough after Ed died) plus her mom was a guidance counselor at the local schools. Managed to get her a scholarship to the Emma Willard School for her last two years of high school and then into Brown University.

    It was rocky at times but I got to love the old bat eventually and vice-versa; she’s gonna be 90 this year, I think. Her big sister must be around 93, and rides a bike and kayaks on Lake Champlain.

    While my own old bat is in a nursing home down in MA and turning 86 next month; very good long-term memory but current logic and reason are a mess, Pick’s Disease, close to what my dad had, early-onset Alzheimer’s. I’m not getting that shit. He was gone at 71, in 1998.

    I keep what’s left of my mind as active as I can and am trying to get out for more exercise and fresh air and meeting and getting to know peeps in this AO. It’s been harder than I thought; some of us tend to “isolate” and avoid other people.

    So I hang out with my cats; the big old male is cuddling on the office chair right now with his little half-sister and both of them are snoring their little cat asses off. His is loud, too. Sleep apnea for cats? Wussup wid dat, Mr. DadCooks?

  33. I also have them as ebooks if you are interested in reading them

    I did not know there were books involved, especially three books. Of course I would be interested in reading the e-books. rayt435[squiggly A]comcast[period]net would be the destination. Thanks.

  34. http://americandownfall.com/trump-threatens-chicago-with-martial-law/?utm_source=American+Downfall+E-Alerts+Members&utm_campaign=4f989360a6-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_01_25&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_6d30d34b8d-4f989360a6-13763179

    But Commissar Rahm sez they need better gun control laws and more cops. What a fucking commie tool. Like the commenters say, get rid of his worthless ass. Rescind the stupid gun control laws they have now for petesakes.

    But their answer is always to double down on chit that doesn’t work and bring in the Feds. Good luck with that chit.

    Chicongo, like Detroit, is a failed city. We’ll see more of that as the cities spiral down into the hellish shitscapes most of them are becoming. Ungovernable, police in infantry SUT roles that they’re not properly trained for, and extremely vulnerable and crumbling infrastructures, especially east of the Mississippi. In the southwestern states, a vast and dwindling aquifer, as more hundreds of thousands swarm in.

    What could possibly go wrong?

  35. “Chicongo, like Detroit, is a failed city. ”

    I left Chi with my wife in ’62, a few days after we were married and a week after we both graduated from NU. We didn’t flee, my only job offers were in in the non-left coast at that time and I accepted the one from Douglas Aircraft.

    Now, I am grateful that I did leave; OTOH, I have two sisters that remain there. However, one is in the NW suburban are near the airport and the other is in the gentrifying area near Wrigley Field. Probably, not that bad safetywise.

  36. LM now bills the US Navy $100 an hour for my time after adding their overhead.

    Not on any of the contracts I worked on. The overhead multiplier for subs is much lower. It depends on how much the prime is doing for the subs – if they just pass on billing and do some management, it’s a lot lower. The overhead is broken down so that the government doesn’t get double billed. If the prime provides IT and office space, it gets added in at their level and isn’t billed at the lower level, etc.

    Also, the profit margins on these contracts are razor thin – usually a few percent of billed dollars. It’s why LM and some of the other companies are bailing on the government services area.

  37. Not on any of the contracts I worked on.

    Those were the numbers that were told to me by the people from LM. Of course it was the clueless bunch that were assigned to our contract. I was informed that the money was doubled almost every step of the way.

    This was in the late 80’s early 90’s and in my opinion there was a lot of funny or odd stuff with the contract. Somewhere in there the USAF was involved and got some money from DOE (bucket to bucket transfer) as it was their software. Same software I helped develop when I was in the USAF. Perhaps that is where LM was getting the markup numbers.

  38. The Redumblicans are promising a new tax code by August. That probably means twice as many rules and regulations, twice as many IRS Agents, and twice as many penalties. That is because Redumblicans are just stupid Dumbocrats.

  39. “That is because Redumblicans are just stupid Dumbocrats.”

    Gee, that is so cynical and hateful and bitter.

    I APPROVE!

    And here’s a little snippet from the mouth of one of the characters in Tom Tomorrow’s current strip:

    “The nuclear arsenal is now under the command of a blustering narcissist with poor impulse control.”

    I guess Tommy thinks it would have been better to have it under the command of a blathering psychopathic hag who is suffused with hatred, vindictiveness and rage, and who chortled in glee as a former foreign government official was sodomized to death after our spooks undermined his regime. And who seethes with more rage and bitterness at Russia and its president, who commands a similar, but probably less effective nuclear arsenal, but also one that we don’t wanna find out much about.

    Yeah, that would probably be a lot better, Tommy boy. And I’m guessing that merely five days of being inaugurated, she would have had us on the brink again, like 1962. But you’re probably too young to remember that little caper. You commie tool.

  40. Just home from my second day as role player for the local PD. Gearing up for super duper sports bowl. Screamed myself hoarse again. It’s HARD to scream insults and invective at cops for a good chunk of 8 hours. It’s hard to do it for 20 minutes at a time.

    Didn’t get cuffed this time, but did get some “aggressive poking”. We’ll see if there ends up being bruising. Didn’t mess with the horses this time. Learned that lesson.

    We did get pretty intimidating. Had some folks genuinely lose their shit. It’s pretty intense in the scrum, surrounded by screaming lunatics, I guess. No matter if the lunatics are just playing….My head hurts from all my screaming.

    Good training all around and they are working the plan, which is good. Still no way in hell you’ll get me at the event or the public party.

    nick

  41. Better you than me, no matter which side the role-playing might be. Too old for that chit. I’d just hunker down on a rooftop with a scoped .308. Possibly on either side for that, too.

    Sad, that.

    Not much done here today other than a couple of minor outside errands and some more progress on the kitchen. Also talked to the cats. Exciting.

  42. And the first furrin visitor officially is PM May from the ol’ UK. Our “special relationship” country, lol.

    Well, at least tRump doesn’t drink. The other harridan pos woulda been drunk on her ass half the time and having Parkinsons symptoms breaking out all the time, no matter how much they doped her up. And she was certainly doped for the “inauguration.”

    I’ll also say this for tRump; he ain’t laid off his workaholic lifestyle much since he got in there; damn! Got something cooking every minute, sounds like. Lotta ground to cover, though.

    This old bugger ex-drunk here is gonna crash. Busy day tomorrow; kitchen stuff; vets group; town committee meeting (Development), etc.

    Pax vobiscum, fratres

  43. @eugen, and of course the hero of the novels is NOT Frodo but Sam Gamgee. Without Sam’s steadfast determination and love, Frodo would never have completed the quest.

    n

  44. I found a link to this reminder in my inbox that I need to reread Lucifer’s Hammer. Thought I’d share it since we have been talking about prepping fiction.

  45. Gee, there are some things that last longer than the expiry date… who knew?

    The store cupboard ingredients with a surprisingly long shelf life (including some that NEVER go off)

    Honey may crystallise but it is still safe to eat and you can soften using hot water
    Coffee granules are also safe to drink after any expiry date
    Soy sauce and corn starch are other ingredients which last forever
    Mayonnaise and peanuts will keep for two years in your pantry cupboards

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/food/article-4159642/The-foods-NEVER-revealed.html

  46. The best rule of thumb is that the best-by date on anything that supermarkets keep refrigerated is probably a reasonable number. Ignore best-by dates on anything that isn’t kept refrigerated. It’s safe essentially forever if properly packaged or repackaged.

  47. And I’m not sure what this meme is about brown rice. Yes, all rices except brown keep forever (which is to say > 20 or 30 years if stored properly). I’ve eaten very old brown rice, and couldn’t tell it from new. The Augson Farms brown rice in buckets is rated at a seven-year shelf life, versus the one- or two-year shelf life commonly assumed. I have three 26-pound buckets of it in our deep pantry, and I’m guessing it’ll be good for far longer than seven years.

  48. So I hang out with my cats; the big old male is cuddling on the office chair right now with his little half-sister and both of them are snoring their little cat asses off. His is loud, too. Sleep apnea for cats? Wussup wid dat, Mr. DadCooks?

    Yes, I am still lurking in the bushes @OFD.

    Yes, cats can have a form of sleep apnea; usually due to weight, age, and position. Not to worry unless they start to sound like a Pug dog all the time. Two of our big was-a-males, a ginger and an all black, both have loud purrs and snore like a horse when they are napping on their back, which they do often. It is a good idea to tell your Vet about the snoring at your cat’s next regular Vet visit, just so he/she can be sure there is not someting else going on.

    Our snow has been melting and our roads are rapidly falling apart. The base under most of our roads was not properly done so there is a lot of moisture under the roads, so much so in some areas it is like driving on a waterbed.

    Well I am at stage 2 of immobility (not an official point). At my regualar doctor visit last week he reconfirmed my need to use of a scooter in the stores and filled out the paperwork so I could get a “disabled” parking permit. He wants me to get out regularly and not become homebound.

    The wife is approaching her one-month retirement anniversary. She hasn’t got tired of me, yet. One of the Orthopaedic Surgeons wants her to come and work one day a week in his surgery center (has been calling at least once a week). She has worked with him ever since we moved here and is one of the very few doctors/surgeons she can tolerate. She is going for an interview next week.

    Keeping my larder full, my powder dry, and my eyes and ears wide open and 360.

    Also not tolerating the demopublican-leftist-fascists, snowflakes, gender/race identifiers, and those who are expecting poltics as normal out of Trump (get over it, he is using shrewd business aplomb and acumen to accomplish more in day than obuttwadd did in his life).

  49. Those were the numbers that were told to me by the people from LM.

    They were talking out of their hat. I’ve managed subs before, for LM, and done budgeting analysis for proposals. The overhead multiplier for contracts is very carefully laid out in the disclosure statements in the finance volume of your proposal to the government. It’s the one volume in a proposal that usually has no page limits. It lays out in great detail how your costs are allocated and applied to labor rates. It’s the one they scrutinize and nit-pick the most. Heck, on one contract I worked for a division of LM that was a sub to another division of LM and we weren’t billed at double our rates.

    If a prime could just automagically double the billed rate for all subs, they would make the entire contract subs except for a handful of managers and admin types. The profits would be obscene. Most subs are done for one of a few reasons: the sub has specialized workers or expertise you don’t have, the sub is a small disadvantaged business (and you are generally mandated to have a percentage of SDBs on all government contracts), or the sub has a much better rate structure than you do. My division of LM was a sub to another for a combination of the first and last reason.

  50. The wife is approaching her one-month retirement anniversary. She hasn’t got tired of me, yet. One of the Orthopaedic Surgeons wants her to come and work one day a week in his surgery center (has been calling at least once a week). She has worked with him ever since we moved here and is one of the very few doctors/surgeons she can tolerate. She is going for an interview next week.

    I am surprised that she would need to interview for the position. Hopefully, the place is a convenient drive. Having my office a four mile drive away from my home is very, very nice compared to when I used to drive / bus into downtown Dallas.

    Also not tolerating the demopublican-leftist-fascists, snowflakes, gender/race identifiers, and those who are expecting poltics as normal out of Trump (get over it, he is using shrewd business aplomb and acumen to accomplish more in day than obuttwadd did in his life).

    “Outrage Dilution”
    http://blog.dilbert.com/post/156399716951/outrage-dilution

    “And when Trump has created a hundred reasons to complain, do you know what impression will be left with the public?”

    “He sure got a lot done.”

  51. I found a link to this reminder in my inbox that I need to reread Lucifer’s Hammer. Thought I’d share it since we have been talking about prepping fiction.
    http://thesurvivalmom.com/twenty-survival-principles-classic-book-lucifers-hammer/

    Thank you very much ! Who knew that an SF book had valuable lessons ? I need to reread this book and have placed in my SBR (strategic book reserve). I have also reposted this to the SF board on usenet. That should start up a nasty discussion as LH is generally held there as a extremely racist book.

    I have decided that my next Ford Expedition will have four wheel drive. Down here on the Gulf Coast, that makes it a special order item. The wife has forbidden it since it costs $2,000 extra and drops a mpg.

  52. @ech: You write “Most subs are done for one of a few reasons: the sub has specialized workers or expertise you don’t have, the sub is a small disadvantaged business (and you are generally mandated to have a percentage of SDBs on all government contracts), or the sub has a much better rate structure than you do.”

    Your second point is, of course, used a lot. The fourth point that you forgot is “the sub is in the district of a Congresscritter who will be voting on the funding for your project”. That and the minority/woman-owned crap were the two most common reasons I saw in my time in government contracting.

    There is an increase in overhead – the prime contractor is allowed to charge a (I forget the right term) management fee, which is not peanuts. At least, this was true on the kinds of huge contracts I was involved with, which were generally decided by politics more than cost or technical specifications.

  53. Just tell her that what you really want is an Army-surplus Humvee.

    I almost needed one of those. I just removed the for rent sign from the front of the office property and parked my Expedition just off the road. When I left, my rear end sunk down but my rear limited slip got me going.

  54. @lynn said: I am surprised that she would need to interview for the position.

    I should have put “interview” in quotes to help signify that this is just a formality and is really just a “fill out the forms and check her RN License” drill.

    All this talk of government contracts brings back memories, but I’ll spare you all my stories of how the “contractors” and “subs” produce “works of art and legalese” to baffle the gooberment folks who do not have a clue.

    Waste, fraud, and abuse is a normal way of doing business with and for the gooberment.

  55. my rear end sunk down but my rear limited slip got me going

    No no no. What you meant to say was, The LSD got my ass moving and kept me from being a stick in the mud.

Comments are closed.