Saturday, 9 September 2017

08:30 – It was 46.6F (8C) when I took Colin out at 0700, partly cloudy and breezy. More work around the house and on science kits today. We’re keeping a close eye on Irma. The latest forecasts still say we’ll get effects from the remnants starting late Monday and into Tuesday, heavy rains and winds gusting to 50 MPH (80 KPH) or more. We’ll get hanging pots, cushions from our outside furniture, and anything else subject to blowing away into the house Sunday.

I was saddened yesterday evening to learn that Jerry Pournelle had died. We’d been Internet/telephone friends for 40 years, dating back to the 70’s when I started reading his SF and we were both friends with Mel Tappan, although the frequency of our exchanges had dropped off a great deal over the last decade or so, as health problems started to affect Jerry.

Our last substantive exchange of emails occurred a month or so ago. I was still listed as technical contact for Jerry’s domains, and had forwarded him an email from Godaddy to warn him that lucifershammer.org and feathersnake.com were about to expire. He emailed me back to chat about that and other stuff. The last significant email exchange we had was this:

—–Original Message—–
From: Robert Bruce Thompson
Sent: Tuesday, August 1, 2017 12:17 PM
To: Jerry Pournelle
Subject: Re: Your domain(s) is set to renew soon.

Holy Crap!

I just realized that it was 40 years ago this year that we first exchanged email. You were on Compuserve, IIRC. I was 24 years old, still in grad school at RIT, and had a bang address.

I emailed you to harass you about a mathematical calculation in LH where you (or Larry) dropped a term or something. Kinetic energy of the Hammer, ISTR.

And his reply:

Subject: RE: Your domain(s) is set to renew soon.
Date: Tue, 1 Aug 2017 13:11:41 -0700
From: Jerry Pournelle
To: Robert Bruce Thompson

Sounds about right. I think we fixed that in the later editions. How’s the home chemistry market?

After which, we went on to discuss our move up to Sparta, how our families were doing, Jerry’s health issues, and some other personal stuff. I had no idea that that would be our last conversation. If I had, there were a lot of things I would like to have said to Jerry. How much his books and our conversations over the years had meant to me.

And I keep thinking of little snippets. Like the time Barbara and I were sitting in our den down in Winston with our friends Paul Jones and Mary Chervenak. Jerry called, and I talked with him for few minutes, at which point Mary walked over to me, motioned to me to hand her the phone, and then smacked me. She then sat down and had an extended conversation with Jerry, whom she didn’t know until then. They eventually finished their conversation. The next day, Jerry called again. When I answered, he opened by saying that my friend Mary was a real pistol, which indeed she is.

Jerry was a great man, both brilliant and well-educated. In earlier times, people would have called him a Renaissance Man. Millions of his fans and friends will miss him. It was a privilege to have known him.


I regularly get email queries from people who want to contribute articles to this site. Some of them are spam, but many are not. The latter usually provide links to other articles they’ve written, on their own or other sites. Most of those want to write about military or political issues, but some link to a collection of me-too prepping articles. I ignore all of them, although some are quite persistent. One guy has sent me literally a dozen emails over the last month. I guess he doesn’t take a hint.

Don’t get me wrong. There are one or two people who aren’t regular commenters here that I’d love to have as guest posters. R. Ann Parris, for example, or Angela Paskett. People who actually walk the walk, and know what they’re talking about.

Another guy sent me a proposed article a couple weeks ago. It was basically a shopping list for a medical trauma kit. I did reply to him and said that I didn’t consider his article useful. I’m not sure what he thought his audience would be. Not ordinary preppers, certainly. There’s not much point to having a pile of serious medical gear unless you have the skills to use it. And the article wouldn’t be useful for an EMT or a trauma nurse, because they already know what they need. And I didn’t get the impression that the submitter was an EMT or indeed had any other qualifications. His list would have cost, at minimum, $750 to $1,000 to purchase, and that’s money that average preppers could better allocate elsewhere.

So let me give such would-be contributors a suggestion: if you really want to submit guest articles here, you can start by becoming a regular commenter. After you’ve been doing that, if what you write is worth reading, I’ll probably offer you guest-posting privileges, as I’ve done for many of my regular commenters. (And just about anyone who makes frequent substantive comments here would be welcome as a guest poster.)