Wed. Mar. 27, 2019 – learned some things

Cool and damp. Still.

Dishwasher still not fixed. At least now it’s throwing an error (DE) about the drain motor. There is the possibility I pinched the drain hose. I’ll check that first. Otherwise, the impeller is probably too worn to empty the machine in 5 minutes. Trying to grind a piece of glass or ceramic can take its toll on a plastic impeller. Neither is a hard repair, but the impeller would have to be ordered. Frustrating to NEED to do the repair, but satisfying when you get it done.

Houston area apparently leads the nation in car crashes. Over 82K last year, that were reported and crossed thru the HPD system. The real number is much higher. About 400 resulted in fatalities. That number is both high, and very low. Safety equipment has made a big difference in what is survivable. So has trauma care, and emergency medicine. Bottom line, it is much more dangerous than any other thing you are likely to do on a regular basis. Act accordingly.

n

63 thoughts on “Wed. Mar. 27, 2019 – learned some things”

  1. 25º and sunny on the North Coast.

    Looking forward to the warming weather in the next few days, but rain. Such is life.

    In the disassembly of the oldest washer the other day, I found Emma’s sock – the one that could not be found. It was in the water pump, which is why we took it out of service years ago. I felt like an idiot. Overloading washing machines is never a good idea, and my wife does it constantly.

    On the upside, I now have a very good electric motor with well-marked connectors, as well as a little more scrap metal that I can turn in for $.

  2. Idle curiosity, how are the secondary roads in Houston? One of the (very few) things I miss about Upstate New York is that the roads were wide enough. In Central KY, the main roads are good, but a lot of the rural ones are paved cow paths with no shoulders and 55 mph speed limits. I read about at least one bad accident every day.


  3. how are the secondary roads in Houston

    Secondary roads throughout Texas are quite good, some of the best around. Get into a rural setting between Austin and College Station and you have two lane roads with a 75 MPH speed limit with wide shoulders. Very few potholes and generally quite smooth and well maintained. This is from my living in San Antonio 30 years ago and several recent visits have shown that nothing has changed.

  4. Oh how I hate medical providers, almost as much as the insurance companies. I had paid the hospital $4080.00 before my wife’s surgery. This was in January. The insurance claim was denied because the hospital made an error in their billing to the insurance company. The only allowed amount was $75.00. Here is almost the end of March and the hospital is still holding on to my money and will not refund the difference. Even though they are in network, contractually obligated to use the insurance rates, the hospital is still holding on to my $4,000.00 and refusing to refund.

    I checked with a lawyer and it would cost me $5,000.00 to retain their services. A retainer of course which I am certain will be gobbled up quite quickly. Even if the legal costs are less the lawyers will find a way to expand their services to fit, or exceed, the retainer.

    Small claims court may be the next option.

  5. Houston surface streets are generally in fair to poor condition. Flooding and heaving soil make them look like a roller coaster. There is a policy to replace entire ‘panels’ when they get too bad (usually because of repeated utility cuts and repairs) and not just patch the problem.

    Houston streets are designed to flood (since TS Allison anyway) which takes a toll. They act as detention and as channels for flood water. The current thinking is “better to flood streets than houses.”

    As a data point, the current mayor was a one issue candidate*- fixing potholes. He transformed the way Streets worked, and now potholes are fixed rapidly. But the roads are still bumpy and wavy. FREEWAYS are generally excellent with thick concrete roadbeds. Once fixed, they tend to stay fixed.

    Country roads vary by county. The “FM” or Farm to Market roads are in good repair but generally two lane with ditches. It’s not uncommon to drive 70+ on them.

    There are a lot of State highway ‘medium’ sized roads, and they are generally excellent. At least one wide lane, and paved shoulders.

    Directional signage is generally poor in the whole state. You really should have a good idea of your route before setting out. Following signs will get you lost.

    n

    *this is not uncommon in Houston. A previous mayor got elected solely to synchronize the traffic lights downtown to improve traffic flow. It works much better with coordinated and timed lights during high traffic times, than it did with sensors and demand loops. Oddly, we seem to get better Mayors with single issue platforms than we do with general and vague platforms.

  6. Secondary roads throughout Texas are quite good, some of the best around. Get into a rural setting between Austin and College Station and you have two lane roads with a 75 MPH speed limit with wide shoulders. Very few potholes and generally quite smooth and well maintained. This is from my living in San Antonio 30 years ago and several recent visits have shown that nothing has changed.

    Toll roads in Texas are a growth industry, even on two lane rural roads, but that work currently pays my bills so I’m not going to complain … except when I have to go to the commercial district of Pflugerville from Downtown Austin.

    Directional signage is generally poor in the whole state. You really should have a good idea of your route before setting out. Following signs will get you lost.

    I don’t leave the house for a rural Texas location without a backup Android device with the entire state’s map data cached. I also bring a paper state map since GPS drops out in locations which make you say “Hmmmm?”.

    (Drive the back roads north of the LBJ ranch and watch your GPS disappear. Fun!)

  7. Well, the dishwasher wasn’t the simple answer. No kinked hose. Found the best price for the replacement pump (can’t buy just the impeller) on amazon and they were offering same day delivery. 9pm. I paid the 6$ and it will get here tonight. STILL cheaper than the next cheapest site, even without shipping or tax. Literally half of MSRP and just over half of the next best price online.

    I’ve noticed several times now that amazon will tease with free same day delivery on approved items, with a purchase that is just slightly more than the price of your item. I never seem to get the free same day…

    Ok, next item on my list.

    n

  8. Not that it really applies here, but the most trouble I have with my dishwasher is not getting her homework done, and using that as an excuse for not doing dishes.

  9. It works much better with coordinated and timed lights during high traffic times, than it did with sensors and demand loops.

    The loops are flaky tech, the vehicle detector we hate the most.

    Lots of those still out there, however, and some customers install them new because the tech is cheap.

  10. Oh how I hate medical providers, almost as much as the insurance companies.

    One of the topics Cory Doctorow touched on in his new book and C2E2 talk on Sunday was the absence of aggrieved white male violence against healthcare entities.

  11. Houston surface streets are generally in fair to poor condition. Flooding and heaving soil make them look like a roller coaster. There is a policy to replace entire ‘panels’ when they get too bad (usually because of repeated utility cuts and repairs) and not just patch the problem.

    Houston streets are designed to flood (since TS Allison anyway) which takes a toll. They act as detention and as channels for flood water. The current thinking is “better to flood streets than houses.”

    As a data point, the current mayor was a one issue candidate*- fixing potholes. He transformed the way Streets worked, and now potholes are fixed rapidly. But the roads are still bumpy and wavy. FREEWAYS are generally excellent with thick concrete roadbeds. Once fixed, they tend to stay fixed.

    What @nick said, only my view is worse. I have ruined wheels and tires on Houston roads. I came around a corner on Westpark road one day in 1994 to find a missing storm sewer cover. One tire, one wheel, and the transmission case bearing on my 1987 VW Jetta had to be replaced. I also ran over a rebar sticking up out of the pavement on I-610 about 5 years ago with my truck. Ripped the inner sidewall out of my passenger side back tire. I needed new tires anyway.

    I try to stay out of Houston nowadays. The traffic for 8 million people in the 9 county region is simply amazing. And the road construction is never ceasing and seldom announced.

  12. Because aggrieved tho they may be, white males are the least likely to do violence, unless it is done to them first.

    Also, there are instances in the press, especially against the VA- because that one plays to the press’s preconceptions.

    There was a nationally prominent case not too long ago of someone killing the Dr that did him wrong….

    n

  13. I don’t leave the house for a rural Texas location without a backup Android device with the entire state’s map data cached. I also bring a paper state map since GPS drops out in locations which make you say “Hmmmm?”.

    (Drive the back roads north of the LBJ ranch and watch your GPS disappear. Fun!)

    If half of west Texas has phone coverage, I would be surprised. And I have 50 state spiral bound paper maps from Walmart in each vehicle.
    https://www.amazon.com/2019-McNally-Large-Scale-Atlas/dp/0528019635/?tag=ttgnet-20

  14. If half of west Texas has phone coverage, I would be surprised. And I have 50 state spiral bound paper maps from Walmart in each vehicle.

    Lack of phone coverage isn’t a surprise, but total lack of GPS reception out in the open means someone is jamming the signal deliberately. What are they protecting at the LBJ ranch?

    The only other place I’ve seen GPS drop out 100% is around Joint Base Lewis-McCord south of Seattle. All kinds of FEMA conspiracy stories float around the Internet about that place.

  15. Lack of phone coverage isn’t a surprise, but total lack of GPS reception out in the open means someone is jamming the signal deliberately. What are they protecting at the LBJ ranch?

    GPS on a smart phone requires internet also unless you have stored maps ?

  16. GPS on a smart phone requires internet also unless you have stored maps ?

    GPS on the newer phones supplements accuracy analyzing signals from known WiFi and cell tower locations, but it should still work to +/- 20 m IIRC without the signals since I cache the map of Texas in OsmAnd on Android.

    We had nothing for a couple of miles the last time we went out to Fredericksburg on the back roads.

  17. GPS on a smart phone requires internet also unless you have stored maps ?

    If my Garmin GPS III Plus still works, I’ll try to remember to take it the next time I head that way.

    It was handy on Lake Texhoma just for the “trail” for help to return to the marina.

  18. i loved my gps III+ and still have it. got my dad’s too. If nothing else, the waypoints and different base maps are great, and it’s still a great clock. Also it will display in MGRS in addition to lat lon, so you could use .mil maps.

    I’ve got several different gps handhelds and they still have their uses.

    n

  19. GPS on a smart phone requires internet also unless you have stored maps ?

    GPS on the newer phones supplements accuracy analyzing signals from known WiFi and cell tower locations, but it should still work to +/- 20 m IIRC without the signals since I cache the map of Texas in OsmAnd on Android.

    I’ve never figured out how to cache maps on my smartypants phone.

  20. I’ve never figured out how to cache maps on my smartypants phone.

    OsmAnd and HERE Maps allow you to download whole states or, if you have enough space, the entire country in advance. Fairly simple.

    I get OsmAnd via the F-Droid repository for Android. HERE Maps is a commercial app available in Google Play or iTunes.

  21. I’ve never figured out how to cache maps on my smartypants phone.

    I’ve never tried. I know it can be done but I’m not interested.

    I like paper maps. When traveling I stop at the Welcome Centers for a current state map. Other than that, I have a 1966 (I think) Esso map of the US. It’s good enough.

    I tried using my Garmin as a map and it’s just a distraction. I can see (for example) from Austin to Georgetown and then? Scroll scroll scroll the tiny screen while driving? No. A paper map lets me see from Austin to Georgetown to wow, Waco, Dallas, and beyond.

    GPS on my phone and on the Garmin is great for waypoints and tracking back. The last time I went to the state fair I parked way the heck out. There was a tree for shade.

    The tracking trail on my phone really helped with finding the car at 9PM.

    Yup. I’m weird. Whatever.

  22. I have decided to take a vacation off from work tomorrow and replace two of the old 400 watt external metal halide lights with 150 watt LED lights. Only one of the seven external lights is now working so this has become paramount. I am buying this LED light fixture model but I am worried it may be too strong for my needs.
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B077ZK6Q26/?tag=ttgnet-20

    I am going to rent a 35 ft scissor lift from Home Depot for $299 + $16 insurance + sales tax for 24 hours. Hopefully these are the only charges.
    https://compactpowerrents.com/rental-equipment/scissor-and-boom-lifts/35-ft-towable-boom-lift/

    I would have sworn I had a two inch tow ball on my bumper for towing but that seems to be missing so I get to purchase another tow ball while I am at Home Depot. I towed a boat for the local Boy Scout Leader just a few years ago. Oh gosh, that may have 18 years ago !

    If this works out ok then I will order another six of the LED light fixtures and install them. One will go inside to replace one of the interior twelve hanging light fixtures that is dead. The interior 800 watt metal halide lights are dying also.

    A lot of work ! No rest for the guilty on this earth. I’ve also got the road guy coming by to get more asphalt paving done on the office main road. I suspect that his rate of $2.25/ft2 has gone up.

  23. Most boat trailers are 1 7/8” balls unless you get a really heavy boat. I doubt the BS boat was that heavy.

  24. “100 Best Sci-Fi Books of All Time” by Reedsy Discovery
    https://reedsy.com/discovery/blog/best-sci-fi-books

    No, they are not the best 100 SF books of all time by my estimate. _Ender’s Game_ is definitely on the list though, I would have to think about _Ender’s Shadow_ for a while. The list is chronological BTW.

    And only one Heinlein which is a travesty. _Citizen of the Galaxy_ and _The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress_ need to be on the list.

    I have read 34 of the 100.

    n 1. The Blazing World and Other Writings by Margaret Cavendish (1666)
    n 2. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (1818)
    y 3. The Time Machine by H.G. Wells (1895)
    y 4. The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells (1897)
    y 5. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (1932)
    y 6. Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell (1949)
    y 7. I, Robot by Isaac Asimov (1950)
    y 8. The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury (1950)
    y 9. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (1953)
    n 10. I Am Legend by Richard Matheson (1954)
    y 11. A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller Jr. (1959)
    n 12. Solaris by Stanislaw Lem (1961)
    y 13. Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein (1961)
    y 14. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle (1962)
    n 15. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess (1962)
    n 16. The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick (1962)
    y 17. Dune by Frank Herbert (1965)
    y 18. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes (1966)
    y 19. The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin (1969)
    y 20. Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey (1968)
    y 21. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut (1969)
    y 22. Ringworld by Larry Niven (1970)
    n 23. Roadside Picnic by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky (1972)
    n 24. The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin (1974)
    y 25. The Forever War by Joe Haldeman (1974)
    n 26. The Female Man by Joanna Russ (1975)
    y 27. Dhalgren by Samuel R. Delany (1975)
    n 28. Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy (1976)
    y 29. The Stand by Stephen King (1978)
    n 30. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams (1979)
    n 31. Re: Colonised Planet 5, Shikasta by Doris Lessing (1979)
    n 32. Downbelow Station by C.J. Cherryh (1981)
    y 33. Neuromancer by William Gibson (1984)
    n 34. Contact by Carl Sagan (1985)
    y 35. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card (1985)
    n 36. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (1985)
    y 37. Shards of Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold (1986)
    n 38. Watchmen by Alan Moore and David Gibbons (1986)
    y 39. Watchers by Dean Koontz (1987)
    n 40. Dawn by Octavia Butler (1987)
    n 41. The Player of Games by Iain M. Banks (1988)
    n 42. Red Dwarf: Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers by Rob Grant and Doug Naylor (1989)
    y 43. Hyperion by Dan Simmons (1989)
    y 44. Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton (1990)
    n 45. Her Smoke Rose Up Forever by James Tiptree Jr. (1990)
    y 46. The Doomsday Book by Connie Willis (1992)
    n 47. Ammonite by Nicola Griffith (1992)
    n 48. The Children of Men by P.D. James (1992)
    n 49. Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson (1992)
    y 50. The Giver by Lois Lowry (1993)
    n 51. The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell (1996)
    y 52. Ender’s Shadow by Orson Scott Card (1999)
    y 53. Darwin’s Radio by Greg Bear (1999)
    n 54.Valor’s Choice by Tanya Huff (2000)
    n 55. Probability Moon by Nancy Kress (2000)
    n 56. Midnight Robber by Nalo Hopkinson (2000)
    n 57. number9dream by David Mitchell (2001)
    n 58. The Chronoliths by Robert Charles Wilson (2001)
    n 59. Otherland: City of Golden Shadow by Tad Williams (2001)
    n 60. Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang (2002)
    y 61. Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan (2002)
    n 62. Feed by M. T. Anderson (2002)
    n 63. Veniss Underground by Jeff VanderMeer (2003)
    n 64. Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood (2003)
    n 65. Pandora’s Star by Peter F. Hamilton (2004)
    n 66. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro (2005)
    n 67. The Plot Against America by Philip Roth (2005)
    n 68. World War Z by Max Brooks (2006)
    n 69. Anathem by Neal Stephenson (2008)
    n 70. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (2008)
    n 71. The City & The City by China Miéville (2009)
    n 72. The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi (2009)
    n 73. Redemption of Indigo by Karen Lord (2010)
    n 74. Death’s End by Cixin Liu (2010)
    n 75. How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe by Charles Yu (2010)
    y 76. The Martian by Andy Weir (2011)
    n 77. Legend by Marie Lu (2011)
    n 78. The Last Policeman by Ben H. Winters (2012)
    n 79. Amatka by Karin Tidbeck (2012)
    n 80. Redshirts by John Scalzi (2012)
    y 81. Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie (2013)
    y 82. Dust by Hugh Howey (2013)
    y 83. The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey (2013)
    n 84. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (2014)
    n 85. Red Rising by Pierce Brown (2014)
    n 86. The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers (2014)
    n 87. Binti by Nnedi Okorafor (2015)
    n 88. Planetfall by Emma Newman (2015)
    n 89. The Fold by Peter Clines (2015)
    n 90. Illuminae by Amie Kaufman (2015)
    n 91. Infomocracy by Malka Older (2016)
    n 92. All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders (2016)
    n 93. Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee (2016)
    n 94. Everfair by Nisi Shawl (2016)
    n 95. The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin (2016)
    n 96. Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel (2016)
    n 97. Scythe by Neal Shusterman (2016)
    n 98. Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty (2017)
    n 99. Exo by Fonda Lee (2017)
    n 100. The Gone World by Tom Sweterlitsch (2018)

    Hat tip to Orson Scott Card:
    http://www.hatrack.com/

  25. I’m at 31 that I’m sure of, and didn’t even recognize some of the works. I DID recognize some from the Sad Puppy kerfuffle, ie they are in crowd books by ‘right thinking folks’ and really not particularly good.

    The Windup Girl has some horrific graphic violence against women, one original idea, and ends with a lame eco weinie note.

    Dahlgren is disgusting, ponderous, and pointless, and is likely their nod to black authors. He’s also disgusting personally. I had to fight my way thru that nonsense. He also has a favorite word that appears on pretty much every other page. Can’t remember which atm. Means ‘dark’.

    n

  26. Most boat trailers are 1 7/8” balls unless you get a really heavy boat. I doubt the BS boat was that heavy.

    Nope. It was a 16 foot catamaran with just a trampoline. Maybe 1,000 lbs with trailer.

  27. I’m at 31 that I’m sure of, and didn’t even recognize some of the works. I DID recognize some from the Sad Puppy kerfuffle, ie they are in crowd books by ‘right thinking folks’ and really not particularly good.

    Note that I was “no” from 84 to 100. I read mostly Indie books now.

    I have “The Windup Girl” in my SBR (strategic book reserve) and am probably not going to read it. Reality has bypassed that world and not treated the book very well. I do not remember “Dhalgren” but I was thinking it was the USA after a nuclear bomb exchange. Nope, it is a weird book.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dhalgren

  28. No, they are not the best 100 SF books of all time by my estimate.

    “World War Z” is a very good book, but time will tell if it is one of the greatest of all time.

    I noticed a ‘n’ next to that one. Highly recommended. Ignore the movie.

  29. n 42. Red Dwarf: Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers by Rob Grant and Doug Naylor (1989)

    That one is puzzling. Find the TV series on video.

    The “Boys from the Dwarf” are still going strong after 30 years. New seasons are in the works.

  30. [snip] Bottom line, it is much more dangerous than any other thing you are likely to do on a regular basis. Act accordingly. [snip]

    I’d be interested to hear a traffic engineer (subset of Civil Engineering, of course) expound on what % of accidents could be eliminated by taking human stupidity out of the loop. Cell phones are the modern scourge, of course, and drunk driving is a problem as old as the internal combustion engine, but cheeseburgers and rushing the light also play a factor. I know I’ve heard my sister the defense attorney say that the drunk driving problem is about 10% the fault of people who got behind the wheel after a drink or two too many of wine/beer/whiskey and who got caught in circumstances. It’s about 90% the fault of the hard core drunks, who are on the road at 0.2% or greater 5 or more nights a week, and who won’t stop until they are physically prevented from doing so.

    And post hurricane, the cell phone based GPS didn’t work, because the entire cell networks (except for a small piece of AT&T’s system) were DOA. If you had an actual, standalone GPS, you were fine, except for the roads which were impassible, destroyed electrical grid, wildly different traffic patterns, and monstrous amount of traffic.

  31. Dalhgren is mainly a guy wandering around having sex with everyone. He never bathes, and there is a lot of ‘sticky’ description, iirc. It’s typical of a certain time period where he just wanders and there doesn’t seem to be any plot. And it’s pretty thick. Did I mention that he likes an obscure word and uses it far too often? (not Stygian, or pellucid but something with the same feel. It’d driving me nuts to not remember.)

    n

  32. “World War Z” is a very good book, but time will tell if it is one of the greatest of all time.

    I noticed a ‘n’ next to that one. Highly recommended. Ignore the movie.

    “World War Z” is in my SBR. I’ve got 400 to 500 books in my SBR and getting to something not in my immediate attention is tough. In fact, WWZ is the back row of the second shelf from the top. Maybe I will get to it this year. And I liked the movie !

  33. The officer presenting that portion of the class gave an example. There was a particular curve, newly redone, that killed 18 people in one year. He personally almost came to blows with TXDOT, there were reprimands issued, but eventually he convinced higher authority to get it changed. They regrooved, re-banked, and changed the pavement composition. Since that time there has been ONE death on that curve.

    My personal windmill is the transition ramp from 8 south to I 10 eastbound on the west side. It’s a decreasing radius turn. This is a new, modern project, and is very elevated. We’ve known since at least the late 80s that decreasing radius turns kill people and cause wrecks. (part of a spiral, sortof, the turn starts with one radius, and then at some point the radius gets tighter.) On this particular turn, there are always fresh crash marks on the concrete barrier, and lo, they are right where the turn changes radius. REALLY bad design is hurting people weekly on that curve.

    n

  34. My personal windmill is the transition ramp from 8 south to I 10 eastbound on the west side. It’s a decreasing radius turn. This is a new, modern project, and is very elevated. We’ve known since at least the late 80s that decreasing radius turns kill people and cause wrecks. (part of a spiral, sortof, the turn starts with one radius, and then at some point the radius gets tighter.) On this particular turn, there are always fresh crash marks on the concrete barrier, and lo, they are right where the turn changes radius. REALLY bad design is hurting people weekly on that curve.

    If I remember correctly, somebody went over that barrier the week they opened up that interchange. Speed does kill and specifically on unfamiliar curves.

  35. There is an accident cluster on the beltway a mile from my house, and I can’t think of any reason for it.

    n

  36. Maybe I will get to it this year. And I liked the movie !

    I’ve mentioned before that I was hoping the movie would be one last hurah from the Brooksfilms who once made cool things like “The Fly” and “The Elephant Man”.

    I took the book about the history of “Caddyshack” on the trip last week since we planned to hit the SNL exhibit in Chicago. The history of National Lampoon, Second City, and SNL are deeply intertwined, and the book provided some background which enhanced the exhibit for me.

    I didn’t crack the NTP text until the return flight. Work moved to co-working space in the food court of the Dell “dorm room” building last week, and I returned to a seriously demotivating job environment.

  37. There is an accident cluster on the beltway a mile from my house, and I can’t think of any reason for it.

    Is it the place where the backup starts about a half mile south of the Beltway 8 / I-10 interchange ? I have seen wrecks there a few times as people run down the tollway at 70+ mph, come over a hill and there is a parking lot in front of them.

  38. Work moved to co-working space in the food court of the Dell “dorm room” building last week, and I returned to a seriously demotivating job environment.

    Your new office is an old food court ? That is weird. Did they get the stir fry smell out ?

  39. I’ve read 21 of that list, none after #50. Many have escaped my memory other than the Heinlein, Stephenson, Gibson and Niven. Wouldn’t have been my list, but I don’t claim encyclopedic readership either.

  40. I got my VBA macro in Excel working from our calculation engine C++ code today. Now that I see the code, it all makes sense. It did not make sense to me without a lot of experimentation and trying to think sideways (which hurts my neck !).

    BTW, I am using the C code from
    http://support.microsoft.com/kb/216686

    VARIANT result1;
    VariantInit ( & result1);
    std::string errorMsg = “Executing Visual Basic Macro, ” + visualBasicMacroName + ” (ExecuteVisualBasicMacro)”;
    VARIANT methodName;
    VariantInit ( & methodName);
    methodName.vt = VT_BSTR;
    // UTF-8 to wide
    std::wstring wstrMethodName;
    UTF8toWide (visualBasicMacroName.c_str (), wstrMethodName);
    // the _bstr_t does not work with Watcom C++
    // _bstr_t notebookNameBstr = _bstr_t (wstrNotebookName.c_str ());
    BSTR methodNameBstr = SysAllocString (wstrMethodName.c_str ());
    methodName.bstrVal = methodNameBstr;
    OLEMethod (DISPATCH_METHOD, & result1, pExcelApplication, L”Run”, errorMsg, 1, methodName);
    if (result1.vt == VT_DISPATCH)
    {
    }
    VariantClear ( & result1);
    VariantClear ( & methodName);

  41. Nope, it’s about half way between I 10 and Clay road. It’s possible that it is where the ramp from I 10W finally dumps you onto 8 N, but the map wasn’t detailed enough for me to tell.

    They have a really cool 3d scanner to capture crash scenes. it overlays photos, and other sensor data and you can then fly thru the resulting scene, move from point cloud to photo real, and back, measure anywhere, etc.

    it cost a ton of money but there are only a few guys doing the major investigation, and the road must be closed while they’re investigating. I shortens the time closed, and helps speed up the officer’s notetaking.

    n

    n

  42. Meh, Not an impressive list. A lot of in group stuff from the last few years, a lot of stuff from mainstream authors slumming in SF.

  43. “mainstream authors slumming in SF.”

    –yes, this. Didn’t care much for The Stand, for example….

    Is the Handmaid’s Tale even scifi? I don’t recall any scifi elements except it was set in the future.

    Jurasic park = scifi, but it’s another example of mainstream author

    Ender’s Shadow? I’m a fan of the Enderverse, but I can’t even remember what that one was about, other than maybe it’s Bean’s story?

    Hunger Games? retch. a culture that can turn energy into matter for amusement and they have hungry people? Sure. Peter! Whine, moan, whine…..

    China Meiville is weird for weird’s sake, not great scifi. Bug headed girlfriends not withstanding. And it’s another novel that just wanders around the mysterious city while filled with enuii and pointlessness. King Rat was better.

    I don’t recognize anything newer than number 83, although I recognize some of the authors for their poisonous personal behaviours.

    n

  44. How about A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court? Any of the Julles Verne novels. The Oz books have more scifi in them than Handmaid’s Tale….

    n

  45. Looks like it’s finally fixed. Dishwasher is almost done with a load, and no problems so far.

    $38 part, a couple hours troubleshooting and trying the redneck repair, then ordering and doing it correctly, and we’re back up. Minimum $150 for the truck roll, retail for the part, and at least a second day to install the part, all saved. Thanks to amazon same day delivery, it’s fixed before I go away.

    It sucks to replace the ‘pump assembly’ when all that really needs replacing is a 50c plastic impeller. SOMEONE makes the impellers. Maybe it’s glued on. It was certainly easy to change the whole pump, one hose, 3 screws, two slide on electrical connections. You’d have to get it that far apart to change out the impeller, and would have extra labor. Post collapse, I’d try printing the needed part (assuming power availability and water…) or maybe try to find a used machine to steal from.

    n

    now off to bed. so tired.

  46. I stopped at

    20. Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey (1968)

    .

    C’mon, is it SciFi because the original settlers fly from Earth?
    The whole series and add-ons are mainly Fantasy. I’ve read most of the Pern books and really liked them but they are Fantasy not SciFi. Gotta love the thinking dragons though.

  47. I’ve read 14 of the 100, and I’m an SF fan.

    I would be interested to know the method of composition. If it’s like phone polling, the list is pretty much worthless (in my opinion). There is a certain type of person that will respond to polls. Another type (my type) that will almost never respond to phone polls.

    The latest on the list I’ve read is Redshirts by Scalzi. Scalzi is one of the few writers of the past few decades capable of writing classic books that will stand the test of time.

    For a book to be a classic, you MUST have a reprint selling at relatively high volume. I’m not sure about Redshirts, but I know the Ringworld books still sell (and I don’t like Niven’s writing.) By that criterion, which I would submit is reasonably objective, very little written in the last 20 years should be on that list, and many books written in the past (like Heinlein, Verne, et. al.) should be on such a list.

    aside:

    Ender’s Shadow was the story of Bean. In my opinion, it was a more interesting story than Ender’s Game. Ender’s Game was written around the idea of 3-d battlefields; the entire story grew from that. Ender’s Shadow was written around a genetically engineered runt with an incredibly high IQ and survival instinct. Shadow was a more complete story.

  48. The older part of that list is interesting. The newer, not so much. Best by what criteria? The older books are largely literary (Would anyone read 1984 for fun?), whereas lots of the newer ones are more entertainment. The criteria for “best” are always up in the air anyway. On top of that, anything that has won a Hugo or a Nebula in the past 20 years or so should probably be thrown off of any list – the awards no longer judge the writing, but rather the diversity of the author and the political correctness of the tale.

    As for the question “what is science fiction” – that’s always been a problem, and is probably the reason why there’s now a subcategory on Amazon for “hard science fiction”. Dragonflight is, obviously, pure fantasy. Some books are more “Space Opera”, i.e., they have the trappings of science, but don’t bother to think about them.

    Just as an example: I’m currently reading Dreadnought, by B. V. Larson (second book in a trilogy). While the story is great, his current-day science is weak. A satellite in geosynchronous orbit over the south pole? And that classic mistake: the terrible cold of space? Stumbling over errors like that just throws me out of the story. Building ship hulls partly out of collapsed matter? Hand-waving an inertial compensator? I’ll give him free license because…who knows? But basic errors in known science? Irritating…

    I’ve enjoyed reading your comments on the list. I really liked Scalzi’s “Old Man’s War”, but nothing I’d seen from him since was any good. Hence, I never gave Redshirts a try – I’ll add it to my list. The same for the Orson Scott Card: I really enjoyed Ender’s Game, but then he went off into his pseudo-Indian, pseudo-magic world, and I gave up on him. So I’ve never even heard of Ender’s Shadow, another one I’ll add to my reading list.

    Since people here tend to read PA-fiction, I recently really enjoyed reading CyberStorm by Matthew Mather. That said, I’m not sure I’ll read the next book in the series, because it’s not really a series, but a completely different, unrelated story. The premise in CyberStorm was great, but it’s not repeatable, and there’s no way to build on it. Great story, though, and well-told.

  49. Your new office is an old food court ? That is weird. Did they get the stir fry smell out ?

    I think we are in an old bookstore, possibly a small B&N or Borders. Borders would make sense.

    Once upon a time, this was a swanky building, private student housing at the edge of the UT campus. As I said, the Michael Dell “dorm room” is upstairs. Corner penthouse suite, 1726. I went in there a few years ago picking my son up from computer day camp down the hall.

    (Before “The Legend of Jeff Bezos, Average Guy, Drives A Honda”, there was “The Legend of Michael Dell, Bolting Together A PC For You In His Dorm Room”.)

    Could be worse — some of our group is in Taylor, but the company had to concede the point about some of the OSHA problems using the trailer as a full time office and put in a pumped hand washing station.

    Still, I hate co-working spaces.

    If I wasn’t already demotivated, I saw one of my former students yesterday, a 30 something who was fond of wearing Athleta to class and one of the inspirations for my rule of thumb regarding cheating. She must work for a startup in the space and was dressed to the nines (no yoga wear). Lung power still gets you pretty far in the industry. We pretended not to recognize each other.

    I will take advantage of Texas Chili Parlor’s location around the corner at some point soon.

  50. Scalzi is on-again, off-again in his stories. But I think he’s a pretty good storyteller, so I read him. I make it an explicit point to ignore his politics.

    I agree about most of the books in the Ender-verse. I read them mostly because I enjoyed Ender’s Game, and REALLY enjoyed Ender’s Shadow. I thought he might hit it again. At the very least, I thought the story closed out nicely and tied up most of the loose ends.

    B.V. Larson is a war-tales teller, and the hand-waving DOES bother me. One or two at a time, then a long break so I can enjoy something else.

    I’ll check out CyberStorm. Plenty of good recommendations seem to come from this forum. (Though, to be honest, the PA stuff got thin fast.)

  51. Lists are always of interest. Some of the highest traffic sites online or youtube are TopTen lists or always feature them. We’re competitive animals and lists help us compare ourselves and find our place in the pack. Or maybe we just like calling BS on the other guy.

    I liked Cards’ Seventh Son series. It’s an alternate America where majic works. Some of the small changes are the most interesting in a ‘could have gone that way’ way. Card writes best when he writes about the struggles of the gifted child.

    WRT this list, or any best of all time list, it should stop at least 10 years ago. No one ever gets the present right. If your book’s not still in print and selling well, it’s not a classic.

    Was there any Asimov on that list? Poul Anderson? Ben Bova? Nope. For that matter, and since the list goes out of its way to include diversite’, where’s Pat Cadigan? There was a whole ‘cyber queer’ movement in the late 80s, early 90s that they missed. The stories were better too, because they had to sell on their merits, not their LBTHQPTFFFFT cred. Sherri Tepper was the darling of the SJW set before they were called that and she’s missing. Andre’ Norton? Not a single Jerry Pournelle? But Hunger Games is there.

    “investigate a Navy SEAL who has murdered his own family and disappeared.”
    “thoughtfully explores questions about imperialism and what it means to be under rule. ”
    “imagines a future world free of conflict: poverty, war, hunger, and even mortality have all been solved”

    This author is a vicious online scold, I guess that’s why she gets the tongue bath here– “This first entry in the Broken Earth series transformed Jemisin from a beloved genre darling into a breakout star of mainstream fiction. Set on a planet that’s on the verge of a catastrophic climate disaster, the novel takes place in three different time periods. The narrative follows three female characters who belong to a class that has the power to influence earthquakes and volcanoes. Noted for its incredible characterization, The Fifth Season is a true modern masterpiece.”

    “what might have happened if Africans had developed steam power before Europe forced itself upon the land.” “the most striking thing about this book is the diverse chorus of voices

    I could go on, but basically Brad called it. Avoid the Hugo. Possibly also the Nebula. Most modern publishing is focused on prog talking points.

    Baen Books reprints the classics as well as good modern stories by authors who don’t suck.

    n

  52. JimL, the PA stuff in general is weak due to the inexperience of the authors doing new work. I can’t believe the amount of cr@p RBT used to sort thru.

    There is a LOT of great PA written by mainstream sf authors though, and anything still in print 20years later is gonna be better than 90% of the new stuff. Jerry Pournelle was a long time survivalist and his PA stuff is generally very good.

    It’s not that it’s PA, it’s that the genre spun off on its own, and attracted preppers writing manuals and gear lists disguised as fiction.

    n

  53. @marcelo, yes, I think the Pern books were included because it’s set on another planet settled by humans, and every book opens with the summary that describes the space and OORT cloud, etc.

    Many of the later “fill in the history” books are more classic ‘settling the new frontier’ scifi. Some even have actual space ships. The original story arcs are pretty much straight fantasy though.

    n

    (I’ve been trying to ignore the building desire to re-read the Masterharper/Harper Hall story arc. I’ve got other new books waiting to be read, but I do like the Masterharper and Medoly.)

  54. Not to be _too_ pedantic, but here goes. Menolly. I just pulled my copies from the attic & am encouraging the kinder to take a peek. Menolly is a great example for my daughter, I think.

    If she doesn’t get to it soon, I may beat her to the punch.

  55. Yes, of course! I could only remember that it wasn’t Melody, and didn’t check, even when it didn’t feel right. No reason for it NOT to be Melody and one of the constant irritations while I’m reading those stories.

    I had the same problem with Card’s follow ons to Enders Game, with the Portuguese names. FFS, why add that complexity and friction to the reading experience? MOST english speakers can manage spanish (indeed, many in the US will automatically do it), but Portuguese just LOOKS like it causing that mental hitch every time you have to think about it.

    n

  56. I agree with the distraction in the Card books, but for authenticity, Portuguese makes a certain amount of sense. S.A. is mostly Portuguese. (at least, that’s the why of it.)

    Language drift on Pern also makes a good bit of sense. Hundreds (thousands) of years (?) have passed. Robinton, Jaxom, Moretta, aren’t that hard to get used to. Many books I’ve read set in other worlds do that. The contractions (F’lar, F’nor, J’xom) were a good bit more difficult to work with, though I managed by the end of the first book. Made it VERY easy to picture who the subject was each time I saw one.

  57. Lists of “100 best” are of course just someone’s opinion. I have read very few of those past number 50 but many of those prior to #50. Canadian plug: Margaret Atwood is a very good writer and she writing near-future dystopia science-fiction which is interesting because she is one of the few writers considered a “literary star” by the intelligentsia that does so. I consider that bonus points for science fiction as it forces the snobby to consider the genre seriously. Certainly with a political concern in both the Handmaid’s Tale and Oryx and Crake but still very well written. I would observe she is not a comfortable read for men as she is very critical of us. A further Canadian plug for William Gibson – Neuromancer is a classic, but he has written much more, also in near-future dystopian worlds, and the more he writes the closer he seems to place these “futures”. All my opinion of course. I am also quite fond of Baen Books as a publisher. John Ringo ruined The Walking Dead for me as I can’t suspend disbelief anymore regarding how stupidly the survivors behave. YMMV.

  58. I count 29 that I have read plus a few I’m not sure of.

    I recognize nothing after 53. Darwin’s Radio by Greg Bear. Er, it’s on the shelf, unread.

    It’s a thin list. But hey, we’re on the Internet and “Someone Is Wrong!” 🙂

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