Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Sci-fi ideas

Dear Bratty Friends,

Okay, it's late and I'm pretty bored with cleaning out my email inbox. That can wait. I did get it down to 3 pages though!

Over on Forward Motion for Writers, I've been taking the March BTS (back to school) class on Stars n Planets. Good stuff.

Here's one I hadn't heard of before:

A Von Neumann probe - Here's some of the wiki on it:

Von Neumann probes

A von Neumann probe is a self-replicating spacecraft designed to investigate its target system and transmit information about it back to its system of origin. The concept is named after Hungarian American mathematician and physicist John von Neumann, who rigorously studied the concept of self-replicating machines that he called "Universal Assemblers" and which are often referred to as "von Neumann machines". While von Neumann never applied his work to the idea of spacecraft, theoreticians since then have done so.

If a self-replicating probe finds evidence of primitive life (or a primitive, low level culture) it might be programmed to lie dormant, silently observe, attempt to make contact (this variant is known as a Bracewell probe), or even interfere with or guide the evolution of life in some way.

In theory, a self-replicating spacecraft could be sent to a neighbouring star-system, where it would seek out raw materials (extracted from asteroids, moons, gas giants, etc.) to create replicas of itself. These replicas would then be sent out to other star systems. The original "parent" probe could then pursue its primary purpose within the star system. This mission varies widely depending on the variant of self-replicating starship proposed.

Given this pattern, and its similarity to the reproduction patterns of bacteria, it has been pointed out that von Neumann machines might be considered a form of life. In his short story, "Lungfish" (see Examples in fiction below), David Brin touches on this idea, pointing out that self-replicating machines launched by different species might actually compete with one another (in a Darwinistic fashion) for raw material, or even have conflicting missions. Given enough variety of "species" they might even form a type of ecology, or — should they also have a form of artificial intelligence — a society. They may even mutate with untold thousands of "generations".


A more frightening variant of the self-replicating starship is the Berserker. Unlike the benign probe concept, Berserkers are programmed to seek out and exterminate lifeforms and life-bearing exoplanets whenever they are encountered.

The name is derived from a series of novels by Fred Saberhagen which feature an ongoing war between humanity and such machines (see: Berserker). Saberhagen points out (through one of his characters) that the Berserker warships in his novels are not von Neumann machines themselves, but the larger complex of Berserker machines — including automated shipyards — do constitute a von Neumann machine. This again brings up the concept of an ecology of von Neumann machines, or even a von Neumann hive entity.

It is speculated that Berserkers could be created and launched by a xenophobic civilization (see Anvil of Stars, by Greg Bear, in Examples in fiction below) or could theoretically "mutate" from a more benign probe. For instance, a von Neumann ship designed for terraforming processes — mining a planet's surface and adjusting its atmosphere to more human-friendly conditions — might malfunction and attack inhabited planets, killing their inhabitants in the process of changing the planetary environment, and then self-replicating and dispatching more ships to attack other planets.

Replicating "seeder" ships

Yet another variant on the idea of the self-replicating starship is that of the "seeder" ship. Such starships might store the genetic patterns of lifeforms from their home world, perhaps even of the species which created it. Upon finding a habitable exoplanet, or even one that might be terraformed, it would try to replicate such lifeforms — either from stored embryos (see: embryo space colonization) or from stored information using molecular nanotechnology to "build" zygotes with varying genetic information from local raw materials.

Such ships might be terraforming vessels, preparing colony worlds for later colonization by other vessels, or — should they be programmed to recreate, raise, and educate individuals of the species that created it — self-replicating colonizers themselves.

Some proponents of space habitats suggest that planets would be entirely unnecessary to a civilization using this approach. Taken to its extreme, this concept could combine self-replicating habitat ships with technologies such as virtual reality, envatted brains and tissue regeneration to efficiently transform cosmic resources into meaningful subjective lives free from suffering.

Free from suffering?

Huh. That's a nice idea, but not so likely. Good luck with it.

But did you notice the analogy to bacteria? Hmmm why not then an analogy to DNA itself? After all, aren't we all Von Nuemann replicating machines? Yes, us humans. We exist because the original life form of this planet - DNA - wants to reproduce. Until when - or what point, no body knows. Or maybe it is just selfishness that makes it do it.

This is not a new idea per se. Richard Dawkins originally published it in his 1976 work, The Selfish Gene. Smart dude!

That book was followed later by The Red Queen by Matt Ridley, one of my favorite books. Good reading!

Yes, I am a geek at heart. Remember, I do wait with "worm on tongue" for my father's PopSci and PopMech mags each month.

Who knew I'd also like romance once in a while? Wait. I know. Remember the episode of Star Trek (TOS) called "Shore leave?" Yeah. There's a line in there at the end that explains it, I think. But it doesn't explain why I NEED squelchy loud discordant music to clean my brain.

Or does it?

And....the other idea I had today - ironically, while at the gym sweating my butt off! - was a Reality Game Show crossed with Logan's Run.

Yeah, it must be 1970's night tonight. Next, I should find some rockin' 70's music for the blog. That would sure drive the ratings down, wouldn't it? Maybe not as fast as country music....

But I digress. Yes, if you remember Logan's Run, the plot was that once people got to a certain age, they were automatically "terminated" as they'd say today, after all those Ahhhnold films (now that it's Governor Arnold it's a bit hard to take, BTW), with no choice in the matter extended to the peeps.

Okay. Flip that around. That's all I am gonna say. For now.

So, maybe I tend towards post-apocalyptic fiction. Eh. I say. I do it with a nod to the past each and every time.

Okay, I'm brainstorming on the other screen so I'd better go now.


Buenos Noches!

And see ya later.


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Women with chutzpah

Dear Bratty Friends,

I was reading this blog over at the WW (shh! don't tell them!) and thought it was interesting. It got me to thinking, how many historical romance novels do you see where the woman is a pickpocket or thief, instead of the hero? I can think of at least one I've read in the past few years where the man is a thief, but the unsullied daughter of the upper classes? Lord no! *gasps*

Here are some interesting suggestions for further research:

(From Wikipedia)

Christene Mayer (also spelled Meyer) or Kid Glove Rosey (born 1847) was a New York criminal and thief during the late 19th century; her aliases including Mary Scanlon and Rosey Roder.

"Black" Lena Kleinschmidt (born 1835) was a New York criminal who, as a prominent jewel thief during the late 19th century, was an associate of fence Fredericka "Marm" Mandelbaum and Adam Worth. Among others in Mandelbaum's "clique", she and con artist Sophie Lyons served as protégés early in their careers shoplifting and pick pocketing.

Sophie Lyons (December 24, 1848-May 8, 1924) was an American criminal and one of the country's most notorious female thieves, pickpockets, shoplifters and confidence women during the mid-to late 19th century. She and her husbands Ned Lyons and Billy Burke were among the most sought after career criminals in the United States and Canada being wanted in several major cities including Philadelphia, Boston and Montreal from the 1860s until the turn of the century.

Fredericka "Marm" Mandelbaum (1818-1894) was a New York entrepreneur and operated as a criminal fence to many of the street gangs and criminals of the city's underworld, handling between $1-5 million in stolen goods between 1862 until 1884. Like her principal rival John D. Grady and the Grady Gang, she also became a patron to the criminal elements of the city and was involved in financing and organizing numerous burglaries and other criminal operations throughout the post-American Civil War era.

And BTW, I happen to think that The Case for a Female Moriarty is a brilliant idea!

So, for a writing challenge, I will challenge myself to some day write a main character that's a successful fence ... and maybe she meets Prince Charming and havoc ensues.....

No, I am not about to embark on a life of crime, though it must surely pay more than being a writer!

More later,


Oh, and WTH. Here's some bacon for ya!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Miscellaneous stuff

Dear Bratty Friends,

WTH is wrong with me?

Saw a link to this USA Today article on the Seattle Times Web site about the health care bill. It appears that 13 attorneys general are suing the federal government over forcing it down everybody's throat - kinda like car insurance, you know, eh? - and these, so far as this article is concerned, are the dirty dozen + 1:

"Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum is taking the lead and is joined by attorneys general from South Carolina, Nebraska, Texas, Michigan, Utah, Pennsylvania, Alabama, South Dakota, Idaho, Washington, Colorado andLouisiana. All are Republicans except James "Buddy" Caldwell of Louisiana, who is a Democrat

That kinda warmed my heart, really. But this - THIS - was almost enough to make me go to the other side of the fence:

"No Republicans in the U.S. House or Senate voted for the bill."

Sweet God, I almost gotta say I love it. Dang it, a girl starts to love shootin' and before you know it, even though she's a member of the - SO CALLED LIBERAL MEDIA- she starts leanin' to the right.

I'm so ashamed. Maybe I should go eat some bacon?

But first, to go with the plumber talk from the previous post, I bring you this all-too-familiar plumbing dilemma:


Now, with that out of the way, it's time to talk turkey.

Or....maybe not.



Friday, March 26, 2010

My Friday

Well, Friday was .... interesting to say the least.

Thankfully, I came home to:

A bowl of this:

And some mache:

If you haven't tried mache, also known as Corn Salad you really should. Growing it is easy, and it's one of the first greens available in the spring.

Of course, we still have kale, cabbage, collard greens and carrots, but the Brussels sprouts and beets are mostly gone.

For now, we will have to subsist on cole crops I'm afraid.

At least that's better than mussels!



Wednesday, March 24, 2010

My week

Well, it's still happening.

Life's oddness I mean.

So, this weekend, I take my car to Les Scwab to get my tires changed, and lo and behold, but TIRE-GATE 2010 ensues. Yep. Not good. Nasty bits.

So that was Saturday. Sunday I went to the gym (finally) and worked. (I worked Saturday too. I'm a working fool).

Last week, I was right behind the fire trucks again - the ones heading to S. Wenatchee for the (2) fires that night - and then today, I was right behind the police cars who were heading to the scene of a pedestrian struck by a car on Chelan St.

Can it just quit now? I mean, geez! I never signed up for gonzo journalism!

In fact, I didn't even graduate with a Journalism degree. I have a Psych degree! So there. Take that stupid little fire engines and police cars. Shoo! Shoo!

I have serious writing to do. know. Stuff!

Oh BTW if you are on Romance Diva's, you gotta check out the ongoing saga of Kirsten's plumber. It's enough to make you hate chocolate. I mean, that is one HELL of a plumber she's got there. Maye he's kinda like this one?

Wish I had one half that good. I usually get the stinky ones with the hairy butt cracks or else I get a cranky husband. :P

'Course, I have to admit, I always thought Kyle MacLachlan was the sexier one on the show. Had a crush on him since Blue Velvet came out. I mean, seriously. Who didn't?

Well, I guess I better go before I turn into a pumpkin.

I hope that my brain doesn't invent a compilation of these three guys for me tonight. That would be scarier than tire gate!



Sunday, March 21, 2010

Nature Trail 3/21

After a trip to the gym & a boiled dinner, what better than an early evening walk?

Here are some pics I snapped at the Nature Trail, proving once and for all that deer do live there, for those of you who have not yet been initiated to that little secret.

Now, it's back to work! Write, write, write!


As you can see, I like to take pics of trees.

Especially ones with nice shapes or gnarled textures or perhaps just the white ones. They lay so nice against almost any background. Well, except for white!

And at the end of the trail, there's always bacon to guide me home!

More later,


Friday, March 19, 2010


Thursday saw (2) more fires in Wenatchee, and again, I was right in front of the cop cars and fire trucks!

But this time did I blithely follow them to the point of interest? This time did I eagerly search for exploding stacks of tortillas? No.

I just turned around and drove the other way!

Now, you might say that's a pretty quick turn around. But, 24 hours as an ambulance chaser was enough for me!

And besides, I get excitement going to all those meetings....

Sometimes, I am sitting there wishing I was somewhere else. The strange notion used to overtake me more often when I worked retail. Sometime each morning, almost without fail, I'd be fluffing up the girl's undies or hanging up window treatments, and suddenly be struck by a desire to be in a certain other specific place. Always a specific place.

Places like Ocean Shores - zooming up and down the beach early in the morning on a moped, Newport, Ore. - hanging out listening to the sea lions down on the dock, Canada - riding the little putt putt boats around Victoria Harbor in the twilight, or stumbling out of the Hog in the Pound after too many pints, Seattle/Edmonds/Ballard - too many places to name. Some outdoors, some eateries, some cultural places, some dark little corners of the city where one can amuse oneself for a while perhaps. Or bookstores. Etc.

Here's some places I wish I was right now:

Honk if you know 'em!

And happy travels. And for God sake, don't play with matches!



Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Life is odd

Dear Bratty Friends,

Life seems really odd in some ways. Or maybe it's just me. It's hard to tell. We are so...each of us...stuck in our own little cave for our whole life that maybe we just can't see the whole picture. But I fail to see how these events are related. Perhaps you can.

Monday March 15

1. Lucy's Taco truck explodes. Literally. And tortillas flew out the window. Really. It says so here:

WENATCHEE — Stacks of tortillas blasted from the serving window of Lucy’s Tacos truck this morning as firefighters shot water and foam through the burning vehicle, completely gutted by flames.

The popular mobile eatery, parked in the driveway of the owners’ home at 1004 Methow St., was engulfed in flames minutes after neighbors heard an explosion that, they guessed, was erupting propane tanks inside the truck.

Man. I would have loved to see that. I think I will have to use that in a story some day. That, and the story Cheri Farivar told me about the guy in Leavenworth - the Realtor - that saves the dead birds that hit his living room window. He puts them in the freezer, then slips them into people's drinks when he has company.

Yeah. Weirdness. But totally belongs in a story as a character quirk.

Only, my characters would yell, "I want bacon!"

2. At work that day, co-worker tells me about all the HIGH CLASS bars she went bar hopping in on Sat. night. Behind Inna's Cuisine, in the alley, she and her party found a big circular fan just sitting in the alley, burning.

3. On the way home, around 6:00, 3 cop cars peel out in front of me coming out of the YMCA lot. All with sirens blaring, they speed down Mission St. and as I pull over. I pull back out and see more emergency vehicles in my rear view mirror. I say "forget it," and drop down to the avenue to get out of everybody's way.

On Wenatchee Ave., fire engines and more cop cars all turn up Fifth St. By this time I'm starting to wonder WTF is going on. Out of curiosity, I pull up Fifth and see the fire at Garden Terrace. I pull onto a side street and take photos and video footage. As far as I know, I'm the only one in town with the footage. I stand on the sidewalk and try to remember what room my grandfather lived in at Garden Terrace two years ago before he died. I can't remember which floor.

The battery runs out in the camera and the memory card is full. I go home, drink a porter, eat some stew, and head back to work to process the photos and video and write a story.

Tuesday March 16

I wake up from a vivid dream about the prom and I'm suddenly very very depressed. Like the entire weight of the Earth is pressing in on me. And I'm upset about the prom? I laid there, confused. So, I think okay, I remember the prom....I stood up this guy for the prom 'cause I didn't really have a dress to wear and that's because my parents never bought me one. (Yeah, I know, my parents never bought me a pony either!) They didn't much interest or enthusiasm about too much in those days.

And so, I kind of exorcised my own demons. I mean, I laid there thinking to myself, "well, I didn't really have a lot of chutzpa in those days." Today, if somebody asked me to the prom - assuming I was in high school again and I've gone back in time - and I didn't have a dress, instead of moping about it and just rolling over and accepting the limitations of life, I would have simply picked up the phone, called some other girl who wore my size and asked to borrow a dress.

No shit. I mean, that's like a no duh!

But I surely didn't think about it then. No. Of course not. I wasn't quite all there yet or something. I dunno.

Anyway, I wake up all depressed after this prom dream and try to sort it out. In the dream, a while southern type girl named Charmain - no, really! - is cutting us some pie or cake and for a joke, I decide I'm going to call her Charlotte.

Uh huh. You with me?

About 2:00, I can't take it any more. I worked late the night before, I feel like the world is coming to an end, and I leave the office and go home. I have a 3:00 and a 4:00 meeting. While I am home, I decide to take my mind off things by watching a movie. I picked this one:

I swear to God I thought it was a comedy! OMG. People yelling, crying and slapping each other all over the place. How...nice. But, in a way, it made me feel a little better. At least I was better off that the character in the film!

When I get home from work, I drink the Irish Death, fall into a stupor, and then about 8:30 had a cup of tea and worked till 11:00. Sigh. Hard to fall asleep these days.

Wednesday March 17

Happy St. Patty's Day to me.

I have bacon for breakfast. I have bacon for lunch. I come home to find that Netflix didn't ship me the next movie in my queue that I've been breathlessly awaiting:

They sent me this one instead:

Yeah. That was real uplifting.

So, this is Weds. and there's three more days to this week. I have no idea what all this means.

So far we've got:

1. Exploding taco vans with tortillas bursting out the window
2. A derelict fan on fire in an alley.
3. An apartment fire in a senior complex.
4. A dream about the prom and somebody named Charmain.
5. A depressing movie about a recovering drug addict.
6. A depressing movie about racial tension.
7. Bacon.
8. Irish Death.

Okay, I know it's not much of a list and all, but as anybody will tell you, dreams aren't about what is said, but about how they feel. And this - and there is some contention, mind you, whether life is really the dream or whether the dream is really life - just feels .... weird.

And every time I close my eyes, I'm slapping somebody, but I'm not sure who!

Perhaps, in a way, it's about being competitive and what drives my inner drives.

More on that later. Or not.


Monday, March 15, 2010

Reading update


I made it around page 100 in The Sparrow before I wanted to hurl it across the room. Instead, I took it back to the library.

Is that wrong?

This is about the only book I've ever read where I would have begged to see the film instead. Seriously! (It has been purchased by Brad Pitt's company it looks like, according to the Wiki.)

I mean, after 100 pages of character backstory we at last get to the point where we find out what they are ABOUT to do that's going to screw everything up. I figured that by page 200 they might be done TALKING about it, and by page 300 they might actually DO IT. I just couldn't wait that long. I'm sorry. (Or not!)

It seems my taste in fiction these days tends towards a faster read. Now, I did just finish - at last! - Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, and I do consider that quite a feat. But I don't consider it his best work.

I've read Bleak House (had to, for college) and I've read some of his other works too, so it's not that I'm put off by works that are TOO LONG. Rather, I'm put off by works where NOTHING HAPPENS. Yet, it's kinda dramatic.


So then, I picked up this book:

Prodigal by Marc D. Giller. It's edited by Juliet Ulman, who I follow on Twitter as @papertyger.

I liked the way the book started out, with the mission to Mars. I liked the crew and the ship and the voyage and the mystery. But of course as soon as I got to the next section and it switched to characters from the previous book - I always do that, come in the middle of the series! - I was a bit lost. And, I found the other sections, and later the Mars sections of the book veered more and more towards a shoot 'em up with every turn of the page.

Military Sci-Fi. I just never LOVE it. Unlike BACON, it doesn't always taste good. To me, at least. Sometime after the first neck slashing I kind of wished I was watching Pride and Prejudice.

Yes, I'm a wimp. But I'm a Buddhist wimp at least! :)

Also, the APOD pic for Tuesday is way cool. Check it out here.

And just for fun.....

More later,


Thursday, March 11, 2010

Should I rename the blog?

Dear Bratty Friends,

Today -while running of all things - my sister and I of course talked about bacon. In particular, she was daydreaming about a chocolate covered donut with bacon crumbles. I say, yech, but who knows? We also hit up on the idea of renaming my blog the bacon monologues. Hmmm....sounds bacony!

Yes, I had bacon for breakfast!

We later talked about a shot glass Boston Cream Pie drink. I'd never heard of it, but she said she had the recipe. I found one online here.

She even went so far as to suggest that we put a piece of donut in a shot glass, cover it with bacon, and down it.

I don't know about that girl. That's what working in the medical field does a person I guess! And having six dental procedures in two months. That's a lot for a person who needs a sedagive to even get in the chair!

So, I figure I must have talked about 3,000 calories or so of consumables during the run, but probably only burned about 600. I've got quite a bit to burn off before the end of the week. Guess I'll have to do chipmunk man workout.

More later,


Sunday, March 7, 2010

Beer inheritance

Dear Bratty Friends,

When somebody asks you if you want their collection of micro-brewery beer, say "yes!"

Here's what we recently scored - which I was happy to see includes my favorite, Irish Death:

And what better to go with beer for dinner than nachos?

Ground turkey:

Special seasoning - secret recipe, shh!:

And homemade refrieds:

And for entertainment, we chose Star Blazers: wasn't as good as I remembered it.....oh well!

Yeah, I know you want to come over to my house for dinner. Just keep in mind tho, the Irish Death is mine!



Saturday, March 6, 2010

Possible character pics

Note: I'm pretty sure most of these models are from Models 1, located here. Photo copyrights belong to them. To see more Models 1 male models specifically, click here.

This could be Doth and Justin.... but originally, I picked him for Brian.

A semi-preppy Justin.

Justin and the Archangel? Hmmmm....

A more curly haired alluring Justin?

The rigid self-controlled Justin possibility....

A rough and ready Justin.


A bad boy look ... the former demon not quite satisfied yet with his life.

A bit of a twink, but showing Doth's vulnerable side.

A more serious yet freaked out looking Doth just as he could be.

Watch out for this one!

He too, looks capable of deception, doesn't he?

A more Gollum looking Doth. Perhaps closest to his former self?

More bad boy Doth, doing the Rutger Hauer Blade Runner thing.


The Archangel:

Though I did picture him with longer hair...

Maybe this one is the best?


The urbane Malik. Nice flat ironed hair and sassy look!

The Marilyn Manson Malik!

Another Malik look.

Vote fer yer favorites!