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from inside the Tube
21st-Jan-2016 06:43 pm - noir pounding
Serge 2012
"You know you're old, not when your knees hurt from your pounding the pavement, not when you wrists hurt from your pounding at keyboards, but when you realize that your opportunities are becoming increasingly fewer and narrower."

The opening line from a noir story I'd write if I could write.
22nd-Oct-2015 06:46 pm - noir gold
Serge 2012
"They say that respect has to be earned. The problem is that, unlike gold, the value of each achievement that you can put in your 'respect' bank is determined by totally arbitrary criteria. Well, tonight I'm going to rob an actual bank."

The opening line of another noir story I'd write if I knew how to write.
14th-Sep-2015 08:35 am - "All The Colors of the Rainbow"
Serge 2012
“Yes, we have white folks out there, about one in every ten thousand, and they don't think anything of it and neither do we. You can't hide from the universe. You're going to be tramped under with color – all the colors of the rainbow!” And he understood then that that was exactly what they feared.

In 1957's short story “All The Colors of the Rainbow”, Leigh Brackett has Earth join something like the Federation soon after entering the Space Age. Many aliens have been coming down to Earth to help us eventually reach the organization's technological level and to clean up our environment. That's how an alien couple finds itself driving thru a small American town of the South which is proud of never having had any issue with racial integration because, well, black folks had all decided they wanted to go live elsewhere so it never was an issue. But... The couple looks like white humans, except that their skin is green, and that is enough for the town to feel threatened – and inferior – to these two 'colored' people. Things do not go well for anybody involved.

It is but one of the stories in Brackett's story collection “Shannach the Last”, published by Haffner Press in 2011. It makes you remember that Brackett's storytelling ranged far beyond her tales of Eric John Stark's Mars. And even one of the last stories she wrote of that Mars in 1963 puts the lie to this year's assertion by certain people regarding this year's Hugo Award that political statements in SF are a recent thing. I highly recommend that you read this book.

I wish I had met Brackett.
21st-Aug-2015 07:15 am - experience & smart
Serge 2012
"Your experience will never win when your boss is smart and thinks he knows everything."

The opening line of another noir story I'd write if I could write stories.
Serge 2012
I really dislike being second-guessed by someone who knows less than I do.
18th-Aug-2015 10:14 am - foot and hand
Serge 2012
"Many cunning plans go wrong because the right hand isn't paying attention to what the left foot is doing."

The opening line of another noir story I'd write if I could write stories.
17th-Aug-2015 08:38 am - the plight of the essential person
Serge 2012
I am essential.

Until our new system becomes fully functional ("In every way," as Data said to Tasha Yar), our old system will be kept chugging along. Now, I've been transferred to the new system's crew (bilge handler) more than one year ago, and have not been involved in the old system's support since then. When I came in today and saw an email warning everybody that the old system had gone belly up, I figured that the people in charge would take care of it. Then I was pinged by my boss. She wanted to know if I knew whether or not the issue was being addressed. I did what she could have done. I looked up the well-documented cell phone of the old system's manager and brought the situation to his attention.
17th-Aug-2015 07:44 am - age
Serge 2012
"I came of age at almost-57. It was over a few months later."

The opening line of one more of those noir stories I'd write if I could write a story.
12th-Aug-2015 08:49 am - midyear and unsubtlety
Serge 2012
I just had my midyear review. It was good. There's no rating, official or not, but the comments were positive, so I can live with that. I kind of surprised the boss when I said I want to actually work with our new system's new tech. Her reaction is a relief because it indicates that my limited responsibilities are not part of a goal to make me obsolete, but that it just hadn't occurred to her that I might want to do *more*. Oh, and I asked about flying me to the Bay Area. I was quite unsubtle about it, as I've noticed that anything less than a sledgehammer gets me no reaction.
7th-Aug-2015 12:32 pm - the chicken of depression
Serge 2012
This morning I woke up feeling like the blue bird of happiness was hanging around, instead of the usual chicken of depression, but the former flew away and it's back to fowl life.
7th-Aug-2015 12:08 pm - carps die
Serge 2012
Yesterday it looked like a 'carpe diem' might be offering itself to me at the office, but it turned out to be slippery as a fish. So it goes. I think I'll leave early today and go buy a book or something.
7th-Aug-2015 11:29 am - from one end to the other
Serge 2012
Tuesday: "We must deploy this change asap next week. No need to test."
Friday: "We need to test this after all. It can be deployed one week later."
6th-Aug-2015 09:59 pm - six comments about the Four
Serge 2012
First... "Fantastic Four" is better than "Man of Steel", and is not a complete insult to characters who've been around for a long time, and does not ignore the reasons why those characters have been around for so long. Except for Ben Grimm, who really got screwed up.
Second... It's not a disaster, but it's frustrating when someone who's not a storyteller can look at a tale and say "If you had changed that bit of writing, it'd have easily fixed that other thing".
Third...The movies from 2005 and 2007, for all their cheesiness and flawed writing, embrace their origin as a comic-book.
Fourth... It's better than "Man of Steel".
Fifth... I didn't come out of it angry.
Sixth... I'm not easy to please, when it comes to comic-book movies. Ask my wife.
6th-Aug-2015 10:02 am - old Mars and beneath ceaseless skies
Serge 2012
Good time yesterday at the Villanueva State Park, sitting by the Pecos River while I finished reading the anthology "Old Mars". Strangely enough, nobody wrote in the mode of the Angry Red Planet tales of the first explorers to Mars, but a few folks went for the Bradbury mode, and my favorite was Melinda M. Snodgrass​'s "Written in Dust". After that I read a few issues of webzine Beneath Ceaseless Skies​. A few mosquito bites, but that was it. I did have to keep our parasol from pretending it was Mary Poppins' umbrella a couple of times, but, again, a good time was had.
29th-Jul-2015 09:11 am - a nice start
Serge 2012
That *was* a nice way to start the day. A former co-worker just pinged me to ask about a bit of software that he knew I've handled before so I emailed an example to him so that he can do it quickly. I say this because, while I am just a toolmaker, it's nice when a descendant of mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan asks me how I did this or that.
28th-Jul-2015 02:32 pm - all those technological changes
Serge 2012
Did I really go thru all those technological changes since I graduated from college as a computer programmer in May 1977? I guess I did, and successfully too.
25th-Jul-2015 08:12 pm - "The Improbable Virgin"
Serge 2012
"A few hours ago I thought I was alone. It's nice not to be." She gave his shoulder a little thump with her fist, pulled his head down and pressed her lips hard against his cheek. "Welcome back, Willie love. And please - don't do it again. I've never felt so lonely."

Modesty Blaise to her closest friend in "The Improbable Virgin".
(My thanks again to Susan de Guardiola for convincing me I'd love Modesty.)
23rd-Jul-2015 10:22 am - taken, but not a chance
Serge 2012
"It wasn't a chance. I saw talent and a very intelligent person. You got the job because you were the right one for it."

This morning I wrote to my former/former/former/former/former/(catchbreath)/former manager to say that the 20th anniversary of my being with the company is coming up, and to thank her for taking a chance by hiring me. The above is what she responded.
21st-Jul-2015 09:23 am - a few minutes later...
Serge 2012
Yesterday, a few minutes before I was about to log off and catch the bus home…
(“Serge, we need you to set up two urgent change requests for Friday!”)
A few minutes after the bus has gone, I say…
(“Here they are. Please approve them.”)
A few minutes later, with the next bus coming soon…
(“One of the requests should really be scheduled for Thursday,” one of the coordinators says.)
A few minutes later, with the next bus gone…
(“Both requests should really be scheduled for Thursday,” says *another* coordinator.)
A few minutes later…
(“I will contact the other team and ask them when the requests can be handled,” says yet another coordinator.)
A few minutes later… That coordinator’s email finally goes out.
A few minutes later… No response from the other team.
A few minutes later… No response from the other team.
A few minutes later… I leave and go home, and have hot dogs for dinner.
20th-Jul-2015 06:52 am - "Death's Good Dog"
Serge 2012
Recent reading...

TL Morganfield's e*novelette "Death's Good Dog", another story where the American West meets Aztec gods. Recommended.

20th-Jul-2015 06:49 am - "Luckstones"
Serge 2012
Recent reading... "Luckstones", an e*collection of three short stories by Madeleine Robins. Fun. I especially liked "A Writ of Exception". When two Families work to come together by having one family's only child - a girl - marry the other family's only son, it kind of throws a wrench in the works when the son gets killed. Not to let such details get in the way, the Family heads get a Writ of Exception so that the dead son's sister can marry the other family's daughter. The problem is that one of the girls has no interest in life but to become a scholar, while the other girl would by far prefer a husband to a wife. Things are eventually worked out. I wish the author wove a novel out of this.

20th-Jul-2015 06:47 am - "The Secret Lives of Dead Men"
Serge 2012
Recent reading... "Before The Living End" and "The Secret Lives of Dead Men". They respectively collect Issues 1-5, and 6-10 of Ed Brubaker's comic-book "Velvet". Set in 1973, it's about a woman who worked for a very secret agency of the British secret services until they started to suspect she had been turned against her masters. Now she has to find what is really going on and who set her up for a fall in this dark and twisted tale, with a high body count. It has *one* joke, when someone refers to the agency's equivalent of 007's Q as Joe 90.

Looking forward to the rest of the story, still to be published.
5th-Jul-2015 11:18 am - "Sure of You"
Serge 2012
"I'm not a monster. I just can't... make him give up his life here for... something that isn't working anymore."
"I understand."
She dug a Kleenex from her purse and blew her nose. "Do you? Really?"
"I was so afraid that you wouldn't. That you'd hate me for this. I can't stand the thought of ever losing you."
"When have you ever lost me?"

I just finished reading Armistead Maupin's "Sure of You", another of his novels about friendship and love and fear that they will end, which got its title from AA Milne.

Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind.
"Pooh!" he whispered.
"Yes, Piglet?"
"Nothing," said Piglet, taking Pooh's paw. "I just wanted to be sure of you."
3rd-Jul-2015 05:46 am - a Hugo nominee for 2016
Serge 2012
Last night I finished "Nemesis Games", James SA Corey's fifth novel of space opera "The Expanse". Did I like it? Well, I'm expecting it to be my top nominee for next year's Hugos. How good is it? Let's say that if the "Expanse" tv series makes it all the way to the events of this novel, it will knock the audience's socks off.
2nd-Jul-2015 02:08 pm - 20th anniversary
Serge 2012
Regarding the upcoming 20th anniversary of my being with this employer, I hope my boss doesn't bring it up to anybody else in the team because then they'll feel obligated to congratulate me and I'll have to pretend it's an achievement.
2nd-Jul-2015 09:12 am - after the switch
Serge 2012
After we'd switched to our recovery environment, during last weekend's exercise, I was tempted to let one of our tech people send out the email telling everybody that the switch was successful because they had done the actual work. Then I asked myself what my friend and once co-worker would say to me about that and I decided that, since I had done all the prep work(*), and since I had managed the whole thing, I should be the one to give the good news. That went against my nature, but my nature has not been a good guide to success.

(*) As my boss said during the my yearly review, I "...do a lot of tasks that people don't want to..."
Serge 2012
Unrelated to today's momentous events - and quite pale in comparison... I have accomplished an accomplishment at work. The project I had planned and managed is going well. We just completed the switch to our recovery environment, only three minutes behind schedule, and jobs are running smoothly over there.. I think I'll have a drink then some sleep.
23rd-Jun-2015 01:32 pm - "Battlestorm"`
Serge 2012
"Searching for a bike she could 'borrow' to get to Golden Gate Park, she felt the sound before her ears registered it: an earth-shattering blast that rattled windows, set off every car alarm on the block and sent her crashing to her knees. For a few moments she was too deaf even to think, and then she realized what she had just heard. The Gjallarhorn. The herald of Ragnarok, the Last Battle, the end of the world."

(from Susan Krinard's contemporary fantasy novel "Battlestorm")
22nd-Jun-2015 12:29 pm - "Battlestorm"
Serge 2012
"You can't be with *her*," Mist said, letting her hand fall. "Not with Hel."
"But I died of old age," he said. "Of sickness and my body's failure. I was never bound for Valhalla."
She tried to touch him, but her hand passed through him and emerged coated with ash.

- from "Battlestorm", Susan Krinard's upcoming contemporary fantasy novel about Ragnarok in the San Francisco Bay Area
18th-Jun-2015 06:07 am - "Nemesis Games"
Serge 2012
"Alien superweapons were used," Alex said, walking into the room, sleep-sweaty hair standing out from his skull in every direction. "The laws of physics were altered, mistakes were made."

- from James S. A. Corey​'s "Nemesis Games", latest in the "Expanse" space opera series
16th-Jun-2015 10:14 pm - significant others
Serge 2012
I just finished reading Armistead Maupin's novel "Significant Others". Very romantic, about loneliness, love, friendship, family of the blood, family that you luck into.
15th-Jun-2015 01:10 pm - 28 Barbary Lane
Serge 2012
I wonder if Mrs Madrigal would have allowed me to stay at San Francisco's 28 Barbary Lane.

I'm reading and enjoying Armistead Maupin's novel "Significant Others".
10th-Jun-2015 07:46 am - chasing the taste away
Serge 2012
I recently completed my voting for this year's Hugo Awards, after which I went to a nearby bookstore hoping to find something that'd chase away the taste of the whole Pupae-tainted affair. I wound up far from the SF field, and into the mystery section hoping I'd find something by Ed Gorman or by BJ Oliphant, and I wound up with cozy mystery "One Foot in the Grape" by Carlene O'Neil. It's set in the Monterey wine country and my subconscious must have played tricks on me because the heroine gets involved when her relative finds that someone is spoiling her vineyard's wine.

That being said, I'm having a good time with this book and, when I'm done with it, I'll go back to my favorite genre, with James SA Corey's space opera novel "Nemesis Game".
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