Lately I’ve started paying for books again. While there are plenty or offerings for free at Amazon and iBookstore and whatnot, the old adage ‘you get what you pay for’ seems to apply. There’s a reason the world has editors.

Inhuman, by Danielle Q. Lee, is an example of a good idea fumbled by a writer who could really benefit from the attention of an editor, or at least a good proof reader.

Our main character is a student whom we already know was born in unusual circumstances. She was raised in a traditional Hopi village (cool!) and is now off on the east coast attending university. To raise money for tuition, she volunteers as a gunea pig in a strangely-unfocussed medical study. Then her life suddenly gets weird.

The thing is, you see, our new friend Cassia isn’t human — much to her surprise. Results from a blood test show that her DNA is completely different — a triple helix rather than double (which makes it not DNA at all, actually), and a different number of chromosomes. This catches the eye of a super-secret super-evil government agency whose mandate is to investigate weird shit. And kill it, no matter how useful it might be.

Somehow, despite having absolutely different genetic material, Cassia is able to interbreed with humans. For some reason, the Evil Agency knows this. For some reason, they are more interested in the offspring of an alien than the alien herself. For some reason…

Yeah, there’s a lot of that.

Then there’s the boyfriend problem. She meets a guy, they hit if off, then (*gasp!*) it turns out he’s one of the bad guys! Only… not really?!? He’s doing evil things against his will.

There is an element to the ending that I really appreciated, however, the sort of thing that never happens in stories like these. So bonus points for the writer on that account. Still and all, this novel effectively ended my quest for free material worth reading. It was free, and not worth the price.

Breakfast in Kansas

Twenty-four hours now I’ve been in the artificial world of the Repeat Offenders writing workshop in Lawrence, Kansas. Time is funny here, though; when I lay down to sleep last night it seemed strange — how could this still only be my first night here?

Technically, the workshop hasn’t started yet; the weekend is devoted to a conference and awards ceremony celebrating Science Fiction. The Saturday night reception is one of my favorite events, in which a mix of interesting people is stirred with alcohol. The last couple of years the reception has been at a nice venue with a cash bar, rather than in a university dorm with smuggled-in booze. While this leads to far less stress (and fewer laws broken), people are much more restrained when they have to buy their own beer.

Still, a good time. I spent a lot more time listening than talking. People now think either that I’m wise or that I’m boring.

I missed the event that preceded that; a premier of Destination: Planet Negro!, a sci-fi film by some local guys that, I’m told, does not pull its punches, yet remains fun. I was napping instead. You snooze, you lose.

Now it’s morning, and I’ve walked over to downtown Lawrence to break my fast. The air has a scent that reminds me of visits to Grandma’s in Arkansas many years gone by. A heavy scent, earthy, with a tang of something I can’t pinpoint but I know is there.

I passed by the completely mediocre Fuzzy’s Cantina, which was sure to have the cheesy gooey food I craved, but it’s, well, completely mediocre. On Fuzzy’s patio, patrons were settling in with their first pitchers of Pabst Blue Ribbon to celebrate Sunday morning.

The obviously-breakfasty places are filed with (I assume) the after-church crowd, but I found a sandwich shop called Pickelman’s that was just opening. While a vegetarian sandwich on whole wheat is far from the cheesy home fries I was craving, it will sustain me, with the help of some tomato bisque. It was adequate, but I won’t be dragging my fellow writers here.

Now it’s time to take a breath and dive back into the Workshop Artificial Universe.

Cactus Flowers

The light was a little funny yesterday. Even with the sun high in the sky, there was a reddish quality to the light, as the sunlight was filtered through the smoke of the nearby wildfire. I went out back so see if I could get a good shot of the smoke to the east or to the west.

Side fact: to face the new fire to the east of here, an elite team parachuted in. Once on the ground, the decision was easy: get the hell out of there. Last I read, exactly zero people were fighting that fire. Just too dangerous.

Anyway, I failed to get any interesting smoke shots. But I did notice that some of the prickly pear was in bloom. When you’re a dude trying to get better at what he does, you take pictures of stuff like that. In fact you lie in the dirt and try not to roll over into cactus to practice the shot.

Here’s what I got (click to biggerize):


cactus flower 2

cactus flower 1

cactus flower 4

The last one there, I had another shot that technically, by the numbers, was better-composed. But I like this one more. So there. I was throwing my aperture all over the place, trying to get the out-of-focus parts to be properly out of focus, and I got a wide range of results. But in the end, I got home covered in dirt, with a couple of nice pics on the chip.

And that’s what it’s all about.


Original Six?

Many people are pointing out that this year’s hockey championship is especially cool because it’s between two of the Original Six teams. Chicago Blackhawks vs. Boston Bruins. A battle of old-school heavyweights.

Questions to challenge the hockey faithful:

1) How many teams were in the NHL when it first formed? (Hint: it’s not six)
2) How many of the so-called ‘original’ teams in this championship series were part of the NHL when it first formed? (Hint: The ‘nation’ in NHL was not the United States of America).
3) How many of the REAL original teams are still skating? (Hint: the answer is two, Montreal and Toronto.)
4) Is there any hockey fan base anywhere who doesn’t hate the whiny bitches in Vancouver? (Hint: no. Everyone hates Vancouver.)


How to be a Good Photographer

1. Buy a camera
2. Take pictures
3. Delete 95% of the pictures you take.

The top photogs delete 98%. Maybe 99. That’s how good they are.



Had dinner tonight with a whole lot of Seegers. Big family photo afterwards. I stood in the back.

Those who know how tall I am will find that funny.


Summer Camp!

Today will be a day of Automobiles, Coaches, and Trains, in that order. Stopping off in New Mexico to hang with (a whole lot of) family, then heading on to Kansas to be a writer for a while. Man do I need that.

The good news is that I may have the time to reinvigorate this blog, and post some more creative stuff, at least for a little while. I’m going to miss my sweetie something fierce, though.

More from the road (electricity permitting)!