Friday, November 27, 2009

Black. And thankfuly not blue.

Okay, 2 stories here...

story 1- Often I hear people say "Black isn't a colour." Okay, maybe *I* hear that more than most people, given my wardrobe. Hey, I wear more colour than I used to. So shush.

One such impudent critic recent told me "Black isn't a colour. It's a HUE." Wait, let me ask photoshop.... No, according to photoshop, hue has nothing to do with brightness. Hue is what changes red to blue, or green, or any of our rainbow pals. By photoshop's standards, any hue can be turned bright or dark enough to be absolute white or black.

Would that mean that black is EVERY colour? In colour by subtraction, yes, it is. In colour by addition, it is no colour at all. But let's skip the technical side of the semantics, let's talk about how people talk.

"What colour is your dog?"
"It doesn't have any colour."
"Doesn't have any colour?? What is it, INVISIBLE? YOU HAVE AN INVISIBLE DOG?!"
"No, it's black."
"Oh, shut up. You and your invisible dog just shut up before I slap you."
"I told you, he's not invisible, he just doesn't have a colour, he's black."
"Where's your invisible dog, I want to slap him first."

Story 2- The result of wet conditions on brakes has never been a friend of mine, (see joe v mustang, 2001) and last monday the phenomenon paid me another visit. Thankfully to much less grievous results.

Manual wheelchair brakes, unlike brakes in a car, apply pressure directly to the tire. Tires get wet. Wet is slippery. Thus, on a wet day like last monday, (it IS monsoon season in vancouver after all) my brakes became all but useless when I went outside. Thankfully I didn't have Caitlin with me... she doesn't need to be pummeled by rain if not necessary.

So there I was with my wet tires, loaded onto the bus with its wet floor. The straps were hooked onto the back ends of my arm-rests, and off we went. Quite often with sudden acceleration of a bus, I find myself in a momentary, involuntary wheelie. And there we go..

Okay.. this has gone on a fraction of a second longer than I expected. And I'm leaning back farther, maybe. Alright, I'm ready to 'land' again. Any time now. Grab onto the rail and ... well.. frig. And slowly guide the fall to the floor. While my collective mass had been leaning back, my wheels slid forward, and the straps that were supposed to keep me secure- only detained my upper half, which is hat caused the extreme 'lean' back.

By now, others had taken notice. "Stop the bus!" I heard others say, "Stop! The wheelchair fell over!" Yeah, looks like it did, didn't it? Thankfully due to the the minimal impact, I wasn't hurt, and I was still positioned pretty well in the chair. As the bus came to a halt, and a slid a little on the floor, I realized that the floor of a bus smells worse than you might imagine. Next time you get off a bus, find a pile of dogshit as soon as you can, to scrape off the germs from the bus.

This was usually the moment in the fall when I started considering how I was going to fix the situation. There wasn't time. Before I knew it, two or more guys were over me, preparing to haul me and the chair upright. Maybe they knew the smell of the bus floor, and that's why they rushed to my aid so quickly. Either way, yay for one's fellow man.

The bus driver checked with me over and over that I was alright. He seemed to think that a clamp that was supposed to be grabbing my back wheel was to blame for not grabbing. I guess it was a contributing factor. I got into the other wheelchair spot, made sure that the clamp was working, and that the straps were anchored in more useful places. It felt like about a minute from the fall, to when the bus got going again. By far my quickest falling experience.

I wonder how it might have been different if I had Caitlin strapped into my lap. Her added weight might have made my landing rougher. She would have been fine either way, using ME as an impact cushion. Would she have been scared, or amused? Or maybe her weight in my lap might have prevented the fall altogether. It's hard to say, but you can bet I'll always be mindful of the finer details of bus-riding in wet conditions.

Operation eBook drop

So I recently put my ebooks up on a site called "Smashwords". I think I mentioned it before, along with the huge half-book long samples I have there.

Anyway, somehow or another, I hear about OeBD. Authors (Creeping up to 300 of us now) agree to donate free access to our e-books to troops overseas. Apparently, ebooks, with the mobility and convenience they offer, are popular with the troops, but access to them is a little on the tricky side.

The thing it, OeBD mainly supports US and UK troops... which hey, we're all on the same side, (Give or take the controversy over us being there at all- but this is about the individuals out there, not the policies that got them there), and as a Canadian, I want to help connect OeBD's organizer with a solder or more, who can offer the program to Canadian troops.

Anyone got a contact over there, who might wanna help out a bit?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

30,000 Reavers and nuthin' on

Not too long ago, I re-watched 'Serenity'. (For the uninitiated, it's by Joss Wheadon, and caps off the short-lived, under appreciated sci-fi series 'Firefly', and makes 'Return of the Jedi' look like Sesame street.)
(Firefly DVD set. Rent it, borrow it, buy it. Then Serenity.)

During Serenity (Minor spoilers ahead), we hear details about the creation of the 'reavers', the nastiest group in the Firefly universe. With a little viewer-nerd math, we find out that an estimated 30,000 reavers were originally created.

Feeling smug after I did the simple math, I hit google to see if anyone else had figured it out. Well duh. Many had. I ended up lurking in a forum where people were discussing reavers.

One denizen of this forum felt that reavers weren't explained enough, and that she wanted to see more of 'reaver society'. She wanted all the details. She also wanted to know more about how the ships in firefly worked. She essentially said she wanted it done like Star Trek does it.

Firefly's reavers are scarier BECAUSE we don't know the details. The unknown is scary. We know too much about all the 'evil' star trek aliens for them to be scary at all. Romulans, ooooOOooooOOOh. What's scarier- A Klingon with a Bat'lef coming at you, when you have full knowledge of their government system, and honor based culture, or a Reaver. For much of Firefly, all we know about Reavers is that they will "rape you to death, eat your flesh, and sew your skin into their clothes, and if you're lucky, they'll do it in that order." Hi. Scary. No known origin? (Until the Serenity movie) Mysterious.
In Star Trek we're well informed all about all the significant races, and are fed paragraphs of made-up science revolving around the engines and transporters, etc, etc. I, and many firefly fans love firefly because IT'S NOT STAR TREK. It's much more character driven. The tech is there to enable the story, but the tech itself is not the story. Oh, and don't get me started on Star Trek's 'humor'.

I feel the same way with my writing, (The offer is still on the table for Mr. Wheadon to produce my movies) as I touched on a bit in October at the VCON forum "Hard sci-fi".

There's some tech concepts that I'm alright with watching, but don't want to write about. Faster than light travel, (or even space in general) time travel, teleportation, holodecks, aliens, the list goes on... That much qualifies me as a 'hard' sci fi author, I suppose.

Where I get soft is largely that I don't give a crap about going into detail abut the tech that I DO use. By contrast, the panelist on the other end of the table had doctorates in all kinds of things, and likely lets the reader know every detail he can. That's fine for some, but not me. Like I said, the characters are far more interesting than the rate of decay in the batteries in their walkmen. Or the flux variance on the quantum tribble eviscerator.
(And I will never put anything in my books about anything flux, or quantum.)

So sue me.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

New stock in, writing continues.

Just a quick note to those of you locals who missed out on the last batch (Due to a combination of a lack of preordering, and the huge success at VCON) I got a new shipment today! (Both Lifehack and Watching Yute) So if you're still looking for a copy, let me know! I'm eating the tax, the duty, the delivery, and even after that, I'm rounding down.

I only got trade paperbacks though... if you want a hardcover, order it off the net like the rest of the world. They cost so much more to have made, it's not worth my effort to keep a stock of em.

In other news, 'Echoes of Erebus' pushes forward... I had an idea last night that will vastly improve flow of the story... and force me to erase nearly a week's worth of writing. But that's the way it goes!

I'm at the point just before Sarah's 'birth', which will be a surprise to her, as she's pretty sure she's already in her mid 20's. But that's the way it goes for a gal made of fish parts collected by an ex-genocidal A.I.!

Sunday, November 8, 2009


Hi. So yeah, I'm a bit late, but here's the previously promised picture of my Halloween costume. I was keeping it partly under wraps so that most of the people at the Dueckman Halloween party wouldn't have advance notice. Those of you who read this via facebook will have already seen this pic- it's my new profile portrait.

The rabbit ears were added spontaneously for a while at the party, and while technically not part of the costume, it worked, so hey. The hair was done at Moz... and looked better on me than I expected...

I go into there and talk to the lady staffing the counter, and explain what I wanted, and why. She says "Oh, I have just the girl for you!"

"Sorry, I'm married."

My appointment was a week later, in time for a shift at Ghost Ridge, but not so early that I'd be running around like a punk for a week. Not that _I_ minded. The gal that was picked out to do this job seemed quite pleased to be doing it. She probably gets a lot of requests from ladies like "I want it like Jennifer Aniston, kinda." No wait.. that's probably out of style.. who has the hair they all copy now? Whatever.

When the cut was finally done, I turned to leave, and found I had a row of ladies watching it happen. How often do you get an audience for a haircut?

I also did a job on my goatee, though the pic doesn't show it well. The bloody handprint on my face was good ole water based poster paint, (Which somehow disappeared all on its own by the time I got home) assorted junk around my neck, and the welding goggles that reminded me of the sunglasses I had in highschool, for the extreme tint. These goggles were horribly uncomfortable though. They spent more time around my neck, or perched on my head than on my face.

By far, the most difficult part of the outfit was my shoulderpads, and matching kneepads. Yes, that's a tire. A steel belted tire. My tough serrated knife was nearly powerless. My father in law's hacksaw was gruelingly slow, (although he was quite determined!) but Uncle Mark happened to be in the area with a skill saw. That did it. Sparks, stink, flying chunks, lo, the epic struggle.

Later on, when I needed an alteration, I didn't wanna pester those guys again, so I pestered another guy, Peter Gobbee, who brought forth his previously unused angle grinder, (for those of you unfamiliar, if you know a dremmel tool... it's like that, but on steroids. ) He also found the multi-stage solution to getting those spikes through. The steel belting poked out on the cut edges, and filing only wore down the rubber, exposing more metal... so I quit while I was ahead. Between that and the back ends of the spikes, this was not an item of comfort. A thick jacket would be needed.

After that, it was easy to string the chains across the back to hold it on. "You're NOT wearing that on the bus", my wife said as I prepared to wear most of the costume (minus the haircut and makeup) to the sci-fi convention at the start of October, "Some crazy guy will take it and use it to attack the bus driver!"

"Relax," assured Adam Zilliax, "The crazy guy is already WEARING it" Well, I relented, and my spiked shoulderpads found their own ride to the convention and back. However, when I wheeled to the Halloween party, with my spikes, and my triple mohawk, I was casting one badass shadow in front of myself every time I passed under a streetlight. (Remember, I didn't have the bunny ears on at that point!)

And so now, I have my difficult-to-dispose-of steel-belted armor to unload. I entertained wearing it to next years sci-fi convention, but I don't know where I'd store the unwieldy gear. Ghost Ridge might want it...

So now, I have a shaved head and chin, and the epic tale of the tire is done....

and it's almost 3 bloody AM, and I can't sleep due to coughing my lungs out. WHEEEE!!!!

Friday, November 6, 2009


Or maybe I should write "eye-decks-ay".

'Eidechse' is what I'm trying to say. It's German for 'lizard'. I wasn't sure about the pronunciation, so I asked the German student we were hosting last year. And I kinda forgot how. I was guessing with "Eye-da-shey", and knew I was wrong... so I just asked the German student I'm hosting right now, and she corrected me.

In fact, half the reason I'm making this blog entry is to cement the correct pronunciation in my head. Idexay. Eidechse. Idexay. What does a German lizard have to do with anything? Read Watching Yute.

There's lizards all over the place around the Yute temple. Specifically the Aeki species. (Don't bother looking it up unless it's on the wiki found on my website)

Speaking of books, I have another shipment on its way, so any of y'all who missed the boat for the first run pre-orders, and were left sucking wind in the wake of the VCON sellout... lemmie know! (This all assumes you're a local... otherwise, you're just as well off ordering online)

Next post- Lifehack versus Watching Yute