THE VIEW FROM CHAOS MANOR
View 519 May 19 - 25, 2008
Highlights this week:
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May 19, 2008
Today I see the oncologist. The appointment is in the morning, so I won't have a column or mail or much posted here.
1445: We got back at noon. I immediately went to bed. I don't have a lot of news on why I want to sleep all day some days. It may just be funk, and need some will power.
The news is that I seem to be recovering nicely. The blood protein levels are normal, which means the tumor may be dead; it doesn't seem to be generating the stuff that caused all the alarm in the first place. If could come back, and once in a blue moon this kind of tumor - whose name I was told, it's two words, but I didn't write it down and now I have forgotten -- will revive and less often will send out colonies, but the indications are that it's been knocked way back. (Roberta says the word for the day is Plasmacytoma.)
I still have indigestion, not much appetite, and some head and throat problems, and I don't talk as well as I used to, but the speech problem is probably residual nerve damage from where the monster was. All this may or may not get better. Since I can still think in decent paragraphs, and write, and my only problem is hesitation in speech, I can live with this, and what the heck, it may get better. It's sure better than it was.
I'd be even more cheered up if I hadn't come home and crashed, but I have a lot of mail from other cancer survivors who say it takes a lot longer than you think to get back to a reasonable work day. One said it was nearly a year before he could work more than two hours a day. It just takes time.
And of course I now worry that all this is pure funk, and all I have to do is screw up my will power and not crash when I feel like it. It's all an odd experience for me, because in the past there is no way I could have just laid down and gone to sleep in the afternoon. I'd try to take naps, lie there a few minutes, and get up and go to work. Now I actually go to sleep. So something's different here.
Anyway, I need to come up with a new schedule that is more realistic.
It looks as if it's going to take some time to get back to doing a reasonable amount of work. I sure get to wishing I didn't want to just collapse, though.
Here's a possible solution to my energy problem:
Subject: Starship Trooper!
Does this sound familiar?
Maybe we can all have powered armor...
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|This week:||Tuesday, May
The word I was looking for yesterday is Plasmacytoma.
Today I need to get some work done. Walk in the morning, get some work done on writing up the new computer, then go upstairs and stare at Janissaries for a while. Perhaps I can get started on that.
Slept in until 0900, took our walk, came home and crashed. I seem to be up and about and ready to get some work done. I hope. I'll try to get to work now.
In my last column I illustrated the wild swing in Yahoo stock by saying
I was also careful to point out that day trading is a very risky business. A bit later a reader informed me that Yahoo never got as low as 20. That may well be true: I picked the number off a chart on my iPhone, and that is not a terribly accurate source of information. He came up with a different buy/sell combination, but then said there wasn't enough information and it was all too risky. I can hardly disagree with that. Actually almost anyone able to take advantage of that negotiation would probably have had to have inside information, and that, as I understand it, is illegal.
The whole point of the story was that there was a wild swing in the stock price; and once again, looking at the day's volume trades, there were spikes somewhere near 20 (probably slightly above) and at 24. All this was hardly relevant to the point of the article, and I said "it hardly matters".
So, a week later, I get this:
For the record: I put in the remark about day trading and buy and sell orders to illustrate that there was a wild swing in the Yahoo price. I took the data points off the iPhone stock chart, and made no attempt to verify their accuracy to the nearest point, nor did I think it important to do so.
For the record: I don't claim to know much about day trading, and the only people I have known who tried it have got out of the game for fear of black swans. I am sure there are people who make money at the game, but I don't know any, and I certainly wouldn't advise anyone to try it without a great deal of investigation, training, and confidence in their abilities. If I were to attempt day trading in a serious way I'd do a year's dry run (keeping scores in a notebook or Excel spread sheet and not actually putting up any money) with several strategies and see if any of my strategies actually produced a positive result.
For the record: I don't care whether or not I appear knowledgeable about day trading and never did. I was writing a piece about the Microsoft Yahoo negotiations, I thought I made a point, and it never occurred to me that I was being an elitist pretending to know any more about the subject than my readers do. I have books on the subject, and if I had said anything that might actually affect readers I would have taken the trouble to verify the accuracy of the stock price swing. As I recall, the numbers I used came from a Wall Street Journal article and I was actually doing a bit of fact checking by using the iPhone to call up the Yahoo stock history, but I freely confess I didn't think it mattered much. I still don't think it matters much, because I can't see how anyone would have been misled by my column. Certainly my irate correspondent wasn't.
I do tend to be careful with facts that matter, particularly in the columns. And I don't really need to put on airs. On the other hand, I have often said that in addition to doing lots of silly things so you don't have to, I pretend to know everything for a living.... In case anyone wonders, I got that line from Isaac Asimov, and I told him I was going to steal it if I outlived him...
And now to try some real work.
Per the Jerusalem Post (nods: Drudge headline):
'Bush intends to attack Iran before the end of his term'
<snip>(An) official claimed that a senior member of the president's entourage, which concluded a trip to Israel last week, said during a closed meeting that Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney were of the opinion that military action was called for.
However, the official continued, "the hesitancy of Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice" was preventing the administration from deciding to launch such an attack on the Islamic Republic, for the time being.<snip>
We can hope that sanity will prevail. Hope springs eternal...
I should count my blessings. I have managed to get SOMETHING done during these spells of what I guess I should call CRF, and thanks to the subscribers I don't have to claim disability -- not that I want to or know how, and actually I suppose at my age it doesn't even apply. Writers never retire. We do slow down sometimes. Once again, let me thank those who have subscribed and/or renewed over the past few months. That has kept us going without my having to make decisions about capital assets.
And now I really am going to get some real work done. I expect to get a column out this week, then do some work on Janissaries. I have notes on the next chapter of Janissaries, and I know what the next action scene will be. It only requires writing it. And I have decided to update the world of High Justice--Exile to Glory (soon to be available from Baen in one volume, Exile -- and Glory!) and use that as background for LisaBetta, my next solo novel. I will probably also pull in elements from the Sheffield and Pournelle Higher Education as part of the background. I'm working on that now.
So CRF is not going to stop me! It takes a bit of determination to get going -- I will admit that being angry over that letter in the first part here may have helped get me moving -- but once I start I tend to keep going. Excelsior!
It's astonishing how many articles on plasmacytoma one sees...
1505: Had a dermatology appointment at 1100 so the day was crowded. Got up, bowl of cereal, full 1.8 mile walk, home in time to get the dog and drop her off at the groomer before going out to Kaiser Panorama City. Got there early, get into an examining room, took all my clothes off, and damned near froze to death for half an hour until the doctor showed up.
All this was because I had a small spot that wouldn't heal, and the oncologist wanted the dermatologist to look at it; I couldn't get an appointment with my regular dermatologist, but they could get me in today with this other chap. It all worked out well, barring my sitting there in one of those funny robes that open in back freezing my arse off.
While on our walk I had a thought. Actually more than a thought: I saw the entire next chapter of Janissaries, along with a complete solution to a knotty plot problem. I was eager to work on it, but when I got home I had to get Sable and run to make my appointments, and by the time I got back all I wanted to do was sleep. Took a nap, was awakened by the groomer saying Sable was ready, went and got her, and now I'm doing this with what little energy I have.
One reader, a cancer survivor, says I will learn: "When the body says it is nap time, you will nap. You will learn to work in short bursts in between napping, and that's the way it will be for months."
He may be right. I sure don't have any wim, wigor, or witality just now.
As to the dermatology exam, I have a bunch of pre-cancerous conditions, all treated with sprays of liquid air, nothing to worry about. I've had a lot of them in the past and none developed into anything. Now I am a mess of little frostbite spots, including one big one in the spot that brought about the appointment in the first place.
Now to see if I can get up the energy to do a scene in Janissaries.
On the subject of energy, Bob Zubrin has a scheme. See mail.
May 22, 2008
My closing comment yesterday was: On the subject of energy, Bob Zubrin has a scheme. See mail.
This seems to have sparked a fair amount of mail, much of it condemning Dr. Zubrin for one or another reason not much related to the FFV (Flexible Fuel Vehicle) scheme that interested me. For the record, what I found interesting was the requirement that cars sold in the US be capable of running on alcohol, gasoline, or a mixture of both. The logic is that if the US requires this capability, the market will produce alternative fuels -- pure alcohols, alcohol gasoline mixtures -- and this may well reduce the US dependency on Middle East oil.
This seems reasonable to me. It's pretty clear that we can't continue to send a trillion a year to the Middle East and remain a viable society. In any event it is all discussed in mail.
1330: I slept in until late. Don't have a lot of appetite. I did do some breakthrough work on Janissaries (well, Mamelukes) last night, and while lying in bed before getting to sleep; that happens a number of times since I don't sleep through the night or even the morning. I know know precisely what to do with the Mamelukes story. There's still a lot of work to do. Characters to create, a port city to describe, the Roman Navy on Tran to invent; but it should be a good story.
Gingrich and Pelosi
Former Speaker Newt Gingrich appeared in a televised ad with Speaker Pelosi concerning climate change. They were both on the same side of this issue.
For the record, I have not been Newt's advisor since he left office as Speaker. I take no responsibility for his views (never did: I was only one of many advisors). I always found Newt willing to listen, and while he has no strong education in science and technology he is an intelligent man.
My guess is that like many he has been overwhelmed by the sheer amount of Global Warming hysteria, the credentials of some of those who are strong advocates of the Global Warming hysteria, and no one around him willing to make him sit down and go over the counter evidence. When I knew him, Newt was surrounded by a palace guard that was zealous in preventing access to him; I could go to his office and go sit at his desk and wait for him when he was Speaker, but I couldn't get a telephone call through (unless I called his home at 2 AM and I wasn't willing to do that more than the one time I thought it important enough). I suspect it's that way now.
Pity. I think Newt would appreciate being informed on this. Alas, it won't be me that does it.
Sue has an astute observation of a local high school and its denizens. See mail.
And this is cool:
Aegis BMD Satellite Shoot-Down Documentary.
- Roland Dobbins
I seem to be getting some energy back. I intend to devote it to Mamelukes for the rest of the day.
Thanks again to all those who subscribe and allow me to work on what I can, not on grubbing for money.
May 23, 2008
Still in sleeping in late mode. Way behind on Chaos Manor Reviews. Have lots of thoughts on Mamelukes, and I think some energy for working on that. I put Mamelukes first; I'll catch up on Chaos Manor Reviews shortly.
Interim report: the new Core 2 Quad 6600 with Vista Ultimate runs on 64 bits very well. It needs to get into the Reviews. Apparently with enough power Vista isn't as bad as it seems; that's my impression, anyway. Of course I haven't been doing a great variety of stuff with the machine, but the networking and file problems I have had with a Core 2 Duo 32-bit Vista system have not appeared on the new machine. More when I know more.
And we have a new Intel Extreme system under construction. That needs to be written up.
Contemplating how much there is to do is very discouraging. Sigh.
There is more discussion of FFV in mail. And I had best get to work.
Mention of the Dean Drive brings more mail with theories on how to construct a reactionless drive, or spacedrive: that is a device that allows one to travel in inertial space without having reaction mass overboard. Clearly a way around the rocket equation, and something we all want.
For those interested, look at the Dean Drive report. It explains what you must do to get me interested; alas, I have no competence to evaluate theories.
May 24, 2008
1530 and I am just getting started. Woke up at 8, went back to bed until 10, had coffee and cereal and we went for our 2 mile walk. Came back, had lunch, and went back to bed. The theory is that if my system says get some rest, I do that. We'll see how that works.
Yesterday did some work on Mamelukes (the next book in the Janissaries series). I now know how this volume ends, and I even know most of the scenes that get us there.
My IBM t42p was acting up while we were in San Diego. It now won't boot: the hard drive is dead. I can get a new drive, and I have an image of the drive as it was a year or so ago. It is also still in warranty.
Looking at New Egg I see a bunch of notebook drives, but I can't tell which ones will work. I see 7200 and 5400 speeds, both about the same price (they are all about a hundred bucks. What's in it now is a Hitachi Travelstar 80 GB, but I don't see that for sale at New Egg. If you have an IBM t42p ThinkPad and know what I ought to replace the drive with, please let me know.
In addition to the t42 failure I had some other adventures, mostly positive, which will go into the column. And everyone keeps telling me I look better, and I am recovering from my brain tumor. I expect that's true enough, but I sure sleep most of the day.
In case no one has reminded you, let me point out: Chaos Manor View #1 was dated June 4, 1998 – ten years ago, a week from Wednesday. I can remember so many of those columns.
Hurrah! I'll think what I can do for that day.
May 25, 2008
Robert Asprin, RIP
We were never close, but it's impossible to forget Bob Asprin.
I first learned that Yang the Nauseating, KhaKhan of the Dark Horde, and later founder and onetime Commandammit of the Dorsai Irregulars, had probably died when it was announced at the LASFAS meeting Thursday night. No one was certain. Since Katrina -- actually since his divorce from Lynn Abbey -- Bob had not been very visible on anyone's radar. Since then it has become certain: Asprin was found deceased on his couch in his New Orleans home with a Terry Pratchett book in his hand.
We were never very close. I was present at several of his triumphs, including the "Gremlins Do Not Exist" presentation, a slide show of cartoons -- this was long before PowerPoint or even micro computers -- built on the premise that there had been an SF convention on a cruise ship in the Bermuda Triangle, and the entire convention had been abducted by aliens. The story was hilarious. The next year, I think at DISCON (Washington DC World Science Fiction Convention) Asprin announced the formation of the Dorsai Irregulars, with himself as Commandammit. He was already Yang the Nauseating, founder and leader of the Dark Horde household within the Society for Creative Anachronism.
It was probably at DISCON (although I recall it in a slightly different setting so perhaps not) that Asprin and Jim Baen conceived Thieves World, a setting for a series of anthologies. It happens that I was sitting with Jim Baen when the idea came up and there was a lot of enthusiastic talk that I didn't take part in. I was already editing anthologies and while I was invited to contribute to this new one, I didn't commit to it; and in the end I didn't write a story for it, largely because I was already over-worked, and I knew from my own experiences that neither anthologies nor collections of short stories made much money; the real money was in novels, and in my case, novels co-authored with Larry Niven. Bob Asprin never said so directly but I was given to understand that he rather resented my not contributing to Thieves World. If so, I'm sorry I never had the chance to explain: at the time I had a family to support, and my only income was from writing; allocation of my creative resources was pretty critical. In those days I didn't do much short fiction and no fantasy. The shared world stories became fairly popular, and certainly the Thieves World books earned out their advances. They were a pretty good read.
About that time Asprin married Lynn Abbey, and I am not sure I ever saw either of them again; they divorced in 1993 and I am certain I never spent time with either after that. Since I never saw him I can hardly say that I will miss him greatly, although I was reminded of him every time I saw one of the Myth World stories on my bookshelf, and I idly recalled some of our bar talk at conventions. He was one of the funniest people I ever knew.
Bob hadn't done anything much worthy of note for a decade or more: but with Bob Asprin the potential for something very notable was always there.
His second ex-wife, Lynn Abbey, has an appreciation on her web site.
1630: I slept most of the day. I now feel pretty good. Apparently the remedy for most of my problems is to sleep a lot. CRF, Cancer Recovery Fatigue, is quite real. While in its grip I can get pretty depressed. The remedy is simple. Go to bed and pull the covers over my head.
I have got a good part of a column done, and I expect it will be up sometime tomorrow. I'll get however much as I'm able finished tonight. I'll also work on a mailbag. That's a bit easier.
And I now know the entire plot to the end of this volume of the Janissaries saga (Mamelukes; a preview of the opening is available in the subscriber area of Chaos Manor Reviews). Now it takes writing it, which is the easy part unless you want to sleep all the time. Actually I shouldn't say that. The actual writing is not difficult but it does take determination and concentration.
Niven will be over tomorrow. We will probably discuss the new Big Book we have planned, now that there's a pretty good chance I'll be around long enough to finish it.
It's not as if I don't have plenty to recover for, what with all the new Mac equipment, two new Vista machines, Mamelukes, a new novel with Niven....
And I feel pretty good if somewhat tired much of the time.
This is a day book. It's not all that well edited. I try to keep this up daily, but sometimes I can't. I'll keep trying. See also the weekly COMPUTING AT CHAOS MANOR column, 8,000 - 12,000 words, depending. (Older columns here.) For more on what this page is about, please go to the VIEW PAGE. If you have never read the explanatory material on that page, please do so. If you got here through a link that didn't take you to the front page of this site, click here for a better explanation of what we're trying to do here. This site is run on the "public radio" model; see below.
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