Let’s Talk Masks

For those of you old enough to remember, they used to say the same things about seat belts that they say about masks now. Yet how stupid do you think people who don’t wear a seatbelt are? I assure you, people who don’t wear masks are twice as stupid and multiple times as dangerous. 

A person who doesn’t wear a seatbelt is only putting themselves in danger. An idiot who walks into Lowe’s without a mask is a much bigger dipshit because they are putting every person they come in contact with at risk.

So yeah,  that happened yesterday, and I called the dude out on it. There was a preteen with her dad in front of him. After asking if I really called him a dipshit, the maskless moron actually said, “That’s not cool saying that in front of a kid.”

“Neither is killing her because of your god-given right to be a dipshit.”

Kid’s dad smiled. Dipshit did not. Instead he said, “You aren’t worth the breath.”

I know words and wit and am quick with responses in situations like this. I said, “Your germy breath or one that isn’t a risk to the rest of us?”

If by some twist of fate, the dipshit is reading this right now, I say to him, “You are still a dipshit.” Wear a mask, dipshit.

Here’s the thing…

Wearing a mask doesn’t hurt you. They’ve proven medically that wearing a mask doesn’t suffocate you, or even lower your oxygen saturation. The worst thing that happens is that crease in your neck fat or behind your ears. 

Think about it. A surgeon wears one for hours while rooting around in our guts. The dentist wears one for an hour while grinding away in your mouth. You can wear one for the trip to Costco or Lowe’s or your favorite adult toy store.

If you are not healthy enough to wear a layer of fabric or paper over your mouth, you aren’t healthy enough to walk around or shop or participate in ‘public’ activities. You shouldn’t be there if a mask makes the difference in your ability to breathe.

My wife and her coworkers wear a mask and shield eight to ten hours straight, five or six days a week. Many of them do not take an unfiltered breath for over eight hours while they are around your loved one. But people who don’t wear a mask in public are literally spitting on their efforts. When you walk around without a mask, that germ they are trying so hard to keep away from your grandma in the nursing home gets a first class ticket to see her. Thank goodness you coughed it into the air just as you walked by a little kid in the garden area or the nurse picking up a frozen dinner because she is so tired from working multiple doubles that she can barely push the start button on the microwave. 

We all have a responsibility here. If you won’t pick it up and run with it, then fuck you, dipshit. Keep buying my books until they have to intubate you. After that, they will put you in a medical coma so you don’t try to rip the tube out of your throat because every breath makes you choke and panic.

However, if you do wear a mask every moment you are around people from outside your household, then thank you. I love you for protecting yourselves, your family, my wife, her patients, and all the people who take care of us right now.

In the Realm of Science Fiction

Warrior’s Realm is in the wild now. In it, Cort steps up and leads humanity into a galactic war with an enemy no one understands. Planets fall one after another, and the only hope is to trace them back to their source, and find some way to keep the Ares Federation of Planets and its new allies out of the path of destruction. But it’s also where we meet Heroc, who bonds humanity to her species in a way that only a true Queen can. More importantly, it takes us from Cort the human leader to Cort the living embodiment of war. Pick it up at your favorite ebook store and give it a spin if you haven’t already.

Speaking of war, how about 2020? Dang. Plagues, infernos, starvation, it’s almost like Momma Nature doesn’t like us anymore. But then, who can blame her? We aren’t exactly good stewards now, are we?

I’ve been pretty much stuck inside for over a month thanks to the wildfires here in northern California. But the last two days have been blissful. Particle counts in the tens instead of in the hundreds. I worked, gardened, and soaked up the sun outside today. Tonight I’ll be grilling some chuck eye steaks. Here’s a secret… it’s just a small rib eye that costs about 40% less. It’s the best grilling steak there is. Tomorrow night I’m grilling pizza. Sunday, I’m grilling something else. But I’ll be outside. To those of you still stuck in the AQI mess, you have my deepest sympathy, and I hope you get the same reprieve that we have soon. Hurricanes? No thanks. One of my remaining brothers has already gone through a couple of those this season in Louisiana, USA. So has my sister in Florida, USA. All I need is a good air filter and I’m set.

I want to get back outside, so I’m going to give Americans and those in countries with approaching elections a little advice.

Image by Hannah Edgman from Pixabay

If you can’t vote, spend your dollar at businesses that support your beliefs. In a corporate oligarchy, which is what I believe the USA and possibly the world is becoming, our dollar is as important as our vote. Use both wisely.

If you can but choose not to vote, you are an idiot and I hope you choose not to reproduce, because you are giving your power away to people who don’t know you, and letting them choose your children’s futures. Giving your own power away is the ultimate betrayal of one’s self. Giving someone else’s power away is the ultimate betrayal of humanity. 

My Intolerance of Intolerance

I have seen several social media posts over the last few months that scare me. One even caused a rift in my own family that has left us forever divided. But I am haunted by two posts in particular. 

One was made to look like a page from a book. It said, “If your religion requires you to hate somebody, then you need a new religion.” That’s really what it boils down to. If you hate someone solely because a misinterpreted, outdated, and repeatedly re-translated book tells you to, then you need a new book. 

The other post was a tweet by a Libyan woman who wrote, “If you’re an American confusedly watching the darkest forces of [your] nation rally around a demagogue, maybe [you] can understand the Mideast now.” I won’t be one of those who rally around a fool who promotes hatred and bigotry and isolationism. And I certainly won’t sit idly by and watch those things boil over in my country. 

When I was a kid growing up in Tulsa, I remember the KKK marching in holiday parades in our area. I remember racially-fueled fights in my high school. I remember people, even my own parents, calling north Tulsa “n* town.”

Image by Andy Choinski from Pixabay

I remember feeling the fear that the elders of my family instilled in me any time we drove through that area to see family in the next town over.

I remember being madly in love with a beautiful young black woman named Kim, and I remember her smiling back at me. Worst of all, I remember never even having the nerve to ask her to go with me, because we both knew our parents wouldn’t have allowed it.

What is happening in the United States during this election cycle scares me. I am scared for my black friends. I worry about a black friend because he is married to a white woman. To make it worse, he works in an area of California where white men missing half of their teeth still wear denim vests quilted with the confederate flag. I am scared for the son of other friends who is a teenage black man, and for that reason alone will be targeted by the police when he gets his driver’s license next year. And I’m scared for the daughter of another friend who is an incredible young black girl who recently spent weeks raising over five-hundred dollars for the American Heart Association. I am scared for the women in my family who could lose the right to make decisions regarding their own bodies. I am scared for my friends and acquaintances in the LGBT community, because their right to have a family is in jeopardy. I am scared for the young men around me, because they may be asked to fight in wars that will further alienate our nation from the rest of the world and make us the target of other people filled with as much hatred as those who are raising their hands to pledge allegiance to a man. Not to our country. To a hate-filled man.

I am a middle-aged white man. I am probably the only demographic in America that is safe. But my safety is hollow if the people I care about and love are not as safe in our country as I am. I too, have a weapon. The written word is both my sword and shield, and if I do not use them to stand up to those who would harm my country, then I am not deserving of the safety I enjoy while those around me live nervously and in fear as we watch what is happening to the land of the free.

I don’t know all the answers and I won’t pretend to dabble in international politics. I will say that I know, with unequivocal certainty, that spouting hatred and taking rights away from people who have never raised their hand to our country, except to pledge allegiance to its flag, isn’t the way to protect our nation or our many ways of life.

I do not know how I am going to use the written word over the next few months, but I must use it, if only to be able to face myself in the mirror.

If you are one of those who spout ‘patriotic’ racism and are lining up to turn back the American clock on basic human rights, you are my enemy. For every word of hatred you spout, I will render two of tolerance. I do want to be able to look at myself in the mirror, but more importantly I want the people I love to know that I did everything I could to ensure their safety.

Warrior’s Blood Re-Release

Warrior’s Blood, book 2 in the Warrior Chronicles, has gone live all over the place – Amazon, Apple, B&N, and many, many more places. If you can’t find it at your preferred source, be patient – it’s out there in the netisphere, but it takes awhile for repopulation, you know.

Ah, back when Cort’s time on Mars had just begun and the whole of the galaxy was waiting for him to make his grand entrance… The memories of scotch and writing that book are strong. Cort was still introducing himself to future humanity in Warrior’s Blood, and the people who would do him harm found they were vastly outnumbered.

By one dude and his little dog.

Okay, okay. One seriously sociopathic hero type dude, his pet wolf, and some reluctant help. 

If you already own Warrior’s Blood, watch for the new version, then download it and re-familiarize yourself with Mars and the roots of the Ares Federation. If you don’t already own it, buy it now, so you can get a taste of what Cort can do when he’s up against a few more bad guys than he was back on Earth.

Meanwhile, back here on earth, my son has mostly recovered from COVID-19, but my oldest brother died from it this week. My wife suits up in two masks, goggles, and a face shield just to treat her patients who are negative. Once her building has positive patients, they will thankfully get even more strict. I stay home, smoke and write and plan next week’s grocery delivery, and make sure she has grilled pizza or burgers or something for dinner. Or she cooks and I clean up. Or we share the cooking. Or whatever. The point is, we stay home. Like you should.

I talked a little last time about hard scifi. I try to base as much of my science fiction on valid theory as I can. Because you deserve the best possible writing I can give you. Doctors Fauci and Birx do their best to give us the most valid treatments and ways to prevent this mess. It’s pretty simple, really. They are scientists and study this enemy for a living.

Like a Marine studies those that would do harm to the Constitution, those doctors and their colleagues study the germ that can stopped by

WEARING
A
FUCKING
MASK

That’s it. If we had all done it at the beginning, this thing would already be over. The “BY GOD I’M ‘MURICAN and I don’t have to wear a mask,” bullshit is just that. We’ve known for centuries that masks are helpful. CENTURIES, people.

But by all means exercise your right to a level of stupidity that MY WIFE MADE ME DELETE THIS PART. Okay, maybe that last part was a tiny harsh, but by the way, the ‘Rona seems to fix MORE SPOUSAL EDITING. So if you want grandkids…. Wear a mask. 

If you don’t support masking up and aren’t social distancing, please NEVER buy my books. Save the money for the funerals you won’t be able to attend. Oh, and if you have the shits, a sniffle, or even a mild temperature, avoid the places called public and work. A coworker who ‘caught a cold at a family thing’ infected my son. SPOUSAL EDITING. AGAIN. SHE SAYS I’M RAGE BLOGGING BECAUSE OF MY BROTHER. Jesus Christ, we are being outsmarted by a single set of genes stuck in a protein shell. Not even a true single celled organism. If you don’t wear a mask, you are literally more stupid than something that isn’t even considered truly alive by most scientists and doctors.

At the very least, if you must go against science and do stupid shit like go eat crackers made of Jesus at church or get yarn at Hobby Lobby and protest against people who want nothing more than to be treated with basic human respect, please make sure you only cough on other people not wearing masks. That way we can put you all in one big mass grave and name it “Asses’ Hole.”

On the other hand, you can do all the right stuff and still end up with this shit. Like my kid. It happens. To those folks, I’m sorry for you and hope you recover. So you can find the fucker who infected you and pop them right in the mouth. Wears gloves and a mask when you do it though, okay? And sanitize after. 

Sorry we didn’t get to the drive system for the new universe. Maybe next time.

Physics. Again.

Image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay

While my blogs are probably going to go back and forth between writing and the current events of the world, I am an author, so writing should take center stage, write? I mean right? I often find myself looking at a mass of files and random scenes trying to either make sense of it all, or to find that one perfect paragraph I wrote that time when I was high or at a wedding and snuck into the can to take a note. Or, because you know me, both.

As I put the work in on the next installment in The Warrior Chronicles, I have also been planning the rest of my writing career. One of the problems a science fiction writer has, especially in my kind of hard sci-fi, that is science fiction that is based on plausible tech, is that for every new series you have to devise a new tech foundation. This means hours, and sometimes even days spent imagining how spacefarers might make intergalactic journeys. Because let’s face it, you are my audience and you want more than just, “He jumped across space and time with total disregard to science.”

So let me tell you about the foundation for the technology that will be used for the rest of my sci-fi career, and let me tell you why I’m so excited about it. First of all, the foundation for all hard sci-fi is physics, so let’s start there. You see, I think the universe is shaped like a seashell. I don’t think my theory breaks anything, either. But I also don’t think it can be proven. Not yet, at least. 

What if the big bang only expanded in all directions for the briefest moment before all the matter in the universe succumbed to chaos and was no longer in perfect balance? I think the mass, and therefore gravity, being out of balance caused a wrinkle in the expanding sphere and forced the early universe to fold in on itself. Only the other part, that part that didn’t fold in, kept expanding outward. 

That part that folded in still wants to expand too, though. And I think it’s that expansion that is pushing the rest of the matter of the universe outward, where it eventually folds back over itself, completing another layer of the known universe.

I also think the universe obeys the rules of the curve Fibonacci explained to us as it expands. 

Until proven otherwise, in my mind and therefore my writing, the universe is seashell-shaped and its expansion can be measured simply by applying Fibonacci’s knowledge to my imagination.

Next time I might tell you how folks are gonna jump through space.

Warning: Best when consumed by the publication date.

One of the things that is very important to me about my writing is that I can claim the sub-genre Hard Science Fiction. I have a few stories in my head that don’t fit the category, but The Warrior Chronicles  are firmly there. What that means is that my technology, my science, my books have to be plausible, and I won’t just say, “The ship went to warp ten.”

In Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Mars books (No, I am not going to compare myself to Burroughs, I am just giving an example of what I am writing about), he uses ‘rays’, or parts of the light spectrum, like gases, to propel the craft used by the inhabitants of Barsoom (Mars). At the time he wrote it, the concept was reasonable. But we have since discredited many aspects of his tech and physics.

The same will happen with my books. In time, science will prove many of the theories I use for FTL travel, time travel, and FTL communication to be incorrect. But I want to hold that wolf at bay (Get it? Wolf? No? Have you even read my books?) for as long as possible. I even have a guy who helps me with that. A physicist who I run my science by, offers suggestions and opinions to help me keep the science as real as possible. Everything from destroying planets to creating anchor points in our local space-time.

I spend a lot of time reading physics papers, weapons research, etc. I talked about it a bit in my Jack of all Trades post. This morning, I came across a white paper about a theory that, if confirmed, will throw my FTL drive system out of the black hole, so to speak. It is about event horizons, particle walls, and extreme gravity.

I took two things away from the article and its two supporting pieces.

Number one: I never, ever, ever, want to cross the event horizon of a black hole. If you ever come in contact with someone who offers you the chance to do so, politely turn them down. Trust me on this.

The second thing I took from the physics headache I got today, is that my science may be disproven within a decade. Dammit!

Someday, I know aspects of my science will fall to the side as drivel. But until then, I want my hard sci-fi fans to enjoy my work. After my science fails, at least I will be in good company. I mean, I’ve already seen my name next to Edgar’s on a Kindle list, so I can at least claim that, right? Right?

Surprise! I’m an Impostor!

A few years ago, my wife got a big promotion. She went from being a worker-bee to being a queen-bee. The most amazing part about it was that very few people at her license level had been promoted to that position. And she is damned good at her job. The productivity levels of the buildings she has managed are good. Her teams make fewer errors than similar groups do, and they are a happier group than most in their industry. My ‘day-job’ is in a related industry, so I hear lots of good things about my wife, often from people who don’t know of my connection to her. In short, she is a great leader, a great boss, and a great manager. I say this so you will understand the part of this post that is about me.

One of the things she used to say back when she was new at the management thing was that she felt like an impostor. As if one day, someone was going to walk into her office and tell her to pack up her shit because they found out she was a fraud.

Photo by Daniel Reche from Pexels

I sort of understood, but not really. I’ve always been very confident about my endeavors. I assume I can do something, and I do it. What others thought of my work was irrelevant. That was, until now.

I want to be clear about something before I go on. I don’t write for money. I don’t write for recognition. I write because I daydream. A lot. All the time, every day. In the shower, in the truck, when I’m laying in bed, pretty much anytime I am awake, I daydream. If I write those daydreams down, I can move on to the next one. Otherwise they dominate my entire day, sometimes screwing with my concentration. So I write to clear my head. All that being said, I get paid to write. I ain’t giving you my daydreams for free.

My financial success as a writer depends very much on what others think of my work. It depends on reviews. It depends on sales rankings. It depends on phrases like ‘Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought’.

Two weeks ago, I freaked out because Warrior’s Scar showed up on a top ten list. Granted it was on a top ten list in a very limited sub-genre of science fiction in another English-speaking country, but I have been on that list for weeks now. I’m proud of that.

Today I had another one of those moments. A friend told me he finished my book and enjoyed it, so I told him to review it. I also emphasized that I wanted an honest review, not a that of a friend.

Wondering if his review was up yet, earlier tonight I went to my book’s Amazon page and saw something new. When I looked at that ‘Also Bought’ section I was talking about, two things jumped out at me: the names of two authors whose work I have on my Kindle. Writers whose work I have paid for, in one case repeatedly.

My name is up there with real authors! Holy Crap! And even better, when you click on one of those two books, mine shows up as a ‘Also Bought’ recommendation. When I saw that, my stomach did a little flip-flop.

So as I write this post, I am worried sick that someone is going to kick in my door and demand that I turn over my Chromebook because they have determined that I am a fraud.

They can have it when they pry it from my cold, dead, hands.

Because I keep seeing my name associated with real authors. Maybe I am an impostor. Maybe I am a fraud. But as long as I keep seeing my name next to those of real writers, I’m going to keep faking it.

Jack of All Trades, Master of One

One of the things I have been most struck by in my journey to become a published (albeit self-published) science fiction writer is the amount of work it really takes. It’s not just writing down your daydreams. I can’t speak for romance writers, mystery writers or authors of other genres, but the amount of research required to write hard science fiction is as vast as the universe I write about. I’ve spent weeks studying particle physics, hours trading messages with astrophysicists, and I’ve even studied linguistics.

I’ve designed powered armor, launch systems, a Mars colony, an intergalactic government, and even dabbled in bio-engineering as I created a few aliens. Just last night I put the finishing touches on an agricultural system that will allow humanity to enter into trade agreements with over 700 species from across our arm of the galaxy. Keep in mind I did all this to just to get a single idea out of my head. That idea? What would happen if a true warrior from our time jumped a few centuries into the future?

Image by marijana1 from Pixabay

Warrior’s Scar began the journey for me. I wrote it mostly to get the story out of my head. But before I could do that, I had to make it believable. Not only for me, but also for my readers. I’ve never been able to write “It happened”. I have to write “It happened because…”. That means I can’t say “The ship jump to beta Centauri.” I have to explain the technology that made that jump possible. This little bit of OCD puts me firmly in the realm of ‘hard science fiction’. Hard science fiction. Dammit. Now I have to study. Now I have to research quantum theory.

I’m a cowboy and a country boy at heart. The weekend before I moved to northern California I was shoveling horse shit and spreading hay for my horse. Astrophysics? Hardly. Now skinning a catfish? That was more my speed. Pull it out of the water, nail its head to a tree and peel the skin down its body. Dip the meat with some buttermilk and cornmeal, throw it in boiling lard until it floats easily, drop in some balls of cornbread mix, and you can bet your waistline that I’m an expert as you down the catfish and hush-puppies. But decades ago, at an age too young to understand its nuances, I read Dune. Then I was hooked. Edgar Rice Burroughs, Jules Verne… You get the idea. Those were the stories and writers that I cut my science fiction teeth on.

Remember how I said I was a country boy? I could write an epic western without reading anything more than a map. I may do it someday. I suspect every writer has something they could write easily. Some topic about which they could finish a novel in a week. But for whatever reason, we don’t. We challenge ourselves. We find the story we have to study about. The story we spend three hours researching for every hour we write. We find the story that broadens our own horizons the same way we seek to broaden the horizons of our readers.

I want you to remember something the next time you read science fiction. It wasn’t just written by an author. It was also written by an almost-astrophysicist, an almost-geologist, an almost-biologist, and an almost-engineer. Maybe it will even be a story by me, the jack of all trades and almost-master of one.