In the ink well

Dog Ear

April 10, 2014

Save early, save often (DOG EAR)

I‘m a coder from way, way back. Back in the days when home computer programs were saved on tape and memory was slotted into the machine and could crash if you hit the table hard enough, you saved early. And often. Even while working Fortran on a mainframe you habitually saved. I even always had a book with me back in my Navy Underwater Research days, given the usual outages we faced. Now, everything seems bulletproof. But I am reminded of the old adage: Never have an unsaved session larger than you’d be able to afford to lose (well, something […]
April 3, 2014

Everything new is old again (DOG EAR)

I‘m a cranky cuss in a big box bookstore. And even though I hate them, there are fewer of them – they’re going out of business, so I hate that too. But when I’m in them, I walk around frowning. There in the new arrivals (in the front section, which the publishers of Fire and Bronze were too bankrupt to put me in), there are a bunch of self help book and glittery vamperilic trash. Walking along, I see “staff picks” that are bullshit, the usual NYT bestseller “finds” (no climbing out on limbs here). And over here, a leatherbound […]
March 27, 2014

Better than sex (DOG EAR)

I remember when I got really comfortable flying my old ultralight airplane. The perfect summer day, no wind, gathering hot, and I’d feel the wings bite into the air and lift me into that summer sky. Yeah, sorta like that. Or my new Mini Cooper. It feels perfect, a combination of sensible and sensual. It’s nimble and quick, good for precisely the sort of driving clod-hopper FUVs are incapable of. Yeah, it’s smooth and sexy, just like that. Spooning a lover. Standing before a crowd and bowing. The perfect off-the-cuff statement. The rainy weekend with nothing to do. All those […]
March 20, 2014

Do androids read the book? (DOG EAR)

More from my reading of the famous Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, and one of the favorite topics of the twenty- and twenty-first century. Which is better? Book or movie? Well, in this case, both were good. Like my favorite, The Blue Max, the book and movie took different takes on the same subject, looking at the same coin from different faces. And I like that – perspectives are fun. But here’s where the book was better than the movie. In the book, we understand this world of Philip K. Dick’s to have survived (just barely) a nuclear war. […]
March 13, 2014

Do androids dream of fame (DOG EAR)

I’d mentioned in my last Dog Ear how I’d come to read Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, and the mix of the movie and book (from a Japanese anime perspective). And yes, the little cartoon characters were right – both the movie and the book had merits. I’ve always enjoyed Blade Runner (but only the director’s cut – I mean, really, Rachael has no inception date? That ruins the entire story (and its sprawling idea of the preciousness of life)). Overall, I love the idea of androids desperate to live and a burned out bounty hunter […]
March 6, 2014

Do Androids Watch Anime (DOG EAR)

So one of my entertainment passions is Japanese Animation (or “Anime”). Some of it is stunningly good, some of it is insightful, some of it is just reactionary fun, and some is just stupid. Was watching one, a little one-season deal called Psycho-Pass, a story involving a future society where scanners can tell if you are above a certain “potential” crime level. If so, you can be killed just because of your possibility to do crime. So the broad story is unraveling, the somber mastermind is lounging around, interviewing a hacker who he’ll need for his devilry. But then the […]
February 27, 2014

Serendipity (DOG EAR)

A little something happened while I was running a mile-long freight through the Carolina foothills, hogging on the Tennessee Carolina & Coast. I placed a magazine article. See, I was running trains up in the Asheville area (you can see my blog on trains, over on the left, for details of prototypical operations of trains). Guy named Steve was on the dispatcher’s panel, in the other room, directing the traffic by line phones. He’s got a magnetic board in front of him and he’s moving his markers to keep track of the trains (and telling the crews how far they […]
February 20, 2014

Pondering (DOG EAR)

It’s just a flatline day. I’m in the office before everyone else. Rode the bike in across misty fields, oddly quiet amid this city of a million souls. I’ve got an hour before my next meeting and thought I’d pop out a DOG EAR. But I’ve got nothing. This is one of those moments of existence that are so tough to capture, occur for everyone and yet hardly ever show up in stories. All across history, men have stood on the edge of fields or sat before their clerking desks, dangling in this moment of indecisive inactivity. It’s a moment […]
February 13, 2014

Shared (DOG EAR)

Jesse is my best friend on Earth. We’ve a friendship that has gone back a bit over thirty years. And even though life has separated us, we still talk once a week, to argue politics, talk life or work out new games. So for Christmas/Hanukkah this year, I decided to pick up a book for him, my vastly-enjoyed The Fencing Master. This is a book recommended by a used book shop owner in London, the note of which I carried in my wallet for over a year. And when I read it… Wow. You know that sort of book. You […]
February 6, 2014

Holy Moley! (DOG EAR)

Keep in mind that I need to review a book a week. Anything from a short story to a 800 page monster, something’s gotta show up. I’ve been holding this schedule for years. Anything I read, I review. I have to. The story then goes to the train club, where I was under our mountain, inside staging (where all the trains are kept lined up and ready for a session), entering boxcar numbers into a database I’m writing to handle car routing. A friend is outside the mountain, and we’re discussing theology and religion through the plaster hillside. The thing […]