Category Archives: Personal Blog

Dr. DNA, Supervillain, Found Dead in Lair

Dr. Paul Grigoli has died. He was found dead, suicide, on May 28th, 2016. Paul was better known, in Dragon Con circles, as Dr. DNA. I think he’d like the page title.

Dr_DNA

Dr. DNA strode around the Con in his trademark spotted lab coat, mouse lab-assistant in his pocket. He was one of the evil villains who manned the “Evil Geniuses for a Better Tomorrow” Panel. He also won the “Who wants to be a Supervillain?” contest. His rants were epic. I was going to build a “DNA Mixer” for the next contest, but it involved alcohol (He loved Patron) and we were told to stop the booze on stage. I did get my wife to sew him a Pandagator. Head of a panda, body of an alligator. Apex ambush predator, very dangerous. (Just ask Dr. Granade about that one, long joke.)

I don’t really know what to say beyond that. He was a genius, a great guy and a good friend. Sure, he wanted to take over the world, but he promised me that I could have the first cloned T-rex. (Hey, I personally EVOLVED to eat that guy, I think I deserve at least a leg!)   jurassic

He had a lot to say, loudly, about all the time. But, at the moment you think he’s just crazy, he says something so amazing, science or philosophy, that you have to back him up to repeat it. Genius, on tap. One of the smartest men I’ve met, and I’ve met a lot. Maybe he wasn’t particularly adept socially, (he really worked at eccentric) but he had a lot of heart.

Paul hit some hard times, turned down for tenure at Vanderbilt and Murray state. He was finishing his exams to teach Physics in High School. I asked him to come out to DC, but between his dad, his kid, his ex-wife, his minions, and his friends, he didn’t want to leave Oklahoma. He didn’t want to leave his Lair.

He loved explosions. I was talking to one of his minions last night and she wanted me out in OK if just to blow something up, in memory. (They don’t really like it when you bring that stuff on planes, just saying.) But an explosion for old times sake.

Bikini Atol 1946

Oh, was THAT your secret superhero headquarters? Wow, you’re going to need a new one. yup.

Well, now the superheroes can sleep a little easier knowing Dr. DNA won’t be out to get them. probably. I mean, villains have been known to come back for revenge. I’d just beware of Pandagators, if I were you.

SuperVillainHandbook

Wherever Dr. DNA is now, his secret Lair will safe forever.

 

Year End Round-up

What is there to say? I’m here to vent my spleen at the science of the day.

  1. Elon Musk wants to put a man/woman on Mars. Well, we all want that. Can his ship land/take off again? Maybe. Looks like a good concept at least. Still, long way from here to trusting a rocket to set my butt down on the red planet. “Many a slip twixt the glass and the lip.”

 

2. Steven Hawkings wants to send sail satellites to other stars. The idea is terrible. I love his work, especially after he decided the Black Hole evaporation doesn’t happen. His current theory allows mini black holes, but enough about that. Let me trash his space probe idea.

Sorry, but just imagine that they do get the satellite up to 3000 km/s, a hundred times faster than anything we’ve done before. How far is a light year again? Look, 3 kklicks is a good number, it means you cross a light year in a hundred years. the CLOSEST target is about 3 ly away. So, the mission, launched in 2020, would arrive in 2320. Exciting, we’d get the return broadcast in 2323. Except, that is a boring dead system. The closest living world is about 10 light years away, so we’d get the broadcast in 3030. I ain’t waiting up. Besides, it’ll only be in that system for a few days. It’ll only be “near” the planet for about a minute.

Great, first principle of the light sail, it doesn’t have a breaking rocket. Not that you could slow down anything at that speed. We’re accelerating it using a super laser for a hundred years. Unless the aliens have a super laser, and want to slow down this beast, it isn’t stopping there, or anywhere. It will just keep going forever…buh bye.

solar_sail_spaceship-spl

3. NASA is getting a change in plan. It hasn’t had a plan in the last 8 years. Constellation, however you want to trash it, was a plan. It had some elements which may or may not have worked. I know, I was there, I worked on some of them. The radiation part, duh. I wrote, had my hands on at least, the majority of the environment documents. It was a plan. The Obama administration killed the plan. They didn’t have an alternate idea, didn’t really want NASA doing its thing. Whatever. Now hopefully a real plan for a Lunar Mission will be articulated. We’ll see.

4. I’ve got a paper to write. so I took a break to vent my spleen. Back to paper writing. I hope everyone has a good summer planned.

Vacation: I got hit by a tornado

Gulf Wars 2016, Lumberton Mississippi

Ok, it sucked. I got in one war point, some nice fighting there, but then we got hit by a tornado and pretty much folded the show. Sucked. Water everywhere. Horizontal rain. Plastic tents were all blown down, many destroyed. Most of the heavy canvas ones did well, but may need repair/dried out. Rough week.

I drove 2000 miles and spent a thousand bucks to sit under a damn tornado. well. maybe better luck next year.

 

Vacation Time! A week in the Middle Ages.

Hey Everyone I’m going on a vacation. Yes, you won’t be able to tell from post frequency. If I keep dividing by zero, maybe you’ll show up and there’ll be infinite posts here….

I’m a medieval re-enactor. Society for Creative Anachronism, SCA, to be specific. It is mostly a sport, partly a family party, when I was younger it was a way to pick up chicks, but I haven’t been younger in a while.  So, how is it a sport? I’m so glad you asked.

Camera test 029

I’m the fellow with the green shirt and yellow belt, off to beat on the big fellow with the red sword. I think he won, actually, but it went a lot like this.

fight 1

So, Gulf wars is a bit of this and a lot of ….

hobby

Vacation, where you sit back and relax, have a beer. (After a few hours of beating people with sticks, watching the baby, cooking meals for 25 on a grill, tent maintenance, and buying stuff for the wife.) Ahh, relaxation.

mad scientist rapier_and_dagger_2

So yes, a rocket scientist, a nuclear warrior, has a vacation as a history nut, a medieval warrior. Some days I’m a mad scientist, some days a renaissance man.

Yeah, I’m in all those pictures. (By definition, I know I’m in the Heavy Ravine War Point, the “Hobbies” picture, but maybe not in the frame, who can tell.) So, I should have some good war stories when I get home. HOPEFULLY.

I’ll see if I can write some science soon.

All Work and No Play makes Jack a Dull Boy

all work

Right, so I’ve not been blogging. I haven’t tweeted, facebooked, or frankly emailed anyone but one friend outside of work. Last few weeks have been busy.

Planning the family vacation, it’ll be a week away from all of the above, camping in Mississippi. I hope the weather is nice. Weather here stinks, pretty much all the time. (Washington DC, come for the terrible weather, stay because the traffic won’t let you leave.)

So, I’ll try to write some science these days. I’m putting in a bit of work on my current fantasy novel, but it is very slow. I’ve been working on spending more time at home with the wife and baby. Less at work. The guys at work appreciate that, but they have a lot for me to do as well. I’m pretty over booked.

Watched a movie, “Home.” It is great. For those of us with less than stellar records in human relationships, Oh is so us. Most scientists don’t think of themselves as scientists, just guys who do a job. We try to be happy, friendly sorts, but we’re the “not good” at social. Watch it. Of course it is a tear jerker, damn cartoons.

I’ll “the science” later.

 

 

Star Wars

starwarsTFA3-970-80What is there to say about Star Wars?

Episode IV was a wonderful movie, V was a good movie, VI wasn’t too bad, had some really good parts. I had some good parts, II didn’t, III was so bad that … it was bad on every level of storytelling.

 

What keeps Star Wars alive, when all around it is failure and bad fan fic? Simple, we all want it.

Explore an infinity of new places, bam. Just get in your hyperdrive capable vehicle and take off.

friends watch back

It isn’t utopia, though there are some utopian areas. It is a real place with a lot of bad, and some really nice good. It is a wild west kind of place, where you carry a blaster and have good friends watch your back.

I actually thought the Disney “Rebels” and “Clone Wars” were very good cartoons. I’ve enjoyed them. I hope that the new movies follow those leads more than the crap of I – III.

What happened to them? Really, it was a film maker who was afraid of his source material. He wanted to look “bigger and smarter” and got shown up as dumb. Writers take note:

Star Wars IV – VI is Arthur, specifically it is Morte de Arthur. Arthur has become the Dark King. Modred in this is our Luke Skywalker, so a likeable boy. He is joined by Morgan le Fae (Leia Organa) and the Druid Knight (come on, he makes a point that he doesn’t believe all that Jedi religion stuff.) His Falcon and Wolf… a Wolfee….

Ok, so the rest is pretty much putting these trappings on a good old fashioned space opera.

space_opera

So the rise of Arthur should have written itself. ANYONE could have written it. But, the usual failings. 1) All the big things have to happened to Anakin at one time. 2) Space Operas aren’t comedic love stories. 3) Character development was in the toilet. 4) Subtle much? Look, a perfectly normal Anakin could have ended episode III. Or he could have been burned and not completely evil, just foreshadowing. Instead, all in. Bad Writing. Bad Story telling.

yoda

Bah, a humbug it is.

Finished with Nanowrimo (at least for this year.)

Nanowrimo!

Well, I didn’t win. That is to say, finishing 50,000 words in 30 days is a win, I didn’t do it. I didn’t get stuck, but during my vacation I only did a couple thousand words, so I was 10 K behind on Friday. I caught nearly up, 46,500 by Monday night, but… well… instead of charging on with a 5 hour write-fest, I took an old buddy out to dinner at Bilbo Baggins.

I’m not done with “The Bone God.” It still lives and is pretty well on the way. The chapters are short and choppy, some don’t really exist, and there are flaws. But, no fatal flaws. I’m going back to my usual method of cooking, one chapter at a time. I’ve got the prologue on my reader’s desk now. More horrible than “The Broken Man.” Well…there are differences. Needs a swordfight in the middle, needs a bit more fire, terror, Piju running.

I still kill off Josiah, Sam, Levi, and a couple other trouble makers. They should be pleased with the horrific nature of their destruction. (these are friends of my son, he’s quite happy with their deaths, as he knows he’s safe. He is another character all together.)

So, I’m in the 40 k range, novels run about 100 k, so I’ve a lot of writing to do. I’m hoping to run at least 1000 words a day, so it should be in rough draft form before the end of January. We’ll see. (Call me on it guys, I’m happy to get reminded to work.)

Also, the sooner I get done, the sooner I get back on Pure Poison. That one is a blast to write.

 

Nanowrimo is kicking my butt!

crest-05e1a637392425b4d5225780797e5a76

Ok, so nanowrimo.org like tweeting. Putting 2000 words down on paper is actual work. I’m glad I have a day job. It is hard work writing a novel, hard work doing what I do for a living. Doing both is a bit of an extreme sport. I’ve got to write a paper – work – while writing a horror story – not work. I’m up a creek.

However, as of today I’m pushing 10,000 words. Not a bad total, but only 1/5th of the way to the nanowrimo “win” and only 1/10 of the way to a book. (assuming these un-edited pages were any good at all, they aren’t.)

So, if I keep this up, in 50 days I’ll have a novel. I’ll 7/5 this because I believe in weekends, after November, so just over 2 months … then some editing, lets call it a rough draft in December and an edited first draft that I could send to an editor, at the end of January of February.

Hopefully, by then, I have a word from Baen on “The Broken Man.” I’m a bit tired of how long the line is in their slush pool. I’m 30 novels back, which would take me – professionally reading – about 30 days. Of course, who gets to read professionally… oh yeah, editors on slush piles. hmmm. Ok, so enough of my snarking. I’m going to get back to work.

I’m sorry I’m not sciencing today. I’m definitely scheduled to “science” for a Pie Party this November. Given that my wife has promised a pumpkin pie, well, of course I’m coming. Save me some cool whip! Oh, and a slice of apple too.

Real science thought for the day. We keep assuming that the next generation tech is better than the current one. Why? Where are we wrong?

Always good for a fight.