New Foreigner Book!


a few hardcovers and pbs available from Closed Circle, signed. Latest: Moonlover and the Fountain of Blood, Jane Fancher short story. Chernevog, part 2 of the Rusalka trilogy co-written by CJ and Jane; and Orion's Children, a tetralogy from Lynn. Plus, coming soon: e-books: Yvgenie, and books from Jane.



At Miscon 2013, around Memorial Day, Missoula MT, At SoonerCon, in OKC, around June 15, also Spokon in Spokane, in July/August, Beyond that, we aren't sure.
April 2014
« Mar    

Down to 18 degrees last night…

And the pond is really, really frozen. Yesterday our two scoundrel fish-raiding cats (because of whom we have had to net the pond) were out there near the pond heater hole in the ice, and the ice was cracking under them—I watched them the entire time, really not wanting to have to run out there and rescue an ungrateful and very wet and cold cat who’d be tangled in our pond netting, but they managed not to fall in.

We have left the side garage door open because we have problems with a winter mouse infestation out there that has cost us a lot of work and nastiness, but I think as temperatures head for the single digits Wednesday, we should close that door to protect stuff in the garage, not to mention the cars.

Still a few lingering effects of the crud.

And I got half the copyediting checked last night while watching telly.

There is one copyediting tendency that drives me bananas. Say you create a name. Now, the first creation may be unstable. Second or third time you write it, you figure how it should REALLY be spelled, and you use it that way 300 times during a book. The copyeditor will, very reliably, take the first spelling and ‘correct’ all 299 correct forms into the initial ‘wrong’ form, so you have to, patiently, change them all back. Why didn’t YOU correct the first form? Because you couldn’t find the damn thing. There’s one instance that was earlier than you thought.

The copyeditor decided to use Shishoji instead of the proper form, Shishogi. God only knows what form the c/e used in the prior book, because there were so many other copyeditor-produced errors that that one could have gotten past me. I don’t give a damn (Lord, my language goes downhill when I’m doing c/e correction) what was in the prior book: the name is Shishogi, with a hard -g-. and accent on the second syllable. Aarrgh!

I also capitalize Earth as the name of the planet, with ‘earth’ in the normal other or proverbial uses, and the c/e ‘corrected’ all of those. And the East (capital) is Ilisidi’s province. The cardinal directions are not capitalized. The c/e ‘fixed’ all of those.

I tell them time and time and time again. I create style sheets for them. I add notes to the c/e on the title page. I advise them not to tamper with things in quotes because we are dealing with people who do not speak perfectly. I advise them stet all forms of earth or Earth and trust me. Does this make a difference? Only sometimes. By the time I get through fixing all this, the word STET has become STET PASSIM and then STET, DAMMIT! and sometimes one form beyond that, and my blood pressure is through the roof.

But as c/e goes, this is a good job and it is going fast.

87 comments to Down to 18 degrees last night…

  • CJ

    And they DID get the CO-60 back…and are waiting for the Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight to report to a clinic with serious medical problems…if they aren’t glowing in the dark. These people opened the cannister to see what they’d gotten. Bad idea.

    • paul

      Got really lucky on this one. “Dirty Bomb” wasn’t far from some people’s minds! ;) Last I read, last last night, the Mexican Army wasn’t quite sure yet how to put this genie back in the bottle. With a half-life of ~5yrs it may not be emitting as many gamma rays after its useful life in the hospital was over, but they are still just as penetratingly energetic.

    • I wonder what they thought they were going to get with that truck.

      • CJ

        Maybe they thought it was high-powered drugs, if it had a medical symbol on it; but more likely it was the international sign for radioactive, which puts them in contention for the Darwin award.

  • Wolf Lahti

    “I knew I’d hate COBOL the moment I saw they’d used ‘perform’ instead of ‘do’.”
    —Larry Wall, creator of Perl programming language (1954–)

    • Walt

      Completely Obnoxious Because Of Length.

      • tulrose

        Yup. I’ve also used PL/I which is substantially streamlined compared to COBOL but to be really effective you have to look at the code generated and work out how to tell the compiler to do what you want.

        • I had to read a PL/I program and turn it into something more useful (none of the available computers for the project spoke it). It was interesting trying to understand some of the functions well enough to write working substitutes.
          (The program had to work correctly – it was counting Hugo votes.)

      • paul

        You obviously never had to program in the US Navy’s 80′s era, mandatory language CMS-2. Imagine what an old, dyed-in-the-wool COBOL programmer would come up with if he’d heard a lecture about this new academic, strongly structured, language Pascal. That’s CMS-2.

        • tulrose

          CMS? I believe I had more than a nodding acquaintance with that if we’re talking about the language that was introduced with Big Blue’s VM system.

          Never did Algol.

          I’m a TPF systems programmer (or was). When they hold classes for learning TPF all the kiddos who thought they were the best and the brightest become completely frustrated with Assembler in a TPF environment when you have to tell the machine absolutely everything in the minutest detail.

        • Walt

          Worked on a Pascal compiler, written in Pascal, of course. That was fun.

          Also did a little LISP, the onion language. ((((Lambsa notation)))).

    • paul

      APL may be entirely opposite on the verbosity scale, but programming in it requires a feidishly mathematical mind entirely foreign to most humans.

      I can’t reproduce the notation here, of course, but the method for finding the differences between a vector/list of sorted, lowest to highest, numbers (as for a plotting program) is to drop the last/highest of the numbers from the vector and subtract that from the vector having dropped the first/lowest of the numbers. The resultant vector is the differences of adjacent pairs. Gimme a good old fashioned “DO LOOP”!

      • and it read from right to left, IIRC.

        • tulrose


          And does anyone remember the first programmable hand-held calculator that worked with reverse polish notation? Never did get the hang of that one.

          • Walt

            Polish reverse I understand. Like Yoda I can talk.

            But then I had those Linguistics courses I mentioned, and I’m Polish. (Not to mention backwards.)

            Notice the similarity with Japanese word order? Japanese has post-positions instead of pre-positions, and the verb (operator) ends the sentence.

            However, I’ve never been fond of RPN (Reverse Polish Notation). I can use it in a pinch, but I never got an HP RPN calculator, but a TI infix, operator precedence (PEMDAS, though that mnemonic is misleading) programmable calculator, with little magnetic strips to record programs on. Made money programming it to do statistics, too.

          • tulrose

            Yes! One of my old work mates had the TI and we were all green with envy. None of us could afford it ($800 IIRC). He used the magnetic strips to record programs to analyse performance statistics of the ACP (now TPF) system we were tweaking to handle more capacity.

          • Walt

            As I recall, I waited for the TI-52 @$500. Still shocking by today’s standards as it had maybe 1KB and probably did 1K FLOPS (FLoating Operations Per Second).

          • paul

            What gets me is the one I have in the desk drawer works entirely by magic, at least during the day. ;)

          • The first calculator I bought was an HP45. I still have it, but batteries are a real problem. (I have some of the 10c series – easier to deal with, because they use standard batteries.)
            RPN requires practice, but it does have advantages.

          • GreenWyvern

            I really loved those old HP calculators. I once owned an HP21 and an HP25C. I still much prefer RPN calculators to standard ones.

            On my computer I use an HP15C simulator – an excellent little scientific calculator.

  • Walt

    Since we’re talking old iron, here’s a great story from MIT.

    Magic (>>>SWITCH>>>) More Magic

    • tulrose

      Need a “Like” button for the More Magic. Mind if I post it on FB?

    • paul

      It’s a “ground loop”. I still use a coax “10 Base 2″ cable for my LAN, running unobtrusively down the side of the hall, and under a throw rug to cross in front of the bathroom door. For a long time it worked without the shielding being grounded. But there’a a reason some terminators have a little chain and loop on them and some don’t! It’s now and only grounded on this end, to the case, hence wall plug, of my trusty old 486.

  • paul

    Lawn didn’t appear like we froze last night when I got up and peeked out the bedroom window. (This wind nandi sends us is dry, and dry roads are a blessing!) Then I padded out to peer at the thermometer on the kitchen window: 19F past 0830! Predictions for Monday morning keep varying, 13F is the lastest. The odd day has been setting records.

    • Walt

      Goodness knows in SoCal. It keeps flipping between freezing and forty, and maybe-rain and rain, respectively. Whether you call what falls snow, sleet, or graupel seems to be akin to the causes of various religious wars.

      Why is it one can successfully dress for a blizzard, but at home you’re always cold?

      Seriously: I checked, and I was comfortable at 65; but with the heater at 70, I’m cold. (shakes head)

      • And when it isn’t doing that, the wind is blowing.
        Gusts up to 40 today, all day, and it started well before 5am. The weather guys think it will die down tomorrow. About a mile from me, a tree fell over onto a passing car. Missed the passenger compartment – it landed on the hood.

  • paul

    Girding for +6°F in the morning, give or take a degree! I believe the lowest I remember in 21yrs was +15°F. It’s been pretty bitter selling U-Cut Xmas trees at 29°F from ½A beside the house today, worse yesterday afternoon with 5-10mph breeze. Hopefully everybody will stay home tomorrow. Dang, this figured to be my best weekend too! :(

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