One time flying to Asia, I was wandering around and noticed that the curtain was pulled aside so I took a peek. The captain was sitting with his head leaning back like he was snoozing, the 1st officer was doing the flying, the Flight Engineer invited me in to chat (the FEs get lonely I think!). All those analog dials and gauges and meters! No computer screens back then. A fun and interesting aside in an otherwise boring flight.
The Queen of the Skies was truly a wonderful ship. On the times I was in business class on Pan Am trans-Pacific routes, the upper deck was a non-smoking business class area and it felt like we were in our own private plane. Those were also the days when the entrance to the flight deck was simply a black curtain!
…thanks for not calling them ‘adverts’ like our mates across the pond…
“Hey Pando,” Eddie called to me loudly from across our table, around which were seated various denizens comprising our local native wits, who were trying to enjoy Toni’s powerful overcooked and over-perked copper-colored liquid that she playfully lists as “coffee” on the menu of The Scruffy Dog Cafe.
“Um, yes, uh, yeah, Eddie, whazzup?” I replied between sips.
“You know how you’re always going on about the abysmal quality of television commercials?”
“Um, yeah, and thanks for not calling them ‘adverts’ like our mates across the pond. What’s your point?”
Eddie replied, “I’ve been casting a critical eye toward those truly obnoxious car commercials you see these days. You know, how the ad agencies spool together about twenty 1-second clips of cars peeling out, spinning donuts, climbing hills at a 50° angle, like that.”
“Um hm,” I nodded absently. I was still considering the awful aftertaste of a couple of mass-produced American bottled abominations that are amusingly marketed as “beer” that I’d consumed the night before.
“Well,” continued Eddie excitedly, “I’ve pinned down something that’s pretty ridiculous if you look closely enough.”
“In those quick clips they often insert a few seconds of a driver grabbing the floor-mounted gear shift and he shifts gears.”
“Um hm. So Eddie, that’s generally how you get the cars to move from a sitting position to a forward or backward movement.”
“Yeah, Pando, yeah, I know. But here’s a car that supposedly going up Pike’s Peak and they show a shot of the driver shifting from “P” (park) into “R” (reverse). And there’s another one that shows the car taking hairpin turns through a forest and the gear-shifting clip shows him shifting from “D” (drive) into “P”.
“How ‘bout that,” I idly remarked, “That’s par for the course. They know that nobody ever watches that closely so they stick in these ‘gotcha!’ Easter eggs just for the enjoyment of the easily amused. Thanks for entertaining us during an otherwise dull lunch, Eddie.”
Since reading “State of Denial” a couple of years ago, I’ve been a fan of Robin Mahle’s Lacy Merrick and Kate Reid novels…
Primarily because they combine elements of great story-telling with excellent three-dimensional characters, particularly her strong female leads.
“The Kill Season” was an excellent Kate Reid story with a great plotline, fast action, and continued top-notch players. One thing that is interesting for me is the running subplot of tension between Kate Reid and her mentor, Noah Quinn, which adds a bit of a real world aspect to the story.
I’m always looking forward to Robin Mahle’s releases.
We bring you the latest in New Journalism
Today I was reading news articles on my iPad. I noticed that over the past week, every now and then there’s an article where the author appears to be paid by the word, based on the totally superfluous garbage used to set the scene, as if they were writing a play.
Here’s what I am talking about:
And on and on… 💤
We sat together in a charming window booth looking out over the mighty moving mass of people on Tin Pan Alley rushing to and from important meetings, iPhones glued to their ears as if closing their latest big deals. The chintz curtains were a light green, which contrasted swimmingly with the red checkered gingham tablecloth in this tony Italian-Chinese fusion brew pub. Today I am interviewing Chester the Molester, the social media guru and Instagram Influencer over at Jydsk Danish Securities. Chet was wearing a natty five-piece outfit that was a mashup of traditional conservative Wall Street business attire from Hart, Schaffner & Marx, and punk lederhosen from Hannover, Germany, with a brightly-colored Arctic headgear with sealskin earflaps from northern Finland’s Sami people. I would go on and describe his footwear but in the interests of pubic decency, I will refrain. However, I was further struck by the well-trimmed and waxed beard and moustache Chet had affected this mild and windy sunny day…
Serious tit-for-tat Cold War harassing tactics
Yeah, while Vietnam was a pretty hot zone and pretty screwed up from the beginning, Berlin was a cold war zone, with daily incidents at the wall.1996We had free access to the East and our visible intelligence officers cruised around in green military vehicles.
One time a car was coming through the checkpoint back to the West when the gate crashed down on the roof. Just another harassing tactic. The next day a Russian intelligence car was rerouted down a one-way street dead end, where a skunk was tossed into the engine while the driver was trying to turn around. Retribution.
Have you ever seen a heavy tracked vehicle make a turn at 30 mph? Tanks turn by putting the brakes on the inner track while speeding up the outer track. At speed the outer track digs into the soil as it’s moving sideways and forward at the same time (commonly known as slip-skid), and the track throws up a lot of dirt. The dirt is scraped off the surface onto the track, the gets thrown off as the track hits the driver gear at the rear. Guys would do this in a tank range where there were Soviet watch towers 30′ away – the object was to see how far they could throw the dirt over the wire fencing.
In August of 2019 our neighbors Vic and Sandy invited several couples over to share pizza on their newly-completed front patio. Daunna and I joined Marc & Mimi, and Swapnil & Gagan in celebrating. The featured photo shows Gagan offering his approval!
The story – 5 stars; The mechanics – 1 star
As I did with my recent review with Timelines, which I believe was Bob Blink’s first Kindle book, I will divide this review of his latest novel into two parts,
- The story – 5 stars
I thoroughly enjoyed the excellent plot, the characters, the settings, and the non-stop action and suspense of what’s coming next. Bob has a special knack of all good story-tellers in that you get hooked right from the start and it’s difficult to put the book down. It takes time and patience to bring a novel like this from concept to publication, and in telling the story, Blink had me engaged through the entire tale. It was a great read
- The mechanics – 1 star
I thought that in the six or so years between Timelines and The Sixth Extinction there would be marked improvement where copy-editing is concerned. Unfortunatetly this proved not to be so. This book has so many mistakes in grammar that it is hard to imagine any sort of copy-editing even took place. Blink acknowledges seven good folks who supposedly spent “the tiresome effort of chasing down grammar and typographical errors.” I would not wish my name to be publicly associated with that tireless effort. There are many errors that would be red-lined by high school English teachers, let alone any decent book editor.
Here are a few examples of mistakes in several categories:
- Incorrect choice of homophones:
had elected to feint sleep. (feign)
when Ray knocked discretely (discreetly)
He had a couple of friends he could still contact for information, so long as he was discrete. (discreet)
- Incorrect ethnic description
the sharp glances she’d been given by the sexy oriental, (Oriental refers to objects, Asian refers to ethnicity)
- Run-on words
find the names of people that he’d never heard of listed everyday. (every day)
- Missing conjuntions – that/if/whether
Don didn’t need to check the body to confirm [that] the man was dead.
The loop harness was strong enough [that] he could easily pull the unit
- Run-on clauses that need to be separated by commas
someone like Dr. Russell[,] who had discovered the dust clouds and tracked them for multiple years was more likely…
For now[,] the food supplies still relied on the fields below ground
- Quotation marks either missing or misused, resulting in discontinuity in dialog
“Guess I’d better get going,” Ray said, still standing by his chair. [“]Walker’s guy should be ready for me by now.”
- Massive misuse of apostrophes in words that are simple plurals (this is really 8th grade stuff)
They’d rely on input from the citizen’s who had heard Cindy’s message,
The defender’s had apparently momentarily lost track.
- Lack of apostrophes when needed to indicate possessive
“Probably because we got Bill Williams unit,”
- Strange sentences
Not knowing what the current situation might be, another.
John and the Don Russell would require more time for recuperation. (Here Don is a first name, not a title)
- Using an apostrophe where it isn’t needed
“Well, you’re job isn’t to take them out, just to find them.”
- Tacking words together using a dash
had been set-aside for them.
- Creating unnecessary breaks with commas
Those who were Cyborg, would have bodies cloned…
- I flagged the following because it is the sort of thing fighter pilots might endure but not ordinary citizens:
[The transcontinental maglev tube] could bring someone coast to coast in less than an hour. [This would be a speed approaching Mach 3, or 2,500 mph at sea level. Imagine the G forces. And this from someone who worked in satellite systems!]
I would hope that the author reads reviews and takes these issues seriously. Many of these are simple mistakes that we all make but are the sort of things that must be caught by a good proofreader before put on sale.
- The story – 5 stars
If you like chilling and dramatic horror stories, this is for you!
This was an exciting but very descriptive book about a serial killer who targets women who are on the verge of giving birth. He kills then removes the living baby, which he then sells to a broker.
There is another angle to the story that is even grittier but ties in over the course of the novel.
Here is an excerpt that might serve the reader well: “Keri poured a glass of orange juice and added champagne to sip while she read more of Piper’s journal. The journal was too hard to read without alcohol. After the last couple of readings, she’d decided she wanted her senses dulled a bit.”
With that in mind, the book is very well written with a plot that just won’t let go, with chill factors that reach pretty high. If you enjoy books with a lot of tension, and you don’t mind R+ Rated descriptions, then go buy this book.
Note: I was given an advance review copy free by the author in exchange for an honest review. The review above reflects my thoughts about this book. Because I enjoyed it, I will purchase a copy when it is released.
This was a well-written and very interesting sociological sort-of sci-fi thriller that takes place in a dystopian Kingdom of England and Wales toward the end of the 21st century.
The author weaves a good story that is almost like taking a mirror to 2019 Trumpism and white nationalism here in the US. The narrative point of view alternates between a white English lawyer and a black American medical doctor. Seeing what has amounted to a white-nationalist-dominated England through the eyes of an African American is quite disturbing. Altogether an excellent book. I’ve just purchased the second book in this trilogy, “Torn.” This is a book well worth reading.
Do not ever forget to log off a shared terminal; not doing could have terminal consquences
I recently had a discussion with a friend about working in an office in the 1980s. I recalled an experience in 1983 when our word processors were shared IBM terminals.1983
I was writing a fairly detailed summary of how our field support offices would be brought up to speed with docs and training before the release of the next software release for our computerized PABX product. I was called away for a moment, then returned and completed the report, saved the file, then sent to the noisy shared teletype printer. Our admin then picked up the printout, made copies, and distributed it to the project team and several layers of management. These were the days before email, you see.
The next morning my boss called me in and asked how I dared mention that I deserved a 10% raise, which astonished me. He pointed to that phrase, which had been tacked on to the end of some bullet points. Apparently a co-worker stopped by the workstation and saw my report, then innocently added the comment. I had been royally screwed. The lesson learned was to always save and log off when you step away from a workstation, even for a moment to answer somebody’s question. Ahhh, the joys of early Silicon Valley.
California boy guiding tour bus of Germans through Berlin
In the 1990s I worked for an outfit that had developed a reasonably inexpensive way to to transmit voice and data over fiber optic cables. One of the investors was Deutsche Telekom and we had an office in Bonn.1996
Part of my job was to help verify that installation and programming techniques were as simple as possible, so I spent a lot of time in Bonn, and later on projects near Berlin.
Then Ericsson bought our firm and at one point a group of Swedes that was visiting Bonn wanted to check out the Berlin project. We all flew into Berlin and somehow I was the designated driver. As part of the visit the Swedes wanted to take a tour of Berlin, so I drove our minibus around and pointed out all the sights. There were several guys from Bonn in our group but they had never been to Berlin. At one point the Swedish leader just burst out laughing, saying that this is a story for the ages: An American from San Francisco guiding a bus of Germans and Swedes through the capitol of Germany, without a map.
Sometimes simply relocating elsewhere has amusing consequences
Shortly after moving from the San Francisco Peninsula to Bloomington, Indiana, I needed to set up refills for some prescriptions.
I made an appointment with a local doctor’s office and was checking in with his assistant.August 2008She was facing down, looking over my forms, asking me questions and filling in my info. It was difficult to understand her because of other noises in the area.
At one point it sounded like this:
“And your (mumble) dressed?”
To which I plucked at my shirt and exclaimed, “I sure hope so!”
The other clerk, who understood my distress, said in a slow clear voice, “She was asking you for your address.”
Clearly the mistake was mine – out West we say ADD-ress but here the accent is on the second syllable – uh-DRESS, which sounded to me as if she were asking, “And you are dressed?”
Never follow a set routine
Our neighborhood is served by a community mailbox where all of our mailboxes are contained in one large box on a pedestal where the mail carrier delivers our mail.
Since most snail mail is junk mail, I normally walk up there twice a week: Wednesdays and Saturdays. Most of our neighbors know my routine.Wednesday of Labor Day week, 2018
Neighbor George F. likes to kid me about my peculiar habit, and today was no exception as he pulled his car over when he saw me walking our dog.
“Today’s Wednesday so I s’pose you’ve picked up your mail, huh?”
“No actually, this week it’s Thursday because there was no delivery on Monday .”39.1534253-86.467236
You can never pull a fast one on a 1st Sergeant – they will eventually catch on
I was in the Army in the mid-60s, stationed in Berlin as a telephone repairman / switchboard operator. Our outfit was a Signal company, which included any job pertaining to communications – telephone, radio, microwave, crypto, whatever.
Our sergeants and officers were not the the strict gung-ho types you see in war movies or accounts of life in the Infantry. We bunked three to a room. Each of us had a tall closet and a footlocker, where all our worldly possessions were kept.1967
Every Saturday morning we peons headed to a movie theater for a couple of hours of training in some obscure military course. During that time the outfit’s sergeants would go room to room and inspect our gear and the general cleanliness of our quarters. The basic idea was that nobody’s perfect, so each room would get a demerit for one very minor infraction or another (such as one sock was gray from too many washings). You get the idea.
At one point I found a fake dog poop in a store downtown and I placed it in a corner behind a couple of footlockers. There it remained for months – so long that I’d forgotten about it…until one day the list of infractions that was posted named our room with the following: “Dust on fake dog poop in corner.” The captain knew he’d been had as the layer of dust on it must have been there for a long time and none of the previous inspectors had noticed it. His note of infraction was priceless. And he knew exactly who to discipline over it!
Verse by FionaFiona created an amusing verse after an afternoon of play ended by a drizzle
One afternoon in 1993 or 94, I took our daughter Fiona to Foothills Park above Palo Alto. It’s great for enjoying a picnic, hiking the trails, or playing catch.1990s
On this occasion, we were wrapping up our visit just as a light rain began to fall. A car pulled up next to us with several youngsters, who looked ready for fun. At that point, Fifi came up with this short verse to describe what would probably happen after we left.[ct_spacer height=”25″]
When they get out
They’ll jump back in
And ZOOM they’ll be off!
Beware bosses bearing gifts!
Back in the mid-1980s I had a boss who knew that I liked to spice up soups with Tabasco sauce. One day he gave me a new bottle of Dave’s Insanity.
Shortly thereafter, I was making a lentil soup and decided to set a couple of cups aside, ~1986then added to that two-cup portion a drop – just ONE teeny tiny .25mg drop – and did I regret it! Had to ditch that portion of soup and took the bottle to the Hazardous Waste disposal center to prevent my ever-curious infant daughters from accidentally getting a taste from just touching the bottle.
Getting together with neighbors
Daunna and I joined two other couples for burgers, dogs, watermelon, corn on the cob.
As we were eating I was astounded to notice that the other five were “harmonica” corn eaters (side to side),July 4, 2018while I was a “rotator” (roll the cob and eat around the circumference in columns). Of course I was roundly hit with all sorts of barbs and aspersions on my ancestry. I pointed out that my method left fewer missed kernels.
Nobody was impressed.
Take the road less traveled but choose your route wisely
One afternoon as I varied my route from work at IBM, taking a different road to my motel, I came upon a T intersection, with my road ending at the cross street. On approach, one lane became two: One for turning left, the other, right.
In front of me was a car straddling both lanes, making it impossible for me or several other cars behind me to make a free left turn on the red light. The driver behind me began to honk his horn (or “hoot his hooter” in local vernacular).July 1986This upset the driver in front of me and he and his passenger got out of their car and headed right for me, thinking I was the one responsible for honking. I quickly rolled up my window and locked the door, but I needn’t have worried as four boys in the car behind me piled out shouting some rather colorful language and were ready to fight.
The lads from the lane-straddling car quickly revised their plans and strategically withdrew to their own car and burned rubber getting out of there.
After the excitement, I made my left turn and drove to my motel, noting to myself to avoid this route in the future.