The M60 goes to war

While not a shipload of regular main battle tanks (which would be nice), I read today that the latest batch of goodies for Ukraine includes bridging materials and vehicles for the Ukrainian army.

This is an introduction of the M60 Patton design into the Ukrainian War, and it could foreshadow a larger deployment of the type into the theatre.

I’ve made the argument for a while that the M60 makes sense in the fighting there, and it should be used. It was a good design, more than capable of taking on the T72 series tanks that are the backbone of the Russian armored forces in the conflict.

Also, any heavy maneuver guy will tell you that crossing obstacles under fire is an essential component of tank warfare. The AVLB was designed to do just that, and can support the majority of the vehicles currently used in the war.

The Ukrainian combat engineers have three missions- mobility, counter-mobility, and survivability. They are the ones who will operate these vehicles, in conjunction with maneuver forces.

Bridging units are essential to this effort, and they are a key part of the combined-arms team. It’s not a glamorous job, but it’s dangerous as hell and utterly necessary.

Remember, a BCT (Brigade Combat Team) has these elements- Infantry, Armor, Artillery, Engineers, and Aviation assets. These elements work together to create the effects necessary to wage war and fulfill the commander’s, and ultimately the national intent.

This is the essence of maneuver warfare, and the AVLB snuck in under the radar.

The Hidden Sun

Hey, all.

I launched my sixth published book today, “The Hidden Sun.” It is the bridge novel of my Ohio Rifles trilogy, a series based in a different First World War.

It was a lot of fun to write, and so far book one “The King’s Ohio Rifles,” has done very well by my standards.

You can pick up this copy on the US version of the Beast here.

My Aussie peeps can go here.

Finally, my UK crowd can take a look here.

Launch days are always good, and today will be no different. This should be a busy year for me, I have three more long-form novel launches scheduled for 2023.

I plan to finish off the Rifles series by May, then I’ll do another book in the Storyteller series in August.

Around Christmas I plan to do the first novel in a for now secret-premise trilogy.

Stay tuned.

The US Army’s stupid AR glasses vs. Xiaomi’s pair

A while back I wrote a piece about the US Army’s overbudget and wildly impractical Integrated Visual Augmentation System, or IVAS. It was called “More Garbage to Carry,” and I meant what I said when I named the article. Compare the image below to the sleek glasses above.

WTF is up with the Army thinking about fielding a useless piece of crap like the Ranger above is trying to use? The IVAS is a soldier’s nightmare. Bulky, claustrophobic, prone to fail, and overly complicated. As a bonus, the IVAS features software by Microsoft, because we all know how reliable and user-friendly that is, of course.

Get real. The Army should cut its losses now and get something like the Xiaomi AR glasses. Here’s an article listing the capabilities of this upcoming off-the-shelf unit. I understand that Xiaomi is based in China, and there may be some issues with sourcing from the PRC.

Fine. The USG should buy a dozen pairs and shamelessly copy them and add a few extra features- this is what companies based in China do with our IP all the time; turnabout is fair play, right?

When I think of daily soldier activities, I can picture doing them with the Xiaomi units.

Things like long movements to contact. Raids. Ambushes. Climbing mountains. Sitting long, boring, and dangerous guard duties at night while struggling to stay awake. Walking through some fire-lit village.

The IVAS would suck for each and every task I just listed.

The Xiaomi AR glasses would not suck, and you could use Android software, which many soldiers would already be intimately familiar with. Of course, I would opt for OS, but hey, you can’t have everything.

Without much tweaking, the Xiaomi units could have NVGs or thermals. They can easily track soldiers much as smart phones already do with equipment- just give everyone a version of an Air Tag. Leaders could use these things to direct the battlespace and communicate. Drone feeds could give clear recon to all combatants in an instant, and be controlled by them, as well.

The Xiaomi units could be a real force multiplier in ways that the stupid IVAS will never be.

Of course, the Microsoft people would squeal like pigs if the Army just dropped the IVAS. So what?

Also, US Ordnance has always struggled with “Not Invented Here” syndrome. This is why our guys went to Vietnam with the outdated M-14 and had their asses handed to them by the AK-47.

Modern warfare happens at the speed of social media and flitting drones. We can no longer afford sclerotic logistics and blinkered thinking.

If the Chinese are making these amazing glasses, I say steal them.

All’s fair in love and war.

Sorry, You’re Still Not an Author.

Wow, that was fast.

And totally predicted both on these pages and JB’s website.

The flood of AI generated books has begun, unfortunately. This was inevitable. In fact, an entire ecosystem of people trying to make big money on Amazon using ChatGPT has sprung into life on YouTube. I don’t need to include a link, you’ll find a lot of examples if you do a simple search.

Taking an hour and plugging a prompt into a program does not make you an author.

Neither will playing with words in an AI program make you an artist.

What these programs do is to cheapen and steal from the creative work of millions, they devalue and copy the creativity and labor of those whose works are on the internet somewhere.

Another facet of these crawling internet bots is that they loan themselves to reinforcing confirmation bias, people’s tendency to process information by looking for, or interpreting, information that is consistent with their existing beliefs.

We have seen this a lot lately. It is a key driver in some of the toxic conspiracy theories floating around these days. You believe in something that is transparently false? Fine. Type your belief into Google and someone’s page somewhere will pop up with tons of “facts” that will verify whatever notion you may hold.

This phenomenon of bad information is a known weakness of ChatGPT, by the way. The program pulls from all sources on the internet, not from sources that actually have to verify facts or produce data that will stand up in court.

Just watch. Journalism has already been cheapened and devalued by this. Over the last few years, “alternative facts” have become a thing. If you don’t have to worry about being sued for libel, you can say whatever you want. This is unlike traditional journalists, who have to uphold legal standards. Certain people in the media hide behind the shield of “this is entertainment,” and then proceed to cherry-pick the hell out of data obtained from the web. They assemble a product designed to enrage their audiences to keep ratings and clicks up, social cost be damned.

Journalist? You’re a loser, I find my own facts. Everything on the internet must be right.

Artist? Dork. I make the coolest shit on this AI art program.

Author? Sucker! You slaved for years, I just made five hundred bucks on Amazon with the prompt “80,000 word novel,” and I uploaded it for free!

I guess laugh all you want at the educated or talented “suckers” who put in the work in the past, because eventually the joke will be on everyone, and sooner than you may think.

All of those service jobs? Ever seen the automated check-out at Walmart? The machines are coming for you. Anyone who can feasibly be replaced will be, and at the fastest rate possible. I guarantee you Amazon is looking hard at a human-free sorting center, along with UPS, FedEx, and USPS.

Healthcare? That’s next. Humans are way too prone to error, and they cost a ton, too. You can see the beginnings of the medical employment sunset if you look for it.

Insurance? A dying breed. Already many of those jobs have gone remote, and it’s a matter of time before AI will make those obsolete, as well.

Telemarketers? You may hate them, but they employ many thousands at call centers worldwide. Kiss those jobs goodbye in the near future.

Banking or customer service? Yep, the same. If you think getting a real human on the line is a problem now, wait a few years.

Oh? And that guy who makes a living on some TV network or podcast talking shit? Ever seen some of the good deepfakes out there? He’s next, as soon as the algorithm is good enough.

I could spend an hour or more listing all the jobs subject to termination by the coming Artificial Intelligence wave. You can prove my point by typing in a search of AI threatened jobs. See? The machine did your thinking for you. Again. You didn’t need to use your imagination at all.

So go ahead. Laugh at the flaky creatives and the fools who make their money with ideas. By all means, do it over a beer. A beer, if you think about it, that was produced and delivered to you having never been touched by human hands, except at the end where someone unloaded it from a truck. From the planting of the first hops seed to packaging at the plant; not one single hand. And by the way, I guarantee that last part, the person unloading the truck, will be replaced as well. It’s a matter of time.

The AIs won’t discriminate between the PhDs or the factory worker.

Drink up.

The Borg Swarm

On John Birmingham’s website he talks a bit about how Apple conned a bunch of narrators into “loaning” their voices and work for the purpose of training Apple’s machine learning programs. Then, Apple proceeded to launch a service, Findaway, where an AI creates audio books on the cheap for authors.

Hey, I’d love to produce inexpensive audio books. They’d be great for my existing novels, and audio would bump up my sales. However, they are expensive to produce for a reason. If you want a quality product, you have to pay a narrator to read your books aloud and record them. This is a lot of work. You get what you pay for.

I don’t want to put actual humans out of work for the sake of making a quick buck.

This touches upon the reason for this post. A problem the Amazon e-book ecosystem has long dealt with has been substandard books banged out or blatantly plagiarized and released for sale. This dilutes the already massive pool of works available for sale, and it makes challenges for quality authors who seek name recognition and eventual sales on its platform.

I’ve been an author for nine years. I’ve worked hard to produce books and I’ve invested countless hours and a lot of money into what I do. Last year, for the first time, I finally broke even. This coming year I might make a profit.

So, imagine my dismay when ChatGPT comes along with its promise of artifically generated works for close to zero creative input. Now, from all reports the AI is not yet up to snuff- ChatGPT will give you a paper, a novel, or whatever, but the uncanny valley looms and frequently the AI is full of shit as it generates information based from millions of web posts, some of which are chock full of bad information.

However, ChatGPT is first-gen stuff.

I do not doubt that it will improve, and it will improve quickly, roughly based upon Moore’s Law.

This is a phenomenon that will affect us all. People say, “Oh, who cares about a few dozen people who are great narrators. The price of my audio book went down.”

Yeah, the price did drop a bit. There is a larger, unseen cost, however.

Guess what. Information jobs span hundreds of millions of people, if not more. These are all subject to being made redundant by AI. Your doctor. His or her staff. Everyone connected to customer service. Computer programming and IT. Think about it. The signs are there, and the workers in the creative industries are canaries in the coal mine. Banking has already been turned on its head, and other industries will follow.

In the near future, if it hasn’t happened already, I don’t doubt that someone will type in the prompt “80,000 word science fiction action novel style Haldeman, Heinlein, Lambright” and the AI will cough it up in a millisecond for a nominal subscription fee. Then, this notional “author” will head over to Midjourney and type in a prompt such as “alien world, hostile creatures” and pick out a book cover.

The “author” cuts and pastes his or her book into a manuscript and they run it through Findaway for voice narration.

Bam. Within an hour or so, they stick the complete package out on Amazon’s KDP service for 2.99 USD, having never bothered to read their own “work.”

It will look professional, attractive. There will be an audiobook option, drawing in the punters. The cash will roll in.

The problem is, all of it is inherently stolen work, with zero creative input.

The AI will draw it from existing internet files, built from people’s past actual work and creativity. Stolen, rather, in no uncertain terms. However, because it is an amalgamation, there will be no blatant plagiarism. Existing authors will have no legal ground to stand upon. This is a debasement of millions of hours of creative work, done by the suckers who sat down behind a typewriter or computer for many hours and thought about their creation.

Is this the future we want? Billions made redundant, for what? Cheaper goods at Walmart? Tasteless, bland auto-generated entertainment? An endless cycle of AI voices on your cel phone as you try in vain to reach a real human?

Today, it’s the creatives who have a problem.

Tomorrow, it will be your aunt in medical insurance claims.

Ten years from now, it’ll be everyone who uses a computer.

I think there will always be a market for those who insist upon human-derived entertainment. However, it’ll be a niche. Also, it will be difficult to discern who the author or artist is. The line will blur between human and AI to the point where no one can tell anymore.

Me? I’ll probably take a hybrid approach, because I’ve seen this coming for a long time. My ideas, my writing style, refined by a machine. To a certain extent, I already do this with Grammarly, an excellent editing program.

AI has the potential to help us out. It also has the potential to replace us. We need to find a path where intelligences become partners, as opposed to adversaries. I’ve been advocating for this since I started writing.

Give it some thought while we can still influence the algorithm. Because before too long, the machines will do all of our thinking.

Junk Store Violin 2

Morning, readers.

A piece today about the restoration process with that 94.50 antique store violin I picked up. These are fun projects for me, and I don’t mind writing them up for you all.

Something I am always curious about is the relative age of what I find, sometimes it’s impossible to know. However, there are clues. With Twist the mountain fiddle I could only guess as to its age and origin. Old, and probably of local manufacture. But I don’t know, and I never will. I just know that it’s cool and sounds pretty good.

With this antique store violin, at least it had the standard tag beneath the left F-hole. Of course, the tag wasn’t helpful. It just says Stradivarius, like many old violins do. No, this does not mean that the famous violinmaker Stradivarius made the violin. It just means that the violin was copied from his pattern.

While the tag is nice, it is well known that the tag is unreliable when it comes to identifying a violin’s provenance or possible worth. After all, the tag is easily forged or copied. In this case, I have no reason to believe it is a forgery. It’s simply a means of identifying the violin for what it is, a Strad clone.

The tag can help in dating a violin. If the violin was imported to the US after 1891, it must have the country of origin stamped somewhere inside, usually on the tag. If imported after 1921, the tag must specifically state “Made In X.” Well, my tag has no such thing, so it is possible that it was manufactured prior to 1891. However, I do not think it was made before the 1830’s. Why do I say this.

I’ve handled and briefly played a violin made in 1819. It had the shorter neck characteristic of “vintage” violins, or less than 130mm. After a few false starts and incorrect measurements, I finally got a true read on this instrument’s neck length. 130mm on the nose. Of course, many earlier violins were modified to the “modern” length, but then you would see a neck splice, and this instrument does not have one.

I think it’s a good guess that this fiddle was made between 1830-1891. Short of an exact date on the tag or writing on the inside, that’s my best guess. A nineteenth century violin, well-crafted. It’s probably French or German, but who knows.

Well, if it had been a vintage violin, I would have sent it to Fiddlershop in Florida for professional restoration. But I don’t think it is, so I decided to tackle the job locally. The first part was mine- the initial cleaning and gluing the loose stuff.

Something you never want to do with a violin is to use carpenter’s glue. Please, don’t do this. Yes, the violin will stick together. That’s the problem- it will stick too well. Violins are made to be disassembled for maintenance. It’s very difficult to take apart a fiddle that someone used carpenter’s glue on! This can easily damage or destroy an otherwise repairable instrument. If you must glue a violin, proceed carefully and use hide glue, which can be released.

This is what I did. A portion of the top plate had loosened from the rib. The crack looked clean, no dirt or grease, so I simply squirted a small amount of glue into the crack and very carefully clamped it with a padded clamp. I wiped off the excess glue and waited four hours before releasing the clamp. It seemed to work like a charm, problem solved.

Then I wiped the violin’s grimy surface with one coat of quality violin polish. Behold.

With just a little polish and careful buffing, the old girl was starting to look a lot better. It had lost its junk store funk, although I don’t think the rosin burn will come out easily. BTW, this is why you clean the rosin from a violin. That stuff will bake onto a violin’s surface if you let it sit.

Then I waited. After a few hours, I applied two more very light coats of polish with gentle buffing.

Perhaps you’ll agree that the old girl started to look pretty good.

I didn’t mention that I stripped all of the old fittings from the instrument, but I did that as the first step. This allows you to really get at the nooks and crannies and to see damage that would otherwise be invisible. For example, the fingerboard has a minor crack. It’s not a problem, but it’s something to be aware of.

Speaking of the old fittings. As usual, the pegs were mismatched junk. They were terribly worn. However, the tailpiece and chinrest were still fine. The gut on the tailpiece was actually gut- therefore, probably pre WW2 era. I didn’t throw any of it away, I put the old pieces in a paper lunch bag and squirreled them away. You never know when odd things have a use.

Then I spent a little time looking for the perfect new fittings set for this violin. I eventually settled upon a red boxwood set from Fiddlershop. I ordered the fittings along with a new end pin gut, adjusters, and a decent bridge. Total cost involved wasn’t terribly much.

A few days passed and the bits arrived in the mail. Just to see if the colors worked, I set the new tailpice and chinrest on the violin. See below.

I think this will work very well. Yes, I like plain ebony, but I also like to switch things up a little, and this set of fittings does that.

The next step is to take the violin back to my instructor and let him assemble everything. Then the moment of truth will arrive.

How does it sound?

Time will tell. Stay tuned.


Well, I managed to get away from the Ukraine War for a while, but the recent debate in the news about sending western Main Battle Tanks to the Ukrainian armed forces keeps jumping out at me. Therefore, I decided to weigh in a little as to why it’s important to send survivable MBTs to the Ukrainian Army.

It’s pretty simple. The cast-off Soviet era junk that Ukraine is using at the moment is just that, junk. It really says something that I truly believe that the sixty-year old M60 Patton design would be a major upgrade for the Ukrainian Army, especially if supplied with an upgraded 120mm gun and modern electronics. However, I also believe the old 105 gun would work just fine against what the Russian Army is using in Ukraine. There are reports of the creaky T62 design being fielded by Russia; this is simply unbelievable. If the Ukrainian Army does receive the capable German Leopard 2 tank in usable quantities, the Russian Army can forget about meaningful armored operations unless they attack with a ten-to-one ratio.

However, that’s probably their plan.

I have been confounded on many levels by the Ukraine War, specifically by the lousy training of Russian soldiers, the completely unreformed and atrocious behavior of its troops, and the piss-poor planning and performance of its officer corps at every level. Also, it seems that the Russian Air Force is incapable of meaningful combat operations in Ukrainian airspace. About all they can manage is to shoot cruise missiles at Ukrainian apartment blocks from the safe airspace in Belarus or Russia itself. Lousy. Perfectly lousy, and criminal.

Less surprising has been the underperformance of the Russian Army’s tanks and their shoddy logistics. I won’t talk about the logistics, the Russians have always been terrible with supply issues.

No, today I want to talk about their tanks.

The Soviets knew their tanks were prone to self-destructing if hit by anti-tank munitions. They’ve known this since the T-54 design in the 1950’s. It’s called the jack-in-the-box syndrome. If you penetrate the armor on a Russian tank, the stored munitions on board explode immediately. The crew cooks, and the turret flies from the tank. Hence the macabre jack-in-the-box description. Visit any former battlefield where Soviet designed tanks were used, and you’ll find chunks of armor, sometimes the crew, and usually a turret laying on the ground a considerable distance away.

It is simply inexcusable that the Russians have never fixed this problem. No, they essentially refined the flawed T-54 over and over again until they reached the final Soviet design, the T-90.

The T-90 sucks, too. Witness the many images of it totally destroyed on the battlefield in Ukraine. No wonder the Ukrainians want better tanks- their crews die just like the Russians in an inferior design. Russian tanks are great for putting down protestors or cowing populations in the third world, but they don’t fare well against determined and skillful infantry or well-equipped modern armored forces.

Wow, all the crappy features of Russian tanks. So many. First, the T54 had no “turret basket,” or a feature that allowed the crew to swivel with the turret. Heaven help a gunner who didn’t get out of the way of the breach block as the turret turned. Then, an “improvement,” an auto-loader for the T-64, had a tendency to auto-load wayward arms. The Soviets messed around with turbine engines, different suspension systems, and reactive armor. They ended up switching back to diesel engines, and in the process created a logistical nightmare of subvariants, all of which needed different parts.

However, they never got around to adequately protecting the stored munitions on any of their designs.

The Chechens in the nineties, many of them with previous Soviet service, knew this. They knew the T-80 was vulnerable on its thinly armored sides to light anti-tank weapons like the venerable RPG-7.

Armored like crazy in the front, the T-80 was vulnerable to strikes to its sides. Just aim for the road wheels as the vehicle passes, and BOOM.

For pity’s sake. You’d think the Russians, who have built more tanks than anyone, would be wise to this obvious flaw.

Nope. Statistics are unreliable in the middle of a shooting war, but an estimate based from numerous open sources indicates that as of this fall, the Russian Army has lost about 1,300 tanks. Some sources estimate that this is half of their total available machines. Google this figure. I think it’s realistic.

You have to ask the question. Does the Russian government give two shits about their soldiers?

The question answers itself. They obviously don’t. To date, approximately 115,000 Russian troops have died in Ukraine over one year of war. This is a conservative number. For modern warfare, this is a staggering statistic. If you assume a WW2 3:1 ratio of wounded to killed, this means almost one-half million Russian casualties.

Unbelievable. Since 1945, nothing appears to have changed. Use Punishment Battalions (convict soldiers) to soak up munitions, then strike the enemy with sheer mass in frontal assaults. Smother the fire with corpses. Rely on cheap, inferior designs. Enforce military discipline using only the most brutish and violent techniques. Torment and terrorize occupied territories. Send in the secret police- and give them carte blanche to further Russian aims.

This is the reality of the battlefield in Ukraine.

The Russian government is not just guilty of atrocities against Ukraine, they are criminally wasteful with the lives of their citizens as well.

Look no further than their tanks, they are deathtraps.

It remains to be seen what happens with their first true armored design change, the T14 Armata, when it is finally used in combat. Is it a true peer tank with Western designs? It’s a fair question. If the Ukrainians get decent tanks soon, they may hold them as a mobile reserve to face a possible T14 led onslaught.

If there are sufficient numbers of them, I suspect the Russians are holding the T14 back for an offensive this late winter or spring. Then we may see the world’s first modern peer-on-peer design armored battle. Challengers or Leopards versus the T14.

Time will tell.


Hey, all.

I’m preparing the final manuscript of the second alt-history book on the Ohio Rifles series, “The Hidden Sun.”

While editing, I came across this vignette, which I had forgotten about. It does a nice job of showing a particular sort of combat leadership. When I thought about it, the entire chapter was not only an introduction to the characters that would propel the narrative forward but also about leadership.

How do you motivate guys to do stuff they really, really don’t want to do?

They try to teach you various techniques in Army leadership schools, and the US does a pretty good job of it, but for some of it you only learn the hard way. By experience under shitty circumstances.

The vignette is an excerpt from “The Hidden Sun.” Shooting for a late February release.


Eight Ball, who no longer thought of himself as Eugene Ball, looked at the new arsehole as he spoke.

“Your gun running smooth?”

“It works, Corp.”

“How many magazines do you carry?”

“Ten thirty rounders, plus Tommy has some extra for me.”

His cherry-arse Corporal nodded. “Yeah, that’ll do.”

Like you fuckin’ know, Eight muttered.

“Excuse me, fuckhead?”

He must have made more noise than he thought. Fuckin’ ringin’ ears. His corporal stood there, eyebrows raised.

Fuck it, Eight thought. “I said, like you fuckin’ know, Corp.”

The ruddy man stared at him for a second. Eugene snorted and grabbed a rag…

Something happened. Pain. Choking. Something on his throat…shoe leather…he squirmed and tried to pull the thing off his neck. He tried to shout. Couldn’t breathe…

The fucking Corporal spoke; Eugene could hear him just fine, it seemed.

“Arsehole, I ran a BAR at the Somme and Thuin. Fuck you. If you want to breathe, nod.”

Eugene nodded. The Corporal pulled the boot off of his neck. Eugene tried to get up.

A blinding thump. He was looking up at the fucking partially denuded pines. How the fuck did he get down here? He heard fucking Strohmeier’s voice.

“You try to rush me again, and I’ll fucking off you. You understand?”

Eugene understood.


“Is your gun running smooth?”

Eugene sat up and looked the corporal in the eye. His head fucking hurt. He reached inside his tunic and grabbed a smoke. He lit up. Then he answered.

“Yes, Corporal.”

Strohmeier moved on.


Strangely enough, I am not minding this edit. Usually, it’s a horrible painstaking chore, but this time it isn’t. I’m not sure why, although it may have to do with an alteration I’ve made to my technique. In any case, it’s all to the good, because I am fairly certain it’ll be a wrap on the edits by the end of the month.

I mean to publish four books this year, and I’ve made a good start.

Stay tuned.

Antique place find

Morning, everyone.

I think I may have had a piece of luck yesterday, which is unusual in an antique store. Usually there’s nothing but junk for outrageous prices. However, there’s one fairly close by where you can catch a deal from time to time. My daughter asked to be dropped off there while I continued to my physical therapy appointment- a bad knee I picked up at Fort Sill half a lifetime ago.

So, there I sat, my leg in a warming cuff thing. My phone pinged. With nothing better to do, I looked at it.

She sent me this image.

It was an obviously old violin with glimpses of very nice maple.

Expecting an outrageous price, I asked her how much. She said a hundred.

Seriously, I thought. Yeah, you can buy a very inexpensive learner’s type violin on Amazon for that kind of money, and it will work, but you get what you pay for. BTW, I’ve bought the style violin as shown on the link above, and I’ve played on them. They are great for beginners and as party fiddles. You know, you won’t cry if you drop it cause you’re dead drunk. I do recommend the Cecilio fiddles as entry violins- trust me, there are much worse violins you can buy, and the package deal is pretty cool. How can you beat a couple of bows, a case, etc., plus a functional violin for a hundred twenty-five? Even when you outgrow the fiddle, you can still use most of the stuff.

But I digress.

With some haste, I left PT and went down to the store to pick her up. The violin looked promising in the pic, but I needed to examine it. A lot of times these old ladies will have uneconomical repairs. There are reasons that the price is low. So, with some trepidation I went upstairs to look (there are three floors in the junk store. Pretty big).

The violin was an excellent quality 4/4, probably 19th century manufacture, possibly German. I don’t believe that the chinrest is original to the instrument. The tailpiece probably is, though. It was in a standard antique pressed paper case.

This is a better image.

Still not a great pic, but you get the idea. The violin was obviously in need of some TLC and minor repairs, but overall it seemed OK. The old case was actually alright, but someone had wrapped the deteriorated leather handle with electric tape- for some reason, this seems to be a thing around here. I’ve seen the tape fix about a dozen times.

As usual, the bow was junk. Twisted beyond salvage. Also, the sound post was all screwy and canted, and the bridge had obviously not been fitted properly. The violin was filthy. There was a small crack by the right F-notch, and a loose spot where the previous chinrest had been installed. Typical.

This is standard stuff. At one point this was a very nice instrument. It fell onto hard times post WW2, as evidenced by the steel strings. However, it seemed a good candidate for repair. I decided to buy it.

Well, after a bit of haggling, I got the price down to $94.50. This was a pretty good deal for what could potentially be a very pretty and good sounding violin. Maybe. It’s always a risk with an instrument that you can’t play immediately- how does it sound? The proof really is in the pudding. A good example would be the old violin I saved this past spring- I had no idea what it would do until the restoration process was complete, but old Twist sings well.

It’s the same story here, but the price point was such that I was willing to take a risk. As I was in town anyway, I just dropped it off at my instructor’s place for a cleaning and the minor repairs. For a short while, the violin is his problem. Worst case scenario I’m out a hundred bucks. But I don’t think so. I believe it will clean up and play nicely.

Stay tuned.

The Plan for Twenty-Three

Morning or whatever, everyone.

Alright. I’ve taken a few weeks to go on about the terrible war in Ukraine. I’m done with that for now, pretty sure you all know where I stand.

Today I’d like to talk about my writing projects going forward this year. Yesterday I had a very productive planning session with my friend and mentor John Birmingham, and he had a few great suggestions.

First and foremost, I don’t think my original publishing schedule for the upcoming year is aggressive enough. Originally, I had planned to release two novels, maybe three. No, the new plan is to kick out four if possible.

What will this entail?

Well, I’d like to publish the entire alt-history Ohio Rifles trilogy by June. Ok, this is possible, but it involves a lot of footwork on my part. Mind, the entire draft of the trilogy is completed and it has been for a couple of years. However, there is the usual editing required. Also, my peeps on my Patreon site get the first crack at it behind the paywall. Usually I release a chapter per week, but I’m going to have to accelerate this release schedule.

So, those people are about to get a lot of content, fast. I don’t have 46 weeks between now and June- this is how many chapters have not seen the light of day in the RIFLES trilogy.

Second, I kind of put the bridge novel of another trilogy on the back burner because I’m unsatisfied with the first draft of book two. Well, JB suggested I use the first fifteen minutes of each workday for this problematic draft. I think it’s a great suggestion, and it should goose the completed RD forward.

I think it’s realistic that I can release STORY2 in August or September.

Finally, by punching out the RIFLES trilogy by June and getting STORY2 out of the way, I’ve created oxygen for a desired Christmas launch of another series, which I call INVASION.

This is an entirely new universe, and it should be a lot of fun to write. For more details, you can always pony up three-odd bucks and get on the other side of my Patreon paywall, where I go into more depth about my plans.

Because there’s a lot going on in terms of writing this upcoming year.

And that’s just my stuff. There are ongoing collaborations, as well.

23 looks to be a busy year. But that’s good.

Peace, J.