Dreaming of Australia


Well, the winter is off to quite a start. This morning I looked at the thermometer on the porch and it read a positively balmy four degrees F, or -15.5 C. Excellent. I went around and made sure all the the animals had unfrozen water, always a struggle at this time of the year. This is by far the hardest cold I can recall this early in the season, and it’s rough.

Have I mentioned that I hate the winter? Snow and cold makes everything tougher to do, and some things impossible. Not to mention the expense of heating the house, and the dread that the power may go out during a snowstorm. In that regard, we are more fortunate than many in that we can burn wood if the need arises. We keep a healthy stock of firewood just for such an eventuality, in fact.

The sunny sky in the picture above is misleading. It actually heralds frigid cold in that there are few clouds to keep a layer of insulation on the ground, and at night the stars are cold, hard and distant points of light. The snow crunches under your feet, and it never melts. It also makes it so that you have to really bundle up just to walk the dog. And Dixie the family mutt seems to love to go outside, especially when it’s cold.

I don’t know what stuff dog paws are made of, but I wish my feet were that tough. Doesn’t seem to bother her at all.

Traditionally, this is the season where I do all of my heavy lifting in regards to writing. This winter will be no different. Have already worked on some pretty cool projects, and I anticipate more work along those lines.

I also keep up on my reading this time of the year, right now I’m finishing up a book called Absolute War, a study of the fighting on the Eastern Front in WW2. It’s pretty good, even though I liked Merridale’s Ivan’s War better.

Yeah, I’m sitting here whining about the cruddy snow and cold, and then I read those books. Fighting in minus 20. Single operations where the Russians took more way more “irreplaceable losses” than the entire list of US dead from the Vietnam War. Hell, some operations cost them more dead then all combined US forces fatalities during WW2 in its entirety. Single operations. 450,000 dead or “irrecoverable.” Bad stuff. You should read about it. Sobering.

Really makes me enjoy my warm house and more-or-less peace.

Also makes me glad I was not born a Soviet citizen in 1923. 68% did not live to see 1946. I have seen higher figures from other sources.

However, by some fluke it is colder here right now than in Moscow. Strange but true.

I am positively jealous of my Australian friends who are soaking up the sun and going on Christmas forays to the beach. Well, enjoy it y’all. And crack a cold beer and a smile when you think of us in the North, half a world away.

One of these winters I’m coming to Australia. Take it to the bank.

The Last Jedi, review


One of my earliest memories was a big night at the drive-in theater with my dad- we were going to see the new blockbuster movie, Star Wars. It was the original movie, the only thing I remember from that night was the trash-compactor scene. Still, though, not bad that I remember something that happened forty years ago.

Like my memories, Star Wars lives on. Of course I had to see its latest iteration, “The Last Jedi.” Can’t say I looked forward to it as much as I did “Blade Runner 2049,” but I figured it’d at least be fun.

It was. I watched it in the company of my daughter and a friend of hers. My daughter has never seen the older movies, and her friend had never seen any Star Wars movies at all. So I was curious about their reactions to the movie- I’ll get to that in due time.

Not really going to put out any spoilers here, besides, the internet is full of those and it seems as if the whole world has seen this movie already. However, I will give you all my take on the film.

It was a typical Star Wars production- massive space battles, personal twists and turns, evil bad guys who never seem bad-ass enough to really kill the good guys, etc. For the devoted fan, it was fulfilling, for the casual viewer it was entertaining. I liked the CGI and world building. It was pretty awesome- and the light saber play was cool as usual. I’d really like to own one of those, even though I don’t know what I’d do with it.

My daughter liked some of the female leads, and her friend was hooked into the story without difficulty, this despite the fact she had never (!) seen any of the other stories. This  is a real display of craft on the part of the film makers- a saga who-knows-how-many chapters on and you can bring someone into the story without effort, very good.

We all had fun, it was an enjoyable evening. Well worth the money we spent on tickets and food. After all, isn’t that the point of a good movie? To get away from stuff for a while, to immerse yourself in another universe?

The latest installment on “Star Wars” has been a massive commercial success, and I can see why. If you haven’t seen this movie, by all means, check it out with your family. It’s pretty good stuff, and Jarjar Binks was nowhere to be found.

Maybe there is a last Jedi, but the Force doesn’t die with this film.

Merry Christmas, all.



This is a story I’ve been following for a while, and probably a lot of you have, as well. It seems that an “interstellar object” named Oumuamua has been moving through our solar system. There has been a lot of speculation involving this rock or whatever, and most of them are WAGs. Only a few things about this object are facts: It comes from interstellar space, it has an odd shape (cylindrical), it turns three times a day, and it’s moving fast back out of our solar system. It passed Earth a couple of months ago and it is currently decelerating from its top speed of 87.7 km/s.

What brings this subject up today is a cool article I came across. It seems a team of scientists are going to actively look at whether this object is emitting any sort of radio signal- if detected, this would certainly change the nature of this object from a rock to an artifact of some sort.

We currently have no way of reaching this thing to put a set of eyeballs on it. It’s a real shame, as this is definitely odd. Pretty cool, though, one way or another. For all we know it’s an ancient hulk of a ship and we just lost our one chance to study it. There is a plan to shoot tiny probes towards it propelled by lasers and solar sails, but it isn’t ready yet, and may not be ready in time to stand any chance of catching a thing that is moving around 85,000 mph.

The more we know about the heavens, the less we know, really.




Hey everybody. Here in the ‘States it’s the dead time between Thanksgiving and Christmas. We are experiencing a serious cold snap at the moment, near freezing during the day, and bitter cold at night. Wonderful stuff. I wonder when we’ll get our first serious snowfall, around here it usually happens around Christmas time.

There’s a few things I’ve been doing to pass the time. I’ve done some writing, some of which is out there publicly, and some which has yet to be released.

The stuff that hasn’t been released you’ll have to wait on, but when it hits rest assured you all will be notified. Of course, those on my list (to join, simply hit the contact link at the page header) will get the goods a little earlier.

I’ve mentioned it before, but I’ll bring it up again- to see some of what I’ve been writing during these cold, iron-gray days, check out John Birmingham’s Patreon page. He’s writing a new universe, an apocalyptic project which I gladly joined. Also, if you sign up you can see some pretty awesome shorts from other authors, among which is a good one from Jason Cox, an Aussie who has a flare for story line twists. You can also see his work in Demons of Butte Crack County, a fanfic anthology based in Birmingham’s Dave vs. Monsters universe.

So yes, I am engaged in writing. At times it’s been furious with long pauses between sprints. But that’s how I operate in general. Get an idea, come up with a plan, and then execute. When the rough beast is born, refine. Upon satisfactory completion, submit to the editor and watch your baby get torn apart and reshaped into something sleek, polished, and hopefully cool.

So that’s where I’m at. A few projects ongoing, a few bouncing around in the back of my head. And one completed trilogy behind me.

Thanks for tuning in, more to follow.