Having a Day

by wjw on June 13, 2021

For Father’s Day here in the States, I post a photo of my dad on a fishing trip taken before I was born. I know it was before my birth because there seems to be the outline of a cigarette pack in his breast pocket— he smoked with a holder, like Roosevelt— but he gave it up when I was born.

He was kind, gentle, smart, and supportive of my eccentric career choices. It’s only fair that he gets a Day every year.

(And can someone explain to me why WordPress is suddenly stretching photos vertically and producing this weird distortion? And how can I stop it?)

(Friend of the blog Oofoe helped solve the problem, for which thanks!)


The Steel Fortress

by wjw on June 11, 2021

A few weeks ago I wrote about my post-COVID lassitude and the difficulty I was experiencing in shoving myself out the door and into the world even after the vaccines had made it safe to do so.

Well, the lassitude is over. Two dinner parties last weekend, three the weekend before. Lots of hanging out. Lots of martial arts. I’m planning trips. Lots of trying to get things accomplished, and usually failing because I can’t seem to get other people to do their work.

I’m as bouncy as I ever get. (Admittedly I am not the most bouncy person I know.) But I’m frustrated because I’m not accomplishing as much as I really want or need to.

Take this afternoon, when I was trying to salvage the hard drive from an old desktop tower that had died a lingering death maybe ten years ago. The hard drive has a lot of my work on it that is probably not available anywhere else (my backups have disappeared), so my plan was to extract the drive from the old Gateway, then mount it in a hard drive enclosure and use it as a slave drive wired by USB to a functioning computer.

Well, how hard could it be?

Turns out that Gateway had hidden the hard drive in a steel fortress. I had to take off the cabinet, which I expected, and then tear everything movable out of the interior just to get a look at it. And then there was no obvious way to free the drive from its prison.

After a lot of peering and swearing and turning the machine to various angles and using a flashlight to get an idea of the interior, I found a bolt that might be holding the hard drive in place. The problem was that the motherboard was in the way, so I couldn’t unscrew it.

Well, I wouldn’t be needing that motherboard, would I? A few minutes’ work with a set of pliers snapped off the part of the motherboard that was in the way, and I was able to unscrew the bolt. The hard drive seemed freer than it was, but it still wasn’t going anywhere.

More peering and turning the frame in different ways, and I found two more bolts that seemed to be holding the hard drive in place. The problem was that they were both behind a steel mesh screen.

Gateway had seemingly decided that there would never be any reason for anyone to remove their hard drive, ever.

I managed to unscrew one of the bolts by sticking a small screwdriver through the mesh at an angle that wasn’t so acute that it couldn’t be used as a screwdriver. I managed with a good deal of swearing and sweat to unscrew the bolt, and I heard the satisfying sound of the bolt dropping down into the metal interior of the computer.

The other bolt wasn’t accessible at all, so I got my biggest screwdriver and biggest pair of pliers and set to work on a mission of destruction. Let me just say that I hope the drive is as durable as that steel screen.

Eventually I managed to get a bit of access, and I turned the bolt maybe twice before the slots in the bolt head stripped and the screwdriver couldn’t get any more purchase. After that I tried maybe every tool in my arsenal, but I couldn’t seem to manage to get the bolt to turn. Out of despair I turned to an Allen wrench.

Not to insert into the head of the bolt, because that wouldn’t work. But the ninety-degree turn in the Allen wrench meant I could get it up against the hex nut atop the bolt, and then just sort of massage the hex nut in the right direction. After several minutes of this the bolt finally fell away.

The hard drive was free! It only took an entire afternoon.

I then got out my only remaining Windows machine and connected my hard drive enclosure (which currently has another hard drive in it), and I found that it’s not working.

Also, I remembered that when I mount the hard drive I have to set it to slave, and there doesn’t seem to be any obvious way to do that. No visible switch.

But those are problems for another long afternoon. Let it not be said that I was defeated by a 17-year-old piece of hardware. It’s far more obsolete than I am, and I will bend it to my steely will.

Though at various points this afternoon, I wished I had my lassitude back


Taos Toolbox is Back!

by wjw on June 3, 2021

Taos Toolbox, the master class for writers of science fiction and fantasy, had been postponed past 2020 due to COVID. It’s now been rescheduled, for September 5-18, 2021.

Until we determine how many of the original players can attend, we will be accepting no new applications. Keep watching this space for more information.


I believe the announcer is Don LaFontaine, known as “The Voice of God,” famous for narrating countless film trailers that began, “In a world where . . . ” Since he died, film trailers have almost stopped using narrators entirely. Apparently he couldn’t be replaced

{ 1 comment }

Too Long a Vacation

by wjw on May 24, 2021

Since I’m vaccinated and the world is opening up again, I’m busy trying to tick off all the items on my to-do list that were delayed by the pandemic. And I’m not getting a lot of help.

I think that people who have been in lockdown have just forgotten how to do their jobs. The people who were in the trenches for the last year, working their regular jobs in the face of the pandemic, are still as competent as ever they were, but those lucky enough to spend their time at home have just lost their job-skill reflexes. I’m having to tell people how to do their work, and it’s not fun for either of us, especially when they flat refuse to do what’s necessary. I’m not asking them to do anything hard, I’m not asking them to do anything illegal, I just want them to do their work. Make that appointment, will ya? So I can give you money. What? You won’t? What?

I spent hours on the phone with people today with no result, which means I’m going to have to get on the phone tomorrow and do it all over again.

And it’s not just one set of people that are the trouble, it’s practically everyone I’m dealing with. It’s nuts.

It also occurs to me that a lot of the assistants are still working from home, which means their supervisors have no way to actually supervise them and make sure they’re doing their jobs— no way, that is, until the customers all evaporate, at which point the problem will become obvious.

I had so many other things I needed to do today, some of which might have been pleasant, but no. I fume and I hector and I argue, and I really don’t enjoy being that guy. But be that guy I must.


Part Two

May 24, 2021

Part II of my story “Incarnation Day” is now available in the latest edition of Galaxy’s Edge. If you’ve already got a copy of my story, check out the other writers in this issue, which is clearly topped up with talent.

Read the full article →

#Disney Still Must Pay

May 12, 2021

The Disney story hits the Hollywood Reporter. I am quoted.

Read the full article →


May 12, 2021

The horizon has grown wider and brighter since I had my COVID shots, with my life regaining some of its former zest, with meetings and meals with friends, and more opportunities for social interaction that don’t involve Zoom calls and social media. What surprises me is that it all seems harder than it was. I’ve […]

Read the full article →


May 9, 2021

It’s Mother’s Day here in the States, so for your enjoyment I present a photo of my mother in conversation with our parakeet, Mr. Chips. I perceive the ornaments of a Christmas tree shining in the lower right of the photo. So many of my old pictures seem to be taken around the holidays, so […]

Read the full article →

Let Disney Pay

May 6, 2021

Better cover the eyes of the children, because I’m about to write something bad about Disney. Which is that they’re withholding payments from writers from spurious reasons. (Full disclosure: I may be one of these writers.) Twenty or so years ago I wrote a Star Wars tie-in novel called Destiny’s Way. It was published in […]

Read the full article →

Contact Us | Terms of User | Trademarks | Privacy Statement

Copyright © 2010 WJW. All Rights Reserved.