The Word From Annie

by wjw on October 11, 2020

Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester, MA, has kindly offered me an Author’s Spotlight Interview.

Annie rejoices in the slogan “The little bookstore that’s bigger on the inside,” so they very likely have what you want.  Please consider Annie’s for all your bookshop needs.

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Sanity Trip

by wjw on October 9, 2020

IMG_5155I badly needed a sanity trip, so I drove to the Ski Valley and checked into a condo.  I’ll be alone up here for several days, self-isolating in nature.  I may meet some folks on the trails or whatever, but I’ve got a mask for that.

As for why I needed this trip, just look at the headlines for the last couple weeks.

Trump’s income taxes were excavated by the New York Times, and weren’t that much of a surprise to anyone who’s been paying attention the last five years.  They also revealed that I pay more taxes than Trump!  And assuming you pay taxes at all, you almost certainly pay more taxes than our billionaire president of the United States.

I don’t know about you, but I know why my taxes are higher than Trump’s: I’m a much better businessman!

Yeah!  I pay more in taxes because my business is profitable!   With the exception of his core real estate enterprise, Trump’s businesses mostly lose colossal amounts of money, enough to more than offset his earnings elsewhere.  He’s got hundreds of billions of dollars in debt all coming due in the next few years, with no obvious way to pay it off.  (No legit bank is going to loan him the money, not with his history of declaring bankruptcy and leaving his creditors in the lurch.)

A corollary of this is that I have far more self-control than the President!

Why?  Because when I get some money, I’ll use it to pay down debt, or make some needed repair, or  invest the money, or save it for a rainy day.

When Trump gets some money, he’s like a five-year-old at Toys R Us.  Gimme that!  I want that other thing!  Whatever that orange thing is, I want that too!

He made hundreds of millions from his reality show, and he spent it acquiring businesses that lose money (mostly golf courses).

He also invents businesses that turn out not to exist, like Trump University, Trump Steaks, and the veterans charity that existed to funnel money to his 2016 campaign.  (Remember, veterans, you were “chumps!”  And chumps exist to be bilked.)

So if you’re impressed by Trump’s business acumen, don’t be.  You’re probably much better at business than he is.  After all, you earn enough to pay taxes!

The petulant five-year-old was fully on display in the debate, with his sneering, his belligerence, and his failure to actually answer any awkward questions.  “COVID?  Why, Joe Biden’s a senile liar!

And let’s not forget the supremely loathsome sight of the President of the United States giving orders to a white supremacist militia on national television.  What’s “stand back and stand by” actually mean?  Don’t start the killing until I give the order.

Then of course Trump got COVID, along with his wife and 20 or so staffers.   (Please tell me you were surprised, so I can laugh.)  Trump turned out to have had a mild case, and of course had the best medical care in the world, so now he’s boasting that no one has anything to fear from the virus that’s killed 220,000 Americans.  He’s returned to the White House and dumped his mask first thing, so now he’s shambling through the corridors of the West Wing drooling toxic spittle on everything and everybody.

Fortunately the West Wing is practically deserted.  Staffers have fled in droves and are working from home.

Even Mitch McConnell won’t go anywhere near Trump.

(Oh— another irony— both remdesivir and the monoclonal antibodies that were given to Trump in the hospital were developed using fetal tissue derived from abortions.  Trump now promises to give the antibody cure free to everybody, so it’s fetal tissue for all!)

Y’know what?  I don’t think my sanity trip is working.  I brought the madness with me.

I’m going to go back onto the balcony and look at the aspens for a while.

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On Sale Now!

by wjw on October 3, 2020

conventions-of-war_120the-accidental-war120I am reliably informed that the ebooks of Conventions of War and The Accidental War are both on sale for $2.99 for the month of October, more or less everywhere that ebooks may be found.

Click!  Read!  Enjoy!

 

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Another Fine Review

by wjw on September 26, 2020

Fleet-Elements-by-Walter-Jon-Williams-ReviewThe Nerd Daily posted a fine review of Fleet Elements.

With a pace that is faster than light, Walter Jon Williams’s fifth book in the Dread Empire’s Fall series, Fleet Elements is a space opera that doesn’t disappoint . . .  great soap opera science fiction, full of gung ho rebels trying to save themselves, with a side of power hungry aliens, and some witty banter.

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Back on the Keyboard

by wjw on September 24, 2020

I haven’t been visible on social media in the last week because my MacBook Pro was off in the shop.  The keyboard had (mostly) held together through the completion of Lord Quillifer, but was clearly on its last legs, so off to the Genius Bar I went.

Fortunately the butterfly-switch keyboard on my machine had generated such outrage in the Apple community that Apple announced they will fix the problem for free.

When I asked how long the repair would take, the Genius said “Usually three to five days, but they’re telling us to say two weeks because of the situation with the Post Office.”

So Trump’s attempt to sabotage the elections is interfering with business deliveries.  Great.  I wonder if I’ll be getting my prescriptions.

So for five days I worked on my iPad with a portable keyboard.  I liked this portable keyboard.  If I could figure out a way to make it work with my MacBook I would, but currently that seems highly unlikely.

Apple cleverly did an end run around the Trump PO by using FedEx, and my machine was returned to me on Wednesday morning, after only five days away from home.  Kudos for fast work.

When I opened the box I thought, “Whee!  Shiny!  They sent me a new computer!”  Because it really looked shiny spanking new.  But when I booted it up, it had my name on it and everything, and so I figured they just cleaned the heck out of my machine, and buffed out the scars on the case.

But my happiness did not go very far, because I soon realized that none of my data was on the machine.  And none of my programs, including my word processor.  The drive had been wiped clean.

Of course I’m not an idiot.  I had backed up everything.  But still.

So I prepared to upload everything from my backup drive, and behold!  My MacBook could not even find the backup file.  That would be eight years of work, email, etc., which could not be accessed, plus a whole lot of my old Windows files.

I called Apple Support and spend a couple hours on the phone with a helpful gentleman down in Cupertino, who taught me all sorts of tricks for accessing remote disk files, none of which worked.  So he kicked me upstairs to a software specialist, and he also taught me some tricks that didn’t work.

“What OS is your computer running?” he asked finally.

I checked.  “Sierra,” I said.

“And when you backed it up last week, what OS did you use?”

“Catalina.”

“Well there you go.  Sierra won’t read Catalina files.”

Because Sierra is a 32-bit program and Catalina is a 64-bit program, FYI.

“Why did they wipe my drive and install an old operating system?”

“They always wipe the drive.  Then they install a stable program to determine whether your problem was a hardware problem or a software problem.”

You’d think the fact that the keyboard was spitting keys might have been a clue that I had a hardware problem, but bear in mind that if it turned out to be software after all, they could charge me for the repair, whereas a keyboard repair is free.

“So what I need to do is upgrade to Catalina?” asked I.

“No.  You need to upgrade to the final iteration of Sierra, and then upgrade to Catalina.”

Which I did, though it took hours.

Then— guess what?— Catalina had no more success at reading the backup file than Sierra had!  But then I employed some of the tricks that my first customer support guy had taught me, and— success!— I was able to start the upload.

The computer informed me that the upload would take 56 hours, 38 minutes.  Which in the event turned out to be around 12 hours.

So far everything’s working.

But here’s the capper.  I felt the need to vent about all this, so I called Daniel, who used to work Customer Service himself, and I figured he could fake the empathy even if he wasn’t feeling it.  When I gave him the story about how they had to wipe my drive and load Sierra, he started laughing.

“They totally lied to you, dude!” he said. “It was too much trouble to fix your keyboard, so they sent you a new computer!”

Which is what I had thought when I first opened the box.  And if the new computer had been on the shelf for a while, it would have been running Sierra.

So the cost of getting a spanking new computer was about 12 hours of screaming anxiety, in which I contemplated eight years of work gone up in smoke and cursed out everyone at Apple, beginning with Steve Jobs.  “It was your obsession with aesthetics that produced this fucking awful keyboard!” I shrieked, in a voice that should reach him in the afterlife.

Next time this happens, I’m checking the serial number on the computer before and after, just so I can know what’s going on.

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A Few Good Things

September 17, 2020

First, I finished Lord Quillifer in the early hours of the morning, and sent it on to my editor and my agent.  I was so afraid that the project would be Dance with Dragons-sized that I’d stopped doing word counts for the last ten chapters or so, but when I finally added them up, the book turned […]

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Final Sprint

September 11, 2020

I feel as if I’ve been sprinting to the finish of Lord Quillifer forever.  Up till now, with every page I added, the finale seemed to have receded farther out of sight, but now I think I’ve got a handle on it.  I’ve written the last big action scene, I’ve written the last big revelation scene, […]

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And Now . . . Winter!

September 9, 2020

The big storm struck as predicted, and the temperature dropped nearly 50 degrees overnight, complete with hours of heavy freezing rain.  We didn’t get any snow, but Colorado got quite a bit. Yesterday the high was in the 90s and the air conditioner was going all day.  Today I had to light the boiler so […]

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After A Quarter Century

September 7, 2020

The Wild Cards anthology Dealer’s Choice is back in print after 25 years.  Normally I’d say “I have a story in it,” but Dealer’s Choice is a braided novel, a single narrative written by several authors, and one of the braids is mine.

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Gang Agley

August 30, 2020

Last night’s edition of “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me,” the NPR news quiz, featured a story that I wasn’t prepared to believe, involving the Scots Wikipedia, in which I wasn’t prepared to believe either.  It seems there is an attempt to render the contents of Wikipedia in the Scots language (as opposed to Scots Gaelic, which […]

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