Sunday, November 30, 2008


In the U.S., we've just celebrated our Thanksgiving holiday. I have so much to be thankful for, and this holiday, which gives a chance to reflect on that, is one of my favorites.

As always, I thank my fans for their loyal support, and hope your own holiday has been fabulous.

And on the lighter side, here's something to make you smile!

Monday, November 17, 2008

At my feet

A few leaves, as one would expect on a November afternoon -- even a summer-hot November afternoon. But on the driveway today, the salt and pepper of ash. Fragments of distant trees, brush, and homes. Nomadic bits of ruin.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Smoke Gets In Our Skies

Raymond Chandler wrote a great short story about life in LA during a Santa Ana wind, "Red Wind." It's been a while since I've read it, so I don't remember if he mentioned the fires that seem to be the inevitable result. Perhaps fewer people had built homes in the hills then. But right now, in areas where houses have been built since before Chandler's time, people are being burned out of their homes, and wildlife areas are being destroyed.

Fortunately, our home is not in a danger zone, but if you live anywhere in the LA basin right now, you are probably getting a gray snow of ash on everything. The air smells as if you've got your head up a chimney. And the day has been darkened by smoke.

The photo above was taken many miles from any active fire, looking southwest (toward the coast), at two in the afternoon. The brown in the sky is smoke, and that blue stripe is what the day should have looked like. It seemed more like dusk than the middle of the afternoon.

For information on the fires : LAFD and this Fire Map.*

*This link has been updated -- the earlier map link was not regularly updated.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Is it a sin to love a computer?

My Macintosh G4 is dead. I'm sad about that.

It's not loss of data -- I'm probably going to be able to recover even the small amount that wasn't backed up. I haven't used it as my main computer for some time now. But it has been a part of my life since 2000, and made my life easier in a thousand ways.

Before I go on, I'm going to say a word about the other side, just to set something straight -- I really don't have a problem with those who love Windows. I say this because I've noticed that when we who are Mac users start talking about loving an Apple computer, we get profiled as maniacal worshippers who will not admit that there is anything to like about the competition -- seriously, there's this assumption that we're all rabid. Not so. I've used both systems, I like Macs better, but I don't feel the need to make a religion out of it.

The late G4 was one of a long succession of Macs in our home. I bought my first Apple computer when I was a graduate student -- an Apple IIe. I had used an Apple II and an Apple II+ owned by other family members, but this one was my own. It was a major investment for me on my student budget, but I loved it and made constant use of it. After I met Tim, our roommate's new Mac caught our attention. Eventually, we bought an SE/30 -- Goodnight, Irene, my first novel, was written on it. I loved my first laptop -- a Powerbook 100. We bought a Performa from a young computer salesman who is now a computer genius. Other Macs in the house have included a Mac Mini, a G5, a titanium Powerbook, and a Macbook. Although Tim talked me out of owning a Newton, we both have iPhones.

I loved the G4, though. For one thing, it was the only computer in the house that still ran OS9 (I refused to upgrade it from the last of OSX versions that would run Classic, and all the software that didn't make the transition. I do wish Aspyr would create a version of MahJong Parlor -- the real game, not that POS solitaire -- that would run on OSX.) There is software on it that runs peripheral devices, and those may need to be replaced now, too.

The guy at the Apple store (where I dragged the carcass in desperation) diagnosed the problem as the power supply, but said Apple doesn't stock repair parts for computers more than five years old. He also told me that hanging on to OS9 is "like living in a condemn house." This from the company that condemned it. For some of us, the historic has its value. But okay, I understand what he meant, and after all, I did move forward. We are using new Macs and Leopard in the house. I just liked the old Mac and all it offered before its power supply bit the dust.

And not just because of the OS. Many pages of novels and short stories were written on it. I communicated with many of my friends and fans using that computer. Any number of projects and organizations were aided by the work I did on it. When I think of the time spent sitting before it and its (at the time of purchase) futuristic two-ton monitor, I feel as if I'm saying goodbye to an old friend.

If I can't find a way to bring it back from the dead, it will be recycled. We'll have more room -- that monitor is a real space hog.

It is, ultimately, an object.

I tell myself that, and to just move on.

But the truth is, I loved it, and I already miss it.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

We interrupt this blog for an important message


If you are eligible to vote in the United States, please take time to go to the polls.  Vote early if you live in a place where that's an option, or plan time to vote on November 4.  Don't kind of sort of think about maybe doing it at some point on Tuesday -- make the plan now!   Click on this Google map link to find your polling place.

I will return to give you all sorts of news and information about The Messenger, the upcoming tour, and other items of interest about my books and stories, but right now, this is message #1: