The Great Green LED Christmas Light Shortage plus The Best Light Fruit Cake Recipe

I visited my friend from high school the week before Christmas. Last year I had given him two strings of green LED Christmas lights last year to compliment the multicolored lights that he had put up. He’s not much into Christmas displays and he needed the help.

Looking at the lights this year I found them to be unbalanced. He needed more green lights. So we went off to the local big box store that starts with a W. It was the 20th of December and they were very picked over. Just a few white lights and they were mostly old style incandescents. So we went to the drug store. They were cleaned out except for some white lights. On to the big box hardware store. It had pallets of white incandescent mini Christmas lights and some white LED mini lights. On to the next big box hardware store. They had more forklift pallets fulls of white incandescent mini lights (they were cheap) and a couple of strings of blue LED mini lights. He found one string of green incandescent lights so my friend bought them. We really needed two strings of green LED lights.

He put the lights up and plugged them in. They were dim compared to the LED lights. What a disappointment. Driving around I did not see any houses with green LED mini light hanging off them. Putting green lights on a green tree is not the best color choice.

If people are using LED lights and passing up the incandescent lights, that is good for the environment. ON top of that the LED lights are much brighter than the incandescent lights.

What does this have to do with Steampunk? It shows that people will buy something new over the traditional device even if the purchase price for the new device is more than the old device. As I have mentioned the automobile replaced the horse very quickly, even though the horse had been a part of human culture for thousands of years. You don’t have to feed a car every day whether you use it or not. Cars don’t get sick or refuse to work on a whim. Nor do they step on your foot.

Unabashed plug for my book The Daemon Boat. It’s a Steampunk spy story.

Try a good Fruit Cake and you’ll never go back to the old brick. I got the recipe from John Carter’s wife.

Best White Fruit Cake
5 large eggs
1 cup butter (2 sticks or 1/2 lb. butter)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 3/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 lb. glazed cherries, 1/2 red-1/2 green
1 lb. glazed pineapple
4 cups shelled pecans
1/2 oz. bottle vanilla (1 Tablespoon)
1/2 oz. bottle lemon (1 Tablespoon)

  1. Cream butter, add sugar gradually, creaming well until fluffy. Add eggs, which have been beaten well, and blend.
  2. Mix chopped fruits and nuts; and mix with part of flour.
  3. Sift remaining flour and baking powder together into creamed mix.
  4. Add flavorings and mix well; then fold in nuts and fruits. Pour
    into greased, paper lined tube pan. Place into cold oven and bake at 250 degrees for 3 hours.

Stay strong, write on, and the cake is really good. It has to be, the recipe is from Mars.

A Steampunk Christmas and a Christmas Cookie Recipe

I’m tied up in a lot of things right now and I’m not getting a lot of writing done. At times life is hard. Year end day is almost here, but life will go on.

One way of writing Steampunk is to take what is happening today and imagine what it would be like if it happened in the past.

Example, the Japanese celebrate Christmas. They get extravagant. Being Shinto or Buddhist doesn’t even slow them down.

Now set your story on the west coast. There is friction (lynching and the usual mayhem between the Chinese laborers and the immigrant locals, i.e. anyone not Chinese and not an Amerindian (indigenous sounds so demeaning)).

Next have a fad hit. Everyone is excited by the engraving from the 1850 edition of Godey’s Lady’s Book showing a family (a doctored image of the British royal family) celebrating around a Bohemian Christmas tree.

The local Rail Road Magnet then sets up a tree outside his mansion. It’s too big to go inside and he wants to show off and rub every ones nose in it.

Then have the town people get together and pool their funds and set up an even bigger tree in the town square.

The Chinese see everyone having fun and set a smaller tree. There are fireworks. What’s Christmas without firecrackers.

In a saloon two old miners are arguing. One claims that the Christmas tree is a Tannenbaum. The other claims that Tannenbaum means fir tree and that a Christmas tree is a Weihnachtsbaum, and I should know by grandmother was from the old country Holland.

A fight breaks out. Do miners need a reason to fight, no. The Christmas trees get damaged. Everyone gets thrown in jail.

The children are bummed out and get together and set up their own Christmas tree.

The usual plug. Buy my book; The Daemon Boat

Christmas Cookie Recipe

Oatmeal chocolate chip cookies
Just add a little white and red frosting (in a Christmas design) to the top of the cookie and you have Christmas cookies.


1 cup butter (2 sticks) softened*
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
½ cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoon vanilla extract (plus a little bit)
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 heaping teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt (optional)
3 cups oats (regular oats (rolled) not instant)
1 cup nuts (Walnuts or Pecans) (OK, so I like a lot of nuts)
1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips

Tools needed;

Medium bowl
Electric mixer with large bowl
Measuring spoons set
Measuring cups; 1 and 1/2 cup sizes
Spatula with wooden handle*
3 Cookie sheets (make sure they fit in oven)
Gallon size plastic food bags
Dry Measuring cups

Pre-soften* the butter, take the sticks out of the ice box at least an hour before starting. You can let the butter sit on the table over night.**
Heat oven to 350 degrees F. (Before turning oven on check inside of oven for baked potato or other odds and ends from last night. Check oven temperature, the knob marking are often way off.)
Line a medium bowl with a one gallon plastic food bag. Place flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt in bag. Close and secure top of bag leaving large air space at top of bag. Message and shake bag to mix ingredients. Set bag aside. Cream butter and sugar with electric mixer in large mixing bowl. That’s cook speak for beating the butter until air is mixed in and then slowly adding the sugar. Add eggs one at a time without getting any egg shells in the mix.
Add vanilla; beat well.
Add flour mixture, slowly and gently or flour will be billowing everywhere
* and mix well. Remove mixing bowl from electric mixer. Using spatula stir in oats, nuts, and chocolate chips; mix until there are nuts and chips in very spoon full.
Drop rounded teaspoonfuls onto un-greased cookie sheet. That means scoop up a spoon full and turn the spoon over and dough falls onto the cookie sheet, most of the time the stuff acts like it is part super glue. Use spatula to scrape dough off spoon and try dipping teaspoon in cold water after each drop to keep dough from sticking.
Bake 10 to 12 minutes, measured with timer not smoke alarm, until golden brown. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheet then remove cookies to paper plate.
Makes about 4 dozen.

  • Soften means late butter warm up till a finger pressed in middle of bar will easily leave a dent.
    **Long distance backpackers carry butter for days without refrigeration.
    ***Old cook book term. Butter will turn a lighter color and be fluffy. 3 to 5 minutes in mixer.
    ****pour carefully, making flour angels on the kitchen floor is not cool. If added to quickly the electric mixer will blow flour all over kitchen.
    *****banging metal handle of spatula to knock stuff off on the rim of a glass bowl will break the bowl.
    ******Use dry measuring cup and using the flat back of butter knife strike off (run the knife across the top of the cup scraping the excess flour back into the flour container) the top of the cup. Do not pack the flour in the cup, keep it lose and fluffy.

To make one huge cookie, press dough into bottom of un-greased 9×13-inch metal baking pan. Or make huge cookie shape on baking pan. Make cookie shape one half inch thick. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes.

Stay strong, write on, and bake well.
Professor Hyram Voltage

Christmas Lights, Shoppings Done, and the Best Cookies

The annual untangling of lights went better than last year. Still need to make a map of where the lights go. Some of the light strings are custom configured to go around gates and objects. The strings have to be orientatedk towards the controller and mount on hooks so they go only one way.

The lights are several years old and they don’t make the types of lights I use anymore. I have to hand make replacements.

The lights are connected with Molex connectors that are no longer popular. I still can not find the box that has the spare connectors in it. I did find a small box of electronic repair parts with a couple of new connectors in it. That’s enough to tie me over until Amazon can come through with an order.

I don’t know about young people, but I like buying others presents. My brother just wants gift cards so he can buy books through out the year.

To satisfy my need to buy others presents I got a club I belong to to fund me a little bit of cash so I could buy mystery gifts for everyone that is attending our club’s annual holiday dinner. I got forty gifts bought and with the help of the club president we got them gift wrapped.

Try buying gifts for someone you barely know. Now try it for a bunch of people you vaguely know. Now try it for a bunch of grouchy old people.

The usual plug to buy my book at

My mother’s best cookie recipe

No gluten, can be made without nuts, and people with egg allergies can sometimes eat a little egg white without trouble.

From Professor Voltage’s Book of Extraordinarily Dangerous Cooking

Angel Kisses (no wheat cookies).


3 Large egg whites or 5 medium egg whites at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups pecans (chopped) (you can place whole pecans on top of the cookies)


  1. Tip; leave eggs out overnight, they have to be room temperature. Egg whites are easier to separate if the eggs are cold but the egg whites will be difficult to get to peak if cold.
  2. Place first oven rack in the middle of the oven.
  3. Optional; set the second rack below the first rack and place a pizza stone on second rack. This helps keep the temperature stable.
  4. Set oven to 200 degrees. Check oven temperature with thermometer.
  5. In a clean, dry (very important) measuring cup or small bowl separate one egg white.
  6. Inspect egg white for egg shell pieces and remove any pieces of shell. If any egg yolk gets into the egg white discard (or save for breakfast tomorrow) egg white, wash and thoroughly dry measuring cup. Try again.
  7. Transfer egg white to large mixing bowl. Mixing bowl must be clean and dry (no oil or water).
  8. Repeat steps 5 through 7 for remaining eggs, one egg at a time.
  9. Spread sugar over egg whites, then let stand, at room temp, for 30 minutes if not already at room temperature.
  10. Line 3 cookie sheets with wax paper.
  11. Beat egg whites mixture using electric mixer till very stiff (will stand in peaks, this can take 5 to 20 minutes, use a quarter of an inch of the tip of a knife to dip into batter and rise a little of the batter. If the batter stands stiffly at attention,(without flowing over) it’s ready.
  12. Add vanilla, beat a few seconds to a couple of minutes. You may need to scrape sides of mixing bowl with spatula to get vanilla to mix well.
  13. Remove electric mixer beaters.
  14. Add nuts, fold in gently. For a more decorative approach the nuts can be sprinkled or pressed into the top of the cookies. This will also slightly toast the nuts.
  15. Drop teaspoonful of batter on wax paper for each cookie. Use spatula to scrape off mixture/batter from spoon. The cookies will not melt or flow in the oven, they will look just like they did when dropped onto cookie sheet.
  16. Bake at 200 degrees 45 minutes. Make a test batch of 4 to 6 cookies first. Variations in eggs, humidly and oven temperature can cause results to vary. Let cookies cool at least ten minutes and taste. See below for suggestions to problems.
  17. Let cool 20 minutes before removing cookies from wax paper.
  18. Store in air tight container.
  19. These cookies are very sensitive to water, too much or too little. Make sure bowl and utensils are dry. If cracks form or if brown drips or streaks appear, the sugar has not been absorbed by the egg whites. A teaspoon of water added to the remaining mixture will help dissolve the excess sugar. Use a mister or try to spread water over batter. Be very careful adding water. Too much water will cause sugar to let go of egg white and leave brown streaks.
    If cookies are brown on the bottom or shades of brown show on the top the oven temperature is too high.
  20. Danger; eggs may contain salmonella, even on the outside of the egg shell. Wash hands with soap and warm water after touching or handling eggs.
  21. Use big cookie sheets.

Equipment needed:
A. cookie sheet (use three or more; so one can be cooking while the another is cooling and another is being loaded)
B. measuring spoons,
C. measuring cup, or small bowl
D. mixer and large mixing bowl,
E. spoon for dropping cookies,
F. spatula
G. wax paper,
H. roll of paper towels,
I. knife for chopping nuts,
J. dry measuring cup (1 cup size),
L. oven thermometer for checking temperature of oven,
M. oven, with known good temperature,
N. hot pad,
O. cooling rack

Windows 10 has Disappeared, Christmas Cookies Recipe

It’s the day after Thanksgiving and I have convinced my friend to upgrade to Windows 10. He has two machines that are Windows 7 and they’re not that old. I keep telling him that Windows 7 is going off support and the program is buggy. Microsoft may not have invented the software bug, but they are hard at work at reaching new heights of bugginess. Microsoft can’t get updates out for Windows 10 without having big problems. Some of the problems required Microsoft to bar some brands of computers from getting the latest updates. That leave those computers open to current software virus attacks until Microsoft gets around to reworking the update.

Microsoft has it’s best programmers working on Windows 10 and isn’t doing good. I believe they have the second string programmers working on the older versions of Windows software. Once Windows 7 is abandoned they can fire the programmers working on Windows 7 and save a bunch of money. The customer will get a better experience with Windows 10 or get shafted by the virus people if they don’t upgrade.

So I took my friend down to Fry’s Electronics to buy a copy of Windows 10. He was unhappy when the clerk at Fry’s confirmed that he would have to buy two copies, one for each machine. He was angry when the clerk told him, after looking at the store computer, that they didn’t have any Windows 10 software to sell.

We went over to Best buy to get the copies of Windows 10. Once we got a salesman to show us where the Windows 10 boxes were displayed my friend grabbed the only box on the rack. He shook the box and said there’s nothing in it. The salesman said you have to go up the the checkout and the guy at the cash register will scan the box and get the Windows 10 product from upstairs. He also said just have the cash register guy scan the box twice to get two of the product.

We waited in line. It was not too long of a wait. The cash register guy tried to scan the box, but there was nothing to scan. He had to ask a couple of other cash register types what to do. He found out that you don’t scan the box. He then got on the radio he was carrying and called for someone to get the Windows 10 box.

Wait, sort of like a computer program where the machine sets there and nothing seems to be happening. He calls again. Wait and then calls again. Finally he pulls out his cellphone and dials. “Oh, were out of it.” he says. Couldn’t the guy he called on the radio told him that?

I told my friend that we can get a copy off the web, most likely Amazon. My friend throws a fit. He had just listened to an NPR broadcast where businesses are being driven out of their business by fakes and counterfeits. He did not want a virus filled counterfeit loaded onto his computer. I have to admit that some counterfeits look just like the real thing and Amazon does little to combat the fakes.

Less than a year ago I put together a media down-streaming computer. I got a copy of Windows 10. It came in a cardboard box with very little in the way of instructions and a USB drive. Form what I can figure out from web chatter is that Microsoft has the product (box, instructions, and gets the USB drive loaded) made in China and the tariff war is stopping the box, or as they say in the trade “product”, from being imported to the U. S.

It is a pain to work with a person that is set in their ways. They get that way from experience, and they just may be smarter than me.

Microsoft is pounding everyone to go put Windows 10 on their Windows 7 machines. Of course not all old machines will work with Windows 10. How can Microsoft stay in business if you can’t buy their product unless you risk buying a counterfeit?

Microsoft can’t make an update that’s not filled with bugs and you can’t buy the latest addition of their product. Let’s hope someone comes up with a better operating system and soon. This can go on, but it’s only going to get worst.

Stay strong, write on, and persevere when you try to help someone.

Standard plug to buy my book.

Christmas Cookies

1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 cup oil
2 teaspoon vanilla
5 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons Cream of Tartar


  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In one gallon plastic bag add flour, baking soda, and cream of tartar. Mix well.
  3. In electric mixer cream butter and sugar.
  4. Add eggs, oil, and vanilla. Mix well.
  5. Remove from mixer.
  6. Add dry mixture to butter mixture. Mix well by hand (can be mixed in electric mixer if careful).
  7. Make dough into cookies by;
    a. roll dough into balls 1 to 2 inches in diameter.
    b. roll dough into a log and slice into 1 inch thick disks.
    c. Dribble almond extract and 1/8 cup of milk onto dough. Mix well. Pack into pastry gun. Or if you prefer take a tablespoon of dough and roll it into a ball
  8. Place on un-greased cookie sheet. If you prefer to roll dough into a ball, then flatten the ball with bottom of glass dipped in sugar.
  9. Bake 8 to 10 minutes

Sugar cookies were made to be decorated. Use sprinkles and icing. Go buy cookies cutters. Have children help.

A New Place to Find Brass Gears, Having Your Book Read to You, and a classic Thanksgiving Side Dish Recipe

I found a where you can get a handful of brass gears that are bigger than wrist watch gears. The timers that control old washing machines and clothes dryers used mechanical timers. Those timers used brass gears. If you can find a shade tree repair guy that fixes old washing machines and clothes dryers you might be able to bum a couple of timers off him. The machines will be fifteen or more years old and may not be worth repairing.

Reading your book out loud is good advice. I do it, but I have a better way. I let the computer read it to me. That way I can concentrate on the sound and flow of the words.

The computer never gets tired of reading. I get hoarse after reading out load for a couple of hours.

I have been using Naturalreaders, but I am using TTSReader more and more. All text to speech programs will not know all the words you use or get tense right (like read and past tense read (red)). It is a little disconcerting when the program sounds the word out. They are getting better, but it’s going to take time. Give these programs a try.

I am not affiliated with the companies that make or distribute these programs. I had problems with the amazon and google text to speech programs and found these program better for my use. I use the free version, which means I break up my book or chapters in to small pieces and feed them into the program. I use the pause triangle at the top of the program to stop the speech and make notes in a hard copy of the manuscript that the program is reading. I have found that TTSReader will back up to where the cursor is and re-read the part it has already read. Very handy.

These programs are not ready to produce an audio book, but that day is not far off.

Self promoting plug to buy my book “The Daemon Boat”.

Classic Thanksgiving side, Fruit salad.

Fruit Salad, from an old family recipe from the 1950s

1 crisp sweet apple
1 orange
1 can pineapple cold
1/2 cup English walnuts
1/2 cup coconut
1 banana reserved


Add pineapple to medium bowl.
Peel and cube orange, add to bowl.
Peel, core, cube apple. Add to bowl. Mix till apple pieces are covered with juice. That will prevent browning of the apple pieces.
Toasting walnuts is optional. Chop walnuts into large pieces. Add to bowl.
Add coconut to bowl.
Mix well. Taste and add sugar and a 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon if desired.
Just before serving peel banana and add to individual serving bowls, if desired. There were people in my family that were allergic to bananas.
Without bananas the salad will store, covered, in refrigerator for days. It’s good for breakfast with coffee and a piece of pecan pie.

Makes enough for two.
You can add sliced grapes, raisins, tangerines. Do not add great fruit, it is too bitter and will react with heart medicines.
Do not add celery. Celery is not a fruit. Do not add mayonnaise, that’s not a fruit either and some people are allergic to eggs. Do not add pepper, or cream or other non-fruit items.

Stay strong, write on, and read your book, out loud.

Professor Hyram Voltage

Doing Things Differently and A Well Done Turkey Thigh

I watched Mercury move across the face of the sun last week. Yes, it’s a big deal. It won’t happen for another decade.

I got up early that morning and it was cloudy. The event only lasts for a couple of hours. I got on the computer and found a weather site that’s tied into the Los Angeles weather radar. It was clouds for as far as the radar could see. I had the choice of driving up to Santa Barbara or down past Malibu. I could go farther east on the 10 freeway hoping to find clear skies.
The problem is the skies could still be filled with clouds, the weather radar can not see that far.

I got out my homemade solar telescope out. It’s made out of old and new parts.
It’s a mere three inch scope, but the sun is close so it does the job. It has a glass solar filter not one of the cheap plastic things.
The sun started to peek through a crack in the cloud cover. Now the fun began. Looking at the sun is a lot different that looking at the stars. One one thing it’s light out. Stray light from the ground, and any object around you interferes with looking into the eye piece. Also with the solar filter on it’s dark looking through the telescope. At night when looking through the telescope you can see stars or at least the moon. With a solar telescope, it has to be as bright as the sun or you don’t see anything.
Mercury is small, and you need a telescope to see it during the day.
I don’t have a solar filter handy for the finder scope, so I got out my solar finder. The solar finder sits on top of the telescope’s barrel and the pin hole in front of the finder shines a dot of light on the back of the finder. The cloud cover made the sun dim in the solar finder. It also diffused the light. The diffuse light made aiming the telescope hard.

You can’t look down the top of the telescope barrel and sight on the sun like you can for the moon. Looking at the sun is bad for your eyes.
After a lot of fiddling the sun slipped into a clear gap in the cloud cover and I got the scope on the sun. I had to switch to a better eye piece because of the water in the air. Even when it looked like the sun was in the clear I could see clouds moving across the face of the sun through the solar filter.
After much adjusting I got Mercury into focus.

What does this have to do with writing Steampunk? Well take the hero that come to save the day. What if he’s a steam engineer and he needs to get a steam car going. He knows the engines on ships and the big stationary engine used on farms. But those are high pressure boilers. He needs to repair a flash boiler of a car to escape and it’s so different from the big ship boilers.

You may be an expert in your field, but you will not know all the little details of that field.

And now for this weeks recipe

Turkey and Bacon


One stick of butter, half softened and half melted
1 ½ pounds of turkey thigh, skin-on
One package turkey bacon, you only need enough to cover thigh


Brine thigh if you want. Start the night before.
Preheat the oven to 400°F/200°C.
Rinse thigh.
Pat dry.
Place thigh in shallow pan.
Lift skin and place half of softened butter on thigh under skin.
Coat skin with soften or melted butter.
Place thigh in over for 30 minutes.
Remove thigh and cover with turkey bacon. Will keep skin from getting to done.
Return to oven.
Cook for another 30 minutes or until quick reading thermometer reads 155 degrees F.
Cool for 15 minutes.
Carve and serve.

Stray strong, write on and don’t eat to much at one time.
Professor Hyram Voltage

Cooking In Steampunk Times and Pumpkin Spice Chocolate Chip Cookies

Readers complain that I have too much eating going on in my stories.
Come on, people got to eat. Have you ever noticed how a hero will go for days without food, then run a mile in under two minutes, have a fist fight with the villain and win.

I don’t think that is realistic. Besides having the characters at a meal gives me a chance to shove in a little exposition. OK, a whole lot of exposition. A meal would force characters to talk about what’s on their mind.

All meals would not be at a restaurant. Sometimes it would be at a bar. Many single people lived in a boarding house where meals were served. Your lunch was in a pail and was prepared by the boarding house owner. It took time to fix a meal. It took a lot of money to eat in a restaurant.

A jug of wine, a loaf of bread and thou, was a big thing. No cooking required. And it was more likely a bottle of beer. It was warm beer in the days before refrigeration.

Having the characters have a meal is also a break from the constant action and tension. A nice break form being chased or almost killed.

A fest or a meal during the holidays was something that required planning. There were goose clubs in England where you paid someone weekly or monthly to raise geese. Then just (and I mean a day or two before the fest) you went and got your goose. The rest of the meal had to be planned out. Canned goods were more expensive than fresh and you could only get what was in season. This wasn’t only the cooks problem, it was everyone’s problem.

So have your characters eat, drink and be merry. Then have them shoot their way out of a hostage situation.

Stay strong, write on, and don’t forget to feed your characters.
Professor Hyram Voltage.

In an effort to get you to buy my book, here is a holiday cookie recipe.

Pumpkin Spice Cookies:


3/4 cup unsalted butter softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg
2 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 bag semi sweet chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 350°F. Oil or grease two cookie sheets or line cookies
 sheets with parchment paper.
In medium bowl lined with large plastic bag add; pumpkin spice,
 cinnamon, baking soda, cream of tartar, salt and flour.
Close bag and use hand to squeeze bag to mix ingredients.
Cream butter and sugar in a large bowl with electric mixer.
Beat in egg and extract. 
Add, slowly, flour mix. 
Remove mixer beaters and, by hand, stir in chocolate chips.
Using tablespoon take one scoop at a time of dough and drop onto
cookie sheets.
Bake for 9-10 minutes. Take them out when bottoms start to turn golden.
They’ll finish cooking as they cool. If they get too golden before
you remove them, they won’t be fluffy and soft.
Cool 5 minutes before removing from cookie sheets.
Place cookies on a wire rack to cool completely.
 Store at room temperature loosely covered.

You need conflict for your story. You Need Big Conflict.

Don’t think war, think revolution. Revolution pits brother against brother and father against son. Even mother against father. That’s conflict.

The east coast is sinking. I recently saw an article where Boston is having troubles with rising sea levels. They have signs on one street where at high tide the street is flooded. Of course someone is going to have to pay to fix it and the ones that live there don’t want to pay for it.

Living on the west coast, in California, I feel left out. You never see anything about the problems that rising sea levels will cause in California. Near me is a marina where the houses have a boat dock for a back yard. It will not take much of a sea level rise to flood those houses. Of course California is not close to the nation’s capital where all the political action is. It’s like California doesn’t count. The people in Boston had better be concerned. California has the third longest coastline in the U. S. And California has some expensive coastline.

What’s that got to do with writing Steampunk?

Political visibility was worst in the steampunk era. There was only a single railway line connecting the east and the west coast. Telegrams were very expensive. Letters could take weeks to get from one coast to the other. The west coast could fall off into the ocean for all Washington DC could care.

What we need is a steampunk story where California and several neighboring states/territories succeed from the union. Why? What if they were being heavily taxed and not getting anything for the money that’s being taken. Don’t forget that the civil war started income tax. It was not popular, but effected the very rich. What if the politicians got greedy? What if they figured that since California had gold then Californian’s should pay more? The money is being used to pay down the debt that was run up during the civil war and of course to pay for other east coast things (like graft and corruption). Arizona would not succeed, but that’s another story or subplot. Air ships cannot haul a lot of people. With only one railway line through the rocky mountains it would be easy to cut off the military from getting to California. It’s takes months for a ship to get from the east coast to the west coast.

Stop the trains at the top of the Rocky Mountains in the winter and the troops could freeze. Think Donner Pass. All you have to do is blow up the tracks in front of the train and behind the train. Now you have a couple of thousand troops without enough food or water, that’s conflict or a sub plot. The locals in the rocky mountains might turn on the troops if the troops took their food. Many people in the mountains, in the 1800s, were living hand to mouth. Take out a couple of bridges and the troops would be stranded. The train tracks go over some deep gorges. A big airship could haul maybe a hundred troops and some equipment so hauling an invasion force would not work. But Californians were armed and knew how to use their guns. Once the troops get to California they could not just live off the land in California during the winter.

Ad, Wanted Beta Readers. I’ll read your book if you’ll read mine.

If an effort to sell my book here is this week’s recipe.

Bacon pancakes

Ingredients, enough to make about 12 Pancakes:
8 oz bacon
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs yolks, beaten
2 large egg whites
1/2 stick of melted butter
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/3 cups milk (use buttermilk if you plan ahead)
Serve with warm maple syrup and soft butter.

Cook bacon.
Drain and cool bacon.
Separate the yolk from the egg whites.
Place dry ingredients in mixing bowl. Add milk and beaten egg yolk. Mix a little. Add egg white and fold in. Do not mix heavily. Leave lumps (adding egg white last and genteelly folding them in makes the pancakes fluffy).
Break bacon into pieces and add to batter

Heat skillet, spoon batter into hot pan. Water will dance on pan if it is hot enough.
Serve and enjoy.

Stay strong, write on, and think revolution.
Professor Hyram Voltage

Where did all the Goth go? Halloween Cupcakes.

I attended the Steampunk Festival in Oxnard this weekend. There I met a gentleman from Germany. During our conversation he asked “Where did all the Goths go”?

Good question. A few short years ago there were quite a number of young people who dressed and acted in a Goth manner. Now you can’t find them even at science fiction conventions.

The guy from Germany felt that they may have gone into Steampunk. Yes, there are many who wear dark clothes in steampunk, but I don’t think they identify as Goth. There’s plenty of dark sides and stories in steampunk. Even some Goth themed characters. But the heroes are not Goth.

Doing a little research I find two things. One young people are not getting into Goth so the number of Goths is shrinking. And two cell phones are killing the Goth movement and social interaction.

Looking at the Goth movement, it peaked in 1994. That the time the cell phone wave hit. Cell phones have gone up and the Goth movement have gone down.

Milliennials say they are looking for experiences. But if you ask them, they will tell you that they sit at home or keep their face in their cell phone. They don’t go to; bars, clubs or conventions. They only go out for experiences (special occasions). They also don’t go out because going out cost; money, places are too crowded and don’t give you space, most places have bad service (a cell phone is cheap and you are paying for it now, it gives you what you want now, no waiting, no crowds), and places are filled people that are jerks (cell phones have a jerk be-gone button).

People use to go to bars to find dates. It’s so much easier now with a cell phone and a computer dating site.

People use to go to bars or clubs to find new music. Cell phones can get you that with no cover charge, no crowds, no having to interact with people. And if you do it right the cell phone can get you the music for free.

One person was blaming global warming for the down fall of the Goth movement. It’s hard to wear black clothes and a leather jacket when the temperature keeps hitting new highs.

What happened to Goths? My guess is those that would be or were Goths are sitting home staring at their cell phones.

There’s a science fiction story here waiting to be written. A world full of cell phone zombies that can be exploited, turned into a mindless army by the government or an evil genus.

Remember that in China some minorities are required to carry their cell phones at all times so the government knows where they are.

Halloween is on a work day this year. There’s no time to make up a special, from scratch, recipe.

Halloween Cupcakes.
One box of chocolate brownie mix
One teaspoon pumpkin spice
One teaspoon instant espresso
Cupcake paper liners
A can of cake frosting. Some sprinkles

Follow directions on the box, but after placing dry ingredients in bowl sprinkle the pumpkin spice and espresso mix over the dry ingredients so you don’t get a lump of spice in one of the cup cakes, and done of the spice in the other cupcakes.

What makes it Halloween is the presentation. Some frosting, sprinkles, chocolate chips for eyes. Use a tooth pick to paint a food color mouth. Use pieces of well done bacon for bat wings.

Stay strong, write on, and eat.
Professor Hyram Voltage

Bacon doughnut holes.

He beat me to it.
Bacon doughnut holes.

From the foodwishs site

See his web site. This recipe is a little tricky to make. So many times it looks like it’s a failure, but it isn’t.

Ingredients for 8 to 10 small Bacon and Egg Doughnuts:
(this is a half a recipe, so I would highly recommend doubling everything)
6 strips bacon, sliced, browned, cooled, and chopped (save some for the tops)
1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp cold water
4 tbsp unsalted butter
1/8 tsp salt
1 tablespoon sugar
pinch of fresh nutmeg
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
vegetable oil for deep frying
maple syrup to garnish

  • Fry at 350 F. for about 7 minutes, turning often, until puffed and well-browned
  • If doing in batches, hold in a warm oven

Nothing says breakfast like Bacon
Professor Hyram Voltage