Where is My Flying Car?

You’ve sitting in a traffic jam and in normal traffic you have an hour more of driving to do. Wouldn’t it be great if you had a flying car. Weren’t we suppose to have one by now.

A little history. Back in the 1960s there was a animated cartoon show on prime time called The Jetsons. The show was set in 2062 and the family car was bubble domed flying car that looked like a space ship. It putted along rather than streaking across the sky at some hypervelocity.

Around the same time there was the TV show SuperCar. It was a children’s show done in Supermarionation. In case you didn’t know Supermarionation is the Czech style of marionette puppetry. Looks silly by today’s standards but is difficult to do.

We have flip phones that were shown in Star Trek in the 1960s how hard can a flying car be?

During President Obama term he launched a cancer moonshot to cure cancer. I haven’t heard anything about it since the announcement.

Ever week I heard about a new improvement or new development of a battery that will revolutionize the world. I’m still hearing claims, but I don’t see anything.

The list of breakthrough promises is long and heart breaking.

Would you want a flying car?

You might want to have one, but you would defiantly not want anyone else to have one. Think about it. Would you want a drunk flying his car into your house or some skyscraper? The car in Supercar was powered by an atomic motor. How would you like to have a nuclear accident in your back yard? The batmobile from the 1960s had atomic batteries. I would not like to be within a hundred miles of a major accident involving a real version of the batmobile.

A normal person flying an airplane will do the wrong thing if the plane goes into a stall and the plane will go into an uncontrollable dive into the ground. It takes training to fly an airplane. Planes have mechanical problems and fall out of the sky and we have been flying planes for over a hundred years. Now put thousands or hundreds of thousands of flying cars in the hands of ordinary people and it would not be safe anywhere, even without atomic batteries.

Self driving cars do not work right yet. They are getting better, but they are not there yet. Flying a plane or a car if a thousand times harder. It’s going to take a much better program than the one that drives a car on the road. And there are technical problem to over come. Several people have built flying cars. Some of them have died in the wrecks of the flying car.

We have made great advances in the last 60 years since the Jetsons show, but we have a long way to go. I don’t mean we should stop working on a flying car, but maybe the money would be better spent on cancer research.

Stay strong, write on, and let your dreams fly.
Professor Hyram Voltage

Get Annoyed to Find Ideas

“So where do the ideas actually come from? Mostly from getting annoyed about things. Not big issues so much … as the little irritations that drive you wild out of all proportion.”

— from the introduction to The Frood: The Authorised and Very Official History of Douglas Adams & The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Have you every thought that you can’t come up with a new idea because you’re happy? Well not happy or even content. You’re writing, you’re working, you’re busy, but you don’t have that edge. Or you’re so annoyed about something that has nothing to do with your writing that it’s crowding out your writing thoughts.

Take that annoying thing, or if your not annoyed then look around and find something to get annoyed about, and put that into your story. Get those juices flowing. Take that annoyance and have it impact your story, twist your story, beat your story up. How would an elf queen be annoyed at a telemarketer? What would she do about it? There’s an idea that I have never been done before. Don’t blow any idea off. Your characters, even the really minor, no-name, side characters are going to have to make a living and some of them are going to be greedy, selfish, heartless. Think elf lawyers. Think telemarketing on a crystal ball or magic mirror. How about elven scroll junk mail.

Time and again I have thrown good ideas at a writer friend and had him blow them off. It was like “Casey at the bat”. They just weren’t his style. It’s hard work to come up with ideas and he threw them away without serious consideration. At least, when someone gives you an idea, write it down even if you’re not going to use it, ever.

Those ideas he threw away got used in some of my stories.

You’re going to sit there all smug and say “well, they were your way of writing stories, those ideas would not have fitted my story”. Well, if everyone’s else’s ideas aren’t a good fit for your writing style then stop asking others for ideas.


A good writer can make any idea work. And that’s the problem, it’s WORK.

In the YouTube video from; Lecture #1: Introduction — Brandon Sanderson on Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-6HOdHEeosc&t=3321s Mr. Sanderson talks about an argument a writer (not him) got into with a member of a presentation the writer was giving. The attendee was convinced that a good story depended on a good idea. The writer countered with “Give a good idea to a bad writer and you will end up with a bad story. Give a bad idea to a good writer and he will come up with a good story” (paraphrase). To make his point the writer told the attendee to give him two incongruent ideas and he would make a story out of them. The attendee came up with; a Roman legion and Pokeman. The writer went on to develop a successful (they sold) series of books. He did not say it was easy, but the writer made money with a collection of “Bad ideas”.

The ideas do not need to be good, they do not need to be handed to you on a silver platter, but you are going to have to work to find them, so don’t blow them off when they come to you. No matter how silly or how badly they fit your story. And you’re going to have to work to make your story good.

It does help that the ideas are annoying. It lights a fire under you.

Stay strong, write on, and get annoyed.
Professor Hyram Voltage

Finding Ideas and Writing a Newsletter Column

I write a monthly column for a radio club newsletter. Every month I have to come up with an idea for the column. At first this was easy, I was over running with ideas. Then it became a slog. I write books and screenplays and a lot of other things. The column for the newsletter feels like work and the feeling was getting in the way.

It’s column writing time, the deadline is breathing down my neck. I need an idea. I need it now. Deadlines may not be inspirational, but they get you working.

What to do?

I break out this months radio magazine from a national organization. I also dig out a couple of back issues. Not only do the magazines have articles that could urge me on, they shows me what people in radio are interested in. It also shows me what manufactures have come up, and I find it easy to generate articles on unintended consequences.

1.a I pour over the articles. Would I do what someone did in an article? Would I do it differently? What articles do I want see and are not in the issue?

1.b Are any of the adds interesting? Are they interesting for something that does not have anything to do with radio (AKA cat videos adds, they get your attention, but don’t sell the product or service.) Pay attention to product bashing and unsubstantiated claims. (I make the best ethernetic prognostic reception device in the world. I make the only ethernetic prognostic reception device in the world (and I haven’t sold one yet, but just you wait and see)).

2. Write about what you have done in the field the club specializes in, with the club, or for the club.. What activities that the club has held, and you were in. What did you think of the activity. How could the activity be better?. Think about the members of the club that you have interacted with (within the last month or several years ago). And upcoming club or national events are always good information for the column and good filler.

3. Personnel experiences are good, they can be past or present, present is more appealing, but a humorous past recollections are always fun. The story about how I blew up a radio (unintentionally) always gets a laugh, Have a good punch line, Well I’m not going to do that again, at least not like that. Yeah I’m going to use a lot more electrical tape and sell tickets. Find the magic and write about it. There is magic even in simple things. Everyone in radio has an antenna, be it a ferrite loop antenna inside the radio, a hundred foot tower with antennas all over it, or an electric blanket taped to the wall. I have a 55 foot tower, I have used ferrite loop antennas, and I have been lucky enough to not need to use an electric blanket for an antenna. But if I had to, I would use an electric blanket. I heard a guy that was using an electric blanket for an antenna. Any antenna is better than no antenna. Even the experts do not fully understand how antennas work. I have seen two antennas designed by two different people. The computer said the antennas should preform the same. One antenna worked much better than the other. They both used the same computer program to design their antennas. Why were the antennas so different? Computer programs are not the real world. They can get close, but the program can be full of pitfalls. Be it writing or knitting there is magic. It could be that this yarn works better than that yarn. They both are cotton, but it’s in the processes by which they are made that’s makes the magic so one yarn is easier to work with than the other. Or it could be that this color works better than that combination. It might be as simple as the season that your knitting an item for or as complex as the psychology of color mixing.

It’s still magic, but then isn’t all writing.

Stay strong, write on, and look for those ideas.

Professor Hyram Voltage