Isaac Asimov, D-rings, Fusion, and Predictions

You’ve heard of the old axiom of write what you know. Don’t buy into it. Issac Asimov was a teacher at a college and wrote Science Fiction. If you have not read his books you should try some. He wrote over 200 books, but many were hard science books.

He wrote about space ships traveling between star systems before a man was put into orbit. Yet he did not drive a car nor would he fly in an air plane. He past away in 1992 so there were airplanes and car around during his life.

He wrote about artificial intelligence, except his AIs had arms and legs and we called them robots or androids. Yet he was a chemistry teacher. I have yet to see anyone propose forcing developers to incorporate the three laws of robotics into AIs.

He wrote about young people on Mars. See the Lucky Star books. These books were written back in the nineteen fifties and are said to base the main character on the Lone Ranger. The story is set 7000 years after 1944. That is a lack of imagination. I don’t know if it was the author thought that the public would not believe that Mars could be settled in reasonable time frame. It only took 200 years to establish a permanent settlement in America. And, back then, open ocean ship travel was as risky and dangerous as space travel is today.

In his Caves of Steel series of books he wrote about man made covered cities. He knew big cities from living in New York. But the New York he grew up in was not as crowded as it is today. You have to assume that they had conquered disease in those futuristic stories.

Back in the fifties using fusion (putting atoms together), the opposite of fission (splitting atoms apart), for generating cheap power was just twenty years away. It’s now thirty years away.

What about D-rings? In the foundation series of books he has a futuristic civilization that has cheap power. These were written in the nineteen fifties so the power was atomic based, but in place of reactor piles he used D-rings. In the 1930s the first man made radioactive particles were generated by cyclotrons. Inside a cyclotron are two container shaped like a half a pancake. The insides of the containers are drawn down to a high vacuum. At the time it seemed possible to make a power generator out of them. Instead we are still using reactor based on the 1950s style reactor pile design.

In the Asimov books the D-ring power generators last for thousands of years. In real life reactors last twenty to thirty years, but are granted extensions. The still wear out and we haven’t figured out what to do with them when we junk them out.

Predicting the future is hard. There are always black swans. And people, even science fiction writers, can have narrow vision. Two years ago they were selling a rifle that was guaranteed not to miss the target under a set of conditions. How’s that going to mess up your space opera if the guy that shoots first always hit his target? Just point your gun and the computer will do the work.

Complimentary add;

The great bread experiment goes on.
This month I used a recipe that called for one cup plus three tablespoons of water to three cups plus one quarter cup of flour. Not quite there but close.

recipe
Pork Fried Rice

1 tablespoon cooking oil or butter
1 (6 ounce) boneless pork loin or pork chop (whatever is on sale), cut into small pieces (about 1/2 to 1/4 inch square)

2 or 3 green onions, chopped (about the same size as the pork)
1 or 2 eggs, beaten

2 cups cooked rice (we had a big family and 1 cup of rice cooks up to 2 cups cooked rice) 

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Cook rice and set aside.
  2. Beat eggs in small bowl, set aside.
  3. Add oil or melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Mother always used the big 12 inch cast iron skillet.
  4. Add pork, green onions and cook until pork is cooked through, 7 to 10 minutes.
  5. Add eggs and scramble until eggs are set.
  6. Stir in rice, chop up omelet and stir until rice is heated through, 7 to 10 minutes.

Write on, stay strong and try an old classic science fiction book.
Professor Hyram Voltage

Rushed Ending and Making Bread (yes I’m talking about a loaf of bread)

My copy editor said my story ending is rushed. When you pay someone for comments you better consider those comments. I thought I wrapped the ending up with a bow in one chapter.

The problem is the heroine has been trapped in a mine all story long and has no communication with the above ground world. While the story is not strictly first person, how would she know what is going on outside the mine? The bad guys control the communication with the surface. They know what is coming. I don’t want a covenant way for the heroine to find out what happened in the past and on the surface.

I have to rewrite the story ending and that is going to be a pain. The heroine does not have X-ray vision or other superpowers. I can’t hand her the information on a silver platter. I am playing by the rules. No deus ex machina. This is a pain.

What do you, the reader, want in an ending? Do you want a quick ending? Do you want it to end with hugs and kisses? Do you want every last plot line tied up? Or can I leave some things for the next book? Write me or leave comments.

The ad, always the ad

Isolation bread

In a previous blog I mentioned that I have been making bread. The loaves are less than mediocre. I’m not looking for a great loaf of bread, but I do want a good loaf. Currently the loaves are tough and crumble when sliced. The bread taste OK, but something is wrong.

There is an old rule for cooks: In cooking you follow your taste; In baking you follow the recipe.

So, I researched for light bread machine bread recipes. I got three that were at the top of the search results. I tried them. It helped, but it didn’t help much.

The standard recipes for bread machine bread calls for one cup of water for three cups of flour. The first recipe called for one cup of water for two cups of flour per cup of water.

With two cups of flour the loaf came out a little better and was softer, but the top of the loaf did not get done. This happened twice.

In this time of stay at home I can not get all the ingredients the recipes call for. The store is out of bread flour. I have some store brand (regular) flour and I have to make the best of it. Many recipes call for the little packets of yeast, either quick rise or bread machine yeast. Those packets coast more than a loaf of store bread and the store is out of the packets and has been for weeks. I was able to get a block of Red Star Active Dry Yeast. It cost about the same as six foil packets (one packet equals 2 teaspoons of yeast). I’ve got enough yeast to last years, but yeast does not last that long so I need to use it up.

I am experimenting. That means things fail and bread, or the bad imitation of bread, gets thrown out. First experiments were to figure out if active dry yeast needed to be proofed before being added to the bread machine. It looks like the active dry yeast can be added to the bottom of the bread machine pan along with the water and sugar as long as the salt is added on top of the flour. Salt kills the yeast, but the bread needs salt in the dough.

Some people rave about how bread taste better when you use butter in place of oil. I have tried it both ways. Not a noticeable difference in the crumbling of the bread or the fluffiness of the inside of the bread.

There are only five ingredients in bread. That’s five things that I can change the amounts of, or try substitutions for, but I record the difference the changes make. You have to keep straight what did what, and your memory is not good enough.

So far I have used to much yeast and blown the top off one loaf of bread. I have used to much water (or more water that is standard) and gotten a sunken undone top of the loaf. I have made a loaf without salt and it did not make much difference. I have made dough in the machine then placed the dough in a pan and baked the loaf in the oven. I did it a second time and kneaded the dough ten minutes before placing it in the pan (it was still dense and not to good). Why is the loaf dense and crumbles when I cut it? More disasters to come.

If at first you don’t success, try changing something, but keep records so you can track what change gave you what results and when it goes right you know what works.

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

Lists and Making My writing Better

You’ve heard the sayings; Those that don’t learn from their mistakes are doomed to repeat them, and; The definition of stupidity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different response.

To stop the insanity I make lists of things that readers, editors, and I have found wrong with my writing.

I tell you the computer is out to get me. On the check list I go through before sending a manuscript to an editor, Spell Check is at the top and the bottom. The very last thing on the list is spell check.

The last manuscript I sent to an editor had several spelling errors. Not the wrong word that was close to the right word. No, plain spelling errors that the word processor red underlined. I use two spell checkers and the words were wrong in both.

It has to be enemy action. I have autocorrect turned off and I ran two spell checks. Plus I use two different spell checker (that don’t always agree with each other) so there must be a leak in the program or computer.

As I am going through the corrections the editor made to the manuscript I list the error she found. It’s a big list. Some of the problems are grammar, I have a problem with commas. So the list has a section bugging me to go study the grammar books and sites on how to use a comma.

It takes a lot of search and replace to go through the list of my common errors. But I go through each item on the list.

I do it for you, the reader. Hour after hour of slugging it out so you have a good readable story.

I have been to book signing where the author corrected an error in his hard bound book with a pen and he signed the correction. This guy had written dozens of books and stories. He was published by a big name publisher, and he was embarrassed by the error. I’m a small time author, the trolls don’t cut me any slack.

Editing is a time suck. Editing is hard, hard, hard, but I do it for you.

Once again, an ad for my book. The second one is coming soon.

Green pancakes and bacon

Ingredients

1 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
3/4 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 drops green food coloring
1 tablespoon olive oil plus some for the skillet

Instructions

Add to a large plastic bag the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Shake dry ingredients together.
In a large bowl, beat the egg. Add milk, olive oil, green food coloring, and vanilla and beat together.
Dump dry ingredients into bowl on top of wet ingredients and mix until just incorporated (it will have lumps). If the batter seems too thick, add more of the milk, a little at a time.
Place a large skillet or griddle over medium heat.
Add dash of olive oil to skillet.
Pour or spoon about 3/4 cup of the batter onto the skillet per pancake.
Cook until bubbles break the surface of the pancake, and the underside is golden brown, about 3 minutes. The time depends on how hot the skillet is.
Flip with a spatula and cook about 1 minute more on the second side. Remove pancake from pan and place on a plate.
Repeat until you have enough for breakfast.
Excess batter can be stored, covered and sealed, for a couple of days.

What if it goes wrong? Relax, you haven’t wasted expensive ingredients. If the first pancake is dry then add a little (more than a drop and less than a teaspoon full) of milk to the bowl and stir. If the pancake is too thin then add a little flour and a pinch of baking powder to the bowl. Stir and try again.

No syrup, try them dry or make the pancake very thin with too much milk and call them crapes. Use a little jelly in place of the maple syrup. Honey is good to on top of pancakes. Cinnamon and sugar is good. Even try a dash of paprika.

Two pancakes, two strips of bacon, and a glass of orange juice. That’s a special breakfast, for this special time.

Stay strong, write on, and edit.

Professor Hyram Voltage

Looking for a Good Fantasy Story?

I’m in the middle of editing a book. It’s hard work and I don’t have much time to read (I’m suppose to be editing my book not procrastinating).

So try The Lord Darcy series by Randall Garrett. I suggest ‘Murder & Magic’, Too ‘Many Magicians’, and Lord Darcy Investigates. These books were written in the 1960s, but feature and alternate history long before flood of current alternate history books. It also could be called Steampunk, but these books were written before Steampunk was thought of.

The magic in the stories is a system and is not Deus ex machina. It has rules and the stories had to be thought out to follow those rules. I do not like the base rule that a magic user had to be born with the talent. Oh well that’s a personal preference and does not detract from a good story.

Now if you’re strictly a science fiction reader try Mack Reynolds / Dean Ing ‘Home Sweet Home”. Or try Christopher Anvil. Many of his stories explore unintended consequences.

Unintended consequences, that’s when something sounds so good and it’s cheap we do it. Besides how could it go wrong? California, in 1980s went from teaching Phonics (to help reading) in school to mandating the teaching of Natural Language reading. It took them ten years and tying for last place among states in school children reading ability scores before they went back to Phonics. Of course California is a liberal state and teachers teach how they want to not to state mandates, so children are taught with methods that are dubious in their results. We have a generation of people in and from California that can’t read well, but it’s not a worry, we have audio books and cell phones. Who needs to read. Us authors that’s who. I need to publish audio books.

Got a story or author you like. Let me know.

Boring old add;

The serious side of recipes

The news has stories of food shortages. We have had outages, but in the last 100 years we have not had a time where you could get something to eat. We have had soup kitchens and bread lines, but what if there is no food at any price?

Living in earth quake country I have a two week supply of food. My friends have drawn down their stock piles and that may be a bad thing. Now is the time to think about stocking up on food that does not need refrigeration and can be stored for a long time. If everyone does that then we will never need it.

Oatmeal, canned tuna fish, crackers, flour, powered milk, are basics and can be stored for a long time. Water is taken for granted, but if it stops you are in trouble. Rice, beans (canned and raw), that will get used in a year anyway. No one will know you stocked up and you can laugh at yourself a year from now for doing it.

Stay strong, write on.

Professor Hyram Voltage

Writing is hard, what we do to give you a story

Writing is hard, editing is harder, but doing a rewrite after the editor has worked over your story makes me feel like the lowest slave rowing the galley or the only slave rowing (and everyone on the boat is standing over me with a whip). No wonder people never finish their book.

As you read this blog remember, I don’t want to slug through another rewrite of my manuscript. But, I WILL. I’m a writer, an author, and there are readers who want stories.

I think my problem is overwork, loneliness, and exhaustion.

I run two to three Zoom meeting a week. I got to create an agenda for each meeting, schedule the meeting, email everyone, and set time aside. On some of the Zoom meetings I have to write up the minutes of the meeting. It takes an hour to three hours for each meeting. Now I’m doing this for myself as well as for the others attending the meeting.

I’m amazed that some people have so much trouble using the zoom program. I figured it out so it can’t be that hard to do. And the meetings are appreciated, there are members of the meeting that have begged for more meetings.

Note to self; do a blog about setting up zoom. Email me if your interested.

Even with all the zoom meetings, the loneliness is wearing me down. I’ve been holed up for six and a half weeks. The only time I’ve been out of the house is to go to the grocery store or the drug store. I wear the protective stuff and I’m in and out of the store as quick as I can be. There’s no time for interaction or even browsing. And before the troubles my critique group fell apart. I have to join one of the on line groups.

The biggest problem is I’m exhausted. I’m helping people, I’m helping a club I belong to, I’m writing these blog, I’m taking a screenwriting course, I got a garden half full of weeds, and I’m writing two other books.

I don’t want to slug through another rewrite of my manuscript. But, I WILL.

The usual ad for my book.

In this time of stress there is nothing like a warm brownie.

One box of brownie mix.

One or two eggs (plus one more than is recommended by the directions on the box).

Oil as recommended on the box. I use olive oil.

Water as recommended on box. Tap or bottled water.

I use the directions from a box of cake mix.

In a large bowl add eggs. Using fork lightly beat eggs. Add water and oil. Beat mixture until foamy.

Add brownie mix. If you feel adventurous add a small hand full of walnut pieces and/or chocolate chips. Mix until just blended. Do not over mix. Mixture will be lumpy.

Pour, scrape with a spatula, into greased pan.

Baked as directed. I have found that my oven takes a couple of minutes longer to get center on brownies done. The oven also runs 25 degrees cooler than the knob says, so check your oven temperature with a thermometer. Give brownies the tooth pick test. Toothpick must come out clean. If worst turns to worst and the edge of the brownies are overdone and hard then trim the over done rim of the brownies off like the crush of a slice of bread.

If you need a quick cake. Add one more egg to brownie mix. A cake with nuts and chocolate chips in it will be a surprise.

Stay strong, write on, and don’t stress eat.

Professor Hyram Volage

For the Readers of Steampunk

This blog is taking a change of direction. This is a time of great stress and that is going to drive a lot of changes.

For years I have written blogs about writing Steampunk and the occasional rant about software. All I got were … well nothing. Then at Wild Wild West con 9 I had someone say they read my blog. I was shocked. Someone actually reads this blog.

Thank you, I should have gotten your name. Still, no one has ever said they still read my blog (o long time readers) and no one has ever objected to what I said. All my posts can’t be winners. Some of my post should have upset someone.

There are more readers than writers out in the big wide world, and I would like to sell a few books. So; I’m going to focus on readers. I hope that’s you. I still have a ton of stuff to say to writers. I and other writers like to share. If you have concerns about the change of directions for this blog, then let me know. The comment section is open or email me.

For writers reading this, go to the bottom of the blog for a on-line-class review.

How do I give the readers of Steampunk something? How about a book review? I’m always looking for a good book to read. If you have read a good book let me know. If the book has humor in it that is a plus.

Book review; “The Glass Gargoyle” by Marie Andreas.

I liked it. How that for a succinct review?

It’s got drunken faeries. What’s not to like. It’s a magical fantasy story. It’s a light read for this unusual time. It kept me guessing what was going to happen next. That is a big thing in books I like.

The author did make the jungle where the protagonist worked to charming. I’m a desert rat. Jungles are hot, damp, unpleasant places to live and work. I’m sure a person who lives in a jungle says the desert is hot, dry, unpleasant place.

Anything else I say could give away some of the plot so go read the book.

Plug, asking you to buy my book;

For Steampunk writers;

I’m taking Bryan Cohen’s Amazon Ad Profit Challenge free course. It’s five days long. It open until the 27th. It’s a come on to take his big course, but that’s normal. I’m impressed by the free course. It contains useful information and it makes you go through the steps of sitting up an Amazon Ad for your book. And did I mention it’s free?

I get the feeling that the operation is a bit of flying by the seat of his pants. There were some typos in the slides. That’s a turn off to authors. We have to work with words every day. And boy will readers complain if there is a typo in my book. But the slides were better done than another course I am also taking. The course is a struggle for me, but I’m an engineer and I don’t think like a writer. If you want to dip into making ads this would be a painless try out.

Recipes;

I’ve been eating lots of tuna fish sandwiches and bacon sandwiches. So here’s something a little different.

Chicken tacos.

1 chicken breast or thigh.

2 tortillas

2 tablespoons hot sauce

A bit of lettuce

1 small hand full of cheese

A dash of seasoned salt

Directions;

Heat eight inch skillet on stove. Add tablespoon of oil. Place tortilla in skillet. Flip tortilla over before it gets hard. Place heated tortilla on napkin to drain, heat other tortilla, then set them aside. This is how it’s done in Mexico near where I grew up.

You can heat tortillas over open flame using tongs. Be careful not to burn tortillas.

Cut chicken into quarter to half inch strips wide. Make enough for two tacos. Add a little bit of oil to skillet. Heat skillet. Place chicken strips in medium hot skillet. Sprinkle chicken with seasoned salt. Cook chicken till done, be careful to not over cook or chicken will be dry. When chicken is done place the strips on napkin to drain.

Build taco. Place chicken on tortilla. Add hot sauce, sprinkle with cheese. Add lettuce. Eat.

Stay strong, write on, read, and make ads.

Professor Hyram Voltage

Celebrate Bread Celebrate Your Steampunk Writing

Yesterday I made a load of bread.

Until a week ago I hadn’t made bread in decades. I have a bread machine, but it does not make a very good loaf.

The store was out of yeast except for a couple of little packets that cost more than a loaf of bread. I got lucky and was able to order some yeast online. There were very few places that had any for sale.

So I gathered up all the ingredients and dumped everything in the 25 plus year old bread machine and pressed go.

The top blew off the loaf. I figure I should not have scraped up the yeast I spilled and dumped the extra into the machine.

Bread was stuck to the bottom of the lid and the insides of the machine. It took me 45 minutes to clean the crusted/baked-on bread out of the machine.

The bread tasted OK and some of it got used.

For the second loaf I used less yeast and I set the machine to dough. I took the dough out of the machine and put it into a loaf pan and let it raise. The loaf came out half as high as it should have been and it was dense. This loaf tasted better and I made a couple of sandwiches out of it before I dumped the loaf.

The third loaf I used a different recipe and I proofed the yeast. The yeast was active dry yeast not bread machine yeast. I also measured the ingredients carefully. The loaf was much better, but a little dry and crumbly. This loaf taste much better and will get eaten. I still have some experimenting to do.

What does this have to do with writing steampunk?

The first loaf is like the first draft. The volcano hole where the top of the loaf should be is like a big plot hole in the first draft. The cleaning of the bread machine is like rewriting the first draft. They both are problems that take work to fix.

The second loaf is like a major rewrite of a manuscript. Sometimes you over do it. Like that loaf your writing can be dense. Unlike that loaf your writing can be saved.

The third loaf is like your manuscript after heavy editing. It’s close, but still needs work. All the parts are there, but something is not working out. The manuscript is usable, but not sellable. It will be.

Unabashed plug

Recipe for out of bread machine bread

Bread Machine dough for a one and a half pound loaf

Ingredients

3/4 cup plus 2 tapblespoons warm water (80 degrees F, I have read that
110 degree water will cause the bread to raise too fast and make large
holes in the baked loaf.)
4 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons yeast (dry active yeast is all I could get)
2 tablespoons butter (butter makes better bread than oil in my opion)
3 cups bread flour
1/4 cup of nonfat dry powder milk
1 teaspoon salt

Directions

Place the water in cup. Microwave water for 10 to 15 seconds till warm
(approximately 80 degrees). Add sugar and yeast to cup and stir. Let stand
for a couple of minutes or until starting to foam.

Make sure flapper is secured in bread machine bucket and bucket is well seated.
Add the rest of the dry ingredients; flour, milk, salt to bucket in bread machine.
Soften butter in cup or small bowl in microwave. Add to bucket.
Add yeast mixture to bucket. Close lid.
Set bread machine to dough. Press on.
After cycle is finished remove dough from bread machine.
Kneed dough for 7 minutes.
Grease inside of bread pan.
Place dough in pan.
Butter or oil top of loaf. Heat oven for two minutes then shut oven off.
Let dough raise in oven (oven is off and not hot but warm) for an hour or until dough it is over the top of pan.
Remove dough.
Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Bake bread for 30 minutes.
Cool and enjoy.

Stay strong, write on and may your writing cook.

Professor Hyram Voltage

Photographic Lesson Learned at Wild Wild West con 9

What does making a list of the problems you have taking photographs at a con have to do with writing Steampunk. Answer; everything. If you don’t learn from your mistakes you will not progress. If you don’t list and examine your mistakes, you will not learn from them.

There were several pictures I took at the con that were out of focus. That’s bad. The auto focus on the camera is good, but it can be fooled. Next time I need to set the area where the camera focuses to center weighted. Auto eye focus would not help, too many subjects were wearing sunglasses, dark sunglasses, and some were wearing masks. I don’t know how the auto focus would react to a mask.

The screen on the back of my camera is too small and the image on it is hard to see in the sun light. I knew this from last year’s wild wild west con. A professional photographer gave me some advice. She uses CamRanger. The device is a wireless link from your camera to an Ipad or Android device. Those devices have a bigger screen, so the subject can better see the picture that I just took of them. With the camera hanging from a strap around my next I can not hold the camera’s screen close enough to the person I just photograhed for them to see their picture without strangling myself. Also, if you’re lucky you can find a device that is viewable in sunlight.

I had two cell phones with me to use as view screens for the CamRanger to I could show people the pictures I had taken of them. I also had a battery stick for each of the phones. I did not have time to fully test the setup with the phones before the con. Big mistake. On the morning of the first day of the con I found that I could watch the battery indicator on the phone go down to no charge as I watched it. About every second the charge level dropped a percent. Using the Wifi feature of the phones is a big battery charge suck. I am going to get a bigger battery. That means I will have to haul around more weight.

Using the CamRanger will not only let the person I photographed see the picture. (Some of the people I photographed were in costume without their glasses or contacts.) What we do for steampunk. But it will also let me see the fine details of the photograph and catch things that make the photograph less than it could be.

A serious problem during the con was that I was tired. I had a deadline to meet at the same time as the con. I had to get a manuscript to an editor by Sunday. So I was working on it till I left for the convention, and after each day at the con I worked on the manuscript in the hotel room. Before the con I was also working on getting the CamRanger set up to work with my camera and the cell phones, which took away time from working on the manuscript. On top of that I drove 800 miles, some of it through heavy traffic, to Tucson. That and a couple of other things pushed me to the limit. Old Tucson is a big place and I walked all over it several times each day.

Next year I will have to make sure deadlines don’t pile up on the convention date. There is not much I can do about not sleeping well the first night in a strange bed, but I will try to leave a day early or break the drive up into two parts. I don’t know what to do about walking all over Old Tucson, maybe if I plan a route around Old Tucson I would have to walk less. I don’t think I can plan where the next great photograph will be, and I don’t think I can get them to move the talks I wanted to go to. Many of the talks were at the old church and the church is about as far away from everything as you can get. By the end of each day I was dragging.

During the con someone was wearing a vest just like mine. Luckily I had another one and a quick outfit change fixed that.

I ran out of memory on the micro SD card in the camera. I ended up stealing a memory card out of one of the cell phones. I had to spend a lot of time tracking down the Micro SD card, that was full of pictures, when I got back home. Those things are small.

Next year I am going to make sure that there are extra memory cards in the bag and I did not use the extra ones for something else, like put them in cell phones. I will also bring a storage container to keep the full and spare ones in so I can find the tiny things when I get back home.

I have a collections of old ribbons that hang off my con badge. The ribbons are getting frayed and worn.

Next year I will bring some of my own ribbons to advertise my books. PC Nametags here I come.

This year I had enough business cards. Last year I ran out. A Steampunker should have business cards.

This year I took several pictures that had reflections in the subject’s sun glasses.

This is going to be a hard problem to over come. Mirror sun glasses are almost impossible to photograph without something reflecting in the glasses. But there were surprise reflections in ordinary glasses. The sun was bright and made buildings, the ground and other things reflect in the glasses.

Getting CamRanger to work with a screen that will last eight hours on a battery charge, will help with the problem of reflections. The screen on the back of the camera is to small to see the reflections in glasses. You can sometimes see them but you have to look hard at the small camera screen.

I will add to next year’s check list, an item to take test shots looking for reflections. I may have to move to the other side of the street to get rid of the reflections or move under an over hang. This may take some work at home to figure out what to do.

I have always had a problem with things growing out of peoples heads in pictures I take. I photograph someone against a tree and it looks like a branch is coming out of the top of their head. Old Tucson was built to have lot of bric-a-brac. Not many flat featureless walls in the town. The pro photographer suggested I take a roll of seamless back-drop paper with me. Than would mean usurping a space to set up a couple of stands to hold the paper and I would feel I was getting in everyone’s way. Besides I was carrying a lot of stuff and it gets hot in Tucson carrying load of stuff.

What I need to do is get there a day early and scout the area. Find the places with traffic and good back drops. I have found a couple of places, but they are not very good places. I would need to find a subject to test the possible places out with and it would mean more walking around. Got to find a good doorway where I can open the door and pose the subject in the doorway.

Badges and root beer cups. I keep forgetting to ask the subjects to hide their con badge. Also, they were selling root beer and if you bought the cup you could refill it all day long. Too many of the subjects had the cups hanging off there costume. Looking at the pictures now, the cup looks out of place, it doesn’t fit the costume.

Add taking off the badge and root beer cup to the check list. Also add take several dollar-store combs along. Give them to a subject that needs to touch up his or her hair and let them keep the comb. Fly away hair is a pain to fix in post production (which means I’m not good at it and it takes a lot of time).

I did better this year in photographing subjects in the harsh Tucson sunlight. Still someone wearing a hat is difficult to photograph well with a bright lit background. Their face is in deep shadow and the background is over brightly lit.

I need to slow down and make sure I get the subject’s feet in the picture. That is my niche, or hallmark. It’s hard to make a selfie and get your feet in the picture, so I’m doing something they can’t do. That set me apart from other photographers.

The pro photographer suggested, actually insisted, that I take and use an inflatable beauty dish (it’s a light that gives a soft, but focused, light on the subject). One photographer there did use a blow up beauty dish Friday, but he did not use it on Saturday. It takes a light stand to hold the dish above the subject where it lights the subject the best, and it takes an assistant to move it around. It’s not that expensive, but it is a hassle. I like the freedom to move around quickly and not have to drag around a bunch of stuff.

I’m not a run and gun photographer, more like a stumble or lumber around and pause for a good shot photographer.

A small beauty dish does make a good fill light (so would a collapsible reflector). The fill light would add depth to the subject’s face and fill in shadows in the harsh sun. I need to go to where there are good pictures. Hauling a bunch of stuff around would slow me down.

I need to take a cloth to wipe off my boots. Old Tucson is dusty. The roads are not paved.

I need to buy a bottle of wine (each) for the author and the vendors that have helped me at the con. Is there a winery in Tucson? Is there a Trader Joe’s in Tucson?

I have to keep myself from getting lazy, but I was tired. I was dragging myself back to the car at the end of the day. I was almost crawling back.

I got to make a bunch of decisions for next year;
Do I get an assistant?
Do I get a wagon to hold my photography equipment? I could mount the light stand with the beauty dish to the wagon. I could build a chair on the wagon. It would beat the heavy shoulder bag I was lugging around. The bag gets heavy after I put all the books and other stuff I bought in it.
Do I work on posing subjects for next year? Where am I going to get a test subject?
Do I take a back drop? I can see where it would make for better pictures, but is it worth the hassle?

Next time you get a manuscript back from an editor make a list of the thing that were found. Use the list to study up on the things that you are weak on and keep making mistakes with. Also use the list to go over your next manuscript before you send it to an editor. The editor might charge you less if there are fewer corrections to make.

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