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

Photograhy and the Writer’s Voice

What does Photography have to do with writing steampunk or writing in general? They both have style.

I recently viewed a webinar on photography that was put on by Chris Orwig. He’s a landscape and portrait photographer.

In the webinar, he talked about how to develop your style. It occurred to me that a photographer’s style is the same as a writer’s voice.

Chris suggested that to clarify your style take a piece of paper, turn it sideways, and write the word photograph at the top. Underneath, randomly write the words that describe what you like about photographs. He had things like people, shadows, landscapes, sun downs, water.

This would work for a writer trying to find his voice. Take a sheet of paper and write Story or Novel or Book at the top. Under that randomly write the words that describe what you like about stories you read. If you like to read about funny heroes, then write that down. Same goes if you like to read about dark villains, humor, or serious stories. Don’t be afraid to add words that describe stories that you are not found of; slasher, serial killer, etc.

Chris then took the page of words and crossed out the words that didn’t fit what he wanted to photograph. Think of this as focusing on what you want to photograph or write.

If you’re a writer, do that. And if you read a book that has something you like, then add it to the page. This is a living document.

The next step, Chris made a list out of the words that were not crossed out. Next to the words in the list he wrote ideas of things to do to get the actions or things he like into his photographs.

Do the same. If you like funny heroes then write down how you could write a hero with a sense of humor. You don’t have to use any of your ideas, but it could remind you that at the worst of times your hero will crack a joke before taking on ten villains in a fight he can’t win. That is part of his character. If your hero can’t do that, then you need to bring a new hero on stage. I’ve had to do that.

Style will always change, it’s like re-inventing yourself. The list you develop to find and define your style and voice should be visited and possibly changed very 2 or so years. There’s no law that says your voice can’t grow.

I’ve got book two in the Deamon and the spy series in editing. Hopefully the editor will finish this time.

As I’ve said before, having an editor go over your stuff is like handing someone a hand full of cash and then a club and telling them to beat you about the head and shoulders, repeatedly. That’s only part of what I do to bring you a story.

Now, go buy my book

Stay strong, write on, and grow.

Professor Hyram Voltage

Magic, Is It Taking Over Steampunk?

Am I wasting my time writing steampunk stories that don’t have magic in them? This is a serious question. Leave your opinion in the comments.

I got the urge to write steampunk after the owner of a mystery book store got me reading Gail Carriger. I would not normally read a book with Vampires in it. If the book had Vampires and Werewolves, would not read the back blurb, unless it was a humors book.

The book was good and the magic in the book had structure. There was still a lot of hand waving, but the magic was not the Deux Ex Machina of the story solution.

She has steam rolled the genre so that if feels like a steampunk book must be filled with magic. Only people from a line of magic parents can do magic.

Consider, if a person could snap their fingers and produce a gold coin. Then by our physics, an old atom bomb that destroyed a city, only converted one gram of matter into energy. A nickle (a five cent piece) weights five grams. If that magically created coin weighted as much as a nickle then that person has the power to destroy the biggest city there is today. There is the nuclear hand grenade problem of throwing the magic far enough away that it does not destroy the magic user.

Back to me. Writing stories without magic doesn’t mean that my stories don’t violet the laws of physics. I mangle those law all over the place, or it wouldn’t be Steampunk. But my characters are not born special. Cue the song “You’re the one”.

Thomas Edison’s father was exiled out of Canada for political activism. He was also a shop keeper and then a shingle makers.

Tesla’s father was a priest and a poet.

Alexander Graham Bell’s father was a speech therapists.

These kings of technology did not come from a long line of inventors. Get real with your characters. They may be gifted, even have a golden spoon in their mouth, but they weren’t magically endowed. They worked to build their inventions. And it wasn’t easy. Edison set fire to a rail road car (when he was a kid).

Tesla worked differential equations without a computer or even a slide rule.

Mathematics were their magic language. Anyone can use mathematics. It’s hard, so most people don’t brother learning or using math. We should treat people that do math like wizards.

Unabashed plug. Read my book, and tell me how to make the book a better one. Where have you seen an offer like that before?

I apologize for not posting last week. I am the president of a small club. Before going to Wild Wild West Con 9 I talked with l the board members of the club and described my plans for what to do if the county was impacted by COVID-19.

I laid out that if the schools were closed or if there were case of community spread of the virus I would cancel the next meeting.

The club was founded in 1936 and no one can remember a meeting being canceled.

Wednesday before the Friday night meeting the president of the United States moved to block flights into the United States. One of the club board members called me and wanted to cancel the meeting.

I called and talked to the other board members and majority of them wanted to go ahead with the meeting. There was only one case of the virus in the county, and it’s a big county. I agreed with the majority.

The next morning I was reading the news and found that the Governor of California had requested that all major meeting of 250 people or more be canceled. He further requested that meeting of less than 250 people have a social space of six feet.

I canceled the meeting the day before it was going to happen. It may have been a request, but I figure that the Governor knows people that know a lot more than I do. I wanted to hold the meeting. I wish that the new of his request had been better published. It was way down in the news articles. I found the news in a business magazine.

Some of the club member are over 60 and some have health problems.

Someone said that; we do what we have to do for the better of the whole.

Stay strong, write on. Stay safe, protect yourself, and take this seriously.

Professor Hyram Voltage

Inventors Losers and Winners

One of the saddest stories I very heard is about an inventor. He spent his life working and working hard to develop a machine to peel tomatoes. For a farmer this is a big thing.

The inventor worked all his spare time on the project. He invested a lot of his money into the machine.

When the inventor passed away his widow took the working machine to a lawyer hoping to get some money for her retirement.

After a short time the lawyer came back. He told the widow that the device was commercially worthless. Commercial canners use acid to peel tomatoes.

One of the biggest winners is Edison. Not for developing the light bulb or electrical power distribution.

One day Edison walked into the offices of Scientific American carrying a machine. It was the first phonograph. What’s so special about a record player? Unlike the light bulb or the telegraph equipment Edison developed, the phonograph did not have dozens or hundreds of other inventors or scientists working on the problem of recording sound. You could call the phonograph an invention out of no where. It was not a incremental development of something others were working on like the light bulb.

As a side note Edison felt that the phonograph would become a great education device. Even the most remote and the poorest school could play lectures from the best teachers and leaders in any field. He did not see it becoming a toy and entertainment device. He underestimated how cheap the politicians would be at funding schools and how hide bound teachers could be.

If you’re writing about a steampunk inventor have him working on a problem that needs to be solved. And have him well versed in the problem and familiar with others working on the problem.

Recipe ——–

A salad with bacon.

If you’re having a salad to lose weight, you’re doing great. Don’t tease yourself, reward yourself. Skip the bacon bits and have a full slice of bacon. It’s a guilty pleasure.

Stay strong, write on, and maybe have two slices.

Professor Hyram Voltage

Why Does a Character Invent and Why Bacon Bits

Why does your steampunk main character invent. Many stories I’ve read treat the inventor as a genetic freak. It’s in their blood to invent, their parents were inventors.

Think about Marconi. His father was an aristocrat. Now some minor royalty did dabble in the sciences but that was considered below the dignity of many of the upper levels of society.

Or take Thomas Edison. His father was a exiled political activist, a lighthouse keeper, and a carpenter. Not an inventor.

Inventors have to eat. They would have to have other jobs, or a sponsor. There was no well fare in the late 1800s. The most complex things at the time were the railroad, the telegraph, and guns.

Railroads and telegraphs were tied together. They needed the telegraph to signal down the rail line to prevent trans from running into each other.

To make things for the rail road you needed a big foundry. Not something a single person could do. The world of telegraph was a hot bed of activity. Back stabbing was common. And Western telegraph companies were ruthless.

Weapons were another hot bed of change in the 1800s. Look at some old Remington catalogs and it looks like there were new versions of rifles and hand guns each year. There were also lots of independent inventors.

What you don’t see is a lot of inventors working on clocks.

Your main character could start out as a gun smith and then work his way into a gun maker. There is a difference. Things like fast firing guns would appeal to soldiers. The finance guys in the government hated them. They cost too much money for all the ammo the guns used. That’s one reason they used muzzle loaders in the civil war.

The search for an Editor and a Spin on Bacon and Eggs

On writing Steampunk

Writing is hard. Even little things like finding an editor are more difficult than they should be.

It’s not that there are not editors out there. There are thousands of editors and people who call themselves editors out there. I ‘m looking for a good one. It would help if the editor doesn’t cost much. I’ve asked other authors, I’ve looked in steampunk books for the names of editors, I’ve gone to editor sites.

I don’t want just anyone. I want an editor I can communicate with. I don’t want a service where they assign an editor from a stable of editors they have on tap. Done that, got a usable edit out of them, but that was all. I got no reason why the editor did what she did. I don’t even know the name of the editor.

I’m going to pay $2000.00 to $3500.00 for the edit. Why does it have to feel like I’m dealing with a dating service. Or worst like an escort service. OK, that was cruel. But it’s so hard.

I’ve started to reach out to others (people advertising writing courses) but that’s going no where.

Am I being too picky asking for an editor with a name, someone I can talk to? $2,000.00 for what I’m told is a weeks work should buy me some slack or email time.

Or am I just jealous of the writers I talk to that go on about how they work with their editors and how the editors helped them?

Should I just except that all I’m ever going to get is a package deal from a no name editor? Or should I risk getting taken by an unexperienced person who just decided to become an editor, but comes off as a great editor?

Writing is a lonely job, business, or hobby. Does every step have to be this hard. Do I have to get taken every time I turn around?

Recipe follows add;

Buy my book


Bacon and eggs
Eggs and Bacon
Bacon, Eggs and Bacon
Bacon Eggs, bacon and bacon
(You know where this is going)
Waffles topped with eggs benedick and bacon
wonderful bacon

2 eggs
2 strips of bacon
bell pepper

Heat skillet on stove to medium heat. Add a dash of oil (olive).
Place bacon on one side of pan.
Crack eggs and let them drop into pan on other side of bacon.
Cook the way you like.
How boring.

Try this.

In small bowl beat eggs until no egg white shows. Do more than just break yokes.
Chop bacon cross wise into one third inch wide strips.
Chop a little bit of onion into quarter inch squares.
Chop a little bit of Bell Pepper into quarter inch cubes.

Heat a little oil in skillet at medium high heat.
Add bacon, onion, and bell pepper to skillet.
Cook until onion and bell pepper are soft. (once you add the eggs the vegetables stop cooking).
Add eggs. Make sure meat and vegetables are well distributed.
After a minute add cheese.
Cook until eggs are firm not runny (done).
Fold in half.

You can make this will just bacon, but the vegetables add color and taste.

Stay strong, write on, and have a healthy breakfast with bacon.

Professor Hyram Voltage

Finding an editor, Beta Readers and Grilled Cheese and Bacon Sandwich

After several months of dealing with family issues I’m back to looking for an editor. My experience with editors is approaching the experiences I’ve had with software programmers. To find an editor I dug out a bunch of Steampunk books and looked to see who edited them. About half were edited by a publisher, so that is no help. Most of the rest did not give credit to the editor, even if the book cited the formatter and cover artist. I got the feeling that the author didn’t think much of the editor.

I have found a copy editing service that is cheap. But I am looking for an editor that I can establish a relationship with. I don’t want a service where I get an editor that they have taken away the editor’s name and given her a number and I will never know the editor’s name. Also I would have no guarantee that I would get the same editor for the next book. I want a human being I can talk to, but knows what they are doing. I would also like an editor that has helped the authors that she has worked go on to earn an award with the book she edited. I guess I’m just dreaming and about to get stiffed again.

Beta Readers

For years I have been looking for Beta Readers. Other authors say go to Facebook or writers groups. Facebook is a big place. The other day I found a blog that listed several places to find Beta Readers. Email me and I will send you a copy of the blog or direct you to the blog.

I joined the Facebook; Beta readers and critique partners, group. Watch it there are two other groups that have names that are almost identical. I have gotten three authors who volunteered to Beta Reader my second book. Now if I don’t terrify them with the violence in my story I will get some needed feed back. I have been working on this book for a long time, but I know there are things I can’t see that need fixing. At least I spell checked the book twice before I sent the book to them.

All this time I was looking for Beta Readers and there were dozen of places to find them. It’s just the authors I talked to said they were out there. I needed a map.

Recipe is below add;

Grill Cheese and Bacon Sandwich


Bread (I like the boraro rolls I get from the local Mexican grocery store)
Bacon (I like turkey bacon, meatier, bigger after cooked)
Cheese (I like mild cheddar cheese, long horn is good to. American cheese may not even be cheese.)

Take two slices of bread, or slice the roll in half. Butter one side of bread.
Cook bacon in skillet. Cover plate with paper towel. Place cooked bacon on plate to drain.
Wipe skillet clean with another paper towel.
Grill the buttered side of one piece of bread. Place cooked bread to one side.
Grill the buttered side of the other piece of bread.
While the second piece of bread is cooking place cheese on grilled side of bread. Then place bacon on top of cheese.
When second piece of bread is done Place the grilled side on the bacon.
Lower heat under skillet to medium.
Place sandwich on skillet. Cover sandwich. (I use a deep lid from a big pot. This helps the cheese melt without over cooking.)
When that side is browned flip sandwich over and recover.
When other side is brown remove from skillet and eat.

Stay strong, write on, and have some comfort food.

Professor Hyram Voltage

Square Space Ships and Tuna and Bacon Sandwich; Failure

I am a recovering engineer and sometimes the absurdness of writers and artist (I write and muddle art) get to me. You’ll have to forgive me.

There’s a new book out by a writer I read. On the cover of the book is a space ship that has square parts. It’s not going to happen. And it’s not going to happen for the same reasons that there are not any square airships. With that statement, any writer that reads this blog is going to have a square airship on his next cover, and that cover will be unique. So send him to this blog. I need the readers.

The reasons there are no square airships are the same reasons there are no square children’s balloons. The reason is air pressure. You want the balloon to be as light as possible and cheap. The gas inside the balloon has to push against the material of the balloon to counter air pressure. Standard air pressure is 14.7 pounds per square inch or 101.325 kiloPascals.

That much pressure spread over a square foot (rough estimate of the surface of the balloon) or one third of a square meter would require a thick material for the balloon for it to maintain a square shape. Thick strong material would make the balloon heavy. A heavy balloon will not go as high or as fast, it may sink to the ground it would be so heavy. That’s not what the child wants. Even if you add thin reinforcing threads inside the balloon to give it a square shape you still have added weight and cost.

If your space ship is hauling something from one star to another, then the lighter your space ship is the less fuel you have to use and the more your profit is. If your space ship is a war ship then the lighter your ship is the more weapons you can carry. If you try to build a battleship with thick armor then the ship will use a lot of fuel. The enemy will just send in the light very fast ships (think torpedo boats or the space opera equivalent of torpedo carrying airplanes) that would either directly attack the battleship or make it run. If the ship runs it will need fuel soon. Then the enemy will stage an attack on the ship while it’s refueling.

I know, I know in space opera the guns never need reloading and the ships never run out of fuel. (unless they need a plot device)

One one ever thinks that it would take all the resources of ten to twenty planets to build one Deathstar. That’s people, food, raw material, almost everything from 20 planets (strip them bare) to build one Deathstar. Stripping planets bare of life and resources is enough to cause a rebellion.

Think about the star ship Enterprise. It has its engines sticking out on long poles. If the engines can accelerate the ship to light speed in seconds wouldn’t the engines break off. If the material of the poles or supports is super strong then why can’t they make super good insulating material so the engines don’t need to be suck out on long supports? The reaction and momentum would be terrible. Try to figure out the center of rotation (center of mass) of the ship. You would have to vector the thrust down to get the ship to fly straight. That’s wasted thrust and wasted fuel. And if one engine fails the ship would go around its center of mass (go in circles at light speed, very small circles).

And the bumps. Look at all the useless bumps on the Deathstar or an Imperial cruiser. I’ve worked on warships. There’s not a bump on the ship unless it has a reason. Each bump adds cost, big cost, the bumps add drag. The bumps do look nice, but if they’re not needed they shouldn’t be there. Each bump cost fuel and slows the ship down. It’s even worst for a space ship. And square corners, those corners make great radar reflectors. Radar reflectors make you a great target.

Windows, why ate there windows on a space ship? They are a weak spots. On a war ship you don’t have a window unless you have to.

To see where you are going you would have sensors (radar or sonar). It would be in front to see where you are going. Some air planes have a radar in the rear looking back to see if someone is coming up from behind. The radar is more important than a window with a pretty view, and radar or sonar can see a lot farther than a human eye can see.

What would a deep-space space ship look like. It would look like a submarine with a lump in the middle. Everything would be in line with the engines to keep the ship from going in circles. That’s physic, not visual. The bump in the middle would be for spin to simulate gravity. If you have artificial gravity of one Gee, that means the ship has the mass of one earth size planet to push through space. That’s going to take a lot of fuel and fuel is not free. Why not just use the earth for a space ship? (It’s been done)

The front of a submarine is where they mount the sonar. To the side sonar are the torpedo tubes. The hull is the shape it is to take the outside pressure. A space ship would be the same shape to take the inside pressure.

It’s efficiency and fuel cost.

Recipe is below add.

The Daemon Boat: The Education of a Steampunk Spy by [Voltage, Professor Hyram]


Tuna Fish and Bacon sandwich

I feel there are two types of cooks that publish recipes. The ones that copy someone else’s recipes and changes it a little and calls it their own. Then there are the ones that try new things and generate a recipe no one else has every done.

When you do that you often fail. And a tuna fish and bacon sandwich is a failure.

Adding tomato, onion, lettuce, and olives helped, but it would be an acquired taste at best. Like a peanut butter and banana sandwich. No a Tuna Fish and Bacon sandwich is like a PBBP sandwich (that’s peanut butter and bell pepper sandwich) just doesn’t work. With time I will try a peanut and watercress sandwich, or a peanut and celery sandwich. Making a new recipe is not easy and can leave a bad taste in your mouth.

Stay strong, write on and when experimenting keep the antacid tablets handy.

Professor Hyram Voltage

Value and a Tuna Fish Sandwich

I recently watched a YouTube video of a guy talking about a HackRF one radio. I use the HackRF radio. I have a lot of trouble with the software that I need to use with the radio and am always looking for help in using the radio.

This guy irked me. He complained that he could not afford a HF radio (a radio that could receive and transmit in the frequency range of 3 to 30 mega Hertz). Now a HF radio he was talking about could cost between four thousand to twelve thousand dollars, new. But, that is not what upset me. Behind him was test equipment, new looking, and expensive looking test equipment. Some of that test equipment looked like it would cost four thousand dollars apiece. The work shop he was filming in did not look like a commercial shop. It looked like a personnel home shop.

Now a HackRF one cost about three hundred dollars. That’s a lot less than four thousand dollars. Still, he could have gotten a used radio that would have given him a lot of good service for a lot less than four thousand dollars. Could he have gotten a HF radio for three hundred dollars. Maybe. It might have been an older radio, a radio that still used tubes. The radio would have worked. When someone hears you on the air how are they going to know you are using a used radio? Or that the radio is 1970s technology.

A used radio would not have the fancy display of a HackRF one, but it would have a much higher power output. A higher power output would mean the ability to talk to more radio stations.

It reminds me of a writer in the past that asked for a copy of my screen writing software. She had a new looking iPhone, an iPad, and was wearing two hundred dollar shoes. I turned her down.

On the other hand I’m not that cold hearted. Recently I offered an old laptop of mine to a fellow writer who’s computer died. He turned me down and waited for a couple of weeks until he could save enough money to buy his own laptop to replace the one his daughter damaged.

This guy is going places, even while supporting a family, a broken down car and working a lot of hours. He writes a lot, even if it’s just with a pencil and paper.

So get out there and write. Even if writing is like the lottery, there might be something it the saying the more you write the more chances you have of getting your book or screenplay bought, and that is winning.

Recipe is below add.

Think about buying my book;

Tuna Fish Sandwich

A good reasonably healthy lunch


1 can tuna
1 bottle Thousand Island dressing (you're not going to use the whole bottle, but have you tried buying two tablespoons of dressing?)
A dab or two of butter
2 slices of bread or a roll

Butter knife
Mixing Bowls
Medium skillet
pancake turner
Mixing spoon or tablespoon


Place relish and Tuna in bowl.

Add dressing, mix well.

Toast bread or roll (sliced in half first) in skillet. Butter one side of bread or roll first if desired.

Cover one side of one piece of bread (buttered side is best) with tuna mix. Add lettuce. Cover with second slice of bread.


It’s cheaper that the sandwich shop and taste better.

Stay strong, write on, and remember you don’t need the greatest of tools to do great work.

Professor Hyram Voltage

RollBot and Valentine’s Day Cookies

I recently stumbled across an article about a toilet paper company that was displaying at CES in Las Vegas. Now why would Charmin be at the Consumer Electronics Show? Toilet paper is very not electronic.

They were show casing RollBot, a robot that would bring you a roll of toilet paper. It’s smart phone controlled. If they are smart it would be connected to the Internet and would order replacement rolls if you run low.

How would this impact Steampunk? Well back in the day a saloon or pub would have a man standing at the entrance to the restroom holding towels for the patron to wipe their hands after using the facilities.

A steam powered mechanical man could do that. But could the machine wash and dry the towels, and if it did would it get rusty? Could the mechanical man be programmed to clean the restroom every couple of hours? Would patrons get upset if the mechanical man came in to clean if they were using the facilities?

On the plus side you would not have to worry about a mechanical man getting free drinks from the bar tender. The mechanical man would always be sober. Would the mechanical man cost less to feed in coal than what the human would cost? You would never have to worry about the mechanical man goofing off. Would you have to worry about the mechanical man getting into the bar’s kerosene lamp supply and getting drunk on the fuel?

A robot to fetch a roll of toilet paper is not much of an idea. A robot vacuum cleaner could be modified to do that. Now if the toilet paper robot could clean the commode then you have something I would buy. If it could also vacuum the floors that would be a plus. That would take it from a novelty to something really useful.

Recipe is below add.

Think about buying my book;

Valentine Day Cookies

Sugar Cookies

1 cup unsalted butter softened to room temperature (226g)
1 cup sugar (200g)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract²
1 large egg
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (315g)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt

Sugar Cookie Frosting

3 cups powdered sugar, sifted (375g)
3-4 Tablespoons milk
2 Tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
red food coloring

Heart shaped cookie cutter
2 Mixing Bowls
Gallon plastic bag
measuring spoons
Rolling pin
Mixer or mixing spoon
Spatula or spreading knife

Valentine’s Day Sugar Cookies

In mixing bowl combine butter and sugar. Beat until creamy (in electric mixer will save a lot of effort). Creamy means there is air blended in and the mix will change color. See Goggle or Youtube about Creaming Butter. It very important for the texture of the cookies.
Add egg and vanilla extract and beat until completely combined.
Line a separate, medium-sized bowl, with a gallon plastic bag. Into bag add flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Close top of bag and shake until flour mixture is well combined.
While mixing wet ingredients gradually add dry ingredients until completely combined.
Cover work area (part of table top) with a piece of plastic wrap.
Dump out half of the dough onto the wrap, be careful the dough will be sticky.
Cover with more wrap and mold into a disk. Repeat with remaining cookie dough in another piece of plastic wrap.
Place dough in refrigerator. Chill for at least 2-3 hours.
15 minutes before dough has finished chilling, preheat oven to 350F.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
Cover part of table top with plastic wrap. Dust wrap with flour. Dump dough onto plastic wrap covered floured table top. Lightly flour the top of the dough and roll out until about 1/8 inch thick. If you want thicker and softer cookies roll dough out until only 1/4 inch thick. As you’re rolling out dough add flour to top and bottom of dough to prevent sticking.
Use a cookie cutter to cut out shapes. Then transfer shapes to parchment lined baking sheet.
Bake on 350F (175C) for 9-10 minutes. Don’t let edges get to brown, just lightly golden brown.
Cool cookies completely on cookie sheet before removing.

Sugar Cookie Frosting

In small bowl combine sugar, 2 Tablespoons of milk, corn syrup, and vanilla extract. Stir until combined. If frosting is too thick, add more milk, about a teaspoon at a time. You want frosting to hold it’s shape and not run, but it should be pipeable. If frosting is to thin add powdered sugar.

Add red food coloring
Coat top of cookies with frosting.
Let frosting harden before serving.
You can store cookies in a sealed bag at room temperature.