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I’m not getting older, dammit! The world is just getting darker!

So I have a problem. One that requires more than a little blue pill to resolve.

Oh, if only a pill could solve this problem!

Or, for that matter, even a suppository.

I am deeply saddened to report that when it gets dark, and I mean very, very dark, I can’t see.

This is particularly disturbing because I do my best work at night. When it’s, you know, dark.

Yes, when my body most desperately needs to rest and rejuvenate itself, my brain is all, “Hold my beer.”

But in a good, non-alcoholic, non-electoral sort of way.

As you might be starting to suspect, I wrote this entry during the day. But I had no choice, given I can’t see at night.

You see, since everyone else in my household have brains that listen to their bodies, they’re all asleep at night.

Or should be. Get back to bed right now, Kiddo!

Sorry about that. Because of this (nearly) mass slumber, I can’t just flip on all the lights, crank up the volume on my .mod files, and take care of business.

Oh no. Everyone else in my household gets cranky when I turn the productivity up to 11 past, well, eleven. Suddenly the Missus and the one kiddo who actually does sleep at night are making snide remarks about needing rest and don’t I have work in the morning and look you’re making the dogs bark and oh my gawd what is that racket you are listening to it should be illegal to distribute it!

(My hearing is fine. Spider by They Might Be Giants is meant to be listened to loud.)

In order to appease the Missus, I turn everything off, go to bed, and when dawn’s surly light finally returns, make yet another medical appointment.

My doctor always sort of wilts and sighs when he walks into the exam room and sees me, like a blow-up punching bag suddenly deflating after one punch too many, then mutters “Oh no, not again.”

While most people would see this reaction and think, “Uh oh, I must be really sick!” I’m not worried. I’ve been here before. Seen the doc about this many times. And after the poorly hidden but inevitable eye roll, he always tells me the same thing:

“Still not getting more exercise? I really think you should focus more on that. Not being able to see in the dark? That’s nothing to worry about. You’re just getting old. Try turning on the lights.”

I am not getting old!

And turn on the lights?? Did he not read the above paragraph about other people in the house wanting it dark so they can sleep?

Since modern medical science has cast me aside despite my numerous co-pays, I was forced to do my own research.

My own experiments.

And I figured it out.

(So start writing up those Nobel Prize nominations, in case they won’t accept my self-nomination.)

I’m not getting older. Nope.

The world…is getting darker.

Hear me out. Once you see the evidence you will drop your jaws in amazement.

(Or disbelief. But if you stay silent, I can still imagine it’s amazement. So hush.)

Here’s a modern-day keyboard. Notice anything about it, aside from the dirt?

Peek-a-boo, I can't see you, goddammit!

Who uses this? Members of the band Disaster Area?

That’s right. It’s super dark.

Here’s what it looks like at night with all the lights in the house in the mandated OFF position:

I see London, I see France, I do not see this freakin' keyboard

The real reason schools started mandating touch typing classes…

Now you can see my problem (or more specifically, can’t).

And don’t tell me to get a back-lit keyboard! I’ve tried that! They require you to press a key combo to turn on the back-lighting.

Can you see any of the keys in the dark on the above keyboard? Can you? Then how the hell am I supposed to see them, hmm?

Think about it. Their design solution when you can’t see the keyboard is to require you to hit specific keys on the keyboard so you can see the keys. On the keyboard! It’s Kafkaesque!

They’ll be the first ones up against the wall when the revolution comes, let me tell you!

But, I perceive you mumbling as you nervously edge away, what do keyboards have to do with my supposition that the world is getting darker?

Well, aside from black reflecting back less light into the environment (ergo, making the surrounding environment darker), we once had, long ago, better keyboards.

And by better I don’t mean clickier (though that was better too). I mean beige:

Seriously, does it get any better than an IBM mechanical keyboard?

If my sunglasses were handy, I’d put them on before using this keyboard

See what this pinnacle of keyboard engineering looks like in normal lighting? Compare that to yet another modern keyboard (this time grey):

The Great Computer Compromise of 1995 between IBM and Apple solved nothing and only punted down the road the final, disastrous decision to switch to black for computers and accessories that future generations would lament for all time.

“We think beige is too bright. Waa waa. If black is too dark, how about we meet in the middle and try gray?” No. Just no.

But check it out what happened when I photographed my, if the Keyboard Industrial Complex PR hacks are to be believed, “old, tired, and passé” vintage keyboard in the dark.

WTFtl;dr! It actually got brighter:

OK, even I agree that white is too bright. Turn it up to beige AND THEN STOP!

CAPS LOCK on because DAMN IT, YES, I’M EXCITED ABOUT THIS KEYBOARD! AND NO COLLUSION! TOTALLY NO COLLUSION! COVFEFE!

Beige is a color I can type on in the dark. Because with beige, the cold encroachment of darkness is stopped in its sneaky, disabling tracks. I can look down and see the damn keys I need to press and then press them.

Presto! No back-light, front-light, or side-light required.

And it’s not just the keyboard. Tell me, how am I going to find that black CD eject button, cleverly placed, of course, right next to the black power button, on this particular, recently manufactured computer?

Stephen King's got nothin' on this scary beast

Hell, in this photo I have a spotlight on the chassis and I’m using a flash, and you still can’t see anything (except the dust bunny residue)!

But take away the above modern, fancy-pants, 1080p, USB 3.0, multi-core and multi-threaded (guess the color of the thread – hint: it’s BLACK) super computer and replace it with a late-80s, early-90s computer, and what do you get?

You get this, a right proper computing machine:

This. This I can effin' see.

The IBM “Just Try And Make The Room This Is In Dark” PS/2 P70. They don’t build ’em like this any more. Can’t afford to. Too much lead needed for the chassis.

That’s right. I closed the curtains, turned off the lights, and then tented the entire house (due to termites) before taking this picture, and it still looks like I’m standing outside on a bright summer day.

That’s how much frickin’ light beige computers give off!

Now it might be the termiticide talking, but I think I’d be able to use my computer at night just fine…if it were made out of beige. But sadly, as amazing as the above computer is, it does lack one feature deemed unnecessary in the 1980s and 1990s:

WiFi.


Do you have tales of horror trying to use an albedo-challenged computer in the wee hours? Share them in the comments so we can commiserate together and maybe put together a kickstarter to make a modern beige computer!

(Please comment. The Missus thinks I’m nuts and I need you to help me prove her wrong.)
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The Blog Hop of (Self-Promotional) Shame, or Chain Letter: The Next Generation

My friend and FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitive #4 (she’ll kill #3 to move up, no doubt) Kit Campbell tagged me to participate in something called a ‘blog hop’.

I’m not sure how you get a blog to hop; I expect it involves a trampoline, a laptop, and a high likelihood of damaging said laptop. Or perhaps dangerously overclocking your computer. Either way, I’m not sure it’s worth the risk. On the other hand, I’m terrified of Kit.

To avoid Kit’s wrath, I must answer some questions about my latest work in progress, then chain letter five other bloggers (hopefully authors, or this whole exercise doesn’t make any sense) with the same task.

I may or may not be on blogging terms with five other authors, so I might end up breaking this chain and dooming all previous participants to bargain-bin obscurity.

So be it. I only hope Kit is merciful because I tried.

Ve vill find out if you are ze naughty or ze nice. Ve haff vays of making you talk!1) What is the working title of your book?

Crap. The first question would be a toughie.

I’m actually struggling with this question right now. The working title is the unworkably horrible Marlowe and the Spacewoman Versus the Santa Claus Gang. I know.

But hey, you can help a struggling artist out, and I can experiment with WordPress’ polling functionality for the first time.

2) Where did the idea for the book come from?

This is a short story set in the Marlowe and the Spacewoman universe. I originally wrote it years ago as a Christmas story that I sent out to friends and family. I recently decided to revisit (and re-write) the story and make it canon. This proved to be a lot of work, as this short was actually written before the Marlowe and the Spacewoman novel and contradicted the novel in many places.

3) What genre does your book fall under?

Science fiction, with a dash of mystery, a touch of humor, and a hint of the absurd. Also, half a cup of milk and a spoonful of sugar to help the medicine-y bits go down.

4) Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I could see a young Sigourney Weaver or an old Elle Fanning (with her hair dyed black) playing Nina. But honestly, as long as the actress comes off as vaguely Greek, I don’t care.

Since Marlowe looks like Humphrey Bogart, Bogart would be the perfect casting choice for him, except that actor has been dead for decades. Someone willing to undergo a lot of plastic surgery, I suppose.

House, as always, would be voiced by Stephen Fry. Yes, I know, you hear “House” and “Stephen Fry” and you immediately think I mean “Hugh Laurie”. Well, you’re wrong.

Though Laurie could play Marlowe. Hmm.

5) What is the one two sentence synopsis of your book?

Can Marlowe and Nina stop the redistributionist Santa Claus Gang from stealing the entire stock of the Xmas season’s #1 toy, the Prussian Robot Death Squad Commando Now with Live-Action Grappling Hook!™, saving the poor conglomerate that manufactures it from financial ruin?

Let’s hope so, because remember, corporations are people too.

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Self-published. Most of the agencies have restraining orders against me, making finding representation difficult.

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I wrote it something like fifteen years ago, so honestly, I can’t remember. But knowing my approach and writing habits back then, I probably cranked that puppy out in one all-nighter.

Ah, to be young again.

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I suppose comparing it to Marlowe and the Spacewoman wouldn’t be entirely cricket, would it.

Isidore Haiblum’s Tom Dunjer books come to mind, for those of you who enjoy obscure references.

Douglas Adam’s Hitchhiker’s Guide series.

The missus says the writing reminds her of Terry Pratchett. I can see that, and find it very flattering to boot!

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?

When I was young and naïve, I started this tradition of writing Christmas stories and making them into mini books I sent out to friends and family in lieu of a card. This was the second or third such story, and I was hard pressed for an idea. I had recently written a short story called Semi-Sentient Soap Scum on the Prowl (which later became the novel Marlowe and the Spacewoman), and decided to write a sequel.

There might have been rum spiked with a suggestion of eggnog involved, but my memory’s a bit hazy.

10) What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Everyone who does not read this book dies within a week of not reading it. Or will, once I release it. So, does the potential of saving your life pique your interest?

Also, if you hadn’t guessed, this story involves Prussian Robot Death Squad Commandos. With Live-Action Grappling Hooks!™ even. Who can resist that?

And now for the truly unpleasant business of dragging other innocent victims into this hopping menace: Regretfully, I condemn Lisa, Scott, and Tamela. I share all my other author blogging friends with Kit, and she already tagged them, leaving me short two. But she is evil, after all.

(If you’re an author, you have your own blog, I haven’t tagged you above, and you’d like to be tagged, let me know and I’d be happy to grow my authorial army to better rival Kit’s.)

And now, a word from our sponsor: me! My books are available!

Marlowe and the Spacewoman:

Marlowe and the Spacewoman

Kleencut (FREE!):

So bad it won a Voidy for the next THREE consecutive years (would have been FOUR, but 2012 was a leap year)

 

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