Communion Of Dreams

Closing in.
June 26, 2011, 12:27 pm
Filed under: Alzheimer's, Amazon, Predictions, Promotion, Publishing, Writing stuff

A follow-up to last weekend’s post: Where I’m at…

We’ve moved ahead on all fronts. The ‘interior design’ of the book (both Kindle and print-on-demand versions) has been basically done, and the final decision on the front cover layout pretty much accomplished. We still need to position photos of both Martha Sr and Georgia in the text, tweak a couple of entries, as well as design the back cover. Most of the accounting stuff has been done, and things put in place for the website domain and hosting. Now that the cover design has been resolved, we can be thinking about the website design, but that should go really smoothly.

In other words, we’re closing in on being done, and being ready to “launch” the book. My Good Lady Wife has done an amazing amount of work with all the nuts & bolts of this, and it shows. My co-author and his wife have also put in countless hours reviewing, revising, and responding (graciously) to my incessant pushing to get this project completed. Well, I’m good at being annoying, so I was the logical person to annoy everyone to keep working.

It’s exciting. Stay tuned for official announcements, perhaps even a sneak preview.

Jim Downey

Well, it’s one small step…
June 19, 2011, 12:36 pm
Filed under: Predictions, Science, Science Fiction, tech

From the first chapter of Communion Of Dreams, describing a terraforming operation:

It was going to take generations to finish, even using mass microbots and fabricating the construction materials from the Martian sands. Tens of thousands of the specially programmed microbots, a few centimeters long and a couple wide, would swarm an area, a carpet of shifting, building insects.

In my novel, the ‘bots are a basic technology, and are a factor in the plot at several points.

And here’s a first step at making them real:

Kilobots Are Cheap Enough to Swarm in the Thousands

These are Kilobots. They’re fairly simple little robots about the size of a quarter that can move around on vibrating legs, blink their lights, and communicate with each other. On an individual basis, this isn’t particularly impressive, but Kilobots aren’t designed to be used on an individual basis. Costing a mere $14 each and buildable in about five minutes, you don’t just get yourself one single Kilobot. Or ten. Or a hundred. They’re designed to swarm in the thousands, although the Harvard group that’s working on them is starting out with a modest 25:

It’s a cool little article, and there are plenty of links to related efforts. But what was particularly fun was this video from the Harvard scientists behind the Kilobots:

That’s one small step for 29 robots, one giant leap for robotkind.

Jim Downey

Happy Father’s Day.
June 19, 2011, 7:15 am
Filed under: Connections, Guns, Society, Violence

I think they did a good job with the photos they chose to go with my text:

One of my earliest memories is of shooting with my dad. I was about five or six. We were out at a relative’s place in the country. Plinkin’ cans with .22s. Then my dad let me shoot his service revolver for the first time, helping me hold up the Smith & Wesson Model 10 he had been issued by his department. Yeah, he was a cop.

Happy Father’s Day, everyone.

Jim Downey

(Cross posted to the BBTI blog.)

Where I’m at…
June 18, 2011, 11:01 am
Filed under: Alzheimer's, Amazon, Guns, Predictions, Preparedness, Promotion, Publishing, Writing stuff

No, this isn’t a “Find Jimbo!” puzzle. Just a reference point for those who wonder about my sparse posting here.

Sent this in a friend a bit ago, in an email exchange:

Have a good weekend,

Yeah, thanks. The latest round of unexpected storms cleared out early enough for me to get in a walk after my PT. Now a shower, and then lock in for a prolonged session of looking for typos and formatting errors on HFY. Following that, due diligence with Amazon’s print-on-demand system so I understand what tweaks we need to make for that formatting.

In other words, the book is coming together pretty quickly, and we’re in the final stages of that. Got the necessary LLC bank account opened this week, next week I’ll set up the stuff with Amazon and Paypal. Tomorrow Alix, I, and John (the co-author) have a Skype session and we’ll probably outline the website design – the FB, LJ, and Twitter accounts will all follow suit, once that is up. We should be able to test drive the whole thing a few days before our scheduled July 1 ‘launch’, but that arbitrary deadline can be moved easily enough if we need to do so.

It’s fun doing this, I admit. Nice to be using a lot of different skills I’ve acquired. Regardless of how the book does, at least I have that.

And then there’s the book conservation & binding backlog, getting articles to, and general life stuff.

It’s good to be busy.

Jim Downey

When toy plastic hammers are outlawed,
June 16, 2011, 10:09 am
Filed under: Bruce Schneier, Civil Rights, Terrorism, Travel, Violence

only outlaws will have toy plastic hammers:

We have yet another horrific encounter with TSA. This time the incident occurred in Romulus, Michigan where a family was going to Disneyland and found two denizens waiting from them at the airport from the Unhappiest Place on Earth. Dr. David Mandy was walking his 29-year-old severely mentally disabled son through security when two agents spotted him.

Drew [had] difficulty understanding orders to place his feet on the yellow shoe line and follow the TSA agents’ orders. When Dr. Mandy tried to explain his son was severely mentally disabled the TSA agents told him to back off and that they would handle the matter. They were concerned with his adult diaper and kept instructing him to rub his hand up the front and back of his pants. They then turned their attention to a small plastic toy hammer and ball that Drew carries for comfort. As with children, Drew clings to the toys for a sense of security and has had the toys for years. One agent tapped it on the wall and reportedly said “See, it’s hard. It could be used as a weapon.”

At this point, it’s almost impossible to parody the TSA’s Security Theater.

Jim Downey

Creative fodder.
June 15, 2011, 11:17 am
Filed under: Alzheimer's, Amazon, Art, Ballistics, Kindle, MetaFilter, movies, Publishing

The BBTI testing went great this weekend – and we have a lot of data people are going to be very happy to see. When we get to posting it . . .

. . . which will probably be a bit, because as noted previously right now my focus (and that of my Good Lady Wife) is on getting everything ready to ‘launch’ the care-giving book. She’s got all the Kindle prep done on Her Final Year, and yesterday I completed the close editing & formatting of His First Year (which is the follow-on to the first book, about the journey of recovery from being a care-provider.) Next I need to go through the necessary hoops to have the book available via Print-On-Demand (also through Amazon), get a bank account set up, start designing the website . . . you get the picture.

And speaking of pictures, you have to find time to feed your soul. This short is a charming little metaphor on the creative process all artists go through:

And now, back to work.

Jim Downey

(Video short via MeFi.)


Sorry I haven’t been posting much. It’s been a long and busy week. Had bookbinding and gardening stuff to do, as well as getting a couple of things written and sent to But the most important and time-consuming task has been working on Her Final Year. As I noted on my Facebook page:

97,982. That’s how many words are in the main care-giving book. And it’s now closely edited and all formatted. Whew.

The last couple of chapters are especially emotional and hard to read, even now three and a half years later. But it’s done.

And now I need to wrap up another article (this is a fun one, on guns in Science Fiction) and then get on the road for another weekend of BBTI testing.

Jim Downey

Have you seen the stars tonight?*
June 3, 2011, 8:08 pm
Filed under: Art, Astronomy, Heinlein, Jefferson Starship, Music, Robert A. Heinlein


Simply lovely.

Jim Downey

*And yes, that would have made a great soundtrack for the vid.

More’s the pity.
June 2, 2011, 11:24 am
Filed under: Art, Astronomy, Connections, Terrorism

I’ve mentioned previously my Paint the Moon conceptual art project, and how it got started. Recently I noted to a friend that sometime in May was the 10th anniversary of the initial idea for the whole thing. His reaction was that I should do it again, or at least hold a ‘virtual party’ to celebrate the whole thing.

I demurred, for a couple of reasons. One, I have a lot of other irons in the fire currently. Two, part of the charm of the whole thing was the freshness of the idea – trying to recapture that naive moment would likely fall flat. And three, this is a different world we live in these days from the one pre-9/11. On that last point, this news item is relevant:

People who point powerful lasers at planes and helicopters — which can temporarily blind pilots — could face fines as high as $11,000 per violation, the head of the Federal Aviation Administration said Wednesday.

* * *

Pilots have reported over 1,100 such incidents in the U.S. so far this year, and officials said they are concerned that eventually there will be an air crash.

The incidents have increased rapidly around the world over the past six years as online sales of new, powerful handheld lasers have soared. In 2005, there were fewer than 300 such incidents reported in the U.S. Last year, there were 2,836 incidents. In some cases pilots have had to relinquish control of an aircraft to a co-pilot because of vision loss.

Yeah, it’s a different world now – one where an effort to create such a work of art would likely get me branded as some kind of terrorist.

More’s the pity.

Jim Downey