The Lounge Makes Top 10

OK, I realize these things are ephemeral. I realize that in a very small niche, it doesn’t take many sales to rank on Amazon’s sales charts. (Trust me, it’s not very many sales; although I have to say, it’s more than I expected given zero effort at promotion.) But…

At this moment, 1 a.m. on 3/19/2012, this is the sales ranking for Ulterior Motive Lounge (emphasis added):

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #83,929 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)

That’s better than the Kindle edition of UML Distilled, the book I first learned UML from. (Appropriately enough, though, the paper version of UML Distilled ranks #2.) That’s higher than Scott Ambler’s Object Primer, another book I heartily recommend. That’s higher than UML 2.0 in a Nutshell and UML 2 for Dummies, two popular series that generally rank high. That’s higher than the Three Amigos’ Guide and Ambler’s Elements of UML Style. In other words, that’s higher than almost all of the UML books on my shelves full of UML books.

Now to be fair, all of those great books have been out for longer, years in most cases. They’ve already had their big sales, and now they’re in their long tail. And to reiterate, my monthly sales can be counted on one hand right now. So this isn’t big sales by any means.

But still, as irrational as it is, I can’t help celebrating just a little bit inside: #10!

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Gruff Riders

I’m very proud to announce that “Gruff Riders” will be part of the Writing for Charity anthology, helping to support Children’s Literature Association of Utah and the Future Light Orphanage in Cambodia.

Thank you Juliana for organizing this event to help these important causes. Thank you Eric James Stone for giving me the opportunity to play my small part in this event. I wish I could be at the conference in Utah with you all.

Here’s the Table of Contents. Man, I’m in good company! How’d they let me sneak in?

UPDATE: And here it is! Available for purchase through Smashwords.

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Something that never happens to me in Ohare…

…happened to me in Ohare: my arrival and departure gates were in the same concourse.

Same concourse? Heck, they were less than 10 gates apart! With delicious Auntie Anne’s pretzels in between!

With good luck like this, I can only fear bad luck to follow. Somewhere in this airport at this very moment, I suspect John McClain is crawling through ventilation ducts and fighting with terrorists…

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Universal? No. Translator? Yes.

Whoa… Software Translates Your Voice into Another Language:

Researchers at Microsoft have made software that can learn the sound of your voice, and then use it to speak a language that you don’t. The system could be used to make language tutoring software more personal, or to make tools for travelers.

In a demonstration at Microsoft’s Redmond, Washington, campus on Tuesday, Microsoft research scientist Frank Soong showed how his software could read out text in Spanish using the voice of his boss, Rick Rashid, who leads Microsoft’s research efforts. In a second demonstration, Soong used his software to grant Craig Mundie, Microsoft’s chief research and strategy officer, the ability to speak Mandarin.

These are the days of miracles and wonders. The challenge for a science fiction author is to actually stay out ahead of reality.

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Saturday Surprise III: John Carter

So after lunch and the book tour, we finally got together with the family for our original purpose: John Carter. As someone who fell asleep half-way through “The Phantom Menace” and less than a quarter through whatever that second prequel was called (and didn’t even bother with the third), I was surprised and pleased to see old-fashioned space opera done right: likable characters, a believable story (with a slow spot here or there), and lots of exciting action. I haven’t read the books yet; but brother-in-law Buck has, and he says it was pretty faithful within the limits of a two-hour film. Buck even liked it enough to see it twice on Saturday!

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Saturday Surprise II: Kim Harrison

Kim Harrison visits Grand Rapids

So after our Indian dinner, Cory asked if we could stop at Schuler Books so he could spend a gift certificate. Being an overly indulgent uncle with time to kill, I said, “Sure!” So while Cory shopped for Manga, I wandered around and looked at books and movies and comics. And while I did, the loudspeaker announced that Kim Harrison would be wrapping up her Perfect Blood Tour in the Studio in the back of the store at 5 p.m. This was at 4:30.

Now I have to confess: I’m a Hard SF junkie, so I knew zero about Ms. Harrison’s work. But when a chance to hear from a pro author comes on a silver platter like that, what kind of aspiring author passes it up? So since I knew Cory’s family were likely to be delayed anyway, I planned to attend. So I got one of the fans to tell me which book to start with, and I picked it up to get an autograph.

And then Cory told me, “Mom will be so jealous.” It turns out that Anita (or “Mom” as Cory calls her, silly boy) is a fan. So that meant I had to get a hardcover of A Perfect Blood as well and get it autographed for Anita:


So I sat, and waited. And waited. Eventually the store rep informed us that Ms. Harrison and husband Tim had driven to the wrong Schuler’s location, and were on their way back. Given traffic at that time of the day, the only possible result was more waiting.

But finally they arrived to a Studio overflowing with fans. Very loyal fans with lots of detailed questions. I was a complete outsider; but in between the story-specific questions, she answered a handful about her writing process. A lot of it repeated lessons from other writers, but it never hurts to get some reinforcement. And her answer to me was a little surprising. I asked who her First Readers were, and what she looked for in a First Reader; and her answer was that she mostly doesn’t rely on First Readers any more. She left her original First Readers behind when she started working at a pro level and they weren’t critiquing at that level. She said her “First Reader” these days is really her editor, although Tim (a.k.a. “The Guy in the Leather Jacket”, as she refers to them in her book) also gives her feedback sometimes. I’ve gotten so used to authors discussing the importance of their First Readers that I never imagined this answer.

As a newcomer to her works, I was mostly in the dark regarding the story-specific questions she answered; but she did pass along one thing that should interest her fans: the CW network has purchased the rights to produce a series based on her Hollows series. She suspects it will be called simply “The Hollows”, but she has almost no information at this point beyond simply the fact that the deal has been made. She mentioned a “Smallville” writer doing the script, but I don’t remember the name.


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Saturday Surprise I: India Town

So nephew Cory and I had some time to kill. We were supposed to meet his family, but they were delayed. So I said, “Let’s get Indian food!” And as Cory is one of the few in the family who actually likes Indian food, he said “Sure!” So we went to India Town. This restaurant, also known as “India House”, has long been the closest Indian restaurant in the area; but though I enjoyed the food, I had trouble recommending it. It was, shall we say, a hole in the wall. Not much to look at, you might say. Dumpy looking, even. You had to see past that to find out how good the food was, and I wasn’t sure I could recommend that to people.

Well, no more! I don’t have photos of the exterior; but it has been completely redone, and it now looks polished and attractive. The old, broken-up parking lot in the rear has been completely refinished and the lines repainted. The Indian grocery next door has also been refurbished. And the interior? Well, this picture from their web site looks great…

…but it hardly does them justice. The atmosphere now is warm, comfortable and inviting. And if you enjoy Bollywood dance numbers, there’s a TV set that’s usually showing clips from Aishwarya Rai and other performers. Here was my dinner companion jamming to the music:

Cory Buckowing waiting for Indian food

Well, OK, jamming to the music and checking his text messages…

And the food! That’s what really matters at a restaurant, right? And it was good before, so I was worried: have all these changes changed the food?

Yes. For the better.

We started with the Samosa Chaat. I’m used to good samosas (fried pastries stuffed with potatoes and vegetables); but these were also garnished with a sauce of yoghurt, tamarind, mint chutney, and chickpeas! Lightly spicy and kind of sweet.

Then we had our entrees: Chicken Saag for Cory, and Chicken Korma (my favorite Indian dish) for me. We also had Aloo Naan (flat bread stuffed with potatoes) and Rose Lassis. Cory wasn’t 100% sold on the rose water, but he was intrigued by it.

So I heartily recommend India Town restaurant; and the grocery also has great Indian sweets and a wide selection of Patak’s brand sauces (for those of us who want to make Indian food at home but don’t know how to start from scratch).

Posted in Dining and Food | 1 Comment

Lunar Impact, Lasting Impact

Researchers suggest magnetic anomalies on the Moon are the result of asteroid collision:

In the nearly five decades since the first lunar surveys were conducted as part of NASA’s Apollo program, scientists have advanced a number of increasingly complex theories to explain the vast swaths of highly magnetic material that had been found in the some parts of the Moon’s crust.

But now a team of researchers from Harvard, MIT and the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, have proposed a surprisingly simple explanation for the unusual findings – the magnetic anomalies are remnants of a massive asteroid collision. As described in a paper published March 9 in Science, the researchers believe an asteroid slammed into the moon approximately 4 billion years ago, leaving behind an enormous crater and iron-rich, highly magnetic rock.

So an asteroid impact billions of years ago may have lasting impacts we observe today. Hmmm… Where have I heard that before?

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Chorizo Chili

Just something I threw together from stuff in the fridge and the cupboard…








El Popular – Chorizo Pork Sausage, 6 oz. (1/2 package)







Busch’s – Chili Beans Mild, 1 3/4 cup (1 can)







Generic – Sw Diced Canned Tomatoes, 1 3/4 cup (126g) (1 can)







Generic – Small Yellow Onion, 1 small (2 inch dia) onion














Servings: 3 to 4.

Posted in Dining and Food | 3 Comments

The Meeting Event Horizon

It appears that time in meetings makes you stupider. And I suspect that leads to The Meeting Event Horizon: if you spend enough time in meetings, you lose so many IQ points that you can no longer figure out a way to escape the meetings. You’ll never escape The Meeting Black Hole after that!

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