Report from Penguicon

img_0034Last weekend was Penguicon 7.0, Michigan’s science fiction and open-source programming convention.  It’s a media mix that has worked amazingly well, and this is, IMHO, the best convention in the state.

img_00481I did get a rocky start when I arrived Saturday morning.  Once I registered I found I didn’t have a separate list of the panels I was on, and due to a printer’s error the print in the actual program book was really, REALLY tiny.  So tiny, in fact, I had to have someone else read through it to find my name. Continue reading


Macrobiotics #6: 10 things you might not know about beans

1.) Did you know that you don’t need to soak beans? Macrobiotics teacher and cookbook author Christina Pirello was once challenged to a cook-off. The tiny Italian grandmother told her people would get indigestion eating soaked beans. When their cook-off was through, Gran’s beans tasted richer, and no one became “musical” after the meal. Since soaking also removes some flavor and enzymes, and starting with dry beans took only minutes longer to cook, Christina has stopped soaking beans before cooking them.

If you feel you must soak, Christina says an hour will do it – don’t waste time planning farther ahead. The traditional Quick Soak is boil water and beans 2-5 minutes, then cover, take off heat and let sit at room temperature four hours. The long soak is 8-9 hours at room temperature, I.E. overnight. For many people, a short soak gets rid of indigestible sugars that lead to Musical beans. The long soak doesn’t help the music side effect, but the beans hold shape better.

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The Upside to Having a Day Job

Dr. Francis CollinsFor work on Tuesday, I got paid to go listen to Francis Collins, who headed the National Institutes of Health project on sequencing of the human genome, talk about “The Future of Genomics and Personalized Medicine.”

I was inspired. Sequencing the genome is not just the greatest thing since slice bread, it’s the greatest thing since the personal computer. If we follow through on Dr. Collins’s recommendations, we really will end up with the kind of health care that up to now has only appeared in optimistic science fiction.

And there’s all kinds of interesting research and projects going on.

For example, there’s the Human Microbiome Project. Continue reading


From our friend Peter S. Beagle, “A Personal Request to All My Fans”

Peter S. Beagle says:

Peter S. Beagle

If you’ve ever read and enjoyed one of my books or stories, or seen and enjoyed one of the films that I scripted, I’d like to ask a favor of you. It’s simple, really — if at all possible, within the next month please do one of the following things.

1) Go to and buy a subscription to my year-long 52/50 Project (more about which, below).

2) Go to and buy any single book or DVD of my work, either for you or as a gift for a friend.

3) If you can’t make a purchase yourself, try and get someone else interested enough to take the leap.

As for why I’m asking, that’s even simpler: you will change my life.

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Armed and Dangerous


A couple of decades ago one of my room mates press-ganged me into taking a class with her.  She was already taking fencing, but her teacher had decided to offer stage combat, and needed more students.  “It’ll be great!  You can write it off as research!” Since I was then working on The Stone War, an urban fantasy that takes place in New York City, circa 2018, I didn’t see any present use for such research, but I love me a good swashbuckler, so I signed up.  And it was love at first swash.

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Canine Genetic Engineering

Ruppy By traditional breeding methods, dogs vary from as small as Chihuahuas to as large as Great Danes, and all are cross-fertile.

By South Korean laboratory methods, we now have a litter of not only transgenic, but cloned beagle puppies who glow in the dark due to the introduction of a fluorescent gene from sea anemones.  So, it’s a sea-anemone-puppy – named “Ruppy.”  Two years ago, the Taiwanese were busy with injecting fluorescent protein (some of these articles cite jellyfish rather than sea anemones) into cloned Angora kittens.

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Back on skates & ready to party

Flash Hottie has been back on skates for the past two weeks, following her MCL sprain in early March, and her muscle tone seems to be improving.  Now let’s see how her aggression is coming along!  Tonight’s practice will feature special blocking drills, building new skills for the already steaming Haymarket Rioters, the farm team of the Windy City Rollers.

The Rioters performed admirably on Saturday at the UIC Pavilion in Chicago, where they demonstrated basic Derby 101 rules in live action to an audience composed of about 20% virgins, 78% hardened derby fans, and 2% rockin’, rollin’ Red Hat Ladies.  The Rioters’ speed and agility have skyrocketed.  After tonight the hits will come harder, too!


SupermanBatman #59: A Very Short Review

Well, it is disappointing, but in a mildly educational way.  Let’s analyze this latest arc of Superman/Batman.


In #57, we had the promising set-up, in which Superman is shrunk down to nano size.  Batman undertakes to rescue him, adding to the urgency by noting that time passes much more quickly among the extremely small and if something is not done fast Superman will die of old age.  (I surmise that this is a comic book factoid he picked up from the Atom; I sure don’t remember reading anything about it in SciAm or the NYT.)   In #58 it is revealed that the nanoverse is populated by warring factions which conveniently break out into bad guys and good ones; the bad guys tinker with Superman’s metabolism which, again very conveniently, turns him against Batman.  In this issue #58 Batman rapidly cures Superman and they defeat the bad guys and are canonized by the good after their departure for the larger universe.

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The Singularity and Podcast Novels: Balticon 2009

I had sworn off cons for 2009. Once I decided not to go to Wiscon what was the point? Nothing is as much fun as Wiscon. But as they say: never say never. Turns out Balticon is on my schedule. Here’s how it happened:

The Book View Cafe Library of Congress gig is scheduled for Friday, Memorial Day weekend, the same weekend Balticon is scheduled for (and Wiscon I might add, but let’s just forget about that for now). As everyone outside of Maryland knows, DC is right next door to Baltimore so as soon as we wrap things up Downtown, we’re going to head out to Beemore.

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