Allow me to kick off today’s entry with the announcement of our next Book of the Month Club Pick.  This one sounds delightfully unique, has received a lot of good buzz, and is written by an author whose work (Four and Twenty Blackbirds) I’ve enjoyed in the past.  Ladies and gentlemen, I give you our next Book of the Month Club selection…

Boneshaker, by Cherie Priest

Publisher’s Synopsis: “In the early days of the Civil War, rumors of gold in the frozen Klondike brought hordes of newcomers to the Pacific Northwest. Anxious to compete, Russian prospectors commissioned inventor Leviticus Blue to create a great machine that could mine through Alaska’s ice. Thus was Dr. Blue’s Incredible Bone-Shaking Drill Engine born.

But on its first test run the Boneshaker went terribly awry, destroying several blocks of downtown Seattle and unearthing a subterranean vein of blight gas that turned anyone who breathed it into the living dead.

Now it is sixteen years later, and a wall has been built to enclose the devastated and toxic city. Just beyond it lives Blue’s widow, Briar Wilkes. Life is hard with a ruined reputation and a teenaged boy to support, but she and Ezekiel are managing. Until Ezekiel undertakes a secret crusade to rewrite history.

His quest will take him under the wall and into a city teeming with ravenous undead, air pirates, criminal overlords, and heavily armed refugees. And only Briar can bring him out alive.”

Says Publisher’s Weekly: “Intelligent, exceptionally well written and showcasing a phenomenal strong female protagonist who embodies the complexities inherent in motherhood, this yarn is a must-read for the discerning steampunk fan.”

Discussion the week of March 1st with author Cherie Priest.

Honestly!  With all of the recent advancements in science and technology, I can’t help but wonder what’s taking them so long to get around to the no-brainers, those obvious little adjustments and upgrades that would make our lives so much easier.  Instead of focusing on new weapon systems, solving global warming, and finding a cure for restless leg syndrome, have the eggheads divert some of their intellect and resources to a achieving the following:

1. Speedier Dryers: Why does it take nearly an hour for my comforter cover to tumble dry?  I’ll tell you why!  It’s because research teams have gotten lazy and self-satisfied, luxuriating in the accolades heaped upon them for the most minor developments in washer technology.  Washers offer a cornucopia of choices when it comes to the various water levels, temperature settings, timers, and speeds whereas my dryer choices are limited to the choices my grandparents enjoyed.  We can put a man on the moon yet it still takes me up to fifteen minutes to dry a pair of socks!  Where’s the sense in that?

2. Flying Cars: Okay, maybe “flying” is a misnomer.  I’m thinking more along the lines of hover cars with built in guidance and collision-avoidance systems.  Stop thinking in terms of flat two dimensional space and start imagining in glorious 3D.  Travel would take to the skies, traffic would be a thing of the past, and our only concern would be occasional vertigo and commuters emptying their ashtrays onto your backyard barbecue.

3. Tastier Vegetables: If the Japanese can make square watermelons, then surely broccoli that tastes more like spumoni shouldn’t be out of the question.  I guarantee that nothing would quell the debate on bio-engineered produce faster than root beer-flavored brussel sprouts

4. Home medical and dental check-ups: You know what I hate about visiting the doctor?  Visiting the doctor.  Short of scaling the outside of an office tower to escape pursuing corporate mercenaries, nothing fills me with such dread.  And I’m not alone.  Apparently there’s even a term for it: White Coat Syndrome.  So why not create a home check-up kit that offers a convenient, stress-free way of scanning for cavities, irregular heartbeats, and iffy blood sugar levels, thereby freeing up medical professionals for more important things like surgeries or offering expert witness testimonies at high-profile murder trials.

5. Fast food menu items that actually look like they do in the commercials: Okay, granted, I may be asking for a miracle breakthrough in food preparation here, but I’d love to, say go to McDonalds and enjoy a Big Mac that actually looks like the magnificent burger the guy on t.v. is enjoying.  On the rare occasions I actually go to a fast food restaurant, my menu items resemble not so much actual food as they do props in a sad clown painting.

6. A neural interface for home entertainment systems: When I want to watch a movie in my home theater, I simply press the ON button on my universal remote, then press the DVD button, then watch a movie.  Ideally that’s how it works but if Keeping Up with the Kardashians has taught us anything, it’s that life is far from ideal.  More often than not, something won’t turn on, be it the dvd player or the satellite or the scaler or the projector, and I’ll be forced to go to the back-up remotes or the hands-on approach or, failing that, something I call “the manual override” that involves me flipping the circuit breaker and starting from scratch.  With the power of mind control, all those inconveniences would be a thing of the past.  In a perfect world, I could also order Chinese take-out as well.

7. Personal tracking chips:  Peace of mind for anyone with pets, kids, loved ones, and/or soldiers in action on foreign soil.  I know, I know.  Shades of 1984!  Well, I hate to break it to you, but the government aint all that interested in how many trips you make to your local grocery store for fancy mustard.  Still, the chips would be voluntary.  At the end of the day, if you don’t want the police violating your civil rights by tracking down the van in which the serial killer has you locked up, then you could simply do without.

8. Personal attraction meters: Dispense with the noisy clubs, pricey drinks, and interminable small talk.  Ideally, everyone would be fitted with one of these that could be worn as emblems not unlike those old Star Trek insignias.  Whenever two individuals with a mutual attraction to one another would pass within close proximity, their personal attraction meters would buzz, alerting them to a match.  More advanced meters can be programmed to seek out prospective matches with similar interests or weed out those with unappealing traits such as opposing political leanings, extreme religious views, or living situations in which find them still sharing a bunk bed with their little brother.

9. Mechanical pencils in which the lead doesn’t snap off whenever the slightest amount of pressure is applied to the tip: I’m convinced that the only thing holding this back is the small but powerful graphite lobby.

10. Self-generating blog entries: I don’t believe this one requires an explanation.

If anyone is going to move forward on any of the above, don’t forget to credit me with the idea.  And forward me 50% of all gross earnings.

Well, I’m off to dinner with Tomomi.  I’ll save you all a bite of dessert.

P.S. Was that early enough for you, Das?

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Thornyrose
Thornyrose

Ahh, evil genius back in finest form. Though why you’d be interested in mechanical pencils is a mystery. Now, a regular pen controlled by that interface device would be worth having..
The BotM club selection looks very intriguing. Thanks for giving us enough time to get hold of it. I’m knocking out some magazines and at least a small section of my backlogged books, so I’ll be ready to give it a once over come the end of the month.
And with all due respect to Das, these early postings throw me off. Makes me feel like Im running behind since I’ve only logged in to check out the comments from yesterday’s post. Still, I suppose early is better than so late that I have to wait till morening to check out the blog. Perhaps we should have the readers vote on the optimum time to post? That way you can go about organizing your life around that hour…didn’t think so. Besides, wouldn’t work. We’d miss out on too many cool photos of the foods you’ve tried while eating out when you should be posting.
As always, thanks, and remember, two more days and Ashleigh the demigoddess will once more be able to terrorize you….

me
me

Maybe if we hadn’t wiped out the Mayans and Aztecs we’d be there already.
Did you know the Mayans knew how to make a bridge for your teeth with gold, whereas the French pulled slave’s teeth and tried to transplant them into the rich people’s mouthes. And then wondered why they all died of sepsis.

dasNdanger
dasNdanger

I fell asleep watching tv, woke up, found a new entry…and assumed it 8 am!

NOW my internal clock is ALL messed up!! mad

das

PS @ Deni – It was before we met, smartass. grin

crazymom1

We got one of those programmable Harmony remotes, and it actually DOES work everything! However, it needs to come with a teenager to program it. GeekBoy programmed it, and then hid the individual remotes to keep up ignorant adults from messing up his programming. The main remote has a “Help” button, and if that doesn’t fix things when they (rarely) go wrong, we just yell for him to come and help. He sighs dramatically, but he fixes it.

Grandma used to have similar problems. The sound on her TV would periodically go quiet, and she would call my dad (3 hours away) and tell him that her TV was broken. Dad would call her next-door neighbor and ask him to go over and press the “Mute” button on the remote. It fixed the TV every time!

susan the tartan turtle

I would like somebody to invent a device to make decisions for me. Some days even the decision of whether to have white bread or brown bread is difficult – then deciding which type of ‘brown’ bread to choose! shock

Hope dinner goes well and remember to bring us back a doggie bag! grin

DP
DP

Working on that faster dryer. There’s a little hitch about combining microwaves and a rotating drum. How was I supposed to know construction crews still use radio transmissions to set off dynamite?

When I get supressing stray signals figured out, it’s on to introducing magnetostriction to jet engines, then that elusive jet pack will be just around the corner. (No, I won’t be able to eliminate the need for funny pants.)

Anti-authoritarians are now realizing that tracking and recording technology is more likely to exonerate the innocent than incriminate them. Paranoid crazies should just stop worrying and love the surveillance chips the CIA implanted in their heads.

ytimynona
ytimynona

My puppy has a personal tracking chip. You can’t get a lifetime license for a dog in my county without it.

I’ve discovered the secret to mechanical pencils. It’s not in the pencil itself, it’s in how long you make the lead (you hafta click and hold it down, then push it slightly back in while still holding down, then let go). Yes, I’m the sort of crazy person who thinks about this sort of thing…

ytimynona
ytimynona

Oh, and I’m very excited about Cherie Priest’s book! I’ve heard nothing but good things about Boneshaker, and loved Four and Twenty Blackbirds!!! grin

sorrykb
sorrykb

Sadly, I think the first item in your wish list to be a reality will be the personal tracking chips. In fact, it’s all but done already.
http://www.liveviewgps.com/ (and many other companies enjoying our collective paranoia)
– KB

John DeNardo

Boneshaker was excellent. One of my best reads of 2009.

Sparrow_hawk

Thanks, Joe, but I already had dessert: macarons from Starbucks. Yes, you heard me correctly. My local Starbucks is now selling mini packs of Chateau Blanc macarons. Tonight, I had a pistachio. Not half bad.

I hope you had a lovely dinner with Tomomi! And practiced a bit more Japanese.

I would like to add a couple of features to your flying cars: programmable controls so you just enter your destination and then can nap on the way there. Oh, and an ejector seat.
‘nuf said.

Interesting title for March. I think I’ll join you for that one.

pastrygirl
pastrygirl

I love it! I have a couple of suggestions to add to the list:

1) Standardize the button sequences and functions for microwaves and remote controls, so that we don’t all look like morons or technology tyros trying to use them at someone else’s house.

2) Fix the space shuttle! How can we hope to get anywhere with space travel if we still can’t takeoff and land in the rain/fog/clouds? I mean, really?

3) An automatically calibrating thermometer – I hate having to check mine in boiling or ice water all the time!

Hope dinner was fabulous, looking forward to more foodie pix!

Lisa

riley

I want one of those devices out of God Emperor Dune – Leto’s machine, which transcribes your thoughts. I think way faster than I can write or type, so my mind gets too far ahead and I give up on writing stuff down. God, how I wish I had one of those machines!

chevron7

Hey Joe,

10. Self-generating blog entries: I don’t believe this one requires an explanation.

Ooh nice….maybe a neural interface to WordPress so you could just think what you want to say and it spits out a blog…of course it could be interesting…..you could be discussing a tense scene on #SGU and then suddenly what appears on the blog is your internal monologue….”what the hell are you doing Lulu…well I’m sure my expensive Italian shoes are tastier than the kibble I fed you…….man I need some new shoes…I’d probably have more sex with new shoes” LOL!

However, Blogger has a really nice feature called post-dating. I can write a blog post and schedule it to be published on a specific date and time….I’ve done all of my posts for work for the weeks I’m away. I just checked and WordPress has that too. Click on edit link next to Publish immediately on the right and set your day and time. You could publish a whole month worth of posts in the future….of course I dunno how you’d manage the mailbag.

Cheers, Chev

chevron7

Oh have fun on your date! We want details and pictures….

Cheers, Chev

dasNdanger
dasNdanger

RE: Advancements in science and technology…. 1. Answer: Invest in a clothes line, and buy a second pair of socks. 2. Oh, yeah…right. Flying cars. You DO realize that there will be blondes flying these things, right?? Answer: Develop beaming technology. 3. Tastier veggies. Answer: Salt. And high-blood pressure meds. 4. Going back to the 1800s, Joe? As someone with a severe case of ‘white coat syndrome’, I am 150% with you on house calls (for pets, too!). I’ve had doctors complain to me about my office anxiety – which just makes it WORSE! The best doctors recognize it, and learn how to put you at ease. Answer: Re-educate all medical professionals, overhaul the entire medical care system, and treat the profession as a service to mankind, not a money-making business. AND come treat me at home. I’ll even bake cookies! 5. Answer: Don’t eat fast food. 6. Answer: Simplify, rid yourself of your reliance on technology, and free up your mind for more creative things…like finishing your script. 7. Agreed. I just heard on tv tonight that there is a service in the Philly area that fits children and the elderly with tracking anklets for those who are prone to wander off. It can be a lifesaver. I think this is needed for so many, especially kids, the aged, and Tiger Woods. 8. No, no, NO!!! Gah!!! NOOO!!! Attraction is a powerful thing…weeding out unappealing traits isn’t always possible – not if the attraction is stronger than reason itself. I mean, haven’t you ever found yourself in a situation where you’re around someone who – on the surface – totally creeps you out, but then some unseen subconsicous weirdo thing starts happening with the pheromones, and suddenly you’re wondering what they look like naked, and you have to shake that thought out of your head, but it doesn’t want to go away easily, and against your very will and reason you kinda sorta start flirting, and all the while your conscious you is yelling at your subconscious you that ‘no one on earth would possibly want to mate with such a horrible creature, so why in the world is it feeling kinda warm in here and why are you giggling at all of his stupid jokes – and FOR CRYING OUT LOUD, HE’S MISSING A TOOTH!’…and yet your subconscious you ignores your conscious you and you’re yearning to run your fingers through his hair, and you start feeling nervous and your palms are getting sweaty and you’re thinking that b.o. really smells kinda good, and instead of wondering what your family would think if you brought this guy home, you start imagining yourself hanging out with his friends down under the bridge and living in a cardboard box and cooking dead rats over a fire in a 55-gallon drum, but it doesn’t really matter because if you fall in love and stuff, you can change him, and… Yeah. No personal attraction meters for me. EVER. das Loading...

Skontel
Skontel

I couldn’t resist taking a crack at your R&D requests…

1. Speedier Dryers: already done. Use a microwave. Too fast? Well, you can always use a … well, a dryer.

2. Flying Cars: will take a bit of work, unfortunately. But as soon as you can explain how the controlled anti-gravity field is generated, and how to convert a flying vehicle’s mass to zero, thus reducing power requirements for eliminating inertia, I think it’ll be all done.

3. Tastier Vegetables: there are all kinds of “gummy” candy made in a shape of various vegetables. Help yourself.

4. Home medical and dental check-ups: I think any doctor would be more than happy to do this, provided you equip your home with a fool blood work lab, an MRI, PET-scan, and CAT-scan machine, plus a full and dental X-Ray machines. Finally, a dentist’s chair with all the applications. On the plus side: you can switch doctors anytime, and don’t have to worry about getting lost on the way to the doctor’s office.

5. Fast food menu items that actually look like they do in the commercials: who eats fast food? You eat fast food, Joe? I’m speechless.

6. A neural interface for home entertainment systems: I believe the first prototype of this device is installed on the Destiny. And we all saw how the first attempt to use the chair went…

7. Personal tracking chips: been in use for almost ten years. Ever heard of RFID? Next…

8. Personal attraction meters: I would *hate* to be the one to discover software glitches in these devices…

9. Mechanical pencils … : there was an attempt on this, but it turned out nails aren’t very good for writing — too much steel in the carbon? Latest research recommends switching to 0.7mm mechanical pencils.

10. Self-generating blog entries: do self-generating blog comments count? smile

Ganymede
Ganymede

#2 – Yeah, right… TPTB have been promising *THAT* one since Ford started giving the Wright Brothers a lift home!

#7 should be automatic when one starts getting their Old Age Pension! I’m forever “losing track” of my short [below shelf level] elderly mother in stores!! Strange how one minute she’s *slowly* walking with me but then suddenly ends up 2 aisle over when I turn my back for just a second….

#6 and Dad should have gotten the GPS attachment when he had the cataracts done! Oh, AND speakers – he’s deaf as a rock and refuses to get a hearing aide!

#8 – …ahh… don’t *guys* kinda already [cough! spelling optional…] “come” with *those*…? sorta…?

BTW, the laundry… run the stuff through the SPIN cycle in the washer once or twice to get as much water out of the fabric BEFORE tossing them into the dryer… Better yet, save $$ and the “Environment” by getting dryer racks – if you have room to set them up – and stick them under a furnace air vent. Might as well let that heat warming the room dry the stuff in it…

Eric.Stewart
Eric.Stewart

I just got stock 2 hours at a full packed restaurant. I propose inventing a call bell that you ring when you need to see the waiter, and that delivers electrical shock when the waiter takes too long to come!! !

I’d like to point out again as a certain British someone mentioned it in one of her post yesterday that we still don’t know what you were cutting???

@ Das, it doesn’t allow me to copy it without the bracket. P.s I’m enjoying your most recent entries.
Joe, re: personal attraction meters “If anyone is going to move forward on any of the above, don’t forget to credit me with the idea. And forward me 50% of all gross earnings.”
sorry to say this, but you will not be able to cash in on that idea. Another screen writer on ‘bones” already used a very similar idea for an episode that aired a few weeks ago.
Now I know I said no sarcasm and stufff… but Das is having way to much fun…

Eric.Stewart
Eric.Stewart

damm internet, just erased again my last entry. I’m mad. going to bed

o6untouchable

Don’t guys have a built-in “attraction meter” already? Or in some people’s cases, an “attraction metre”, right Joe? Eh, eh?

…yeah. To be honest, I didn’t think that was funny either. Oh well.

The fast food thing is something that has constantly frustrated me too, but as das has suggested, the easiest solution is to just avoid fast food entirely, like the plague. I think I’ve eaten fast food once in the last eighteen months, and that was only in one of those “everyone else in the car is getting drive-thru” scenarios where I succomed to the weight of peer pressure.

The only part of it I miss really is the McFlurry, but that’s mainly for the novelty value of the machine magically whisking together your desserts with the same spoon that you eat it with. Gives me little geek thrills every time.

Hmm. Anyone ever noticed that STRESSED is DESSERTS spelled backwards? Maybe desserts reverse stress… I may have to use that as an excuse to eat more cheesecake.

Anais33

Coucou=) ça va Joseph?

Moi oui, très bien, j’ai rattrapé mon sommeil cette nuit ^^!!

Ce livre a l’air bien, j’aime beaucoup la couverture smile

Passez une bonne journée!
Bisou !

jeremsg1
jeremsg1

Hi Joe,

1) The Asuran are inspired by these synthetic beings?

2) What is the wraith ray that we can see in “Letter From Pegasus” ? Is it a weapon? We will see it in Stargate Extinction?

Montrealer
Montrealer

@Mr M

Your flying car is more commonly known as a helicopter. Google the Robinson R22 for info on the cheapest helo on the market today. It’s about $250000 USD per craft.

Tammy Dixon
Tammy Dixon

Eric.Stewart: the bracket allows the code to show up. Type the icon code without the bracket to get it to work.