Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Shay locomotives

If, at some point in the future, you should read Prodigal Son/Color of my Blood/whatever it winds up being called and you should wonder what on Earth a Shay locomotive is, it's one of these. Toward the end of the steam era, there were proposed (but never built) much larger Shay locomotives with a 3 cylinder steam engine on both sides, and that's really what I was picturing. They're weird pieces of equipment, originally evolved for use on lumber railways with primitive wood and/or wood and iron strap rails, where a large, powerful rod locomotive would tear the track to bits or derail quickly. I figured these were just about perfect for the precision movement, lots of stops and starts, and so on of combat track laying. Yeah. Combat track laying. Welcome to armored war in the 19th century. :)

Why is the #844 called a rod engine when the Shay is distinctly not? Those long things on the driver wheels that connect them to the steam pistons? Those are called side rods or coupling rods. -JRS

Monday, June 17, 2013

Prodigal Son: Finished

Okay yeah, I started this story back in April, when it was known as The Color of Blood. I put it down a couple times to do other things - write another story whose approach I already understood, spend two weeks in Virginia on family matters, etc etc, but I finally got the dang thing done. It needs tinkering and tightening yet, but all its guts are in place and it breathes on its own. It's a Brass and Steel story. It's very much about race. Normally I try to avoid this topic, mostly by saying "it's 20 years in the future, we're long past /that/. People are people. Deal." I like to challenge myself to do things I haven't done before, and to touch subjects that scare me to work on, but sheesh. Anyway. When it's finally polished out, I think, I hope, it will be a good story that rings right for all concerned.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Obamacare - Cliffs notes version

Ran across this online:Explain Like I'm Five: What exactly is Obamacare and what did it change? And this followon: Obamacare Point by Point I have to say, "Well shit, tell me how this is a bad idea again?" Let's just say if the numbers I'm seeing come to pass, it reduces the insurance cost for 40something self-employed writers quite dramatically.

This is something I've cared about for a long time. One of the LookingGlass World's fundamental tenants: that if you can't pay for your healthcare, they let you die or euthanize you. The LookingGlass world is from 2004. At that time, it looked very much like that's where we were headed, and I modeled the care after what stray animals get. What's that you say? I never made that clear? Well … it figured prominently in what was supposed to be the second novel in the series rather than Irreconcilable Differences, but that novel is unlikely to see the light of day in any recognizable form. It was always so in my world notes, and Kari mentions it briefly in Irreconcilable Differences.

Anyone who's read this blog for long is probably not surprised to find I lean in favor of the Patient Protection Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare). We, as a nation, have agreed that we aren't willing to let people die on the steps of hospitals for lack of money. This act is basically admitting that emergency room care is suboptimal and we'll save money with proper health care. Also, it is against all of our best interests to allow through unaffordable healthcare a reservoir of disease to exist in our civilization. We are all in one epidemiological boat together, and it behoves everyone to help his or her fellow traveler to stay healthy.


Blog Archive