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Adrift

I have lots of little tasks I should do and I think of them in the morning and feel filled with ennui and despair. Paperwork, plans, maintenance.

It’s always better, as I so well know, to have a writing project. I’m high and dry with Return to the Hollow Earth all done. Also my story “Surfers at the End of Time” with Marc Laidlaw is done. Good news on that front: we sold it to Asimov’s SF Magazine. But vhat next?

When all else fails, I play with this hypercube puzzle I paid $100 for, in a way it’s like a Rubik’s cube, it’s called Melinda’s 2 x 2 x 2 x 2. It’s 3D-printed, with insanely strong magnets inside the individual cubelets to stick them together, so can, in effect, rotate the planes. I never did learn to solve a regular Rubik’s cube, but Melinda’s has the advantage that I can shatter it into cubelets and rebuild. Lots of interesting symmetries.

On Valentine’s Day, Sylvia made a big batch of cookie hearts. Wonderful. Here I’m eating one at my laptop in the Los Gatos Coffee Roaster café, a fave spot to hang.

I wrote story called “Juicy Ghosts”—couldn’t hack making it a novel like I was talking about, but I finished a story. I think I mentioned this one was about a guy assassinating an evil president via wasp larvae that our guy has grown inside his flesh? I waded into the story slowly, shallowly, careful of biting, stinging things. Not a great idea, but don’t know what else to do.

As I mentioned before, we’ve had torrents of rain the last six weeks or two months. Love it. I always get so excited about the rings that raindrops make in the puddle. Natural computation at its finest. Wind gusting 30 mph, rain sideways, 4 inches yesterday.

I went up to Lexington Reservoir, and yah, mon, it’s overflowing. The water rose, like, twenty-five feet in about three days. Smooth so-called laminar flow here.

I know a special lookout spot where you can see the true chaos of the flume. Paradise.

When I finished that assassin story, showed it to couple of friends, did some fixes, and sent it off to an SF zine. Not sure they’ll want to publish it. We’ll see where it ends up. Really the New Yorker should publish it. As if.

Dig the overflow scenes at the dam of Vasona Lake in Los Gatos. I like to think of natural processes as being computations. Those big churning flows…denser than any computers we can build.

Sylvia and I drove up to Terry Bisson’s to watch the Oscars with him and his family. Terry says he’s the world’s greatest unrecognized film critic. A lot of us feeling this way…

Now need something else to write. Like a junkie who keeps running out of his stash. Rooting for stories like a hog searching for truffles. I have an idea I might start on today.

Feeling unsettled and adrift these days. One of those periods when I start wondering if maybe I really am crazy. Going out in nature always helps.

Wonderful oak next door. The tracery of the branches.

I’ve been watching this fairly horrible Netflix series of six shows about Rajneesh in Oregon, “Wild Wild Country,” I hate just about every person in the doc by now, especially Sheela and that lawyer guy, so deeply full of BS, but kept wanting to see “how it comes out.” One of those shows that makes you feel diminished. I’m not sure I can face the sixth and last episode.

This is a photo I really like.  I’m making it into a painting right now.  Finally got back into my studio (the back yard) becasue it stopped raining today.

I’d like to write a story that’s a happy UFO 1950s transreal early autobio story. Or, really, any kind of story about my early childhood. In the evenings, before going to sleep, or in the mornings still in bed, I sometimes go into my memory bank and “walk around” our 620 Rudy Lane house that I grew up in, in Louisville, I walk around the house and around the back and front yards, with memories going off like landmines, or rather, memories opening up like the window flaps on an Advent calendar. Kind of an old-man thing to be thinking about, right? The guy in my story has a mean older brother who is a talking carrot. I suppose a bit of biotech went into growing the brother-thing.

I mean, really?  Is that all the  newspaper has to tell me?

The childhood UFO story isn’t gelling. Foraging for more story ideas. They pop out of the dirt like mushrooms in the rain.

I got really wet riding my bike to the Lexington dam to revisit the flume.

Nice night at the ballet with Sylvia.

I’ve turned to rereading William Gibson’s “Bridge” series, that is, Virtual Light, Idoru, and All Tomorrow’s Parties. Bill’s so good he makes me wonder why I even bother trying to write. This said, we don’t do exactly the same things, nor are we after exactly the same results, nor do we use the same types of characters, so there is room for me. If I ever write again, that is.

My friend and fan Chuck Shotton 3D-printed some UFOs shaped like the ones I write about, and each of them as a little flat battery and two diode-type lights, factory made in Shenzhen to flicker in interesting ways. Love these.  As you can see, they’re about twenty feet across.

Here’s a granddaughter with some balloons. A surprise party for our 85-year-old friend Gunnar. Rudy Jr. and his family happened to be there too. The three little kids loved doing a surprise party. And Gunnar really was surprised. Like witnessing a Platonic ideal, for the kids, the archetype know as “surprise birthday party.”

Despite my customary kvetching, I’ve got ten books coming out from Night Shade this year, with White Light and Saucer Wisdom this month! Details on the series.


“Wow” acrylic on canvas, February, 2019, 40” x 30”. Click for a larger version of the painting.

I finished a new painting called “Wow.” It’s a silhouette of one of my Wisconsin granddaughter standing in front of some blown art glass in a museum in Madison. I redid the profile a bunch of times. Drew a grid on a photo to help transfer the image by hand. I like how excited she looks—she was making a face for the picture.

With my Borderlands show over, I have a big stash of paintings in the basement.  Bargains galore. This one pinhead (Hi, Bart!) said he just wanted to buy the edges of the canvases, if I could cut them off and collage them together for him.  I might someday construct a painting like that, if all else fails.  But I’d be copying the edges, you understand, not mutilating the treasure trove.

One of my favorite neighborhood trees. The mossy crooked Y oak. With a girl and a dog nearby.

Different topic: Here’s a really crazy puzzle from my Hacker King pal Bill Gosper. What’s the next number? (Answer at the end of this blog post).
2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, 17, 31, 37, 71, 73, 79, 97, 113, 131, 199, 311, 337, 373, 733, 919, 991, ???

I was in the Cantor Museum Sylvia at Stanford yesterday or the day before, looking at their primo Jackson Pollock painting in the Anderson collection, Lucifer. Here’s a detail. His work has this fractal quality, in that the smaller bits work as well as the larger ones do. This particular painting he did in 1947, right at the start of his drip phase.

We walked around in the giant Serra sculpture they have at the Cantor, shaped like an eight, it’s called Sequence. Soothing to be in there. It was in the lobby of SFMOMA for the last couple of years, but it looks much better outdoors.

Something else I’ve been worrying about—a lot—is this currently hot computer data structure called blockchain.  It’s used by Bitcoin, and might have more applications.  See this article by Emily Su for possible use cases, but see Jimmy Song for grave implementation problems and see Kai Stinchcombe for full-on debunking disdain. I’m frantically researching blockchain, because I’m slated to give two talks at a blockchain conference in Miami Beach in April.

So I’m sweating about my talk, and I’ve been sweating—in parallel—about whether the people organizing the con were going to pay me in advance, like I asked them to. And for a couple of weeks that wasn’t happening, and I grew increasingly paranoid, seeing as how they’re a cryptocurrency-related company out of Hong Kong! (Visions of  Kowloon Walled City in Gibson’s All Tomorrow’s Parties.) But this morning my first payment came through, so I’m gonna do it.

I can’t really say much of anything fresh about blockchain, but I can spin out, I hope, a couple of amusing SFnal cyberpunk-type bizzaro use case scenarios. Indeed one of them relates to the story I’m summarizing just below, “Mary Falls.”

My foot is bigger than Sylvia’s foot. (Keen observation stored in blockchain link #00000000000002379818909797023978.)

Oh, what was I talking about?  Oh, yeah, “Mary Falls.”  I managed to start writing it yesterday.  An old woman dies and migrates into the digital afterworld under the auspices of a company called Juicy Ghosts. They fix her up with a material world peripheral of some kind, but the lady loses her control of this “body,” which is, lets say not a machine but a juicy-ghost organic peripheral—and then she has to accept an incarnation as a light-bulb switch. Or she has to work as an NPC (non-player character) in a videogame. And then, (John Shirley’s suggestion) she runs a drone herding sheep in New Zealand, or, no, she runs a ranger-drone in the Big Basin woods, electrically zapping dogs who get in there, but then she loses even that body, and has to transmogrify into a cascade in the Big Basin falls. But then, in the summer, the falls dry up, so she finds a life as a part of the slow shifting of the crystals in the sedimentary stone.

Yep, that’s a senior’s life in a nutshell.

Here’s my knee under the quilt on our bed day before yesterday. I was getting up the energy to go outside and paint…if the rain had  finally stopped, but it hadn’t stopped, so I wrote on my laptop for ahwile,  but yesterday the sun did come out, calloo callay! And I worked on my painting of the long cloud in that photo up the page somewhere.  Earlier in the blockchain.

Shot from inside a closing elevator.  Like, “Help!  Let me outta here!”

Oh! You’re waiting for the solution to Gosper’s great puzzle?  Well, the next number in the list is 1,111,111,111,111,111,111 that is, it’s the decimal number written as nineteen 1’s,  a bit larger than one quintillion, also known as “rep 19”. Why that number? Well each number in Gosper’s sequence is a prime number such that, if you list every possible ordering of that prime number’s digits, each of those digit=shuffled numbers is prime too. Some people call these “permutable primes” or “absolute primes.” And weirdly enough, no number between 991 and on past a quintilion to rep 19 is a permutable prime.  Fascinating, huh?  Who says mathematicians don’t know how to have a good time!

4 Responses to “Adrift”

  1. paradoctor Says:

    The Gosper sequence is pretty cool, though in general obsessing on base-ten digits is bogus, ten is a fairly lame number. Two is what we run our computers on, it’s much more hard-core. For instance, the only permutable primes in base two have only ones; and these are the Mersenne primes.

    Alas, Pythagoras was wrong; most of the integers have no personalities. The numbers with soul tend to be irrational: pi, e, phi, root 2; and not many of those either.

  2. Manda Says:

    Thanks for doing this blog. I always rather enjoy reading it and your photography is strangely soothing. 🙂 Just wanted to let you know the ‘paintings’ link is broken though! Internet gremlins at work!

  3. Justin Patrick Moore Says:

    Hi Rudy,

    Thanks for the update. I hope you come ashore soon!

    I was curious if you ever heard of Basil Davenport an editor/SF guy (mostly wrote intros it seems) from Louisville? I stumbled across him while doing some work down here in the catalog department at the Cincy public today (working on a book about his mother Emily Andrews Davison).

    Anyway, I’d read this post the other day… and thought of you with the Louisville connection!

    Hope to visit Mammoth cave this summer… I may need to pick up and take Return to the Hollow Earth with me when I do.

  4. Rudy Says:

    Good point, Nathaniel. And thanks for the correction, Manda. And Justin, no, I hadn’t heard of Basil Davenport…looked him up on Wikipedia. In the 1950s there was a prominent Davenport family in Louisville, headed by Stephen Davenport, the rector of St. Francis in the Fields. He and his wife Susan had five children. One of them, Churchill, was an extremely memorable character—I admired his bold escapades, growing up together. So far as I know, Churchill now heads an art school in Louisville, or in any case, this is what he was doing five or ten years ago.

    Re. the Cincinnati public library, I went there when I was doing research on John Cleaves Symmes, a prominent writer on the subject of the Hollow Earth in, as I recall, the mid 1800s. And, yes, you should very definitely get a copy of my omnibus edition THE HOLLOW EARTH & RETURN TO THE HOLLOW EARTH.

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