Sunday, September 29, 2013

Complaint about a 1953 Philip K Dick story - Imposter

With spoilers, of course:

OK, so it's in this robot anthology: Souls in Metal, published in 1978. It was in the bookcase at home. It reprinted robot stories written between 1938 to 1974.

Imposter, by Philip K Dick, is a very dramatic story. The narrative is in the third person, but the point of view is limited to one character--a man, or so we think, who's working on an important military project. His name in Olham. He seems like just a normal guy, with a wife, a love of the outdoors, and a longing to take a break, a camping trip, in the woods outside of town.

But, no, we find out he's suspected of being a robot--a spy robot--sent by the alien enemy. The robot has landed in a spaceship in the woods outside of town, and murdered the main character after first copying out the man's memories and impersonating him. The robot contains a bomb, that will be set off the moment the man utters a triggering phrase. The danger is that the robot will carry the bomb into the heart of the Secret Military Project and set it off.

The main character knows they must be wrong, and does his best to prove who he really is. After clever plot twists, he escapes and makes his way to the spaceship where the robot landed. He wants to prove the robot failed his mission. Instead, he finds his own dead body. In despair, he says, "But if that's Olham, then I must be---"

Oh no! That was the triggering phase. The story ends with:

The blast was visible all the way to Alpha Centauri.

And I thought, "Wow," and then, "Huh?"

Because the triggering phrase was obviously the result of seeing his own dead body, that is, he was set up to explode exactly where the robot found him in the first place.

Which made me wonder, why would the aliens bother with the whole robot thing, if the blast from exactly where their spaceship landed would be seen all the way to Alpha Centauri? All they needed was to set off the bomb immediately. What happened to the purpose of the robot to take the bomb into the heart of the Project? Did the aliens then fail? That wasn't the implication. The implication was that blast blew up all of Earth, kabloom. So, anyway, it doesn't make sense. Did I miss something? If not, then,

How did Dick get away with it?

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Playing with clay at Castle Hill

So, looking back at my wish list from earlier this year, one of the items was "I want to play with clay." I had a week's vacation to take this summer. I did web-searches for short writing and art classes that would meet the week I had off. I found the Castle Hill Art Center in Truro MA, Cape Cod. 

We rented a cottage. The weather was beautiful. We even managed to avoid the bad traffic, somehow, renting Sunday to Sunday. If only Zubie hadn't had a major bad-back episode for the entire time, culminating in a Wednesday afternoon (perfect beach weather) ambulance ride to Cape Cod hospital in Hyannis (thank you Kennedys), it would have been a glorious vacation. 

The sculpture class reminded me how much I like sculpture. I've been working on wire mermaids since then. I've been neglecting story-writing, and that feels bad. The mermaid-sculpting is fun. Maybe I'll have stuff ready for Arisia this year.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Tonight's quick miso soup

Filled & started electric tea kettle.
In the meantime diced up some onions and carrot, about :
  • diced quarter of a large red onion
  • diced small carrot
Saute'ed in a few tablespoons oil.
Added a chunk of miso. About
  • 3 tablespoons? miso
Stirred in the hot water, with about 2 tablespoons of leftover tomato-basil sauce to use it up from the jar.
Added about
  • 3/4 cup frozen spinach
Sprinkled in the following spices:
  • ginger (very little)
  • sage (tiny bit)
  • cumin
  • coriander 
  • garlic powder
  • a bit of black pepper
It's not great, but not as terrible as experimentation might warrant. Rather warm and soothing.
Just recording the ingredients for improvement later.
I think the ginger is important, even though in a small quantity.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Last Sunday's Fish Chowder


  • About 5 or 6 large red potatoes, peeled and sliced thin (leave some slivers of red peel).
  • less than a pound or so of fish chunks (I used the Trader Joe's frozen cod pieces, inexpensive fish)
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and sliced into disks
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • red onion diced
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • spice to taste:
    • dill (optional)
    • tarragon (optional)
    • basil (optional)
    • ground bay leaf (or add a whole bay leaf before adding the carrots)
    • parsley
    • paprika
    • fresh ground pepper
    • salt


Peel and slice potatoes, add to soup pot until they fill about 1/2 way up.
Rinse, discard rinse water, and then fill with enough water to cook the potatoes.
When they are close to cooked, add the carrots.

In a saucepan, saute the diced red onion in olive oil and butter. Add flour, stir it around and let it brown. Gradually add in about 3/4 cup milk until you have a cream sauce.

Add the fish pieces to the potatoes in the soup pot, then stir in the cream sauce. Thin the chowder out with more milk.

Spice to taste.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013


I don't know Spanish, but my husband is from Chile. From his dad, we learned a great thing to yell at kids when you want to get them out of bed in the morning:
Alza arriba!
Trinca el coy!
Coy a la batayola!

Here's his translation/pronunciation guide:

Alza arriba! - AL-sa  a-RRI-bha (literally loft upwards)
[RR meaning hard R like Rabbit]

Trinca el coy! - TRIN-ca El COy (tie up your hammock, which is otherwise known as "hamaca". "Trincar" in general parlance means to bind up or corner in)
[R meaning soft R like train]

Coy a la batayola! - COy  A LAH   BAH-tah-yoeh-lah (Put the hammock away on the batayola which I think means bulkhead stringer, some sort of shelf structure along the hull or bulkhead)