I live pathetically alone and have no real friends but prefer it that way. A social life would just get in the way of my writing. So while I plucked away at my keyboard one typical drab evening, I was shocked and curious when I thought I heard a knock on the door.
I sat up and looked across the room, as if seeing the door would somehow confirm whether or not I’d really heard something. I waited. Another hard thump sounded and I jumped. Hadn’t they seen the “No Solicitors” sign?
Ignore them and they will go away.
I turned back to my story where my main character struggled to give CPR to his neighbor’s dog.
Bam! Bam! Bam!
I jumped, startled by what sounded like a battering ram butting its way into my house. I slammed both fists onto my keyboard and sent keys flying. The letter F flew across the room to the left and U to the right. When it comes to abusing keyboards, I don’t restrain myself. My keyboard captures my passion so I figure it is best not to keep any emotion from it. I always have at least ten spare keyboards in my closet.
It wasn’t really an F and a U but that was more amusing than reality, a V and an L.
I glared at the door, daring it to interrupt me again. Three knocks was my limit. If you go past three you deserved to be yelled at and I was primed to scream.
But the final knock was gentle, like somebody knew I was watching. And then I heard a calm voice.
“Tim, I represent the Guild of Creative Expression for system ZN9957. I am here to notify you that you won the award for Best Short Story.” Continue reading
I nodded. He reached out and we shook hands.
“We spoke on the phone, I’m Officer Dunbar. Thanks for letting me stop by on short notice. And on a Friday night too.”
“It’s no problem. Come in, sit down.” I swung open my front door and motioned to the sofa.
I assumed the visit was related to one of my clients and although the patient-client privilege meant he had probably wasted a trip, something in his voice had evoked my curiosity. I sat across the coffee table from him in a large chair and crossed my legs.
“What can I do for you, Officer?” I said.
“You are treating Jack Henderson?” he asked.
I don’t give out information about my clients, in words or actions, but this caught me off-guard and my eyes betrayed my surprise. What had Jack done to get the attention of the police? He was a successful University professor, a great father, and a loving husband. He’d seen me sporadically over the past few months in what I considered a very mild mid-life crisis. He had a slightly dark, skeptical way of seeing the world and if he wasn’t my client, I would have pursued a friendship with him. And I rarely pursue friendships.
He held up an envelope, “he left you a note.” Continue reading
Every few months it seems like I read about a large business like Amazon or some bank that goes offline because of a DOS attack. A Denial of Service (DOS) attack is when a hacker runs programs that bombard a specific IP address with so many requests that it can no longer respond. Since routers can’t always distinguish between the legitimate and bogus requests, the entire system basically is brought to a standstill. Think about a room full of screaming eight year olds all asking for something at the same time. Good luck trying to figure out which one really needs your help.
With the internet, your router can’t just scream “SHUT THE BLOODY HELL UP” and quiet the room. Tens of thousands of screaming kids per second render it useless. But beyond not being able to order from Amazon for a few hours, my problems with a DOS attack have been rather indirect. Until recently.
My son makes a supplemental income playing video games. He plays Call of Duty with a group of elite players and earns money from sponsors, YouTube advertising, and donations. He has over 100,000 YouTube subscribers and close to that in Twitter followers. That’s a rather modest number in some circles, a large number in others. For instance, Anne Heche has under 6,000 followers (which is a rather low number for a celebrity). Most famous people have tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, or millions. Continue reading
Tonight I was sitting on my computer, writing on my book. Mikayla was sitting at the table doing her homework. Curtis was playing Call of Duty and doing a livestream with a bunch of his fans, he’s a professional gamer and is on the tail end of a huge contest. His buddy Tyler was playing next to him. Sandi was up watching TV. It was a typical evening. Until our house was surrounded by a SWAT team.
I first heard the sound of a megaphone outside, like you see in the movies when there is a hostage situation. I ran upstairs and looked out the front windows. Across the street were a bunch of cops in the neighbors front yard, one of them had a megaphone and was saying something but I was too wound up to understand a word he was saying. I ran out the door to take a look and saw the street swarming in flashing red and blue lights. Police cars lined the road both up the street and down it. I ran back in the house, something bad was happening out there.
I wasn’t impressed with the “Her” teaser trailer. A movie about a guy who falls in love with his phone? It was a unique approach but I doubted it could be pulled off. I was wrong. I wouldn’t even have considered it had a good friend not vouched for it. That would have been tragic. I think it is one of the best movies about love ever made. The kind that makes you ask questions. My favorite had nothing to do with love and stems from a question asked by Samantha, the computer.
“Are my feelings real or just programming?”
This question is loaded with gunpowder and my mind exploded when Samantha said it. She is a computer program, artificial intelligence. She is not human and so the obvious question is whether or not Theodore is in a “real” relationship. Of course he isn’t, right? He’s in love with his phone. And the reason that he can’t be in love with a phone is that it cannot think independently, it cannot be objective, it is not a human. It is a computer program. But why did my mind explode? Continue reading
The father tapped the bottom corner of an ornate frame, a touch so light that any reasonable person would call it pointless. But it satisfied him. He stepped back, fingers stroking his chin, and turned slowly, panning the room for another flaw in his otherwise perfect arrangement. Square, round, and oval picture frames passed under his searching eyes, each protecting precious moments snapped, cropped, and bordered with care and precision.
His gaze held on two boys, his boys, standing proud in green uniforms. Sashes slung over their shoulders were covered with small round badges. But, most important was the patch on each left breast: an oval bearing the iconic red, white, and blue symbol of a bald eagle. The American Dream. Sharp talons gripped the tree, holding fast in an unyielding pose demanding honor and respect. With outstretched wings, the eagle stood high for all to see, for all to admire.
The father was unconscious of his sudden deep breath and of the way it made the buttons on his shirt strain. Nor did he notice how the corners of his mouth tightened and fought his unconscious efforts to both smile and suppress it at the same time. He was aware, however, of of an image from years past, floating up from his deep mind. A similar picture of himself, framed on his own parent’s living room wall.
Three little girls pulled his gaze two frames to the right where pink and yellow frill of spring dresses competed with bright smiles for his attention. Wide eyes reflected the excitement of their cradled baskets full of colored eggs and candy. Continue reading