I’m working in my office, listening to a bunch of 60’s music, and Alex came in to ask if I would play the “Snow Dogs” song.

Confused, I asked what song that was.

“The one they play in the movie ‘Snow Dogs’. You know, the one that goes, ‘My baby beside me at the wheel’.”

I cued up Chuck Berry’s “No Particular Place to Go” and he was thrilled. “Yeah, that’s it! Thanks, Dad!”

At least he has good taste in music.


There’s quite a little drama outside my office window. I’m in the basement, and next to my desk is a window well (it’s actually the “escape hatch” for the basement). For the past few days there’s been a sudden influx of crickets, and even a praying mantis that prowls around.

Just now Alex decided to climb down into the well (from outside, of course) and he was banging on the window. I looked out, and he pointed out how one of the crickets had stumbled onto a big spiderweb in one corner, and the spider shot out and attacked. It looks like the cricket is having a bad time of it, but it’s endlessly intriguing to Alex.

Now Zack is at the top of the window well, looking down and offering his comments. Great stuff.


Laralee’s garden is flourishing, and I can’t wait until it’s time to harvest the corn. I don’t really care for the squash and some other things she’s growing in there, but corn is my favorite vegetable and there’s nothing like just-off-the-stalk corn on the cob.



A word of caution: when you’re sitting in a stroller, going down the sidewalk, ALWAYS WEAR YOUR SEATBELT!

Zack decided he didn’t need one, and he took a header out of the stroller the other day. The side of his face got pretty scraped up, and although he’s happy in this picture (several hours later) be assured there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth after the incident…


Researchers at Edinburgh University in Scotland have been awarded a grant to develop what they call “smart sand”, which are speck-sized computers that communicate via wireless technology and include sensor arrays. They’d be used– at least initially– to perform health monitoring functions and transmit the data (after processing it locally).

Amazing stuff. It’s exactly the kind of thing described in Vernor Vinge’s fantastic book “A Deepness in the Sky”, and in fact parallels my own ideas for my science fiction novel “Dusk”, which includes an entire desert comprised of nano-computers. Heck, the researchers even call these things “smart sand”…


So if you were a time traveler, and you were visiting today’s world but your time machine broke, how would you get it repaired? Obviously you’d need to contact someone who has the appropriate parts, but I don’t remember any Time Traveling section in the Yellow Pages. So how would you find the right person?

Of course– SPAM! Send an e-mail message explaining the problem to a million people, and hope that one of them has what you need.

Apparently that’s the rationale used by Brian Appel, a stranded time traveler who sent the following (no kidding) message to me and, presumably, a million others:


I’m a time traveler stuck here in 2003.

Upon arriving here my dimensional warp generator stopped working. I trusted a company here by the name of LLC Lasers to repair my Generation 3 52 4350A watch unit, and they fled on me.

Since nobody in this timeline seems to be able to deliver what I need (safely here to me), I will have to build a simple time travel circuit to get where I need myself. While it might be hard to find parts in this time to build anything decent, I need easy to follow schematics from the future to build one which is safe and accurate that will not disrupt the time space continuum with both forward and backward capability accounting for temporal location settings (X, Y, Z,), which can be built out of (readily available) parts here in 2003. Please email me any plans you have. I will pay good money for anything you send me I can use. Or if you have a dimensional warp generator available, and are 100% certain you have a (safe secure) means of delivering it to me please also reply with a secure way to contact you. Send a separate email to me at:

Do not reply back directly to this email as it will only be bounced back to you.

Thank You
Brian Appel


My friend Derek was once in a college band called Love Cows. There’s a funny story behind the name, but suffice to say I’ve heard their CD and it’s not half bad. They did covers of a few songs, and (if memory serves) even wrote a couple themselves.

In any case, one Halloween a couple of years ago I decided to dress up as a “punk” rocker. I colored my hair red, put on some piercings, got a few tattoos, tore up a pair of jeans a bit, and… needed a great concert shirt. Naturally the Love Cows came to mind, so I actually made myself a Love Cows shirt and wore it that Halloween.

Today, digging through stacks of shirts in my closet, I laughed when I found the old shirt. What better to wear on a lazy Saturday?

I’m, like, their biggest fan… I wonder when they’ll have their Reunion Tour?


Many years ago, back in college, the Residential Life Department splurged and bought lunches for the RA’s who were going through training (we had to be at school a couple weeks before classes actually started). I used some of my lunch money to buy so-called “recycle mugs” because (1) they held a lot of soda, (2) they were non-styrofoam environmentally friendly, and (3) they had cheap refills.

Anyway, through my three years as an RA I amassed about a dozen of these mugs. They were great, and I kept using them because (1) they held a lot of orange juice, and (2) they were sort of thermally insulated. The dishwasher took its toll and scratched off all the cool logos and stuff, but you can see here today’s orange juice sitting on my desk as I work.

Recycle mugs rule.