from the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy

The Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster cocktail©

  1. Take the juice from one bottle of that Ol’ Janx Spirit.
  2. Pour into it one measure of water from the seas of Santraginus V (Oh, that Santragian seawater! Oh, those Santragian fish!)
  3. Allow three cubes of Arcturian Mega-gin to melt into the mixture (it must be properly iced or the benzine is lost).
  4. Allow four liters of Fallian marsh gas to bubble through it, in honor of all those happy hikers who have died of pleasure in the Marshes of Fallia.
  5. Over the back of a silver spoon float a measure of Qalactin Hypermint extract, redolent of all the heavy odors of the dark Qalactin Zones, subtle, sweet, and mystic.
  6. Drop in the tooth of an Algolian Suntiger.  Watch it dissolve, spreading the fires of the Algolian Suns deep into the heart of the drink.
  7. Sprinkle Zamphuor.
  8. Add an olive.
  9. Drink…but…very carefully…

This effect of this drink have been described as “like having your brains smashed out by a slice of lemon, wrapped ’round a large gold brick’.”

Another version of the recipe:
  • 1.5 shots 151 Proof Rum
  • 1/4 shot Tequila
  • 1/4 shot Gin
  • 2/3 shot of Triple Sec
  • 1 shot of Blue Curaçao
  • 1 dash Bitters
  • 1 dash Grenadine

Have I tried one?

No, I have not, quite frankly it sounds like a ‘scary’ combination of liquor.

Where I found the recipe

I got this cocktail out of my 1987 Leather Bound Edition of “The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy”.  One of my favorite and much loved books in my collection, a book that I treasure and that I hope will find an appreciative home after I have gone.

Beginning of my methodology book.

The Methodology of Lieutenant Columbo

by Paul D. Dute, © 2018

Warning: this book contains Spoilers.


Introduction

Columbo always gets his suspect.

Detective Inspector Lieutenant Columbo always got his ‘murderer’ in the end.  All of us faithful fans have seen it over and over again.  Occasionally there is a bump in the road, as in the “Last Salute to the Commodore“, where the prime suspect is himself murdered in the course of the investigation.  And then there was “Fallen Lady“, where Columbo identifies the murderer, but faces a difficult conundrum in that the murderer is unable to recall they had committed the murder in the first place.

As viewers, we also are not spared the occasional bump in the road ourselves.  In the series, we the viewers, behind out “fourth wall”, are used to seeing the murders committed.  The fun of the show is in trying to puzzle out what clues it is that Columbo sees, and whether Columbo will be able to see through the “wriggling” of the killer.  The killer trying to confuse the inspector and to lead him astray from the facts of the case.  We ask ourselves, will Columbo see through all of the sand thrown in his face, will Columbo be able to prove his case?

In the aforesaid mentioned “Last Salute to the Commodore“, we never actually see the murder.  There is an obviously dead body on the floor, and we see Robert Vaughn seemingly cleaning up the crime scene and disposing of the body.  But was he the murderer?  As viewers we are certainly supposed to assume so, but later on Robert Vaughn himself is murdered.  Was he murdered as an act of revenge?  Was there an accomplice to the earlier murder who then murdered Robert Vaughn to keep him silent?  Or was Robert Vaughn never the murderer, but was cleaning up the scene because he, Vaughn, thought someone close to him was the actual murderer?  As viewers there was only one thing that we knew for sure:  In the end Columbo would figure it all out.

Another episode with a macabre twist was [“Twins Episode].  Here we clearly see Martin Landau murder his uncle.  But later on we find out the Martin Landau was one half of a set of twins.  How can we know which twin “did it”?  Again, we could only be certain that Columbo would get it all sorted out by the end.

There must be some methodology to the actions of Lieutenant Columbo.  One of his adversaries said it best:

“You know Columbo, you’re almost likable in a shabby sort of way.  Maybe it’s the way you come slouching in here with your shop-worn bag of tricks.  The humility, the seeming absentmindedness, the homey anecdotes about the family….  Yeah, you know, Lieutenant Columbo fumbling and stumbling along, but it’s always the jugular that he’s after.  And I imagine that, more often than not, he’s successful” – Ransom for a Dead Man.

However Columbo is never just stumbling along.  He is focused on the moment, always looking for that something, that anything that is a piece of evidence, a little piece of the puzzle that will lead him to the truth.  But it cannot be random, there must be a method to this Columbo “madness”.  It is this methodology that I want to explore in the next Chapter.

Book Recommendation

I have a Problem

There are some books that I can highly recommend. this includes a book that I intend to talk about later on in this essay. The problem in my recommendation for this particular book is that there is not necessarily any one certain thing that I can point to that makes this a recommendable book, it is kind of complicated.

There is, for example, a book such as Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice”. I have always loved this book since it sparked a new wave of “Realism” in late 18th and early 19th century English literature. Instead of a florid style of writing and the stilted language of the British nobility that filled the pages of English literature,  Jane Austen brought a simple story of the middle class problems with a family consisting of too many daughters and no sons. It was a story written in simple direct language and a clear direct manner.

In many ways it was such a ‘breath’ of fresh air that was complemented with the writing style of Charles Dickens. It was the Dickens massive collection of writings that burst the limits of the English literary circles that had been so confined. Bringing literature to the entire nation of Great Britain, indeed his popularity spread to the Americas as well. He brought a concern for the plight of the lower classes to the fore and he touched the lives of millions.

Yet, it was Jane Austen who really led the way for Dickens, and it seems only mildly strange that Jane Austen never intended to start a revolution in literature, she didn’t even intend to publish her stories. She wanted to write a stories to amuse her younger nieces. That is why the stories were written so simply, yet so clearly, and with great irony! In her lifetime they were published anonymously and she derived little income. Yet her influence in the world of literature was to become very large after her death, just as Dickens was to have a huge influence on the world of literature while he still lived. The style of “Realism” was to be their legacy.

This makes it very easy to recommend the books of Jane Austen and Charles Dickens to young readers. Even though the details of the works are clearly dated, the style is infectious and is still enjoyable even now in the 21st century.


What is My Problem?

My problem is that there are also books that I have found most enjoyable, but without the clear cut reasons for recommendation that I could offer for “Pride and Prejudice”, or “The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby”.

The book that I want to recommend is “The Soul of a New Machine” by Tracy Kidder and published in 1981. The new machine of the book is the Data General Eclipse MV/8000.  And the book details the high pressure world of a computer engineering team racing to design and build a new machine from the ground up in a blistering race of time.

Data General had gotten itself into a pickle. They needed a new computer to compete with the VAX computer from DEC that had begun the race to enter the new 32 bit minicomputer market.

The senior designers for Data General were assigned the “sexy’ job of the designing the new generation computer that would put Data General into the race. They were being sent to the new Data General Research center in North Carolina. There to begin the “Fountainhead Project” that would bring the laurels to the company.

In the meantime, the remaining computer designers in Data General would stay in the corporate headquarters in Westborough, Mass and were given the more humble job of improving existing Data General products, such as the 16 bit Eagle minicomputer.

When the “Fountainhead Project” ran into difficulties and delays, Data General faced the prospect of falling behind the “hated” Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC)!

While inside the basements of Data General, the “humble” team, headed by computer engineer Tom West, decided to begin a project in semi-secret that could become a backup plan in case the fancy machine foundered. In that case, his project, code named “Super Eagle” could save the day for Data General. With his lieutenants, Tom West decided to take the Eagle and using a bit of stealth turn it into a 32 bit machine without top management being the wiser.

However, to complete this semi-secret project in time to be able to save the company, West had to take great risks. He decided to rely on new computer chips that had not proven themselves, and that had uncertain prospects for mass production. He had his middle level managers bring on promising college graduates (who had never designed anything so complicated before), but would be youngsters who would would work all their waking hours feverishly to get in on the ground floor of a new machine. In their world it was called playing “Pong”; if you played and won, you would get to build the next machine!

Another huge risk that West took was in allowing Tracy Kidder into the lab to observe everything and to document the race against time to take silicon, plastic, wires and put them together in a coherent pattern that could handle the new micro-code that they had to write at the same time as the circuits that would accept the micro-code were being wired together. Tracy Kidder was also there at the frantic debugging sessions as the hand wired circuits were brought to life, the micro-code would be inserted and bring the “Soul” of their new Eagle computer to become real.

What results is a riveting story of engineers bringing to life a computer, admittedly a bit of a “kludge”, but nonetheless under budget and on time to rescue the fortunes of Data General when the “Fountainhead Project” did indeed falter and fail.

At the end of the book, I could let out a great sigh of relief, and I felt that I had indeed watched a team of dedicated young engineers breath a “Soul” into their New Machine! I can indeed highly recommend this book as a behind the scenes look of a high tech “arms race”, exciting all the way down to the last page even for non-techies!

Mythos Restaurant Review

the Grotto of the Gods

Taken from the menu cards of Mythos ©Universal Orlando

“Mythos is more than just a restaurant.  Mythos is a myth and a legend thought up by designer Jordan Mozer.  Jordan utilized design elements drawn from Greek Mythology and the Constellation.  Mythos is an ancient observatory where they they chart the heavens with the constellations.”

“Extensive research was made into constellations and their Greek Origins to find a story which ties the heavens together with the figures which are sculpted into the restaurants interior; The Chimera, Sirens and 3 large faces.”

“The Andromeda cluster of constellations is the largest in the heavens and consists of seven well known and important figures;  Perseus, Cetus, Andromeda, Cepheus, Cassiopeia, Pisces and Pegasus.  The theme of Mythos is based on two stories.  The ancient epic of Perseus, and the story of Bellerophon.  Bellerophon is the one who slew the Chimera.”

“The river running through the restaurant is a representation of the River Styx, which Perseus crossed in his quest.  The main figure on the Siren column would be the Oceanside Nymph Styx, ruler of all rivers and guardian of the river Styx.  The two smaller figures on the column would then be Styx’s two daughters, Nike (Victory) and Bia (Force).  The sea creature across the river Styx would be Cetus (the wood oven); female sea monster which was Mother to Medusa, both were killed by Perseus in his journeys.”

“The three large faces are the three brothers, kings of the seas;  Phorcys, Nereus, and Thaumus.  Phorcys is involved in the story due to the fact that he is the husband of the sea monster Cetus, father to Medusa and her gorgon sisters.”

“Cetus the sea monster, drank from a secret underground canal where the river Styx flows into the sea.  When hungry, the monster emits thick smoke which covers the sea, and when thirsty, she causes the water to swell and flood.”


The Mythos restaurant is an oddity.  It is a legitimate 4 star restaurant that is located inside a theme park.  It is located on The Lost Continent inside the Islands of Adventure theme park.  Reservations are recommended, and these reservations can be made quickly and easily on the http://www.universalorlando.com anytime you are on the website.  A credit card is NOT required to make the booking.

A current menu follows with my selections in Bold Face for this trip.  For my trip in 2011 my selections are in Italic.


Lunch And Dinner Menu
 Appetizers
Salads
 Entrees

‘Republicans Hate Poor People’?

‘Republicans Hate Poor People’:

Colorado GOP Group Apologizes For Social Media Post

“The dignity of man is above being poor,” the group tweeted.

April 02, 2018

A Colorado-based GOP group issued a public apology yesterday for a social media post that claimed “Republicans hate poor people.”

The Alamosa County Republicans took to Facebook to apologize for the comments on Friday, which urged Americans to be Republicans “out of self-respect.”

“Democrats love poor people because they think that poor people will vote Democrat. Republicans hate poor people because they think the dignity of man is above being poor,” the original post said.

The group have since deleted the post on their Facebook page, however, it still remains on Twitter.

On Sunday, the chair of the organization called the post “inappropriate and offensive” and confirmed that the individual who posted it has since resigned.

“Hate has no home here,” the Facebook apology said. “The author acted independently and without the concurrence of any other member of the Alamosa County Republicans.”

“The regrettable post was made with the intention of condemning poverty, not persons affected by poverty, and was not meant to insult anyone,” it continued.

“However, that occurred, and the author sincerely regrets the post and has offered his resignation from his position with the Alamosa County Republicans, which has been accepted. Actions have consequences.”

Social media users condemned the group’s apology, with some saying it seems disingenuous given that the original post has still not been taken down from Twitter.

“You literally have the exact same message still posted to your twitter at this moment. That makes the apology seem disingenuous,” one user wrote.

Another added: “I am a Republican and I have never been so embarrassed to say this. But this past year I’ve just been so embarrassed of the ignorant thinking that people are having. Shame on you guys for keeping the post.”

Essay #1, 3/28/2018,©Paul D. Dute 2018

Golden Age of Sci Fi

My Nephew really missed out.

Sorry, but I think that, for the most part, Sci Fi is a boy thing.  I’m not judging!  Just Saying!

Books had a major effect on my youth.

I have always loved reading books. Among my earliest memories are watching adults reading things, and wanting so much to read myself. I can vividly remember my first grade at Jenny E. Smith elementary school, and the big letter cards that hung around the upper level of the classroom showing how to make the letters!

I just wanted to know what those signs meant and how could I use them to read. It was just so important to me. I made the effort and did learn how the letters were sounded, and how they were put together into words. Once I had that mastered that, then I would learn how to put those words into sentences. For me that was an unbelievable sense of power. I could now read books and turn those words and sentences into thoughts. I could read and I could extract those thoughts of the author and I could use them to create and express my own thoughts.

By the third grade I was wanting to master that magical place, the library! It was the library that I considered the holy grail, there was where nuggets of knowledge (books) were kept and where they were organized. It would be years before I learned how to master the Dewey Decimal System and how to use those Index Card Files, but it was worth it!

For the younger set, you must remember that this was the 50’s and the 60’s. There was no internet, there were no laptops. And there was no computer smaller than a mainframe! It will be hard for you to believe, but it was not until the latter half of the 60’s that my father was using an IBM 1130 mainframe, and he would let me help in typing up the program cards and then put them into the feeder for the computer to begin working. That was magical as well!

So the guts of the library magic was those Dewey Decimals, and the Index cards, with drawers of cards ordered in three different ways: Author Name, Title Name, and finally Dewey Decimal Order. It was my first Operating System, and I did become a master.

I think that it is not an exaggeration to say that from the third grade on, I always had a book or two within reach of my fingers. I felt that I could be called from then on, a Literary Maven. I had begun a book collection, a library of my very own.

Pseudonymous Juvenile Sci Fi Books that my brother and I collected.

There will of course be disagreement of exactly what period of time is covered by the term “Golden Age of Sci Fi”. For me it is the period of time covered by the end of WWII and ranging through the 1960’s. The earliest books that I can clearly remember collecting, and my younger brother collecting were ironically pseudonomically published.

For me it was the Tom Corbett, Space Cadet series (attributed to a Carey Rockwell, but never copyrighted!). And for my brother it was the Tom Swift series (attributed to Victor Appleton II, these were copyrighted, but it was well known that Appleton was a pseudonym). I can remember one cover of my brothers collection vividly.

All of the Victor Appleton II books had brightly illustrated covers, that were very dramatic for a tween boy.

In the course of my research for this essay, I ran across a MOBI file that I was able to download from Project Guttenburg. A file that I hope that my brother will enjoy seeing once again.

My collection of Tom Corbett, Space Cadet books were plain covered with no dramatic covers. I have not been able to find any images of my old beloved collection.

However, I can advise my readers that both these collections are available on Amazon©. You must search by author.

In the case of Tom Swift, you must search on Victor Appleton II, remembering that there are four series of books written over a period of six decades! The books that were brother had were from series two, thusly “written” by Victor Appleton II. Remember this is a pseudonym!

In the case of the Tom Corbett series that I had, you would have to search on “Carey Rockwell.” It is only recently (1977) the Robert A. Heinlein confirmed that he wrote the series under the name of Carey Rockwell. Claiming that he did so because it was a very early work and he felt it not “polished”. He would in 1948 rewrite it as Space Cadet a book that he felt was much more polished and satisfactory.

It was this book that that started me on my “Heinlein” phase. As I accumulated enough money, I would head to the bookstore and buy another one of Heinlein’s paperbacks and would add it to my shelf of Sci Fi.

Nowadays, of course, I have all of his ‘juvenile’ novels, the ones that I most remember and treasure as a tween and a teen, in Kindle form! I still read them from time to time. And what do you know? I still love these coming of age tales. In the 50’s and 60’s they would be serialized in Boys’ Life© the boy scout magazine before being printed in hardback and paperback form. As a boy scout I would read them in the magazine, and then would purchase the paperback as soon as I could.

I would carry those paperback books around the world with me as I served in the Air Force. I still had many of those self same paperbacks as late as 1999! But being, for the most part, printed on cheap paper by the time the 21st century came around they were flaking and falling apart. I was heartbroken, but with the advent of electronic publishing I was able to collect them once again, but now in a permanent format.

So Many Classic Sci Fi authors.

I would in time be drawn to the likes of Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Robert Silverburg, and Poul Anderson. All of them giants in this age of Sci Fi. It was June of 1969 and America put a man on the moon. It was one of those climatic events that would fuel an interest in Science Fiction for several more decades. Asimov would become a giant in the Sci Fi world, writing so many novels that it would be folly for me to attempt to list them.

Asimov and also Clarke would also become famous for their Science Books as well as for their Science Fiction. I would collect, once again in paperback form, a myriad of their books to add to my collection. As my resources expanded, I was able to get some of their key books in hardback form. It was these books that would form the cornerstone of my library.

I was also fortunate enough to get some books in Leatherbound Editions, and those I consider among my treasures. But more about one of those treasures later.

I expand my library.

While I can honestly say that it was this Golden Age of Sci Fi that got me started off into a lifelong love of books. I would in time spread beyond the cool world of science fiction and into action thrillers as well as histories, biographies, mathematics and cosmology.

Every time I was assigned to a new airbase, I would very quickly find my way to the base library and open a borrowing account. I would become a friend of librarians around the world. In a like manner I would search out bookstores, and when I found a particularly interesting book, I would purchase it. By the 90’s whenever I moved, it would be with a large number of book boxes!

I began to find a way to cut down on the weight of the books when I purchased my first eBook, a Sony Reader™ with an LCD screen on 7/11/2010. I began to purchase in electronic form of books, and I began to browse Project Gutenburg looking for free copies of books that I could download and enjoy.

Then on 9/10/2011 I would upgrade my ebook capability by purchasing my first Amazon Kindle™. This enabled me to be able to carry 30 books on my Thanksgiving Day cruise without taking along a case just to hold the books that I wanted to read! I could carry those 30 books in one hand with my Kindle, amazing!

I have since upgraded my Kindle two times, now I sport an Amazon Kindle Paperwhite™ even allowing me to read in a dark room should I feel like doing so. So it is pretty easy to see that books have made a huge difference in my life! Bringing me back to that Literary Treasure that I mentioned earlier.

My Literary Treasure

I have a leatherbound issue of the Foundation Trilogy by Asimov. It was a book that my older brother also coveted. In point of fact, at one time my older brother (Fred) expressed the hope that if I should happen to predecease him, he would like to have the book. He assured me that he would treasure it just as much as I had. And I assured him that should I predecease him then he could have it with my pleasure.

However, as it turned out Fred predeceased me, and it did leave me desolate. It is wrong to repine for too long, and I put it out of my thoughts for a year and more. Yet, it did leave me to think that this book did mean so very much to me, and it had meant so much to Fred. I had a responsibility to think about what the BOOK would want. Yes, Yes, I know that it is the height of anthropomorphic silliness to consider what a book would want. Yet it brought to mind yet another one of my “treasures”.

“The Dangerous Book for Boys”©2007

I am speaking of the book with that name written by Conn and Hal Iggulden. It is a curious book, and I will freely admit that it was the title that prompted me to pick it up and peruse. It consists of articles that would mostly interest boys. Articles such as “How to build a periscope”, and “How to play Table Football”, and even “How to Play Poker”.

It is all the sort of things that boys are curious about, some obscure things, some funny things, and things you can do with magnets! Somehow, I don’t think this is the kind of books that my nieces would find useful. But my Nephew?(!)

While he is all grown up now, if I had this book when Nathan was a little boy, then I would certainly give it to him, and I think that he would have had a ball with it!  But his dad is probably glad that I could not give him this “Dangerous Book for Boys”. And yet I still think that someday Nathan might have a boy, and that boy I contend would LOVE this book.

As for anyone curious about this book, well, I suspect that there might be an interesting article about it on Wikipedia, perhaps after proofing this blog post, I shall check it out.

What do books mean to me?

How can I put it more succinctly? I love books. When I had trouble speaking (sometimes Fred and I would stutter, for some reason that never bothered Robert).  I could always find pleasure that I could read powerfully and confidently. I could take pleasure in considering that while there was so much information that I did not know, I was confident in that my expertise in the library could enable me to find any information that I needed. This was POWER for me, and eventually I would want the power to not only find the information that I needed, but the power to express it!

I was most unsteady in speaking information, but I was determined that I could express this information in writing. That is why I always had a portable typewriter with me when I traveled. And when the technology permitted, I would always have a computer of my own with me. For I was confident that in the written word I could be a master, if not a master in speaking. This was, as I said, power for me, a literary power that I prize.

And I owe this power that I can now exercise to my love for books. It was reading as many books as I could that has brought me to this point. I am very pleased that I can express my literary feelings and ambitions to all of you.

Oh, By the way Nathan.

That exquisite copy of “The Dangerous Book for Boys” that I own is on the top left shelf of my bookcase next to my boxed sets “From Earth to the Moon” and “Pride and Prejudice” , two other books that had a great influence on me. Just Saying.

The Man Who Invented Christmas

I have just finished watching the movie about Charles Dickens and the writing of “A Christmas Carol” in 1843.  As an inveterate fan of Charles Dickens I have wanted to watch this movie ever since it came out last summer.  Sadly for me, it was not shown in South Jersey!  I’ve no reason why that is so, but it was never at the Regal theaters in my area.  So I was disappointed in my inability to see the movie at Christmastime.

However, it has finally be released for rental, and on Monday I rented it from the Google Movie library, and decided to watch it on Saturday, today.  After accomplishing my errands and runs today, I settled down at 1600, and started playing the movie on my Chromebook.

I was impressed with the movie although at times it was very dark.  But then Dickens had a very dark childhood with the arrest of his father for debt, and it took all of his talents for writing to raise him to the success that he enjoyed in the early nineteenth century.  He had a writers block around 1841 and experienced a loss of confidence.

He determined to write a book about Christmas as he envisioned.  A “Christmas Feast” had devolved from the 4th century into a celebration of revelry and drunkeness after Charlemagne was crowned emperor on Christmas Day 800 A.D..  Indeed by the 17th century the Puritans banned the celebration of Christmas as disreputable.

Dickens and other writers of the early nineteenth century wanted to reinvent the holiday by emphasizing Christmas as a time for family, religion, gift giving, and social reconciliation as opposed to the revelry that had been common historically.

Dickens later claimed that his characters sometimes contributed more to his writing than he himself did.  And in this movie that is certainly true as Scrooge comes to life and leads Dickens into writing the story.  Other characters of “A Christmas Carol” also come to life and interact with Dickens imagination, and finally lead Dickens into ending the book on a happy note as Scrooge himself realizes that Charles Dickens and himself had a similar natures and he appeals to Dickens that he wants to live and change his ways, to keep Christmas in his heart forever forward, and with that Dickens can finally complete the book and get it to the publisher in time to make delivery to the bookshops and be available to the public on December 19, 1843.

It did have an immediate effect on the way that Christmas was celebrated in Great Britain, and eventually the customs would spread throughout the British Empire, and also to Britain’s erstwhile colonies.  I really enjoyed the movie!

For many years I have made it a practice to read the “A Christmas Carol” every year right after Thanksgiving, and I am thinking of adding the practice of watching this movie during the season.  Just as I make it a practice to watch “A Miracle on 34th Street” as well as “Scrooge” the 1951 Alistair Sim version every year.