long fiction and short articles

Joining in

The events leading to Newman leaving for good with a pair of binoculars, a memory stick and an RV full of fish were remarkable, and not the typical end to a successful career at Ziegler Genetics. The binoculars were a gift from his team, who were keen to provide him with something useful for his new life at the lake….

At the coffee shop

She came through the door slightly ahead of him. He followed close behind, walking quickly and watching the back of her head. It wasn’t clear she knew he was there; he may have been with her, or maybe he’d recognized her walking into the coffee shop and was trying to catch up, to let her know he’d seen her. There was…

YoYos

I vaguely remember visiting a toyshop as a child and seeing a twinkle-trousered man on some sort of pedestal, wielding a yoyo. A simple toy, designed to be easy to get the hang of for novices, and yet open to more athletic manipulations by toyshop ambassadors who showed what spectacular feats may be possible with a little practice. It unwinds…

Shopping

Some people, when they get fed up, will go shopping. Shopping is a kind of therapy. Not buying. Ideally, they don’t buy they just shop. Well some buy, but in the knowledge that they can return the stuff  later — so they are still technically just shopping. Marketers have noticed this, and as a result  there are TV channels devoted entirely…

Technical advances

A voice controlled toaster. Optically triggered floss dispenser. A catflap powered by network services. These are the sort of innovations visionary technological entrepreneurs feel we will need and, more importantly, be prepared to buy. Entrepreneurs. The very word suggests they get in the damn’ way, and many of their gadgets are precisely the sort of thing new-age declutterers advice us…

Home improvement

“You going from half to three quarter? Need threadtape?” It’s the home plumber’s nightmare, and no matter how well prepared you think you are you’ll doubtless face it more than once during the course of any project, no matter how minor a fix  it might seem at the outset. It’s the moment when the professional behind the counter, or even the…

Unfair competition

World-class Darts, unlike Curling, has never had any issues with banned substances. You could argue the relative athleticism of each — throw in snooker, while you’re at it — but it’s hard to see the advantage offered by any sort of drug in these kinds of sports. Save caffeine, perhaps, if not for the participants then at least for the…

Hoorah for the free

Certain things exist more as clearly desirable goals than as, well, things. People talk about them because they really sound like they are great, good, honorable or whatever — and hopefully some of that great goodness will rub off just by the talking even though deep down we all know they probably aren’t real. Customer Service is one such. Our…

Smart people talking

Elon Musk’s staccato, recursive speech is not uncommon among smart people. Speakers seem to be listening to themselves and repeatedly revising, editing, revisiting, restating. It sounds as if what they’re trying to convey is too complex for them to capture completely, so they sort of herd their ideas instead, trying at least to keep them all going in the right…

Eco Rocketry

For those of us who have to travel, flying is probably the worst thing we do to the environment. We recycle, drive our Prii cars, turn the heat down a notch, even eat vegetables to cut down on cow farts. We walk and bicycle, take the bus, wear vegan leather, and tweet severely and regularly about climate issues. We do…

Industrial magic

“Laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made,” claimed Otto von Bismarck. He might well have said the same of iPhones, rockets, or the Cloud. We’re at a point where every company that makes stuff aspires to the condition of magic. How the hell does Space X land the rocket boosters back on the ground again? Clearly,…