A snippet of April #8 in progress…Updated to be easier to read. Can’t get my Word formatting to work here.

“How can you possibly grow this to have the right texture and flavor?” April asked. She took another generous bite of tenderloin. It was red in the middle and charred on the outside, but hot all the way through. The little cup of steak sauce with it was built on a butter base with mustard, thyme, garlic, salt and a dash of Cajun seasoning, but no tomato. It was an heirloom recipe from Dr. Ames’ grandmother. No surprise anyone nicknamed Jelly would come from a family of cooks and appreciative eaters. The fact April was ignoring the sauce didn’t bother him at all. He took it as a good sign the beef stood alone just fine with only a little salt and pepper. 

“I’ll tell you if you’ll agree to strict nondisclosure,” Ames offered. “I intend to keep the process secret as long as possible. Heather is agreeable to allowing me to keep the production in physical isolation with very few people knowing the entire process. She offered to start issuing patents, but I figure the Earthies wouldn’t respect that even if she does. If you’re going to invest in it I understand why you’d need more details.” 

April chewed and swallowed. She looked at the hunk of meat in wonder, and perhaps resented a little bit needing to stop eating and speak with Jelly.

“Of course,” April agreed, readily. “I’d do that much for friendship, not just business. I think you’re right, the Chinese especially, will have factories set up cranking this stuff out in a couple months if you let it be public knowledge. And you’ll never see a plastic Yuan coin for it. I just don’t understand how you can grow this without…the cow.”

“Tissue culture is nothing new. Even growing it to a certain shape is not unheard of. We can grow some complex organs easier than bulk muscle tissue. I can grow chicken chunks, nuggets, pretty easily. People will buy those. But with beef it’s hard to market it in small pieces. They don’t sell very well, even for kabobs. The shape and texture are not what people expect,” Ames lamented.

April took the opportunity to slice off another bite while he was talking.

“There are difficulties both in getting a large mass without vascularization to oxygenate it and to provide nutrients…”

“Where do you get the nutrients?” April asked around a full mouth.

“The first experiments used Bovine blood fractions, the same as a cow. Obviously that’s not cost effective,” Ames said, “even on Earth. But you can create bacteria to produce the proper nutrients by altering them genetically. So far we haven’t been able to get everything we need from less than five separate cultures.

“You process them, add electrolytes, add a few extracts we obtain from food plants, and introduce it as a nutrient bath. The culture is started on a platinum plate and grows from it along a grid of very thin tubes with microscopic orifices which release the nutrients. It’s also done at higher than normal pressure, and with additives in the mix which have no function but to increase its oxygen carrying capacity.”

“But doesn’t it have a bunch of holes through it then?” April asked, making a repeated gesture with her straight fingers. “I don’t see a grid of holes in my steak.”

“The tubes are very thin, Think of a ultra fine hypodermic needle. One of the ways they tenderize natural beef is to stab it repeatedly with fine needles,” he said, copying her gesture. “You won’t see holes from that process either. But when the culture is mature you slide it off the grid of needles and it appears a solid mass. Then you sterilize the apparatus and start a new one. It takes about two weeks to grow a quarter kilo filet. Electro-stimulation hastens that and is a factor in giving it the proper grain.”

“Just like Gunny had ‘trodes on each one, making his fingers grow faster inside the clamshell when they grew him a new hand?” April guessed.

“Very much so, but I’d avoid bringing that up when marketing the product,” Ames suggested.

“I know people are squeamish. Don’t worry. Even if I invest, I know better than to interfere with things for which I have no talent, like selling,” April promised.

Ames nodded appreciatively. For all of his professionalism he was squeamish, but he’d rather not admit it to April. Ames let her eat. The steak was selling itself better than anything he could say.

April was chewing, but thoughtfully, looking off in the air trying to visualize something.

“Why do you have to keep starting and stopping?” she finally asked. “A batch process is always less efficient than a continuous production. Just grow the meat and trim it off. As long as you keep monitoring and your nutrient bath stays clean and doesn’t spoil it could run a long time.”

“The tissue will degrade once it grows past the ends of the needles,” Ames explained. “It needs the oxygen and nutrients continuously. Just like tissue in a cow needs constant circulation.”

“Oh…” April appraised the height of the filet on her plate. “Have the needles six or seven centimeters long. When the steak has grown out near the ends have the needles retract five centimeters and slice it off. Then push them back out to full length.”

Ames looked distressed. “You’d have to anchor the remainder of the culture to the base…or hold it in place with a sort of fork temporarily, while the needles come back out. I can think of several ways to do that, actually. What made you think of that?” he asked, a little irritated.

April borrowed a phrase from her good friend Barak. “I’m not sure. It seemed obvious.” The look of consternation on Ames face didn’t make her enjoy the steak any less at all.

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New book up. “They Said it would be Easy”

It will take a few hours to show on Amazon everywhere. OK, live now at : http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01BCLPVSQ


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The short stories…

I went in and cleaned up both collections of short stories because I couldn’t sleep but I was too brain dead to actually write. They had a lot of formatting errors and problems from when I first started and had no idea about using styles in Word. They were horrible as far as converting to Kindle. They had tabs instead of setting indents and I didn’t know how to put blank lines in properly.
It probably wasn’t economical to do since they hardly sell, but it was bugging me. I need to do the same thing to “Paper or Plastic?” – but that will take more than one episode of insomnia.

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“They Said it would be Easy” – finished

Doing a once through read and it goes to readers – fewer this time because it got overwhelming.

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A snippet from April 7 – “They Said it would be Easy” raw as always – unedited

“Mr. Coyle, this is Hannes Lueger from Earth. He has entered a complaint before me and chooses as a foreigner to accept my decision. He accuses you of pirating his client’s software and selling it. Specifically that you have altered the name and some of the interface, but left the code almost in its entirety. Would you care to respond to his accusations?” Heather invited.
“Yeah, I’ve been doing that almost a half year,” Bruce readily admitted. “That’s why I came over from Armstrong. They’re under the USNA and have all these stupid treaties. I knew it wasn’t illegal here so I took a job to get residence, but I run my business on the side. It really doesn’t take that much time once you set it up.”
“I’m surprised you bother to retain your cafeteria job when you could live off your software, uh… ‘business’,” Heather said tactfully. “Mr. Lueger indicated it is was substantial sum of money.”
“Well yeah, I guess I could have. But the people in the cafeteria are really nice, and when I got the first transfer from my Earth bank to the System Bank I really intended to just celebrate a bit and then quit when I came back off leave,” Bruce admitted.
“But you didn’t… ” Heather surmised, still unsure where he was going.
“I would have, but I had four days off and went to Camelot. They treat you like a king if you walk in and say sell me ten Solar of chips for a starter. They comp you a room and all you want to eat and drink is on the house. It’s the most fun I’ve ever had. I had a whole mob partying with me after a couple days. But I was busted dead broke when I got back. Since I bunk in company cubic and can eat at work it was much easier to just report back to my job. In fact I don’t know what I’d have done without it.”
Hannes gave Heather a terrified, but very questioning look. “Camelot is the previous Chinese moon base. Their principle business at the moment is a very high end casino,” Heather informed him. He just planted his face in both hands with a little moan.
“So you blew how much?” Heather asked, amazed.
“Well, the first transfer was seven million something. I have to pay for stuff too you know,” Bruce told them. “They charge for server space and taking credit. The miserable EuroMarks are perishable now. They actually tick down in value, so you have to spend them or pay again to change them to something else. But somewhere along the line I got a credit card from the casino. I was drinking a bit and don’t exactly remember it all very well. But they were really nice. I remember I was actually up a few million at one point, but by the time I came home I had a couple Solar in the hole on the card.”
“They let a kitchen helper put a couple Solar on a credit card?” Heather asked.
“Hey, I’m a prep cook already. I didn’t stay a scullery hand a week. But when they asked what I do at the casino I just said I’m in software. Since I bought ten Solar of chips cash and some more later, they didn’t seem interested in the details. When I was back home and sober I had a call from them about making payments on the card, but I told them I’d be back in two weeks and win that back and a chunk more. They said that was fine and they’d reserve me a room. Are they a class act or what?” Bruce asked.
Heather was too stunned to say what…

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A short raw snippet from “They Said it would be Easy”

“Honey, there is a young fellow who insists on speaking to you. He looks military and is disgustingly earnest. I believe he is genuinely young. He doesn’t look like he’s regressed in life extension. He acts young,” Ben said like it was an indictment. “Do you want to get rid of him, or should I call Security and tell Jon he’s stalking you and we want him gone the safe and gentle way, before I take matters into my own hands?”
Martha came and leaned over Ben’s shoulder.
“Lieutenant I’m not involved in politics now. I don’t want to be involved in politics again. It took months to get the smell off when I abandoned that profession before. Who do you represent, and what sort of trouble are they fomenting?”
“I’m Aaron Janowicz, Ma’am. I did not identify myself as a lieutenant,” he said blushing.
“Well excuse me if you made Captain and I guessed wrong, but Captains don’t usually get thrust out on the sharp and pointy end of things,” Martha said.
Aaron opened his mouth like he was going to reply and then changed his mind and began again.
“Madame President, I’d rather not discuss this on com. Can’t you spare a moment and speak with me face to face in a more secure environment?” he pleaded.
“How do I know you’re not just an assassin, here to finish me off?” Martha asked.
“Would an assassin simply call and ask for an appointment?” Aaron asked with an unbelieving look.
“It sounds very efficient,” Ben said, eyes lighting up. “That’s going in my next book. I have this character I’ve been wanting to kill off, he’s such a creep, but I hadn’t figured out how to do it. The look on his face when he realizes he delivered himself up on a platter for the slaughter will be priceless,” Ben had a manic snarl anticipating it already.
“Uh, that’s just in fiction,” he added when he saw Aaron’s horrified reaction. “This time.”
“Pay no mind,” Martha said. “You get used to the evil cackling as he types. Look, we’re not going to invite you to our home. We’re going to dinner in a bit at a place called the Quiet Retreat. If I leave word with the maître d’ that you are our guest at the club, will you sit and have a civilized interview in a public place, and leave when I tell you I’ve heard enough and not make a fuss?”
“We won’t have eavesdroppers there?” Aaron asked.
“Not political ones. We may have social media stringers take our pix, but they have never posted audio. They simply aren’t interested in ancient politics,” Wiggen assured him, “and it’s the best deal you are going to get.” When he hesitated Martha added. “And I promise I won’t let my husband test his plot device on you.”
“Thank you, Ma’am. I’ll be there,” he agreed reluctantly.

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Snippet of Family Law 4 – rough and unedited as always

“Message coming in for Talker,” Jon Burris said. “Big message coming in,” Jon said, amazed.
“They couldn’t wait until we were close enough to speak around the speed of light lag,” Talker said, with a resigned sigh. “Go ahead and put it on an open channel and a real time translation. It’s going to be a hundred thousand words that say – We will take over now. You are being replaced.” Talker predicted.
“You want to move up to a console with a screen to read it?” Gordon offered.
“No, I’m not hiding anything from you or your crew. Unofficially, you are going to be my allies against the bureaucracy,” Talker told them. “I am certain they will try to undo everything that doesn’t have their imprimatur on it. I’ll try to be as polite as possible, but I need you to appear ready to abandon the entire enterprise if they don’t keep prior agreements. If they try to say I had no authority I suggest you appear incredulous. Ask them how I could muster ships and resources to come with you if I had no authority. Stand firm that if they don’t keep agreements, then you have no confidence any pacts they make can’t be swept away by somebody else just as easily.”
“I don’t have to play act,” Gordon told him. “That’s a pretty fair assessment of my feeling.”
Talker, rapidly skimming the message, informed them. “I should tell you that so far the message is just a detailed accounting of who they sent, and exactly what their authority is. When that section ends I’ll put a page break and a yellow highlight bar across it from my personal pad. They have sixteen officials on board with sufficient power to get their names on the list. It’s interesting the order in which they appear, each with their own header before their name and credentials.”
“Yep, dominance games,” Thor said. “All our politicians do that in some form or another.”
“Indeed,” Ha-bob-bob-brie agreed, “among the Hinth the last listed would be said to have the fewest tail feathers from their struggles for position. The big boys will have pulled them all out.”
“Ah, here we are. Twenty three pages in, they finish telling us how important they are, and get around to telling you I didn’t have any authority to make treaties and agreements with you.”
“You are The Voice of Far Away are you not?” Thor asked Talker, gruffly.
“I am, and besides being the executive I speak for the judiciary both high and local, if they have a case important enough to demand a reading from the executive. I am authorized to speak for the species to all the other races in residence and visiting ships and merchants. I suppose they didn’t foresee the possibility an entirely new set of aliens would appear and I’d have opportunity to speak for more than Far Away. But my charter and office in no way preclude doing so.”
“They’re slow to learn then,” Gordon accused them. “The arrival of the Biters and the troubles they’ve brought you were plenty of notice that such things happen.”
“True, although nobody has had much success talking to them,” Talker admitted.
“Explain something for me if you would,” Thor requested. “I’m not trying to be argumentative. But I’m curious. Why does the court ask you to do a public reading or a face to face with somebody impacted by their decision, but not others?”
“As Commander Gordon has mentioned, government is force,” Talker said. “It should be applied with some delicacy. Why don’t you beat your children with a club when they fail to have perfect table manners? Things should be… proportional. If a worker creates a fuss by being drunk in public or puts his ground car in a ditch, a judge will fine him, or perhaps even just issue a public reproof. One does not expect defiance at that level from our people. But if someone causes bodily harm to others or steals from others with a criminal scheme – well that is at a much higher level. The judge will ask me to read their decision so the miscreant knows the court is willing to have me as executive enforce their judgment. They are put on immediate notice that I can send officers to arrest the person or seize their goods.”
“Wouldn’t the judge do that if the fine was ignored for a lesser offense?” Ha-bob-bob-brie asked.
“Yes, but then it isn’t for the original offense,” Talker said.
“I don’t understand,” Ha-bob-bob-brie said, puzzled.
“I do,” Jon Burris spoke up. “In human courts if you ignore a minor judgment they call it contempt of court. Ignoring the authority of the court and defying their decision is much more serious than the original infraction.”
“Exactly,” Talker agreed. “I was short of words to describe it. I believe I’ll try to have that language added to our statutes when we have an executive convention. It translates very well.”
“Nothing about that diminishes my view of your authority,” Gordon said. “These fellows are going to get a pretty thorough grilling from me if they try to dismiss your authority and recommend their own as superior. I’ve had to make decisions out on the pointy end of things plenty of times myself. When all the dust is settled, and the issues are safely decided, you don’t need a bunch of desk pilots second guessing you,” he growled.
Talker was trying to cover his mirth with both hands, but couldn’t. “Another graphic expression I’ll borrow,” he promised. “It transliterates beautifully, but better if you introduce them to it than me.”
“Desk pilots?” Gordon asked, to be sure.
Talker could only nod yes, still giggling.
“Give me a picture of a Badger desk and I’ll have somebody sketch it with oversized thrust nozzles and a wind canopy,” Gordon offered.
That didn’t help Talker stop laughing at all.

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Well crud…

I had a spaceship clone itself. I left Murphy’s Law at Fargone and then started writing about it again… Will fix it.

Far Away! And that’s how easy it is to mess it up.


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Snippet from “They Said it would be Easy.

Rough, unedited as usual.

“I have reports from several of Chen’s operatives about why Earthies are ordering things from Home companies they should be able to make,” Jeff said on com. He had the oddest look on his face.
“I’ll read them in detail,” April promised. “But if you want to give me a quick summary? You usually describe things even more succinctly than Chen.”
“Chen says you get insights from things that don’t impress him at all. So he is reluctant to withhold data. Red tape is the basic answer,” Jeff said. “They’ve had a massive epidemic, with millions dead. Since it was very rough on older people it stripped all sorts of shops and industries of the most experienced workers. There has been physical damage where we bombarded specialty shops that made aerospace components. But nobody will soften any of the laws and rules that impede construction. The USNA also embargoed quite a few things we make right after the war, but that was mostly drugs and electronics. Nobody has shown any interest in expanding or dropping the list. ”
April frowned. “They haven’t been able to rebuild in this much time?”
“I’ll give you an example. Back in the war we destroyed the Michelin specialty shop making tires for shuttles in North Carolina. There is production in Europe and Asia, but not the right types.
“Chen’s guys talked to half a dozen people either living nearby or who have worked on the site. Half the building was gone because it burned, and half was a shell. They had some foundation left, but they couldn’t use it. The plumbing no longer met code and all the areas with pipes under the floor had to be broken up and start over. They went ahead and tore the whole thing up including the machine bases.
“There was a delay because an environmental study had to establish that there were no heavy metal or organic contamination issues in the soil. A water table survey had to be done even though they didn’t plan on having a well. There aren’t a lot of labs and environmental survey companies running to do these things now. Building declined and a lot of them closed up shop.
“An impact statement on endangered plants and animals couldn’t be done because the state office was abandoned when they didn’t get paid after the coup, and nobody knows where the workers went. There were some big issues with a lot of permit issuing agencies like that, because of disruption between factions of the government from the war and then the coup. Some were taken care of, some cut off as likely disloyal, depending on their known politics.
“They also had to do a traffic study and community impact statement, but the guy doing that for the county died and they didn’t rehire because there wasn’t really much building or traffic now. They had a hard time hiring because anybody taking the job knew they’d just be fired as soon as it was done. They man who finally did take it dragged it out for six months to keep getting paid.
“The town opposed rebuilding, because their zoning classification changed after the first plant was built, taking it from light industrial to heavy industrial. That also meant they had to put in a rain water run-off retaining pond, and there wasn’t room on the property. They had to buy the plant next door and tear it down to get the retaining pond in and to increase parking and provide mandatory electric car charging stations for employees. Assuming anybody in rural north Carolina had a functioning electric car by then with periodic power outages. The batteries only lasted so long and then they brick themselves if they don’t get recharged for a few weeks. But that meant the power had to be not only restored to the site, but upgraded by the local utility.
“By the time they could pour a new foundation there was a concrete shortage. Also they could not prove they were paying prevailing union wages or better because the agency collecting data on that was not functioning and there was no established current year prevailing wage. The agency’s computer system was unusable and they bought a new one and the software from the old one couldn’t run on it. When they had a new suite of software written it simply didn’t work. That caused delays.
“There were more delays for things like the plumbing. They had pipe, but the site sat with no work done for a week because nobody had sufficient pipe solvent to bond the joints from supply disruptions. And they couldn’t pour concrete until the pipe was down. They had similar problems with the electrical. They were short some items that had to be under the slab. Also, running the conduit, the fire marshal and the electrical inspector got in a war over who passed on the in-slab wiring for the fire alarm system. Both kept visiting the site and slapping NO-PASS and cease and desist orders on top of the other guy’s PASS tickets on the site permit board.
“They shut down one day because an inspector found an older uncertified hard hat being used at the site and they all had to be inventoried and recertified. Some of them had the compliance label rubbed illegible or removed and they needed to bring in more from a city hours away.
“Neither could they affirm the people they wanted to hire were within the diversity ratios allowed on a Federal project. You bombarded the snot out of all the Federal data centers during the war,” Jeff reminded April. “Even the ones buried really deep. Birth records and citizenship documents were lacking, and just because they had old bills and driver’s licenses, that wasn’t sufficient documentation. They can’t, well won’t, take their word what their ancestry is because people lie to get in the minority classifications. Especially, people from Mexico lacked a lot of records when they were first brought into the USNA. Tons of them had no birth certificate. And it turns out a lot of tire building people are Mexican because all the production was sent down there even before Mexico was annexed. They mostly went home in the chaos after the coup, and none of them would come back because as hourly workers they wouldn’t be paid until they had a functional shop with special machines and the exotic materials needed to make shuttle tires up and running.
“Electric power to the work site was disrupted, and they couldn’t get permits from the EPA to run an onsite diesel generator, and the Governor wouldn’t loan a military unit. When they finally got a gas turbine permit the city and county would only let it be run from nine in the morning to five in the afternoon for noise abatement, and no Sunday work. The site had to have ditching and special barriers inside the fence to prevent rain run-off, and there was a dispute what area it had to enclose. Basically the water authority wanted the barrier where the chain link fence was already installed.
“Then there was a dispute and site strike because the Iron Workers and the Cement and Concrete workers couldn’t agree on work rules for anchoring the frame to go up. A bunch of anchors got ripped out and both sides blamed the other. The site guards said everybody who went on site had the proper identification cards, and it wasn’t their business what they did onsite. They just maintained a perimeter.
“I could go on, but you get the idea. And that’s just what we got told easily, not the full horror story.
“The special machines to build the tires and the molds to cap them are all built in Mexico. They’re somewhat more forceful about making a project go forward there. They haven’t absorbed the full bureaucratic culture yet. You can still get things done under their old system, if you have enough cash to grease the ways. It isn’t practical to bring them across country right now so they’ll come by sea. But they’re holding them until the facility has walls and a roof.
“The tires they want to build are defined in exacting specifications, all the materials are called out, and the glassy aluminum steel wire isn’t being made at ISSII anymore. There’s better available actually, but it doesn’t meet the old spec. They are making as much of the new product as they can, running 24/7 for European shuttle tires, and don’t want to shut down and change dies and purge melt furnaces to make one run of obsolete wire, but nobody will change the spec to European standards, because – not ours.”
“I take it back. If that’s the overview I’m not sure I want to read the blow by blow,” April said.
“It’s amazing and educational,” Jeff allowed, “but you might ration it out little at a time and not try to absorb the whole thing at one sitting. And this is just one specialty shop.
“What I concluded is that when you have a very complex system that has slowly grown over a long period of time, then get hit with a major disruption, is almost impossible to survive, and try to assemble the full complex system again. Especially when a lot of the details of its operation serve no useful purpose. It can carry all those burdens added on one by one. But if you drop that ugly beast to its knees you’ll never get it standing again, much less walking with the full load still on it.”
“What will they do? Give up on it?” April asked.
“I think it has to get worse before it can get better,” Jeff said. “Bad enough to force them to strip some of the stupid from the process. As a friend has told me a number of times, ‘Not my circus, not my monkeys.’ We can’t force help on them they don’t want. And we sure can’t produce enough of anything in any reasonable time frame to be of much use to them either.”
“We absolutely must never let our system get so complicated it’s that fragile,” April vowed.
“Amen. I totally agree,” Jeff told her.

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“Secrets in the Stars” is active on Amazon

Just checked this morning. It was uploaded last night but it takes awhile to propagate through their system. – Mac’


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