Douglas L Perry, The Author blog

January 28, 2009

My Friend, the Murderess

Filed under: Stories,Thoughts — douglaslperry @ 8:11 pm
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I’ve written about this topic once before here, but as I was leaving the Livermore gym today, I found out something very intriguing. 

I saw a familiar face, one that I used to see at the San Ramon gym, where I used to work out with the murderess. At the other gym he and I chatted once in a while, but it was just smalltalk. We talked about weights, we talked about other gym rats, we talked sports. 

Today I asked him about her, the murderess. I asked if he knew the story, if he had ever run into her at the gym. He smiled politely, but I could see there was something else. He quickly informed me that the victim was his best friend. 

After I peeled myself off the floor and was able to make lucid sentences once again, I asked him what he knew. As it turns out, he knew everything. He knew about the scams, he knew about the alleged abuse, he knew about the victim’s family, and he was willing to share it all with me. He had actually been interviewed a number of times by the local newspapers to provide background information for their articles. 

It got me thinking once again about whether or not I should write the story. I think this could be a once in a lifetime opportunity. I know the murderer and the victim on some level. I now have access to the victim’s best friend. I think that a lot of people would find the details of the story very interesting.

There are a couple of reasons that I’m not sure if I will write it. First, I don’t know if I could do it justice. I’ve never written anything like it, and I’m sure it would take a lot of time to do a good job. Second, it’s not really my genre. I don’t think it would pigeon-hole me, but it could happen.

I’m going to give it some thought and I’ll post up my decision at a later time. Meanwhile be sure to check out my latest book. Click on it to take you to the Amazon page.

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January 25, 2009

Lost in the Sky is now available

Filed under: Books — douglaslperry @ 6:53 pm
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After four years, multiple revisions, editing, and just the right amount of cajoling, it is finally available.

new-cover-2

Get your copy today

here

The only problem is that the Amazon description is an old version that really needs updating. Here is what it should be.

Larry Evans stared wide-eyed at the GPS display. It couldn’t be true. He had to be seeing things. But there it was in bright colors on his laptop screen.

About an hour ago he had boarded a routine flight from Los Angeles to Denver. Just for fun he had consulted his GPS to calculate what time they would arrive. The position shown on the GPS shouted an ominous warning. Not only was the plane off course, but they were flying the wrong direction. They should be nearing Denver ready to land. Instead, they were 1000 miles West of Los Angeles heading for an unknown destination, somewhere over the Pacific Ocean.

Something deep in Larry’s gut tightened like a guitar string, and only he knew the truth. If they stayed on this path, it wouldn’t be long before the plane ran out of fuel, and crashed into the sea. The passengers on this plane had one chance. It was up to Larry to get into the cockpit and turn them around or die trying.

I really want to thank all those that made it possible, my wife, my son, Christine Taylor for the nice cover, and all the nice folks at BookSurge.

Of course, now it’s on to the next one.

January 24, 2009

The Amazing Captain Sully

Filed under: Books,Thoughts — douglaslperry @ 10:22 pm
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Captain Sully is an amazing pilot. It sounds so trivial in simple words like that, but what he did was nothing short of a death defying stunt greater than anything you ‘d see at the circus. 

Flying an airliner is not hard. Lots of people do it everyday and do it well. It does require skills that most people do not inately posess, but they can learn it. How well they execute those skills and how safe of a pilot they become is a different issue. And that’s where Sully excelled. His judgement in the face of an impossible situation was exactly what was needed to save the lives of all the passengers. 

I am not an expert in flying the heavies, as large airliners are called, I am a small plane pilot. But a lot of the same principles that we are taught in the small ones directly transfers to the larger ones. It’s just that the consequences of pilot action or inaction are magnified a hundred fold. 

For instance stalling speed. This is the minimum speed that the plane must travel through the air to keep the plane flying. Travel below this and the wings no longer develop lift, and the airplane drops from the sky, just like in the movies. 

Let’s talk landing speed. This is the speed that the plane touches down on the runway. In the case of landing at an airport, the usual rule of thumb is that you maintain a cushion of about 30 percent over the stalling speed. However a water landing is something quite different. The landing speed in water has to be as slow as physically possible. 

Airplane hulls are not meant to withstand the stresses of traveling through water, that’s what boat hulls are for. If you compare the strength and thickness of a boat hull you will find that they are incredibly strong. Boat hulls are inches thick and meant to withstand the stresses that moving through water entails. Airplane skins on the other hand are thinner than most of the coins in your pocket. 

That means that if you are going to use them to travel through water, you have to do it very carefully. You have to put as little stress as possible on the hull. Otherwise you will tear it apart. A hole in the skin would cause so much drag that the plane would literally be ripped into pieces. 

So as long as you keep your speed up and land as slow as possible, life is good, right? Not so fast. 

Sully also had to worry about one other factor. A plane that large has a tremendous amount of momentum and takes a long time to stop. That means a huge runway, or in his case, a long stretch of water.

Sully had to balance all three of these conflicting goals and what a job he did. He had to make sure he flew fast enough that the plane didn’t stall. He had to fly slow enough to touchdown in the water and not rip the plane apart. He had to pick the perfect place to land in the water so that he had enough space to be able to stop. The closest analogy I can come up with is riding a unicycle on a tightwire with the wind blowing you sideways. Given enough time to practice it can be done, but Sully did it the first time. 

You see a double engine out landing is not something that pilots get to practice. It’s just too dangerous. 

One of the reasons that I wanted to discuss this is that one of the possible scenarios in my upcoming book (this week I hope), is that a pilot is worried about crashing into the sea. It’s one of the elements used to build tension. However the scenario in my book is quite different from what Sully did, it’s much worse. 

You see my pilot is not up front at the controls, he is a passenger. The airplane is flying on autopilot, and they are out over the middle of the Pacific Ocean. So there is no Sully at the controls to make the miracle landing. My pilot has to figure it how to get into the cockpit and decide how to solve the problem himself.

Don’t think about that the next time you fly. It is the safest way to travel.

January 22, 2009

Lost in the Sky Status Update

Filed under: Books — douglaslperry @ 7:48 pm
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I approved the final book proof yesterday. There are still a few little nits I have with the text, but I didn’t feel they were large enough to go through the entire process once again. I am also aiming to have books before a local trade show which a lot of my nonfiction readers will attend. I am hoping that I can get a chance to make an announcement at the show. It would be great if I could setup a table to sign books, but I think that may be pushing my luck. I will certainly ask, there’s no harm in that, but I suspect they will require me to buy space on their floor. 

I am also going to enter the book in a number of contests, but I think I will pick and choose. The entry fees, while not overly expensive, are not cheap either. 

I think my initial sales are going to come from Interweb contacts, social networking, friends, and the efforts to get into aviation bookstores. 

Wish me luck.

January 18, 2009

The Road Less Traveled

Filed under: Stories — douglaslperry @ 5:16 pm
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I got a view of Las Vegas that the average traveler doesn’t get. My sister-in-law works for a construction firm building a new timeshare next to Planet Hollywood and I got to take the manlift to the top. It’s not for the faint of heart, it’s 51 stories up in a metal box attached to the side of the building with a few bolts. The flimsy looking metal cable that pulls the car to the top looks like it wouldn’t hold a bicycle let alone a car full of people. Next to us men packed the entire car full of rolls of carpet. The word that came to mind wasn’t brave, but crazy. However this system is in use all over the city and has been for a long time without incident. 

Here is the building from a helicopter point of view. 

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Next to the large crane are lifts that whisk you to the top. I say whisk, because they actually did go pretty darn quickly. This is what it looked like at the bottom of the lift. 

Looking up from the bottom of the lift

 

Once on top the views were incredible. You could see the entire cityscape. This is what it looked like in the direction of MGM, and the Excalibur.

MGM, Excalibur, Luxor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is a view of Planet Hollywood, Bellagio, and the mountains in the distance. 

Planet Hollywood, Paris, Bellagio

Remember how tall those cranes look from the ground. Here’s our view. 

Close view of a building crane

Here’s one more shot with a view towards the airport and you can see the Luxor to the right. 

Another view toward MGM, airport to the left

It was a view that the normal visitor to Vegas would never see and I didn’t want to go down. But the operator was about to go home for the day, so if we didn’t leave now, we would have to walk down 51 flights of stairs. Not that I couldn’t but…. we’ll take the lift down, thanks.

Lift Operator and my wife

Lift Operator and my wife

January 14, 2009

Great Expectations

Filed under: Stories,Thoughts — douglaslperry @ 9:09 pm
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Do you ever notice how much your expectations of an experience can change the end result? 

This happens to me with movies all the time. I see very funny scenes in the trailer on TV and think the whole movie is going to be as funny as those scenes. That almost never happens and I am left with the feeling that I was subject to a bait and switch scam. It’s really bad when the trailer contains the only funny scenes of the movie. 

The same happens to me with books. One example was The DaVinci Code. I had no expectations about the author’s writing ability. I found it OK, but not good. However, based on the sales numbers and the hype, I had expectations of a great story. I was disappointed. 

The point is, that if I didn’t have high expectations going in, I suspect both of these experiences would have been better. Such was the case in going to the dentist a couple of days ago. 

I had a temporary crown put on before the holidays because I had broken a tooth. My parents didn’t have a lot of money when I was growing up, so it wasn’t like I would see the dentist very often. Mostly I went to fill a cavity caused from lack of proper care. One of these filling couldn’t stand the stress anymore and finally broke. 

My expectation going in was that the dentist would pop off the crown, apply a little glue, put on the new one, and I’d be on my way. I was all set to go watch some football in half an hour or so. 

I got as comfortable as one can be, sitting in a dental chair, and waited for the dentist to get to work. He grabbed a set of stainless steel pliers with long sharp looking points on them and told me to “open wide”. Though I couldn’t see the smile under his mask, his eyes twinkled through the magnification lenses he had attached to his glasses. 

He grabbed my molar and pulled. Nothing happened. He twisted the pliers a little and tried again. The crown didn’t move. The only thing that did move was the tooth wiggled slightly in my jaw, emitting a slight pain. The dentist’s brow furrowed. He removed the pliers and tried again, this time a little harder. My eyes teared slightly as the pain was even sharper this time. He put down the pliers and stared at me. I just lay there with my mouth open, and a bright light searing into my eyes. 

He told me to relax and left the room. A few minutes later he returned with news. Seems that the intern had used Duralon glue to put my temporary crown on, so that it would not come off during the holidays while they were on vacation. He wasn’t going to be able to pull the crown off, he was going to have to drill it off. The good news was that he didn’t have to use Novocain to numb me. That was good news? Sure didn’t sound like it to me. 

He attached a grinding bit to his dental drill that was bigger than any one I had ever seen. It probably doubled as a tool that a mechanic might use to remove parts of an exhaust system on a car. Instead of a high pitched whine of a typical drill, this made a low growling sound and I could feel my head vibrate from the impact of the sharp little teeth of the bit. In the glare of the light I could now see tiny bits of something shooting up from my tooth, then arcing off in different directions they lost their  momentum. I guessed those were small bits of tooth.

About the same time I saw what at first looked like mist, but my nostrils soon confirmed as smoke, wafting out of my mouth. Was he burning my tooth out? 

Now it was time for the second act. The dental assistant grabbed a small hose like object in one hand, and shoved it into the back of my mouth until I thought I was going to choke. Sharp edges of plastic dug into my cheeks and I was sure I would be tasting blood any minute. In her other hand was the drowning tool. When she pushed the button it would squirt out a river of water that I assumed would almost instantly fill your lungs with fluid so they could cash in your insurance policy. I mean, what other reason did they have in trying to drown you? 

He would drill for what seemed like five minutes, stop, grab a crowbar, OK a dental pick thingy, and break off a piece of tooth. I could hear the snap as it broke and a number of times, a piece flew out of my mouth onto the paper towel I wore around my neck. They felt huge in my mouth, but when I picked one up it was a mere flake. 

After 20 minutes of drilling and picking, I felt like a human mineshaft. I was ready to get out of the chair. But that’s just when the fun really began. Now when he would drill, pain would radiate out from the tooth. He was getting close to the bottom, but so was I. 

After 45 minutes, which I originally expected to be just a few seconds, he was finally ready to attach the new crown. But wait, there was one more shot of pain delivery needed first. He packed cotton swabs around the tooth to keep it dry while the glue was brushed on. Before putting on the glue, the tooth needed to have the moisture removed. That involved grabbing another metal tool and pressing a button that would imbue the tooth with the proper amount of pain. This was done by shooting icy cold air onto the nerve. After I peeled my cramping fingers from the chair’s armrest, it seemed the crown was finally ready to go on. 

Bite on this, hold it… hold it…. hold it…. OK, you’re done. That’s what I had expected. That’s what I had in my mind when I walked into the office. 

So next time you have a really bad experience, ask yourself. Were your ingoing expectations were set too high? Yes, then it probably wasn’t as bad as you thought it was. No, OK maybe you were right.

January 12, 2009

The Best Laid Plans of Motorcycles and Men

Filed under: Stories — douglaslperry @ 8:06 pm
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Beautiful Day to Ride

Beautiful Day to Ride

Yesterday I took a very long ride on the motorcycle. We hadn’t really planned taking that long of a trip, but Mr. Murphy came a knocking and the rest follows. 

 

The plan was to gather at a local Starbucks, mount up, and head for places far away. That usually means the nearest twisty road, but in this case, it was a little further away. 

We picked this weekend because the weather was to be perfect, and it didn’t disappoint. While it started in the high 30’s, it soon warmed to a comfortable enough temperature that multiple layers were not necessary. 

I arrived at the Starbucks, dismounted, and started to remove my helmet. My left custom ear plug was no longer in my ear. I paid 50 bucks to get custom molded plugs that fit all the way into my ear, because the little foam ones are so hard to insert. I knew it hadn’t fallen out while riding because there’s no room. I pulled the helmet further up over my head, and boing, the rubber earplug went sailing to the left as it was pinched between the helmet and my head. It hit the ground and bounced under the very center of a BMW 740 parked next to me. Crap….

I peered under the car to see if I could reach it, but with all the gear I was wearing I could barely put my arms over my head, let alone stretch the three feet necessary to retrieve it. I also wondered what the owner might think to see a guy dressed in black leather crawling under his nice BMW. 

When my buddy showed up we solved that problem with a stick  and then we confronted the next. A young man in a leather jacket approached me and asked if I was leading the ride today. Why as a matter of fact, yes. Well as it turns out he had contacted my buddy to see if he could come along. OK, as long as my buddy says so, it must be OK, right? Wrong..

After a few minutes of conversation I figured out that he was a newbie rider, and just got a bike one month back. That was going to be a problem on this ride. We were going on a fairly technical route, and since we are very good riders, we were going at a swift pace. This kid wasn’t going to be able to keep up. 

I told him that we would be going faster than he would want to ride. He smiled. I told him that he needed to ride his own pace. He nodded. I told him not to put extra pressure on himself to keep up or he’d likely crash. He said he wouldn’t. I told him we’d make sure and wait at intersections for him so that he wouldn’t get lost. He said that wouldn’t be necessary. OK, then, let’s go. 

We set off through city streets and he seemed to be fine. He kept up as we traversed the traffic, and stopped at the lights. We finally reached the small country road leading out of town and wicked it up a notch. To no one’s surprise, as I checked in my mirror, his headlight was becoming a spot in the distance. Good, ride your own pace. Be safe. Soon I couldn’t see his headlight except in long straightaways.

It had only been five minutes, but he was at least half a mile back. There were sections in the road that hadn’t yet been hit by sunlight, so the road still had a light covering of morning dew. I decided to slow down a little because first the front, then the rear, slid ever slightly on the pavement, throwing me towards the oncoming lane. As an experience rider this didn’t bother me, except to get the adrenaline pumping a little faster. 

We reached the first turn and slowed to a stop. For about fifteen seconds I kept the motor running, expecting to see him round the turn. But he didn’t. Soon the fifteen seconds turned into thirty. My buddy and I stopped our engines, shucked off our helmets and listened. Nothing. The realization crept in like a dark shadow. He must be down. 

We remounted, and turned back. I hadn’t gone more than three corners when there he was standing by the side of the road both arms held high, waving at me. The good news was that he looked unhurt. A sickening feeling hit me in the gut, as I went a little further, and saw the bike laying on its side, on the downhill slope of an embankment. 

img_0114We quickly stopped, asked if he was hurt, and were relieved to find, he didn’t have a scratch. The bike wasn’t as lucky, but the damage was purely cosmetic, and minor. It turns out that the only thing that had suffered any real damage, was his pride. 

We struggled to get the bike back on the road, but it was too heavy, and the soil too loose. A few minutes later a couple more riders stopped to help. After some tugging, grunting, swearing, and pulling, we got the bike back on the road and it started just fine. He begged to go on the rest of the ride, but we gave him the phone number of an advanced riding school and sent him on his way. 

When you see the enthusiasm in a new rider’s face it’s hard to turn them away, but we probably should have. Next time we will.

January 10, 2009

Seven Degrees of Separation

Filed under: Thoughts — douglaslperry @ 5:13 am
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I have to admit this post was inspired by Twitter friend and awesome blogger Alex Moore. After reading her blog (http://alex-moore.blogspot.com) I felt like I needed to follow her lead. Some details about me are freely available on my website, blog, the internet in general, but a number of details are not. So here are seven things about me that you didn’t know. 

1. I am the oldest of 12 kids. No we are not Mormon or Catholic, South Dakota winters are just very cold (heh). Nine of the siblings are blood relatives and the last three were adopted. Why would a mother with 9 kids want to adopt? A post for another day. 

2. My parents eloped when they were 17 and 18. My mother lost her parents at a young age, and my grandfather didn’t like her, so the only thing for them to do was elope.

3. I never went to Kindergarten. The little town I grew up in, didn’t have one. My first classes were first grade and were held in a classroom that held grades 1-4. I would finish my homework so fast that I listened in to the second and third grade lessons.

4. I have too many hobbies. I ride motorcycles, fly airplanes, water ski, snow ski, work on my own cars, build computers, work on houses, and a million other things. I think my garage has just about as many tools as Sears. My wife calls me the ultimate handyman because if I can’t fix it, it’s time to buy a new one.

5. I have published 5 books. This you can easily find on the internet, but people still don’t connect my blog, and the fiction works that I am working on right now with my nonfiction books. Mainly because they are textbooks used in the electronic industry. I have a group of seven software engineers that I manage day to day, who write tools to build electronic chips. 

6. I love to read technical thrillers. Back in the day, I read everything that Tom Clancy wrote. As I have started writing my tastes have migrated more to mysteries, and thrillers by authors like Joseph Finder, Michael Connelly, and Richard Morgan. My all time favorite author is Michael Crichton and I hope that my work in some way follows what he has done. 

7. I am a gym rat. I go to the gym 5 times a week. I follow the workout program from Bill Philips who wrote the book Body for Life and have been doing so for 15 years. Monday, Wed, Fri, I lift weights. Tuesday, Thur, I ride a stationary bicycle. One week I will do upper body on Mon, Fri, and lower body on Wed. The next week I will do the opposite. I am very muscular for my age, but I don’t have the sixpack abs that Alex Moore covets. It’s probably more like a 12 pack.

That’s it for me. Here’s my list of seven excellent writers and cool people that you should check out. 

  1. Christine Taylor (www.mousewords.net)  – she’s a writer and artist. She did the cover art for my book and did a great job.
  2. Cassie Hart (http://jchart.wordpress.com) – writer
  3. Cathy Scott (www.cathyscott.com) – true crime author
  4. Karen Andersen (http://writerway.blogspot.com) – author and blogger
  5. Miragi (http://stitchwitch.today.com) – writer
  6. Jim Connolly (http://jimsmarketingblog.com) – SEO specialist and all around interesting guy
  7. Wil Wheaton (http://wilwheaton.typepad.com) – yes, that Wil Wheaton, you know Wesley Crusher on Star Trek The Next Generation. I actually got to meet him at Supercon in San Jose this year. He was actually jealous of me for being even geekier than him. 

January 8, 2009

Update on Book

Filed under: Books — douglaslperry @ 11:26 pm

new-cover-3 It’s almost here. It’s so close I can almost taste it. I read through the PDF files yesterday and all errors have been fixed. I will receive a new physical copy within 10 days. Once I bless it, it will be up on Amazon within a week. So, it’s still a few weeks away, but at least I can count the weeks on one hand now. 

I’ll post the Amazon link up when it’s available. I am going to try and see if I can setup a discount program for my twitter followers. So if you are not following me on twitter yet, I am twitter.com/thenextwriter. I will tweet the discount code if possible.

January 7, 2009

Update on Dave

Filed under: Stories — douglaslperry @ 1:33 am
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Based on some of the comments I received on my last post about the Nightmare First Date, I thought I would pass along an update. 

I remembered the story about Dave (again, not his real name) when he recently asked to be my friend on a social networking site. I accepted him as a friend and after reading about him I am glad to tell you that Dave eventually learned how to play the dating game. It is a game isn’t it ladies? 

He has a steady job, found the love of his life, got married, and has a couple of children that are doing well in school. 

I love it when the story has a happy ending….

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