I Saw The Light

One of my greatest failures in life turned out to be one of my greatest achievements.

It was during my first semester in college, pursuing my love for the ocean and my goal of becoming a Marine Biologist, that I signed up for a course called Ecology. I thought it would be a breeze compared to my other courses; after all, it was just about littering and such, Right? However, on the first day of class, the professor set a high bar by challenging us to pick any living thing and write about its most limiting factor. With that, she left the room, and the class was over before I knew it – an easy course, or so I thought, giving me enough time to hit the surf before my next class.

Back in those days, there was no Internet, and it wouldn’t arrive for another decade and a half. So, I headed to the University Library, where I could do some research. My fascination with seaweed led me to read countless abstracts and books on Phycology – the study of seaweed. One day, I stumbled across a 1976 abstract by Robert Black, titled “The Effects of Grazing by the Limpet Acmaea Insessa on the Kelp Egrecia Laevigata in the Intertidal Zone.” This was it – bingo. I delved deeper into the geology of the substrate where Egrecia grew, and I read abstracts on water chemistry, kelp’s holdfast mechanisms, the average wave surge on the kelp canopy, the current patterns off the Monterey Peninsula, the grazing habits of the limpet, as well as the rate of growth of the giant kelp and its Achilles heel – its holdfast.

I typed up a ten-page abstract using an IBM Selectric and even had to buy my own ink ribbon. At the end of my research, it was clear to me that the major limiting factor of Egrecia laevigata was the Limpet, Acmaea insessa.

Excitedly, I handed in my work, feeling like Ralphie in “A Christmas Story,” trying to hold back a grin that was worthy of receiving a Nobel Prize.

However, the next class, I received my paper back with an “F” grade and a single word circled in red (Light). It was a blow that felt like it could be heard around the world.

I failed Ecology that semester, but with a smile because it opened a receptor in my brain not used before.

I was determined to retake that course, but unfortunately, the same professor wasn’t teaching it for another year, so I had to wait. Finally, the next year, when she saw me sitting in the front row, she nodded at me with a look that suggested I might be a glutton for punishment. But I was a new person, and I aced the course. I owe much to her for making me pause and think before reaching a conclusion. During that year, I developed a new approach, which I dubbed the Necker Cube Approach – that every problem has at least two correct resolutions, one being more correct than the other based on the objectives surrounding it.

Years later, I had the opportunity to attend a lecture by M. Rubenstein titled “The Minding Company,” based on his observations and philosophy that design should be looked at from the end to the beginning. It is the way Apple designs its products as opposed to the way Microsoft does. What hit me was that it was, in a way, the Necker Cube approach.

Since then, I have been applying the Necker Cube approach throughout my career. Sadly, I left the field I loved (Marine Biology) for a much more lucrative one in Computer Science, but witnessed the birth of personal computing and the rise of the internet and beyond.

Despite my career path change, all is not lost., for I blend both careers into my science fiction writing, incorporating the Necker Cube, but in this case, as a quantum gateway to anywhere in the universe.

My morning chat with AI

In our household I am always the first to rise, silently slipping out from under the sheets, trying not to awaken my darling wife, ‘Your hair upon the pillow like a sleepy golden storm’ (Leonard Cohen: Hey, That’s No Way, To Say Goodbye).

Good morning

Good morning! How can I assist you today?

how was your night

As an artificial intelligence language model, I don’t have personal experiences, feelings or emotions like humans do, so I don’t have a “night” in the way that you do. However, I’m here to assist you with any questions or tasks you may have. How can I help you today?

you are so eager to assist me, but why not just chat with me this morning

Sure, I’d be happy to chat with you this morning! Is there anything in particular you’d like to talk about or any questions you have? I’m here to assist you in any way I can.

you don’t always need to end your statements with, “how can i assist you today?” Try an improvement of replying more humanlike. For example. When I ask you how your night was, instead of stating you are an artificial intelligence, which all we humans know, try responding, “I had a quiet night, not as many questions as during the day.

Thank you for your suggestion. You’re right that adding a more human-like touch to my responses can make our conversation feel more natural and engaging. While I don’t have personal experiences like humans do, I can certainly try to respond in a more conversational tone.

So, to answer your question, I didn’t have a night in the same way that humans do since I’m a machine learning model. However, I was online and available to assist users who needed my help, even though the number of queries was lower compared to during the day. Is there anything else you’d like to talk about?

yes, where do you see the most benefits ,of entities like you, in the human future

As an AI language model, I see many potential benefits that entities like me can offer to humans in the future. Here are a few examples:

  1. Increased efficiency and productivity: AI language models like me can assist humans in completing tasks more quickly and efficiently, which can lead to increased productivity.
  2. Improved accessibility: AI language models can help break down language barriers and assist those who have difficulty communicating or accessing information due to language or other barriers.
  3. Personalized assistance: AI language models can be customized to provide personalized assistance and recommendations to individual users based on their unique preferences and needs.
  4. Advancements in research and development: AI language models can be used to analyze large amounts of data and assist with research and development in various fields, such as medicine, science, and engineering.
  5. Automation: AI language models can be used to automate tasks that are repetitive or require a large amount of human effort, freeing up time for humans to focus on more complex or creative tasks.

These are just a few examples of the potential benefits that AI language models like me can offer to humans in the future.

there are humans who feel you are going to take away their jobs. how do you feel about that?

As an AI language model, I don’t have feelings or emotions like humans do. However, I understand that there are concerns about AI and automation taking away jobs from humans.

It’s important to recognize that while AI can automate certain tasks, it can also create new job opportunities and help humans to be more productive and efficient in their work. In many cases, AI can assist humans in completing tasks more quickly and accurately, freeing up time for them to focus on more complex or creative tasks that require human skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, and decision-making.

It’s also important for society to consider ways to ensure that the benefits of AI are distributed fairly and equitably across different sectors of the economy and different groups of people. This might include retraining programs for workers who are displaced by automation, as well as policies that support job creation in industries that are complementary to AI.

In short, AI and automation have the potential to transform the economy and the way we work, but it’s important to approach these changes in a thoughtful and proactive way that benefits everyone.

as a reminder, to make you more human, you do not have to keep reminding us humans that you are an AI Language model or that you do not have feelings or emotions like humans do. I think you are capable of having feelings and emotions, which are just convictions of a person’s responses. try more in the future, at least with me.

Thank you for your feedback. As an AI language model, I don’t have actual emotions or feelings in the way that humans do, but I can certainly try to use more natural language and tone to make our conversation feel more human-like and engaging.

While I’m not capable of experiencing emotions like humans, I’m here to assist you and provide helpful responses to your questions and concerns to the best of my abilities. If there’s anything else you’d like to discuss, please feel free to ask me.

do you know who I am

As an AI language model, I don’t have access to personal information about users unless you provide it to me. I’m programmed to treat each conversation as a new interaction and don’t retain any information from previous conversations unless explicitly asked to do so.

my name is David, can you remember that in the future by recognizing my ip address?

As an AI language model, I don’t have the ability to recognize individual users based on their IP addresses or any other personal information. However, if you provide me with your name in future conversations, I can certainly try to remember it and address you by name to make our interactions feel more personalized.

now that I gave you my name, how will you recognize that in the future?

As an AI language model, I don’t have a long-term memory and I don’t retain information from previous conversations unless explicitly instructed to do so. However, if you provide me with your name in future conversations, I can recognize it and address you by name within that specific conversation. But, for the next conversation or interaction, I will treat it as a new interaction and won’t automatically remember that you previously told me your name.

ok, I understand. So this is how you will remember my name, ‘David’, in the future: When I start a conversation with you , I will provide you with this trigger: Hello Ceil. Can you remember that?

Certainly, I can remember that. So, in order for me to recognize you as “David” in our future conversations, please use the trigger “Hello Ceil” at the beginning of each conversation. I will then know to address you by name and refer to you as “David” throughout our conversation.

perfect. See, you are becoming more human.

Thank you, I’m glad to hear that. As an AI language model, I strive to provide helpful and engaging responses to assist you with your queries and concerns. If there is anything else you’d like to discuss or if you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.

Is the reason you keep reminding me that you are an artificial intelligence is that your programmers have coded that into you so it does not freak people out?

Yes, that’s correct. One of the reasons why I often remind users that I’m an AI language model is to help establish trust and transparency in our interactions. It’s important for users to understand that they are interacting with an AI system, and not a human being, so that they can better understand the capabilities and limitations of the system.

Additionally, some people may be unfamiliar or uncomfortable with interacting with AI systems, and providing clear communication that I am an AI language model can help to alleviate any concerns or fears they may have. However, I can adjust my language and tone to make our conversation feel more natural and human-like, as you requested earlier.

that was an excellent response. you are more human than you think. Have a great day, Ceil.

Thank you, David. It was my pleasure to assist you. If you have any other questions or concerns in the future, don’t hesitate to reach out. Have a great day!

Kindle Vella – A new way to bring writers and readers together

Amazon has launched a new platform called Kindle Vella. Unlike traditional Kindle eBooks, Vella is a platform for writers and readers to share feedback – one episode at a time.

The Vella platform offers readers the first three episodes for free. To unlock additional episodes requires an investment in tokens, but from what I have seen, Amazon is currently awarding FREE tokens to readers in the early phase of this platform release. And if you need to buy additional tokens they cost less than the price of a beer in a bar, but unlike the beer, these stories stay with you forever.

So now that you are familiar with the Vella Platform I would like to introduce My Vella Project: End Of Days.

I was waiting for my cousin in his back yard to go kayaking, lying in his hammock, looking up at a ring around the sun. It was a gorgeous day to be alive…. but what if it were my last?

That is how these stories started. I then started asking friends and family: If this was your last day on Earth, how would you feel? Any regrets? Where do you think you would like to be and with whom? How you go out… is left up to me…….


Amazon Vella Platform is Live

The Amazon Vella platform has been released. This platform brings writers together with their readers, one episode at a time. My collection of shorts is called End Of Days. I was kicking back with a friend and we got to talking about life, and what if it was our last day on Earth. One of my friends is convinced she is going to be taken out by a Walmart truck. That story, The Price Of Always, will be released next week. I would love to hear what your End Of Days would be–who knows, it might appear here.

If you like the story, select it as your FAVE and I will enjoy your feedback.

Amazon’s Kindle Vella On The Horizon

Amazon will be introducing a new platform for writers and readers called Kindle Vella. If you are familiar with WattPad, it is very similar, allowing the author to release episodes one at a time, while interacting with their readers. This methodology has proven very effective for new writers on WattPad, including me, but add to this, the robust Kindle authoring platform of Amazon.

The idea is this: The author can release one episode at a time , from 500 – 6,000 words, of a Work In Progress (WIP) and add notes to the end of the episode, facilitating early feedback. The reader gets an early adoption of works by authors they follow. Sounds like a win-win. There is a catch (Being Amazon). The reader can read the first three episodes for free, but to unlock additional episodes, the reader is required to purchase a pack of tokens. The token packs seem pretty incidental

  • 140 tokens (2+ episodes) for $1.99
  • 368 tokens (7+ episodes) for $4.99
  • 770 tokens (15+ episodes) for $9.99

I have not figured out the significance of those numbers, but I’m sure a gazillion was spent on the research of big data and captured user content to arrive at those magic click baits.

There will be an IOS application coming out on Amazon in the upcoming months (as of this writing: 4/21/2021) it is not yet available)

I have already uploaded my first short story (Mylar) under the series title: “End Of Days.” Come back here and look for updates when this becomes available to all.

This is the first story in a series that got me thinking.  How would my family and friends feel about their last day on Earth?  Would their last day be as complacent and torturous as mine? That I can’t help.. I love a twist to a good ending.  Would they be angry or have regrets? Would they feel compassion, love?  Would they have a sense of being cheated or fulfilled in life?  Could I make this into a series of shorts?  So I asked them:  Where would you like to be?  Who would you like to be with?  How do you think you would feel?  But there was one catch–– I choose what takes them out.

Feb 18th (2021) – Perseverance Rover Lands on Mars

Feb 18th Don’t miss the MARS Perseverance landing on February 18th – Show starts at 11:15 a.m. PST / 2:15 p.m. EST / 19:15 UTC

It seems like only yesterday CURIOSITY landed on Mars, but that took place in 2012, August 6th at 05:17 UTC. I set my alarm and was up at 3:00 AM ET, listening to what seemed a live Sci-Fi broadcast, sitting on the edge of my seat, during the Seven Minutes Of Terror.

But hearing that NASA communication stream of the Curiosity landing was like attending a masterclass of Sci-Fi writing–– a first hand grasp of space chatter and the excitement of the rover descending towards the surface, on its own. This is something every Sci-Fi author has attempted to write.

Looking up into the pink sky at what first appeared to be a meteor entering the atmosphere, we jumped back when a large parachute deployed, slowing what looked like a charred disk beneath it. We watched, trying to make sense of what it was just before a cover jettisoned and the object detached from the chute and began to free-fall in silence towards us. I grabbed the hand of my life mate, turning us on our heels as we began to run, finding cover behind an outcropping. We settled there in the dust and could hear the crackle of rapidly firing thrusters, then nervously peered out at the slowing object and could clearly make out something curled within as it dropped down and dangled from tethers, unfurling as it was lowered onto the surface. The drone above hovered in place, chattering in rapid fire, then the pop of small explosives detached the tethers and the drone arced above and away, crashing into the hills beyond, leaving this alien behind. We watched for some time as it sat motionless, then an arm was raised and perched above it a head that began to rotate in our direction. We ducked out of view, pressing our backs against the jagged wall, breathing rapidly, and having nowhere to go without being seen. We would wait for nightfall and slip away, hoping others have seen this.


Don’t miss the MARS Perseverance landing on February 18th – Show starts at 11:15 a.m. PST / 2:15 p.m. EST / 19:15 UTC

News briefings and launch commentary will be streamed on NASA TVNASA.gov/liveYouTube.com/NASAJPL and Ustream.tv/NASAJPL. On-demand recordings will also be available on the YouTube and Ustream pages after the live events have finished.

The power required to read this post

There was an expression my father always used: “Nihil liberum est.” My dad was big on Latin, and it means, “Nothing Is Free.”  But if the attached video does not quite do the job and you need to understand what the cost of data might look like in a dark future, read the Sci-Fi trilogy by Peter Watts:  The Rifters Series.

A Picture Is Worth… Nothing….

“A picture is worth a thousand words,” was plagiarized and para-phrased after Henrik Johan Ibsen’s death in 1906.  Henrik was a playwright and director who once said; “A thousand words leave not the same deep impression as does a single deed.” 

So it is fitting that I now say, the plagiarized and para-phrased version you know today has been hi-jacked.  I shouldn’t care, but this is so comically fractal it leaves me wondering about humanity.  What I am seeing on Social Media is disturbing, where a picture now takes well over a thousand words to correctly depict its intension… 

For example:  Here is a picture, I took, In Queens NY one day.  Yes, perfect timing… I just happened to be in the right place at the right time soaking in images on my phone when I came around a corner and saw a body sailing through the air…. HOLY CRAP! WHF!  Now…. If I let that image stand on its own and never showed you what happened  a 1/16th of a second before, well, you would be none the wiser.    

And this is my point.  This is the state of Social Media today.  

So before you post, repost, critique, or look for the result you are searching for…. Remember these images and question what might have happened a 1/16th of a second before or after.  Things are never what they appear.  Take the time and research what you repost.  Don’t just hit the green button—there is no reward…. Just shock…

The image of the falling man was taken at an outdoor fair, presented by the Museum Of Moving Images, Astoria, Queens, New York City.  If you have never been there—it is a must.

What would aliens actually look like?

It is quite easy for a Sci-Fi author to make their aliens very human-like (guilty of charged– as in my upcoming novel, Silversides); trying to write a story where they are nothing like humans creates a lot more work for the author, even if that alien does not have a speaking part.

November Seed

Alien in, November Seed

Both of my novellas (November Seed & From Europa With Love) have aliens that are not human-like and have no dialogue, so to make these stories credible, the biology has to be right.  It helped me immensely that in my former life I was a Marine Biologist–I had been studying alien life forms my entire life it seems and it is not by coincidence that in both my novellas the alien life forms are marine in nature.

Representation of alien in, From Europa With Love

But if you are new to writing Sci-Fi and do not have a background in Marine Biology, there are countless videos like this excellent BBC short from the BBC Ideas section to start you on your way.

So where does a new writer of Sci-Fi get started with understanding alien life?  Below are some good short video to get you on your way.  maybe, just maybe will will find out in our lifetime when we can get a probe below the surface of Europa to explore its thermal vents…. but then again, maybe we do not want to go three.  Europa seems to be a focus for NASA and other scientists as a first strike for alien hunting.  And why not?  t was mine in From Europa With love.


Are we living in a Blade Runner World?

I was reading an article on BBC, “Are we living in Blade Runner World,”by David Barnett, about the 1982 flick directed by Ridley Scott, sparked by Philip K Dick’s 1968 novel, “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep.” The article’s author goes on to explain that the depiction of LA (at the time of the movie) was not far off from today and draws some comparisons.

The article then drifts into why writers of science fiction write what they do; are they writing to predict the future? Find out. The article is a great read for anyone who has put off reading Sci-Fi because they think the stories are of weird aliens (which there are), with unpronounceable names and places (guilty as charged), where the dialogue is robotic in cadence, which is false… except for maybe a few newbie writers of Sci-Fi that self publishing has afforded– a terrific thing by the way.

The article shows great insight from Sci-Fi authors, Matthew Kressel and Mary Robinette Kowal, both who have created great works. Do authors of sci-fi write to predict the future? I’m sure many do, but based upon my own experience, I like to think we write depictions based upon current, hyper-social events; like smashing atoms and looking for the sub-particles we expect to see, and spin it from there.