A Note From BC

By Gonz Blinko

I called Uncle Sonny and he sent a couple of the Austin Chapter Angels out to check up on the Chairman.  He also provided us with a ton of Florida guys to help in our rescue mission.  Maybe the paranoia got to me after flying around the globe, going through a hurricane and spending time in Florida, – the epicenter of bizarre.  George W. Bush has his axis of evil but Tampa, Orlando, Miami is definitely the axis of weird.

The Angels from Austin reported back that Chairman Mal and the BPP clearly have nothing to do with BC’s disappearance.  I heard they decided Mal seemed like a decent sort and brought him and a few of the other BPP guys out for a night of serious beer, booze, blues and babes.  I have always trusted those guys as, no matter what the media says, no Hell’s Angel ever did anything to hurt Gonz Blinko and many have helped out with favors and such.  Now, we have a virtual battalion of very hip guys on Harleys helping out down in Florida too.

The Arial recon showed us that Manatee and Sarasota Counties have very little to show for themselves.  It also seems to show that BC is being held either by neo-nazi nutcases or some kind of bizarre Deliverance cult.  For his sake, I hope it’s the former.

Sam showed up at my door with the first report.

“It looks like we have five or six likely compounds where he might be and a few more possibilities that we need to check out.”

“El Negro and the bikers, have they started gathering data on the ground?”

“Yeah, they’re taking a look at all of the spots, the high probables and the others too.  The terrain here kind of sucks.  It’s either the Gulf of Mexico, ugly million dollar condos, trailer parks or the woods.  It seems like these towns have no zoning boards as the layout feels pretty random.”

Just then, Samhara’s mobile phone rang.

“Sam,” she answered.

Then, she switched to French.  I recognized some words and phrases.  Mostly gushy, lovey stuff.  I had never heard Sam go so soft so quick and the kissy, kissy at the end of the call made me wonder if she had been kidnapped by aliens and replace with some kind of replicant.

“Who was that,” I inquired.

“Moes’ former maid.”

“She’s really French?”


“And you’ve gone all mushy on me?”

“Well, Moes and Tristessa fired her after the attack by the guys from Freeman Scientology when they decided to go into hiding.  I’ve heard they’re leaving the country.”

“Getting back to BC,” I tried to bring the conversation back to the topic at hand.

“Oh, yeah, we have some big news.”

“Go on.”
“He managed to kite a message out to his wife.”

“What did it say?”

Samhara reached into her Gore-Tex holster and pulled out a slip of paper.  It is very short and only says, “I’m out of my hed, please hurry for I may be dead, they mustn’t carry out their evil deed.”

To be continued…

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Storm Fizzles Out

By Gonz Blinko

The west coast of Florida extends from the Panhandle all of the way to the Everglades.  Hurricanes tend to behave irrationally so the meteorologists can’t predict where the storm might make landfall.  As a result, while El Negro and I shot at Pigeons and guzzled coffee, Tampa got a fair amount of rain and some somewhat heavy winds but nothing like a real hurricane.  Alfredo went right passed us and on up the coast to make landfall somewhere north.

The phone rang in my suite, waking me up this morning.  “Gonz,” I answered.

“It’s Sam, it looks like we have clear enough skies to send up a skeleton crew in one of the choppers to do some preliminary recon.  I’m going to go with BC’s wife, El Negro and that whacko who volunteered from Freeman Scientology.”

“Should I join you?”

“Not unless you’ve taken up photography.”

“I got some news.”

“What’s that?”

“Chairman Mal contacted me and said that neither he nor the BPP is involved in BC’s disappearance.”

“Could be a decoy.”

“My thoughts exactly.  Do we have any people who can follow him around Austin?”

“We’ll get on it.”

I hung up the phone and turned on my laptop, I thought I should rally up some guns in Texas just in case.”

To be continued…

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Locked Up for the Storm

By Gonz Blinko

Samhara worked with BC’s wife to round up quite a posse from former Freeman Scientology employees and a few Viet Nam Vets that BC hangs with.  We got a rather impressive collection of hardware, most with help from the locals.  I grabbed a Glock 9 with a banana clip, a Mossberg with short barrel, a Ruger .22 with silencer and enough ammo to avoid running out for quite some time.

BC’s wife, a very resourceful woman, I must say, found us two Huey and one Segorski helicopters all rigged with 50 mm machine guns which increased my confidence quite a bit.  Mickey Calvo brought excellent body armor over from Orlando, I don’t think it would help if hit by one of those 50 mm rounds but the claim to hold up to a 545 from an AK.

The phone rang in my suite; I thought it meant we could start some of the recon effort.  “Gonz,” I answered.

“It’s Sam.  We have a problem.”

“What kind of problem?”

“Hurricane Alfredo, the first of the year and it’s heading straight for us.”

“What does that mean for the mission?”

“It means that we hang out with the posse until the bitch blows out of town.”

I’m not the most sociable sort but this seemed like a decent group of folks and they all seemed way into weapons so we’d have something to talk about.  After a couple of hours, surrounded by a heavily armed bunch of BC’s buddies, though, I thought I would lose my mind.

I excused myself and hopped in a cab.  I told the driver to bring me to the nearest Starbucks and he said they had closed for the storm.  I went back into the hotel and headed for the elevator.  One of BC’s friends who calls himself El Negro saw me and jumped into the elevator as I headed up to my suite.  We’ve been sitting here, guzzling coffee and, with silencers on, shooting at pigeons off of the deck.

I don’t know how long this storm will last.  We don’t know if they’ll move BC.  Hell, we don’t even know who’s holding him.

To be continued…

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Arriving in Florida

By Gonz Blinko

Samhara and I flew from LaGuardia into Tampa.  New York to Tampa takes just around three hours.  Samhara didn’t know how much Valium to feed me for a trip of this length.  She settled on a 25 mg tablet, just to ensure it would last the entire flight.  The benzo did its job a little too well and, upon arriving at Tampa International Airport, she had to practically carry me off of the plane.  This felt strange, I often fly with Samhara but, when deplaning in those situations, the random traveler can see that I’m blind and that the tall black woman is assisting me; this time, they thought I must just be another drunken tourist on his way down to add to the destruction of Florida’s environment.  Incredible as it may seem, people treat drunks as more “normal” than they do blinks.  I should probably do some investigation on this matter in the future.

Picking up the car and racing out to the Tampa Hyatt remains a blur in my memory.  I remember waking up the next morning to the sound of a phone ringing.


“It’s Sam, how you doing?”

“Let’s start with where am I?”



“Is there another?”


“We’re here to rescue BC from whoever is holding him.”

I started to remember the phone message which, for a brief moment I thought might just have came out in some bizarre drug induced sleep.  BC yelled something about highly trained dogs, forced marches and maybe something else too.  

I blabbered all of that to Samhara and she confirmed that it indeed I remembered a real phone message and that we came to Florida to rescue BC from some kind of concentration camp filled with blinks.  We had no additional information.  It might still be the Blind Panther Party or some bizarre neo-nazi group.  In Florida, anything could happen.

Samhara said she wanted to go to a gun show and buy a little hardware sans serial number in the parking lot.  I wished her well but chose to remain in my suite and order some food.  I couldn’t remember my last meal.  Did I eat in Seattle?  Did the sandwich in the Milanese cop shop constitute a meal?


I enjoyed a huge American style breakfast and turned on my laptop to see what I might find about a group who may want to kidnap and hold BC.  His stories about Florida really seem to understate the situation.  Every whacko nutcase group, left, right or center has a chapter in the Tampa area.  I fired up Skype to talk to an Asian hottie friend of mine when I noticed that BC’s entry in my contacts folder said, “Online.”

I immediately called him, hoping he might have escaped his captors.  His wife answered.  




“It’s Gonz Blinko is BC around?”

“No Gonz, I’m really worried.  No ransom note, no nothing.”  She said rather frantically.

“Well Samhara and I have arrived in Tampa and we’re planning on hooking up with Mickey Bald to try to bust him out.”

“Do you know where is?”

“No we’re trying to figure that out.”

“I think it’s somewhere in Manatee County.  I have some recon photos that I’ve taken since he got snatched.”  She said more calmly.

“Can you upload them so I can take a look?”

She said of course she could and then asked what may actually be the most poignant question so far, “How are a blind Doctor of Journalism, an Amazon African attorney and a software entrepreneur going to bust a guy out of a highly guarded camp somewhere in a Florida backwater?”

“I wish I knew,” I told her with little confidence in my voice.

To be continued…

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The Da Vinci Source Code

By Gonz Blinko

“Mr. Blinko, you nasty, nasty boy,” giggled Maria as she tossed a handful of soap suds at me.

I laughed as Isabella splashed me with hot soapy water from the other side as she repeated, “You’re a bad, bad man!”

We all laughed and splashed and had a great time in the hot tub in my suite at the Grande Hotel in Bellagio.  I had met Isabella, Maria and Teresa earlier that night, at the bar beside the casino in this terrific resort.  “I love Italy!”  I pronounced as I splashed my new friends and started wrestling with Teresa who bit me softly on the shoulder.

Bam… Bam… Bam…  Someone knocked at the door.  “Shit!” I pronounced as Maria slid out of the tub, grabbed a towel and, in her broken English, said, “Ila take a car of it…”

The rumble of the Jacuzzi jets drowned out the sounds of footsteps so I couldn’t tell how many people had entered.  Maria didn’t get back into the tub and Teresa and Isabella got very quiet.  “Gonz,” asked a familiar voice.

“Sam?”  I asked incredulously, “You knew I had plans…  Can’t whatever this is wait until morning?”

“We have guests,” she responded curtly.

“Tell them to get naked and hop in the tub,” I replied.

“Not those kind of guests,” replied Samhara in a very serious tone.

“Allow me to splain,” boomed an accented male voice, “I am from Polizia Milano and I must bring you to city.”

“I’ve seen Milan, many times,” I replied, “Let’s go tomorrow.”

As I felt the officer’s large hairy hands reach into my armpits my legs untangled from Teresa’s soft smooth ones.  I rose quickly and was placed on my feet on the marble floor and Samhara handed me a towel.  “As your attorney, I advise you to follow this gorilla’s instructions.  Dry off and put on some clothes.  I’ll take care of the girls.”

“I’m sure you will,” I grumbled as I walked toward the bedroom.  I lifted a cup of cold espresso and kicked it back as if it was a shot of whiskey and started groping around for something decent to put on.  “Exactly what does one wear for a police rousting in a foreign country?  The Fodor’s guide book didn’t cover this topic,” I wondered aloud.


Samhara hugged me close to her formidable body as Officer Aldo Enzo Ferragamo raced through the Italian Alps toward the nation’s center of opera and fashion.  The siren screamed out in the way one hears them in foreign films.  Aldo must have thought he drove a sports car as we took every hairpin turn at a stunning velocity, tossing Sam and I from side to side in the backseat of the police vehicle.  “Arghhh…  We’re going to die!” I shouted at as I felt a particularly jarring turn toss us against the door on my side of the car.  Aldo laughed, “I ma ina hurry but I always drive fast, we’re Italian, it’s the way we drive.”

I did remember that all Italians drove like Mario Andretti and especially enjoyed terrorizing us tourists.  So, I just whimpered and slouched into Samhara’s lap.

Even at 3 am, Milan bustles so our entrance to the city, accompanied by a far more reasonable speed became obvious to me.  Horns blew, people shouted and it generally felt like an Alpine version of New York.  “Where are you taking us?” asked Samhara.

Aldo just laughed.  “But we just passed the police headquarters,” Samhara insisted.

“We’re going somewhere else,” he laughed again.

“Nothing like a guido with a gun,” I mumbled, “Even worse, a guido with a gun and a badge.”

Samhara didn’t find my comment funny.  She stiffened as the car slowed and Aldo parked at an odd angle.  “We’re at church of Santa Maria delle Grazie,” she said.

“Are we on a forced tour of great masterworks of the Italian renaissance?” I asked as everyone with even half an education knows this is where Leonardo painted “The Last Supper.”


As we entered the church’s refectory, I could hear the sound of leather soles striking the stone floor approaching us.  “Dr. Blinko,” said a friendly voice, “It’s a delight to meet you.  I’m a big fan.”

“So you rousted me from my bath in the middle of the night to ask for an autograph?” I responded somewhat annoyed.

“Actually,” continued the Italian official, “we have some police business to discuss.  Aldo, wait outside.  You two follow me.”  He said as he led us further into the famous room.

“I’m Captain Cavelli of the Milan Police Force, Homicide Department.”

“Nice to meet you,” said my attorney, “I am Samhara Akuba, Dr. Blinko’s attorney.”  She handed him a card.

“I guess we all know who I am so let’s get down to business, I have company waiting back in the hotel.”  I urged.

Someone clicked a loud switch and the room became so bright that even I could detect the light.  Samhara gasped and blurted, “That’s Father De Rosa, the art expert, it looks like he’s dead.”

“Very observant Senora Attorney,” stated El Capitan.

“Ok, we have a dead priest on the floor of a church in Milan, what does this have to do with us?”  I asked.

Samhara composed herself and continued, “He wrote a bunch of stuff with his own blood on the floor.”

“And…?”  I asked both disgusted and annoyed.

“One of the phrases says, in English, ‘Find Gonz Blinko!’ and the rest all looks like a bunch of numbers and letters.”

“He has also contorted himself into a silhouette with an elbow on his knee and his bloody fist under his chin.”

“The Thinker,” I remarked.

“What?” asked both Sam and the officer.

“The Thinker,” I responded with some surprise, “The sculpture by Rodin.”

“Rodin?” Asked Samhara, “The Ninja Turtle?”

“No, Rodin, the French artist.”


Samhara typed the string of letters and numbers into my PAC Mate so I could read them in Braille as the Captain described various items that seemed out of place in this legendary place of worship.  “Did you know the good father?”  He asked.

“Yes, we used to…” I stopped myself.  “He and I met in Amsterdam…” I stopped myself again.  “You might say that we spent some time together before he became a priest, during our college years.”

“Did you murder him?”

“Officer, he and this church were about as far from my mind as possible this evening,” I said longingly contemplating my hot bath and my Italian guests.

“Why then did he write your name in his own blood while dying?”

“Perhaps he wanted to leave me his art collection?” I suggested.

“He took a vow of poverty,” said the police officer, “he didn’t own any of the art, he just curated it.”

I knew that but found myself at a loss for words and would say just about anything to get back to my hotel.  With little useful to add I called to Samhara, “How is it going with getting all of that gibberish entered into the PM?”

“Just finished,” she said, having somehow snuck up on me.  I took the PAC Mate from her hands and started reading.

“It looks like hexadecimal,” I said. “In fact, it seems to be all ASCII characters.  De Rosa always liked codes.”


“What’s it say?” Asked my always curious attorney.

“Mona Lisa Overdrive.”  Are the first three words followed by, “damn, this really hurts and this floor is really cold.”

“What do you think it means?” Asked Cavelli.

“Let’s observe the juxtaposition of his body, the words, the reference to Rodin and the two Leonardo references.  Let’s remember that ‘Mona Lisa Overdrive’ is a science fiction book by Bill Gibson.”

Cavelli and Samhara seemed dumbstruck.

I continued, “Everything in Leonardo’s work came from the triangle, the trinity the sacred vessel of the holy femininity.  There are two references to Leonardo in his message, the position of his body before the Last Supper and the Mona Lisa reference in the title of the Gibson book.”

“So?”  Asked a puzzled Cavelli.

“So, De Rosa left us a hint by only including two, rather than three Leonardo references.  We need to find the third.”

“Where should we look,” asked the officer, who seemed not to believe my explanation.

“Ah, that’s in the other two references he makes in the symbols he left behind.”

“Which means what?”  Asked Cavelli.

“It’s in the triangles, the Gibson book, “Mona Lisa Overdrive,’ cancels out the first two words if divided by ‘Last Supper,’ slow me down if I’m talking too fast, I’m a doctor of journalism after all and decoding obscure artistic symbology has always come easy to me.”

“No, go on,” said the officer.

“Thus, we’re left with the word ‘Overdrive’ which obviously refers to the legendary Canadian rock and roll band, Bachman Turner Over Drive.”

“Gonz, are you sure this is obvious?”  Asked Samhara.  Then, whispering, she asked, “Did you remember to take your meds?”

“Of course it’s obvious,” I pronounced.  “BTO’s biggest hit was ‘Taking Care of Business’ so Father De Rosa wants to point us to a businessman.”

“Milan is filled with wealthy businessmen, should I get Giorgio Armani and Aldo Gucci out of bed too?”  Asked the very skeptical Captain.

“Of course not, he’s telling us which businessman in the references and symbols he left on the floor.”

“Go on,” said the officer, now near laughter.

“Rodin’s second most famous sculpture, after The Thinker is called Gates of Hell.”  I continued, “Thus, the book by Bill Gibson and the statue called Gates says that we should look for the third point in the triangle somewhere in Seattle, with, of course, Bill Gates.”


Captain Cavelli didn’t buy my logic.  I thought it seemed obvious but maybe his art history doesn’t come up to my level.  Then again, maybe Sam’s right, I could be sliding into another manic, paranoid episode.  The sickness often hits me when I get pulled suddenly from doing something I really love.  Nonetheless, Cavelli brought us downtown to the Milano Cop Shop.

Samhara and I sat in a drab room drinking excellent coffee.  The Italians really do understand the value of good taste and, even in a lock-up, they serve good coffee.  Cavelli entered our little cell and sat down.  An art historian named Dan Brown accompanied him and introduced himself as he entered.

“The great Gonz Blinko,” said Brown, “It’s an honor.”

“Do you want an autograph too?”  I asked wondering why this nosey American had entered my Italian adventure.

“Mr. Brown called his Harvard buddy Langley and talked about your strange collection of connections.”

“And?”  I asked as Samhara tried to shut me up.

“Excuse me,” she said, “Are you going to arrest us?  Are you going to arrest my client?  I read the EU civil rights manual and…”

“Please, Senora Attorney,” insisted Cavelli, “Let Dan continue with his story.”

“Langley knows Gonz,” continued the American egghead, “He understood his decoding of the murder scene and believes you have figure out where to go.”

“Then we can leave?”  Asked Samhara.

“I do have one request Senora,” added Cavelli.

“Which is?”

“A kiss good bye?”

Samhara punched the Captain in the gut and we headed for the exit.


I don’t know exactly why but I always seem to wake up just before the pilot says, “We are beginning our gradual descent into…”  I rubbed my eyes and removed my BOSE noise reduction headphones which still played Glenn Gould’s versions of Schoenberg’s Lieder.  I heard Samhara chatting with a flight attendant and released I had no idea where we had flown to.  One minute, I had been gambling in Bellagio, partying quite actively and now I’m in the first class cabin of a jet going somewhere.  I remain groggy from all of the Valium that Sam fed me when we got aboard in Italy.  I felt my tactile watch and it said 8:30.  Of course, I had no idea whether that was am, pm or what time zone it referred to.

“Sam?”  I asked weakly.

“Gonz?”  She replied.

“Where are we?”

“We are about to land in Seattle.”


“Because you made the connection between Leonardo, Rodin, William Gibson and Bachman Turner Overdrive and we now must meet Bill Gates to solve the mystery.”

“What mystery?”

“The death of Father De Rosa and the connection between Macrohard and the Knights Templar.”

“Where did the Knights Templar enter the story?”  I asked, slowly remembering the events in Bellagio and Milan.

“Every good conspiracy has a connection to the Knights Templar and this one is no different.”

“How do you know?”

“Italian Airways, the airline we’re on, gives us Internet connections so, as you slept, I did some research.”


“As you probably know, the bloodline of Jesus and Mary Magdalene made its way to France in the form of their daughter Sarah.  She had children who married into the French royal family.  After a while they changed their name to St. Clair and, when the King, on a Friday the 13th in the 13th century, suggested that the Templars be killed, some snuck away to Scotland where they started using the anglicized version of their name, Sinclair.”

“Have you taken your meds?”  I asked Samhara.

“Of course and you should listen to all of this, there’s lots of connections.”


Samhara drove our rented Cadillac toward Redmond.  Along the way she filled me in with the strangest part of the conspiracy.  Apparently, Bill Gates spent $30 million to purchase one of Leonardo’s notebooks and, it is believed that he discovered some code in it.

We pulled into the Microsoft campus and drove to the building where our meeting would take place.  “Who are we meeting with?”  I asked Samhara as we walked toward the office tower.

“Here’s where things get really strange.”

“Huh?”  I wondered.

“The guy is in charge of disability stuff and knows you.  Not only that, he’s a Sinclair.”

“Are you suggesting that we are about to meet a descendent of Jesus Christ, Mary Magdalene and possibly one of the last members of the Knights Templar?”

“Bingo!”  She proclaimed, “He’s the person who fills in the final side of the triangle.”

“I thought that the Leonardo notebook that Bill Gates bought was the third leg of the triangle.”

“Well, it sort of is…” she continued as Rob Sinclair entered the lobby to bring us into the holy inner sanctum of the Microsoft campus.

“So, Gonz, after all of these years, you’ve found me out,” asked Rob with a smile in his voice.

“Uh, Rob, I’m not exactly sure what I’ve found out?”

“I discussed it with Samhara when she called from the plane,” he continued.

“Who’s paying for that call?”  I inquired.

“BC is paying for all of this, he things there is a blockbuster book and film that he can published on Blind Confidential in this story.”

“It’s all tru,” said Rob, “I am a Sinclair and I’m in possession of the Holy Braille.”

“The Holy what?” I asked.

“The Holy Braille, it’s what we Templars have been saving secretly for centuries.”

“What about Father De Rosa?”

“He got whacked for not paying protection money for his sideline private tours of the great works of Milan business.”

“Then why all of the clues?  Why did he get us involved?”

“He knew you were in town and thought sending you on a wild chase around half of the globe would be funny.  He told me he’d do something like that if he ever took a few from a Beretta.”

“So, all of this was a hoax?”

“Not exactly, he did know that you would be interested in hearing about the Holy Braille.”

“What does it say?”  I asked, my curiosity rising as I contemplated how to get revenge on a dead priest.

“It’s rather complex.  After Bill brought the notebook to Seattle, all of the artsy fartsy people ogled it for a couple of years until I could convince him to let me alone with it for a few hours.”

“What did you find?”

“As I said the remaining part of the Holy Braille.”


“Bill and I copied it character for character into an old copy of Symdeb and typed ‘r’ and it executed the Da Vinci Source Code.”

“What does Leonardo’s source code do?”

“As you are not under NDA, I can’t comment on it but we expect it will be included in the Braille services feature of Vista if we can integrate it before the train leaves the station.”

“Can we go back to Bellagio?”  I asked Samhara.

“No, vacation is over, it’s back east for both of us, you have to write this article and I need to check up on Moes’ maid.”

Rob escorted us to the exit.  We thanked him and Samhara gave him a quick kiss on the cheek.  As we walked to the car, I asked, “What was that about?”

“I’ll kiss any relative of Mary Magdeline’s, she was hot.”


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BlindChristian Missing, Foul Play Suspected

By Gonz Blinko

Just as I got passed my security systems, locks, elevator, card key and thumb scanner, I entered my apartment, back from Italy by way of Seattle and I still hadn’t had a shower.  I walked into my living room and slammed my shin into a coffee table that arrived while I traveled around the world trying to solve the Da Vinci Source Code.  Through a torrent of profanity, I realized that my decorators must have come and left and that my apartment might actually be presentable again.  I really need to watch out for that hydro, it causes some behaviors that I later find vvery difficult to explain away.

I sat in one of my nice new Leather sofas and picked up my phone to check for messages.  The synthesized voice said I had six.  I listened on and found that the first five came from various political and charitable causes the previous owner of this number had contributed to.  The sixth, though, would mean a rapid change in plans.

The voice said, “Message six, 3:46 am, from 7 2 7 5 5 5 1 6 3 6,” that paranoid BC, I thought, he always has to call before I can even settle in.  But, before I could delete the message out of hand, I heard his panicked voice yell, “Gonz?  Sam?  I need your help!  There taking me away!  It’s just like Hitler, the Senate is bashing the gays and the thugs are rounding up people with disabilities.  I need help!  They’re taking me to some kind of camp!  This is all very scary!  I’m told that I’ll be living with ‘lot’s of other nice blind people’ and, when I said I wasn’t very nice and probably wouldn’t fit in, they said I had to come anyway.  Help me!  This camp is somewhere near Sarasota and, word among other inmates says that we’ll be surrounded by well trained dogs and forced to march in the hot Florida heat every day!  Weren’t the Japanese charged for war crimes for this?  Help me, help me! Help…” and then a click.

As I placed the phone back in its cradle, it rang immediately.  “Gonz,” I answered.

“Sam,” said my African Amazon Attorney.

“I guess you heard from BlindChristian?” I said, fairly certain why she had called me rather than Moes’ maid.

“No, Mickey Bald called me to tell me about it,” she said, “Apparently he’s in some kind of concentration/retraining facility for wise guy blinks.”

“Who runs the place?”

“Unknown,” she sighed, “I would guess it’s either the Blind Panthers and some kind of leftist reprogramming run by Chairman Mal or it’s Sy T. Greenbacks doing everything he can to avoid even the slightest amount of disparagement from prominent blinks.”

“Any idea which is more likely?”

“At this point it’s a toss up.”

“What should we do?”

“This can probably win us the Pulitzer if we uncover the conspiracy.  The Da Vinci story turned out to be a flop but a reprogramming concentration camp for blinks, that sounds like big bucks to me.”

“Do I have time to pack?”

“No, we’ll buy new at the Tommy Bahama shop in Sarasota.”

“Can I shower?”

“Please, I had to smell you all the way from Seattle but make it quick and meet me at the Delta counter at LaGuardia in an hour.”

“What about weapons?”

“We’re going to Florida, we’ll hit a gun show as soon as we arrive.”


“I’ll work it out while waiting for you at the airport, we have little time, the clock is ticking and BC is in deep trouble and, if I need to remind you once again, as your attorney, I think it is a pretty good idea to keep your primary source of income alive and breathing and signing checks so we can afford our lifestyles.”

“That’s a solid point, see you at LaGuardia.  Make sure you bring enough Valium.”

“Wouldn’t think of flying with you without it.”

To be continued…

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PPO Update and Modern Programming

The Project Paddle Odyssey (link above) programmers (including me) have made a lot of progress in the past few weeks.  Thanks to the generous support from AI^2, we had the money to buy more hardware so additional programmers could join the team.  

I had never written a significant program in C# before and, once I got past the vocabulary barrier, I have found that it goes very quickly.  Microsoft includes a very nice GPS API in the Windows Mobile 5 SDK which makes some fairly difficult tasks very simple.  Combined with some cheap, no-name GPS units we bought on ebay, this project is really starting to fall into place.

We expect the first true wet tests to happen on or near July 1 and, once we’ve tweaked the software a bit after its first alpha paddle, we’ll release version 0.01.xx to the web site, and, as promised, with source code, the GPL and Copyleft from Project GNU.  If you enjoy hacking, and would have fun working on an aquatic GPS program, I invite you to join the PPO team and help us get this project done.

We’re using Visual Studio 2005 which works pretty well with JAWS 7.1.  The JAWS scripts don’t seem to access the object model in the form layout features the way they once did so we are seeking some sighted person to help us with dialogues and such.  If someone out there in the world of blind hackerdom has a better set of scripts, please send them to me to help speed up the project.  

Programming in C# causes me to have frequent, “kids these days…” moments.  I feel like one of those real old timers with a “Back in my day…” attitude.  I first started writing computer programs the summer in which I turned 11 years old (1971).  Then, I wrote my little hacks in PDP 8 assembly language.  When I first turned professional, May 1979, I had to learn and program in a strange language called Neat/3, a sort of hybrid between an assembly language and COBOL that ran on NCR Criterion mainframes.  When I moved to Boston and started hacking on desktops, I wrote almost everything in x86 assembly language.  Back in those days, we thought that C was far too high level a language to be efficient, let alone something like C++ or C#.  

When C++ hit the streets in a big way, we old timers would hang around the Cambridge Brewing Company (an excellent micro-brewery near the MIT campus) and, like typical old farts, say things like, “Back in my day, we only had assembly language.”  

This, of course, would be followed with, “You had an assembler?  We had to type hex sequences into a debugger…”

“You had a debugger?  I had to manually write the hex codes to memory!”

“You had hex?  We only had zeroes and ones and we had to use a hand held magnet to get the code into the machine!”

“You had ones?  We only had zeroes!”

“You had zeroes?  We only had capital O and lower case l!”

And so would go another typical evening at the CBC.

Programming in C# seems so weird to me because I have to trust that all of this framework stuff which actually work.  Back in my assembly hacking days, the first thing my programs would typically do would rewrite the interrupt table so DOS couldn’t get in my way.  Now, I’m expected to trust a library that sits atop a framework that sits atop a windowing interface that sits atop an operating system.  As I have trouble trusting an operating system, you can only guess at the paranoia that all of these other layers cause me.

On the flipside, I have never developed programs so quickly before.  My first C# program used Direct X and, all in audio only, built a cube with the focal point of the sound at its center.  A ball bounces around inside the cube and the user, with a Logitech force feedback joystick, tries to avoid being hit by the ball.  My purpose in writing this program was to evaluate some of my theoretical work in how focal and peripheral attention can be used to detect objects; it was not intended to be a game and it isn’t really much fun after a few minutes of playing around with it.  I plan on releasing the program, source code included, fairly soon.

What I did learn from the experiment, though, was just how quickly one can make a pretty cool little program using all of these API and SDK layers that I don’t actually trust.  It also demonstrated just how cool Direct X is.  Kudos to the Direct Sound people up at Microsoft for making such difficult tasks so simple.

Of course, the vocabulary of .Net programming drives me crazy.  When did the word “assembly” change from meaning a low level language in which one programs using mnemonics and macros to the target of a build process?  Weren’t targets called “targets” or “executables” or “binaries” or whatever one might expect to be building?  I got all warm and fuzzy when I read some documentation that said I had to change the attributes of an assembly.  I thought that I had returned to my element but, alas, Dylan Thomas, while writing at the White Horse Tavern, correctly asserted that even we geeks can never go home again.


Someone posted a comment anonymously asking for the JAWS rap MP3.  If you write to me directly, I can email it to you.  I don’t know of any download locations for it.

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