This is an expansion and update of my last blog entry which I'm deleting to post this.
As previously mentioned, due to the years of hassles from the gestapo I ended up in a depression. I've been on medication and seeing a shrink for three years. The combined effect of the depression and the meds made it hard for me to focus or be creative for anything but a short time. While I do have works in progress and they have crawled along, none of the novels have leaped through to conclusion yet. Although things have improved in the last several months to the extent I'm now reducing the meds as the precursor to ending them, and the shrink is now at the 'call if you need me' stage. I expect once I'm off the meds for a few months my writing will pick up again, so I should be able to complete a few stories then.
When the trouble started there was 630,000 words in 16 part written stories and 4 almost completed stories which I cut short, cleaned up, completed, and posted before the depression hit bad. Thus I went into the main part of the depression with 380,000 words in 16 works in progress, and I now have 712,000 in 37 stories. So you can see I have been writing, but it's been slow and difficult in small amounts. While there were times I was able to work on and completed a new work, they were all in the short story or novella range and took far longer to write than I'm used to taking.
In case you've not read it, Modern Day Witch Hunt is a true account of my issues with the gestapo and why I ended up with depression from their harassment of both my son and myself.
When significant real life issues affect my writing I usually mention them here in my blog.
Please do not send me any messages right now as the time taken to reply to them takes time away from my writing.
This is very loosely based on the Riverina Region of New South Wales, Australia and extended into the mountains to cover towns like Tumut and Batlow. Rivers is based on Wagga Wagga, Bowen's Creek is based on Junee, Wood Valley is based on Batlow, and Ryan's Ridge is based on Tumbarumba - - all are very loosely based on the real places. Please, no more emails asking me about where it is.
Time-line: I've been asked for a time-line for these stories. However, because some of them cover decades or lifetimes of those in them it's very hard to set an exact time-line for them that neatly weaves them all together, that was never intended. The best I can say is the majority of the current activities has the main characters as contemporaries and the most significant parts of their lives as being in the current decade. To that extent you can picture A Farmer's Life starting in the late 1990s, Mack also starts in the late 1990s, Michaels Mansion starts in the early 2010s, Flames of Life starts in the early 1990s, and Interesting Times starts in the early 2010s.
Sidewinder vs Stinger Missile - Yes, technically the Sidewinder is an air to air missile only (although I have heard there is a ground fire kit for firing them - a reader told me there is one for some models but it's not a shoulder mount kit), and it's likely in real life a Stinger or a Strela would have been used. However, the people involved in the story are all retired Air Force and much more familiar with a Sidewinder than a Stinger and are calling it what they know. Due to the comments I considered doing an update to cover this point while leaving it as what they said, but I looked at it and it would cause major issues with the print book version so I'm not making any changes for this.
Pat's Age - He's in his third year at university, that puts him in the 22 to 23 year old bracket when the story starts. I didn't state this as I figured most people would work it out for themselves. In Australia most people finish high school at 18 or 19 and then go onto university (what some call college in the US) where most courses are 4 years plus post graduate studies after that (some are 3 year courses).
Archery and Shotgun loads: Mack taught himself how to use a bow from watching it on TV and Internet research, he was NOT trained by a professional
The use of rock chips in a shotgun. Shotgun barrels are essential unchanged for centuries and are simply smooth-bore metal tubes of quality steel. Mack uses chips about the same size, or smaller, than that of No 4 bird-shot - a typical shot used for rabbit hunting here in Australia. They are not likely to do any worse damage to the inside of the barrel than steel shot. And if they did it'd take an awful long time to do so. They feel and fire the same as a normal load and the effect at close to medium range is the same. Firing rock loads does have a less compact and wider spread at longer ranges than steel or lead shot. I know people who save money by self-loading with local granite rock chips. For the ranges normally used when rabbit hunting with a shotgun you see no difference, but the longer ranges for duck and bird shooting can see the spread a bit too wide for a good hit.
Football Field, in rural NSW most local football fields are big enough to play all four codes of soccer, rugby league, rugby unions, and Australian Rules - with Aussie Rules being more common the closer you get to the Victorian border. A typical full-sized Aussie Rules field can run out to 250 m x 200 m to give plenty of room around it and the actual playing area can is 185 m x 155 m. Check out wikipedia on it.
Flames of Life
Leg injury: The front muscles that are used to straighten the leg. But from discussions with a physiotherapist and other medical specialist the use of the front muscles are what allows him to mimic walking because he can use the muscle to provide some leg movement. However, with the back muscle totally useless he hasn't enough muscle power in what's left in the front only to hold the leg straight and put weight on it. That's why the mention of the frame at one point, to overcome that issue - but would be very cumbersome. He can and does move about with a cane on level ground by balancing his hip on the hand on the top of the cane and pivoting on it.
Building Owners - criminal conspiracy. I've had a few people mention they should be arrested and charged etc. One problem there is there is no legal evidence to do so.
1. Waste - Maybe it's just Australian usage, but waste is anything I have and don't want, while garbage is what gets thrown in the landfill. Thus the recyclable containers are waste in the room and go into waste bins, they'll be recycled later. Remember, he made arrangements to have the recycling done.
2. The quotation is listed as an apocryphal Chinese saying, which means it's of doubtful heritage. Urban legend has it as being Chinese, but it can't be tracked down as such.
3. Figures given in dialogue are not always given as exacts, thus when the bikes are sold one person is using only the figures before the thousands.
4. DVDs and tech levels - blu-ray is only just starting to get some market penetration here in Australia, and it was almost non-existent 4 years ago when I wrote that part of the story. Also, those who do have blu-ray here still call them DVDs.
5. Mortgage release - I've had a couple of people say it takes the banks several days to release documents on payment of the mortgage. When I worked in the banks (many, many moons ago) all the mortgage documents were kept at the local branch the mortgage was lodged with, and immediately the sum was paid up the documents had to be handed over. If the payment was being organised via another mortgage and the documents sent to another lender, then it took days to organise the payout, but a cash payout requires an immediate hand over. I asked a local bank manager about this and was told some banks still keep the documents in the local branch safe, while others store them in the state headquarters. From a legal point of view once the mortgage is paid out the bank has to hand the papers over a.s.a.p. and once the person offers to make an immediate payout the bank has to accept it, if they refuse to do so for internal administrative reasons they can't charge interest from then on and can't take the money until they're ready to process it - neither suits the banks.
Chaos Calls: Learning Visit - The opening does give away a bit of what's to happen in Finding Home as it's the end of Finding Home. That's there to set Al's character up in Chaos without having to make a new one.
Release of Prisoners: In the section where the main camp is attacked, after the attack Al and Joe are speaking to Colonel Bond, the next paragraph mentions the teens get down from their positions and release the prisoners. They help clean up the site.
Return Home: I mention the travel home is faster than the travel through the forest. I say that as when they bypassed Bridgetown and worked their slow way to the enemy camp they traveled in the forest amongst the scrub and trees, making their way with great care and working hard not to leave a trail while scouting ahead before moving. On the return trip they travel on the road that goes through the forest, that's open and no scrub in the way, making for a faster trip. The return trip has a lot less in the way of natural obstructions and makes for easier movement.
Chaos Calls: First Rescue - Up North, I've had a few people say that US citizens would use the term Back East when talking about going from New Mexico to Frederick. One editor raised this, so I do have the US CITIZENS use that term; but Al is an Aussie and would never say it that way, to him it would be 'up north' as a purely descriptive term, and the same for Eduardo as he's a Mexican. So, please, no more emails about Al saying up north.
Chaos Calls: Dragon Dilemma - Bearings, the bearings I use are steel roller or needle bearings in a steel race - not ball bearings. These can be cast metal. Bearings will never be common on Chaos, it's metal poor, as the metal bearings of the wagons are worth a lot. A rich person like Al can afford them for a special project.
A troop is a basic military unit and has varied a lot between countries, forces, and time periods. The earliest use of the term was for an organised group of warriors on foot. Today, more people are used to a cavalry troop. In more modern usage it varies between being the equivalent of a platoon or a company and has varied in size from around 30 to 70 members. On Chaos Al is setting up a troop to be the equal of a platoon, but with 65 members as that's what he sees as a reasonable sized force to safely act on its own. In older times military units had larger numbers than they do today - think pre-gunpowder period, please.
The carts I mention are something like a dog cart modified for use by a horse, they are only as wide as an average horse. Here's an image of roughly what they look like in real life:
I've been having a major issue with the Gestapo since mid 2015, the extreme limitations on my movements and the stress of the delays they cause resulted in me becoming very depressed in late 2017 and I've been under treatment and medication about it since mid 2018. I started coming out of the depression in May 2019. I'm still climbing the ladder back to better health. All this severely affected my creativity and writing with me having only short periods of useful activity. I've 650,000 words in over 30 stories I'm working on and trying to get finished and posted, so keep an eye out for new ones coming out.
Watch my blog as I only say things here about the stories here, and give alerts on new stories as well.
Oh, to me email, phone, snail mail, and face to face calls are social media, but Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and other such stuff are data mining SPAM sites that I don't use; so please don't send me any invites to such places.
Thank you for reading my stories. I do many things to put food on the table and deal with life, this interferes with my writing, so please bear with me when there are delays in stories appearing. I do NOT post a story until it's complete. Once posting has started I'll make changes to deal with typographical, spelling, continuity, or other important errors like copyright infringement when someone points one out to me. If you see an error, and not just a UK / USA spelling difference error, please let me know.
Writing: I write as if I'm telling the story while sitting around a fire. I find the use of present tense adds to the feeling of being involved, but don't do this with all my stories. Most authors write in the past tense, as it's easier that way to use only one tense throughout. In the present tense you sometimes have to refer to prior events in the past tense, and use both tenses as is appropriate for the situation. I often write in the first person, as this adds to the sense of being involved too. These are both valid, if not common, ways to write. Please, Anonymous, no more emails about it being the wrong way to write.
Aussie narrators use Aussie terms, so please keep that in mind, despite where the story is set. I use Aussie narrators for most of my stories, so, please, no emails about that.
Headings: I use colour codes to indicate headings for Chapters (red), Sub-chapters (blue), and Sections (bold black). They're centred, look more colourful, and are easier to locate. My chapters do NOT match what SOL calls a chapter, and I list the SOL chapter numbers as Parts (green) in my Table of Contents. The submission wizard gets temperamental if the files are too big and makes them into multiple pages. So I try to match my chapter / sub-chapter ends with the number of characters the wizard is happy with - but not always as sometimes I just have to go past the magic number. Once the first part is showing the rest will be appearing every other day. If you can't wait to finish it you can always get it from my Lulu web site (listed below) while contributing to my welfare fund.
Sequels: I do plan to do a sequel to Rough Diamond, Star Performance, the Al Adams stories (on Earth and Chaos), Shiloh, Kim:Power Play, Odd Man in College, and others. I also have many works in progress to finish, so don't hold your breath. Just watch out for the new stories and enjoy them as they appear. They are planned out, but I need to do some research before writing them, watch here for the announcement of when they go up.
EMAILS: I reply to all emails from valid reply to addresses. However, some block emails from my ISP on an irregular basis - clients of those ISPs who don't get a reply, talk to your ISP about it. To get around this I'm using gmail to reply, but this takes more work by me, so I'm now doing email replies every six to eight weeks.
Thanks to the anonymous feedback email senders who send a smiley or a thanks for each chapter. You more than make up for the anonymous abusive ones. Please don't get offended if I don't respond to a basic 'thanks' email immediately.
I'm an Aussie and have never been to the USA in real life, all the knowledge comes from Internet research. So anyone who wishes to give me advice on such things is welcome to send me some information and ideas so I can incorporate them into stories. Please note that in doing so you give me the legal right to use that idea free of charge.
I write as both Ernest Bywater and Ernest Edwards (the Clan Amir series) and I also have my stories at Lulu - page link below.
All my stories are available as e-pub downloads or print books via Lulu. The stories are written in a 6 x 9 inch paperback format page using Libre Office and saved as .odt files then converted to HTML files for here. Note: I've been revising my works to make them smoother flowing and easier to read. If you've bought a past copy and the Lulu page shows a copy with an edition date before July 2018 and you'd like an updated e-copy, email me with some sort evidence you have a purchased copy and the format you want (epub or pdf), and I'll send you a copy of the latest version. The latest versions are being posted here as well.
I now have my own website set up with all of my stories summaries listed in natural divisions that may help you to sort out how they go together. But you will have to come back here or go to Lulu to actually read the stories.
If you think a story of mine is worth publishing in your local newspaper or magazine, talk to them and have them email me. I'll gladly give them approval to reprint it free, especially for Always a Marine and Coming Home.
Due to questions from readers I'm aware many people in the USA and UK have a different idea of what is or isn't in a bathroom, and bed sizes. Here in Australia we have a number of arrangements for a bathroom, and different sized beds.
The link above has a good list of the various bed sizes. What's important is here in Australia we have King single which is 42 inches by 80 inches which I often mention.
A bathroom may contain a bath, a shower, a basin sink in a bench, a toilet, and space to dress - or any combination of them. Also, a bath may or may not have a shower over it. The simple rule is if any one of the above is shown as having its own room, then it's not in the bathroom. Thus the bathroom in Survivor: Moving On has a bath (in this case with a shower over it), a basin sink area, and space to dress. We also have a thing called a four way bathroom where there's a sort of central basin sink area with three doors off it to have the bath, toilet, and shower each in their own little area to allow privacy and multiple users. A three way bathroom is the same but no separate shower.
An en-suite is a cut down version with a sink, toilet, and shower or bath with a shower over it.
I hope this helps you to understand the plans I include as a memory aid.
Here in Australia chips are bits of hot fried potato. Due to certain US fast food stores doing business here we sometimes call the very thin cut ones French Fries (some people call them shoe strings fries). We also have potato crisps, these are cold, precooked, and in packets from companies like Smiths; sometimes they are called a packet of chips. Chips are hot and eaten with meals or as a snack or meal of their own, crisps are a small snack and never eaten with a meal.
Figures in conversation - especially money.
A common verbal short-cut is to mention the baseline of figures the first time you speak of the figure and then only talk of what's in front of the baseline. Example: "I got a budget of a hundred million bucks, the first ten is for the new building, thirty for operating costs ..." and so on. This is to save saying the million or thousand or grand several times.
Due to inflation and other economic factors it's hard to relate prices and values of long ago with those of today. Improved manufacturing makes things cheaper while other factors push prices up. For example, the common desktop computer that cost $2,000 today has more computing power than a $5,000 system did 20 years ago or a $5,000,000 computer did 50 years ago. Yet a gallon of fuel 50 years ago was only a few cents.
You can't really compare prices of then to now. Back in 1860 the latest Colt .45 revolver sold for $20, based on inflation between then and now it would cost about $500, while the changes in manufacturing should make it available for much less for the same gun today, but other factors like increased labor means they sell for $1,500 today - which is much higher than the inflation rate. Rural land in Arizona sold for $5 to $10 an acre in 1860 and now sells for thousands an acre.
The best way to get an idea of prices is to look at key factors of the time and place. In 1860 farm land in Maryland sold for $30 an acre while most people were paid $1.00 a day for a full day of work or about $0.10 per hour (or less), and new revolvers cost $20 each.
I hope this helps with looking at comparative values.
What is a Ute?
I've had people asking: what is a ute? It's the short form of utility vehicle, but is a specific type of vehicle here in Australia and has had the meaning expanded a bit. This wikipedia page gives the basics:
A close US equivalent (as reported by a US reader).
The most common form is a sedan type vehicle front with an integrated bed, kind of like a normal sedan version of the US pick-up truck. Today it's been expanded to include most 1 tonne vehicles used on a rural property, like the typical US pick-up truck, and even a flat-bed tray style 1 tonne truck.
I've had people ask about plans of places I design and use in my stories. High quality images of them are on DropBox. Within the folder is a folder for each story, and you can open it to see the images for the story you're reading. Be warned, I'm putting images up as I create them, so there may be some for stories not yet finished, so don't get upset when you don't recognise the folder, you will, when it's finished. Although I tried, some aren't to scale, due my system's limitations. The URL is:
Always a Marine:
Uniforms and the Three Cartridges: Please read the third paragraph of the funeral carefully, the only uniform I mention the colour of is that of the Marine Corps League, which is a red coat, and they provide the Honour Guard, not the serving Marines. Thank you to those who found someone to ask about the three cartridges, and for passing the information on to me. Three sources checked with senior NCOs in their local military and they signify - Honour, Country, and Duty.
Boone - The Early Years
About the wagon. These wagons are built for long distance, rough country, hauling and are not intended for easy handling close to buildings for loading and unloading on a daily basis. The same sized wheels means they only have to carry the one sized spares, and it means they have a slightly higher ground clearance than the arrangements with smaller front wheels gives them. Boone makes six wheels for each wagon, to have two spares on each wagon.
By the mid 1800s most wagons used in cities and near warehouses had the tongue fixed to the front axle mounted on a Pivot Point which connected to the bottom of the wagon, this extra unit lowered the front axle by about two feet, so they put smaller wheels on it to keep the wagon level and to allow for a tighter turning circle. Other wagons where turning in a tight circle wasn't so important had the front axle mounted on the wagon the same as the rear axle, this gave a higher ground clearance. Often, the team pulled the wagon using a harness or chains, or the tongue was fixed to the wagon with a pin at the wagon end to allow the team to go to the side and drag the wagon around in a turn - most farm wagons were like this. A Conestoga Wagon used a Pivot Point, where as the wagons in the story don't. I thought the mention of the same sized wheels would make it clear it didn't have a pivot point, but it seems that's not so, thus this explanation.
Banks. During the mid to late 1800s there were two major types of banks. One type were registered with the government and recognised by them - Chartered Banks. These were only in larger cities and were very strongly built. They issued Letters of Credit, Bank Drafts, and Promissory Notes - like Wells Fargo Bank, the Hibernian, and the First National Bank. These are the banks the government kept records and statistics on. The second type of bank was a local bank run by a local person which were basic savings and loans banks for the local community. In a lot of cases all they consisted of was a safe and records in the corner of some business. As the towns grew big enough they often had their own building and one or two staff. The only records on these banks that were kept were the mentions in the local newspapers and their own account records. That were not recognised or regulated by the government the way the other type of banks were.
The first type of banks weren't robbery targets due to them being in the middle of large cities and having a lot of staff, including armed guards. The second type of bank is what the bandits and crooks robbed during the 1800s. Often the robbery from a local bank would leave a community broke. Due to the differences between the way the banks operated there are no reliable statistics or information on actual bank robberies. The only solid records about robberies of the local banks comes from the numerous Wanted notices issued on people for bank robbery. This is clear from the issue of notices for bank robbery in places where there were no government recognised banks at that time. If the local banks were lucky enough to grew they became a Savings Association and then grew to be a recognised bank. The Savings Associations had the misfortune to be big enough to target but not big enough to have great security to stop the robbers. The Younger Gang did well robbing the smaller banks, but failed to rob the Charter Bank known as the First National Bank of Northfield. The Wild Bunch did well robbing the smaller banks to. Due to the difference in the types of banks some people think no bank robberies occurred, because they only look at the Chartered Banks.
Reloading the .44 shells - Yes, it can be done, and it's not easy. What you need to keep in mind is Boone knows he's going to an area where resupply is going to be an issue, so he takes precautions to ensure a supply, if he has to regardless of how hard it will be. However, in the course of the story he doesn't get around to doing any reloading, so don't worry about it, please.
Mules. I did a lot of research on how much a mule can carry, and could only find two sets of confirmed figures, one for a pack on the animal, and one for pulling a wagon. The Wikipedia website on mules says they can carry a pack of up to 353 pounds but commonly carry around 150 to 200 pounds or 20% of it's body weight. While the Wikipedia article on the Twenty-mule Team pulling the Borax wagons says they pulled a tandem wagon load carrying 10 tons of Borax with a total weight of cargo and wagons being 73,200 pounds which comes out to 3,660 pounds per mule. This is what I faced my figures on, but I cut it back a little.
Life is Change
Georgia Gun laws: Smoky doesn't have a residential address when he applies for the permit, and he wants a concealed carry permit. So, please, no more emails about how legal open carry is in Georgia.
As to the cut down shotgun, the advice I got from a Georgia gunsmith was that being a single shot weapon in a pistol style with a barrel under 6 inches made it a large bore pistol and not a short barrel shotgun. I've since confirmed that advice was based on Georgia law. I've also been advised by the ATF an application for such a weapon can be made under the National Fire Arms Act. I would have thought where Smoky asked to check if it was legal would have covered that for most people, however, I'm revising the story to add a note about them getting the NFA paperwork done and approved.
Odd Man In College was written in early 2013 and been waiting since. The original story was as a variation on the same theme behind Finding Home I wished to explore. However, I ran into issues with the later part of the story, and it got put on hold. In a recent re-read I realised I could cut off the last part of the story and post the first half of the original story plot as a stand alone story and the troublesome bit can be a sequel when I get it finished. That's what I've done. So, yes, there is a sequel in the works - no time frame at the moment.
The IRS: is concerned about the taxes being paid. Once they find the money is going to the company, they concentrate efforts on the company, to ensure they're paying the right taxes. Once that's resolved, they walk away - their only concern is tax revenue. They're unlikely to be investigating Anian himself, or look at his actual age as he won't have a Social Security Number as he's a legal foreigner and it's not his taxes they're looking at until the end of the tax year and he lodges a return.
The Casinos: my research shows the Indian Casinos, which are what Anian deals with in New Mexico, do NOT operate the same way as the big commercial ones in Las Vegas etc., they're less likely to be quick in banning people and the like behaviour. I make a point of his mentioning being connected with The Spirits and how some of the Indian staff connect with this too. This is another reason why they won't be so quick to kick him out and be prepared to put up with him once he places limits on his activities, that and his big tips. OK, I may be a bit out in the reality of the situation as I didn't have an opportunity to talk to the actual casino staff about this, but it's a very reasonable premises to go with.
I hope you pay close attention to the very last sentence of the story as it applies to all politicians and government employees, domestic and otherwise.
Had an unexpected question about poppers of fruit juice see:
Oil: Yes, oil is sold by the barrel, but when you're explaining something like that to a ten year old you tend to adjust the terms to ones you know they'll understand, thus Sarge speaks of a low 'per gallon' rate, instead of going into a long talk on barrels of oil.
Weapons: I've not mentioned any weapons they have when Pat arrives, other than the Bond Arms Snake Slayers and the M9 Beretta, then they buy a .22 Long Rifle and some replica M1 .30 calibre carbines. I'm asked why they don't use M16s and the like. Simple, they want Pat to be able to use them too. Most US military rifles have an energy level of over 2,000 foot pounds (ft lbf), which is too much for a young boy. While the .45 LC is in the 460 to 1,200 ft lbf range, the .22 LR in the 100 to 200 ft lbf, with the M9 19 mm at 384 to 500 ft lbf, and the .30 Carbine at 970 ft lbfs. The energy varies with the type of load. Where a ten year old can handle the under 1,000 ft lbf weapons he'd have big issues with the over 2,000 ft lbf weapons, so they get lower power weapons to fit their intended range and targets. Also a .22 LR Hollow Point does have the capability to kill a person with a shot to most vulnerable areas.
Maturity: A person's maturity is will depend on their personality and how they're raised. I've known many ten year olds as mature, or more mature, than Pat is in the story. This is especially true of those raised on rural farms or military bases.
Survivor: Moving On
Apartment Phone System It's simple to do using a mini-PABX and normal phone handsets. A unit like this should do it.
Anti-biotics: This term is used in two ways. One is in regards to the commercial products for sale, these are designed to target specific biological infections, and not a virus. In general scientific research anti-biotics is used to refer to any chemical or biological agent used to fight or destroy something biological, and includes more than the commercial formulas just mentioned. This wider use of the term is what I have in the story.
Cheyenne Mountain Complex: The facility entrance is part way up a high mountain and visible from a number of areas where a line of sight is available over a lower ridge and along the roadway. Access is along Norad Road and Google Maps shows Norad Road takes a large hook left up through a valley before it reaches the lower car-park for the facility and then continues along the valley to the upper car-park at the top of a steep slope. The valley where the road takes that major curve is a good spot to set up a barricade, and what I refer to.
Times of Old: Here in Australia I was taught by a carpenter to call the cut a rebate. In the US most seem to call the same thing a rabbet - the wiki article on a Dado joints calls it both, amongst other things.
I've had a few emails where people say I should credit cmsix.
First, yes, I'm aware of his writing and make an oblique reference to one of his works early on in Times of Old.
Second, cmsix did NOT create this genre and he was far from my first introduction to aliens and time travel. The first story I read along these lines was back in the 1970s and was in an old pulp fiction paperback. At SOL I first read time travel stories by authors like aubie 56, The Scot, Jim War, and Old Guy before I found cmsix's works. Some of those pre-date the stories cmsix has on SOL. His big one, John and Argent seems to have been written in 2005 or 2006, from what I can find on the Internet, well after I had read stories by others. So please stop saying I should credit him for the idea, as it was around before him.
Early dialogues with the aliens - Ed thought he was going to die and is surprised not to be dead. Then he's hit with the idea about being the star in a survival show. He realises they can just eliminate him if he disagrees, so he takes the job on. No need for a serious discussion at all and he's also still a bit shocked by the situation. I defy anyone to be anything but a little flippant in that situation.
Weapons and the Wagons About them being useless after a few decades and Ed should take books, information, paper and printing presses. I need only say: Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs - which I've applied to the story. Ed is a guy wanting to stay alive, not an evangelistic scientist on a quest to change the world by taking a hundred tons of gear with him.
He first ensures his survival; designer cave to live in, armoured clothing, guns to survive a major attack, a show and tell manual on medicine and the local herbs, (think of these as insurance) then standard weapons of the era to hunt and survive normal attacks, basic tools and seed to convert from a hunter gatherer lifestyle to an agricultural one, salt and cooking gear to get an in with the locals, finally a wagon and horsepower to move it all to his living area. He also gets the knowledge to talk to the locals.
For those who've not studied it, no culture can develop and sustain metalworking and metal based tools or implements until AFTER they've developed a decent agricultural lifestyle that enables them enough people to be free to concentrate on such activities as mining, smelting, and blacksmithing. No one person can do all that themselves, and it takes one hell of an infrastructure behind the society to do it - an infrastructure that would take decades or lifetimes to develop from a hunter gather society, no matter how smart and knowledgeable the leaders are.
Ed has to move the society along at a sane pace they can absorb and change to, one step at a time. Which is why the book on tools he asked for and why the focus on woodworking tools. Yes, he cheats and gets long lasting high quality metal ones to start with, but all are tools that can be duplicated from within the available materials and technology of the era. The only thing he has that can't are the guns, and he doesn't want them to be available to anyone else, anyway.
In short, Ed's approach is to improve the life of the people and advance towards civilisation, but at a rate they can handle and sustain, not huge unsupported leaps of tech that can't be sustained.
Will to Survive
The rifle is an AR-7 which was issued to pilots as a survival weapon for many years (it was designed for that purpose). A .22 LR will kill a person if you hit a critical spot like the heart, lungs, or spine.
The nukes are Tactical Nuclear Weapons meant for quick use in the field as artillery shells, or small missiles, or demolition charges, and are constructed with two sub-critical masses brought to critical mass by violently slamming them together with a small explosive charge (some links below). Many TNWs have been retired from deployment with active service units. Some were dismantled, and some are still stored in armories in case higher command feel they need them. I don't know if any new ones are being constructed, but design work for new units was still going on as late as 2008. A TNW of this type can be set off by an explosion close to them setting off the activation explosives by the explosions of the cannon shells and thus detonate the TNWs, it was one of the known risks with them and a strong argument against their deployment with front-line combat units. In this story the explosive rounds from the cannon (like the GAU 22/A in the links below) going off beside them sets them off at the same time, or so close together it doesn't matter. The four nuclear explosions overlap to create interesting explosions and shock waves.
In the radio operations I called upon what I was taught back in the 1970s. At that time the organisation I was with used the word 'zero' specifically to mean something of nil value and was below 'one' - thus there were 'zero casualties' meaning no one was hurt. The numbers sounded like: zero, one, two-o, three, foour, fieve, six, seven, eight, niner, one oh; they used 'oh' to indicate the units value after a value in the tens column. What did become an issue was when they changed compass reading to be all three digits so what was four, five (45) became oh, four, five (045) - this was supposed to reduce the risks of an error with the first digit being misheard for the lower directions. Other organisations and other countries did use different values and sounds for radio phonetic values. Some examples being names for the letters, like Bob instead of Bravo and David instead of the Delta I was taught, and so on. Any long discussion on this will see many variations listed by different people.