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Fred Koschara

bootstrap finance

Get another J.O.B.? No!!

Jun. 06, 2024, under bootstrap finance, call to action, disturbing, events, goals, really???, the pain of gain

J.O.B. – an acronym for Just Over Broke.  It’s a position everyone holding a JOB is in, although they may not realize it.  Even households with two wage eaners who have “pretty good” salaries can quickly find themselves scraping the bottom of the barrel if either or both lose their JOB, especially if there are significant medical expenses involved:  Hospital bills can chew through savings at an alarmingly rapid pace.  If you have to go to work to get paid, you’re Just Over Broke.  If your continued presence at your JOB is required to keep food on the table – even if it’s two, or five, years before today’s wages stop putting food on the table – you’re Just Over Broke.

In my youth, I imagined my family would end up in business together as adults, working together to build a common fortune and achieving great things. It was not until years after his death that I learned my father had been sucking his parents finances dry to escape from the poverty I didn’t realize we were living in as children. Looking back on all of that, it’s not surprising he put everything he had into a trust to prevent his own children from doing the same thing to him. In doing so, he prevented us from being able to use what should have been our inheritance to reach our full potential.

My grandfather had a fifty acre farm in the middle of Long Island.  On summer days he’d load the truck with vegetables and drive to New York City to sell the goods in the markets there.  More than once I’ve wished I had gone with him and learned how to sell the wares we had to offer, haggling for the best price while ensuring the truck was empty when we went home. Instead, I got that education many years later when I was selling pizza slices and sausages in Kenmore Square for Pizza Pad, making someone else’s family rich. I’ve read a lot of books about how to succeed in business, etc., such as “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill, all of Robert Kiyosaki’s “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” series, and many others. The common theme in all of them is you have to have some money or support in order to become successful. Bill Gates didn’t start out as a poor college kid with an idea and build Microsoft, he was a trust fund baby whose mother sat on the board of another company with the chairman of IBM. Peter Beck’s family gave him the support and encouragement he needed to acquire the skills and determination needed to build Rocket Lab, but without Mark Rocket’s $300,000 investment, the company would have never taken off. Steve Jobs may have started Apple in his parent’s garage with an investment from his uncle, but that also included encouragement and support of his parents as well. I, on the other hand, have never gotten any financial support for my endeavors, and have actively been discouraged by both family and “friends” from trying to build a business of my own every time I tried. Still I persist, knowing that the only way I will be able to truly succeed is through building my own business, filling the needs of my customers.

One time my father asked why I never came looking for help until I’d gotten into a crisis. I think I said because he would never listen until it was a crisis, but I may have just thought it. Another time, I heard him complain to my mother one evening saying “how come none of our children have become successful?” I should have gotten up and said it’s because he never invested into our success, but I didn’t say anything. I regret making those mistakes of silence, I think we all would have benefited from the ensuing discussions.

I set out with the intent of trying to save the world from a host of horrors that I saw coming down the pipeline. I found myself trying to do everything alone, by myself, all the time, even though that’s literally impossible: There’s so much more work than one person could possibly do by themselves. This has been compounded by always having to return to an empty house at the end of the day, which led to finding places to stay out later, putting off returning until I was ready to fall over from exhaustion. I don’t have anybody to celebrate with, I don’t have anybody to bounce ideas off of, I don’t have anybody to point out when I’m getting off track, or even help get any of the simple things done, let alone the big ones. Nobody I know understands that:  Everybody has their children or companions, or wives, or some group of people around them, giving support, suggestions, encouragement, and advice. I have none of that, yet I am expected to carry on and do everything, by myself, and make it all work. That’s just not possible.  At the very least, I need a partner in my life with whom I can work to build the better future I’ve envisioned.

I really thought on the morning of February 14 that I was going to have a date for my Valentine’s birthday (for the first time in a dozen years) with someone I would have liked to build a relationship. The date got blocked by another woman who had a mad crush on me, and I ended up taking me and myself out for dinner again. That was the last straw: I stopped doing anything productive for almost a month and a half because I’d gotten too tired of trying to do everything without getting anything more than momentary satisfaction in return. The last paycheck I got paid March’s rent and most of the bills due when it arrived. My cash flow has been negative since, and I started pawning stuff to buy groceries and all. Coincidentally, my car needed its engine thermostat and clutch replaced. Even with the parts on hand to fix it, I didn’t have motivation to do the work – I had decided I wasn’t going to do anything until I at least had someone to celebrate finishing something before I started again. That continued endlessly to the point where I was wondering if that would be how I spent my last days – in a frustrated fruitless search for something missing for most of my life.

A couple of months ago I found there are a number of entrepreneur and investor groups in this area I’d like to go and talk with – but I need my car to do that. There are a number of odd jobs around I could undertake, but I need my car to do that. I need to go buy groceries and other supplies – but I need my car to do that. Every time I think of something that I want or need to do, my first thought is I need my car to do that. That led to me being totally focused on trying to get my car back into working order, further frustrated by everything going wrong with the attempt – by myself, alone, with nothing but the tools and supplies that I already have, no real supporting documentation, and no one to assist me.  I did eventually avail the help of a couple of friends, but the shift linkage got reassembled incorrectly and I can’t use reverse or the top two gears in the transmission.

I went to college at MIT, listening to NAACP ads saying “give to the American Negro college fund, a mind is a terrible thing to waste.” What happened? I ran out of money. That started the cycle. When I ran out of money, I went and got a JOB at the behest of my family. I soon found I wasn’t making enough money to get where I want and need to go. In other words, I ran out of money. I went and got another JOB. As the cycle repeated, I would sometimes be frantically working on something to make more money, hoping to finish before the cash on hand ran out. The money ran out, I went and got another JOB. The cycle repeated. One definition of insanity, attributed to Albert Einstein, is doing the same thing over and again expecting different results. Look at the pattern: I ran out of money. I went and got (another) JOB with the expectation that I wasn’t going to run out of money again. But I ran out of money and went and got another JOB, again with the expectation that I wouldn’t run out of money. Getting another JOB with the expectation that I won’t run out of money again is the pattern of insanity. What I need to do is be able to carry on with one of my projects to the point where I am making money, rather than earning a wage. Until I can get to where I am hiring people, rather than being hired, I will not be able to stop running out of money.  I have known this for years, but all I hear from everyone around me is “you need to go get another JOB…”

It’s taking the patience of Job to avoid getting another JOB, but I know it’s what I have to do to move my life ahead. My adamant refusal to go to another JOB “because that’s what you’ve got to do to pay your bills” has gotten me into extremely dire straits.  I’m not going back to start the cycle of insanity again, this is going to be my last pass through it.  I just hope I end up on the right side of the ground when it’s over.

…and so when people tell me I have to “get another J.O.B.” I “just say NO!!

The back story about the trust:

I have been led to believe my parent’s farm and any other valuable assets my father had at the time of his death are tied up in a trust that no one in my generation can touch. The upshot of that is I have no inheritance while my brothers get to enjoy the comfort and use of the farm they live on that will be left solely to their children since none of the rest of my siblings (yet) have any of our own. The trust story may or may not be true, but since I have never had the opportunity to read the trust document, I don’t know how accurate the picture is, or how questions such as distribution of profits from the farm would be handled. I’ve also never seen my parents’ wills, which people around me have recently been pointing out should have gone through probate. I’m starting to have serious questions about the legality of everything going on here. There’s also the matter of the savings account my mother left for me that one of my sisters-in-law slipped up and mentioned one time (her husband immediately hushed her about it) that apparently had over $6000 in it at the time. That amount of money being wrongfully diverted squarely puts it into grand theft, and with more than one person involved, it’s conspiracy. I’m starting to wonder how different things will look if I do some investigating, and if I need to hire a lawyer to resolve the issues I’m wondering about.

As it is, the farm is a static asset, and nothing is being done to enhance its worth. Things like clearing ditches and removing overgrowth to restore arable land maintain the current value as a property but do nothing to increase its valuation as an asset. The only things driving its price up are inflation and competition for the limited resource that land represents, and both of those are offset by increasing taxes and rising prices. Because of COVID and subsequent issues, a million dollars today buys between half and a third of what it did three years ago. If similar events happen in the future, it won’t be long before the million dollar value of the farm won’t make it a significant resource: Change always happens, and if you don’t proactively move things forward, they are going to fall back.

As executor of the trust, I asked my brother to take out a loan using the farm as collateral and invest into my future so we can work together as a team to build our family’s wealth instead of fighting over who is going to get what, who is going to survive, and how long this death spiral we are now caught in is going to last. I wasn’t trying to make unreasonable demands or pick a fight, I was respectfully requesting that we join forces and move a common set of goals forward in a timely and effective way. What I got was a flat out denial:  “The farm is paid for, we can’t afford to jeopardize that.”

One of my brothers suggested I “get any important papers you might need like your car title, passport, Etc and some essential supplies in a go bag so if you do get evicted you can at least have that with you.” That shows an abject lack of respect for me and my life: I’m now facing the dangerously high probability that I could lose everything I have ever worked for in the very near future. That would be an extremely “not good” outcome. I asked for assistance to avoid that situation, in the best interest of everyone involved, but apparently I’m the only one who can see it that way.

The idiom “blood is thicker than water” implies a person’s family is more important than their other relationships or needs. There is also a quote that means the opposite: “The blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb” – which means relationships you choose are stronger than the ones you inherit. I don’t know which is the “original” and which is the “extension,” but considering I’ve already suffered much more at the hands of my family than from everyone else combined, I’m inclined to agree with the latter.

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Investor sought for

Jun. 05, 2024, under bootstrap finance, call to action, progress reports, Web dev

I am currently seeking $75,000 to underwrite redevelopment of the website, originally built in 1997, into a functioning and profitable business.

I’m willing to pay a $5,000 finder’s fee to anyone who introduces me to such an investor when the deal is completed.

Please contact me with serious inquiries only.

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Happy 18th, !!

Oct. 26, 2022, under art, bootstrap finance, goals, history, progress reports

As midnight passed and the date changed to October 26, 2004, I was taking pictures in my apartment in East Boston because my artistic eye was appreciating what I saw.  I thought that if I had a website, I could share some of the beauty I see around me.  After discovering was available, I registered the domain and tossed together an initial presentation of the site.  The first picture I posted was one I’d taken at about 12:05 AM:'s first picture, October 26, 2004’s first picture, October 26, 2004

At that time, I figured I’d post pictures for a while, and see where it went.  I had no clue I’d still be posting a picture a day eighteen years later, but here we are: turned 18 today, it’s old enough to vote (in some jurisdictions, I’m sure…) and there are now 6575 different instances of “Your Daily Dose of Art” to be seen on the site.

It originally started as an art project, a chance to share some of the pictures I’d taken that I thought were pretty nice.  Over time, I have come up with a few ideas about how to make some money from the effort:

  • offers limited edition prints of the photographs on for sale, either for private collection and display, or as an investment opportunity (but some work needs to be done before it’s operational)
  • PbFpaper™ is an application to I was writing to update a subscriber’s Windows desktop with the picture of the day
  • will offer some of the pictures from as [1000 piece] jigsaw puzzles
  • will offer some of the pictures from as [motivational] posters
  • PhotoByFred – The Movie is a project to create a “flip book” movie showing all of the, in succession. With an average display of 1/3 second per image, the movie would be more than thirty-six minutes long. (Even showing frames at the NTSC standard 30 frames per second rate would yield a film over three and a half minutes long!)

So far, none of those projects have generated any income:  I’m still posting to Photo By Fred every day as a labor of love, so that I can share the beauty I see in the world around me.  If anybody would like to invest in helping me turn any (or all!) of the “side jobs” into profitable efforts, my Current Projects page has more information.  I’d be happy to pay a referral fee if you can introduce me to someone who does make an investment into the work.

Speaking of referral fees, I’m actively looking for visionary customers interested in reserving a condo in the colonies at L5 I’m working to build, with occupancy circa 2050.  The L5 Condos site has more information, and I will pay a 10% commission for a referral that directly leads to a completed sale.  Get out your address books, and let’s pass some $1000s around 😉

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I stumbled again, but I’m still up and running !!

Oct. 22, 2022, under bootstrap finance, bugfix, disturbing, goals, philosophy, puzzling

Last Friday, October 14, I discovered the Buy Bonds buttons on the Invest page on Space Power Now were no longer working:  Between PayPal (continuously) changing their payment system API, moving the site to a different server than it was originally built on, and a few other details, bit rot had set in, and yet another one of my robots was broken.  With everything else going on, it took until Monday evening, October 17, before I got the buttons working once more in the PayPal sandbox.  It was the next morning, October 18, before they were live once more, because I forgot to switch the operation from the sandbox to the live system when I went out to have a few moments’ relief from the stress of working night and day.   It’s things like this that lead me to make comments such as “things break, everything takes longer than it does” as I did in my Deja Vu post on the 11th.

As if that wasn’t enough, I then lost another whole day, 24 hours straddling Tuesday and Wednesday, when I was trying to get the Donate buttons on Use My Middle Name updated and something happened to the server.  I don’t know what I did to trigger it, but after I posted some changes to the site, it suddenly disappeared, and one of the other sites started showing up instead.  I thought perhaps I had done something to the configuration when I was trying to get HTTPS set up.  I went through so many iterations of trying to go back to previous configurations, tweaking the server’s files, re-establishing the certificates, etc., that I completely lost track of how many steps I had taken.  Literally nothing I did made the slightest bit of difference, I couldn’t get Use My Middle Name to be displayed when I went to its URL, in either Firefox or Chrome.  Then I discovered I could go to the site on my phone – it had a few bugs that needed to be worked out, but at least it was the right site!  Unfortunately, a phone may be useful for browsing the Web, but it’s not a useful tool for developing and debugging it, so I had to go back to my laptop – which was still not doing the right thing.  I cleared the DNS cache, restarted the browsers, rebooted the machine – nothing made a difference.  I fell over from exhaustion, and when I came back from getting some rest, the problem was still there, and I had run out of things to try.  I repeated some of the steps I’d tried before I went to sleep, and as before, nothing made a difference.

Then, all of a sudden, almost exactly 24 hours later, it suddenly started working again.  I didn’t consciously make any modifications I could associate with the change, “it” just decided to start doing the right thing once more.  The fact that I have no clue what caused the failure, or what made the failure go away, is at least as much of a concern to me as the 24 hours I lost fighting with the problem:  I can’t explain what happened, or why, so I don’t know if another similar problem is going to come along at some (random) time in the future and take another bite out of me.

Once I was able to see the site on my laptop, it was relatively easy to get the cosmetic issues resolved that I had seen on my phone.  I haven’t gotten the buttons working properly yet because I had to go work on another, more urgent fire.  I guess I’ll have to make that a priority, once I figure out how to keep the electricity on, my phone active, my Internet connection running and get the domain name registration renewed for the sites that have disappeared over the past couple of days.

Right now, things are far from working smoothly for me.  I’m seriously struggling to survive, and it makes me question my decision to not get another J.O.B.[i] in my effort to break the cycle of insanity that has defined my adult life (also mentioned in my Deja Vu post).  However, as my Focus on Your Goals / Obstacles Will Disappear T-shirt advises, I’m doing my best to keep my eyes on the prize, and not let all of the stumbling blocks trip me up.  (You can read more of the T-Shirt Philosophy behind that shirt on FredLines T-shirts – which is yet another one of the Current Projects I’m hoping to find an investor for.)

If you get a cross-site scripting warning when trying to visit the FredLines T-shirts links, allow the page load to proceed:  The issue is a consequence of the ancient and decrepit PerlShop code still running the site – I haven’t had time yet to finish recoding it in PHP with a (MySQL) database behind it – another thing on the list…

I tell people “dancing is the art of not falling down.”  So far, the artist has been successful.  I just have to focus on making it so that continues to happen!

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Condos for sale at L5

Oct. 13, 2022, under bootstrap finance, call to action, goals, space t/e/d

In case you missed it in my Deja vu post on the 11th (buried three quarters of the way down the page), I’ve decided that, absent any other proposals for working on one of my other current projects, I should spend my time working on selling reservations for condos in the colonies I’m proposing to build at L5.

For most of my working life, I’ve had a dream of being able to fund what I now estimate to be a $50 trillion dollar project because when we get to the bottom line in 30 years, there’s going to be a huge profit for everyone who invested into the effort.  The problem has always been – how do I get the first million? so that I can actually spend my time working on said project, and attract other people to work on it with me? i.e., how can I start hiring enough people to have a reasonable chance of getting it done?

The idea is actually quite simple:  I’m asking people to invest into reserving a condo in the colonies, secured by a deposit of $10,000 (for the first 100 units).  The final purchase price is obviously going to be much more than that, but if I can sell one reservation a week for two years, that’s the first million dollars that has been my stumbling block all this time.  I’m building as the vehicle for making those sales, actively constructing the site while I look for visionary investing customers who can see the value of financial participation in the project at this early stage.

Part of my problem is that I don’t personally know many people who would be interested in signing up to join this project at that level.  Consequently, as mentioned in my Deja vu post, I’m willing to pay a 10% commission – $1,000 – to anyone who introduces me to a customer who does reserve a condo and puts down the $10,000 deposit I’m asking.  Even if, like me, you don’t necessarily know anybody who fits the bill, tell your friends they have an opportunity to earn a commission:  The more people spreading the word, the sooner I’ll be able to start hiring people – maybe even you – to get the whole system built.

Let’s work on this together – let’s all make money – lots of it!

Money is a tool, just as a hammer is, or a screwdriver. Like any other tool, money can be used to do good or to do evil: That choice is made by the person using the tool, not the tool itself. Don’t condemn money as evil, any more than you would another tool.

I want to make money, enough to support myself and let me build the dreams I have of a better future. In order to do that, I expect the people working with and for me will likewise make enough to support themselves, and build their dreams.

Change is always going to happen.  Even if you do nothing to move the world forward, change is still going to happen.  Please join me in working to make the world a better place, because if we don’t, it’s still going to change – and if it’s not getting better, …


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Deja vu

Oct. 11, 2022, under bootstrap finance, call to action, goals, philosophy

I’ve been through this cycle more times than I want to count, starting when I left college after the first semester of my sophomore year:  I run out of money, so I go get a job, building other people’s dreams while mine whither on the vine for lack of attention.  Working for some time, I get to where I’m frustrated or the project gets to a milestone and the job goes away.  With some resources set aside, I start working feverishly on one of my projects, trying to get an income that supports me.  Instead things break, everything takes longer than it does, so I run out of money, go get another job, and repeat the cycle.

Being hypercreative, I’m inventing things, coming up with new projects faster than I could possibly finish them – sometimes two, three, or even more in a single day.  I’m sure there are drugs that could curtail that “problem” – but would I want to be the person they turned me into?  I strongly suspect not.  Consequently, going to get a job to “solve” my money problems is going to lead to my being frustrated, even if the work is something that enjoy.  This is simply because I spend all of my productivity working on someone else’s dreams while mine get left behind when I think up another one in the mean time.  Throw in daily 45 minute to two hour “stand up” meetings that require everyone in the company’s attendance, or work that is mind-numbingly different from what I originally thought I was being hired for, and many jobs, especially “FTE” (full time employee) ones, end up causing me to have attendance issues.  Any job I take is going to end up being a “temporary” one because either the contract will run out, or my interest in participating will.

One of the definitions of insanity is doing the same thing, over and again, expecting different results.  From my perspective, going to get another J.O.B. (just over broke) simply because I’ve used up my immediate resources fits the definition of insanity:  I’d be starting the same cycle again, expecting it to lead to having the time and resources to work on my projects long enough to get (one of) them done.  After all these years, after all these repeats of the same cycle, I know it just ain’t gonna happen!

Clearly what I need to do is find a way to be able to work on at least one of my own projects long enough to get it to where it’s supporting me.  My Current Projects page describes many of things I’d like to be working on.  Any one of them could lead me to where I’ve got people working for me, to get more and more of them done, ultimately leading to building space colonies, solving the pending oil shortage crisis and opening doors that can only be found on a frontier, and saving humanity.

I’m looking for one or more investors who not only can see the value in what I’m trying to achieve, but also expect to make money on the deal, too:  Talk is cheap, and those who give me valid advice can expect the same in return.  When someone puts up cash to make things work, though, I expect to give them a handsome reward in return for their investment.  Terms are negotiable, depending on the project, the size of the investment, and other factors as appropriate.

I also recognize the need to pay commissions when someone brings me a lead that results in a sale.  For example, if someone introduces me to an investing customer who wants to reserve a condo in the colonies that we will be building at L5, and that customer puts down a $10,000 deposit toward the property, I will pay the referrer a 10% commission – $1,000 – for the introduction.

Money is a tool, just as a hammer is, or a screwdriver.  Like any other tool, money can be used to do good or to do evil:  That choice is made by the person using the tool, not the tool itself.  Don’t condemn money as evil, any more than you would another tool.

I want to make money, enough to support myself and let me build the dreams I have of a better future.  In order to do that, I expect the people working with and for me will likewise make enough to support themselves, and build their dreams.

Let’s work on this together – let’s all make money – lots of it!


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I’ve stopped selling on eBay

Jul. 03, 2018, under bad business, bootstrap finance, disturbing, really???

Purple turtle figurine, previously for sale on eBay

Purple turtle figurine

I recently sold a small item on eBay:  I bought a 10-piece lot of small turtle figurines a few years ago for $40, so the cost for each item is $4.00.  I had them listed for $4.95 each, plus shipping, so my gross margin on each sale would be $0.95 – not a lot, but at least it looked like a profit.

At that price, I couldn’t offer free shipping.  I listed the shipping and handling as $1.00 for handling (to cover the cost of a box, packing material, tape, etc.) plus the actual cost of shipping via the customer’s selected method.

The customer paid $16.36 to buy this $4.95 item – eBay added $11.41 for shipping and handling to the bill, which astounded me.  As it turns out, though, that wasn’t out of line, considering the actual cost of sending the package from Wellsville to Tulsa, Oklahoma via FedEx Home Delivery was $10.39 (after eBay’s bulk discount):  The assessed shipping and handling charges left me with $1.02 to cover the cost of materials.

Adding the gross margin from the sale, plus the handling fee, it would appear I gained $1.97 from the transaction.  The problem, though, is that there are fees involved:  eBay charges a 10% “final value” fee for sales at this level, so I had to pay them a commission of $0.50 to make the sale.  Fair enough, but now my gross margin is $0.45.  Then, PayPal charges 2.9% plus $0.30 per transaction to process the payment – so PayPal collected $0.77.  Now my gross margin has disappeared, and I’ve already lost $0.32 on the deal – and that’s assuming my time has zero value, and there were no costs in packing the figurine to send it.  Using those assumptions, I’ve still had a net income of $0.70 because of the handling charges that the customer paid.

However, today the last nail in the coffin arrived:  eBay’s invoice for the month of June shows they have assessed a $1.14 “final value” fee on the SHIPPING CHARGES!  Ignoring everything else, that means they charged $0.12 more for their profit on my mailing the package to the customer than I received as a handling charge.

Together with the gross loss from the transaction, the loss from the shipping charges means I had a net LOSS on the $4.95 sale of $0.44.  No business can survive with a 10% loss on every deal.  That plan is fundamentally flawed, and is the reason I will no longer be trying to sell things on eBay.

I tried sending them an email about the situation, but I expect it will bounce…

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The #RaceToSpace project now has its own site

Dec. 26, 2017, under bootstrap finance, call to action, goals, progress reports

I’ve finally gotten the initial version of the new site for the Race to Space project up and running. There’s a teaser on the Home page, an opportunity to pre-order copies of the book at discounted prices, and the “Corporate” section has a copy of the investor goodies I first published on the L5 Development Group Web site.

Check out the new site, and if you’re sufficiently intrigued, pre-order a copy of the book.

Race To Space

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#BlowUpTheTunnel renamed to #RaceToSpace

Dec. 03, 2017, under bootstrap finance, call to action, goals, progress reports

Someone told me they thought the name of my #BlowUpTheTunnel campaign was promoting domestic terrorism – really?!?!?!?  That idea was so totally out of my perspective when I built the campaign I couldn’t believe it.

Now the project has grown in scope, and a new name is in order:  It’s now called #RaceToSpace. Instead of just resulting in a book describing how to get space colonies and solar power satellites built, there’s a full-length “predictive fiction” action novel thrown into the mix – and maybe a major motion picture, if things go right.

The campaign to underwrite the project is on GoFundMe, donations are now being accepted…

Race To Space

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