Links of tangental relevance to my current life

Do you not get enough drama from your “friends” on Facebook?

Try following the antics of fictional friends on Fatebook.

Need a reason to stay up all night and fret about the future of humanity?

Robots with guns – soon!

Remember way back on my other blog, when I explained The Miserable Truth About Plastic Bottles?  No less than Slate.com agrees with me.

Forty years later: random facts about Apollo 11.

Have you just spent years writing the best RPG ever? Too bad.

The E-bbok debate nicely summarized in five points.

And now, because its been a while, further news on the antics of the octopi:

Spain’s Islands of the Gods. “But we’re content. We have our peace and everything we need: meat, octopus, goats, chicken and vegetables,” says Victoria, as she herds her goats into a stall.

And the journal Afarensis has compiled a survey of recent octopi literature including octopus ancestry, octopus porn, and a debate over whether octopi is actually a word in English.

Since “gianormous” is now in standard usage, I’m thinking yes.

Now You Know

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A Backlog of Odd Discoveries

The plastic in common plastic drink containers can leach toxin – or not. Full treatement in my other blog: Are We Lost Yet?

The day you always knew was coming: robotic penguins.

Bill Moyers with David Simon, one of the creators of The Wire on HBO. Simon says, “This is what happens when you have a whole class of people that the economy has no use for…” That notion has been bothering me all week.

Earth Day came and went with the revelation that my children are more ecologically minded than I am by a full order of magnitude – and I’m relatively green by my generation.

For humans on earth, under relatively normal conditions, the size of an object that can be visually discerned in 1/500th of the distance of the observer. That’s just to identify that something’s there. So, at 500 meters, you could make out one meter objects – but you couldn’t tell if they were bumps or windows or painted squares. Identification starts at about 100/1.

That information derived from here. Yes. Really.

20/20 vision is normal – not perfect. Sharp-eyed humans can get to about 20/12. The 20/20 standard is actually fairly arbitrary – it refers to how far away the chart is. In Europe its 6/6 – six meters vs 20 feet.

Fun facts from NPR Science Friday:

Got skunked? Don’t waste yr time with tomato juice. Try this method instead. (Including the basic chemistry of skunk sprays…)

Basic info on the agave plant.

Now for the Writers:

YA Fiction gets no respect.

A 12-step program for publishers (Good luck with that…)

And WSJ on E-books and the future.

Did I mention I’m not sold on Kindle – or any other dedicated book-reader? I’m not. The price point is too high for something that isn’t much of an improvement over your PDA (which also does other useful things…).

Now You Know.

More “Careful What You Wish For”

For the last week I’ve lived the life I always said I wanted (within limts – these are the goals I could realistically hope for) a few years ago.

It’s fun – no doubt. But its exhausting. So whileI slept that off,my wife hoarked my laptop to do her homework, capping of an already considerable delay.

I rebuilt two of the five gates to my yard. That was never really a life goal, but I’m glad I got it done.

gate-perspectiveThe photo shows the other gate for contrast.

I attended a book signing and then went home ad slapped together a marketing survey for what I hope is my next book. Good News/Bad News there: The survey contained the info they wanted to see, but, despite selling out at the book signing, I’ve only sold 94 copies from national book chains – where most copies are sold. <sigh…>

My book proposal is a similar format covering the Coconino National Forest, which includes outdoor hotspots of Sedona and Flagstaff. But if the original sn’t moving, there’d be less appettite for a sequal.

The again, they made Starship Troopers II.

I’m fairly certain I was the only author at the book signing with an actual publisher who paid me (in advance). Everyone else was self-published.

I took ten copies and walked out with none, BUT I sold seven copies to people I already knew, including my stepmother who bought four copies because she’s a compulsive gift-giver. So it goes.

Then I had the chance to design and run a moving light show for the first time in two years.

samia-09

That’s from the 2009 Suns Charity Dinner. The performer is Tamia Hill (wife of Suns forward Grant Hill, but equally talented in her sphere).

By all accounts it well (despite Suns players appearing briefly as “guest vocalists”).

DO NOT daisy chain DMX between Studio Colors and Mac 2000’s. You might think that because Mac’s have 3pin (and 5pin) DMX that this would work out like DMX signal is supposed to. That assumption leads to daring do on an A-frame ladder at 3am. Studio Colors do not play nice with newer DMX units. I dimly remember running into this barrier before – but I wasn’t in charge.

On a related note, I have long known from an experience so bad its comic now, that you cannot use Atomic strobes as 3pin-5pin DMX adapters.

The key to executing looks quickly with moving lights is to set useful groups and then map out all your positions first. Creating looks after that is just a few steps more (mainly gobos, and their FX) than doing it with conventionals.

Oh, and operating a Grand MA lighting console is not at all like riding  a bike.

I’m also pretty sure this was the first time in 3 years I had a competent ME helping hang my design who wasn’t myself.

I’m sitting in catering, trying to gulp down some outstanding salmon in the ten minutes I had to eat, when Suns owner Robert Sarver burst in the room, slapped me on the back (because I was closest to the door, I suspect) and exhorted us all that we should have fun doing whatever we do.

I’ve also been pushing The Game ahead (I may add a page just for that). I’m still plowing through a working revision of the rules. I have a formula for aging (and associated stat loss), rather than a table, and this pleases me. I also have an spreadsheet summarizing the damage system, which I’ve been wanting to fabricate for as long as I;ve been thinking I ought to just rebuild the damn gate.

Two good sites:

The Space Site for clear, readable extrapolations of the possibilities beyond our planet and

Technovlegy : a compendium of ideas from SF, and who came up with them first.

Now you know.

One

Some administrative announcements: there is now a separate page for the Wednesday night Writer’s Meet-up notes. Not going to link. Click on the Writer’s Meetup tab.

Are We Lost Yet is supposedly being mirrored on the Amazon.com author site, but I have yet to locate such a link.

Now, links I’ve meant to include but haven’t got around to yet:

A debate on the genetic nature of altruism.

More octopus antics.

And an outstanding site for exploring the microscopic world. [Click the British flag for the English version.]

Now you know.

Alien Tumbleweeds [2/8/09]

Well -of course- the House Republicans voted against the Obama stimulus plan. All the moderate republicans were defeated by conservative democrats. The militants, whose constituents would pretty much demand they oppose such things, are the only ones left. Knowing that, the House democrats piled on a lot of earmarks, most of which will be stripped in the Senate. Which the House GOP still won’t vote for, because they have nothing to gain by it. And the Dem’s don’t care, because they have a comfortable majority without them.

By bipartisan, Obama really means three votes from Republican Senators.

This may be the last post for a week – I’m going into the NBA All-star Game – which is an 85 hour week for me. IF i can smuggle in my laptop and IF I finagle working internet (neither a guarantee at the USAC), I might update this week. If not, it’s work-drink-sleep until the 17th.

Meanwhile:

Homes made out of dirt.

A long, but compelling entreaty on e-books. Most of the links are worth clicking as well.

And, it turns out the tumbleweed is not native to the SW deserts. Its actually an accidental import from Russia. [via Cactus Camping, my blog-mates from Trekalong.]

Now you know.

The zombie corpse of Orpheus drifts farther away every year. 1/1/09

Twelve years ago I made a New Year’s Resolution that I would never make New Year’s Resolutions. I kept it ever since. The Holidays will be over soon, and honestly, I’m ready to get back to the Real Struggle without the artificial stress and expense that we create for ourselves every year.

You can develop tennis elbow from playing Wii. I know this because Santa brought that for Christmas. (If consumer spending is down – don’t blame us!)

The Wii baseball that comes with it frustrates me because its like grade-school kickball. No double plays, no sacrifices – runner only advance on real hits. Ah well, I still spned too much time on it.

Dark Roasted Blend interviewed Kenneth C Davis, who write the Don’t Know Much About ______ books, basically encyclopedias of random facts.

Current astrophysics holds that our moon was formed when the semi-mythical planet “Orpheus”, probably the original resident of the Sun’s 5th, but now vacant orbital slot between Mars and Jupiter, slammed into our planet billions of years ago. Bernard Foing writes about that in Astrobiology.


Good leaders – who know its not their turn – make great followers. Most of them are happy to only have to worry about the job in front of them for once.

Now you know

The need for dark coffee and a high PEI rating [12/3/08]

The good news: my daughter is student of the month, and is entitled to a free celebratory breakfast with her family.

The bad news:breakfast starts at 6:50am. Sunrise: 7:15am. eating cafeteria food in the dark is one of the many things that parents do for love.

Speaking of the need for seriously black coffee, check out these three items I found on Dark Roasted Blend:

Physicists making coffee with lasers and cooking hot dogs with tesla coils.

How living things and minerals may effect each other’s evolution.

And Tristan da Cunha, the world’s most remote inhabited island. The next step is to acquire a photo of one of their urinals…

Some inportant advice about living with writers.

And finally, tile comes with a rating from the Porcelain Enamel Institute to indicate its resistance to abrasion. They go from Class 1, so fragile they should only be used on walls to Class 5, “suitable for all residential and commercial use.” Monocuttura indicates tile glazed with a single passthrough the kiln, though the uncredited article (advertisement?) (anyway, not from the PEI website) I’m using as a source doesn’t mention why anyone would care. Vitreous tile, more usefully, has less than 3% water absorption, and is what you want around pools or spas.

Now you know.