Jan 28 2017

Random nice things

Rosemary

Oh, I’m so tired of the news… And I’m also tired of so many celebrities passing away.   The War Doctor?  Laura Petrie?  Damn.

I’m looking for things to make me feel better for a while.  I’d post cat pictures if I had any, but alas.  No cats.

So, here are some things that amused and diverted me, for a bit:

As I found out on Facebook, NASA has made all of the scientific research it funds available online, for free, for everyone.   This is excellent.   I approve!

But a very interesting thing about this, that I did not realize until I followed the link to the database: they are using PubMed Central to do it.

PMC is a database of biomedical and life-sciences articles.  It’s the contents of the  US National Institutes of Health’s National Library of Medicine  — full text, full access.  So… what is the NASA research doing there?

It’s not just the NASA-funded biomedical research they’ve uploaded (like this one about cardiovascular disease in Lunar astronauts); it’s also non-medical articles (like this one about how closely-orbiting super-earth exoplanets can lose their atmospheres).  They’ve put it all up on PubMed.

Why? As I see it, possibilities are two:

  1.  “Why make our own public access database?  Look, here’s one that already exists.  Let’s save the taxpayers some bucks!”
  2.  “Make our own database?  How long would that take?  No. Let’s get this out there now.  As in Now.  Like, immediately. “

Select the explanation that seems most likely to you… Personally, I’m leaning toward number 2.

But, result: absolute treasure trove for SF writers!

In fact, wait a minute — why am I telling you about this?   Some of you are my competition!

Yeah, well: still a steerswoman at heart.

And speaking of exoplanets, Jason Wang of the Nexus for Exoplanet System Science ( a NASA-sponsored group), and Christian Marois of the National Research Council of Canada’s Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics put together a video of four exoplanets orbiting HR8799.

This is from direct observation, folks.   Yes, we have come that far.  You should head over to the Many Worlds website and check out their story.

And in the field of Fine Arts, artist “breath-art” over at Deviant Arts has created portraits of our local planets, in a lovely stained-glass style:

Prints are for sale through Deviant Arts… And the prices are reasonable, too.  (I’m eyeing them, and trying to decide which one I like best… I don’t have room for all of them.)

Of course, nothing can beat the real thing….

Juno looks at the Red Spot.

Well.  Back to Book 5.  And chores.

Yeah, I have to clean up the house a bit, before my sister gets back from Florida.


Jan 21 2017

I didn’t get to the march.

Rosemary

But some other people did.


Leading the singers is songwriter MILCK, as captured by marcher Alma Har’el (@Almaharel)

 

The New York Times has a collection of images from demonstrations around the country, and the world.

 


Jan 18 2017

Brain-fried!

Rosemary
Bushnell ceiling.

Bushnell ceiling.

Well, I managed to get my stuff organized (more or less, and more less than more) for the Genrettes.  We’ll meet over the weekend.

You’d think I could chill for a bit, but nope.

I’ve now just completed one of those evil Chores of Officaldom, this one relating to my ACA-provided health insurance, and the need to prove that I actually am self-employed and thus cannot prove my income with paycheck stubs because, hey, I don’t get those.  Therefore; Spreadsheets!  Calculations!   Tracking down records of payments and expenses…  Tedious and nerve-wracking, but done now.

Unless they contact me and request more proof.  Well.

I’d love to tell you how much I enjoyed Beautiful: the Carole King Musical, but: brain-fried.

Short version: Yes, excellent!  But I do want to write a longer version.   King’s music was a significant presence in the soundtrack of my youth, and seeing it transformed into a stage show was both inspiring and analytically interesting.

So… more later.

 


Jan 11 2017

A quote from the president’s farewell speech.

Rosemary

“For too many of us, it’s become safer to retreat into our own bubbles, whether in our neighborhoods or college campuses or places of worship or our social media feeds, surrounded by people who look like us and share the same political outlook and never challenge our assumptions. The rise of naked partisanship, increasing economic and regional stratification, the splintering of our media into a channel for every taste – all this makes this great sorting seem natural, even inevitable. And increasingly, we become so secure in our bubbles that we accept only information, whether true or not, that fits our opinions, instead of basing our opinions on the evidence that’s out there.

… Politics is a battle of ideas; in the course of a healthy debate, we’ll prioritize different goals, and the different means of reaching them. But without some common baseline of facts; without a willingness to admit new information, and concede that your opponent is making a fair point, and that science and reason matter, we’ll keep talking past each other, making common ground and compromise impossible.”

(Emphasis mine.)


Jan 9 2017

Back from Florida. To Snow.

Rosemary

And plenty of it.  Looks like about six to eight inches.

So I was home from the office all yesterday, keeping warm, shoveling the back porch, feeding birds.

Restaurant remains open despite inclement weather.

Restaurant remains open despite inclement weather.

Also, digging out my car and Sabine’s, and  moving them around periodically while the plow-guy clears off the parking lot section by section.

This while trying to extend my writing retreat.   Which explains my radio silence.   The next meeting of the Fabulous Genrettes is coming up Real Soon Now, and I’m in the hot-seat.  So, I’ve got about a week in which to gather this ragged tale into something which, while not graceful, does move.  And which, while riddled with holes, does indicate a plot.  And which, if not actually coherent, is at least discussable.   And I have to get it to the Genrettes in time for them to actually read it before the meeting.

Thus, in a bit of a crunch.  But a good one.

I’m at the office now, but I should head home soon.   Weather.com has a warning banner, telling me that it’s going down to 6 degrees Fahrenheit tonight (that’s -14.44 Celsius for the rest of humanity).  I’ve got the house heat set higher than is usual for overnight, so that those tricky corners where the pipes are close to the outside walls will get enough warmth to keep them from freezing solid.  Which has been a problem in the past.

Meanwhile, my sister is in Florida, basking in the — well, at the moment it’s 54 degrees there (12.22 Celsius), but it’s the middle of the night.  Tuesday it’s going to go up to 72 where she is.  Oh, and with a rip-tide warning.  Should she feel like swimming.  If so, she should watch out for that rip-tide.  Probably a better idea to use the pool.

Other bits of news:

Here’s a picture of Earth from Mars.

From Mars.

Earth. And the Moon. From Mars.

 

Courtesy of the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

And here’s a link to an article in the New Yorker about Ted Chiang, a writer whose work I love desperately.

Yes, I did see Arrival, based on my favorite Ted Chiang story.  And so should you.  Yes, I want to say things about it!  But I’m in a crunch at the moment…  So, later?

Meanwhile, I’d better get home.  It’s crazy cold.

 


Jan 1 2017

It’s been a long and strange year….

Rosemary

…and I’m pretty sure there’s more on the way for this coming year.

 

new-years-eve-2016

Times Square, New York City, 2016

I wish I were some sort of wise woman, and could deliver a deep and moving statement that would make everything clear, everything safe, and bring comfort, reassurance and peace to everyone.

Alas, I’m no such person, and I have nothing like that for you, or even for myself…

All I can say is this:

In the coming year –keep your eyes open.

Keep your mind engaged.  Watch, listen.  Pay attention.

This new year might be fine, might be perfectly fine; or it might be the worst ever.  It will probably be something in between.

But if things do start going wrong, don’t leave it to others — if you can, speak up.  If you can, step forward.

And if you can’t, then just hang on, and stay safe.

new-year-2017

The first moment of 2017

To all my readers: thank you.  And all my best wishes to you and yours.

And, hopefully:  happy New Year.

 

 

 


Dec 25 2016

And a joyful seasonal holiday of your choice to you!

Rosemary

I understand that the first night of Hanukkah falls on Christmas eve this year.  Nicely convienient.

Athiest that I am, Christmas is a purely secular holiday for me. Celebrate family! Friends! Loved ones of all sorts! (Rats, I forgot to buy Charlie the cat a present. Well, I’m sure some extra catnip in his sockie-toy will be appreciated!) Be kind to each other, and spread joy everywhere you can.

We’re going to be needing good will in the days to come. Of this, I am sure.

My visit with some Florida friends included the traditional gawk-at-the-nearby-mansion interlude. The owners decorate with lights every Christmas, and this year went even more over the top than you’d think possible.

I’m sure this is visible from space.

 

img_2020

Street view.

 

img_2021

Sidewalk view.

 

img_2028

And driveway view…

And they even opened the gates this year, and let everyone wander the grounds to enjoy the lights up close.  Very public-sprited of them!

img_2045

Love these sweeping staircases.

 

img_2043

There’s something about palm trees wrapped up in Christmas lights…

Of course, not everyone can afford $300,000 for Christmas decorations.

 

Fortunately, there are more frugal options:

snow-coolers

While Florida lacks snow, there is no shortage of styrofoam coolers.

I hope you and your own family, extended family, loved ones, and associated non-human critter-citizens have nothing but delight for all your holidays.


Dec 21 2016

And a happy Solstice to all…

Rosemary

 


Dec 15 2016

Surfacing briefly

Rosemary

Just checking in, to let everyone know that I’m still alive, merely incommunicado on my writerly retreat.

In. Florida.

Heh.

Yeah, it’s been, oh, 80 degrees Farenheit (26.6 Celsius, for everyone except the USA).  Which is actually a little warm for winter, here.   Meanwhile, I believe some of you are experiencing a blizzard of some sort?  Ah, well.

I love this screened-in porch, with overhead fans, where I have basically set up my workspace.  It’s quite lovely.

I do wish the actual book would be more cooperative… but I’ll keep at it.  I’m sure I’m learning all sorts of things about how to fix plot problems, identify dead ends, and persevere despite disgruntlement.   It will all come right in the end.  I’ve actually done this before, so I know that to be true.

Meanwhile: sunshine, moonlit nights (I love to work at night), fresh air, entertaining birds, and bonus kitty.

Charlie observes from on high.

Charlie observes from on high.

This place is not actually isolated — I’m just isolating myself, voluntarily.  It’s a quiet neighborhood, with nice scenery.   There’s lots of stuff to do nearby, none of which I’ve done yet…

But I’ll be hanging with a local friend on Friday, which I’ll be glad to do, having been  on my own for over three weeks now.

Just me and Charlie and the birds… And Rowan and Artos and Bel, and a couple of new people with their own agendas and problems…

Plenty of ibises about:

img_1937

These guys are always glad to see me.

 

"cause the know I've got the good stuff.

‘Cause they know I’ve got the good stuff.

Seriously, these dudes are everywhere.   They’re like the sparrows of Florida.  Only big.

Also seen but not caught in photos: Yellow-green Vireos; Ospreys; Kingfishers; Muscovy ducks; Great Blue Herons; some sort of stork; Snowy Egrets; some other sort of small white egrets, which showed up one day mixed in with the ibises, but spent their time scrounging through the shrubberry in search of delicious lizards, of which they found many.

Not seen, but known to be around somewhere: Roseate Spoonbills.

In other, and somewhat perplexing news, I went shopping at Kohls the other day, because I dicovered that I did not bring enough short-sleeved t-shirts.  I did not find short-sleeved t-shirts in the Women’s department.

I did find these:

Yes, the layered look. So popular for winter fashion.

Yes, the layered look. So popular for winter fashion.

And these:

And let's not forget our puffy quilted jackets!

And let’s not forget our puffy quilted jackets!

Even if we were not having a heat wave, and the temperature were the winter-in-Florida normal of about sixty degrees — no way would anyone need a puffy quilted winter jacket.  Would they?  But the store was stuffed with these!

All I can think is that they had them for sale so that all the grandparents could buy them to ship to their grandkids in the frozen north.   I guess that makes sense.

Well, back to the tale…


Nov 29 2016

Every year, John Scalzi does a very nice thing.

Rosemary

Actually, he does many nice things, all year ’round.  He’s just a nice guy!

But around this time of year, he also opens the comment stream of his blog to writers and artists of all sorts to promote their own works, with his Holiday Shopping Guide.

He breaks it out by type.  Yesterday (Monday,) was reserved for traditionally published books, ebooks, and audiobooks.  Today (Tuesday) is for non-traditionally published works (that would be me).  Wednesday is for other creators; Thursday is for fans to share their enthusiasm about any books or other art they want people to know about; and Friday is dedicated to promoting charites.

Last year, I got a good increase in sales from Mr. Scalzi’s blog.  He has lots of readers.   Another year-end boost would be very useful indeed.

And you might want to check in on his blog daily this week.   A lot of people, creators of all sorts (although mostly writers), will be plugging their work.  And Christmas is coming!  You don’t want to just buy the same old stuff for your friends & family, do you?

Meanwhile:  Yes, I am in Florida.  Here’s proof:

 

Yeah. I'm not going to be feeding any gators that show up...

Yeah. I’m not going to be feeding any gators that show up…

I am, however, allowed and even encouraged to feed the other wildlife.  Well, not in the park; in the yard of the place I’m staying.

Ibises, who also cannot read.

Ibises.

 

Egyptian goose.

Egyptian goose.  They will basically walk up to the screened porch and give me the side-eye until I come out and feed them.

And my pal Charlie:

Grub, skritches and cuddles dispensed on command.

Grub, skritches and cuddles dispensed on command.

Well.  Back to Book 5, which is sort of the whole point of being here, right?

More later.

LATER:  I posted the promo, but (Darn it!) I forgot that I had wanted to make it shorter first  — I think it’s too long.   But I just copy/pasted, and hit “post.”  I feel it was unkind of me to take up that much space.  That’s what happens when you post half-asleep — should have edited it down last night.

On the other hand, I managed to be the seventh person posting (out of what will be, trust me, hundreds).  So, yay.