Pool for "Branded in His Memory"

Sep. 24th, 2017 01:45 pm
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[personal profile] mama_kestrel says, "I'll be able to put in $50 on the 29th. Can anyone join me?"

I am willing to extend the quarter-price option for "Branded in His Memory" beyond the sale proper if people have confirmed their intent to sponsor it.  These mega-epics are so big, they rarely sell at full price, so it's to everyone's benefit to catch them in a sale.  If you're looking to shop in the sale but have not yet done so, here's a great opportunity to get the most bang for your buck.  The one person who's seen this piece so far is raving about it.

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Thanks to a donation from [personal profile] dialecticdreamer, there are 23 new verses in "The Higher a Monkey Climbs."  Jules and Pips discuss how to support G's family after the fire.

Poem: "Black Swan Lake"

Sep. 23rd, 2017 08:55 pm
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This is the freebie for the September 2017 [community profile] crowdfunding Creative Jam. It was inspired by a prompt from [personal profile] wyld_dandelyon. It also fills the "merfolk" square in my 9-1-17 card for the Pirate Fest bingo.


"Black Swan Lake"


She swims,
her long neck
a graceful curve,
her black feathers
sleek and unruffled.

Sometimes,
she changes.

She swims,
her two feet
now a single fin,
her black breasts
bobbing in the water.

In both forms, she
is the secret mistress
of Black Swan Lake.

* * *

Notes:

See the black swan in bird form and mermaid form.

Mermaids appear in legends from around the world, including Africa.

ysabetwordsmith: Damask smiling over their shoulder (polychrome)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
I finished this earlier in the week, and decided to offer it for the half-price sale since it's so big that it's unlikely to sell for full price.

"Branded in His Memory"
Summary: A mass-casualty incident brings Ansel to the Christian Care Rescue Mission in Bluehill. It's an ugly mess, but he does a wonderful job of helping everyone recover -- not just from their fresh injuries, but whatever put them in a homeless shelter to begin with.
$1555 lines, was $778, sale price $389, quarter-price $194.50

I'd rather not open another epic for microfunding, but this one is big enough that if you buy the whole thing (or pool with someone to do so) then it automatically gets the quarter-price rate.  That's true for any of the other epics that cost $100 or more.

Appearances: Conflux 13

Sep. 24th, 2017 07:48 am
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[personal profile] klward
Next weekend (which lasts from Friday, 29th September to Monday, 2nd October) the thirteenth Conflux speculative fiction convention will take place at the Vibe Hotel Canberra Airport. The theme this year is "Grimm Tales". With guests of honour Ellen Datlow and Angela Slatter, there shall be much discussion of the roots of fairy tales, the uses of enchantment and the meaning of common tropes.

I won't be contributing much to all of that. Instead, I'm on these panels:


Friday, 3.00pm - Use and Abuse of the Tarot

Using the Tarot as a literary device.
"The Rider-Waite versus 007!"

Saturday, 4.00 pm - Poetry Readings 2.0

Poetry for the 21st Century and beyond. An immersive experience of live poetry readings.
"Pick up the thumbscrews and you'll get what you deserve."

Sunday, 1.00pm -  Vampire poetry

The poems, the poets and the muses.
"Lestat's lyrics count as poetry, right?"


So come along: it will be good to see you! I also anticipate much lounging around in the lobby, doing the Creative Indulgence workshop and the Australian Horror Writers Association meet up on Sunday at 6.00 pm in the bar.  It's hay fever season, but with any luck, I won't need to go outside at all!

Saturday Yardening

Sep. 23rd, 2017 04:41 pm
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Today is hot, muggy, and sunny as I discovered when I went outdoors to plant bulbs.  I wound up watering plants, and only planting the fist-sized purple frittilaria bulb in the purple-and-white garden.

Many of the flowers are drying up, although a few are still blooming.  Sedum and goldenrods are flowering vigorously.

Still not much activity at the birdfeeders, but we saw a squirrel doing acrobatics on the hopper feeder and another bird near the fly-through feeder that may have been a phoebe or a flycatcher.  It was dark with a white belly, but seemed to have more of a crest than a dark-eyed junco.

EDIT 9/23/17 -- I went back out and planted 12 blue miniature iris.  I put 4 each in the purple-and-white garden, goddess garden, and wildflower garden.  \o/

I need to get out and gather/redistribute seeds.  Many of my wildflowers have gone to seed.  :D

Working Around Microphones

Sep. 23rd, 2017 01:36 pm
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[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
Recently I came across a couple of discussions about technology, public speaking, and accessibility. One of them is in [community profile] access_fandom and links to the other which is a Unitarian-Universalist post. The crux of the matter is that people with hearing impairment often need amplification in order to hear, but not everyone is willing or able to use a microphone. And those groups don't always know about each other's concerns, which causes friction.

Read more... )

One-Card Draw

Sep. 23rd, 2017 01:01 pm
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[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
 [personal profile] wyld_dandelyon is doing a one-card draw.  Tipping gets you an extra card, or you can buy a 5-card reading.

Crowdfunding Creative Jam

Sep. 23rd, 2017 01:07 am
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[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
The [community profile] crowdfunding Creative Jam is now open with a theme of "black swans."


What I Have Written

"Black Swan Lake" is the freebie.

From this I got the free-verse poem "Revisitation." Shaeth hears a prayer from a long-time follower, and this time decides to answer it.
47 lines, Buy It Now = $20


From My Prompts 

[personal profile] alatefeline  has written the poem "I Don't See Black Swans" about compensation and decompensation.

Long Live the Halflings!

Sep. 22nd, 2017 03:52 pm
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[personal profile] eldritchhobbit


Today is the anniversary of the Long-Expected Party celebrating the
eleventy-first birthday of Bilbo Baggins and the coming of age of Frodo
Baggins in The Lord of the Rings. It was on this day that Bilbo
gave his infamous birthday speech, saying “I don’t know half of you half
as well as I should like, and I like less than half of you half as well
as you deserve,” before disappearing from the Shire forever.

Also on this day, according to the Appendices of The Lord of the Rings,
99-year-old Samwise Gamgee rode out from Bag End for the final time. He
was last seen in Middle-Earth by his daughter Elanor, to whom he
presented the Red Book. According to tradition, he then went to the Grey
Havens and passed over the Sea, last of the Ringbearers.

image

And now, in honor of the Baggins Birthdays, the departure of Samwise, and
Hobbits in general, a quote about the Ring’s temptation of - and failure
with - one of J.R.R. Tolkien’s (and, for that matter, world
literature’s) greatest heroes, Samwise Gamgee:

“Wild fantasies arose in his mind; and he saw Samwise the Strong, Hero of the Age,
striding with a flaming sword across the darkened land, and armies
flocking to his call as he marched to the overthrow of Barad-dûr. And
then all the clouds rolled away, and the white sun shone, and at his
command the vale of Gorgoroth became a garden of flowers and trees and
brought forth fruit. He had only to put on the Ring and claim it for his
own, and all this could be. In that hour of trial it was the love of
his master that helped most to hold him firm; but also deep down in him
lived still unconquered his plain hobbit-sense: he knew in the core of
his heart that he was not large enough to bear such a burden, even if
such visions were not a mere cheat to betray him. The one small garden
of a free gardener was all his need and due, not a garden swollen to a
realm; his own hands to use, not the hands of others to command.”
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

[syndicated profile] science_at_nasa_feed

Posted by ckaiser

A NASA-produced map of areas likely damaged by the Sept. 19 magnitude 7.1 Raboso earthquake near Mexico City has been provided to Mexican authorities to help responders and groups supporting the response efforts. The quake, which struck 75 miles (120 kilometers) southeast of Mexico City, caused significant loss of life and property damage.

News Article Type: 
Published: 
Friday, September 22, 2017 - 11:49

0.5 seconds in the Sun

Sep. 17th, 2017 08:24 pm
[syndicated profile] badastronomy_feed

Posted by Phil Plait

It’s funny — in astronomy, you wouldn’t think split-second timing would be all that critical for getting a good shot of some cosmic object. After all, the galaxies, stars, planets, and more have been around for billions of years. What’s the hurry?

But then, you have to remember that not everything is just sitting out there waiting for the shutter to snap. Some things are moving pretty rapidly, and if they’re close enough to us then the difference between getting a nice shot and a fantastic one can take less than a second.

Here, I can show you. Check this out!

ISS transiting the Sun between two huge sunspot groups. Credit: Dani Caxete

ISS transits the Sun between two huge sunspot groups. Credit: Dani Caxete

That is the Sun (duh), taken by Spanish astrophotographer Dani Caxete. He took this on September 5, 2017. At the time, those two big sunspots groups were visible (called Active Regions 12673 and 12674, the former of which flared several times just days later) — in fact, they were big enough to be spotted with no optical aid; I saw them myself using my eclipse glasses left over from August.

But that’s not all that’s in the shot. Look again: Between the active regions is a decidedly more artificial spot:

Close-up of the ISS transiting the Sun between two huge sunspot groups. Credit: Dani Caxete

Close-up of the ISS transiting the Sun between two huge sunspot groups. Credit: Dani Caxete

 

Yup, Caxete caught the International Space Station as it transited the Sun! The ISS is orbiting the Earth at about 8 kilometers per second at a height above ground of just over 400 km (about 500 km from Caxete, who was in Madrid when he took the shot due to his angle). At that speed and distance, it takes very roughly a half a second to cross the face of the Sun.

To capture it, you can’t rely on tripping the shutter at the right time; it’s better to take video, and then select the frames that show the ISS. This image shows one such frame. Caxete made a nice little video showing his travel across the city, the equipment-setting-up, and then getting the shot:

 

Coooool. I like his ‘scope, too; it’s a Long Perng 80 mm f/6.8 refractor with a Lunt Solar Systems Herschel wedge (which filters the sunlight down to acceptable levels), and a Nikon D610 camera. There’s no substitute for good optics!

As Dani told me, he has something of “an obsession with the ISS.” He took this shot as well:

ISS transits the Moon

ISS transits the Moon. Credit: Dani Caxete

 

Nice. And he has lots of other such images he’s taken (including one I featured on the blog back in 2011, though the ISS had a visitor that day), and I suggest you scroll through them, because they’re very pretty.

Getting a shot like this takes some planning, too. The sky is big, and you have to be at the right spot at the right time to catch the ISS moving across a target like the Sun or Moon. Happily, software packages like CalSky (which is what Caxete uses) make that a lot easier; you give it a location and it can calculate what’s visible in the sky and where, including the Sun, Moon, planets, asteroids, and satellites (including potential transits near your location). It’s not too hard to use and fun to play with, so give it a try.

Not that getting a shot like this is easy. But with all this lovely tech we have handy, it’s a lot easier than it used to be. Still, it takes a lot of experience and perseverance … and a deep love of the chase. I don’t mind a chase myself, given the right circumstances (I traveled to Wyoming for the eclipse last month, after all), but in this case, I’m just glad experts like Caxete and others are willing to drop everything, even for just a short while, to provide the rest of us with such lovely images.

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Riding the Slingshot to Bennu

Sep. 21st, 2017 05:48 pm
[syndicated profile] science_at_nasa_feed

Posted by mbrody

Video Length: 
3:21

Gravity’s pull is being used to help propel a small spacecraft known as OSIRIS-REx to a near-Earth asteroid called Bennu.

Read this story

[syndicated profile] badastronomy_feed

Posted by Phil Plait

On the morning of Friday, September 22, 2017, the Earth will experience a close encounter with a spaceborne object. But never fear! We’re perfectly safe. That’s because the space traveler is the NASA probe OSIRIS-REx, and it will pass more than 17,000 km above the Earth’s surface.

The flyby is designed so that the spacecraft will steal a little bit of the Earth’s orbital energy, using it to fling itself up, changing its own orbital plane to match that of its target, the asteroid Bennu. OSIRIS-REx will pass closest over Earth’s south pole, and the Earth’s gravity will naturally bend the probe’s path up, up, and away.

This is the third event in the mission’s life in space, counting launch as the first. It launched a bit over a year ago and was placed into an orbit similar to that of Earth around the Sun. In January 2017 it performed a “deep space maneuver,” firing its engine enough to change its velocity by about 1600 kilometers per hour, putting it on the correct course for the flyby.

If you want the details of this flyby, then (as always) you should check in with my friend Emily Lakdawalla at The Planetary Society, who has the info.

The spacecraft has already been spotted by Earthbound telescopes; the Large Binocular Telescope in Arizona saw it on September 2:

Animation showing the movement of OSIRIS-REx on September 2, 2017, when it was still 12 million km away. Credit: Large Binocular Telescope Observatory

Animation showing the movement of OSIRIS-REx on September 2, 2017, when it was still 12 million km away. Credit: Large Binocular Telescope Observatory

I know, it doesn’t look like much, but c’mon: It was 12 million kilometers away and at a magnitude of 25. The faintest star you can see with your naked eye is 40 million times brighter! So this is actually pretty good.

If I’ve done the math right, it’ll be roughly magnitude 11 or so when it passes Earth on Friday. That’s still faint, though within reach of a good telescope. The mission web page has advice and links for trying to see it. Given how far south it’ll be, that means it’s easiest from southern locations; in Australia the Desert Fireball Network will use the flyby to test out their cameras. They’ll observe OSIRIS-REx from different locations and use that to get its 3D trajectory in space. They use the same technique to track material like meteors burning up in Earth’s atmosphere.

I mentioned three events in the mission’s space life so far, but the fourth event is the big one: arrival. Approach starts in August 2018, when OSIRIS-REx is about 2 million km from Bennu. It’ll begin a series of engine burns to slow its approach relative to the asteroid until it goes into orbit. Starting on October it’ll begin surveying Bennu, and will continue to do so for a year.

The orbit of Bennu (blue) is similar to Earth's. This shows their relative positions on the day of the OSIRIS-REx flyby. Credit: NASA / JPL

The orbit of Bennu (blue) is similar to Earth's. This shows their relative positions on the day of the OSIRIS-REx flyby. Credit: NASA / JPL

Bennu is a pretty interesting asteroid (if it weren’t, then duh, we wouldn’t be sending a spacecraft to it). It was discovered only in 1991, and is on an orbit similar to Earth’s, though slightly bigger, more elliptical, and tilted to ours by about 6°. That’s a substantial inclination, taking a lot of energy to match, which is why the spacecraft is using Earth to whip it around. Bennu only approaches Earth about once every six years (its orbital period is about 1.2 years, so it takes a while for it and the Earth to sync up).

Bennu itself is about 500 meters across, a decent-sized chunk of rock (though it will be the smallest object NASA will have ever had a spacecraft orbit, an interesting statistic). It’s what’s called a B-type asteroid, meaning it’s rich in carbon as well as what are called volatiles: materials with low boiling points. Even though it’s small, it may have water inside it, trapped in materials like clays.

It’s shaped roughly like a top or a walnut, slightly wider than it is high. It rotates once every 4 hours or so. Its overall shape was determined from both radar mapping as well as how it changes brightness with time (for example, a very long object can get much brighter when it’s broadside to you, and fainter when it’s end-on). Interestingly, its mass is low; given its size it’s barely denser than water! It’s likely to be a rubble pile, a collection of loosely bound rocks held together by gravity and other forces. That can happen as an asteroid suffers low-speed impacts over billions of years, shattering it in place. Lots of voids form between the rubble, accounting for the low density.

Other than that, it’s thought that Bennu hasn’t undergone much change since it formed 4.5 billion years ago. It’s hoped to be a time capsule dating back to the formation of the solar system itself!

NASA made this spiffy short video explaining more about Bennu, OSIRIS-REx, and the mission itself:

Oh, one more thing for now: OSIRIS-REx is loaded with instruments to examine the asteroid, including cameras, LIDAR, and a spectrometer. But it also has another package: a sample return capsule (SRC). While at Bennu, it will collect a sample of surface material, squirrel it away inside the capsule, then send it back to Earth! This has been done by a mission before (the Stardust mission to a comet), so it’s tested tech.

Scientists want to collect at least 60 grams of material, though they might get more. The mechanism to collect the sample will puff nitrogen gas onto the asteroid surface and then collect the material that floats off. They have enough gas to try this three times, so it seems likely they’ll get what they need.

Then the SRC will be sent on its way back to our planet, arriving as a fireball in the sky and then falling to Earth in July 2020. It’ll be collected and the samples brought to labs where this pristine asteroid material can be studied in much greater detail than is possible with a spacecraft.

But that’s all still far in the future. First things first! Let’s get the flyby done, and then we can start looking ahead to seeing Bennu up close and personal next year.

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Artwork showing OSIRIS-REx flying past Earth above Antarctica and South America. Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/University of Arizona

Global Warming

Sep. 21st, 2017 03:47 am
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[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
 ... is not new, is more solid than ever, but people still aren't listening.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
Scientists have discovered a geometric shape at the center of reality, whose form defines the behavior of particles.  It's a lot simpler than trying to calculate by hand the way those things move.  It goes from hundreds of pages of math to one. 

Meanwhile I'm laughing my ass off because, well, om mani padme hum.  Not the sound of the chant, but it's literal meaning: the jewel in the heart of the lotus.  Mystical people have been staring at this thing forever, because A) it's inspiring, B) it's really pretty, and C) when you're out of your body on a lot of other dimensions it tends to be right in front of your face and kind of hard to ignore.  Which is okay because A and B.  :D  Anyhow, quantum mechanics might like to take a look at the prismatic branch of sacred art.  Perhaps it will prove inspiring.  Because quantum physics is where magic and science meet, which is why it's cool.  I may not be able to hack the math, but quantum physics still makes my existential intelligence sit up and go squee.

On the downside, this means people are getting reeeeeaaaalllly close to figuring out graviton technology.  This is about as relaxing as realizing that the toddler has just about figured out how to turn on the blowtorch.  O_O  

Birdfeeding

Sep. 20th, 2017 06:22 pm
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[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
A few days ago, I filled the birdfeeders.  Today I saw a mourning dove on the fly-through feeder, so at least one bird has discovered the seed.  \o/ 
[syndicated profile] lois_mcmaster_bujold_feed
Baen's mass market paperback edition of Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen is coming up next week. Official launch date is next Tuesday, Sept. 26th. However, I don't think this one has a hard don't-sell-before date, so it will probably start trickling into brick-and-mortar bookstores whenever they get around to opening the boxes in the back room.

My box of author's copies arrived. Front looks like this, more or less -- Baen's shiny foil does not scan well.




The back looks like this:



They somehow got the first draft of the cover copy onto this one, and not the final one as it appears on the hardcover jacket flap. That last line was not supposed to be, misleadingly, All About Miles, but rather to put the focus on the book's actual protagonists and plot, and read, "...the impact of galactic technology on the range of the possible changes all the old rules, and Oliver and Cordelia must work together to reconcile the past, the present, and the future."

Ah, well. Most readers (who bother to read the back at all) will figure it out, I expect. Those that don't will be no more confused than usual.

Ta, L.

posted by Lois McMaster Bujold on September, 20

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