So, the last week or two have been…interesting.
Work progresses on The Project. Shawn and I have been working our asses off—to the best of our abilities—and things seem to be moving forward. Unfortunately everything’s still all over the floor, so it’s hard to see the big picture. We’ve got bits and pieces, notes and lists, but not enough is done yet to know how it’s going to fit together.
We’re excited, though. What we’ve got is good.
I’ve read a bunch of books lately, and most of them have been pretty good.
Leviathan’s Wake, Caliban’s War, Abaddon’s Gate, Cibola Burn – These four books are The Expanse series, or what’s been released of them so far. Very good, space-faring science fiction of the not-hard variety.
Ringworld – Yeah, I know it’s a classic, but I only just got around to it. This is hard-ish, space-faring science fiction, and while I liked many of the ideas in it, some of the execution seemed a little off to me. There was a lot of tell-don’t-show and the characters never felt particularly real. I liked the book enough to keep me reading to the end, but I didn’t love it.
Mort – This is the fourth book of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series and it’s awesome.
Since I’m a heavy GNU Emacs user—at least on my laptop—I’ve long ago swapped my CAPSLOCK and CONTROL keys. Giving up all that juicy keyboard real estate to CAPSLOCK—a key which shouldn’t exist anyway—is hideously wasteful, and having a CONTROL key right next to my left pinky makes using Emacs so much more pleasant.
Swapping these keys under GNU/Linux is relatively painless. And it’s even easier under Mac OS X—click one check-box and done.
Well, the other day I decided to make the same change to my desktop computer, which runs Windows 7. And, I shit you not, in order to swap these two keys you need to crack open your Windows Registry and hand-hack hexadecimal.
I finally got around to watching Firefly, as well as the Serenity movie. It was good. Much better than I expected.
Alas, I also tried to watch Farscape, which was terrible in pretty much every conceivable way.
How Farscape got four seasons and Firefly didn’t get all of one is beyond me.
The 43-year-old actor’s manager had no immediate comment. Brendon was in town for an appearance at Tree City Comic Con.
Boise police said they received a call around 9:30 p.m. on Friday about a disturbance in a hotel lobby involving Brendon and staff members. When officers arrived, they found the actor showing “signs of intoxication” and said he “repeatedly refused officers’ commands to stay seated while officers tried to speak with witnesses.”
I find it amazing that he was 25 years old when he started playing Xander Harris on Buffy. But then, I’m still impressed by gravitational slingshots.
Did you know we have a spacecraft orbiting a comet right now? And did you know that in less than 30 days, that spacecraft will deploy a lander which will attempt the first soft touchdown on a comet in human history?
On 6 August 2014, the Rosetta mission achieved a significant milestone by becoming the first mission to rendezvous with a comet. During the coming months, Rosetta will orbit the comet, deploy the Philae lander (in November 2014), and accompany the comet through perihelion (August 2015) until the nominal end of the mission.
There’s a great article on the ESA’s site which goes over the highlights of the mission, including the always-fascinating-to-me use of gravitational assists during the flight.
Rosetta could not head straight for the comet. Instead it began a series of looping orbits around the Sun that brought it back for three Earth fly-bys and one Mars fly-by. Each time, the spacecraft changed its velocity and trajectory as it extracted energy from the gravitational field of Earth or Mars. During these planetary fly-bys, the science teams checked out their instruments and, in some cases, took the opportunity to carry out science observations coordinated with other ESA spacecraft such as Mars Express, ENVISAT and Cluster.
Each of the fly-bys required months of intense preparation. In particular the fly-by of Mars in February 2007 was a critical operation: the new mission trajectory to 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko required that Rosetta fly past Mars at just 250 km from the surface, and spend 24 minutes in its shadow.
That last bit is especially awesome, because Rosetta’s systems weren’t originally designed to deal with 24 minutes without sunlight. They had to reprogram the craft, while it was in space, so that it wouldn’t freak out.
- It was too hot.
- My neck hurt no matter what position I was in.
- Every little goddamned noise in or near the house conspired to drive me batshit bonkers.
So, yeah, that was fun.
I think I might have managed to fit an hour of sleep in there somewhere, but I doubt it. What I don’t doubt is the fact that I’ve got four appointments and a shit ton of work to do, all of which sort of require at least a few functioning brain cells.
Good times ahead!
…here’s what I’ve been up to in the last couple of weeks.
- My daughter turned ten on Saturday, which was awesome. Also? I feel really old.
- I somehow managed to strain my left trapezius muscle. No idea how I managed it, but I managed it, and it hurts like ten minutes of a Dana Carvey movie. I’ve made two trips to the doctor, taken two kinds of anti-hurt medicine, and the fucker still hurts—although the pain’s more like ten minutes of an Adam Sandler movie now, so that’s at least something.
- Work continues on The Project. In particular, I’m writing my ass off and what I’m writing doesn’t suck. In fact, most of it’s pretty good! We’re making decent progress, and should have something we can play test relatively soon, but…
- Our “To-Do” list has basically exploded since we got started. Like, we’re staring down the barrel of what’s going be at least double the amount of work we thought we’d have to do. We figured our initial list of Things Which Must Be Done would grow, but not this much or this quickly. We’re still optimistic about The Project’s future, but it’s a much more cautious optimism.
- I’ve had mountains of paperwork and whole mornings/afternoons filled with appointments recently. I’d get into the specifics of the what and why but it’s not that interesting. Suffice it to say, we live in neither a paperless society nor in a society where I can remain pantless and just Skype people when I need to meet with them. I am disappointed by both of these facts.
- I recently read Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey (which is actually a pen name for Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck) and it’s awesome. Really great space opera with just enough scientific realism to keep things consistent and not bog down the storytelling. This is actually the first book in a series called The Expanse and I’m currently about halfway through the second book Caliban’s War. You should read them.
- I also started reading the Warriors series of books by Erin Hunter (also a pen name for multiple authors) because my daughter loves them and keeps asking me to get into it. The first series consists of six books and I read the first three this weekend. They’re not bad. Definitely children’s fantasy, but entertaining enough that I don’t feel guilty having blown off all of Sunday reading them.
Anyway, those are the highlights. Now I’ve got to tie this off and get back to work.