Saturday, April 27, 2013

Starting on a new story...

...because what's the point of actually finishing one?

My Kuiper-Kuiper-Kuiper blaaaAAAAaaaades...

This is the rough-first draft of the opening for the story, which I hope to turn into something fairly lengthy, nerdy and full of something that may pass for the layman's version of accurate 'hard' science fiction.


     Late in 2342, the Titan based astronomer Ruth Lawrence was nearing the end of her term-of-duty on the moon of Saturn. Soon she would be transferred to some other outpost in the Solar System after a short re-acclimation period on Earth.  With just six-weeks of her eighteen-month assignment left, she had not yet received her next set of orders, which meant they were still evaluating her current performance.
    Exhausted and bleary eyed, she poured over the holo-plates beamed from the mega-telescopes orbiting overhead.  Titan’s thick, hazy atmosphere rendered ground based telescopes impractical very early in Titan’s colonial history.  For nearly one and a half Earth-years, she had been analyzing the still-mysterious Kuiper Belt and Oort Cloud for city-sized or larger objects, as well as potential Earth-threatening cometary bodies.
    By her own clock, she had been at the desk for 16 hours and it was nearing midnight.  She exhaled with an air of stale boredom and absently sipped at her coffee, trying to pull together her focus for these last few plates.  As she glanced across the edges of each plate (she used the pattern she had learned during a childhood full of putting together complex puzzles by starting from the edges and working in) her eyes skipped quickly past a queer looking shape at the the far three o’clock side of the plate at the right of a line of six.
One thing she had never been told about the air of Titan, and this was true even in the airtight habitat modules, was that it smelled uncannily of pesto.  It was typically easy to ignore, but Dr. Lawrence’s lab wasn’t completely airtight.  Instead it used a simple airlock system more to compensate for the pressure differential than the contamination of the air, making the odor far more difficult to ignore. She sniffled suddenly fighting back the urge to sneeze (she had to get those filters cleaned).  Confident she had held back the tickle in her nose she lost her self again looking over the final details of the last plate.
Without warning, Dr. Lawrence’s body seized abruptly as her sneeze forced its way through her nose and down her spine.  She jostled her coffee, sloshing some over the lip of the non-lab-approved cup that dripped down the long, angular arm of her holo-plate lamp landing, by pure chance, on the object she had previously missed completely.
“Damnit,” she groaned reaching for her towel to dab up the small puddle that had formed on the plate.  As she wiped up the mess and decided to going back to her quarters for the night, she took one last look at the area where the spill had been.  Her eyes crossed awkwardly trying to focus on what may have been just more coffee.  To prove to herself that it was actually there, she wiped the spot again more aggressively.  
She pulled down her glasses and noted it’s location, then moved across the holo-plates, sequentially from right to left.  “What is that?” she asked herself in the dead, spiced air of her lab.  She immediately turned back to her console and began to overwrite the megascopes programing for the following cycle - she wanted the scope to stay trained on the same patch of sky to keep track of the anomaly.
Within two weeks of the end of her assignment, Dr. Ruth Lawrence had discovered the 32nd dwarf planet of the Sol System.  She was granted extended Earth stay after her re-acclimation, as well as the honor of naming the body.  Instead of naming after herself, or some obscure mythology of past centuries, she relied on her passion for collecting antiques from a particular electronics manufacturer of the 20th century.  And while she would never know it, the dwarf planet Casio-Beta would one day prove to be one of the most important discoveries in the history of mankind.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The romance of Science and the material world

Far too often, I hear and read folks complaining about science 'ruining' things. That science is dry and soulless - somehow without wisdom due to it not being from some place in deep antiquity. Because it gives us answers to ancient questions, often contradicting the "traditional" hand-waving explanation of men and women that roamed homeless in the wilderness, it is somehow less worthy? No.

Science is better.

Does this mean we hate things like magic?

Saturday, February 2, 2013

And FAWM Begins!

Every February for the past few years, I have joined a mass of insane and amazing people over at  FAWM stands for February Album Writing Month whose challenge is simple: write an entire album's worth of songs during the shortest month of the year or, more directly, 14 songs in 28 days.

I will hopefully be posting updates throughout the month, starting with my first entry:

Let the FAWM begin!

Monday, January 28, 2013

An attempt to explain my 'cycle' of depression

First and foremost – I am not posting these blogs and statuses for your sympathy.  When I re-read this I tried to add some lighthearted jibs, so please keep that in mind if something comes across as shocking or offensive (unless you deserve to be offended, of course).

Big head+Tiny arms = Sad T-Rex
While I do appreciate the sentiment behind your support, and it does give me strength at times, these posts are an attempt to make myself communicate with the ‘outside’ in a way that I can set the pace, subject and tone without feeling guilty.  Additionally, I see these posts as an opportunity to be held accountable and responsible – not for my emotions, but for the actions those emotions sometime aspire to inspire.  When I have the breakdowns that have plagued me for the past few months (at least with such intensity) the last thing I typically want is to talk to anyone about it for any reason.  But, again - accountability, responsibility and whatnot.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Pretty Pictures with Words: If (when) we create (and augment) life? Part 2

In a previous post, I waxed romantic about the possibility of humans both creating life and having some limited control over our own evolutionary future.  In the time since we have seen a double amputee, complete with state-of-the-art artificial limbs, compete as against more physically typical athletes in sport.  While this was surely a triumph for Mr. Pistorius and the creators of his incredibly blade legs, it also signaled the first salvo in what will surely become a theme as we move forward as a species: automatic prejudice towards that which is different from our everyday experience.

A turning point in human history.
Human beings are simply afraid of what is different, of change and especially of something that could possibly change us on a fundamental evolutionary level.  While Pistorius, the augmented man, was an amazing story of personal victories - his augmentations are purely physical - there is no direct connection or interaction with the brain.  He isn't a robot or an android - that's not possible, right?

Well... it just might be.  Seriously.