Back to reality

May. 24th, 2017 10:19 pm
goss: (\o/)
[personal profile] goss
Back home from Tobago, and back out to work too. :b

I had a wonderful time, and thank you guys for all the good wishes. Here are two more photos from the trip. The first pic was taken on Monday evening as the sun was setting, showing off my hard work decorating around the house/pool, making it all festive for my cousin's birthday celebration.

And the second pic was taken the next morning, as we were packing up to leave. I sat by the pool and did a little sketch in the house guest book, which we all signed. :)

I am quite looking forward to going back to this place when next I visit Tobago. :)


Oh! One last random thing - This week I took a photo of a flowering plant that we have at home. It's a single stem with no leaves, and it only blossoms once a year, for a very short time. We have had this plant for years, but I have no idea what its name is. So I'm posting it up here in the hope that someone knows what it's called. Can you identify this flower? )
galacticjourney: (Default)
[personal profile] galacticjourney

by Gideon Marcus

They say things get tedious in repetition. Well, I can assure you that at no point during Scott Carpenter's three-orbit flight, planned to be a duplicate of predecessor John Glenn's, was I in the least bit bored. In fact, of the six manned space shots, this was the most moving for me. Since the launch this morning from the East coast of Florida, a couple of hours after dawn, I've been hooked to the television and radio, engaged to a greater degree than ever before.

(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)

Reading Wednesday

May. 24th, 2017 09:36 pm
chomiji: Doa from Blade of the Immortal can read! Who knew? (Doa - books)
[personal profile] chomiji

[personal profile] lady_ganesh hooked me up with some really good stuff: Maggie Stiefvater's YA series The Raven Cycle. This consists of

  • The Raven Boys (finished!)
  • The Dream Thieves (finished!)
  • Blue Lily, Lily Blue (finished!)
  • The Raven King (still reading, unlikely to finish tonight)

Also, apparently some extra-story authorial snippets exist (I only just discovered this while checking the titles of the main series).*

In the little town of Henrietta is a posh boarding school called Aglionby. The mascot of the school is a raven. Eccentric local girl Blue, the scion of a houseful of psychic women (including her mother, Maura), thinks Aglionby boys are nothing but trouble. Local wounded-at-the-core boy Adam is attending the school on scholarship; he has managed to become best buds with the charming and earnest Gansey (that's his last name), whose circle also includes the tough-but-brittle bad boy Ronan. And then there's Noah, who shows up somehow at the off-campus digs that Gansey and Ronan share in an old factory.

Gensey is obsessed with the local ley line, which he thinks will lead him to the tomb of the Welsh hero Owen Glendower. The others are drawn into his search—including Blue, who starts out as somewhat of a mascot but becomes something much more. There are dreams, magic, terror, and lots of fast cars.

Parts of this seem to be the love child of Alan Garner's The Owl Service and the better "After-School Special" types of teen novels, but it's very involving and tremendous fun. The writing has some weaknesses, especially when Stiefvater seems to be marking time until she can get to the Good Bits, but she's very good at action sequences and the spookier parts are truly chilling.

Cut for long and maybe a spoiler or two )

When Dreams Come to Life

May. 24th, 2017 09:26 pm
cathugger: An orange-and-white cat facing to the left. The front of this face is fading into shadows. (Default)
[personal profile] cathugger
Things have been going downhill mood-wise. I think I need to get out of the house, but even outside the house feels so limited. And since I'm already outside the house, how much better can anything get? 


I woke up during an intense dream (what's new?) where I was being chased and started falling down the stairs, grabbing for window shades to catch myself or break the fall or something. (I agree, there could've been better things to grab onto.) So there I was, hanging on the shades. After a few seconds, I thought I'd look below me, especially since the shades could've broken any second, and... saw my bed. I wasn't even hanging; I was sitting on my bed and pulling at the shades. I quickly let go so I wouldn't break them (good thing I'm not strong or heavy) and... let myself process everything for a few minutes. I'm sure there was some giggling mixed in there, too. 

Well, remembering that helped my mood a little.

It can be really confusing to find the line between doing things in your sleep and hypnagogic hallucinations. Often, if I'm doing something that that specific and intricate (sitting up and grabbing onto something that was to the side of me because of specific events in a dream... even pulling at the shades), it means I'm further on the awake side. So the dream might've been halfway woken me up and continued in a hypnagogic hallucination. Was I sitting up and grabbing at the shades before I opened my eyes, so the dream was existing without vision to aid it, or did I open my eyes at some point and see the shades while the dream tried to fill in the details? (This probably makes no sense. Don't bother reading it again.)

I'm wayyy too interested in dreams, though I've never spent much time looking into them, unless we're counting the sleep phase sections of psychology classes and narcolepsy research. But I've read about weird occurrences like this with narcolepsy. Apparently it's much more common in people who have the disorder (and possibly other sleep disorders), though everyone can get them, and there isn't always a diagnosis behind it... at least based on what I've read so far.

What I'm Doing Wednesday

May. 24th, 2017 08:46 pm
sage: crop from a painting of the front window of a bookstore showing books on display and shelves behind. (joy: books)
[personal profile] sage
books (fiction: Kingfisher, Turner) )

healthcrap a list )

other stuff
What a week this has been. A lot of things have gone wrong, including the hair stylist cutting my hair way too short today, but I've been fortunate in other things and I'm feeling a lot of gratitude. I hope y'all are well!

(no subject)

May. 24th, 2017 09:00 pm
kittydesade: Stippled light shining through curtains onto a couch or bed bracketed by white pillows. (hideaway)
[personal profile] kittydesade
It's that kind of a day where I just don't want to go to work or capoeira not because I'm tired but because I don't want to goddamn do anything and you can't make me and nyah. So this bodes well.

... also I think the wildlife has found its way into the chimney again. Although I could be wrong, it feels like it's a bit early for swifts. (For the new or those who missed it last year, every year I have to catch at least two [or sometimes the same one twice] chimney swifts and haul them out of the chimney and out of the house before they get et by the indoor cats. They're on their own for the ferals.)

Apparently Imzy is closing? I was just getting back into the swing of using that as a thing and now it's closing? I feel sad and I feel like I have no right to feel sad given that I barely used it after the first burst, although I kept trying to. Mostly, argh. I may have to make a DW community for my girls (so far it's only girls as far as I can tell) to hang out on and chat some place that's not full of awful news. I know a bunch of us are on here anyway.

I was going to say I have no reason to cancel on capoeira but this headache keeps popping up and stabbing me in the forebrain intermittently and if it doesn't cut that shit out. Let's try painkillers first.

I'm really absurdly pleased with my new courtesan station, aka my vanity and my shelf with some books and even more makeup and face cleanser/skin pampering crap. And hair crap and pop dolls. Okay so two shelves are makeup and spa stuff and two shelves are pop dolls, books, and random other things, but still. But I love it and it's now well lit thanks to my new lamp on [personal profile] lireavue's recommendation and it's gorgeous and I love it. The only thing I don't love is that the hair stuff still needs to be sorted. But for that to happen I need to figure out what out of it I'm going to use, and how often. So. ... also my lipsticks are at the moment free standing and I need to figure out how to make them be less free standing. Some kind of 6-7 by 4-6" box I don't know, but I put the measurements here so I don't forget them. Maybe there's something nice at Ten Thousand Villages or a thrift store.

I'm still reading The Fall of Kings mainly because of not dedicating time to sit down and read it, and after that I have some Oliver Potzsch to read and after that I don't know. Probably the last Court of Fives novel. Something. I will figure it out! I like Oliver Potzsch, he's got a good sense of story and a good translator, but his books are also formulaic mystery so if you don't like the first one you don't need to wonder if you should pick up the rest.

I'm trying to figure out if it's a good thing or a bad thing that I'm firmly in the grip of a if I can't control the bad shit going on I will control my environment and my physical self fit. I mean, house cleaning and makeup binges and haircuts. Well, I haven't spent more money than I have? And I did buy some other essentials that I was going to need pretty soon, paid my bills. But on the other hand I didn't get new sweatpants that I probably should get soon. (I haven't spent all of the money but I'm down to the last bit that I'm just going to sit on I think.) I did get my boots repaired. I'm sure there's something else I should get or get serviced that I can't think of right now. And. Is this guilt for spending an absurd amount of money on makeup and clothes? I don't know. Or just wariness because this could so easily go wrong.

Upside: I have enough stored makeup to last me for fucking ever except daily stuff like foundation, the which brand I'm using is drugstore inexpensive. I still have enough knitting supplies to last me until the Mad Maxpocalypse. If I can manage to keep sitting on my anxieties and stress-buying for the parts of the year when I don't have gift money (and preferably even when I do, I successfully dropped some of the money into savings yay! albeit a small part) I should be okay. I'll just figure out other ways to control my environment and my self. Maybe exercise small targeted strength-building exercises. Or draw on myself with makeup a lot.

Graduation is DONE

May. 24th, 2017 09:26 pm
everchangingmuse: aoki izumi portrait (morie)
[personal profile] everchangingmuse
And I am cold and exhausted. It was misting when we started the processional, and the weather here is colder than normal for this time of May. The ceremony was good, and I was happy to see all the students happy - and to run into a few former students.

One less thing to worry about.
wrog: (rockets)
[personal profile] wrog
(Yes, more Space! Part 1 is here but you don't need to go back that far to follow this)

Having at least covered (see Part 8) the question of why the speed of light is constant, the next order of business is the weird and wacky consequences. I'll skip straight to the one that nobody seems to get:

If you're writing your Galactic Empire story and you find yourself needing to say, "Meanwhile, back on Earth,…" that, right there, means you are doing it all wrong.

This can be explained, but first, we need some building blocks:

A Digression on Events and Light-Rays

An event is some instantaneous thing that happens somewhere.

  • On April 11, 1945, just off Okinawa,
    the USS Enterprise gets hit by a kamikaze.

  • On 287 พשּׁ₽ủ⿓, 389284th Year of the BL🐡R🐢G,
    somewhere near Gamma Leporis (~30 light-years from Earth)
    construction is completed on The Giant Commemorative Mirror.

  • On June ▒, 200▒, in a particular hospital room in Bellevue,
    my son is born.

I could do this all day. The entire history of the universe is basically one huge grab-bag of events.

We typically identify events by saying when and where they happened, but that is perhaps a bit misleading since actual numbers for time and place turn out to be negotiable given that observers are free to set up their own coordinate systems. Surveying your back yard, you can calculate latitude and longitude for all of your fence posts, but a prequisite and key piece of that puzzle is the direction you decided to call "North" (South Pole Station inhabitants can have particular fun with this). Change that and the latitude/longitude numbers all change,… but that doesn't cause the fence posts to move.

There's a similar choice with time. If you, sitting in your spaceship observing things, fire your engines, then you're changing the direction that you're calling "The Future". A series of events that were originally all going to take place near your ship is instead going to occur at progressively farther distances from you. But, again, despite that, the events themselves, The Things That Happen, our fence posts, remain wherever/whenever they are.

In particular, if the Things That Happen send messages to each other, then everyone observing them has to agree on who's sending what to whom. Because light rays carry information, whatever happens at the source has consequences at the destination, and no switching of viewpoints should be able to affect that.

So if the kamikaze blowing up on the deck of the Enterprise sends light out into space, which travels for 30 light-years, then encounters the Gamma Leporis mirror, and bounces back to the aforementioned hospital room, where yours truly had the foresight to set up a telescope pointed in exactly the right direction, then we can be in the birthing room watching/experiencing the battle of Okinawa in real time, with all that implies

(..."Oh cool! Enterprise control tower just got blown up. Okay, hon, time for another push…" I'm pretty sure this would have had consequences if I'd actually done this.)

Building a Map

What you might not have expected is that just this much, i.e., having the universe be a grab-bag of events tied together by light-rays, is, by itself, enough for any single observer to map out everything in his/her vicinity.

Here's one way to do it:

  • We have bugs everywhere, helpfully planted by the NSA. I suppose if we want to be slightly more realistic, it'll suffice that there be a bug present at just the events where we need them, and they just get there somehow (and exactly how, we probably don't want to know).

  • I have a clock — a device based on some well-understood physical process, e.g., an incredibly reliable gerbil running on his little gerbilwheel specially contrived to make a "tick" every so often in a uniform way and sufficiently quickly that I can get whatever timing accuracy I need.

  • I have a transmitter that the bugs are all tuned to listen to. Every time my clock ticks, my current timestamp (= number of ticks since I started my clock) heads out into the universe at the speed of light.

  • The bugs have two jobs:
    1. Remembering what time it is, or, rather, what timestamp they most recently received from me. Since I'm constantly sending these out, they'll constantly be getting new ones. That way, they don't need clocks of their own.
    2. Reporting back to mommy. Every time a bug notices Something Interesting in its immediate vicinity, it compiles a (brief) report ("ship go boom" or "baby born") with my latest timestamp, and then broadcasts it in all directions.

  • Finally, I can have a very sensitive and very directional receiver.

So I sit there for a while collecting bug reports. The trumpet sounds and Time comes to an End, or maybe I just get bored and decide I'm done with all this. And then I can compile all of the reports I've received from everywhere and plot when and where all events occur onto one big, happy space-time diagram:

The way you read this is Time goes bottom to top. The black vertical axis in the middle is a plot of all of my clock-tick events. Ticks are evenly spaced because my gerbil is so incredibly reliable. Easy.

The horizontal axis is one of the spatial dimensions, call it "X", and there's some choice here about which way to point it. For the sake of argument I'll use some event that I care about and point it that way, meaning when the event finally occurs, it'll be on that line somewhere.

The speed of light being constant, once we send a signal, we know exactly how far away it'll be at any given time. So we can draw, in blue, lines representing all of the timestamp signals heading outwards, and they all have to have the same slope (because the slope is how fast they're going and that number is always the same).

I've taken the liberty of bolding one of the lines. All of the events where there are bugs receiving that particular timestamp have to be on that particular blue line.

Similarly, in red, I've drawn the possible paths of incoming signals from the bugs, and, again, helpfully bolded one of them. If I receive a signal at a particular time from a particular direction, then it had to have come from some event along that red line.

Once I receive a report and extract the timestamp, that, along with the time direction of receipt is enough to nail down exactly where the event is on this diagram.

(… It is a bit unfortunate that this 2-dimensional picture can only represent happenings in a 1-dimensional universe, but that's really all we need for now. If you want, you can imagine a Y axis pointing straight into the page/screen. The bent blue line becomes a blue cone, while the red line remains a single ray intersecting it at exactly one point, so this all still works. If you're totally insane, you can try putting back the Z axis as well, coming orthogonally out of reality, though if you were already able to do that you probably didn't need me to be explaining this stuff…)

What's interesting here is where the left-right axis comes from. Since I'm not moving — yeah, I know, hold that thought,— light rays will cover the same distance going out to an event and back. Even if the event is happening on some moving object, or perhaps the bug doing the report is itself moving around, or both, we simply don't care, because the bug receiving the timestamp, the event itself, and the bug's reporting of it, is all over and done with in such a short span of time that any errors resulting from the relative movements will be teentsy.

Therefore if the timestamp received at event E was 1006 and the corresponding report came back at 1026, then, obviously, the event E
  • happens midway between the two times, at 1016, and

  • at a distance of 10 ticks away from me, because if the signal is taking 20 ticks to get back to me, it must have taken 10 ticks to go out and another 10 ticks to come back.

Yes, I'm using "tick" as a unit of distance:  it's how far light travels in a clock tick. The speed of light is then 1, i.e., one tick per tick, and that's one less multiplication we have to do, so yay. This is also why we have the blue and red lnes being sloped 45°, in case you were wondering; life is so much more convenient when you use the right units.

We can also have other events happening at the same time (1016) at different distances away. But in order to infer that something happened at time 1016, the timestamp has to be just as much earlier as the receipt time is afterwards. Which then dictates that all of those events are on the same horizontal line as you'd expect.

Notice how I'm using my clock to measure distance. This is in fact the only good way to measure distance; actual, physical rulers are far too prone to being stretched, bent, or broken. Yes, things can happen to light beams, too, but we'll generally know what's happening and be able to compensate for it.

But the real point is so that we can do all of our measurements without having to go anywhere. All measurements come to us if we live long enough.

Now for the fun part…

Another Point of View

… in which Somebody Else, say, you, tries to reconstruct what I've done.

In what follows, you are somewhere off the screen, with your own clock built in its own peculiar way (you have an extraordinarily dependable hamster) ticking away at whatever rate along a vertical line, broadcasting your own timestamps, none of which I'll be bothering to show.

Your own "tick" is whatever it is, but for for the sake of clarity I'll assume your distance unit likewise matches up with your time unit so that you, too, can have light rays sloped at 45°.

What remains is to modify the bugs ever-so-slightly so that they're smart enough to distinguish your timestamp signals from mine and nice enough to include both timestamps in whatever reports they send. And then I ignore your timestamps, you ignore mine, and all proceeds as before.

At some point the trumpet sounds, or you get bored, and now it's your turn to reassemble the puzzle pieces.

There being NSA bugs in my clock, that's as good a place as any to start and you'll have all the information you need to plot where and when all of my clock ticks are taking place. You thus discover that I'm moving at some particular velocity (because different people can have different velocities and my future will be in a different place from yours; who knew?)

The velocity is constant because we're all just coasting along with engines turned off, nobody is spinning, and we're out in deep space where there's no gravity to worry about. And whatever direction it is I'm moving, we'll take that to be your X direction so that everything can stay on the page.

Once that's done, given that we have to agree on which events are joined by light rays, then for any other event, like E, no matter what place time numbers you assign to it, it remains the case that a (blue) timestamp message travels from me to E and a (red) bug report gets sent back; you have to have those light-rays linking E to the same ticks on my clock as I do. Which means once you've nailed down all of my clock ticks, E is nailed down as well.

The same goes for all of the other events I know about, including all of the ones on that now-not-so-horizontal line where I have t=1016.

Recall that the only assumption that went into this is that I have a constant nonzero velocity in your X direction, which necessarily tilts my time axis from your vertical. The rest of my grid of light-rays and events folds up sideways like an empty wine-bottle carton being stepped on, and there's only one way it can fold once you know how fast I'm going. Which means there's no way around concluding that my X axis, i.e., all of the events I consider to be simultaneous with my own here now, must be tilted from your own horizontal one…

and, it's not too hard to show, by the same angle. Meaning if, according to your grid, my 1026 clock tick is 500 light-years away from my 1016 clock tick — the sort of scale you need for a Galactic Empire story, — then, for you, E is happening 500 years later than my 1016 clock tick (rather than simultaneously, as it is for me).

It also turns out to be fairly simple to find an observer for whom E is happening 500 years earlier than my 1016 clock tick.

We don't even need to know exactly where you are or how fast your clock is ticking; which is why I haven't bothered to plot any of that.

Everything thus far is an unavoidable consequence of events being connected by light-rays and the speed of light being constant…

…and this much is enough to screw the pooch for any kind of Faster Than Light travel/communication.

(though exactly how will need to wait for Part 10)

you are the wind

May. 24th, 2017 05:49 pm
thistleingrey: (Default)
[personal profile] thistleingrey
Chandra Prasad, On Borrowed Wings (2007): in the 1930s US Northeast, a rich-WASP-family mother and Italian American quarrier father had two children. Charles was homeschooled rigorously to attend college; Adele, quicker of memory, was always told she'd marry a quarrier, even as her father began dying from the stone dust before middle age. Then something happens, and Adele takes Charles's place as a Yale frosh in drag.

I had expected rather worse. (Sorry.) As it is, the narrative has about the critical depth of a '00s jdrama: the story lines up some dots, then leaves the reader/viewer to connect them or search for more while it flits to the next scene. Adele cannot help but activate dots as she muses upon quarry misfortunes, her mother's iron recollections of being a rich girl, or the entirely new landscape of Yale, where the maids in the dining hall remind her of herself, taking in laundry a few months prior. But Adele is only a bit too thin as a character enabling the writer's gaze to slice and parry some dust bunnies of privilege; it's fine. It's actually a relief to have the cross-dressing topos given straight so that one may focus upon 1936 as depicted: Adele takes a workstudy placement involving eugenic research which she (incredibly) bends from the inside out. The love interest is obligatory, probably the weakest aspect.

Adele's heritage is based upon that of one of Prasad's parents. I borrowed Wings from the library after seeing a ref to Mixed, an anthology of short stories edited by Prasad which the local libraries don't have.


May. 25th, 2017 02:10 am
dhampyresa: (Default)
[personal profile] dhampyresa


May. 24th, 2017 03:12 pm
sholio: Autumn leaf frosted at edges (Autumn-frosted leaf)
[personal profile] sholio
I clicked in a special weather statement and discovered THIS ATROCITY:

... Snow at higher elevations of the interior through Friday...

Snow will develop at elevations above 1000 feet late tonight and Thursday. Snow will melt after it hits the ground in most areas, but above 2000 feet of elevation snow could stick... with 2 to 4 inches of accumulation. This accumulating snow is expected to impact the summits of the Elliott, Dalton and Steese highways and the Richardson Highway through the Alaska Range.

It's almost the end of MAAAAYYYYYYY ...

Well, the summer I worked in Denali Park, it very memorably dumped several inches of snow around June 6 or so, and my husband likes to talk about the year it snowed in his hometown (Glennallen) on the Fourth of July parade, so I shouldn't complain too much or I'll probably regret it. I'm glad I haven't put my garden in yet, though.

wednesday, you know the drill

May. 24th, 2017 05:11 pm
isis: (squid etching)
[personal profile] isis
What I've recently finished reading: David Blaize, by E.F. Benson, which I learned about via ffa and snagged from Gutenberg (it was first published in 1916). This is an odd little novel by modern standards, a schoolboy Bildungsroman in which the adventures of the title character are mostly internal and emotional. There's really no overarching plot or structure, it's just the growing pains of the title character. (Growing pains plus way too much cricket for any non-Commonwealth reader to understand.) But these growing pains are genuinely affecting, sometimes funny, sometimes sweet, sometimes skirting the edges of a dimly-sensed abyss.

And that abyss, of course, would be homoeroticism. ) I found the book surprisingly readable and enjoyable, though I admit I skimmed the cricket scenes; so alas I will never be quite sure what, exactly, made David a bowler of the googliest type.

I also officially abandoned Deathless by Catherynne Valente, because I do not have time nor patience to wade through the hip-deep prose.

What I'm reading now: Still listening to Dan Carlin's Hardcore History podcast "Destroyer of Worlds" (about 85% done) and enjoying it, for values of 'enjoying' relating to listening to just how close we came to global thermonuclear war in the fifties and sixties.

I'm also about halfway through Vernor Vinge's A Fire Upon the Deep which was a free e-book from one of Tor's monthly promotions. The beginning was irritating, but I'm enjoying it now, mostly because it's one of the few SF books I've read where the aliens are really alien.

What I'm reading next: Still waiting for one of my library reserves to come through. In audio, I have In Our Backyard: Human Trafficking in America and What We Can Do to Stop It by Nita Belles from the Sync promotion, and you can download it for free through today only.

In other news I have just returned (well, Monday night) from a mini-vacation in the Paso Robles area of California, where we stayed with a friend - actually one of B's business partners - and drank way too much wine. And ate way too much food. It was really good! But not sustainable.

I am also about 2000 words into my Night on Fic Mountain assignment, which may be twice the minimum but is still only prologue to the actual story I want to tell, oog.

Speaking of fic, [ profile] Hagar has podficced my Yuletide story The Greatest City in the World! (This is the story I wrote for The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker.) I have downloaded it already, and I guess that's what I'll listen to even before the next book!

courtesy of [personal profile] recessional

May. 24th, 2017 03:30 pm
kore: (Orpheus & Eurydice)
[personal profile] kore
A pretty great song I think we could all use a lot of right now.


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