Wednesday, October 21, 2015


By now, I'm sure you've heard there's water on Mars. Free-flowing, very salty water. The announcement came a day or two after I saw "The Martian", and I decided to dig deeper into this Martian water issue.
In the late 19th century, Giovanni Schiaparelli reported seeing 'canali' on Mars' surface, meaning channels. A few years later, Percival Lowell confirmed long lines on Mars' surface, and suggested they were an attempt by an advanced Martian culture to save their drying planet by moving water from the poles. Ultimately, these canali / canals did not exist. I haven't found any explanation for why or how they were 'seen' in the first place.
Most of Mars' northern hemisphere is fairly flat with few impact craters; the southern is covered in impact craters. In between is an area of mesas, flat-floored valleys with cliff walls, and other rough terrain. Some features imply that water was present in the distant past, that free-flowing water created paths through the stones. Where did it all go?
Some is still there. Surrounding the bases of those mesas and at the bottoms of those cliffs are what appear to be masses of rock, called lobate debris aprons. In Alaska, we saw a glacier that was so covered in dirt and rocks (picked up during its travel), it just looked like a muddy pile on the edge of the bay. That's what these debris aprons are... solid ice covered in rocks and dirt.
Recent reports from SPICAM, which is circling Mars to study its atmosphere, show that the Martian atmosphere is super-saturated with water vapor. Water vapor doesn't just form droplets when it gets chilled, it needs a speck of dust or something to condense around. If there isn't enough dust, the vapor keeps pushing upward. Eventually, that vapor gets so high, it splits into hydrogen and oxygen, which escape into space, but the article I read said even at 50 km, the atmosphere was super-saturated.
So, Mars is not the super-arid place we thought it was.
How would that have changed the survival techniques used in "The Martian"? In his attempt to produce water to grow crops, could he have 'mined' it from one of these rock piles? Devise a method to condense it from the air? Purified the salty stuff?

What do you think?

Friday, October 16, 2015

No Words

So, here we are, in the middle of October, and I have not written anything this year.

Oh, I've re-written parts of one of my stories, edited part of another, and I've edited, copy-edited and proofed stories for others. But I haven't worked on any rough drafts. NO words have been added to any of the stories sharing camping space in my mind.

Believe me, it's getting crowded.

I spent last night wondering why. Today, I don't care why. Why doesn't really matter; all the whys I came up with really boiled down to; I didn't bother to make the time.

Starting today, I have resolved to MAKE the time. One isn't a writer if one doesn't write.

It's not that hard to find the time; the tv gets shut off at 8 or 9 pm, and I don't go to bed until at least midnight, so that's 3-4 hours when I need to be quiet. I'm already in my office, on my computer, but I've been spending those hours playing games. 'Relaxing', I told myself, but if you've ever been stuck on Level 27 of Fritz for weeks at a time, you know that playing games is not necessarily relaxing.

When I was employed, those hours used to be prime writing time. I see no reason why they can't be again. Those hours are much better (for me) for writing than the morning, when my brain is still trying to figure out what day it is. I have never been a morning person, I have always been a night owl.

So it's simple. Use those hours for rough drafts. Why didn't I think of that before?

No, don't get distracted by 'why'. Just write!

Right! Now, which story idea should I start with first? Telepathic horses? Cali 2? Reincarnation & the NeverEnding War? Or maybe-

Toss a pair of dice! It doesn't matter; they all want to get told. Just write!

Okay. Will do. Ummmm, right after I tell my Little Men in Tribez how to keep busy for the next few hours.