Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Cheaper by the Dozen

When I was young, our solar system had 9 planets. It was a nice big family, which seemed to be fairly popular back then. And then, not long ago, tragedy struck; Pluto was demoted to ‘dwarf planet’.
On the other hand, our solar system family grew, because several other ‘dwarf planets’ were also named; Ceres in the asteroid belt, and Eris, Haumea, and Makemake in the Kuiper Belt. So right now, our solar system has 13 ‘planets’. A baker’s dozen! This year, 2 probes checked out 2 different dwarf planets, and the stuff I’ve been hearing is absolutely amazing!
Let’s start with Ceres, because it’s the closest to us. It’s only a hop past Mars.
I’m not sure I even heard of Ceres before it became a dwarf planet. Discovered in 1801, it was named a planet, then other asteroids were found in that belt, and Ceres became just another asteroid. And nobody really paid the asteroids any attention. The most respect they got was when a science fiction author included a nail-biting scene when his space ship had to negotiate the asteroid belt on its way to the outer system. Other ships might meet their doom in ‘the belt’, but not the ship the hero was on.
How would a scifi author treat Ceres now? It’s the smallest dwarf planet/biggest object in the asteroid belt. Would it be mined, like some think the asteroid belt would be? Would there be a base there? Do we know of anything important about Ceres?
Yes, we do.
Ceres has water.
No, Ceres doesn’t have rivers or oceans. But it has water and some kind of salt.
Scientists know this because of Ahuna Mons, one of the bright spots that dots Ceres’ surface. On Mars, Olympus Mons is a huge mountain. Ahuna Mons is Ceres’ biggest mountain. The probe, Dawn, took pictures to map Ceres’ surface, and they show that Ahuna Mons reaches approximately 3 miles in height. If someone wanted to drill straight through, from one side to the other, they’d have to drill for 12 miles. Walking completely around this ‘big bump’ would be a trip somewhat more than 36 miles.
Its slopes are steep and shiny. The top isn’t a point—more like a plateau with cracks.
It’s a volcano. But it doesn’t spew out molten rock; Ceres is too cold. Evidence indicates it spews a thick slush of water, salts and mud. And it’s geologically new - only a billion years old.
There are other bumps on Ceres; older slush volcanoes that are eroded and pocked by collisions. Now, your word for the day is cryovolcano, which is a slush volcano.

Can’t you see it? Our space-faring descendants taking a road trip to Ceres for a refreshing salty mud slushey. Umm, Yummm. I can almost taste it now!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

To Do or Not To Do?

Yeah, I know I’m late getting this posted. Again. But only by a week. Or maybe two.
I find myself of 2 minds about continuing this blog.
     A.   Do I declare a hiatus at least until the new year (2017), and remove it from my to do list (and stress level) until that time? I am experiencing a lot of stress, caught in the tedium of trying to get moved, but – at this point - with nothing more I can do to get moved.
a.    It’s not that I have a lot to do, it’s that my choices of what to do are so limited. All my hobbies, like leatherwork and needlework, are in storage.
                                                i.    Without that relaxing time with a hobby, doing fairly repetitious stuff that doesn’t take much brain power, my subconscious doesn’t roam through various possibilities for my Work In Progress, so I don’t make any progress with my writing. Even a short blog once a week is difficult to accomplish.
b.    Also, with Hubby retired - and we immediately started preparing to move – we haven’t really adjusted to having all this time together. I wind up doing whatever he wants to do, and things on my To Do list get pushed aside.
     B.   Or do I tell myself to grow a pair, and keep doing my blog, hoping to work my way back to once a week? I am supposed to be writing regularly, if not every day.
a.    I don’t want to keep complaining about not being moved yet, so I’d have to do some research, find things to talk about.
                                               i.    Research would be more productive than games. (Somehow, playing games does not let my subconscious roam free.)
                                             ii.    There’s plenty of things to research, like discoveries made about Pluto or Ceres, or even the actual diet eaten by Paleo man.
b.    When the house does sell, I expect we’ll take a couple days to tie up things here in Omaha, put the rest of our stuff in storage and then head for Florida, which will take 2-3 days. That might make it tough to get a blog posted that week.
                                               i.    I could write a ‘spare’ blog ahead of time. Then I could upload it and schedule it to post at the right time.
                                             ii.    Repeat for the week that we come back, get our stuff out of storage and take it down to Florida.
Hmm. When I started writing this, I was strongly leaning towards a hiatus. Now I’m leaning toward ‘growing a pair’. J And that tells me that I’ve enjoyed writing this post, that I miss writing, which is much more interesting than ‘the usual’ games have become.
I also just finished an editing job, which took lots of my ‘spare’ time. The subject of the book, however, made me depressed, so it’s a relief to have it done.

I’ll try for #B. The next time I feel like doing a tough Sudoku, or order my Tribez to get to work, I’ll open one of my incomplete manuscripts instead. Or see what’s new about Ceres. Cross your fingers that I’ll post something next Wednesday.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

A Tell of Caution

It’s easy enough to do. But just because you can do it, doesn’t mean you should do it. Especially when you are trying to establish yourself as an up-and-coming author.
I’m sure most working mothers know what I’m talking about: Spreading yourself too thin. Most working mothers are still expected to do (most, if not all of) the housework, get the groceries, do the cooking, take care of the kids, AND do their job. Even without adding any hobbies to help them stay sane, they are spread mighty thin. It gets to the point where you have to get sick, just to get some time to yourself.
Been there, done that.
When I took early retirement, I wanted my next ‘career’ to be ‘author’. I had been working at it for years. I had numerous short stories already written and polished, but none had found a home yet. I had a novel ready for submission, one in the polishing stage, and another drafted, besides several started, and many more ‘stewing’ in the back of my mind.
But suddenly finding yourself without a job to go to can leave you floundering. Without thinking about it, I dithered through my days watching tv, surfing the net, half-heartedly doing aspects of house cleaning I had never bothered to do before. (BTW, I hate housekeeping. It never gets done!) I signed up for six or a dozen newsletters on writing, and more on ‘promoting your book’. Anything to keep from actually writing, it seemed.
I even hired myself out as a free-lance editor. I told myself I needed to do that; I no longer belonged to a writing critique group, and editing would give me a chance to recognize ‘problems’ and try to solve them. Yeah, I can find other people’s problem areas, but I’m not sure I’m any better at finding my own.
I started new hobbies, took classes on leatherworking, theatrical makeup and making prosthetics, photoshop and illustrator… you get the idea. I volunteered for a position with Broad Universe ( And because I was frustrated with my pace in the writing world, I started my own publishing company. Why not? It seems like everybody else is doing it.
Somewhere in there, when I wasn’t paying attention, I got thin. Not physically, although I have lost a few pounds. But in terms of energy, I have none. In terms of organization, that’s pretty sketchy. I start each day with breakfast, doing my Broad Universe chore, and checking through my (main) email account. After that…
I have a loooong list of Things To Do. And unfortunately, ‘writing’ is not very high on that list.
How can I be an author if I don’t write? Why are all these other things coming before ‘writing’? I’m juggling a multitude of activities, but what I really want isn’t even in the mix.

I think it’s time to snap back and not be so thin.