This is kinda a mix between my list of bookmarks and some things I've been thinking about and following lately.
I've been reading a lot of astronomy stuff lately, a lot more than my usual low-level interest in it. I'm kind of feeling the need for a refresher course, so I can get a better handle on stuff that's happened since I studied this stuff in school. It's hard to get my head around things like dark matter and really grok the evidence. While black holes and relativity and such seem so obviously a natural part of this universe. Does this mean I'm getting old? The chance to bounce questions and ideas off someone would probably help in getting a real grip on this stuff. So would a lot more physics than I know..
(Hurrah for Eris BTW. The name almost makes all that sillyness over a mere definition worthwhile.)
Favorite sites: Universe Today and Wikipedia.
I've been following this hurricane season, to make up for having paid so little attention to last year's disastrous one. I knew about the "New Orleans bowl" scenario well before Katrina, and the night before it hit I actually spent several hours tuning in far-away AM stations from down there and listening to the city not react in time.
But despite all that I feel that I missed out on really seeing it happen, so I've been learning about tropical waves, and wind shear and ULL's, and dropsondes, and the satelite data that can be used to follow hurricanes.
The nice thing is that instead of the old stereotype of someone watching the weather channel 24/7 with a map and thumbtacks, these days there's a nice mix of pre-processed info and analysis and raw data, easily followed in small amounts of time on Wunderground's blogs.
Half love and half hate. The recent shuttle mission has been a riot for a shuttle-hater and SF lover. It has all the elements of one of those SF novels where they go down to the cape, dig up an Apollo stack, and use it to save the world / travel to Mars / fight the alien invaders. Except here they're pulling an unused orbitor out of mothbolls. And putting it up on the launchpad with a hurricane bearing down, getting it struck by lightning, pulling it off the pad, changing their mind with the giant crawler half-way through that milti-day maneuver when the hurricane fizzles, putting it back, filling and refilling the tank as sensors fail and they rewrite their safty regs on the fly, barely making the launch window, and proceeding to triumphantly lose nuts and break wrenches .. In Space! Space opera, indeed.
Then there's the genuinely interesting stuff. Intentional crashing of a French probe into the moon, probes firing projectiles at asteroids and trying (with great difficulty and many glitches) to return a sample. A mission on its way to Pluto. The rovers still going strong on Mars after all this time. Bigelow launching an inflatable prototype of his planned space hotel. A whole load of microsats tragically blowing up on launch. All the private aereospace stuff, which seems to close to turning into something real.
Happily followed at Spaceflight Now.
Over the past while and a half I've been very happy to discover The Wire and Deadwood, have been working my way through the Sopranos and Lost, been creepily fascinated by Big Love, got a kick out of the Canadian antics of Corner Gas, vegged out to Greys Anatomy, and have been very sad to reach the end of Six Feet Under. BSG, Doctor Who, House, and some other shows haven't held up as well past the first seasons for me.
Happily, there's NetFlix, which makes it plausable that I did this legally despite not having HBO or even owning a TV.
I've been reading Charles Stross, David Drake, John Twelve Hawks, Kelly Armstrong, Naomi Novik, Robert Charles Wilson, VC Andrews, and, loath though I am to admit it, John Ringo. I'm in the middle of books by Steph Swainston, Geoff Ryman, and Dave Duncan.
I finally found a defintion of Science Fiction I like, but I lost the link. (It's the subjective "her world exploded" one.) Anyway, I'm afraid that I may have reached the point where to get much more out of reading SF, I'd have to start going to cons. Which I don't want to do. But I seem to be at a low ebb for it being interesting to me, or just need to finally tackle some other branch of literature.
Actually, the most engaging reading I've been doing lately is in the achives (all of them!) of the Idle Words blog. It makes obscure details about Poland and China, and even interpretation of Russian classics seem pretty darn interesting, and has much better rants about the space shuttle. And it proves that blog entries should properly be good and long.