The past blasted me a couple of times this weekend. The charity site Bundle of Holding offered the old Traveller RPG books from 1981 as PDF for a giveaway price (through July 9th), and I discovered that D&D Classics will sell me the First Edition Dungeons and Dragons books in a similar downloadable form, cheaper than they’ve ever been. With the PDF reader on my iPad, I could browse them easily, even use them to run a game or two were I so inclined; I’ve done this with Shadowrun and Paranoia PDFs. Both offers are incredibly tempting. I spent uncounted hours of my … Continue reading →
Since the days of my first Lego set, I have never lost the joy of building something – having a goal for how something should look and feel and function, then correcting and tweaking until what I was making came as close to that goal as possible. Kerbal Space Program takes that thought and expands upon it, by offering one all the parts to build a neat-looking airplane or space rocket, then challenging you to make it fly. And once you make it fly, to do something with it: can you reach the Pole? Can you reach orbit? Can you … Continue reading →
I couldn’t stay up to watch Curiosity, since I’d had a very long weekend, and an early Monday morning to head to. In fact, I didn’t manage to stay up until 10 last night. But I felt confident that Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ would tell me everything I needed to know when I woke in the morning, and they did. Well done NASA! I spent some time at NASA Langley. Unless you know some of these folks you might not believe how hard they work at their jobs, how committed they are to expanding the scope of human knowledge, and … Continue reading →
One day years ago, I was listening to Jeff Wayne’s excellent musical version of “The War of the Worlds”: specifically, the stirring sequence where the ironclad Thunderchild manages to destroy one two Martian War Machines before being sunk. Suddenly, my brain cross-linked it with the premise of the “Space Cruiser Yamato” series, where humanity builds a gifted spacefold drive into the hulk of the World War II battleship, and thus was born the idea for the ether flyer Thunderchild. Miraculously, I found the rare model kit of the ironclad featured on Wayne’s album cover, and combined that with unused interior … Continue reading →
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Friday morning on the way to work, I listened to an Astronomy Cast show on dark skies: areas far from cities where one can still see an amazing number of stars plastered across the sky. My own most amazing dark sky experience occurred on a 1am drive from Roanoke to Bluefield: it happened to be a perfectly clear winter night, and as I looked up through the windshield for a second, I saw more stars in the sky than I’d seen in my entire life. Darn near wrecked the car, I was so transported by the sight. At any rate, … Continue reading →
The website We Choose The Moon is covering the Apollo 11 mission “live” (with a 40-year audio delay). There are countdown and mission timers, Flash presentations of facts and images, and Twitter feeds of CapCom’s and Columbia’s (and eventually Eagle’s) statuses. Looks like they’re planning to follow the mission all the way to the landing, at least. I’ve got the audio feed running in the background at work. Launch is in just under an hour, and I’m spamming this to all my social networks, because that’s the kind of dork I am.
This is the first shuttle launch in decades that I’ve managed to watch live. The experience takes my breath away; so daring, so defiant, putting people atop all that high explosive and flinging them into the hostile vacuum above us. I’m not always thrilled with my species, but this sort of thing restores my faith in our future… at least briefly. In a very small way, I contributed to this launch, which only adds to the thrill. I contributed indirectly, to be sure, just by doing my day job keeping the Macs of Langley humming; but I’m proud nevertheless.
According to Tolkien legend, the most skilled craftsman ever to live created the great Silmaril jewels using the radiance of the Two Trees which once lit the world. Almost immediately, of course, mortal and immortal began fighting for possession of them. In the epic wars that followed, two were lost, and the immortals placed the third in the sky: out of reach of the greedy, and a lasting beacon of hope to the good-hearted. Wanna see it tonight? Go outside before the crescent Moon has set, and you’ll see an unusually bright Venus near the Moon and between it and … Continue reading →
Since my ‘Net connection is still wonky, I may be reduced to watching this year’s Doctor Who Christmas Special on SciFi. The horror. On the other hand, I received a nice Who fandom Xmas present in the from of this Livejournal artwork post by _tonylee_. The image linked at the bottom cheered me greatly; the likenesses are a bit off, but it’s still my desktop wallpaper for a while. (One of them. The other wallpaper is the Apollo 8 “Earthrise” shot right now.) As Starr works tonight and tomorrow, we finished the majority of our own gift-giving last night. Among … Continue reading →