March 11th, 2006


Not Quite Breathing a Sigh of Relief.

This afternoon, while I worked, I kept the TV on the NASA Channel, trying not to be nervous about whether or not the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter would manage a successful insertion. I'd get up every ten or fifteen minutes to see how things were going. I literally chewed a hole in my bottom lip during the half hour of radio silence as the orbiter passed behind Mars. But everything went the way it was supposed to, and if it continues to go that way, as the great elliptical orbit slowly evolves into a tight circular one, then come November we'll be getting some absolutely amazing data. It's stuff like this that keeps me moving. I kid you not.

Meanwhile, taking the bad with the good, which is one of my superpowers, a new study by NASA and the University of Colorado at Boulder, published in Science, seems to conclusively indicate that the Antarctic ice sheet is shrinking by as much as thirty-six cubic miles of ice a year. One of the authors of the study, Isabella Velicogna, has stated that "The ice sheet is losing mass at a significant rate." Indeed, the ice is melting more rapidly than previously thought, and increased Antarctic snowfall (also the result of global warming) does not appear to be slowing the melting and increasing ice-sheet mass, as hoped. And, of course, this news comes just a couple of months after NASA findings that the Arctic/Greenland ice sheet is also melting more rapidly than believed. To quote a NASA press release, "Greenland's ice sheet decreased by 162 (plus or minus 22) cubic kilometers a year between 2002 and 2005. This is higher than all previously published estimates, and it represents a change of about 0.4 millimeters (.016 inches) per year to global sea level rise." And at the present rate of melting, the loss of ice in Antarctica is adding an additional annual sea level rise of 0.4 millimeters a year.

Velicogna described these results a "wake-up call," but how many times have I heard that before? Wasn't Katrina and the 2005 hurricane season enough of a wake-up call? How many different ways do humans have to break a planet? I want to feel celebratory right now, not all frelling doom and gloom. I want to look forward to seeing more of Mars, but it's hard to stop thinking about how rough things are getting down here on Earth. Anyway...

Too much thinking today. My brain won't seem to stay on any one problem for longer than five minutes. I did come to the conclusion that I don't mean transhumanism. I mean parahumanism. I spent part of the day reading Anders Sandberg's writing on morphological freedom.

I need some sleep, I think.
new chi

I built the growl in the voice I fear

Asleep too late. Awake too early. By ten thirty this morning, I'd finished a Wikipedia entry for the Chinese ankylosaurid Tienzhenosaurus. But I feel awake. Am I live or is this Memorex? Last night, as we were climbing into bed, I was extolling the wonders and virtues of Wikipedia to Spooky, and she looked at me and said in a somewhat motherly voice, "Well, that's nice, just as long as it doesn't start getting in the way of your work." And I said, "Yes, Mom." She didn't kill me. But I was having a nasty recollection of my mother going on about this thing or that thing or some other all-consuming passion of my teenage years. Reading. My volunteer work at the Red Mountain Museum. Dating. All consuming passions were all fine and good so long as they didn't interfere with school. Of course, they always did, because school held about as much interest for me apt comparison eludes me at the moment. Anyway, yeah, Wikipedia has become a fascination, but, fortunately, I have Spooky here watching over my shoulder to be sure I keep my priorties in order. Yesterday, I only made two entries, for the ankylosaurs Mymoorapelta and "Denversaurus" (the latter being a junior synonym for Edmontonia).

Yesterday was another detail sort of day. E-mails to editors. Vince sent me two sketches for "Untitled 20," and I had to choose one or the other, though I loved them both. I think I chose the best one. I'm thinking I could draw more subscribers to Sirenia Digest if it were photo-illustrated, though the cost would likely be prohibitive. I made a short entry to my Amazon "plog," posting the cover for Alabaster. I'm actually in sort of a weird and frustrating place right now, workwise. Sirenia Digest #4 is pretty much done. I have no short-story deadlines and no short stories that are nagging to be written. The editorial letter on Daughter of Hounds could come next week, or it could come a month from now. So. I'm not quite sure what to do with myself at the moment. Perhaps I'll begin a new vignette for #5 today and get a head-start, so to speak. I've been thinking a lot about fairies. We'll see. We always do.

We had a very long walk yesterday. I feel as though I'm beginning to work off the wage of the winter's inactivity. First we stopped by Videodrome to return Walk the Line, then headed on up North Avenue NE towards the western end of Freedom Park. Oh, here's a photo of Videodrome, Atlanta coolest DVD source (though if your still stuck in the '80s and are talking strictly VHS, I'd direct you to Movies Worth Seeing). I talk about the place so frequently, I figured maybe I should include a photo, which I took yesterday as we were leaving:

I kinda think Videodrome was once a service station. Anyway, we took Ralph McGill Blvd. NE up towards the park, admiring old houses and old oaks and tulip trees and flowers and sidewalk fossils and such. Then we headed back down Williams Mill Rd. NE. It was a beautiful day, the sun hot against my skin, and a good long walk. I sweated!

I was very pleased with the season finale of Battlestar Galactica last night. I thought the one-year-ahead jump cut was marvelous, and now I shall grind my teeth until October and Season 3. Seeing Baltar's debauchery and the miserable conditions on New Caprica, I couldn't help but be reminded of the lyrics to Public Image's "Bad Life" ("Well, that's life./Bad, bad, bad life./Well, that's life./This is what you want./This is what you get.") I love a cliffhanger that leaves everyone well and truly frelled. Of course, I was also thinking about how Bonnie Hammer tried to blame the "unfinished" nature of Farscape at the time of its cancellation on "too many cliffhangers." In fact, watching BSG, no matter how much its won me over, it also makes me miss Farscape all the more. Another of Bonnie Hammer's absurd claims about Farscape was that it wasn't friendly to new viewers coming in late, because the story was too complex. And the same's not true of BSG? Bologna, I say.

Spooky wants to walk, I mean go for a walk, so I should wrap this up. Later, kiddos.

Addendum: shame

Truly, I am become a frelling lemming. Which is to say, I now have my very own myspace account. Because, you know, I needed another way to squander time online when I ought to be writing. Of course, this is proof positive that myspace is no longer drad (if, indeed, it ever was). Friend me if you so dare.

And I love this line from the Dresden Dolls' song "Backstabber":

backstabber! hope grabber!
greedy little fit haver!
god, I feel for you, fool...
shit lover! off brusher!
jaded bitter joy crusher!
failure has made you so cruel...

so don’t tell me what to write
and don’t tell me that I’m wrong...
and don’t tell me not to reference my songs within my songs.

Ahmet, kiddos. Ahmet. Thank you, Amanda.