Green Things

Gene Cernan in the Lunar Rover

For the first time in my life­time, there are liv­ing things on the moon.

Con­sid­er: Apol­lo 17, the last crewed mis­sion to the moon, left the lunar sur­face in Decem­ber 1972. (I was born the next year.)

And now? Now, right now, in Jan­u­ary 2019, seeds have sprout­ed in a Chi­nese rover on the far side of the moon.

Head­er image: Gene Cer­nan in the Lunar Rover. Tak­en by NASA, and in the pub­lic domain.

William Gibson: Grand Master

William Gibson

It’s got a nice ring to it.

Con­grat­u­la­tions to William Gib­son, one of my favourite authors, on the announce­ment that he has been named the lat­est Damon Knight Grand Mas­ter by the Sci­ence Fic­tion Writ­ers of Amer­i­ca.

The Damon Knight Memo­r­i­al Grand Mas­ter Award rec­og­nizes “life­time achieve­ment in sci­ence fic­tion and/or fan­ta­sy.” Gib­son joins the Grand Mas­ter ranks along­side such leg­ends as C. J. Cher­ryh, Peter S. Bea­gle, Ursu­la K. Le Guin, Isaac Asi­mov, Ray Brad­bury, and Joe Halde­man. The award will be pre­sent­ed at the 54th Annu­al Neb­u­la Con­fer­ence and Awards Cer­e­mo­ny in Wood­land Hills, CA, May 16th-19th, 2019.

Via Tor.com, here’s the offi­cial announce­ment.

Head­er pho­to by Nik­ki Tysoe, used under a CC-BY license.

Christmas movies

still from A Charlie Brown Christmas.

Is Die Hard the best Christ­mas movie? I dun­no, I’ve always leaned toward The Night­mare Before Christ­mas*, myself.

But this arti­cle makes a com­pelling point for oth­ers, too. I just re-watched Kiss Kiss Bang Bang in the sum­mer­time, dur­ing my writ­ing retreat. (How is that five months ago already? Man, time flies.)

[M]ost of his films [have a] fairy-tale like sheen, sim­i­lar to what makes Die Hard so suc­cess­ful. And mak­ing it Christ­mas in L.A. (which the major­i­ty of his films do), offers a dif­fer­ent sen­si­bil­i­ty to the use of the hol­i­day on film.

—Emi­ly Ash­er-Per­rin, Die Hard is Great, but Shane Black is the King of Christ­mas Explo­sions

* Oh who am I kid­ding? Night­mare is sec­ond; A Char­lie Brown Christ­mas is first, even if it’s only about half an hour long.

Down in Fraggle Rock

Today I learned that…

Den­nis Lee, Cana­di­an poet, author of child­hood favourite “Alli­ga­tor Pie”, was also the co-founder of the ven­er­a­ble Cana­di­an press House of Anan­si Press (which, even though I’m ill-versed in Can­Lit, I’d heard of).

And he wrote the lyrics to the theme song for Frag­gle Rock.

And he co-wrote the sto­ry for the movie Labyrinth.

[Cita­tion need­ed]

A not-entirely-dark, not-so-deserted highway

Star Trails

Half an hour’s worth of Earth’s rota­tion, along with the head­lights of three or four vehi­cles trav­el­ing down Man­i­to­ba PR 468, under the bright light of October’s full moon. Also I think there are a cou­ple air­planes cross­ing the sky. And clouds.

Nerdy tech details

I’m not sure any­one but me will care about this, but so it goes.

~200 images, 10s each, f/2.8, ISO 800. WB was set to “Day­light”.

Light­ly edit­ed in GIMP: I copied and past­ed the main lay­er as two more lay­ers, and set the mid­dle one to Grain Merge, the top one to Hard Light. This dark­ened the back­ground a bit and enhanced the lights.

A markèd improvement

Eye (photo by Vanessa Bumbeers)

I had laser eye surgery per­formed on the week­end. Today was my sec­ond fol­low-up appoint­ment with the oph­thal­mol­o­gist.

My vision is now sit­ting at 20/16 with both eyes, which is appar­ent­ly a step bet­ter than 20/20 or “per­fect” vision. I gath­er that the 20/16 means that I can see at 20 feet what a nor­mal per­son can see at 16 feet.

I had a look at the doc­u­ments the doc­tor pro­vid­ed. Before the surgery, my good eye was at 20/400. My bad eye, well, they didn’t even both­er with a 20/number, just marked OF 2ft (I assume “out of focus at two feet”).

Now all I need to do is get used to a life with­out glass­es.

(That’s not my eye­ball. Pho­to by Vanes­sa Bum­beers on Unsplash)

An evening out with the stars

Aurora Borealis

With some of the mon­ey I inher­it­ed from my dad, last year, I bought an 1116mm f/2.8 lens for my cam­era. In plain Eng­lish, it’s a nice fast lens with a nice wide field of view, which means that it’s great for astropho­tog­ra­phy.

Tonight, the stars aligned for me, as it were. There was almost a 50/50 chance of some auro­ra sight­ings, per SpaceWeath­er. The tem­per­a­ture was a balmy -1°C, which was a pleas­ant change from the -25°C and -35°C nights we’ve had for the last cou­ple weeks.

Long sto­ry short, there was a faint haze to the north. Edit­ing with Gimp brings out quite a bit more than the naked eye could see.

As my cam­era clicked away, I leaned back against the car. At one point I thought of Kurt Vonnegut’s quote: If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.