Posts Tagged ‘space’

Ask the Astronaut on Space Station a Question

Astronaut Greg Chamitoff, aboard the International Space Station 220 miles above Earth, is ready to take your questions. Here’s your chance to hear direct from space. Chamitoff’s schedule will not allow him to answer many questions, but he will attempt to answer a few each week.

In this video, he talks about the concept of a “junk drawer” on the space station and technology that he he expects to come along in the future.

I could use some of that in my house, couldn’t you?

Fire in space

For a story I’m writing, I needed to know what kind of fire extinguisher would be on a space ship. Which lead to this NASA article about fires in space.

It’s chock-full of interesting things, such as:

In microgravity, there is no buoyancy, so instead of a tall yellow flame on a candle, for example, you’ll see a smaller, blue flame centered on the wick.

Toast Cover

ToastI just got the final art for Charles Stross’s book, Toast, coming out from Wyrm. I’d already done a preliminary layout using the rough draft of the art, so it was easy to drop the final art in place, make a few tweaks and send it over to Neil.

The art is by the talented and very easy to work with Steve Montiglio. I have no understanding of how he works as fast as he does with as much intricate detail. He just delivered the final art weeks before his due date. It makes a girl very happy.

Besides– Giant octopus ships in space! What more could you ask for?


I finished painting the largest wall of the dining room Venetian Red. We’ve moved the bookshelves back into place and have begun the process of unpacking books. It is quite clear that we have more books than we have space. We’re discussing were the additional shelves will go–clearly, we can’t get rid of any of these books. Don’t even suggest it.

Look! Schadenfreude and trucks!

Surprise! We were comfortable with the things we were going to have to leave behind because of space. What we did not anticipate was the weight of what we did manage to get into the truck.

We have bottomed out the suspension. Totally. The truck is so overweight that after A LOT of thought, we are going to switch to a larger truck. It’s that or risk breaking an axle in the Rockies. I’d much rather swap trucks here on a shady street.

This won’t throw off our arrival date, because we had some slop built into our schedule, but it will change the rest of the trip since we probably won’t leave until tomorrow.

PuppetVision Blog: SWAT Team Takes Down Puppeteer

PuppetVision Blog pointed out this fact that will have an enormous impact on my move to New York City. It is apparently illegal to perform a window puppet show in New York City.

§ 10-114 Street shows. a. It shall be unlawful to give any exhibition of climbing or scaling on the front or exterior of any house or building.
b. It shall likewise be unlawful for any person, from any window or open space of any house, or building, to exhibit to the public upon the street, or the sidewalk thereof, any performance of puppet or other figures, ballet or other dancing, comedy, farce, show with moving figures, play or other entertainment.
c. Violations. Any person who shall violate any provision of this section, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by a fine of not more than twenty-five dollars, or imprisonment for thirty days, or both.

Now, I don’t normally link to commercials, but I’ve got to admit that this one makes me chuckle.

Too low

We’re in the studio and Rob is editing the chapter I recorded. We recorded a page and then had to go back and re-record because my voice is too low for consistency with the earlier chapters. I’ve been raising my narrator voice above my natural speaking pitch because there are a number of male characters in this and I needed the space at my bottom end.

The problem is that with this cold when I place my voice so that it feels like it’s at the same pitch as before, it’s noticeably lower. I had to listen to a recording and try to match that, just on sound rather than on muscle feel. On the plus side, the male voices are much easier.

Cleaning and treats

Today was mostly spent tidying and sending things away. Folks from various corners of Portland came and picked up various things, slowly creating more space in the house.

I also made snowcream tonight with the snow I saved in the freezer. Snowcream, for those of you who didn’t grow up with it, consists of a bowl of snow, evaporated milk, sugar and vanilla. When I called Dad to ask him for the recipe, he said that you just mix those things together until it tastes right.


So that’s what I did. Mmmm… snow cream. Rob was not impressed, but I think Christina appreciated it. I grew up thinking that everyone made snow cream, then thinking that it was a Southern thing. And now I’m beginning to suspect that it’s a very localized thing. Like, maybe just Tennessee. Have you ever had it?

The effect of new windows

Our house is noticeably warmer. Amazing. For the first time in years, I slept without a space heater in our bedroom. I think the house is quieter too, but that’s harder to tell.

Acephalous: Measuring The Speed of Meme: An Experiment in which You Will Participate, Or Else…

Acephalous: Measuring The Speed of Meme: An Experiment in which You Will Participate, Or Else…

You too can participate in science from the comfort of your own home. Click on the link above to read the details of the experiment, or take the shortcut and just follow the instructions below.

  1. Write a post, in which you explain the experiment and link to the original post ( (All blogs count, be they TypePad, Blogger, MySpace, Facebook, &c.)
  2. Ask your readers to do the same. Beg them. Relate sob stories about poor graduate students in desperate circumstances. Imply I’m one of them. (Do whatever you have to. If that fails, try whatever it takes.)
  3. Ping Technorati.

Modern Mechanix » Typewriter Spaces Words To Fill Lines

Modern Mechanix » Typewriter Spaces Words To Fill Lines

Really. What girl wouldn’t want one of these? Such a cool gadget.

Although, it does make me very conscious of all the retyping people used to have to do. I dimly remember this from when I was typing on our IBM Selectric, but we had some sort of special eraser tape that would either lift the mistake up or paste something over it. It only worked really well if you spotted the typo as you were going. If you had to correct something later, it was a pain to get the page to line up again.

I like my computer. Such a cool gadget. But I still want one of these.

Reading Aloud 6: Recording tricks

This entry is part 6 of 17 in the series Reading Aloud

I forgot to mention a couple of my favorite tricks, which work nicely with a microphone. If you drop your volume and lean into the microphone then it will sound as if you are right next to the listener, whispering in their ear. This can have a wonderful effect to distinguish between “asides” and dialogue. It can also create a real intimacy with your listener.

Listen as I demonstrate.

Another handy trick is left-right balance. This isn’t a reading thing, but a post-production effect that can do a lot to create the idea of different speakers even with only one voice. When you record something with multiple characters, read the whole thing straight through, for pacing doing all of the character voices.

Then go back and read each piece of dialogue individually. Do all of a character’s dialogue in one go, then go back and do the next character. Besides giving you a more consistant vocal quality for the characters, you can separate them into left and right channels. Most people choose to leave the narrator in the middle. It does a lot to distinguish between characters. But it will add a lot of work to post production.

If you have time, do multiple reads so you can select the best take for each line.

If you listen to my Rampion I read the narrative three times and each of the character dialogue breakdowns twice. The characters are separated into different channels–this does mean that the file will be larger to download. For downloads I could have saved a lot of space by keeping it mono.

Adding Injury to Insult

I’ve had time to cook lately, which has been a nice change of pace. Last night I made a Espresso Black Bean Chili that I’d discovered when I was staying with my folks at Woodthrush Woods. I really like this recipe, although I cut it in half and still have more chili than makes sense.

Frozen HaddockI froze some of it and stuck it in the freezer. The challenge there is that three large haddock now fill our freezer. Right before Julie headed out of town, she popped in and dropped these off. The gang had gone fishing with Tóti and caught ridiculous numbers of haddock. These are not small fish and, although they’ve been cleaned, they are whole fish and take up a lot of space in our tiny freezer. It was not easy to fit everything in, so the bags of frozen chili are nestled between the fish.

Meanwhile, the pot in which I’ve cooked the chili is carbon black on the bottom. I don’t know what it is about this particular pot, but everything that I’ve made in it chars. It’s really frustrating. I had to scrape the bottom of the pot, trying to release the crust. I alternated between letting it soak, while I did other dishes, and scraping it. As I turned from tossing some of the scrapings in the trash, I whacked into the cabinet door–left open from the other dishes.

I broke the skin, but not badly. It lines up nicely with the wrinkles on my forehead, so I don’t think it will leave a mark. Still, it seemed like a good idea to put an icepack on it. Except that it was behind the haddock. As I held the first of the frozen fish in my hand, I briefly considered just putting it on my forehead and lying down.

Rob came in and found me about then and took over the dishes, including the pot of carbon. So, I guess that the frozen haddock did relieve me of one my headaches.

Happy Fourth of July!

Alberta Cooperative GroceryTo celebrate, I thought I would share some pictures of my neighborhood back home. A friend took these a few days ago and sent them to me, I think as a way to tempt me back to Portland, OR. This is the cooperative organic grocery store that is three doors from our house. I miss being able to walk down, in the middle of cooking, to get whatever ingredient I had forgotten. I miss the Reed’s Ginger Ice Cream that they have and the beautiful seasonal produce.

My Front Porch
Here is our front porch, looking south. We never spent much time on the porch, because our street is on a bus line and faces west. In the evenings, after the sunset and I wanted to cool off, I would sometimes sit on the porch and write. I do miss walking out the door and seeing our roses. We could hear the fireworks downtown from the porch on the fourth, but not see them. But, upstairs, on the landing, we could see the fireworks in Vancouver. There was just space between the big cedar tree and our neighbor’s house.

Purple Smoke Bush And here is the view that I would see on my way home in the summer. Eve convinced me to buy the purple smoke bush, knowing that it would go beautifully with the roses that were already in the yard. You can’t see it, but over to the right are some wine barrels from Bethel Heights which we planted strawberries in. There are few things better than fresh strawberries, picked and eaten in the warm sun.