Monthly Archives: August 2009

Park Place 304

Currently, I am sitting at my new IKEA desk in my new room in my new apartment (and on my old MacBook), and I couldn’t be happier. I’m just glad that I’m finally out of the house, back on campus (technically near it), and ready to start the next semester.

There were a few hitches, however, in moving in. I went to the office, in Capitol Villa, and they said that I could check out the apartment but that I wouldn’t be able to move back in until 1300. After my dad and I checked it out, saw things were fine, I went back over to the office while my Dad started moving things up into the actual apartment.

Of course, they then proceed to tell me that I can’t move in until 1430, which was just ridiculous. I walked back over to the apartment to tell my dad to stop moving things in, to prevent a fine, so we hid what he had already moved in into my closet. Pretty sneaky, right? My dad says, “let me talk to them,” so we drive over to the office and walk in.

I’m thinking that because he was there and acted calm that the office workers finally conceded, so I signed an early move-in waiver, got my key, and things were all set. The lock had been changed earlier, so we just had to worry about the switchplate covers and the range burners (the covers got put in right as we were leaving for lunch).

All in all, a pretty smooth move in. The mattress arrived right at 1115, just after they thought they’d be there, I got all my things in, and I just spent the next few hours unpacking and building my desk, plus a little guitar as well. This year should be a good one.

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The Mars Society

I get my information from various sources, but when it comes to actively seeking out a position as an astronaut, I turn to Astronaut for Hire, an excellent blog detailing the author’s efforts to do exactly that. He takes part in a program called FMARS, a Mars analog research station run by The Mars Society and housed on Devon Island, Canada, and actively blogged about his experience there. It was immensely interesting and informative for me, and thankfully I may have a similar chance as well…

He alerted his readers to TMS’s recently-opened call for applicants for their MDRS (Mars Desert Research Station) project, located in Utah. This would encompass two weeks of testing procedures that would be used on Mars actual to study soil samples to look for traces of life, or if life had existed in the past and in what form, and to monitor the actual participants for physical and mental strain from EVAs and other work.

So, of course I was interested in applying. Right now, I am revising my resume to include some of their requirements and doing more research on the actual program and what has been done in the past on excursions. While the number of undergraduates is somewhat low, I might have a shot at getting in on the 2009-2010 season with the amount of research I have already done during my two years. I should have the actual application process done within the week, after the update my online resume as well.

The only problem is that I’d have to take two weeks off of my second semester to attend…

District 9

Well, I just got back from watching this film in theaters, and I have to say that it is one of the best movies I’ve watched in a long time. I’m a big fan of mockumentaries, mostly due to The Office and Arrested Development, and this movie seamlessly integrates that into a great story that just continues to escalate and change and make you wonder what’s happening next.

I’m not going to tell you anything about what happens in the movie or anything like that, which might make this the worst movie review ever written. I’m going to tell you to not look things up about the story or anything like that until after you actually see the movie. I got the same advice, thankfully before I saw the most recent issue of Time, and I am glad that I followed that advice. The Time article especially gives away a ton of spoilers, so much so that reading the article after returning home basically allowed me to walk through the movie again. Good if you want to relive it, bad if you haven’t seen it yet.

Anyway, watch the movie once (or twice, or more) and think about what it tells you about the human race and yourself. You’ll be glad that you did.

Perseid Meteor Shower

For those of you interested in seeing pretty cool things at night, then you probably keep track of upcoming meteor showers, or ISS overpasses, or even just random stargazing. The Perseid meteor shower, made up of the remains of Comet Swift-Tuttle, is a recurring shower that’s been observed for hundreds of years, always around the same time of year. This year, however, the peak fell around 1200-1300 local time, which for all of you in Michigan sucks.

So, you could either watch it start early in the morning or wait until nightfall to see the tail end. I decided to do both, but with my bad luck the morning edition was clouded over. I stayed up until 0400 local, went outside to try to catch a few meteors, and could barely see the Moon through the clouds. I went back outside around 2230 tonight, after the sun had set and most of the light was gone, and lied down and waited.

Of course, since I live near major cities and my home is surrounded by trees (in the subdivision of Nottingham Forest…), I only saw two meteors during a fifteen-minute span. Not bad, but not good at the same time. I also saw what I’m pretty sure was some sort of satellite pass overhead, but I couldn’t figure out what exactly it was. Before you ask about how I could tell it was a satellite, I’ll just tell you: the point of light was constant (i.e. not blinking), traveled quite fast across the sky, and was as faint as some stars.

So, two meteors and a rogue satellite. Not bad for a random August night, right?

Moon – Beginnings

Spurred by a conversation I had not too long ago, I’ve decided to give an overview of my new story arc, using some of the characters previously encountered in Moonshot but set a few years before. As it stands, I have fifty-some pages written, which is quite a lot for a week writing splurge. I’m hoping to have the same success with this coming week, but only time will tell if that will work out. If so, I’ll have this novel done in two months, much better than the four years for the previous, unfinished one!

Chapters 1 through 3
Nick Sonfend, a young science teacher, accepts a new job teaching middle school children in the Pacifica school (as of yet, no name past that) under the jurisdiction of the Pacifica Education Authority and housed in the namesake lunar colony. He leaves behind his two parents and sister and flies on a transfer shuttle to the Moon. En route, he meets Melissa Lauridson, an equally young flight attendant for whom Nick develops some small feelings but promptly makes a fool of himself. Melissa forgives him, and once they arrive at Pacifica she helps him become acclimated to the colony, from understanding what the color-coded airlocks are for to the idea that “moonlegs” come from more than just a prolonged stay.

Chapters 4 through 6
Nick and Melissa go on a few dates before she has to leave for another few weeks for work (most flight attendants work two flights, back to back, followed by a short leave). Nick gradually becomes more comfortable in the colony and with his new job, even after an awkward meeting in a bathroom with a fellow teacher.

Chapters 7 and 8
Nick has taught his first two weeks basically flawlessly, although there have been some bumps with teacher confidentiality in regards to helping students in the other science classes. For the most part, Nick is happy with the way things are panning out, although he still worries that Melissa may not be as emotionally involved in their pseudo-relationship as he is. Those fears are quelled when Melissa begins her leave, and the two romantically reunite.

Well, the summaries aren’t the best, but I’m not writing a novel based on summaries, am I? I’m beginning to get into the meat of the story, past a lot of the initial character development phases, so the next batch of work should be very interesting… So interesting, in fact, that I’m not even exactly sure where it’s going!

Note: I’m not even thinking about a name for this one yet, plus I’m not reading backwards past a paragraph or two when I start a new chapter. I think it’s much better this way, plus I stay focused on the upcoming story and not what I’ve already done.

Starting over…?

I know that no one, least of all me, wants to hear this, but I think I’ve had an epiphany about my novel and what I want it to be. Right now, Moonshot revolves around a few people living within the already established lunar colonies during the time of the global war on Earth and after. It concentrates on how the people react to the changing situation on the Earth, on the surface of the Moon, and within their own individual colonies.

I just think I should tweak it around a little bit… I’m not going to scrap what I have, but I think writing a story about Nick Sonfend (one of the major characters current) and his life, starting from when he departs from Earth for the Moon following the end of his education and continuing through living in Pacifica up until the beginning of the novel, would make for an interesting story as well. If anything, it will help flesh out Nick as a character in Moonshot in its current form.

Why the change? Well, right now, I’m reading Saturn by Ben Bova. It’s an amazing story detailing the journey of a large (10,000 inhabitants) colony from the Earth-Moon vicinity to orbit around Saturn, both for research purposes and for the radical religious groups that control the Earth’s governments to dispel some of their less desirable citizens, sort of like a futuristic Australia. Saturn, and its sequel Titan, focus on a few of the prominent members of this colony as they travel to Saturn and set up shop around the planet.

Ben Bova has been one of my favorite authors since I first read one of his books (Titan, I believe…) three years ago, plus his style has greatly influenced my current writing greatly. I’ve read many of his books multiple times, but this time I just got a feeling that I should change my own book as well… Maybe it was re-immersing myself in his style and attention to detail?

Anyway, I’ll be writing up some new story soon to see if I should follow this tract. Maybe it will just act as a small distraction until I get back into my first novel? I’ll let you guys know.