Monday, January 31, 2011

For Saffron. 1994 (best guess) to 2011. Her journey is at the end.

We lost our first dog, Java (a rescue from a garbage dumpster), early in 1995, to cancer. We made the vow not to get another dog "for a while" but pretty soon decided we could not stand the empty house. A few weeks later saw us at the local big box pet store during a pet adoption day. We saw Saffron (then named with another moniker) in a crate. I hesitated, started to pass, but then she reached out with a paw. It nearly broke my heart to see her in there.

We plunked the money down.

She was a handful in our condo. Definitely the alpha dog, figuring that she ran our pack. We could not figure her breed, the papers said "pit pull", but at that point any dog that was a bit fuzzy was tagged with that. She was vastly underweight, ribs showing through, highly energetic, high maintenance, loved destroying books and gloves and watches, and even several square feet of wall-to-wall carpeting (when that happened, she nearly went back).

Age was undeteremined, we figured a year. Eventually, when we identified her breed (Rhodesian Ridgeback, now better known but practically a rarity then), we figured out why she had been abandoned: Rhodesian Ridgebacks can be born with a ridge that stands up or (in her case) a ridge that only stands up when the dog is excited. Less-than-ethical breeders destroyed puppies at that time that did not show a ridge. So Saffron was either abandoned on purpose to die or escaped being killed.

After a few months with her, we were spurred into trying to buy a house. We wanted to expand and she needed a yard.

After we bought the house, we needed to put up a fence. A six-foot-high fence, mind you. Why six foot? Because we found she could jump over a five foot fence.

After we had the fence, we needed to get a second dog. Why a second dog? Because we needed to give her a playmate. She was high-maintenance, high-energy. We got Cosmo, about whom I have written here.

Cosmo was with us for many years, and while he slowed down, and Saffron slowed down, they were inseparable. They were good buddies to the end, when Cosmo suffered a series of strokes, and as with Saffron, we had to perform the ultimate duty.

After some time, we came across Mocha, a rescued Doberman/Labrador mix. Mocha...well, we had Java, a Doberman/Beagle (?) mix (another rescue, seeing a pattern here with where we get our dogs?) about whom I have written here. Mocha was not as high-energy or high-maintenance as Saffron was, was a bit energetic to the point where Saffron was, but was soon a good companion to Saffron. She was, for one thing, very protective of Saffron and careful around her: if Saffron fell and we were out of the house, Mocha would bark at us when we came home.

Unfortunately, things soon started going bad for Saffron. There were at least three occasions over the past two years where we thought "this is it". One time when I thought she was having a seizure (turned out to be something else). One time when she exhibited signs of internal bleeding. And then there were the legs.

The legs are pretty much what did it. She developed arthritis in the back legs and then nerve problems in the spinal column. Toss in the balance issues ("crazy eyes", what I thought was the seizure), a declining appetite, medicines that seemed to do less and less, the impact of the cold, the severe impact of the snow and ice...she got weaker and weaker, was unable to hardly walk inside, let alone outside, had to be carried out to do her "thing".

And, finally, Monday morning, told me what had to be done.

It is a hard thing. But it is something that you, as a pet owner, must do. If you are a good owner, you not only take responsibility for the care of a dog, the feeding of a dog, the training of a dog, but the health and ultimate fate of the dog. You love the dog, but there comes a time when you must put aside the desire to keep the dog going, in order to shield your feelings and fear of loss to what is best for the dog.

Saffron could not "speak", but I knew what she was "saying".

I told my wife that I had made an appointment. When my daughter came home, I tried to explain to her what had to be done: I was taking Saffron to the vet's, but there was a good chance that they would not be able to do anything for her and she might not be returning with me. They said goodbye, I carried Saffron into the car, drove to the vet's, and then carried into the vet's where I waited for the doctor. We discussed her health, he examined her, gave me an honest assessment of what was going on (one reason I have stuck with the firm for all this time).

And then we did what was necessary.

She was strong-willed enough that her heart kept beating after the vet thought she should have passed due to the application of the euthanizing medication, but not strong enough to keep on going through what was obviously a lot of pain. While eventually the years of joy will outweigh the pain of this moment, sometimes the cost of what you pay to have a pet seems overwhelming.

Goodbye, my friend. I miss you. I hate this. But I had to do it.

Am not going to argue whether a machine can "really" be alive, "really" be self-aware. Is a virus self-aware? Nyet! How about oyster? I doubt it. A cat? Almost certainly. A human? Don't know about you tovarishch, but I am. Somewhere along evolutionary chain from macromolecule to human brain self-awareness crept in. Psychologists assert it happens automatically whenever a brain acquires certain very high number of associational paths. Can't see it matters whether paths are protein or platinum.

("Soul?" Does dog have a soul? How about cockroach?)
(The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, Part 1, That Dinkum Thinkum, Chapter 1)


"Do dogs have souls? Maybe not in the sense we reserve for ourselves, but in other sense: memory. That's where they go, and it's good enough for them...I thought of some other dogs I've known, and how it's necessary to recollect them from time to time, and thank them for the honor of holding their ghosts until you relinquish your own." (James Lileks)


"I know of no reason why I should not look for the animals to rise again, in the same sense in which I hope myself to rise again—which is, to reappear, clothed with another and better form of life than before. If the Father will raise His children, why should He not also raise those whom He has taught His little ones to love?

"Love is the one bond of the universe, the heart of God, the life of His children: if animals can be loved, they are lovable; if they can love, they are yet more plainly lovable: love is eternal; how then should its object perish? Must the love live on forever without its object? or, worse still, must the love die with its object, and be eternal no more than it?

"Is not our love to the animals a precious variety of love? And if God gave the creatures to us, that a new phase of love might be born in us toward another kind of life from the same fountain, why should the new life be more perishing than the new love?

"Can you imagine that, if, hereafter, one of God's little ones were to ask Him to give again one of the earth's old loves—kitten, or pony, or squirrel, or dog, which He had taken from him, the Father would say no? If the thing was so good that God made it for and gave it to the child at first who never asked for it, why should He not give it again to the child who prays for it because the Father had made him love it? What a child may ask for, the Father will keep ready."
(George MacDonald)
Delivery System

It is amazing to see how many logistics packages are working to supply the International Space Station these days. Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows Japan's Kounotori 2 unmanned supply vehicle on final approach to the ISS.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Technic Civilization (On Serial Matters)

I first came across the Technic (Or is it Techic? I'm seeing two spellings now...) Civilization series of Poul Anderson in the early 1960's with a battered paperback of Trader to the Stars, a series of stories about the irascible Nicholas Van Rijn. A few years later I found a hardcover collection (The Trouble Twisters) about a trading team in the same universe. The hunt was on, luckily roughly coinciding with new installments and reprints, and I was soon immersed in this vast universe.

Baen Books undertook a unified edition a few years ago and we're approaching the end of the run (a run, alas, marred by the economy and stupid "book buyers", read the folks at the big boxes who make purchasing decisions, somehow deciding the series would do better as trade paperbacks rather than a solid run of hardcovers; how I wish the series was a nice solid set of hardcovers from end to end!). I had started reading the series again a few years ago, but Real Life (TM) ran that train off the tracks, so I have begun from scratch again and hope to read the series through by the end of the year.

Cycles, it is all about cycles. And the people that try to break out of the cycles. In the first phase, humanity expands through the universe, exploring and trading. But things fall apart. Some try to break out of the cycle and start a new society. Overall, the dark comes upon us. An empire rises, expands, but stagnates. Some try to beat back the oncoming rush of night, but eventually the empire collapses. The galaxy turns, a new page turns, and a new society rises.

An optimistic tale? A pessimistic one? You decide.

Wonderful characters, wonderful stories, a grand sweep, fantastic (and funny) dialogue, a galaxy of stars. Good stuff and I'm glad to see it back to hopefully entertain a new generation.

Poul Anderson; The Van Rijn Method (Baen Books; September 2008; ISBN 978-1-4165-5569-2; cover by Dave Seeley).

Made up of: Planets and Profits: Introducing Nicholas Van Rijn and the Polesotechnic League (Hank Davis); Introduction to The Saturn Game; The Saturn Game; Introduction to Wings of Victory; Wings of Victory; Introduction to The Problem of Pain; The Problem of Pain; Introduction to Margin of Profit; Margin of Profit; Introduction to How to be Ethnic in One Easy Lesson; How to be Ethnic in One Easy Lesson; Introduction to The Three-Cornered Wheel; The Three-Cornered Wheel; Introduction to A Sun Invisible; A Sun Invisible; Introduction to The Season of Forgiveness; The Season of Forgiveness; Introduction to The Man Who Counts; The Man Who Counts (novel); Introduction to Esau; Esau; Introduction to Hiding Place; Hiding Place; Chronology of the Technic Civilization (Sandra Miesel); Appendix I: The Original Version of The Margin of Profit; Appendix II: The Man Who Counts and the Technic Civilization Series (Sandra Miesel).

(Sources that I have found these stories in before include The Earth Book of Stormgate, The Man Who Counts, The Trouble Twisters and Trader to the Stars. I even read on in Boy's Life when it first appeared in that magazine!)

Counts as twenty-five (25) entries in the 2009 Year in Shorts. Rebooted: Counts as ten (10) entries in the 2011 Year in Shorts.

Poul Anderson; David Falkayn: Star Trader (Baen Books; January 2009; ISBN 978-1-4165-5520-X; cover by David Seeley).

Made up of: High Profits and High Adventures (Hank Davis); A Historical Reflection; Territory; Plus Ca Change Plus C'est La Meme Chose; The Trouble Twisters; Day of Burning; The Master Key; Satan's world (novel); A Little Knowledge; Lodestar; Afterword to Lodestar; Chronology of Technic Civilization (Sandra Miesel).

Poul Anderson; Rise of the Terran Empire (Baen Books; June 2009; ISBN 978-1-4391-3275-5; cover by Bob Eggleton).

Made up of: Descent into Empire (Hank Davis); Mirkheim (novel); Introduction to Wingless; Wingless; Introduction to Rescue on Avalon; Rescue on Avalon; Introduction to The Star Plunderer; The Star Plunderer; Introduction to Sargasso of Lost Starships; Sargasso of Lost Starships; The People of the Wind (novel); Afterword to The People of the Wind (Sandra Miesel); Chronology of Technic Civilization (Sandra Miesel).

Poul Anderson; Young Flandry (Baen Books; January 2010; ISBN 978-1-4391-3327-1; cover by David Seeley).

Made up of: Enter a Hero, Somewhat Flawed (Hank Davis); Ensign Flandry (novel); A Circus of Hells (novel); The Rebel Worlds (novel); Chronology of Technic Civilization (Sandra Miesel).

Poul Anderson; Captain Flandry: Defender of the Terran Empire (Baen Books; February 2010; ISBN 978-1-4391-3333-6; cover by David Seeley).

Made up of: Acknowledgment and Introduction (Hank Davis); Outpost of Empire; The Day of Their Return (novel); Tiger by the Tail; Honorable Enemies; The Game of Glory; A Message in Secret; Chronology of Technic Civilization (Sandra Miesel).

Poul Anderson; Sir Dominic Flandry: The Last Knight of Terra (Baen Books; December 2010; ISBN 978-1-4391-3401-4; cover by David Seeley).

Made up of: Enter Hero and Adversary, Accompanied by Alarms and Tumult (Hank Davis); The Plague of Masters (novel); Hunters of the Sky Cave (novel); The Warriors from Nowhere; A Knight of Ghosts and Shadows (novel); Chronology of Technic Civilization (Sandra Miesel).

Poul Anderson; Flandry's Legacy (Baen Books; April 2011; ISBN 978-1-4391-3427-8; cover by David Seeley).

Made up of: Unwritten introduction by Hank Davis (NYA); A Stone in Heaven (novel); The Game of Empire (novel); Tragedy of Errors; The Night Face (novel); The Sharing of Flesh; Starfog; Chronology of Technic Civilization (Sandra Miesel).
Travels With Miles (On Serial Matters)

With the publication of the latest installment in this series, I started re-reading the earlier installments. I've gone through the series a couple of times now; my first read began when the first couple of books were originally out, then with probably the latest couple I read through again each time.

Each readthrough has been interesting and shown me new things about the series. My first read was for the adventure (the military science fiction aspect), then for the comedy (if anything can go wrong with Miles, it will...and then he will put it right), then for the humanity.

Yes, the humanity. For more than the military science fiction aspect, more than the romantic aspect, these books are about people and their relations. Miles and his parents and grandfather and sergeant-guardian. Miles and his crew of mercenaries. Miles and his various loves.

Miles is conceived. He is born. He grows up. He learns. He sees death. And he grows.

I hope we see Miles and his travels for a long time now. Lois McMaster Bujold seems to have slowed her output (as do we all), but each one is a worthwhile read. For those of you are cash-strapped, try to pick up the first run of the latest book: if you get a first printing, it'll contain a CD-ROM of all the books (except for Memory) in electronic format. Buy the book (support the author), pick up Memory (it is still in print), sit back and enjoy.

A note on reading: You can approach the books in chronological order and each has a handy timeline showing the events of the series. Or you can break them down into three sub-series. The biggest deals with Miles directly. Falling Free and Ethan of Athos can be read as standalones. Shards of Honor and Barrayar deal with how Miles' parents met, fell in love and tried to raise a family and change a world.

Lois McMaster Bujold; Falling Free (NESFA Press; 2004; ISBN 1-886778-53-1; cover by David Seely) (re-read in 2010).

Lois McMaster Bujold; Shards of Honor (NESFA Press; 2003; ISBN 978-1-886778-10-8; cover by David A. Cherry) (re-read in 2010).

Lois McMaster Bujold; Cordelia's Honor (Baen Books; 1999; ISBN 0-671-57828-6; cover by Gary Ruddell).

Lois McMaster Bujold; Miles, Mutants and Microbes (Baen Books; 2007; ISBN 978-1-4165-2141-9; cover by Alan Pollack). (Made up of Falling Free, Labyrinth and Diplomatic Immunity.) (Falling Free re-read in 2010.)

Lois McMaster Bujold; The Warrior's Apprentice (NESFA Press; 2001; ISBN 978-1-886778-27-2; cover by Nicholas Jainsschigg) (re-read in 2010).

Lois McMaster Bujold; The Vor Game (NESFA Press; 2010; ISBN 978-1-886778-85-6; cover by Robert M. Brown) (re-read in 2010).

Lois McMaster Bujold; Ethan of Athos (NESFA Prees; 2003; ISBN 978-1-886778-39-6; cover by Nicholas Jainsschigg) (re-read in 2010).

Lois McMaster Bujold; Miles, Mystery and Mayhem (Baen Books; 2001; ISBN 0-671-31858-6; cover by Patrick Turner). (Contains Cetaganda, Ethan of Athos and the short work Labyrinth.) (all three re-read in 2010).


Lois McMaster Bujold
; Brothers in Arms (NESFA Press; 2008; ISBN 978-1-886778-74-0; cover by Doug Beekman) (re-read in 2010).

Lois McMaster Bujold; Borders of Infinity (NESFA Press; 2007; ISBN 978-1-886778-59-7; cover by David Deen) (re-read in 2010).

Lois McMaster Bujold; Miles Errant (Baen Books; 2002; ISBN 978-0-7434-3558-3; cover by Stephen Hickman) (Contains Borders of Infinity, Brothers in Arms and Mirror Dance.) (re-read in 2010).

Lois McMaster Bujold; Memory (Baen Books; 1996; ISBN 0-671-87743-7; cover by Gary Ruddell) (currently being re-read).

Lois McMaster Bujold; Komarr (Baen Books; 1998; ISBN 0-671-87877-8; cover by Gary Ruddell).

Lois McMaster Bujold; A Civil Campaign (Baen Books; 1999; ISBN 0-671-57827-8; cover by Patrick Turner).

Lois McMaster Bujold; Miles in Love (Baen Books; 2008; ISBN 978-14165-5522-3; cover by Alan Pollack). (Omnibus edition of Komarr, A Civil Campaign and the short work Winterfair Gifts.)

Lois McMaster Bujold; Diplomatic Immunity (Baen Books; 2002; ISBN 0-7434-3533-8; cover by Stephen Hickman).

Lois McMaster Bujold; Cyroburn (Baen Books; 2010; ISBN 978-1-4391-3394-1; cover by David Seeley).

Associated: Lillian Stewart Carl and John Helfers (editors): The Vorkosigan Companion: The Universe of Lois McMaster Bujold (Baen Books; 2008; ISBN 978-1-4165-5603-9; cover by Darrell K. Sweet) (read in 2010).

Part of the 2010 Year in Shorts, the 2010 Year in Books and the 2011 Year in Books.

Addendum (February 16, 2010): An episode of The Incomparable Podcast covers the series. Some good stuff here. "Fan" art of the series characters.
All These Worlds Are Yours...

...Except Europa, attempt no landings there! Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows Jupiter's Europa, covered with cracks in its surface ice.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Santa Maria

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is courtesy of MER Opportunity, still roving on Mars after seven years. The rim of Santa Maria crater.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Sailing the Solar Sea

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is an artist's illustration of NASA's NanoSail-D, currently sailing around the blue Earth.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Size Matters

The Daedalus Interstellar Probe as designed by the BIS. How big is big?
All Hail the Czar!

Work to get a degree in aerospace engineering and land a job as LEGO CZAR!!!
Hidden Treasure

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day remains a hidden object, at least for me. Here's a image of Messier 78 in Orion from a ground-based telescope in darker skies than I can manage! (I know where M78 is...but it remains elusive to my naked eyes!)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Like a Rock(et)

Dodge vs. Delta. Heavy and HEAVY.
Whirlpool in Dust

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows an infrared light image from the Hubble Space Telescope of one of the night sky's best sites: Messier 51, the Whirlpool Galaxy. Dust clouds are stellar nurseries!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Three Month Wonder

In case you've forgotten...we're in YEAR SEVEN of a ninety-day mission here...
Red Ring of Death

Own an XBox 360? Ever encounter the so-called Red Ring of Death? Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows a glowing ring of gas, known as SNR 0509, surrounding the site of a Type Ia supernova that had occurred around 400 years earlier.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Frederick Paul Kiesche, Jr.

November 6, 1935 to January 24, 2010

Then Almitra spoke, saying, We would ask now of Death.
And he said:
You would know the secret of death.
But how shall you find it unless you seek it in the heart of life?
The owl whose night-bound eyes are blind unto the day cannot unveil the mystery of life.
If you would indeed behold the spirit of death, open your heat wide unto the body of life.
For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one.

In the depth of your hopes and desires lies your silent knowledge of the beyond;
And like seeds dreaming beneath the snow your heart dreams of spring.
Trust the dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity.
Your fear of death is but the trembling of the shepherd when he stands before the king whose hand is to be laid upon him in honour.
Is the shepherd not joyful beneath his trembling, that he shall wear the mark of the king?
Yet is he not more mindful of his trembling?

For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun?
And what is it to cease breathing, but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?

Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing.
And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb.
And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.


("The Prophet", Kahlil Gibran)
Orbital Spud

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows the southern end of Phobos, one of the hurtling moons of Mars. It was recently imaged by the ESA's Mars Express spacecraft as part of the preparations for the long-planned Phobos-Grunt mission.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Tales from the Known Universe (On Serial Matters)

The next installment in this ongoing series are the stories and books from the Known Space series by Larry Niven and Diverse Hands. Originally appearing as a series of short stories and novels in the 1960's, Niven grew in popularity, winning the Hugo (Ringworld) and Nebula (Neutron Star) for a variety of stories until the series slowed and stopped.

It got a shot in the arm starting in the 1980's when a roleplaying game based on Ringworld came out. That got Niven to thinking about opening up the universe, and Baen Books started publishing a series of stories and serialized novels (later collected into standalone novels) based around the Kzin Wars era. Niven contributed a couple more entries in the form of some short stories and some more stories set on the Ringworld (of somewhat varying quality), but most recently has been collaborating with Edward Lerner on a series of novels set in the Known Space universe, centering around the Ringworld, but not on the Ringworld.

My first encounters with the series were uncollected short stories. I then borrowed some of the novels from a high school friend (hello, Bill Powell!) but the real boost came when another friend (hello, Ed Boretz!) and I went to the Hayden Planetarium in New York City to see Laserium. At the planetarium was an exhibit of artwork by Rick Sternbach, who was doing a series of covers for the newly-printed Tales of Known Space: The Universe of Larry Niven as well as a number of covers for reprinted entries in the series. I think that Tales of Known Space is now out of print, but the edition I had, if you looked closely enough, would show you the covers for a couple of the other entries in the series. Yep, Sternbach replicated the covers for books like Ringworld in miniature on this cover. That is one piece of artwork that I would love to have as a poster (or, if I could afford it, in the original).

It has been interesting to re-read these stories again (running up to the Lerner collaborations). World of Ptavvs is a rarity in the SF world (less so now, but when it came out there were few other examples) of a science fiction detective tale. The entries in Tales of Known Space show how the Solar System evolved over the years as Niven wrote the stories. I was even amused to see that he had a lander (!) on Mercury called Messenger. Hmmm...where have I seen that name before?

Larry Niven; Tales of Known Space (Ballantine Books; 1975; ISBN 345-24563-6-150; cover by Rick Sternbach; interior cover illustrations by Bonnie Dalzell).

Made up of: My Universe and Welcome To It; The Coldest Place; Becalmed in Hell; Wait It Out; Eye of an Octopus; How the Heroes Die; The Jigsaw Man; At the Bottom of a Hole; Intent to Deceive; Cloak of Anarchy; The Warriors; The Borderland of Sol; There Is a Tide; Safe at Any Speed; Afterthoughts; About the Cover (Rick Sternbach).

Counts as nine (9) entries in the 2010 Year in Shorts.

Larry Niven; World of Ptavvs (Ballantine; 1975; ISBN 345-24591-1-150; cover by Rick Sternbach; interior cover illustrations by Bonnie Dalzell).
Affordability Study

Paul Spudis wonders if we can afford a return to the Moon. I wonder if we have the guts.
Polar Ring

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows NGC 660, a "ring galaxy" in the constellation of Pisces. Galaxies can come in some pretty strange shapes, thanks to the occasional meet-and-greet on the intergalactic scale.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Belt!

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows Alnitak, Alnilam and Mintaka, the "belt stars" of Orion.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Nursery Dust

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows us that dust in a nursery is not always a bad thing.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Storm Warning

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows a massive storm on Saturn, as imaged by the Cassini orbiter (congratulations on the mission extension!). Where can you find larger planetary storms? By Jove, of course, soon to be the target of a new mission (finally!).

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Galactic Garden

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows a galactic garden on Earth, designed by Jon Lomberg (one of my favorite artists).

Monday, January 17, 2011

Warp Factor

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is a warped depiction of an earthly and stellar landscape. M.C. Escher, anyone?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Southern Jewell

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows the globular cluster NGC 104 in the southern constellation of Toucan. Good stuff.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Friday, January 14, 2011

A Storm of Stars

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows the Quadrantid meteor shower. Wowza!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Star Sweeper

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows NGC 3521, a galaxy in the constellation of Leo. Nice arms.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A Flock of Seagulls

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows an area near the star Sirius (Canis Major), made up of NGC 2327 and other bits: the Seagull Nebula.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Space Web

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows an alien space web stretching across the stars. Can we see Ziggy Stardust there as well?
Blog. Interrupted.

Well, January is turning out to be the month that fracking sucks. A year ago, I lost my father.

At around 9:30 PM last night, I received a telephone call from my mother-in-law asking me to drive her to the hospital. My father-in-law had been in the hospital, except for about four hours, since before Thanksgiving. She received word that he had become "unresponsive" and had stopped breathing.

We arrived to find him in the Intensive Care Unit, with a ventilator assisting in his breathing. The doctor discussed several things with us, and he was scheduled for both an x-ray (to check pneumonia and whether he had aspirated) and a CAT scan (to see if he had had a stroke). Eventually my wife got a neighbor to watch The Young Lady and she came. My wife's older sister and her husband showed up. I left to spell the babysitter, after which one of my wife's other sisters and a niece both came. My wife came home around 4:00 AM.

We received a telephone call a few minutes ago and my wife is on the way back to the hospital. My father-in-law's heart had stopped and his pacemaker was having trouble keeping him going. While they said they would perform CPR, he had long ago asked for a "do not resuscitate" status, so I expect that his very long struggle with many illnesses is now at an end.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Spare Parts

An interesting question was posed here: why weren't all these parts put to use as launch vehicles?
Eagle One, Immediate Launch!

I've been a long-time fan of Space: 1999 as silly as the plots were. I've loved special effects, especially models, ever since seeing 2001: A Space Odyssey. Space: 1999, like UFO and other Gerry Anderson productions, had great model work.

Here's a link to a restoration of one of the original models. What a dedicated modeler!
Halo

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows a halo around the Sun. Caused by ice crystals acting as a lens, it is something I keep looking for (no success so far).

Sunday, January 09, 2011

It's Dead Jim

The Moon is dead! Dead, I tell you!

Oh wait...maybe not...

Next thing you know they'll discover that it isn't dry.

Oh wait...
Ancient Computer

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows the Antikythera Mechanism, a celestial computer that was ahead of its time...or ahead of what we thought was the norm for its time. When will the first Ancient Greece Steampunk be launched?

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Ansible!

The latest edition of Dave Langford's ever wonderful fanzine is up and ready for your consumption.

Harlan Ellison's first typewriter – vintage 1936-1940, used by him 1949-1954 – is being offered for a mere $40,000 o.n.o. The great man will even include half a page of something typed on it. Serious enquiries only, to broker David Silver: silver at photographyhistory dot com. Mr Ellison also revealed his inspiration: 'A friend said "oh gee, you should sell it, they sold Cormac McCarthy's typewriter." And I said, "yeah, Cormac McCarthy who ripped off my story 'A Boy and His Dog' to do 'The Road.'"' That one fetched $220,000. (WSJ, 29 December) [AIP]
It's Hammer Time (On Serial Matters)

Last year saw me start to re-read one of my favorite sets of books and stories, the Hammer's Slammers stories of David Drake. I just finished re-reading the first volume of Night Shade Books (and now Baen's Books) omnibus collections of the tales (to date, hopefully Drake will revisit the series!).

It is interesting to look back on this series. They have been in print...never out of print...since they first appeared as an Ace paperback. Initial response from science fiction "academia" was less than stellar (but those folks have an agenda, and since these books have been in print and the books of those folks are often out of print quickly I have to wonder who is more aligned with the science fiction fanbase: the "academia" or the author?).

Why the popularity? Well, like it or not, science fiction fans (and the public in general) enjoys ripping good tales of war and heroism and the like. So we can probably count a lot of the audience in that camp.

But...Drake is a veteran. He has seen the elephant. And he writes about those who have seen the elephant. There's a lot here that appeals to those who serve, in peace and or war, truth that those who have never served at all cannot perceive.

David Drake has seen the elephant. If you have seen the elephant, you'll find a voice here that you'll recognize and understands what you have seen (while those around you do not).

David Drake: The Complete Hammer's Slammers, Volume One (Night Shade Books; 2006; ISBN 978-1-892389-69-5; cover art by John Berkey).

Made up of: Introduction (Gene Wolfe); Foreword: On Becoming a Professional Writer by Way of Southeast Asia; Under the Hammer; The Butcher's Bill; But Loyal to His Own; Caught in the Crossfire; Cultural Conflict; Hangman; Standing Down; Code-Name Feirefitz; The Interrogation Team; The Tank Lords; Liberty Port; Night March; The Immovable Object; The Irresistible Force; A Death in Peacetime; Afterword: Accidentally and by the Back Door. With the following "non-fiction" essays: Backdrop to Chaos; The Bonding Authority; The Church of the Lord's Universe; Powerguns; Supertanks; Table of Organization and Equipment, Hammer's Regiment.

Counts as twenty entries in the 2010 Year in Shorts and three entries in the 2011 Year in Shorts.

David Drake: The Complete Hammer's Slammers, Volume Two (Night Shade Books; 2006; ISBN 978-1-892389-73-2; cover art by John Berkey).

Made up of: Introduction (David G. Hartwell); Foreword: We Happy Few; At Any Price; Counting the Cost; Rolling Hot; The Warrior; The Day of Glory; Afterword: What's for Sale.

David Drake: The Complete Hammer's Slammers, Volume Three (Night Shade Books; 2007; ISBN 978-1-892389-80-0; cover art by David Martin).

Made up of: Introduction (Barry N. Malzberg); The Sharp End; Paying the Piper; The Darkness; Jim.
On Serial Matters

Administrative Note: I tend to read a lot of linked collections or novels. I find it hard to write a review for each separate entry. So I've come up with an idea of doing a series, pardon, of omnibus reviews. Each one will cover an ongoing series (novels, stories or both). The combined reviews will talk about why I like the stories, list the entries and be updated as I read additional parts. Additional review items may be added (but probably not).
Helix

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows NGC 7293, better known to amateurs as The Helix Nebula. Planetary Nebula are among the stranger sights in the sky.

Friday, January 07, 2011

A New Drake

A new spin is put on the Drake Equation. Think of the potential! Think of the iPad apps!
Sun and Moon Set

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is another sunset shot of the recent solar eclipse. A bit chillier view this time!

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Sun and Moon

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows the recent partial solar eclipse over Europe.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Passages

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day features the Sun, the Moon, some spots and a space station. Not quite Star Wars...

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Gaunt and Company

Dan Abnett (editor); Sabbat Worlds (Black Library; 2010; ISBN 978-1-84970-010-8; cover by Stefan Kopinski).

When Dan Abnett ran into some difficulties in finishing his latest novel-length entry into the Warhammer 40,000 series of novels, he worked on this short (well, short compared to the other anthology I am reading in the 'verse!) collection of stories set in the Sabbat Worlds game campaign background. This is also the setting for his Gaunt's Ghosts books (Gaunt and his comrades make two appearances in this book).

While I have been stuck on that other anthology, I'm finding this one an easier (and better read). I suspect that it is partly due to me becoming more familiar with the overall background plus the fact that this anthology was purpose-built rather than trying to incorporate a massive number of short works that appeared in a game magazine. I especially liked the appearances of Abnett (natch), Dembski-Bowden, McNeill and Mitchell in this collection.

Made up of: Introduction (Dan Abnett); Apostle's Creed (Graham McNeill); The Headstone and the Hammerstone Kings (Matthew Farrer); Regicide (Aaron Dembski-Bowden); The Iron Star (Dan Abnett); Cell (Nik Vincent); Blueblood (Nick Kyme); A Good Man (Sandy Mitchell); Of Their Lives in the Ruins of Their Cities (Dan Abnett).

Counts as three (03) entries in the 2010 Year in Shorts. Counts as six (06) entries in the 2011 Year in Shorts.
Flash! Aaaaahhhaaaaa!

I was once told that the only way I'd see a green flash from a sailing ship was to look at the sun through the bottom of a bottle of beer. Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day proves that adage wrong.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Cold Hex

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows the "winter hexagon" ("mouse over" the picture to get an outline).

Sunday, January 02, 2011

More Carrolling

I have been waiting for this one to be published (come back into print?) for a while. Now currently tagged for February 2011, let us see if it becomes more than vaporware.
Judging an Author by His Books

I have a similar book about H.P. Lovecraft. However, despite my interest in Lewis Carroll, almost $50.00 for a paperback? Ouch!
Better than the Dragon Tattoo Girl?

Hmmm...Swedish SF?
Total Eclipse

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day gives us an eclipse that we do not normally see. The crew of Expedition 27 to the Mir space station snap a shot of the eclipsed Earth.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Video and Movies (The Great List of Links)

Video and Movies: 2011

Video and Movies: 2012
2011: The Year in Video

This will be a bit of a mix. I'll list television, video, movies, DVD's, film...genre, non-genre, etc. I won't list "news" necessarily, but will list documentary shows.

So what have I viewed in 2011?

The Big Bang Theory: Pilot. The Big Bran Hypothesis. The Fuzzy Boots Corollary.The Luminous Fish Effect. The Hamburger Postulate. The Middle-Earth Paradigm. The Dumpling Paradox. The Grasshopper Experiment. The Cooper-Hofstadter Polarization. The Loobenfeld Decay. The Pancake Batter Anomaly. The Jerusalem Duality. The Bat Jar Conjecture. The nerdvana Annihilation. The Pork Chop Indeterminacy. The Peanut Reaction. The Tangerine Factor. The Bad Fish Paradigm. The Codpiece Topology. The Barbarian Sublimination. The Griffin Equivalency. The Euclid Alternative. The Cooper-Nowitzki Theorem. The Panty Pinata Polarization. The Lizard-Spock Expansion. The White Asparagus Triangulation. The Vartabedian Conundrum. The Bath Item Gift Hypothesis. The Killer Robot Instability. The Friendship Algorithm. The Financial Permeability. The Maternal Capacitance. The Cushion Saturation. The Terminator Decoupling. The Work Song Nanocluster. The Dead Hooker Juxtaposition. The Hofstadter Isotope. The Vegas Renormalization. The Classified Materials Turbulence. The Monopolar Expedition. The Electric Can Opener Fluctuation. The Jiminy Conjecture. The Gothowitz Deviation. The Pirate Solution. The Creepy Candy Coating Corollary. The Cornhusker Vortex. The Guitarist Amplification. The Adhesive Duck Deficiency. The Vengeance Formulation. The Gorilla Experiment. The Maternal Congruence. The Psychic Vortex. The Bozeman Reaction. The Einstein Approximation. The Large Hadron Collision. The Excelsior Acquisition. The Precious Fragmentation. The Pants Alternative. The Wheaton Recurrence. The Spaghetti Catalyst. The Plimpton Stimulation. The Staircase Implementation. The Lunar Excitation. The Robotic Manipulation. The Cruciferious Vegetable Amplification. The Zazzy Substitution. The Hot Troll Deviation. The Desperation Emanation. The Irish Pub Formulation. The Apology Insufficiency. The 21-Second Excitation. The Boyfriend Complexity. The Alien Parasite Hypothesis. The Justice League Recombination. The Bus Pants Utilization. The Love Car Displacement. The Thespian Catalyst. The Benefactor Factor. The Cohabitation Formulation. The Toast Derivation. The Prestidigitation Approximation. The Zarnecki Incursion. The Herb Garden Germination. The Agreement Dissectin. The Wildebeest Implementation. The Engatement Reaction. The Roommate Transmogrification. The Skank Reflex Analysis. The Infestation Hypothesis. The Pulled Groin Extrapolation. The Wiggly Finger Catalyst. The Russian Rocket Reaction. The Rhinitis Revelation. The Good Guy Fluctuation. The Isolation Permutation. The Ornithopobia Diffusion. The Flaming Spottoon Acquisition. The Speckerman Recurrence.

The Deer Hunter: Clocking in at over three hours, this confused, disjointed mess made me ready to hunt up a Russian Roulette game by the time it was done. Sure, it won a ton of awards...but why?

Dr. Who: The First Doctor: William Hartnell (An Unearthly Child; The Daleks; The Edge of Destruction; Marco Polo reconstructed; The Keys to Marinus; The Aztecs; The Dalek Invasion of Earth; The Web Planet).

Dr. Who: The Ninth Doctor: Chrisopher Eccleston (the so-called "first series) (Rose; The End of the World; The Unquiet Dead; Aliens of London; World War III; Dalek; The Long Game; Father's Day; The Empty Child; The Doctor Dances; Boom Town; Bad Wolf; The Parting of the Ways).

Dr. Who: The Tenth Doctor: David Tennant: The Christmas Invasion; New Earth; Tooth and Claw; School Reunion; The Girl in the Fireplace; Rise of the Cybermen; Age of Steel; The Idiot's Lantern). The Impossible Planet. The Satan Pit. Love & Monsters. Fear Her. Army of Ghosts. Doomsday. The Runaway Bride. Smith and Jones. The Shakespeare Code. Gridlock. Daleks in Manhattan. Evolution of the Daleks. The Lazarus Experiment. 42. Human Nature. The Family of Blood. Blink. Utopia. The Sound of Drums. Last of the Time Lords. Voyage of the Damned. Partners in Crime. The Fires of Pompeii. Planet of the Ood. The Sontaran Strategem. The Poison Sky. The Doctor's Daughter. The Unicorn and the Wasp. Silence in the Library. Forest of the Dead. Midnight. Turn Left. The Stolen Earth. Journey's End. The Next Doctor. Planet of the Dead. The Waters of Mars. The End of Time, Part 01. The End of Time, Part 02. (36 episodes viewed a second time through with my daughter.)

Dr. Who: The Eleventh Doctor: Matt Smith: The Eleventh Hour, The Beast Below, Victory of the Daleks, The Time of Angels, Flesh and Stone, The Vampires of Venice, Amy's Choice, The Hungry Earth, Cold Blood, Vincen and the Doctor, The Lodger, The Pandorica Opens, The Big Bang, A Christmas Carol, The Impossible Astronaut, Day of the Moon, The Curse of the Black Spot, The Doctor's Wife, The Rebel Flesh, The Almost People, A Good Man Goes to War, Let's Kill Hitler, Night Terrors, The Girl Who Waited, The God Complex, Closing Time, The Wedding of River Song, The Doctor, The Widow and The Wardrobe (28 episodes).

Eureka: Pilot; Many Happy Returns: Before I Forget; Alienated; Invincible; Dr. Nobel; Blink; Right as Raynes; Primal; Purple Haze; H.O.U.S.E. Rules; Once in a Lifetime; Phoenix Rising; Try, Try Again; Unpredictable; Games People Play; Duck, Duck Goose; Noche de Suenos; Family Reunion; E = MC...?; Sight Unseen; God is in the Details; Maneater; All That Glitters... (Part 01); A Night at Global Dynamics (Part 02); Bad to the Drone; What About Bob?; Best in Faux; I Do Over; Show Me the Mummy; Phased and Confused; Here Comes the Suns; From Fear to Eternity. Welcome Back Carter. Your Face or Mine? Insane in the P-Brane. It's Not Easy Being Green. If You Build It... Ship Happens. Shower the People. You Don't Know Jack. Have an Ice Day. What Goes Around Comes Around. Founder's Day. A New World. All the Rage. The Story of 02. Crossing Over. Momstrosity. Stoned. The Ex-Files. I'll Be Seeing You. O Little Town. Liftoff. Reprise. Glimpse. Up in the Air. Omega Girls. Of Mites and Men. Clash of the Titans. The One Time At Space Camp.... One Small Step. One Giant Leap. Do You See What I See.

Falling Skies: New television series on TBS, executive produced by Steven Spielberg. Tried to get through two episodes, they've managed to make alien invasion and the apocalypse dull.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (and a second time) (and a third time, finally got my wife to watch it as well).

Glass: A Portrait of Philip in Twelve Parts: Two-DVD set of the film and quite a few hours of extras. Fascinating portrait of one of my favorite composers.

Hamburger Hill: Might have been better if the first 30 minutes or so was cut or used as flashbacks. The introduction of various characters is so cliched in parts that I don't get to "know" any of them. When the action picks up, you haven't really connected with anybody, so various deaths and injuries are not as shocking. Maybe fewer characters to focus on would have been better? Coming at the tail-end of Hollywood's "Vietnam revival", this one apparently did not fare as well as previous efforts. I'll probably pass on picking up Charlie Optic (from around the same part of the production sequence).

Heartbreak Ridge: One of Clint Eastwood's directorial efforts. Good portrayal of the rebuilding of a unit. Clint carries the movie.

Letters from Iwo Jima: Another directorial effort by Clint Eastwood. Amazing film, first of a pair.

No Country for Old Men: Great movie, great directing, great acting.

Restrepo: Amazing and devasting documentary. Reality TV? Hah. This is real.

Sherlock (A Study in Pink; The Blind Banker; The Great Game): Modern-day "reboot" of the great detective. Left us hanging on a cliff, and I'm not sure when we'll be back! (Update: Watched them again this weekend, and the news hints we'll see him again in Fall 2011.) (Another viewing!)

Stargate SG-1: Season 01 (Children of the Gods—2 parts; The Enemy Within; Emancipation; The Broca Divide; The First Commandment).

Items viewed (as of December 31, 2011): 320.
Music and Audio (The Great List of Links)

2011: The Year in Music

2012: The Year in Music

2011: The Year in Audio Shorts

2012: The Year in Audio Shorts
2011: The Year in Music

I bought an iPod several years ago. Previous to that I've had a Walkman, Discman, MiniDisc, a Sony Clie PDA (which could play music) and even a generic MP3 player that I got for free. Radio (FM and AM) is a vast wasteland, so I listen to CD's and music that I have bought for years and years. Classic, rock, experimental, world, many labels can be found in my collection.

Last year I did not listen to as much music as previous years because I really started exploring the world of podcasts and dived quite deep into that category. I have definitely downloaded more than I can get through even this year, so podcasts will still feature heavily into the mix, but I want to step up the music this year (and keep track as well). So, what's on your mix?

10,000 Maniacs: MTV Unplugged.

Isaac Albeniz: Cantos de Espana.

Laurie Anderson: Bright Red and Tightrope. Home of the Brace. Mister Heartbreak.

Joan Armatrading: Love and Affection: Joan Armatrading Classics (1975-1983) (2 CD's).

The Art of Noise: The Best of Art of Noise. The Seduction of Claude Debussy.

B-52's: Time Capsule: Songs for a Future Generation.

Johann Sebastian Bach: The Brandenburg Concertos (2 CD's) (second time). The Art of the Fugue & A Musical Offering (2 CD's).

Angelo Badalamenti: Fire Walk with Me. Twin Peaks.

Taylor Bates: 300 (The Collector's Edition) (Original Motion Picture ST).

The Beatles: A Hard Day's Night. Let It Be. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Adrian Belew: Desire of the Rhino King.

Blue Oyster Cult: The Essential BOC.

David Bowie: Young Americans. Diamond Dogs. ChangesBowie. "Heroes". Lodger. Scary Monsters. Station to Station.

The Cars: The Cars.

The Church: Music Inspired by Jeff VanderMeer's "Shriek: An Afterword".

The Clash: London Calling. Combat Rock.

Don Davis & Others: The Matrix (OST) (2 CD's). Music Inspired by The Matric (OST).

djBC: Another Jay on Earth.

The Doors: The Doors. L.A. Woman. Strange Days.

Electric Light Orchestra: Discovery. Eldorado. Face the Music. A New World Record. On the Third Day. Out of the Blue.

Harlan Ellison: One the Road with Harlan Ellison (Volume 01) . On the Road with Harlan Ellison (Volume 02). On the Road with Harlan Ellison (Volume 03). On the Road with Harlan Ellison (Volume 04). On the Road with Harlan Ellison (Volume 05) (3 CD's).

Eno Moebius Roedelius: After the Heat.

Brian Eno: Another Green World. Before and After Science. Nerve Net. Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy). The Shutov Assembly.

Brian Eno and Roger Eno: Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks.

Brian Eno and David Byrne: My Life in the Bush of Ghosts.

Brian Eno and Jon Hopkins and Leo Abrahams: Small Craft on a Milk Sea.

Donald Fagen: The Nightfly.

Peter Gabriel: Peter Gabriel (03). Security.

Gentle Giant: The Missing Piece.

Michael Giacchino: Star Trek (Original Motion Picture ST).

Gilbert & Sullivan: Gems from H.M.S. Pinafore. Gems from The Mikado. The Pirates of Penzance (1949 Version).

Phillip Glass: Music With Changing Parts. The Light/Heroes Symphony. Music from "The Thin Blue Line". Glassworks. Roving Mars. Glass Organ Works. Symphony No. 5 (Requiem, Bardo, Nirmanakaya) (2 CD's).

Jacob Groth: Music from Steig Larsson's "Millennium" Trilogy (OST). Music from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (OST).

George Frideric Handel: Water Music (Suite) & The Music from the Royal Fireworks.

Hawkwind: Quark, Strangeness & Charm.

Heart: Little Queen.

Jethro Tull: War Chld.

Yoko Kanno: Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex OST #1 (Original TV ST) (listened twice). Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex OST #2 (Original TV ST). Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex: Be Human (Original TV ST).

King Crimson: Beat. Discipline. In the Court of the Crimson King. In the Wake of Poseidon (twice). The 21st Century Guide to King Crimson (8 CD's). Islands. Larks' Tongues in Aspic. Lizard. Red. Starless and Bible Black. Three of a Perfect Pair.

Chris Lackey & Chad Fifer: Music from the H.P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast (2 CD's) (three times).

Cliff Martinez: Solaris (OST).

Van Morrison: Still on Top (3 CD's).

Ennio Mooircone: The Complete Dollars Trilogy (OST) (2 CD's); The Good, The Bad & The Ugly (OST).

Murder by Death: Music Inspired by Jeff VanderMeer's "Finch".

The Patti Smith Group: Horses. Radio Ethiopia.

Paul McCartney & Wings: Band on the Run (25th Anniversary Edition) (2 CD's).

Paul and Storm: The Captain's Wife Lament; Elvis Died Today; Ten-Finger Johnny; Mother's Day Song; The Girl from Ipswich; Passing Water; Triumph; The Way-to-Early Christmas Song (individual tracks).

Tom Petty: Full Moon Fever.

A Produce: Land of a Thousand Trances. A Smooth Surface.

Queen: Greatest Hits (2 CD's).

R.E.M.: Dead Letter Office.

Renaissance: At the Royal Albert Hall with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Part 1.

Rolling Stones: Hot Rocks (1964-1971).

Tom Slatter: Spinning the Compass.

Bruce Springsteen: Human Touch.

Steely Dan: Aja. Can't Buy a Thrill. Countdown to Ecstasy. Gaucho. Katy Lied. Pretzel Logic.

David Sylvian: Secrets of the Beehive.

Talking Heads: The Name of This Band Is Talking Heads (2 CD's). Sand in the Vaseline (2 CD's).

Tangerine Dream: Canyon Dreams. Hyperborea. Lily on the Beach. Melrose. Optical Race. White Eagle.

John Tams & Dominic Muldowney: Over the Hills and Far Away: The Music of Sharpe (Original TV ST).

They Might Be Giants: Apollo 18. Dial-a-Song: 20 Years of They Might Be Giants (2 CD's) (three times). The Else. Flood. Long Tall Weekend.

Traditional: March to Cadence: US Army Special Forces Green Berets. Marine Corps Hip-Hop Cadence Volume 01. Run to Cadence with the Recon Marines. Run to Cadence with the U.S. Army Infantry. Run to Cadence with the U.S. Marines (01). Run to Cadence with the U.S. Marines (02). Run to Cadence with the U.S. Marines (03). Run to Cadence with the U.S. Army Airborne (01). Run to Cadence with the U.S. Army Airborne (02). Run to Cadence with the U.S. Army Rangers. Run to Cadence with the U.S. Army Rangers (Percussion Enhanced). Run to Cadence with the U.S. Navy Seals. Run to Cadence with the U.S. Special Forces.

The Traveling Wilburys: Traveling Wilburys (Volume 01).

U2: Actung Baby. Joshua Tree. Pop. Zooropa.

Various: Blitzkrieg. Forrest Gump (Original Motion Picture ST) (2 CD's). Full Metal Jacket (Original Motion Picture ST) (listened twice). Good Morning, Vietnam (Original Motion Picture ST) (listened twice). Grossdeutschland: Von der Wachtruppe zum Panzerkorps. The Music of Comos (Original TV ST) (2 CD's). O Brother, Where Art Thou? (Original Motion Picture ST). Panzer Marches. Platoon (Original Motion Picture ST). Tour of Duty: Music of the Vietnam War (5 CD's) (listened twice). Unidentified Floating Ambience. Wohlauf, Kameraden! (German Cavalry Marches & Songs, 1928-1941).

Steve Winwood: Arc of a Diver.

XTC: Rag and Bone Buffet. Drums and Wires. English Settlement.

Yes: Close the Edge. Fragile. The Ladder. Union. 90215.

Warren Zevon: The Best of Warren Zevon.

Hans Zimmer: Gladiator (2 CD's) (again). Sherlock Holmes.

Complete albums listened to (as of November 4, 2011): 233 "discs".
2011: The Year in Audio Shorts

Last year I started counting the podcasts and other audio that I had been downloading. If it can take me a few minutes (I used an average of 10) to get through a short story, I figured 10 minutes of listening out to count. If a podcast is shorter, I count several to make one. For longer (some gaming podcasts are passing three hours in length), I still count it as one.

I made the decision to split the audio shorts off from the written shorts, as the list was getting too busy. Here you will find the audio shorts I have listened to in 2011.

Total count (as of November 28, 2011): 2340 episodes.

40K Radio (Reboot): 14 episodes.

43 Folders: 35 episodes.

The 365 Days of Astronomy Podcast for 2011: 221 episodes.

The Abbaddon and Solaris Podcast: 4 episodes.

Douglas Adams The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Radio Show: 5 episodes.

A Good Story is Hard to Find: 2 episodes.

Adventures in SciFi Publishing: 8 episodes.

The Aethervox Podcast: 9 episodes.

The Agony Column with Rick Kleffel: 44 episodes.

Ancient Rome Refocused with Rob Cain: 3 episodes.

The Angry Robot Podcast: 3 episodes.

Atomic Trivia War 9000: 61 episodes.

Jared Axelrod's Fables of the Flying City: 1 episode.

Babylon Podcast: 2 episodes.

The Balticon Podcast with Paul Fischer: 2 episodes.

The Basic Brewing Podcast with James Spencer: 13 episodes.

Bat Segundo: 1 episode.

Beneath Ceaseless Skies:

Beware the Hairy Mango with Matthew Sanborn Smith: 90 episodes.

Blunt Force Gamer: 1 episode.

Boing Boing's Week in Geek: 4 episodes.

The Break with Father Roderick: 1 episode.

Brew City Gamers:

The Catholic Foodie: 3 episodes.

The Catholic Laboratory: 2 episodes.

Catholic Weekend: 3 episodes.

Chop Bard: 5 episodes.

The Command Line Podcast with Thomas Gideon: 95 episodes.

Common Sense with Dan Carlin: 21 episodes.

Copper Robot with Mitch Wagner:

Cthulhu Podcast:

Cthulhu Who:

Craphound with Cory Doctorow: 2 episodes.

CWF Gamecast:

The D6 Generation Podcast: 21 episodes.

The D6 Generation Lost Chapters: 22 episodes.

***Dave Does the Comics: 18 episodes.

The Dead Robots' Society:

Deepstrike Radio: 10 episodes.

Dice Like Thunder: 2 episodes.

Disalmanac Podcast: 14 episodes.

Divine Office: 92 episodes.

Dr. Karl and the Naked Scientist: 108 episodes.

Dragon Page Cover to Cover: 2 episodes.

Drop Pod Cast: 2 episodes.

Dungeon Crawlers Radio:

Escape Pod:

Eternal Warriors: 17 episodes.

Fear the Boot: 5 episodes.

Fell Calls: 12 episodes.

First Edition: 1 episode.

Free Listens:

Fresh Air:

Fringeworthy (Tri Tac Games) Podcast:

Functional Nerds: 20 episodes.

Funding the Dream: 2 episodes.

Neil Gaiman: 3 episodes.

Game On with Cody and John:

The Gearheart: 2 episodes.

Geek Cred: 1 episode.

Geek Girls: 13 episodes.

Geek Life with The Geek Life Crew: 72 episodes.

Geek Radio Daily: 8 episodes.

Geek's Guide to the Galaxy: 11 episodes.

Geek Nights: 2 episodes.

Geeky Pleasure Radio Show: 1 episode.

The Geologic Podcast: 1 episode.

Guts 'n' Gears: 2 episodes.

The H.P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast: 37 episodes.

Hardcore History with Dan Carlin: 12 episodes (listened to Rome miniseries twice).

History According to Bob with Professor Bob Packett:

History In Their Own Words:

The History of Rome with Mike Duncan: 42 episodes.

I Should Be Writing with Mur Lafferty: 6 episodes.

Ideas from CBC Radio: 1 episode.

If You're Just Joining Us with Jon Armstrong: 14 episodes.

The Ihnatko Almanac: 4 episodes.

Imperial Vox Cast: 5 episodes.

The Incomparable Podcast: 50 episodes.

In Our Time with Melvyn Bragg: 9 episodes.

Instapundit: 2 episodes.

The Kick-Ass Mystic Ninjas: 1 episode.

The Libertarian Tradition: 5 episodes.

Lightspeed: 1 episode.

Living Proof Beer Cast: 24 episodes.

The Locus SF/F Podcast: 8 episodes.

Lost Hemisphere Radio: 1 episode.

The Malifaux Podcast: 1 episode.

The George R.R. Martin Podcast: 8 episodes.

Meeples & Miniatures:

The Memory Palace: 27 episodes.

Moral of the Story PC: 1 episode.

Morning Edition: 3 episodes.

Movie Mantras with Marvin Darkly: 9 entries (every 10 entries counts as 1 episode).

The Napoleon Podcast:

Nerdist: 19 episodes.

Noah's Bark: 5 episodes.

The Noise Before Defeat: 1 episode.

Norman Centuries with Lars Brownworth:

Notes from Coode Street with Jonathan Strahan: 34 episodes.

Nowhere in Mulberry:

On Point: 1 episode.

Orbit Books Podcast: 1 episode.

Our List Podcast: 1 episode.

Outriders (f.k.a. Pods and Blogs): 58 episodes.

Pad Pundit: 10 episodes.

Paul and Storm Talk About Some Stuff for Five to Ten Minutes (On Average): 10 episodes.

The Philosopher's Zone with Alan Saunders: 28 episodes.

Charles Platt talks with Philip K. Dick: 1 episode.

PodCastle: 3 episodes.

PodCulture: 46 episodes.

Podhammer: 4 episodes.

Pray As You Go: 282 episodes.

Pseudopod:

Quirks and Quarks: 9 episodes.

Radio Free Battlefront: 14 episodes.

Radio Free Hipster: 42 episodes.

Radio Free Skaro: 7 episodes.

Radio Lab:

Spider Robinson: 1 episode.

Roleplaying Radio Actual Play:

SFFAudio: 1 episode.

S-Words Podcast:

The Sci-Fi Cast: 9 episodes.

Sci-Fi London: 1 episode.

The Sci Phi Show Outcast: 3 episodes.

Science and the City: 1 episode.

The Science Fiction Book Review Podcast with Luke Burrage: 32 episodes.

The Science Fiction Oral History Association/Space Dog Podcast:

Search Engine: 84 episodes.

SF Signal Dot Com Podcast: 60 episodes.

SF Squeecast: 3 episodes.

Sherlock Holmes Podcast:

Sidebar Nation: 4 episodes.

Skeptoid Podcast:

Slacker Astronomy:

Slice of SciFi: 2 episodes.

Slingshot! with Matt Staggs: 1 episode.

The Sofanauts: 1 episode.

Spark from CBC Radio: 63 episodes.

StarShipSofa: 1 episode.

Studio 360: 2 episodes.

The Stupid Evil Bastard PC: 2 episodes.

Sturgeon's Law: 6 episodes.

The Survival Podcast:

Tabletop Hooligans: 2 episodes.

The Takeaway from PRI: 1 episode.

THACO: 5 episodes.

This American Life:

Time Traveler Show: 1 episode.

You Served: 1 episode.

YSDC Radio and News from Pnakotus:

The Warhammer Overlords: 6 episodes.

The Webcomic Beacon: 1 episode.

What the Cast: 25 episodes.

What Would Patton Do News from the Front: 21 episodes.

World's End Radio: 3 episodes.

Writing Excuses: 50 episodes.

YSDC/News from Pnakotus: 1 episode.
2011: War and Rumors of War

A compilation of the military and general history books read in 2011.

Alex Berenson: Lost in Kandahar.

J. Robert Falabella: Vietnam Memoirs—A Passage to Sorrow (Naval Institute Press; 2010; ISBN 978-1-59114-255-3)

Patrick Hennessey: The Junior Officer's Reading Club: Killing Time and Fithing Wars.

Robert Kaplan: Warrior Politics—Why Leadership Demands a Pagan Ethos (Vintage; 2002; ISBN 0-375-72627-6).

Leonard B. Scott: Charlie Mike (Ballantine; 1990; ISBN 978-0-345-34402-1)

Benjamin Tupper: Greetings from Afghanistan, Send More Ammo: Dispatches from Taliban Country.

Keith Yocum: Daniel.
2011: The Year in Books

Once again I am keeping a list and checking it twice! Here are the longer works I read in 2011, fiction and non-fiction.

Count for 2011: 82 books (December 31, 2011).

Dan Abnett (editor): Sabbat Worlds (January).

Alex Berenson: Lost in Kandahar (September).

Jim Butcher: Storm Front (July); Fool Moon (July); Grave Peril (July); Summer Knight (July); Death Masks (July); Side Jobs (August). Blood Rites (October).

Aaron Diaz: The Excessively Authentic Dresden Codak Sketchbook 2010 (May). The Distinctly Essential Dresden Codak Primer (November).

Glen Cook: Sweet Silver Blues (August). Bitter Gold Hearts (August). Cold Copper Tears (September) . The Black Company (October) (previous review here).

Roger Dean: Views (November).

Charles De Lint: The Very Best of Charles De Lint (December).

Aaron Diaz: Dresden Codak Primer (October).

David Drake: Redliners (January). The Complete Hammer's Slammers Volume 01 (January). With the Lightnings (November) (previous review here).

Harlan Ellison: Sleepless Nights in the Procrustean Bed (March). The Harlan Ellison Hornbook (April). Bugf#ck: The Useless Wit & Wisdom of Harlan Ellison (December).

J. Robert Falabella: Vietnam Memoirs (July).

Eric Flint: 1632 (February).

Eric Flint (editor): Ring of Fire (February).

Chris Foss: Hardware: The Essential Works of Christ Foss (November).

Neil Gaiman: Death: The High Cost of Living (April). Sandman 01: Preludes & Nocturnes (April). Sandman 02: The Doll's House (April). Sandman 03: Dream Country (April). Sandman 04: Season of Mists (April). Sandman 05: A Game of You (September). Sandman 06: Fables & Reflections (November) Brief Lives (December) (Combined review here.)

Jack Gaughan & Luis Ortiz: Outermost: The Art and Life of Jack Gaughan (November).

William Gibson: Pattern Recognition (December).

Patrick Hennessey: The Junior Officer's Reading Club: Killing Time and Fighting Wars (October).

Jeph Jacques: Questionable Content Volume 01; Questionable Content Volume 02 (November).

Robert B. Kaplan: Warrior Politics (July).

Kazu Kibuishi: Amulet: The Stonekeeper (Volume 01); The Stonekeeper's Curse (Volume 02); The Cloud Searchers (Volume 03); The Last Council (Volume 04) (November).

Tom Kratman: Countdown: The Liberators (May). A Desert Called Peace (May).

Joe R. Lansdale: Savage Season (June).

Stieg Larsson: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (December).

Simon Morden: Equations of Life (April).

Ian Nathan: Alien Vault: The Definitive Story of the Making of the Film (November).

Patrick O'Brian: Master and Commander (October). Post Captain (November). H.M.S. Surprise (November).

Bryan O'Malley: Scott Pilgrim 01; Scott Pilgrim 02; Scott Pilgrim 03; Scot Pilgrim 04; Scott Pilgrim 05; Scott Pilgrim 06 (April). (Combined review here.)

David Petersen: Mouse Guard Fall 1152; Mouse Guard Winter 1152; Legends of the Guard (editor) (November).

John Picacio: Cover Story: The Art of John Picacio (November).

John Ringo: Live Free or Die (February).

Stan Sakai: Usagi Yojimbo (Volume 01) Samurai (Volume 02); The Wanderer's Road (Volume 03); The Dragon Bellow Conspiracy (Volume 04) (November). Lone Goat and Kid (Volume 05) (December). Circles (Volume 06) (December).

Leonard B. Scott: Charlie Mike (July).

Neal Stephenson: Cryptonomicon (March).

Howard Tayler: The Tub of Happiness (September); The Teraport Wars (September); Under New Management (October); The Blackness Between (October); The Scrapyard of Insufferable Arrogance (November) Resident Mad Scientist (November) Emperor Pius Dei (November) (previous review here).

Benjamin Tupper: Greetings from Afghanistan, Send More Ammo: Dispatches from Taliban Country (October).

Keith Yocum: Daniel (September).
2011: The Year in Shorts

Several years ago, the folks at SF Signal put forth the challenge to read one short work a day. I've tried to keep that up and have matched at least 365 shorts works for the past several years (the current status of the readers at SF Signal, well, less said the better...I rule!).

So once again, here is a list of short works read. I am splitting off (but still counting ultimately) the audio shorts as it made the list too "busy".

Count (as of December 8, 2011): 221 (probably somewhat inaccurate and undercounting actual number).

Short Works: Independent, Anthologized, Single Author, Multi-Author:

John Joseph Adams: The Living Dead (10 stories, continuing to read). The Living Dead 02 (6 stories previous, continuing to read).

Poul Anderson: The Van Rijn Method (10 entries, continuing to read). (Omnibus review here.)

Dan Abnett (editor): Warhammer 40,000: Sabbat Worlds (3 stories previous, 6 stories in 2011, collection completed).

Charlie Jane Anders: The Fermi Pardox is Our Business Model (1 story, completed).

Christopher Anvil: Interstellar Patrol (10 stories read previous, continuing to read).

Jacob M. Appel: Fallout (1 story, completed).

Alex Berenson: Lost in Kandahar (1 story, completed).

John Berlyne (compiler and editor): Powers: Secret Histories—A Bibliography (20 entries previous, continuing to read).

Holly Black and Ellen Kushner (editors): Welcome to Bordertown: New Stories and Poems of the Borderlands (8 entries, continuing to read).

Jorge Luis Borges: The Library of Babel (1 story, completed).

Leigh Brackett: Martian Quest (7 stories previous, continuing to read) (samples here).

David Brin: Tank Farm Dynamo (1 story, completed).

Jim Butcher: Side Jobs (11 stories, collection completed).

Ted Chiang: The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate (1 story, completed).

L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt: Tales from Gavagan's Bar (10 stories read previous, continuing to read).

Charles De Lint: The Very Best of Charles De Lint (30 stories, collection completed).

Philip K. Dick: The King of the Elves (The Complete Stories of Philip K. Dick Volume 01) (1 story read, continuing to read).

Paul Di Filippo: How to Write Science Fiction (2 entries, completed).

David Drake: The Complete Hammer's Slammers Volume 01 (20 entries previous, 3 entries currently, collection completed).

Harlan Ellison: The Essential Ellison (32 entries read previous, continuing to read). Sleepless Nights in the Procrustean Bed (20 entries, collection completed). The Harlan Ellison Hornbook (56 entries, collection completed).

Fred Gallagher & Thomas Knapp: Behind the Masque: A MegaTokyo Endgames Short Story (1 entry, completed).

Marc Gascoigne & Christian Dunn (editors): Let the Galaxy Burn (23 entries previous, 1 entry in 2011, continuing to read).

Eric Flint (editor): Ring of Fire 01 (16 entries, collection completed) (available for free in the Baen Free Library!).

Fritz Leiber: The Ghost Light (6 stories read, continuing to read).

Edward Lipsett (editor): Speculative Japan 02 (2 stories read, continuing to read).

Barry Malzberg: Breakfast in the Ruins (24 essays previous, continuing to read).

John Mierau: Harlan's Wake (1 story, completed).

Michael Moorcock: Eric, Stealer of Souls (9 stories previous, continuing to read).

Larry Niven: Tales from Known Space (9 stories previous, continuing to read).

David Pearlman: The Vatican's Secret Cabinet (1 story, completed).

Jerry Pournelle: Exile and Glory (7 stories and 1 novel, stories completed, continuing to read novel).

Jamie Todd Rubin: If By Reason of Strength (1 story, completed).

Rudy Rucker & Bruce Sterling: Good Night, Moon (1 story, completed).

John Scalzi: How I Proposed to my Wife: An Alien Sex Story (1 story, completed). Judge Sn Goes Golfing (1 story, completed).

Michael Swanwick & Eileen Gunn: Zeppelin City (1 story, completed).

Jeff VanderMeer: Secret Lives (1 story, completed).

Vernor Vinge: Fast Times at Fairmont High (1 story, completed).

Non-Fiction Periodical Reading:

Locus Magazine: January 2011; February 2011; March 2011; April 2011; May 2011 (each counts as two).
Fred's Reading Report (Year-End Wrap-Up)

Short works: 2948. The addition of short audio works plus trying to do a better job of including non-fiction (especially periodical works) boosted the number. And shows that I drive too much.

Long works: 107 books. Not as much as last year, but still a good number of what seems to be my "typical" year of 60 books. Favorites include Lois McMaster Bujold, David Drake, Freeman Dyson, Jerome K. Jerome, Peter R. Mansoor, Sandy Mitchell, Tim Powers, Charles Stross, James Swallow, Howard Tayler...but to be honest, if I did not toss a book, I enjoyed it. If I don't like a book, I won't finish it and might not even review it.

Lessons learned: I need to write my reviews faster! Or sooner! As usual, I am left with a number of books that I did not write anything about immediately after I finished them...so I never got around to writing anything.

Resolutions (hah): Write reviews sooner! Read more clasics. Read more poetry. Read more periodicals.

Change of direction: Music will be logged this year (2011). Audio shorts will be split off from written shorts. Books will continue to be logged in their own entry.
Fireworks

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows NGC 6946, the Fireworks Galaxy.