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Friday, July 29, 2016

F3 Sandbars

            Nina, Jenny, Walker, and Charlie sat at the conference table. The projector, which had at first displayed the galactic map with positions of the stuck nanosats—there were fifteen, total, in different parts of the galaxy—now displayed a picture of the Incredible Hulk punching the shockwave of a supernova, which somehow worked and saved the spaceship he was standing on.
            “See, because the Hulk is powered by gamma rays,” Walker was saying, “the supernova’s gamma rays actually served to power him up way beyond normal, so he—”

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

W3 The First Big Secret

            My first big secret when it comes to this site is that I type up 100% of my blog posts in Microsoft Word. Then I copy them straight over. Word plays well with all of the major platforms, so it will create html code automatically to make your post look as much like MS Word as possible. Notice the bold and italics. Those were made by Word. I didn’t have to code them or use my blog’s text editor to make them.
See how this paragraph began? It’s indented. HTML hates indents. They’re not easily made. They don’t’ have an intuitive way to do it.  Word, however, copies your formatting directly. It works. And that’s what we care about. Yes, we will get some of what is called junk code, but this is a simple text post. We’re not programming in javascript functions, and the page will still be rendered quickly. So we can deal with some junk code when it makes our posts easy to create and look how we want them to look.
So I say start your site’s content with something familiar, your word processor.

Monday, July 25, 2016

M3 Artemis's Nature

            Artemis and Apollo are twins, the children of Zeus and Leto, the daughter of the Titans Coeus and Phoebe. Zeus, as always, had an affair, which caused Hera to resent Leto, and had her chased by the Python. Hera further decreed that Leto could not give birth on any place where the sun shone. Obviously, Leto found a spot, and promptly gave birth to Artemis. Immediately after being born, she helped her mother move to a new location, and aided in the birth of Apollo, some nine days into labor.
            Yes, nine days. My mother has frequently complained over the hours of labor for my own birth, so we can respect Leto for toughing out for nine days. This is actually relevant, too, and reveals the nature of the gods. Artemis’s birth was easy; moreover, she immediately helped with the birth of Apollo. Apollo is obviously very troublesome (and this will be borne out with his own analysis later).

Friday, July 22, 2016

F3 Run Aground

            Nina stared at the spreadsheet. Many people envisioned that astrophysics was all about gazing through the eye pieces of telescopes, or looking at images downloaded from satellites. To be fair, that made up a bit, but it wasn’t the bulk of everything. Most of astrophysics came down to spreadsheets and numbers.
            Radio, x-ray, and microwave telescopes worked more by data than images. The numbers could be applied to images, and even the radio signals could be hooked up to speakers to produce sounds, but a lot of it was number-crunching data through spreadsheets and databases.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

W3 Looks Worse Than It Is

            I promised this would happen wayyyy back, but I never specified when I would actually begin it. I was wrestling with exactly where to begin. So I’ll begin with me.
            I’m not formally trained as a webdev. I don’t have a degree. All of the HTML, javascript, and CSS I know is self-taught. And that’s fine. If anything, this should put it in perspective. Anyone can dabble in this and get good results.

Monday, July 18, 2016

M3 The Tales and Legends

Drilling down further, we have fairy tales. As these are stories, all fairy tales are essentially myths, though fairy tales appeal to a broader culture instead of a highly-specific one. Fairy tales have been stripped of their specific place and character names to appeal to as wide an audience as possible.
Urban legends share a lot in common with fairy tales, though they can reclaim some of the specificity with actual names to be more mythic. The urban part is more of a reference to to the time period. These are modern-day stories. The terms urban legend and urban myth differentiate these stories from ancient cultures, and show that the ancients are not the only ones with culturally relevant stories.

Friday, July 15, 2016

F3 Galactic Weather

            “Congratulations on your promotion, Dr. Nichols,” Jim Macomber said as Jennifer walked into the conference room.
            “Thank you, sir. What promotion?”
            The others from the Hermes, Odyssey, and Frontier satellite control teams were already there. Nina, Walker, and Charlie all grinned. Peterson, as usual, looked sour, but it was less sour than his normal expression. Interns and others lined the walls.
            “You are now the Director of Extra Solar Conditions,” Macomber said.
            “Wow, that’s, um, what does that mean?”
            “You’re the galactic weather girl,” Walker said.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Know Your Audience

            There’s obviously a writing connection to this post, but I’m actually thinking more of teaching. See, writers know their audiences pretty well. There’s mystery, fantasy, sci-fi, romance, horror, western, etc. Sure, there are subgenres, mixed genres, and even tight niches, but we have a pretty good idea of who would want to read our books. We write for them.
            But with students . . . we don’t know. I was talking with some teacher friends, and we’re at a loss to understand this particular audience. We used to. But over the past few years, it’s changed. We’ve all experienced the students who stop showing up. We could deal with that. It’s easy, we either withdraw them or we fail them. No problem. But we’ve got a new type showing up, now. They attend all classes, but never hand in assignments.

Monday, July 11, 2016

M3 Folklore or Mythology?

            We have a better understanding of folklore (which took far too long), but what is the difference between folklore, mythology, and all the rest? Well, this is actually simpler. All mythology is folklore, but not all folklore is mythology. It’s like those logic problems from the SAT: All squares are rectangles, but not all rectangles are squares.
            Myths are stories, and while stories can and do accompany the majority of folklore in the world, they are not the absolute limits. Some aspects of folklore do not come from a culture’s mythology, but from practical necessity. A specific festival might have a mythological story behind it, explaining the cultural reasons for the festival, but specific traditional dishes served at the festival might not be part of that story.

Friday, July 8, 2016

F3 Power Problems

            Peterson glowered. The group of engineers he met with—he hadn’t bothered learning their names, instead calling them by names from The Fellowship of The Ring—had brought him power calculations for various batteries, none of which would meet the power requirements necessary for what Jim Macomber wanted from the nanosats.
            “It can’t be done,” Boromir said. “We could probably get a battery that could meet the power requirements for half an hour, and hour at most, but to get in the four to six hour range that you need, is going to mean more cells. More cells means more mass and a bigger form factor. And if the director wants an entire day’s worth of transmitting power, over those distances, we’re talking about another New Horizons probe.”

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Summer of Reruns

            It’s summer, and I’m going back through some old favorite TV shows. Since Castle ended, and I wasn’t impressed by season 8, I figured I’d start there. I have to say, season 1 is amazing. And as I’m going through it, I’m trying to figure out what happened. What’s different between 1 and 8. Why did 8 become such a flop, and 1 was so spectacular.
            First, Castle the character is better. He morphs over the course of the seasons to be goofier, who launches into the patently absurd. Yes, he’s a believer of the absurd, or at least a hopeful believer, but what made him so good in the early seasons was that he was smart, and knew what made for an excellent story when it came to crime.

Monday, July 4, 2016

M3 Folklore, Myths, Fairy Tales, Legends?

            I was going to do a post on American mythology, but my recent experience at Comicon has alerted me that the terms of this branch of study are not clear. What is folklore? How is that different from a myth? What about fairy tales? And of course there are urban legends, too; what about them?

What is Folklore?

            Imagine a football game, which is relevant cultural knowledge. Two teams face off on opposing sides of a field. Each team consists of players in different positions on the field, who primarily play offense or defense. The team with the ball tries to drive the ball into the goal of the opposing team to score. Players move the ball by passing it to teammates or dribbling it to the other end. Once at the other end, it becomes a matter of kicking the ball past the opposing team’s goalkeeper into the goal. . . . Wait, did you think I was talking about American football?

Friday, July 1, 2016

F3 The New Frontier

Dark Winds
            Walker Andrews looked at the data from Frontier’s nanosats in his presentation one last time. It was phenomenal, to say the least, and it really resembled a map of wind patterns across the globe, spread out over the galaxy. Well, a very small part of the galaxy, anyway.
            The nanosats had quickly gotten out of range to transmit their data back in a timely manner, if the signal even could make it back to earth among all the galactic interference. But what they had discovered was impressive.
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