Category Archives: Crossposted

“Welcome to Jupiter”

NASA did it again. This time around they threw a space-robot at Jupiter, and after five years they stuck it into orbit.

The Jupiter Orbit Insertion methodology was pretty simple, really: Go fast, wear armor, then stand on a rocket and spin. Simple in principle, but meticulously calculated, engineered, and finally (and spectacularly) executed.

Good job, NASA. We’ll wait here while you get your science on.

The Fourth of July, and J.O.I.

Monday, July 4th, 2016 is the 240th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, when a band of plucky colonists told England “you are not the boss of us.” The event is typically celebrated by launching things into the air and watching them explode.

Monday is also J.O.I., Jupiter Orbit Insertion, in which the Juno probe, which was launched into the air (and out the top side of it, and beyond) almost five years ago,  will hopefully not explode as it fires its main engine on approach to the largest planet in our solar system.

This NASA teaser is fun to watch.

Click to play at YouTube
Click it to play it at

It’s not as crazy-go-nuts as Seven Minutes of Terror¹, but it’s pretty awesome.

If you’re like me, you can’t get enough of stuff like this. I surf news sites looking for more story, more pictures, more explanations. This time around I went straight to the source, and discovered that NASA had very helpfully linked a 90-page press kit.

Skip the news sites. Go straight to the stuff NASA has provided. It’s a relatively easy read, with lots of diagrams, and unless you’re an astronomer, rocket scientist, or Bill Nye², you’ll learn stuff.

Do you have children who are home from school this summer? School is back in session! Read up, and maybe grab the NASA Eyes app to watch as word of the JOI burn comes back from what will be the fastest-moving object³ in our solar system.

Or you can go outside and throw little rockets around. Whatever. I’m not the boss of you.

¹Trivia: The Curiosity Rover stuck the landing one year to the day after the Juno mission launched. Also, I have DARE MIGHTY THINGS printed out and hanging above my workstation. 

²Or Phil Plait, or Emily Calandrelli, or Neil deGrasse Tyson, or okay it’s a long list.

³At closest approach, Juno will be moving at 250,000 kilometers per hour⁴. Mercury zips around the sun at 170,000 kph. New Horizons (the Pluto mission) cracked 50,000 kph. 

⁴Light travels at 299,792 kilometers per second, so Juno would have to be going over 4,000 times faster before worrying about the Universe pulling it over and writing a citation.


Finding Dory

I put off watching this movie because I remember how deeply affected I was by Finding Nemo. I needed to pick a good mental-health day in which I could come home with time and head-space to process. You know, just in case.

FindingDoryWithout saying much more, let me say this: it’s a good thing I planned ahead, and I’m really glad I saw the movie. It spoke to me on multiple levels, and it said things that I believe really need to be said to a wider group than just me.

Early in the film Dory, who knows she suffers from short-term memory loss, is desperately trying to recapture an important thought. She says to herself, while pounding fin against her head, “Dory, stop being so Dory.”

It was poignant, and beautiful, and ugly, and true. Her name is the epithet she uses to describe what she hates about herself, and in that awful moment she’s not actually wrong. Broken, but not wrong.

It’s that thing many of us say to ourselves all the time.

For me, the film was operating on a much deeper level than I think it will for the kids. Like the best art, it has lots of levels, and rather than “having something for everybody,” like a grab-bag of directorial indecision, the many somethings operate simultaneously, in parallel. If you miss a layer because you’re wrapped up in a different layer, you’ll still enjoy the film. Also, you get to watch it again, and maybe get to see a completely different movie.

Finding Dory enters my list at #3, clearing the Threshold of Awesome.

By the way, the short that aired before it, “Piper,” is delightful, and is one of my favorite Pixar short films. No dialog, but plenty of story.


Force Multiplication is in The House

Sandra and Keliana ushered a couple of pallets of books into the Hypernode Warehouse late last week. This is the first time we’ve taken delivery of books when I haven’t been there to crack open the first box and huff the concentrated scent of new books.

Keliana Tayler, with stacks of boxes full of thousands of books
Keliana Tayler, with stacks of boxes full of thousands of books

The warehouse isn’t particularly exciting, and is downright deficient in terms of how photogenic it is. These aren’t the reasons why I do book sketching at home, but they certainly add weight to the argument.

On Friday, Sandra and Keliana hauled a big stack of boxes into our front room (which is now a bit larger with the absence of a 117-year-old piano¹) and set up my signing and sketching station.

Our front room, classed up with a raggedy folding table and stacks of boxes.
Our front room, classed up with a raggedy folding table and stacks of boxes. And a popcorn bucket.

I haven’t gotten started on that part of the project yet. I’ve got about three months of outline to nail down, and then three weeks of comics to script, and then I’m allowed to start work on signing and sketching.

That probably means Tuesday².

We’ve said that your pre-orders for Force Multiplication will ship by July 25th. The odds are pretty good that we’ll beat that date. I like having the wiggle room, though. It lets me pace myself, and my hand, which seems to wear out faster with every book release. Slow and steady may not actually win the race, aphorism notwithstanding, but it does ensure a healthy finish, and I’m quite happy to settle for that.

¹I should blog about that. It’s a poignant story, and worth more than a footnote.

²Most of the work on the outline is already done, furiously hand-written in my sketch book. I need to transfer it to a nice CTRL-C/CTRL-V medium so I can make sure all the bits are in the right order.