Astronomy events, star parties, festivals, workshops | Astronomy Essentials | EarthSky

Here’s some information on some upcoming events for stargazers!  Check ’em out!

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Plan some astronomy fun for the coming year.

Source: Astronomy events, star parties, festivals, workshops | Astronomy Essentials | EarthSky

Literary Agents: Starting Your Search

Excellent advise if you’re a writer thinking about getting a literary agent.

The Writers' Den

Crime books

So you’ve finished your novel, and now you’re trying to decide which agents to send it to. Choosing an agent can be really tough, but the time you put into the search will be well worth it when you finally get an agent that’s right for you. Here’s a few things to think about when starting your search.

Your favourite reads

Most of us tend to read what we write, so for example if you write horror you’re likely to read Stephen King’s work. This is great for you, because it probably means you know whose work yours is similar to. Write a list of these authors, then research which agent represents them. Chances are, if an agent likes Stephen King’s work, they’ll like yours too.

Your goals

Do you want to be the next J K Rowling, known worldwide for your success? Or are you more bothered about making…

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So all these companies making money off your personal information, do you receive a check?

Outstanding research and information! I know that I’m pretty tired of all the junk emails and junk snail mail I get from people sharing my info!

Virginia NOW Online

UnitedStatesPrivacyLaw
The state ofCalifornia is the furthest along in establishing privacy laws for its people. This includes medical privacy, internet privacy, as well as laws that restrict businesses, medical facilities, the internet from using your personal information to make money for themselves. After all, do you receive a check from the profits they make off of you?

California Law – Constitutional Right to Privacy


California Privacy Rights Include:


Public Record Exemption for Sex Offense VictimsCalifornia Government Code section 6254 and California Penal Code section 293. These laws prohibit the disclosure of the names and addresses of victims of specific sex-related crimes in documents provided in response to requests for records, including responses provided under the California Public Records Act.
Domestic Violence Victim Privacy – California Civil Code…

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The #DARPA Connection (Technology and Tragedy) #FindHeatherJasmine

What a sad story! Help this father find his daughter after over 40 years.

Find Heather Jasmine

When Heather was born, Carl and I were the systems programmers for the University of Utah Computer Science PDP-10s. We both had teletypes in our homes for after-hours support. We were also one of the first four nodes of the ARPAnet which eventually became the Internet.

Between my dissertation research, the new ARPAnet, and Heather, 1970 flew by. Each week Cynthia and I searched the newspapers for food sales, and spent the weekend visiting different grocery stores to entertain Heather
and optimize our meager budget. For the holidays Cynthia baked and we made cherry and strawberry jam for Christmas gifts to mail to east coast relatives. Note: after shipping expenses, this was not a frugal as we first thought.

To spite our limited funds, we had a grand 1st Christmas for Heather, including many handmade gifts. I especially recall a rocker I made from plywood.

However, Christmas joy did not carry into 1971. By April Cynthia…

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“The History of Things to Come”: A Thriller Packed with Suspense and Intrigue

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This contemporary thriller follows in the footsteps of “The DaVinci Code” but in this case the mystery and intrigue surround the works of Isaac Newton, particularly those that go beyond the scientific prowess with which most of us are most familiar. His interests also included alchemy, religion, and various sacred relics, which allegedly possessed mystical powers.

As a physicist myself, Newton is one of my favorite people, further enhanced by the fact we were both born on Christmas Day, albeit 305 years apart. Well, okay, that’s not entirely accurate since the calendars changed during that time, placing his birthday on January 4. That’s relevant to me, too, since I’m not only a physicist but also a professional astrologer, which Newton was as well, though of course the history books tend to leave out that little detail. Perhaps the author will include that particular angle in a future volume, which could introduce some interesting prophetic angles. There’s plenty of fodder to explore between science, religion and astrology, which I plan to pursue at some point myself. Thus, I was excited to find this book that promised to delve into areas in which I have a strong personal interest; I was not disappointed.

Of course anything that might wield considerable power is going to attract bad guys who want it for all the wrong reasons; think Indiana Jones and “Raiders of the Lost Ark”. In this case, however, rather than Hitler and the Nazis, it’s a single, powerful entity known only as the Drakon, who sends a variety of henchmen to obtain any and all of Newton’s writings and artifacts, which places anyone in possession of such items in mortal danger.

The main character, Vincent Blake, is an experienced detective whose specialty is tracking down stolen art and other antiquities, so he’s quickly pulled into the case as those who get close to anything Newtonian are dropping like flies. Many of Newton’s books and notebooks have already been acquired by The Vatican, which have been studied in detail by Brother Nathan Vittori, Chief Librarian at the Vatican Observatory, as well as his friend, Dr. Carla Sabatini, a former research student. Brother Nathan discovers a fascinating notebook of Newton’s in the archives that contains a considerable amount of new information and the plot thickens.

This story is richly detailed which brings it to life through various historical tidbits, well-developed characters and an intriguing plot that includes a plethora of interesting individuals including a mysterious homeless woman named Mary. In some respects it moves too fast since it’s so detailed that some can easily be missed as you plunge forward reading to find out who’ll survive and how it will end. Thus, it’s one that I would probably read again at some point to savor those elements I blew past initially. The ending was reasonably satisfying, yet left enough unanswered questions to carry over into future volumes.

The writing style is strong and engaging, my only criticism related to awkward viewpoint transitions. Nicely edited otherwise, I’m surprised that no one suggested section breaks to cue the reader when the point of view shifted, often abruptly and in the middle of a scene which was enough of a distraction to pull you out of the story action until you got oriented again. Nonetheless, it was a great read that I enjoyed tremendously and I definitely look forward to any sequels.

You can pick up a copy on Amazon here.

“Fire Island” (Chatterre Trilogy Vol. 3): Sci-Fa at its Best

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This well-written novel is the worthy third book in the Sci-Fa Chatterre Trilogy. The author does an excellent job of melding science fiction and fantasy together in another convincing story of another world. This particular world is similar enough to what ours was a century or two ago to be vaguely familiar then mixed with high technology imported via a spaceship wreck you can learn about in the first book, “Star Bridge.” Having not read the second book, “Thunder Moon,” I was a bit lost on the full context of this one, but the immediate action and suspense were enough to grab my interest without knowing the full story of how Tem Aki got into her precarious situation.

Tem Aki is on a quest to find her brother, Larwin, whom you meet in “Star Bridge.” Her journey is substantially complicated when she finds herself on the other side of the planet via an encounter with a time/space anomaly. Fortunately, there’s a settlement nearby where once again you are treated to Jeanne Foguth’s outstanding ability to depict major culture clashes when Tem Aki meets Cameron, the somewhat reluctant leader of a tribe-like culture. Since she emerged from the ocean, albeit in a spacesuit, he thinks that she’s a goddess who has arrived to help him celebrate an upcoming religious ceremony as well as deal with some troublesome individuals who are losing their religious faith as well as trying to undermine Cameron as their leader.

Cameron’s culture is well-developed as is their traditional belief in the madrox dragons, specifically the great dragon-mother, Shaka-uma. The problem lies in that fact that no one has seen her in a long time so a few troublesome doubters are declaring that they never existed. Meanwhile, Cameron is trying to prepare for their annual pilgrimage to honor Shaka-uma, which his adversaries are trying to sabotage. Tem Aki is thrown into this controversy which is further complicated by the fact that there are no other females around in the immediate environment which can best be compared to a monastery.

The misunderstandings between them are at times hilarious and if nothing else demonstrate how easily such confusion can develop when two cultures collide. Tem Aki’s technology, which includes my favorite android, GEA-4 (whom you can also meet in earlier volumes), of course convinces Cameron of her godhood. His fascination when GEA-4 stares into the sun to recharge is classic. Tem Aki’s revulsion toward the primitive, chauvinistic culture is certainly convincing as is the rationale Cameron maintains that she’s some form of divinity.

Cameron’s challenges alone would make a fascinating read but adding Tem Aki into the mix is the coup de grace for a great story. I don’t want to delve any further into the plot because I don’t want to throw any spoilers out there, but believe me when I say that there are plenty of complications, surprises, believable characters, Kazza is joined by another delightful mystic cat, and a satisfying ending. I recommend reading the books in sequence, though this one can stand on its own if you’ve at least read “Star Bridge.”

Pick up your copy on Amazon here.

jeanne

Connect with the author, Jeanne Foguth:

Visit Webhome Jeanne Foguth

Follow on Twitter @JeanneFoguth

Get Pet tips, etc. http://foguth.wordpress.com

Challenges of Space Exploration: Weightlessness

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In my recent interview with Book Nerd Paradise I read an excerpt from Beyond the Hidden Sky which illustrated what Creena experienced when the escape pod finally landed on Verdaris. While she’d been instructed by the onboard v-troid, DORAI, to exercise as a regular part of her zones, Creena got frustrated with the equipment malfunctioning and stopped doing so as part of her general rebellion. Exercising was a bore, especially when the marching machine kept jamming or not keeping an accurate record of how much she’d done. Moving about the pod in a weightless environment was effortless and fun! Yet she was initially informed that life in zero-g meant exercise zones. The conversation went like this:

“If I don’t I’ll get what?” Creena asked.

“Orthostatic intolerance,” DORAI replied.

“What’s that?”

“Side effects of zero gravity. It affects your heart, skeletal muscles, bones and balance. Without countermeasures you’ll be dizzy, have trouble standing up, and won’t be strong enough to walk when you return to a gravity field.”

So she’d been warned but conveniently forgot. The results were not pretty.

Why were these exercise routines known as countermeasures necessary? This excerpt from p. 62 of The Star Trails Compendium briefly explains it:

Gravity forces your body to continually compensate for it by building additional strength. Without it muscles weaken, including the heart, also a muscle, which needs to pump blood against it. Orthostatic intolerance is the technical term for not being able to stand up without holding onto something. Astronauts in space exercise to maintain their strength so that when they return to Earth they are not too weak to walk. Some astronauts who have returned from long-duration space flight have not been able to walk without assistance.

Gravity is something we take for granted. For example, pouring a glass of water requires gravity to deliver the liquid to the container. In space the liquid would spill out into the air and float around in a glob. Think about things you do that you can’t do upside down and you will discover various “gravity assisted functions.” Astronauts often suffer from space sickness, similar to motion sickness, because gravity is not helping keep food and liquids in their stomach.

My first job at NASA was in their Life Sciences Division at Johnson Space Center in Houston Texas. Among other things, they studied the effects of zero gravity on the human body. They conducted various experiments and developed exercise equipment for the astronauts to maintain their fitness level. One of the physical problems related to losing calcium from their bones, which obviously would weaken them. They found that resistance exercises were most effective, even though aerobic exercises such as running on a treadmill were still important as well.

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To prepare for long-term space flight such as that required to go to Mars, NASA is currently conducting a year-long study about the effects of micro-gravity in an interesting way. It just so happens that two astronauts, Mark and Scott Kelly, are identical twins. Mark is retired but on March 27, 2015 Scott and Russian cosmonaut, Mikhail Kornienko, blasted off for the International Space Station where Mark will spend a year participating in the study. Mark, who will remain on Earth, will serve as a control during which they will study molecular changes between the two. The study, which comprises numerous separate experiments, will also address how an astronaut’s mental state is affected by these changes.

You can learn more about the study here.

Space travel is not a simple matter. While we have the technology to build an interplanetary spacecraft we still don’t fully understand how it will affect humans at the physical level. This study will provide a few answers.

[NOTE: You can download a free copy of The Star Trails Compendium which contains lesson and discussion ideas of the science in The Star Trails Tetralogy from Smashwords here.]

Image licenses and copyrights via 123rf.com

Babyboomer Ponderings on Electronic Dependencies

As I’ve noted before, I live in the boonies. This is by choice. When I retired I moved to my lakehouse, not only because it was a place where I could relax and enjoy nature but also so I could afford to retire a little early. Over the past six years I’ve done a lot of remodeling to make it into a home versus a cabin. I have a few things left to do but I’ve made great progress. (Or rather my contractors have, to give credit where credit is due.)

retirement

There are a few problems with this lifestyle, however. One is that, contrary to what many believe, it is NOT cheaper to live in the country. For example, you spend more on gasoline. The grocery store is 15 miles away and the nearest Wal-Mart is 25 miles, likewise for stores like Home Depot and Office Max. Utility costs are not only high but often undependable. Services such as internet and television providers are WAY more expensive. There’s no cable out here, at least now, the one in existence several years ago now defunct. The main choice for both is satellite, which is expensive as well as undependable, especially during inclement weather.

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Thus, it’s not particularly unusual for me to turn on the computer like I did yesterday morning and have no internet. This is only annoying since so much of my life as a writer and astrologer depends on it, to say nothing of keeping in touch with family and friends. Let’s just say I have three websites, three Facebook pages, two Twitter accounts, blogs on WordPress, Tumblr and Medium, and a password list that comprises a seven-page Excel file with another page or two worth of additions handwritten in the margins. Someday I’ll update it. Hahaha, yeah right.

But annoying is synonymous with modern life. They’re everywhere, whether it’s traffic jams, long lines (which I generally avoid in the boonies), bad weather, junk mail of the snail and electronic varieties, hoaxes, scams, phone solicitors and erratic cell phone signals (another constant up here). I must say, however, that when my internet goes out I feel a momentary surge of panic.

What if it doesn’t come back up?

What, if like the preppers say, TSHTF?

Then what?

To date my internet has always come back up, whether on its own, unassisted, or through intervention of some sort that typically involves a protracted wait listening to annoying messages or bad music until the next available customer service representative answers.

But what if the day comes when it doesn’t?

Just think of how vulnerable you are if you’re one of those “bundle” people who has your TV, internet and telephone all dependent on your internet connection. Cell phones aren’t much better. Where I live I can barely get a signal most the time. Some providers have good coverage but others don’t. I have to go in one place in my house to even send a text message. But what if it wouldn’t go at all?

Since this is “business as usual” here in the boonies, every time it happens serves as a reminder that these services may not always be there. If you live in an area where they seldom go out then you’re even more inclined to take them for granted. That may not be a good thing.

typewriterI’m old enough that I grew up without all these electronic gadgets. We babyboomers wrote letters with a pen or possibly a typewriter. My first two novels were written on a typewriter! Phones were landlines, long-distance calls expensive and rarely made except for emergencies. TV reception was via antenna to local stations with network affiliations. I remember when the idea of “pay TV” first came up and how controversial it was. My father refused to own a car with an automatic transmission, power steering or power brakes because they were beyond his skills as a mechanic to repair. Today’s new cars have electronic systems to rival a 747!

Communications have definitely improved, perhaps too much so, considering how much time social media can consume. It’s how we connect with others around the world. That’s really pretty cool. I have friends, fans and clients worldwide whom I’ve never met, some of whom I know better than certain family members or neighbors. This is great.

But considering the precarious state of the world these days, this also makes us particularly vulnerable should the unthinkable happen. What if not only the internet and cell phones went out but electricity as well? While people may have lived without it for millennia, we have not. Those who have been through a catastrophic storm that has left them without power for days or weeks have quickly discovered what it’s like. I’ll bet those who have experienced it are much more prepared if it happens again. They know what it’s like to go into a grocery store with empty shelves.

My refrigerator went out one time and I lived out of an ice chest for a few weeks, which was no fun. I’ll explain it by saying that as an astrologer I know there are certain times you are ill-advised to buy a major appliance and I was waiting it out or I would have had another lemon. Trust me on that one. Anyway, I had to drive into town (15 miles away, remember?) to get ice every few days. There’s another assumption, being able to drive into town much less buy ice!

6160185_sIt doesn’t hurt to give it some thought once in a while and put your lifestyle in the proper perspective, especially if you spend a large part of your life on the computer or watching television. If nothing else, it helps you appreciate those everyday luxuries a little bit more. All it would take is a huge solar flare or an EMP (electro-magnetic pulse) courtesy of some hostile country or group and it’s over. Ka-boom! China, North Korea, Russia, ISIS…

What if?

Think about it.

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Images copyright 123RF.com

 

Geminid meteors peak night December 13 | Tonight | EarthSky

[NOTE:–Cloudy here but for those of you with clear skies, be sure to go outside and take a look! –MF]

Watch late evening December 13 until dawn December 14. The radiant is highest in the sky around 2 a.m. Possibly the best meteor shower this year!

Source: Geminid meteors peak night December 13 | Tonight | EarthSky