Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Book cover art.

 This is meant to be a wrap-around so imagine it folded in half.   I put my name in the lower block but don't have anything in the back cover block yet.  It's pretty neat, I think.   It's slightly cartoony but  I don't think so much so that it won't work.  The story itself is plenty appropriate for younger readers anyway.

Monday, August 25, 2014


 Guadeloupita Mesa. The orange layers (starting at the bottom) are the Abo Formation, Lower Yeso, a little bit of the remaining Upper Yeso which has been eroded and topped over by the Bandolier Tuff which is all of the buff colored rocks.

The other side of Guadeloupita Mesa. Starting at the bottom is the orange Lower Yeso (the Abo doesn't show at all) a complete Upper Yeso which is the fine layers of darker red.  The Glorieta sandstone is the light and dark, relatively chunky layer about half the thickness of the Upper Yeso.   Above the Glorieta sandstone is layer that is eroded and looks like a bit of a slope with vegetation, that's the Moenkopi formation. (I looked up how to spell that.  The last dark sandstone/conglomerate layer is the Chinle Group.  Above that is the Bandolier Tuff. 

In between the two pictures is fault displacement of maybe a 100 meters.  On the left everything above the Upper Yeso is gone, eroded away before the mega-volcano covered it all.

 This view is from the top of Sandia Crest and shows the Madera limestones.   These are actually *below* the Abo formation at the very bottom of the mesa in the first pictures.  But they've been uplifted to the very top of the Sandia mountains.

Purple asters on Sandia Crest.  And another picture of the layers of limestone and the weathered granite below.  The exciting part (I am assured) is that the granite is 1.4 billion years old and the limestone laying directly on top of it is 300 to 318 million years old.  There is 1.1 billion years of rock that is missing between them.

Another shot of the Abo formation... the one that would be directly on top of the Madera and I suppose if a person dug a deep hole they'd find it there.  The Abo is a lot of mudstone and flood plain rocks with layers of sandstone between and breaks up sort of easily... the pillar is impressive, but probably won't last for many more years.

And last, more flowers.  Apache plume.

Also... I realize most people don't care AT ALL what names go with layers of rock, but I'm going to have to remember all of this so I'm mostly repeating it all for my own benefit.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Why the movie Transcendence Sucked....

Transcendence is a 2014 movie starring Johnny Depp, who was incredible as always.  Rebecca Hall also did a great job, as did Paul Bettany.

I note that on IMDb it lists "Warner Brothers" after "written by".   Frankly, "written by committee" explains a whole heck of a lot.

The idea of "transcendence" is relatively standard in science fiction.  In essence the "essence" of humanity is uploaded to the cloud and we leave our physical limitations behind.  Sometimes this is expressed as the "singularity".  I'm not at all fond of this particular sub-genre, though my husband prefers it to other science fiction sub-genres.  He agrees with me about this movie, which he should have loved.

The movie opens with the aftermath... there is an implication of a police state, food shortages, and the absence of technology, even refrigeration.  This situation would be utterly horrific and involve the death of millions... or so I would assume, since you know, reality.

So back we go... an anti-tech domestic terrorist group kills a bunch of scientists at Lawrence Livermore who are working on artificial intelligence (except for Morgan Freeman who was too busy working to eat his cake) and blows up some random college students surfing porn and shoe blogs... I mean, doing homework... in computer labs at a number of Universities.  A crazy person shoots Dr. Will Caster after a TED talk and then blows his own head off.  Will Caster survives but the bullet had traces of radioactive stuff on it and Will Caster will die of radiation poisoning in a matter of weeks.  His wife, Evelyn, is desperate to save him and convinces him to try to upload himself onto a computer, because someone had previously done so with a monkey (and thus spawned the terrorist group).  He loves her, so he agrees.  Their partner Max Waters also loves her so he also agrees.

It works.  Max freaks out and wants to turn it all off.   Evelyn is desperate to save her husband and drives him off.  He immediately gets kidnapped by the insane terrorists to use his phone to back track to the old school where they had set up their lab to upload Will.  But they are too late!

As I'm describing this it's clear that Evelyn is driving what is going on.  In the movie this was not clear.  In fact, Evelyn spends almost the entire movie mindlessly doing whatever Will asks her to do.  Which was undoubtedly on purpose because it was a bait and switch.  We're supposed to think that the uploaded Dr. Caster has run off the rails and wants to take over the world.  Max gradually gets "turned" by the terrorists as he recognizes the danger.  But even at the very beginning of his captivity he never ever (and this was my first instance of WTF) throws the fact in the lead terrorist's face that SHE caused all of this directly through her own actions by poisoning Will so he was dying.  The "third smartest person I know" according to Will Caster and Max is passive in his captivity.

So the uploaded personality of Will Caster turns into a terrifying, slave creating, power consolidating fearsome thing and everyone bands together with the terrorists... the military, the FBI, Morgan Freeman who apparently doesn't recall all of his dead friends... and they're going to destroy the monster.   Then at the end we find out that the uploaded AI really was Will Caster and that he was just trying to fulfill Evelyn's dreams of curing disease and saving the planet... which no one knew and Evelyn didn't know, because evidently in approximately three years she never actually had a conversation with Will about what he was attempting to do or why.

Which is why this movie sucked.

They never had a conversation about their goals.  They never had a conversation about how quickly and in which ways to release new biomedical information or other breakthroughs to the world.  They never had a conversation about how to ease people into accepting this frightening thing.  Will can rebuild people, make the lame, walk, and the blind, see.   Yet they apparently never sold a patent.   Will even figures out how to create a new body for him to be inside (instead of controlling people, which he also does) and he doesn't tell her that he's working on it, that he can be a person again.  Evelyn, who we assume is the "second smartest person" that Dr. Will Caster knows, spends three years never asking a question.  About anything.

And that's why this movie sucked.

It's Evelyn Caster's story.  She's the driving force behind the decisions that her "transcended" husband makes and everything he does.  But if she had been active past the point of "saving" him, the plot would have gone in different directions than it did.  So the result is that the whole movie lacked focus... and then it ended with what I'm now coining as a "spinning top" moment in honor of that execrable movie "Inception".  Are they dead or aren't they?


Friday, August 15, 2014

Caught in the Act...

I caught the last caterpillar in the act of turning into a chrysalis.  (Video in the post the follows this one.)

 The last picture is a bunch of the older chrysalises.  About half of those have already hatched.

Not much chance I'll get a job as a videographer.

Black Swallowtail Butterflies

Nine butterflies so far.  I should have at least this many more before they're all hatched.

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Saturday, August 09, 2014

Larry Correia lays some smack-down on NPR

I do so appreciate some Larry Correia snark.  I don't think he could fail to be entertaining if he tried.  However, his smack down of NPR "looking to manufacture some outrage" over the under-representation of Hispanics in film is not precisely *funny* which makes me think that Correia just might be slightly, actually...  annoyed.
 "When NPR says that some of the Latin actors aren’t “easily recognizable” that means that they aren’t conforming to accepted liberal suburban Ivy League stereotypes. NPR wants Latinos to play beaners in sombreros, hotel maids, or gang bangers… "

When NPR bases their argument on the fact that Jennifer Lopez is not easily recognizable as Hispanic in a movie, you know they've thoroughly jumped the shark.   OTOH, you probably already knew that, seeing as we're talking about NPR here.

Larry Correia fisks NPR.

Especially mindboggling... the part where NPR complains that Zoe Saldana played the part of a black person in Star Trek.

More Larry... as I said, he's a compulsively funny guy, but I think he's just a wee bit P.O.'d too.
"Yes, Latinos, NPR just called you stupid. How DARE you enjoy movies and be entertained? You should totally boycott them to salve some white suburban liberal’s white guilt!
Annoying twits put their perpetual outrage ahead of their enjoyment. Everything has to be filtered through their obnoxious white guilt. Meanwhile the rest of planet Earth is throwing piles of money at a movie with a sentient tree and a talking raccoon."

Monday, August 04, 2014


No dear, you weren't talking too much about yourself.  You weren't going on and on and boorishly promoting your latest book.  You were, in fact, talking about other people.



In the foyer.