Blogs

Axis by Robert Charles Wilson

Axis cover In the sequel to the Hugo Award-winning Spin, Robert Charles Wilson further explores the mystery of the "hypotheticals," small machines that have engineered a new planet called Equatoria for humanity. On that world, a journalist searches for her hypothetical-obessed father, a charter pilot with a checkered past, and a boy genetically engineered to communicate with the hypotheticals come together to pursue this enigmatic artificial intelligence that opened up a portal between the two planets.

 

This is character-driven science fiction, and not technologically dense as the genre can be. Reading the first novel, while not essential, would be both helpful and enjoyable.

A Website for shoppers: Customer Feedback Central

Customer Feedback Central is a great site that provides lists of product-review Websites in the following categories:

  • automotive
  • books and movies
  • food/dining
  • electronics
  • apartments and real estate
  • entertainment and lifestyle
  • clothing and beauty
  • toys and video games
  • pharmaceuticals
  • colleges and universities
  • travel
  • computers and accessories

These sites provide feedback from actual customers.

Mars opposition Dec. 24

Mars opposes Earth?

It's not really a rivalry. About every 26 months planet Earth passes between the Sun and sister planet Mars. It's also a time when the two worlds are closer together than normal. Because the orbits of the planets are not perfectly circular, the date of opposition and the date of closest approach aren't usually the same and the distance at its closest also varies.

This year the closest approach of Earth and Mars will take place on December 18 when they will be just shy of 55 million miles apart. Opposition takes place December 24 and Mars will be at its brightest for Earth-bound viewers. The close approach and brightness makes viewing the Red Planet its best during opposition and near-opposition periods.

Free ebooks and audiobooks

Go To Project Gutenberg

Project Gutenberg is a great site for readers of ebooks and listeners of audiobooks. The site features titles in open formats, without problematic "DRM" (digital rights management) systems that prevent access. The works are public domain, but if you need a classic for school and our copies are checked out, or if you would like to explore the great books of the past, check out Project Gutenberg.

Knitting Socks

Sock knitting is portable and relatively quick with a wide variety of patterns for many skill levels. Two recently published books give knitters new approaches to sock knitting.

New Pathways for Sock Knitters, Book One Cat Bordhi
Ms. Bordhi has the unique ability to see objects in new and different ways. In this first book of a three part series, she offers eight new sock "architectures," master patterns for socks outside of traditional methods that can then be customized for any foot, yarn or needle. Experimentation is encouraged and soon you will be knitting socks in a completely different way.

Learn about PHISHING SCAMS, the fun way with ANTIPHISHING PHIL!

What's a "phishing" scam? It's a nasty practice where thieves try to find out all sorts of lucrative personal information from you: checking account numbers, credit card numbers, or that holy grail among scammers, your social security number. They use these numbers to steal, and stick you with the bill. Guess what happens to your credit rating! And it can take years to clear up the mess.



Phishers send you emails that resemble real companies. There was an earlier blog post about bogus greeting card emails in which emails that appeared to come from American Greetings or Hallmark could contain viruses. Same principle here: the scammers appear legit in order to do something nasty.


Tallgrass by Sandra Dallas

Young Rennie Stroud faces the trials of World War 2 when her older brother is sent to fight in Europe and the government sets up an internment camp for the Japanese outside her small Colorado town. Hostilities escalate between the camp, called Tallgrass, and townspeople after a local girl is murdered and prejudices mar justice. A dramatic, memorable novel narrated through the innocent voice of a thirteen year old girl.

American music information resource

bridge jpgA new collection from the Library of Congress. The Traditional Music and Spoken Word Catalog is a searchable database that includes information on musical recordings; most of those covered are from 1933-1950.

This database is just one collection in the Music Theater and Dance Performing Arts Digital Library which showcases important artistic documents and materials related to American culture.

A comet called Holmes in our skies

A formerly very dim comet called Holmes (17P) flared up October 24th growing many magnitudes brighter. It's outside the orbit of Mars and in the southern portion of the constellation Perseus. Last night (Oct. 27), following a day of clouds, mist, and rain, I stepped outside to a clearing sky. It took me only a second to find Holmes and view it through my 10X50 binoculars. It was a beautiful sight, though to the uninitiated, it's just a big fuzzball. That is, of course, how it actually looked... a large, brightly glowing puff with a bright dot in the center; that's how comets look "head-on" with any tail streaming behind and away from the viewer. The glow was slightly yellow or golden... quite an unusual object.

California fires mapped online by officials

There are so many fires that is is hard to get answer to questions about any particular fire in the counties affected; this California Fire Web site has up-to date information on all of them, plus a Google map showing all the locations.