Jun. 26th, 2015 05:37 pm
masqthephlsphr: (astronomy)
So apparently today was a big news day. Something about the Supremes and a Potus that sings.

Meanwhile, I'm all, OMG, the Principal Investigator of New Horizons liked my Tweet!

 photo sterntweet2_zpsbjkn6yuo.jpg

In other news, this. <3 <3 <3


Jun. 1st, 2015 03:16 pm
masqthephlsphr: (gc)
Ugh, it's like the weather gods glanced at the calendar and decided today was the day to turn the temperature up to "furnace." After eight years of this, yes, I am used to it, but it's become my daily habit to take a walk at work to exercise my gimp knee and give my back a break from all the sitting. My walk has been pushed back earlier and earlier in the day. Soon, it may not be possible at all, except before dawn, before aforementioned knee and back actually need it.

The up part of the summer is Pluto, Ceres, and Light Sail, among other things. I am on vacation (yay!) in a couple weeks, and D and I plan to drive up to Flagstaff to visit Lowell Observatory, where Pluto was originally discovered, then perhaps venture up to the Grand Canyon where the yearly amateur telescope festival will be going on at the rim. Haven't been to either place (Flagstaff or the GC) since I was up there for our burnin' Buffy ATPo weekend--when? 2010? Eesh.

This is all assuming my back can put up with hours of car travel. Dry run trip to Prescott this weekend to deliver my nephew to summer camp.

Also, there will be writing this summer. I have about three short story WIPs in process, and it's indoor weather from here on out.

Here's some stories I wrote recently:

The Beast
The Book of Barry


Dec. 8th, 2014 09:55 am
masqthephlsphr: (glob)
I am terribly behind in my space geeking. Life has thrown me a couple of curveballs, and there's been a lot of cool space stuff to fall behind on geeking about.

(1) Lunar Mission One: A kickstarter campaign by a private British group, Lunar Missions Ltd, to send an unmanned robotic landing module to the South Pole of the Moon and drill deep into the rock for a scientific analysis of the the geological composition of the Moon.

(2) Hayabusa 2 launched on December 3rd. It is a Japanese asteroid sample return mission targeted at asteroid 1999 JU3. It is due to arrive in July of 2018 and return to Earth in 2020.

(3) Orion! NASA's new reusable spacecraft intended for future manned space missions (part of NASA's plans to return to the Moon, and their Asteroid Retrieval Mission) had its first unmanned test flight on December 5th. It did two orbits around the Earth, then returned safely.

(4) New Horizons, NASA/JPL's mission to Pluto, woke up from a two-year hibernation in preparation for its arrival at Pluto this coming July. It will stay "awake" from here on out, and hopefully get some awesome pictures of the Pluto system before its fly-by. Then it is off to explore another Kuiper Belt Object.

Cool stuff

Nov. 18th, 2014 11:43 am
masqthephlsphr: (compgeek)
Thanks everyone for the birthday greetings yesterday. The most surprising one I got, though, was from Google:

 photo Google_zpse2f2ffed.png

I realize this is a login cookie thing, but it's surreal when you're used to seeing whatever Google Doodle everyone else in the world/your country is seeing.

Also, this was a fun email to get. I think the affection is mutual:

 photo Capture2_zpsd2a95517.png
masqthephlsphr: (robotsonmars)
It's taken ten years to get there, but early Wednesday, November 12 Central European time (from about 1 AM to 8 AM, which is about 5 PM to midnight Pacific time), the European Space Agency will land a craft on a comet. Their Rosetta spacecraft got to comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko three months ago, and has been in a weird jagged "orbit" around it ever since. Now its attached lander, Philae, is being prepped to detach from it.

All the pre-flight stuff is going to happen when I'm busy at a conference next week, and the actual flight and grand finale landing, if it is successful, will happen in the middle of the night. Good luck to the ESA. #cometlanding

Two videos related to this. The first is more cutesy space stuff, but it's also part of a rather brilliantly accessible series of cartoons promoting and explaining their mission.

The other video is a short art film the ESA collaborated on that I believe is a promo for a longer, upcoming science fantasy film, "Ambition" about the life-creating chemicals and water of comets:

masqthephlsphr: (robotsonmars)
Yeah, it's cutesie, but it also makes what is far away and highly technical a little more human.

 photo MoreRobotsTalk_zpse4bf2e78.png

Mars rover to Mars satellite

 photo RobotsTalk_zpsb8b75efa.png

Comet lander to Mars rover

 photo PlanetsTalk_zpsbc3509d0.png

(Dwarf-) Planet to planet
masqthephlsphr: (robotsonmars)
This morning, I'm really flummoxed that I don't have that telescope Santa keeps promising me for Christmas. I was out ogling the early morning sky, and it was possible to see comet Siding Spring near Mars then, hours before its closest fly-by (2:27 PM EDT, 11:27 PM PDT, 18:27 GMT). That's day time in North America, and yet the real irony belongs to Australia, where the comet was originally discovered last year. The comet closest fly-by won't even be in their sky at all. The Deep Space Network dishes in Europe, the US, and Puerto Rico can watch.

The comet will scrape by Mars at a distance of 82,000 miles. That's a third of the distance between Earth and the Moon. Comet Siding Spring originates from the Oort Cloud, a cloud of comets that surrounds our sun at a distance almost quarter of the way to the nearest star, Proxima Centauri.

There are spacecraft in orbit of the planet Mars from the US, the European Space Agency, and India. They will all be ducked behind the far side of the planet during closest comet approach. But as they swing back around, they might still get a bit of comet dust on them. This has the potential to be very, very bad. A tiny spec of comet junk flying at enormous speed could punch holes right through an orbiting tin can like Earthling's Mars satellites.

Hopefully, though, all they'll catch are some cool photos.

The rovers on the surface of Mars will be safe due to the Martian atmosphere, but alas, the poor little guys will also experience closest fly-by during daylight hours.

Mars and Siding Spring will become visible again in North America after sunset this evening.


Aug. 5th, 2014 01:23 pm
masqthephlsphr: (robotsonmars)
So, dear internets, my summer has been spent (1) working, (2) writing the second draft ye olde novel, and (3) spending lots of time on my new fandom: Anything That Flies Into Space.

I have been a space cadet geek since I was old enough to understand what those Apollo missions on television were, and have been a die-hard Trekkie with an 'ie' since [date redacted], but my actual active following of Cool Space Stuff has been intermittent over the years. I remember staying up late with a gallon of vanilla ice cream watching the Voyager 2 fly-by of Neptune in '89, and being flabbergasted that I was the sole person in the office during one of my summer jobs in the '90's to go outside to glimpse the shadowed reflection of a solar eclipse.

Yet I wasn't paying attention to all the other stuff going on during those decades (forex, my younger brother has a distinct memory of staying up to watch the Viking I spacecraft land on Mars; I don't). Mostly, I sat around grumbling about why we weren't sending people back to the Moon, or Mars. Meanwhile, NASA and other countries' space agencies were sending probes to Mars, Venus, and Jupiter, the Hubble telescope was unfurled on the universe, and astronomers discovered the first planets around other stars.

I can't say what drew me back in to paying attention. I don't have any particular memories of following the space news of the early 00's, either. I think it was a gradual drip-dripping of news via the internet. I am a notorious news-o-phobe. I don't watch the news on television or read it in the newspaper. I avoid news websites. The coverage is invariably Earth-bound and depressing as hell. So if there were exciting discoveries or voyages to be heard about, I wasn't hearing about them.

Enter the era of keyword-driven automated news updates, blog feeds, Tweetdeck lists, Facebook page liking, and Google searches on "what the hell is ****?" And suddenly, I am discovering fifty plus years packed full of space history that would have thrilled me had I known about it. And I'm getting announcements of upcoming events before they happen, so I can watch them occur live on internet TV, or get them shortly afterwards on YouTube.

It's two years today the Curiosity rover landed on Mars. I was glued to the Seven Minutes of Terror that evening. Tomorrow, the European Space Agency will put their Rosetta spacecraft in orbit around a comet. In September, new Mars satellites from the US and India will reach the red planet (MAVEN and MOM). China has a full-on lunar program unfolding. A year from now, New Horizons will fly by effing PLUTO, dude. By the end of 2015, if all goes well, the Google X project will spur one or more clever private citizen teams competing for their $25 million dollar prize to land a rover on the Moon. And other private companies like SpaceX are working diligently to develop reusable rockets that will cut the costs of traveling to and from space*.

There are cool space events happening every day now. As I type, astronauts on the International Space Station are posting breath-taking images and vines from space (@astro_reid, @Astro_Alex). Citizen scientists have returned a disco-era space probe to active scientific duty.

Plus, you know, Europa. Enceladus.

I wasn't paying attention before. Now the universe is my oyster.

* This is not without its own uncertainties. To wit, no private corporation signed the international agreement that the Moon and other space bodies "belong to all mankind" and cannot be summarily claimed and exploited. These issues will arise with increasing frequency as private industry ventures further out into space.
masqthephlsphr: (robotsonmars)

This is a fascinating documentary, covering every aspect of the Apollo 11 mission and the science and technology that supported it. It also paints a layered portrait of the the world that was watching (not to mention a vintage glimpse at mid-century America. The business and restaurant signs! OMG!) Very human, poetic, philosophical, and informative at the same time. It brought tears to my eyes more than once.

I was too young to remember this event and the world it took place in. My mom tells me our family was like most others that day--glued to the television. At one point, my father took my older sister outside to look at the moon, but when there wasn't much to see you didn't normally see, she asked to be taken back inside to watch it on the television. Then she promptly got freaked out by the closeups of the astronaut's helmets, faces turned into black reflections.

I get very frustrated sometimes with the pace of humankind's exploration of space, but when I watch a documentary like this and reflect on what the world was like one hundred years ago, fifty years ago, I realize: I live in an amazing age.

Happy anniversary, Apollo 11.
masqthephlsphr: Halt and Catch Fire (girl geek)
About two years ago, I paid a good peck to get my author website professionally designed and hosted. The woman was really easy to work with, and I chose her because I was impressed with other author websites she'd done, so I had high hopes for the site. But when she presented the design draft to me, it was kind of a patchy-looking eyesore. I gave her repeated suggestions for cleaning it up, but finally spent my design sum, gave up, and let the site be.

I didn't like visiting it, so I wasn't motivated to add new info to it, and had I been so inclined, I would have had to send in any changes (even a font color change to one word) and pay for them to be updated.

As a result of all this, my website sat there for two years unchanged and unpromoted.

I went to a professional to begin with because my previous attempts at doing a website myself ended in equal disaster--I'm no designer. But I do have two ounces of computer programming saavy to rub together, and I am familiar with the job of running a website.

About a year ago, I started playing with Wordpress, which already hosted my public blog, adding static pages to a mirror of the blog site. Finally, finally, this past week I was ready to launch a website that I have hands-on control over:

Favor? Can people hop by there and make sure all the pages and images load, and the links work? I tested everything, but sometimes internet cookies will fool you.
masqthephlsphr: (gc2)
Maya Angelou

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.
masqthephlsphr: (PiratesLife)
A OUAT staffer is making videos which attempt to put all the OUAT flashbacks in chronological order.

The first chapter is, naturally, the story of Rumplestiltskin.

masqthephlsphr: (ms)
But it has its moments.

From (user TinkerBellReturns), a few awesome moments featuring my OT3:

 photo tumblr_mlolnbrHRK1r880b4o5_r1_250_zpsdf6c0e38.gif

Moar )

25502 / 25000 words. 102% done!

Will keep Nanoing until month's end. No plans to up the word goal again, though. I'm exhausted.
masqthephlsphr: (disinhibition)
I found these this morning while googling:

There is still an issue with getting the book cover on some of U.S. sites, but I am told that's being worked on.

"Inhibition is nature's way of keeping you from doing something really stupid..."
Valerie Running Deer is a brash, brilliant neuroscience graduate student. Elizabeth Baldwin is her uptight, control-freak advisor. Elizabeth and Valerie's relationship has always been a battle of wills, but when Elizabeth hands over one of Valerie's original research ideas to another student, Valerie fires the shot that turns their cold war into a hot one: she makes a pass at Elizabeth's daughter Lisa, a coy, impetuous teen who has been harboring a crush on her.

Valerie's spiteful impulse is diffused when she starts to fall for Lisa behind Elizabeth's back, but a confrontation is inevitable. Valerie's tumultuous journey towards it will entangle her in the circuitous dance of the relationships around her as friends, colleagues, and family struggle to balance need and trust, impulse and restraint. Control freaks. Hot heads.

Timid artists. Impulsive kids. Dis/inhibition explores the complications of self-control both outside and inside the scientific laboratory.

Buy the book

| Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Books-a-Million |

Buy the eBook

| Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Apple iBookstore | Smashwords | Kobo |

The book is also available at Amazon UK and Amazon Canada.
masqthephlsphr: (gc)
Mega-cool video depicting what was supposed to happen last night above Mars (and did!) step by step...
masqthephlsphr: (robotsonmars)
Yeah, so I have an author website launching soon and a website designer who wants that launch ASAP and I am floundering pulling my cOntent together. I mean, talk about your writer's block suddenly hitting, your word-smithing skills crapping out, and your total lack of Photoshop-fu being your undoing.

That. Me.

So I remind myself, you know, self, when you launched All Things Philosophical on Jan 1, 1999 (!), the show was in frigging season 3 and you were still sweating over your desperate need to prove the philosophical genius that was I Robot, You Jane. People still visited your site and came back when there was more to see. Having more to see is what brings people back.

Yeah, okay, fine, but... if I take too much time coming up with a description of my new writing project, it will have sucked all of August into a giant black hole the way it did this ENTIRE PAST WEEKEND. I need to just write something and fiddle with it later.

Actually, it sucked up almost the entire past weekend. It turns out I have Google TV with a Chrome App that lets me stream's feed on my television instead of having to shove it into one corner of my 13-inch computer screen while I Photoshop stuff badly in another window. So I'm photoshopping and Curiosity-geeking, and then around 9 or 9:30 I discovered Twitter. Yeah, if you have no one else to geek with over the Mars Rover, there's always #msl #nasa #jpl #curiosity #marscuriosity.

The photoshopping and summary writing sort of petered out at that point. And joining the world in cheering on the most harrowing long jump of the summer helped put the petty little stresses of my every day life into perspective.

Now it's time to go for a ride on a dune buggy.
masqthephlsphr: (vincent)
There once was an awesome nurse,

whose LJ entries had become a bit terse,
her interweb pals, fearing the worst,
decided to help her shop,
for a shiny new lap or desktop,
so her happy presence on the internets never stops!

Happy Birthday, [personal profile] midnightsjane!!!

Soon to be whisking its way to you, a gift card for the Future Shop, so you can get that new computer (and peripherals, software, installation) you need!

Fundage raised so far: 620 + 140.00 pending = $760.00 (US) 771.93 (CAN)!!!!

Love, all your ATPo and LJ friends:

ann1962, anneth, anomster, atpolittlebit, atpotch, cactuswatcher, capriciousk, deevalish, d'herblay, dlgood, fresne, graffitiandsara, julia_here, knullabulla, ladyhelix, lakrids404, mamculuna, masqthephlsphr, moss6886, ninety6tears, ponygirl2000, rahael, raincitygirl, rheanna27, rebekahroxanna, rufus, scrollgirl, shadowkat67, zargon....

There's still time to pitch in!

Direct link:


or Paypal to"Jane's Computer"
masqthephlsphr: (masq)
Yes, she is an actual person. No, she is not an academic. She is a cartoonist. But not a political cartoonist, although her politics come into her art, as they do for many artists. Lately, she's been writing memoirs, but for nearly thirty years, I've known her as the artist and writer of one of the best lesbian soap operas ever. Two decades before the L Word, there was

Dykes to Watch Out For

Even her website is named after her real claim to fame:

The strip appeared initially in gay community newspapers, and then was made into a series of books. It follows the adventures of the neurotic Mo, a clerk at Madwimmin Books*, her best friend Lois, and their buddies Clarice, Toni, Ginger, and Sparrow. Over the years, the cast of characters expanded as their relationships evolved and as Bechdel explored the cultural signposts, trends, and cliches of lesbian life.

Before the serial drama following the lives of these characters began, the Dykes to Watch Out For strip was a series of comic vignettes featuring one-off characters. One of the cartoons that appeared in 1985 was this one:

Quote it out of context if you want to, my pretties, but just remember the source.

* The fact that the initial community gathering spot for the DTWOF characters was a feminist/lesbian bookstore tells you how old this strip is. Buns and Noodle Barnes and Noble put Madwimmin out of business years ago, and we all know what happened to monster chains like B&N when a bigger fish came along.
masqthephlsphr: Halt and Catch Fire (girl geek)
I have been living in a tunnel these past few weeks. Srsly, my brane scares me sometimes. I can start in on a project and get so obsessed with it, I can't concentrate on anything else, nor do I want to. Work, relationships, writing, everything that happens everyday, just sort of gets pushed to the side so it falls right off the plate.

I have been working on my writing website. I found a do-it-yourself website builder,, that lets you put together a website using a similar interface to the one DW and LJ have for creating individualized journals. And they have a pretty responsive support staff if you have questions not covered in the help section.

Each of their basic templates comes with a blog page and a contact form page, which is cool.

I decided at the end of March to take a two-week break from my new story, and that also roughly coincided with my 14-day trial with Squarespace. And then me being me, I wanted to do some things with my site Squarespace doesn't have among their "widgets" and started teaching myself DHTML, CSS, and Javascript. None of which I actually want to bother learning in any depth, but I winged it by modifying scripts I've found online. Looking for something that comes close to what I want in order to minimize the modifying I have to do has been frustrating, but so far I've figured it out. I knew this computer programming lark of mine would come in handy for actual Creative Stuff.

But shit, getting a little computer script to actually work and do the Cool Thing you want it to do just brings out the Obsessive Personality in me.

Same thing with creating cool graphics in Photoshop. I have spent Entire Days of that two-week period in Photoshop creating custom Website Widgets and banners and backgrounds. And my photoshop artiste-fu is teh suxx0rs.

But I told myself I had until the 15th to Not Write, and lookie, it's the 16th. So back to the story.
masqthephlsphr: (masq)
Originally posted by [personal profile] bremoisaho at Make it Meta

Metaa term used in fandom to describe a discussion of fanworks of all kinds, fan work in relation to the source text, fanfiction characters and their motivation and psychology, fan behavior, or fandom itself (via fanlore)

Make It Meta is a emagazine which publishes meta from fandom writers all across the board using Issuu, a free emag publishing service. 

We are currently looking for articles to put in the first issue, as well as fanart. If you would like to submit your own work, send an email to

We will be using [community profile] make_it_meta to keep everyone up to date and let you know when the new issue comes out! You will also find a FAQ on our profile page. 

My weekend

Mar. 5th, 2012 09:16 am
masqthephlsphr: (tarawillow)
Fan fiction. It's not lying, it's looking at things another way....


Sep. 12th, 2011 07:32 pm
masqthephlsphr: (HP)
I've only dipped my toe into Pottermore, which I finally got access to this morning. Actually, I didn't find out about it until I got to work this morning. So there I am, overwhelmed with stuff to do and looking at a busy week ahead of me, and now they decide to give me access? Murphy (of Law fame) is obviously their head membership bigwig.

Anyway, the website is down for the moment, so I thought I'd record a few initial impressions. The main one which is, the "new content"? LOL, I will bet all my sickles and knuts the "new content" is coming straight out of Rowling's old story notes and discarded word count. Any writer (even me of overwriting fame) has a ton of content they wrote way back when that didn't make it into the final draft, not because it wasn't good, or relevant, or "the wrong direction for the story", but just because it was tangential, or background information. Or became tangential/background info as the plot of the story developed.

So how much of this "new" content is new from Rowling's POV? Probably none of it. But as someone who enjoys deleted scenes on DVD extras, and writer/director voice-over versions of movies/episodes explaining their creative process, I vote this "pretty darned cool."

ETA: And now that the site's back up and I've read along a little further, I have found the page where she admits to all this. ; )
masqthephlsphr: (Dexter)
[personal profile] butterfly posted about a new meta community that's all about loving awesome women characters. It kinda makes me sad that this extra mile is necessary, but going the extra mile is apparently my theme today (work stuff, not worth mentioning).

Here's the comm:
[profile] womenlovefest

Original post;

Updated info:


Aug. 16th, 2011 07:28 pm
masqthephlsphr: (HP)
Via [profile] buffyannotater on Facebook:

First look inside Pottermore. It doesn't seem much like a fan fiction site, more like a role-playing site, but that's better, IMO. Looking forward to getting access.

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