Looking Good?

Margory was kind enough to suggest that I looked good in the photo below. Thanks, but not a chance! Working hard, maybe, but not “good”.

There are times, though. In these I am trying, not very hard, to keep the dogs from sharing a couple of Green winged teal that Tom Quinn recently sent me. That means I am happy, and I think I look pretty good.

Solar System

Jack and Eli have built a model of the Solar System at Deep Springs:

For several weeks, Eli and I have been planning and assembling an accurate scale model of the solar system stretching from the main campus to the lake corrals. We expect to put it all in place today. You may notice some stumps with spheres glued to rocks on top of them, notably near the dairy barn and on the road to the lake. Please, PLEASE do NOT move or otherwise disturb them. If any of them are causing problems, please let me know and I’ll figure out a solution. We hope everyone will have a chance to take a look and enjoy it! We hope to leave it in place for at least a few weeks to give lots of people opportunities to check it out, and I’m sure Eli would be delighted to give in-person tours to anyone.

We were inspired by the fact that there’s simply no adequate way to depict the proper scale and relationships of the planets and their orbits on paper or on screen. Only a large model such as this can really impart an accurate sense of the sizes and distances in play. We were inspired by an excellent video of a similar project in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert (https://youtu.be/zR3Igc3Rhfg). Thanks to that region’s flatness, those people were able to drive vehicles on their orbital paths and produce some great video of the results. Deep Springs doesn’t offer quite the same possibilities, but we felt obligated to take advantage of our access to a large, mostly empty desert valley and make something similar in the space we have.

For those interested in details, the scale we are working with falls out to 1:404,324,324 (about twice as large as that used by the Black Rock folks, thanks to our not needing to drive our orbits). The Sun will be depicted on the side of the block house, while Neptune will be at the lake corrals – all other measurements flowed from these choices. This gives our Sun a diameter of 3.44 meters and Earth a diameter of 3.15 centimeters. Our calculations surely have rounding errors and other mistakes, and our actual constructions are necessarily imperfect; however I’m confident that they’re sufficiently in the ballpark to impart a reasonably true sense of the scales in question. I’ve attached some Google Earth screenshots to give a birds-eye view of the project.

Some additional trivia:
In this model, Pluto’s average distance from the Sun would put it out past the DS Lake bed at the base of the slopes beyond; its perihelion would be just inside Neptune’s orbit a couple hundred yards before the corrals; and its aphelion would be well up in the hills near Westgard Pass.
Voyager I, humanity’s furthest-ranging spacecraft, has made it nearly to the crest of the Palisades, or assuming a different direction, nearly to the Fishlake Hot Springs.
Going much bigger, the Oort Cloud, which represents the beginning of the end of the Solar System and the Sun’s sphere of influence, would be located a ways past Madagascar.
Proxima Centauri, our nearest neighboring star, requires a different approach – at this scale it would be found about 99,350 kilometers away, approximately a quarter of the way to the (actual) moon.
Happy end of term to all!

Jackson and Eli

Professional Travel Writers

I’ve heard it called “explornography”. I don’t want to do it.

In The Folk of the Air, the great novel about, among other things, Berkeley and the Society for Creative Anachronism, Peter Beagle, in the person of his protagonist, Joe, had this to say:

“No,” he said. “It’s like the trouble I have when I travel. Wherever I go, I always want to spend a life. ANYWHERE–Tashkent, Calabria, East Cicero. I always want to be born there and grow up and know everything about the place and be horribly ignorant and die. I don’t approve of flying visits.”

I wanted to call Eagle Dreams “Flying Visit” They wouldn’t let me, especially as I wanted to put this quote up front. I still might.

The New Bird…

is an (A) good big boy Aplo/ (B) little male Gyr {C) BIG… hybrid of unknown gender. We tend to call him “him” but are looking for a genderless trial name until or unless we have “him” DNA tested.

Meanwhile, he’s a sweetheart– look how calm he was putting on jesses (Yeah, I KNOW, two different kinds!)

Annyushka says her undoubted male flies at less than 450 g,which would be typical. Ours is already 22 oz fat and empty– more than 600 g, heavier than anything since the Gyr hybrids from Nevada that Les killed…

The return of Chatham

Those that say that there are no second acts in American life have obviously never met the painter (writer, publisher, restrauteur, etc.) Russell Chatham He has to my certain knowledge cycled from serious rag to serious riches four times, and it may have been five or six.

In his various reincarnations, he has returned from Montana to his roots as a California painter, and is now living a couple of houses away from his and our old friend Thomas Quinn. I think it was a good move. In this interview he says a lot of interesting things about painting, fame, and money. Russ is an old friend, but I also owe him a lot. Not only did he have the perception to publish Querencia after it was turned down by several less imaginative publishers; he introduced me quite consciously to Libby.

SLOOOWLY

..everything. But I m now convinced that my karate- competitor neurologist, Dr Jill Marjama-Lyons, will do the operation or operations to correct the mistakes made by… another team.

My impatience is palpable, but we are all keeping a sense of humor. A new drug schedule has me moving again. A bird or birds (Bill?) will help. I think it was Daniel Riviera’s guru, Ed Pitcher, who famously said “Raptors or Valium”, or as we ruder types say, “Raptors or Heroin!” Some progress in writing too. Writing: Book of Books Version 2 is off the stasis point, thank God. I am hoping for help on the Passenger Pigeon book, and that a new electronic “ear” will help Lib take dictation. House remodeling advances. Life can still be good.

TK: Russ Chatham returns, the guns, and something astronomical from Jack and Eli..