Conversations: Star Trek IV, Sperm Whales, Ice Colonies

Pete: Sort of. I spent five minutes watching a segment about Humpback whale song. Humpback whales — as seen in Star Trek IV — were what first got me into marine biology, or made me realize that there was a field of study devoted to all those amazing things I used to see in the Carribbean. On a hunch, I sat down here and I typed “humpback whale” into Napster, and was thrilled to discover hours of humpback whale song that I can listen to. It’s fascinating. What’s weird is that it’s relaxing. Well, that’s not weird. What’s weird is that I can hear the depth, the endless ocean. And I can hear…I’m not sure. I wish you two could listen to some, through headphones. It evokes something very unsettling and nearly fearful. But not quite. I can’t describe it, but it’s amazing and I love it.

Lori: I have a CD of whalesong.

Pete: I don’t have any CDs of whale song. Until now, it never even occurred to me that you could buy it, although it makes perfect sense. This is the sort of thing I love Napster for. I can suddenly have something like this cross my mind, and then go find it. I’ve got five songs of various Humpback whale song set to play now, and each one is nearly 15 minutes long. That’s just terrific. I love this stuff. I can imagine lying on the couch, in the dark, with earphones on. If I were brave enough to bring earphones in the bath, or a swimming pool, that would be really terrific…

Lori: My first college roommate introduced me to it in the 90’s. I’ve never been able to find one that I love as much as the CD she had. Oh, the Chicago Aquarium has beluga whales. They’re amazing. They’ve even succeeded in breeding them.

Pete: I would *love* to go to the Chicago aquarium now…! The maddening thing is, I bet I’ve been to the Chicago aquarium, but I don’t remember. I would have been younger, and I would have not been as desperately interested in the ocean yet. We used to live in Milwaulkee and walk along Lake Michagan all the time. It’s my favorite of the lakes (even if it doesn’t have the sunken liners that Lake Huron and Superior have) I’m getting mindlessly giddy over this conversation. I am so lame. 🙂

Lori: You would love it, Pete. They have the dolphin and whale tanks set up so that as you gaze along the top surface, the horizon carries over to a view of Lake Michigan, so it’s not like you’re looking at a tank at all. Of course, I prefer going down to the lower levels, where you can sit and watch the whales and dolphins swimming underwater.

Pete: I am, and always have been, mentally terrified of whales and bigger sharks. Not because I think they mean me harm, or even have a particular interest in me, but there’s something about the size. The unutturable hugeness of them, it sparks off fear in my mind. I don’t know that fear is the right word. I remember when I saw Orcas at SeaWorld, they set off a sheer panicked terror in me (though I didn’t move, and I was fascinated by them anyway) because of the hugeness. It’s always puzzled me. I remember I used to get panicked and rush out of the deep end of the pools, sometimes, because I would look into the darkness and my mind would imagine a massive, massive whale swimming toward me and I’d spook. Very odd. I’ve always wanted to do a whale-swim, and wonder if it would actually happen in real life, or if it would turn out to be mostly in my head. Short of the Orcas at Seaworld (where we went on our honeymoon), I’ve never seen a whale, or heard whale song. And now I think about it,I don’t know nearly that much about whales. Deep sea and coral reef-life, but not whales. Hmmm. Neat. Something to research.

Kristine: Oh, some day you must swim with them! I’ve never done that myself either, but being around them just thrills me. Sharkes scare the pee out of me, but we don’t have many of those here since it’s too cold. But whales – even in the aquariums I can stare at all the whales for hours and hours. We have two Beluga whales at one of the zoos here, and they’re so amazing – they’ll look you right in the eye and just LOOK at you. And they’re something else – they can send out a sonic blast that stuns their prey so they just swim right up and swallow it. Narwhales are cool, too 😀 When I was a kid, we’d take the boat up to the San Juan islands for camping – staying on the boat and the islands for a week at a time. And once – – just this one time – – we heard whales in the middle of the night. Everyone on the island got up and just stood there, in the pitch black, and listened without saying a word. It was haunting, and beautiful. Mostly we get Orca in here, but if you time it right, the humpbacks are passing by, heading to or from Alaska.

Pete: I don’t care how corny it was, I loved SeaQuest DSV, for the sheer deep sea aspect of it. Even if it was wildly inaccurate a lot of the time. If there was a deep sea colony, I would go in a heartbeat. To live? I don’t know. But to visit, absolutely. (was it with you two that I explained my idea for making a deep-sea colony entirely out of ice?)

Kristine: I always have lamented the fact that there are no more Frontiers. Our ancestors got the opportunity to leave everything they’d ever known, and move to brave new worlds. Start colonize where humans had never been. I knew deep down the space program would never get there in my lifetime, but I used to hold out hope the sea would. There’s nowhere left for us to go, to be pioneers, except in the sea. I wanted to be one of the first people to pack up my life, move to a building under the sea, and be one of the first colonists to pave the way in that brave, new world.

Pete: Yeah! I bugs me, sometimes, how little emphasis and attention is put into the space program. But what bugs me more is that we’d rather shoot big missiles at each other than build things that can explore the deep sea. There are still places on the map that say here, there be dragons, and they are deep down. I mean, if the whole entire world nuclear’d itself to death, they would never know, deep down. And in ten thousand years, if we rebuilt, it would be a blink of an eye in those prehistoric, slow depths. I remember something else — unrelated — about time which says that time moves faster the higher you go, slower the deeper you go. So at the bottom of the ocean, in the deepest trenches, maybe there’s somewhere that time stands till. It’s a fun story idea. Myabe somewhere down there, it’s still an hour after God finished creating the world, if you see what I mean.

Kristine: I haven’t heard about a deep sea colony made of ice. I would definitely go down there to live, then just visit the dry land people, like for Christmas or something. I was SO angry at life for not leaving me a frontier to colonize. I still get frustrated about that !

Lori: Life’s not over yet, Kristine. You could ways move to Alaska. <eg>

Kristine: But Alaska’s already been “colonized” ! I tell you, though, if summers keep getting hotter, I’m SO moving up there! That’s why it bugs me so much that we seem to know more about the surface of Mars than we do our own seas.

Pete: Certainly, we don’t know where the Sperm whales breed. Not really. Although if I remember, it’s under arctic ice floes. But they go so deep. We never know. They come up battle scarred from battles with epic and colossal squid, but we have never properly seen THOSE either. Humpbacks we know quite a bit more about, although we still can’t figure out their songs. Not really.

Pete: Right. Ice colony. In World War II — and this is absolutely true — scientists and the military were working on a way to make a submarine entirely made out of ice. It was a proposal that was approved, and it would have gone into production as master-of-factly as fighter planes, except that the war done gone and ended before they could do anything. So my theory is, make an undersea colony — on the bottom of the ocean — entirely out of ice. You could freeze and then hollow out rooms. Need a new room? Freeze more water, make another room! Tunnels would be powerfully strong (but brittle, so brittle). The whole place could be heated and granted, that would slowly melt the ice, but that’s where the speculative fiction stuff comes into it. I think about what stories I’d write, in the ice colony on the bottom of the ocean. I sometimes think that it’s very much a Jules Verne, Captain Nemo place to live, and I wonder how that would come into the story. I think about it every now and then. (I can’t find the original story on the ice submarine) And of course, you could make the colony raise or lower, just by changing the thickness of the ice, and thus, the weight.

Lori: One of these days, I’m going to visit a ice hotel or restaurant.

Kristine: I would love that !

Pete: *spontaneously goes to bed, but vows to return in the morning*


Conversations: Telescopes, Voyeurs, Writing-related Threats

KRISTINE: I have a sinking feeling this satelite shootdown tonight is gonna go horribly wrong – these are the same people who couldn’t land a robot on Mars because they forgot the Canadian scientists use metric.

PETE: It went off all right, though. We haven’t died.

We set up the telescope last night for the first time and fiddled and figured and got it working, and then got very close to the moon and watched the eclipse, as the moon turned dark, and red, and as the vanishing edge glowed blue. And it was stunning. And then, I angled and figured and failed to find Mars properly, but found some other interesting celestial bodies. And now I’m in love. I can’t wait for tonight, so I can play with the telescope some more. Maybe look at Venus.

Just incredible. I’m floored.

KRISTINE: Aww man! I was bummed, the moon wasn’t high enough over the trees for us to see the eclipse until it was halfway done.

But that full moon afterward was something else.

LORI: I sold my telescope last summer to a family with four kids. They got it dirt cheap. 🙂

PETE: I’ve never had one before! Or used one. Or managed to actually watch an eclipse(I was always working, or forgot, or something).

I hope those four kids grow up to be astronomers, or something useful. 🙂

KRISTINE: I wish I had one, but with all the trees around it can be hard to get a view of things going on.

Though I must say, during baseball games they often use their big cameras to get a zoomed up close look at the moon when it’s full, and I stare in utter amazement. They can get SUCH a close, clear view – I find myself wishing they’d just keep it there for an hour.

LORI: Yeah. I’d decided to get rid of it because I wasn’t using it like it should be used and because I was in a phase of getting rid of everything I wasn’t truly using that was taking up space, that I was just hauling from place to place with me. I got rid of my flute, too. I hadn’t played it in years. I still need to go to storage and go through all the kitchen-stuff boxes and get rid of a bunch of stuff from there that I’d forgotten I’d owned even before I moved out of my house and put almost everything I own in storage.

I hope the kids enjoy it, too. It was a really nice telescope, too. Not one of those that will find the objects for you, but nice all the same.

I like space and spatial phenomena and eclipses and. everything. The search committee I’m on is planning to interview a PhD who is an expert is space law. I hope I’m permitted to be alone with her for a little while. Or at least sit in on all the meetings and listen to her speak.

PETE: This telescope in theory finds things for us. I can’t be bothered to put the 23-billion batteries in that it needs. It doesn’t kill me to focus on my own on Venus, Mars, the moon, etc, etc. When I go to look at Jupiter and Saturn (yaaaay!) then I’ll put batteries in. Today, I’m going to look at the SUN! Read the rest of this entry »

Fox, Science Fiction, & Television

I found the February 26th Real Life Comic amusing. Mostly because it’s true.

Conversations: Gorram, Firefly, Reavers, etc.


You are SO warned. And now, on with today’s conversation.

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Conversations: Project Runway, Writers and Golden Words Syndrome

Kristine: That was an interesting turn of events – front runners falling, lackluster performers shining – and I loved Michael Korr’s comment to Ricky about the ups and downs never going away. Have you watched it yet?

Lori: Not for another hour. The first repeat’s just ending, but I got home far too late to want to start watching it; they were already on the runway, so I’ll watch it when it repeats again at midnight (10PM for you.)

Kristine: Okay, I won’t spoil anything for you – we can wow about it tomorrow and annoy Pete 😀

Lori: Does that mean you’re off to bed now? I just learned that my officemate is a Project Runway fan, but she missed last week’s episode, so I had to help bring her up to speed before I left work.

Kristine: Nah, I’m up watching Law and Order CI – I wasn’t going to, but a prospective new writer who proofs for an agency just got murdered after being picked up on the street by an “agent” who saw a novel in her and wants to read the whole story. Gotta see all the cliches and laugh at the fake world of writers, agents and publishing 😀

Pete: “A man does not write one novel at a time, or one play at a time, or even one quatrain at a time. He is engaged in the long process of putting his whole life on paper. He is on a journey and he is reporting in: ‘This is where I think I am, and this is what this place looks like today.'” — Irwin Shaw Have fun talking about TV. 🙂 Everyone fell asleep here after five minutes, and now I just realized I have no papers with me, am very tired, and will go read my Heinlein and my Ellison peacefully on the couch.

Lori: I’m hungry. I’m going to eat the cinnamon roll I bought out of the machine on campus two days ago. It’s a little squished in places, but it’s still wrapped.

Kristine: Aw man! I’m starving and like an idiot I made sure there was no yummy stuff in the house. stupidstupidstupid

Lori: Runway’s starting. (And I’m finally eating my cinnamon roll.)

Kristine: As always, keep an eye on Christian’s ego, especially on the runway!

Lori: You mean are they going to meet someone fabulous today? They’ve just pulled up to the warehouse on the East River and have just been introduced to the VP of Levi’s.

Kristine: His reaction during the judging is typical Christian.

Lori: I’ve just got to the point where they’re in the workroom and he’s telling Chris that he has no idea how to clean denim, because, only Christian will have the correct answers to any question, and all the other designers in their interviews are trash talking him and also muttering around the workroom about giving him a bottle. I mean… He was just so… completely and totally arrogant there.

Kristine: He’ll comment about Ricky soon . . .

Lori: Yeah. And Ricky just rattled off his resume. If Christian had any sense, he’d be trying to learn from Ricky. And Christian has no right to talk about anyone talking to himself!

Kristine: Exactly. And has Tim Gunn spoken to Chris yet?

Lori: Yes. Chris should’ve listened IMO. That looked weird. But Christian has immunity so he doesn’t even have to try. *headdesk*

Kristine: Chris tonight is being the writer who’s convinced their odd plot is golden, and he’s ignoring sage advice to tweak it and clean it up in order to appeal to agents – and he’s refusing, feeling his story is perfect as – is.

Lori: Victoria is being a little bit risqué. Only a jacket?

Kristine: Wait’ll you see her reaction during final judging 😀

Lori: I just screwed up. I was looking for something online and I saw who got auf’d. (I hate knowing before the judging; that’s why I turned it off when I realized everyone was already on the Runway when I got home this evening.)

Kristine: Oh dear. Well, seeing Ms. Passive Agressive’s expression is priceless, though. And so is Christian’s when he finds out who won.

Lori: Oh. That’s true. The rollercoaster never does end. Yeah, I don’t know that, but I have my suspicions based on the judge’s reactions – although they haven’t gone through all the contestants yet.

Kristine: Yes, I loved that comment. “I have news for you, that never stops.” Even published authors with good records suffer the ups and downs of writing, and selling, and worrying.

Lori: Yep, who I thought was going to win, did, but Christian really thought that he was going to win, didn’t he? And to have Ricky not only win but to have his dress sold by Levi…. That’s priceless. 🙂 They haven’t made the decisions yet, we’re in the commercial right before they start announcing winners and losers, but I got the impression that Victoria didn’t even bother to try, like she felt she had already proven herself so she didn’t have to put herself out there anymore. But it doesn’t work that way. Not on Runway and not in writing. You always have to do your best and push against the limits.

Kristine: He got this look on his face when Heidi said “And now, for the winner” like he was SO confident he was it, then he was so disgusted when Ricky won – like he’d written some literary master piece, but the agent went with the chic lit instead!

Lori: Because, how dare a genre writer when over a literary master! I thought his expressions were better than Victoria’s. She looked a combination of bored and like she had already voted herself off.

Kristine: That pouty face ! I kept thinking “does she think they’re going to change their minds because she’s pouting like that?”

Lori: ROFL. There is that, but I still think Christian’s expressions were priceless. “And, now, for the winner.” Christian straightens his shoulders and starts to smile in preparation for graciously accepting the honor he knows about to receive. “Ricky. Congratulations.” Ricky? You can see Christian thinking. Ricky? That hack? That lingerie designer? What does he know about clothes? What the fuck is it going to take to make these idiot judges realize that I’m the only one with any talent around this place? After they found me, they had to scrape the bottom of the barrel for all these other losers. And when they finally let him off the runway, he walked like he was glad to be away from all those inane losers and those freakin’ clueless judges who wouldn’t be able to tell a clutch purse from a wallet! I expected him to go back into that little waiting area and start bitching where everyone could hear about Ricky winning.

Kristine: Exactly! My sister and I saw him get all puffed up, and we both said “Ricky’s gonna win tonight” and sure enough – Christian looked so disgusted! It reminded me of Hung, on Top Chef. Every time he wasn’t declared the winner, his commentary was always along the lines of “These judges have no taste buds, they wouldn’t know great food if it hit them in the face. How can they even judge if they don’t see quality?”

Lori: He just doesn’t get it, does he? He can’t appreciate the work or design of anything he wasn’t personally involved in.

Conversations: Bad Dietary Habits, Progress, Adulthood, and Basket Cases

LORI: Hiya, Pete.

What’s your plan for today? Do you have any housework you need to accomplish? I don’t have Zach’s routine down yet. Do you think you’ll be able to write 250 words before noon?

PETE: Captain’s Log: Nothing done so far today, except some tea, some headache pills, and a baby who will not sleep and will not stop shouting. Neither cleaning nor writing done so far. REALLY don’t feel like doing either. Would quite like to sit on the couch and stare at the TV.

This is not helped by the fact that I’m dissatisfied with the idea of the scene that comes next, in Nondescript. But, on further thought, I think I know how to make it work. Or at least, to function. So if Zach ever shuts down…

And that’s the first half of MY day. And I would ask how you two are, but you’re both off and having lives and have abandoned me to the currents of the InterWebbie!

LORI: Truthfully, I haven’t accomplished a lot today yet, either. I haven’t showered. I had chocolate and Diet Coke for breakfast. I have researched markets and am just finishing the cover letters for the two submissions I want to send out today. The rest of the packets are ready. I’m getting ready to put my gi pants and t-shirt into the washer for tonight’s practice.

My lack of accomplishment is no excuse for you. (Zach, however, is.) When the baby’s fussing, I’m only asking for 250-500 words. You can sneak them in after Wyfe gets home.

What dissatisfies you about the scene that comes next? How do you think you can make it work? Talk it out at us.

PETE: You had chocolate and diet coke? For breakfast?

The next time ANYONE complains about me having Jambalaya, or fried chicken, for breakfast, I am going to point at you as my justification.

(I haven’t showered either. Bad me. Naughty me. No cookie.)

…My problem with the next scene — at least, the next major plot-moving scene, is that it’s another conversation-with-Dillinger scene. And it has to be that way, because it has to be overheard, and people are going to talk to Dillinger. He’s in charge. I just recently had a Sheriff Peyton-talks-to-Dillinger scene, and a Joanna-talks-to-Dillinger scene. I was originally going to have a “Joanna and Johnny” scene, except that there would be nothing for them to say but mushy stuff (Maybe. I don’t know. Hmmm). And I was going to have the “Persephone wakes up” scene, but can’t think of a point for it, other than her saying thank you to Casey, who is sulking some more.
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Conversations: Time travel, the Grandfather Paradox & Oedipus

The Grandfather Paradox: A baffling conversation about time travel, physics, and other simplistic things

PETE: So. I was thinking about time travel this morning while eating toast. Which seems like the finest time to do it. And I did some reading and came across something called “the grandfather paradox,” which is obviously the most commonly put-forth problem with time travel, which is, quoting Wikipedia: The paradox is this: suppose a man traveled back in time and killed his biological grandfather before the latter met the traveler’s grandmother. As a result, one of the traveler’s parents (and by extension, the traveler himself) would never have been conceived. This would imply that he could not have traveled back in time after all, which in turn implies the grandfather would still be alive, and the traveler would have been conceived, allowing him to travel back in time and kill his grandfather. Thus each possibility seems to imply its own negation, a type of logical paradox.

Now, what I wonder is, would time self-correct? Meaning, would a different set of circumstances come into play (a new grandfather is met. A new parent is conceived.) which would inevitably be built up and lead up to the time-traveller going back in time? Hm. Well, I guess that still negates itself, since he would then be going back to kill his new grandfather. Unless, of course, there are alternate realities, and…..*boggles gently, fails to reach a point, and stumbles off to read*

KRISTINE: You see, that’s the time loop of illogic that cannot be concluded – hence the necessity to believe that alternate universes are created whenever the past has been messed with. Although it’s a blast to ponder, I’ve never been able to reconcile the complexities – unless doing such a thing would place the entire world into a spinning vortex of Groundhog Day. Which is an interesting concept – perhaps not Groundhog Day, but that one traveler testing his time machine on a simple little excursion, who accidentally steps on the butterfly, thus ending the entire world.

Or throwing the balance of time and logic into such a tailspin, mankind is made extinct – except for that one time traveler. Rather like It’s A Wonderful Life – only expounded to include the exclusion of more and more individuals exponentially until time collapses in on itself.

The echo heard ’round the world, only by the time that echo reaches its starting point, no one’s left to hear it.

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