Sunday, November 7, 2010

Reflections Collections -- 11/7/10

 A day early, but hey...!

New Blog Posts


Currently in the Works... describes a proposed workshop series to be presented at Worldcon next year in collaboration with AboutSF.

A note to new members tells how to get involved in the volunteer efforts of RFF.

The FB Report...10/31/10 might have been posted a bit late but that does not reduce the wealth of links and comments. And don't forget the latest FB Report...11/7/10.  As of 11/6/10 there were 251 people who "Liked" the Reading For the Future page on Facebook.

Also, I have begun thinking of the FB Report as another newsletter. So I have listed links to the FB Reports in a list on the Newsletter page.

Read A Grab-Bag of Thoughts..., where William Wood, in a comment to David Brin's post on Facebook, 10/23/10, wrote a thoughtful essay on values. He completed the essay with words on the usefulness of science fiction in exploring alternatives. He graciously allowed a reprint of the essay in this blog.

A poem on books by a YA is referenced in the FB Report. The poet has allowed a reprint here. Read about teenager Krysia Anderson and her book and poem.

I set up a blog post that uses comments to add details for science fiction conventions. Add your own comments to help grow the list. Read Upcoming Science Fiction and Fantasy Conventions that Have Come to my Attention--or just skip to the comments.

Last in the list of new posts, there is the KISS, which is mentioned at the end of this one.

Nuggets from the Web


Found: this website of children's book abstracts and reviews. The book list is generated by a an author of children's speculative fiction, Cynthia Leitich Smith.

Robert Sawyer,, tossed out a question for whether a phrase is funny on a Facebook posting,[10/29/10].

Within the resulting comments is the recommendation for reading White's Sector General novels and a clever Tom Swifty: "Isn't this a 'Tom Swifty'? Sort of like 'Take the prisoner downstairs', he said condescendingly," offered D. Hutton.

Reflections gets New Color


Cie donated some photos of her ceramic products for use in dressing up the blog. These could refer to works of fantasy or the sci fi of Card, McCaffrey, Lee and Miller, Heinlein, or others since they write tales of dragon-like aliens. With a little photo-editing, they should be usable multiple times each. She also sent a set of royalty-free NASA photos that can be used, including the one above.

What's Up in the RFF Groups

Viewing the Planets Uranus and Jupiter
I sat outside one evening with a pair of binoculars and looked at the brightest evening planet a few nights ago. I saw a white oval image trimmed in blue. Using my sister's phone's Google app--which at the time I thought was an iPhone app; but later discovered that her phone was a different brand--my sister, my brother-in-law, and I identified the oval as the two planets Jupiter and Uranus. However, we could not believe that we were actually viewing Uranus.

Even so, I just had to share my excitement with other RFF members. Knowledgeable members responded with information sent to me via the group messages.

David A. had just written about a member that had responded with the signature "Clear dark skies, good seeing, carpe noctem and ad astra,Project Astro volunteer and EPO volunteer for SAS; Your pace Cowboy Wrangler of Nebulae-Celebrate IYA 2009-- 400 years at the telescope," saying, "Dave D. is basic RFF in the Seattle area. He is [a] guy who knows the stars in the sky on a first name basis." So I asked my question of the group.

"Dave D, Project Astro volunteer and EPO volunteer for SAS; Your Space Cowboy Wrangler of Nebulae- Celebrate IYA 2009-- 400 years at the telescope,

"Last night I viewed the planets Jupiter and Uranus (?) with binoculars. To me the object seems so oblong, white on top and bluish on bottom that I felt as if I was actually seeing Uranus. Unfortunately, I could not steady the binoculars nor focus them sufficiently to see an actual disk (I needed my glasses and probably cataract surgery to boot.). But emotionally, I felt as if I had seen both planets even though logically I know only one was visible at that magnification. At what magnification can one see Uranus now, anyway? We used my sister's iphone app to id the bright planet up at early evening. First time I had seen the app. Useful to me, as I am still a very amateur star-gazer.

"I also understood why people believe in UFO's because holding the binoculars in my hands allowed my pulse to vibrate them. Did that planet ever jump around! It zipped through the viewing field like a hummingbird, flitting from flower to flower and back again, twirling. If I had trusted the steadiness of my hands, I would have sworn that the bright object was on a "controlled flight path."

"The planet was beautiful, even when seen naked-eye.

"Can we figure a way to include the astronomy associations in the blog?"

In response I got this information:
"As for what magnification you can see Uranus at, I know that if you have absolutely perfect conditions, & know exactly where to look, Uranus is actually visible naked eye. Most people don't have anything near perfect conditions (too much light pollution + weather), though, so the magnification you need depends on what your conditions are like. The Clear Sky Clock, at...(for Logan, UT, you can change the location)...can help you determine what your conditions are like. Uranus is conveniently close to Jupiter currently, you can use [this star chart] by Sky & Telescope magazine to track it, or Starry Night or Stellarium (Stellarium's freeware, btw)."[Modified for blog post by VC] ~Laura Swift Lind of StarHouse Discovery Center.

To which David D. responded, "all this is good advice.........."

"As to Uranus, then I did see it! Barely. As an extension of Jupiter. I felt so."~Valerie C.

Laura also provided this additional information:
"A good introductory backyard astronomy book is NightWatch: A Practical Guide to Viewing the Universe by Terence Dickinson, Adolf Schaller, Victor Costanzo, and Roberta Cooke (Sept. 12, 2006)(sic[typo "Sep" corrected])."~Laura Swift Lind of
StarHouse Discovery Center.

And David D. provided this information:
"A 4 inch rich field- f4- telescope using an eyepiece of at least 20mm; is best. Mounting your binoculars to a tripod will help and the best are 7X50 power. Jupiter should appear pale yellow with one black line near the equator- normally has two, second one disappeared recently-don't worry it will be back in coupla years. Uranus is slightly upper right in same field of view and should appear pale blueish green or greenish blue. You can download a freeware planetarium program called Stellarium off the net."

So, People, when viewing the evening sky and seeing the large, bright "star," take a closer look. Soon the two planets will be separated by too many degrees of arc distance to be seen as one white oval trimmed in blue. Such a sight will be decades in returning.

Such a rare site makes the sci fi stories of merchants to the planets and between solar systems more astonishing. If only such travel were actually possible by commercial traders today! Oh, how wonderful is the imagination of our favorite sci fi authors!

~Valerie C.

Making RFF a More Tightly Knit Group

David-Glenn Anderson, founder of the RFF groups, is closing the various regional branches of the RFF Yahoo! Groups and moving the members to the rff Talking Reading for the Future Yahoo! Group, which shows up in one's Yahoo! group listings simply as rff.

This way, he won't have to keep copying messages to the different groups. Also, most members are already members of the main group. Furthermore, group conversations are of interest to most everybody, anyway, so this way we all get to share.

A Note from Valerie

Historically, the conversations have been interesting and chock-full of information concerning links and philosophy and literary critique. At times there have been some personal tidbits. All of which has enabled the group to get to know one another a bit better and has resulted in the group becoming a social network of friends as well as collaborators in the volunteer endeavors aimed at advancing the mission of RFF.

Are you a new member? or thinking of joining? Read about how you can get involved

LOL with Hugs and KISSes
And that brings us to KISS and a discussion of rff group jargon.

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