Fantasist's Scroll

Fun, Fiction and Strange Things from the Desk of the Fantasist.


Mars Time

Filed under: — Posted by the Fantasist during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning.
The moon is a First Quarter Moon

Do they have daylight savings on Mars?

I never realized how much of a problem time and dates can be between planets. Maybe I just got used to the whole “Stardate” concept, or something, but I never figured that Mars having a different rotational period would effect its day. Year, sure, but having a different length day caught me by surprise. Anyhow, I may not have thought of it, but scientists at NASA sure have. This article on Asrobiology Magazine describes what they’re going through to allow for this. It’s quite a challenge!

You can read more about how Martian time works, and differs from Earth time, at Marsbase Dot Net. And, if you’d like something to help you keep track of what time it actually is on Mars, you can get the Mars Time Tool from the Goddard Instituite for Space Studies.


Timeline Generator

Filed under: — Posted by the Fantasist during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

Let’s make some history!

I love timelines. They’re a great way to summarize history and a wonderful way to stimulate sociological creativity.
Using timelines to outline historical development is a technique I first saw discussed in Dragon Magazine as a way to make the game world more “real”. The writer used it to great effect in an example from a post-apocalyptic game called Gamma World. He sketched out a timeline that made a small tribe seem more three-dimensional because they had a history. I think a lot of culture is history, or, perhaps a lot of culture is the result of history.

In any case, I’ve messed around with timelines for some time. In my search for ideas, I came across a little program that would, given a few parameters, generate a timeline for you. Sure, it was random and simple, but it had enormous potential for creativity. So, of course, I had to steal it. Well, at least, “co-opt” it. So, now, I have a simple, web-based version available for free.
Y’all enjoy the new Timeline Generator.


Is there Money in Art?

Filed under: — Posted by the Fantasist during the Hour of the Rooster which is in the early evening.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

Can an artist do more than survive?

I’ve often wondered if I could survive as an artist. Of course, I’ve often wondered if I am an artist at all. But, once upon a midnight dreary, I was a fairly good writer. I had a sense of the art that’s involved with writing. In fact, I think I turned out a fairly good piece, or two, that could have sold. Ah, and therein lies the rub, “could have sold”. If I’d kept submitting them, or reworked them again and again, or just wrote more, something “could have sold”. Instead, crass commercialism took over instead and I focused on making money. That took me into another field altogether. In fact, it lead me to get a technical certification and dive deep into the uncharted waters of IT industry. And, my art, such as it was, suffered for it.

So, during one holiday dinner, as I sat in a cold-medicine and Scotch haze, listening to relatives, mostly my wife’s family, chatter away about their lives and careers, I began to wonder why my professional life had become somewhat “lack-luster”. I found myself wondering what would have happened if I’d only followed through on the promise of my writing. Would I have become a Clive Barker? Or, a Frank Herbert? Somehow, I doubt it. But, still, I might have made a living at it. Mightn’t I? I mean, can one actually make a living at writing if one is not a Clive Barker or a Michael Crighton? Is it even possible? I’d like to think so, but I’m afraid that it’s not.
I think that is the pipe-dream that fed so many of us as we sat in our English classes or read Interview with a Vampire or did whatever we did that set us dreaming of literary greatness. But, honestly, I don’t think it’s possible anymore. I don’t think that a normal person living in our possession-oriented society could actually be satisfied with a writer’s salary. Maybe a Buddhist monk, but not a normal American boy like me.

But, you know, I think I’ll keep trying. Why? Because it sure beats the alternatives!


How fast can a swallow fly?

Filed under: — Posted by the Fantasist during the Hour of the Snake which is mid-morning.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

This is for all you Monty Python fans…

Someone with way, way too much time on their hands has answered the timeless question “How fast can an unladen swallow fly?” Now, if you’ve seen Monty Python and the Holy Grail, you know that this is the question asked of the rather rude Frenchman when he insisted that the coconut which hit King Arthur on the head was dropped by an African Swallow. Of course, it doesn’t matter since such a small bird cannot possibly carry something as heavy as a coconut. What?! You doubt me?!? Well, your aunties smell of elderberries!!


Good Morning, Dave…

Filed under: — Posted by the Fantasist during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning.
The moon is Waning Crescent

Well, it looks like we’re finally sending a probe to Jupiter!

Though, it doesn’t look like it will have HAL or anything even like HAL on board, the probe itself looks rather like the Discovery of Arthur C. Clarke fame. According to this article on Atrobiology Magazine Online, the probe is being sent to study Io, Callisto, Ganymede and Europa to study any potential life that might be found there. But, we all know it’s just a rendevous with the Monolith. Of course, we’re a little behind schedule, but we’ve been busy. No, really!

Seriously, though, I look forward to this test of a nuclear drive system. It’ll be one way to do some “proof-of-concept” work for future manned missions. I just hope the funding doesn’t get cut before it gets off the ground.


Flights of Fancy

Filed under: — Posted by the Fantasist during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning.
The moon is Waning Crescent

Well, since I’m flying anyway….

I thought a post about promises of flight that didn’t come true would be appropriate. This article on MSNBC about seven ideas regarding the future of flight that never came to pass struck a chord. Here are some great examples of science-fiction that has not quite worked out. Sure, a lot of things have been predicted by science-fiction authors, but how many have really come true? Okay, a lot of them, actually, but not all. For instance, what about flying cars? Where’s my flying car? Or, jet packs? Hey, I’d settle for a personal helicopter that I can fly to work! Now, that would cut down my commute time!!
So, while I fly up to Chicago to visit with family, enjoy the article.



Filed under: — Posted by the Fantasist during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning.
The moon is a Third Quarter Moon

Frozen squirrels?

It sounds rather strange to me, but according to this article on Wired News, there’s a squirrel in the arctic that can lower it’s body tempurature to below freezing and still be able to walk around. Scientists are studying this incredible adaptation to see if they can synthesize it in humans. It would be a giant step toward all the cryogenic sleep chambers that science-fiction loves so well. Not to mention what it might do for real-world space travel!

In any case, it’s an interesting article and a fascinating concept.


CustomDates Plugin for MovableType

Filed under: — Posted by the Fantasist during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

Ever wanted to have a blog recorded in Shire Reckoning?

How about Islamic dates? Well, now, you can do just that in MovableType thanks to my CustomDates plugin. I started with code from a plugin done by zumaidi and posted on the MovableType Support boards. Then, I added a CPAN module by Tom Braun for calculating the date according to Shire Reckoning.

As far as I can tell, no one has done this before. Not sure why no one’s done anything sooner, but I was totally dissatisfied with the lack of a custom date feature in MovableType. Luckily for me, one of the better features of MT is that it’s extendable with PERL. So, I put this little baby together. It’s not perfect, but it does a fairly good job. I still need to make some improvements and add in some more date systems, like Hebrew and the Forgotten Realms, but it’s good enough to release now, I think.
You can see and example of it running at my test blog. Of course, as I add and test new features, that test blog will change a bit.


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