It’s been beautiful to be here in Tucson for so many days straight. My days follow the summer pattern; my favorite.
Miss Fish wakes me at sunrise. These days, that’s around 5 am. It will keep getting marginally earlier, until the Solstice (soul-sigh at the thought) when we pass the top of the rollercoaster of awesome and begin the dreadful slide into short days. Best not to think of it now, I’m still planning, plotting about that, how to be able to follow the long, soft days like a groupie.
I am thrilled by the soft kiss of the cat, a little meow, a nudge with her head; she wakes me and whumps down next to me, waiting somewhat patiently for me to stand up.
I get up, put music (and maybe a sundress) on, make coffee and feed and water all of the little creatures and the garden, and check the pool for casualties or rescues needed (two lizards lost this summer, both whiptails) and the yard for same (the cats seem to have given up bird-hunting, but the hawks have not) and then I settle in with my second Shock- mug of coffee, answer all of the email that came in since I signed off at 11 p.m., check the news, answer any comments left on the blog or Facebook. And I write, and write, or not. Hopefully so.
Sax is Chris Wood; he toggles my Andy Mackay gland like the crazed Asteroid Capture business the NASA Administrater trotted around JPL this week. It toggles my Edward Teller Alarm; it’s like a little string I ran down into his virtual coffin so that when something outrages or excites him I can go see what it is. You think I’m just mouthing off, but I’m telling you, I keep an eye on him. It’s Justice League shit; Teller is on my list I got from some guy with epaulets. Or at least I think there were bars. Whatever they were, they were on his jacket. Or cape. Point being: just because ET passed this mortal coil doesn’t mean I’ve stopped watching him.
Truth be told, and somewhat humorously (because I had no relationship with him otherwise) it was to Carl Sagan I promised I would watch Teller; it was during the Hazards symposium at the UA in… 1990? when Teller spit out, thunderingly, “Zat man, SAGAN,” before delivering a blistering critique of Carl’s objection to Teller blowing up asteroids with nuclear weapons. It was a Reagan holdover, Star Wars crap, you had to be there. I accepted the charge of keeping an eye on the man with glee. Dave Grinspoon, another caped crusader in my division, was there too, but he didn’t fancy Teller like I did. I always saw ET as a tragic figure; a spokesman for the pain of regret; I could understand why things went the way that they did.
Like my father, he added up to a danger to society, and I would have stood in his way regarding almost his entire agenda, but I loved him for his genius. It was from this article in Science and Tech Review that I lifted the photo below, of Reagan introducing Teller to Gorbachev. The article was deliberately written to detail his contributions. not explore the controversy that surrounded him. I haven’t read this book, but it might be a good place to start if you are curious about his mixed reputation.
So now you know why I am all EDWARD TELLER this week; because the string has been yanked; I blame the Nasa Administrator, society, Carl Sagan, and the Space Pirates gathered mere miles from me. I will dress impeccably to observe them, and I will never look away. I can see them now, salivating at the thought of riding asteroids like spaceships, extracting their cursed latinum, and leaving the no doubt polluted and drained asteroid-corpses in the space that surrounds Earth.
As I mentioned yesterday, one of the reasons I am going to Rick Tumlinson’s talk tonight at Spacefest is to see what he has to say about this. He speaks for pirates; I want to hear what he says. If space mining is to happen, which of course it will if humans persist, I want them to do it Out There, not in the Earth-Moon spaceyard.
I always feel that you understand a system, you know, you can make very minor pricks in it, and the ripples from those pricks can disrupt structure. It is possible to make targeted hits, but only if you know what to watch for. And there are a few people I watch to know what to watch; Edward Teller (even though no longer technically alive) and Rick Tumlinson are decent barometers.
You know, I should add that I think it’s actually really badass that any portion of the biome would become sentient and develop asteroid-swatting technology. There is just so much I’d rather do first. As Bill says, dryly, “this is not science-driven.”
Me, I’d like to build international bases on the Moon and Mars, and I’d like to design and launch another Cassini-class mission with Voyager soul, I’d like to send out a thousand space-robots, to gather images and analyze samples, and I’d like to see what’s inside Europa. I don’t mind mining asteroids as long as we do it responsibly; but as there is zero sign that we have ever mined anything responsibly, I hope it’s still a ways off.
Orangelina is smart as hell but she is nowhere near capturing an asteroid. But look at those beautiful hands.
Anyway. My day. After writing, which might be short or long (and whichever it is reflects almost not at all on how many good words I wrote) I swim, I garden, if it’s Saturday I get to listen to Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me. Today they were mean (Peter isn’t always … nice…) but Mo was there and he was unspeakably excellent.
I choose a different city to listen from every week (the beauty of Internet streaming radio) so I get varying local flavours. I stalk the lizards with my camera and delude myself that the cardinals are thrilled to see me. I love to work outside. There are always things to paint, garden beds to dig or improve, shade sails to move with the seasons, zones to spiff.
I think morning thoughts only in the mornings; I have to do dispassionate thinking when the air is still soft, any later and the patterns of my brain alter; if I am too hot I think about hot things, I have no perspective and terrible judgment. Abstract thinking requires in my case a (literally) cooler head. I haven’t turned the AC on here yet (it’s wasteful, I hate having the doors closed, it costs $150 a month to run) and my house no longer has its original evaporative cooler; it must have been removed by Violet, the woman who lived her for so long. Sad!
So it’s been me and some fans and the heat; I strategize as people always have in hot climates, I plan my life to allow for a bit of torpor in the late afternoon; if my head will only be cool enough to make decisions from 5 am to 10, it pays to remember it. I still very much dream of a little light helmet-cap, one that I can freeze. It would sit light as a feather on my hot head, cooling my brain enough to perform more reliable calculations.
When it gets too hot to work outside, I rinse off from the garden, refill the bird feeders (five times a day now, with so many babies in the yard) and swim again, as hard as I can. The water is cold cold cold still; 79F. I shiver when I get out, despite the heat of the air. One swim can keep me cool for at least an hour, sometimes more. Then I go inside, find food, and get back to work. Beading, writing, more email of course, as the rest of America wakes up. Miss Fish lays next to me and sleeps; I fill book orders, and put the envelopes and boxes on the porch; the mail carrier will take them for me later in the day.
Then, it’s time for photography. The light is utterly perfect here in the summer; when the sun is high in the sky, my entire bedroom is in warm shade, VERY warm shade (and I mean warm in terms of lumens) and the inside of my white photo tent-box is alive with light; I can almost see it dancing; the air quivers with colour and life. I bead, I shoot, I do what needs to be done, I Photoshop images (it’s best to do this in good light as well, and always at the same time of day lightwise) and I stay current online (this is a lot of work but essential to the forward motion of the book) and I get sleepy and hot; around 3 I walk into the pool, cool down, float, rinse off in the outdoor shower, and come inside to nap, ideally with Miss Fish.
By 5 pm, it’s starting to mellow out heatwise; I’m refreshed, I have another 6 hours to do whatever I want.
I love these days; I can work as hard as I want to; I can have the three morning hours that are denied to me in the sucking dark of winter, I am warm and vital and the world is full of life and flowers and everything is just fucking perfect.
It’s my birthday in five days; my birth sign, Gemini, is high in the sky in the early evening.