About acubedsf

SFF Author * Engineer * Mom

Comet 46P/Wirtanen


I was excited to learn that there was a comet that might be visible to the naked eye this month.  I went out Tuesday night and was not able to see it, but was able to spot it in my pictures.  Unfortunately, the pictures were poor.

And then it rained.

And now it is clear again, and Comet 46P/Wirtanen is visible in binoculars, but still not obvious naked eye.  I got out all my tools to try to get a decent picture.

It’s right next to the Pleiades – a gorgeous site in themselves.

Camera geek info:

  •             Canon EOS 60D in manual mode set at f/4.5, 20 second exposure, ISO 500
  •             Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM lens, set at 150 mm, manual focus
  •             iOptron SkyTracker with ballhead
  •             Tripod
  •             Cable Release

Have you been able to spot it?

Cloud Column/Alien Seed

CloudColumn 20181026 - 6 of 19

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston has recently added a new sculpture to its sculpture garden: Anish Kapoor’s “Cloud Column.”  I think it looks like an alien seed pod.  I love it!  I want to go back and photograph it at sunrise/sunset when the sky is amazing.

(Note: I think the sculpture in front of it looks like an alien, too.  Real name: Bird (Oiseau).  It’s one of my favorites.)


Moon and Venus


Last night, as we exited the movie theater, we saw a beautiful conjunction of the Moon and Venus, with a bright Venus floating above a crescent moon.  The cell phone pictures did not do it justice, nor did my hastily set up picture shot from the car window.


So I prepared to take pictures tonight.  The Moon had moved!  Still a beautiful conjunction, yes?


And since I had the tripod set up, I captured a picture of the Moon as well.  It would be fun to explore its cratered surface.

Camera geek info:

Moon and Venus 6/15/18

  •             Canon EOS 60D in manual mode set at f/4, 1/25 second exposure, ISO 800
  •             Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM lens, set at 70 mm, autofocus on moon

Moon and Venus 6/16/18

  •             Canon EOS 60D in manual mode set at f/4.5, 1/5 second exposure, ISO 320
  •             Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM lens, set at 112 mm, manual focus on moon
  •             Tripod

Moon 6/16/18

  •             Canon EOS 60D in manual mode set at f/5.6, 1/60 second exposure, ISO 320
  •             Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM lens, set at 300 mm, manual focus on moon, IS off
  •             Tripod

Rejection Poker

This week I ran across a blog post where the author suggested one could set up a skill ranking system for handling rejection, where you get experience points for handling rejection well, and lose them for … well, not. I don’t categorize my rejections as finely as the author of the post does, but my math shows me at roughly level 8 or “wood” level resistance.

I have long thought of trying to come up with a “rejection poker” system where you use the rejections (and acceptances) you got in the month to make a hand. The suits would be:

  •             Acceptance
  •             Rewrite Request
  •             Personal Rejection
  •             Form Rejection

The numbers would be the day of the month. I have been surprised by the number of times I have gotten multiple rejection letters on the same day. It’s as if editors, like writers, meet in cafes to do all their reading and rejecting together while enjoying some nice tea and company.

If you get more than five responses, you get to pick the ones you use for your hand.

The standard rules of poker would apply (although statistics may show a re-ranking of hands would better reflect their probabilities).  Maybe the 31rst would be wild.

So far this month, my hand would be:

  •             5 FR
  •             8 FR
  •             10 FR

On my way to a flush!

In either system, the only way to level up is to submit more!

How do you handle rejection?

SpaceX Rocket Park


We went out to California last weekend to visit our daughter. While we were there, we went by the SpaceX Rocket Park. The rocket on display is the first Falcon 9 to have landed again after launching its payload. Which required some pretty impressive engineering from SpaceX.

Across the street from the rocket, there is a mystery billboard.


Apparently, there is a Japanese robot company trying to impress SpaceX with their engineering.

Down the street is the hyperloop test track, to test out impressive engineering of a different sort.

Alas, we did not see any evidence of The Boring Company. Which I guess is no surprise, since they do their impressive engineering … underground.

It was fun to go visit!