Eye of the Storm

Yesterday (Monday, 12/29), I sent Wiley the last quarter of my latest book, Digital Photography for Seniors for Dummies (really). I just finished my second book in 6 months; my third book in 2 years. (I finished Windows Vista Solutions just before going to a New Year’s Eve party.)

Given that I completed Digital Cameras & Photography for Dummies in less than 6 weeks, this latest book, on a related topic, was an easier task. In fact, 3 weeks ago, I imagined I might finish a week ahead of schedule – which was already moved up a week. But, a 3 week cold wrecked my sleep, and I had a class to teach, so, I had to be content with finishing on the deadline, not before.

But finish isn’t the word. Hurricane watchers know that the eerie calm isn’t the end of the storm, but the eye. Indeed, the trailing edge of a hurricane is fiercer than the leading edge, albeit shorter. (Anyone over 30 knows the second half of anything is shorter than the first half.) The part of the storm yet to come is Author Review, in which I reread every word I’ve written along with all the questions, corrections, and comments inserted by the copy editor, the technical editor, and the development editor. (It is a rainbow of Word revision marks.) It is a time to suppress ego and to avoid argument, to seek a better way to explain things. Reviewing a chapter might take one hour or four. I’m expecting to spend 40 hours on the task, which will include recreating every single figure because I was slow to understand the original figure requirements. (Seems the previous project taught me bad habits.)

As I await the first wave of Author Review, I’ve rearranged some furniture (singularly pleasing), vacuumed, and, even written a blog entry. It may be another week or two before the next. In the meantime, Happy New Calendar! peace, mjh


A Modest Proposal

Watching a biologist clutch a Monarch butterfly and rub the fuzz off part of its wing and, then, wrap a tag around the leading edge of its wing, all the while, assuring the viewer that it mattered not to the butterfly, I have a theory: Biologist believe they are superior to the animals they study. Further, said superiority justifies any method of data acquisition. And, without a doubt, an individual animal has no right to an undisrupted life.

In order to test my theory, I need to monitor biologists as they go about their daily activities. (You can’t assume they’ll tell you the truth just because you ask.) I propose using large nets to capture random biologists. Those who struggle will be sedated. My team will take standard measurements, tattoo, tag, and collar these biologists before releasing them to resume their day. Don’t worry: They won’t even notice what we’ve done to them.

I’m working on an umbrella theory that scientists are merely human. Therefore, one day, I’d like to broaden the study to include non-scientists. (Any who die in the process will be processed as food.) I think I might find funding from arms merchants, drug dealers, and advertisers. There will be no shortage of willing grad students.


PS: I believe scientists have the same obligation as religionists: to rise above the worst aspects of humanity. Find less disruptive ways to observe your subjects. A sledgehammer is not a pencil.

NASA – Biggest Full Moon of the Year

[updated 12/11/08]


On Dec. 12th, the Moon becomes full a scant 4 hours after reaching perigee, making it 14% bigger and 30% brighter than lesser full Moons we’ve seen earlier in 2008. …

This is both the brightest and (in the northern hemisphere) the highest-riding full Moon of the year. If you go outside around midnight it will be close to overhead and act like a cosmic floodlamp making the landscape absolutely brilliant, especially if there’s snow. Full moons are always high during winter and, indeed, the solstice is right around the corner on Dec. 21st.

NASA – Biggest Full Moon of the Year

Thursday, 12/11, the moon will be nearly as big, rising before sunset.

12/11: Sunset: 4:54pm
Moonrise: 3:51pm

12/12: Sunset: 4:54pm
Moonrise: 4:56pm

Times are from www.sunrisesunset.com. The closer you are to the west side of the Sandias, the later the moon rises.