New Horizons Glitch – Will We See Pluto?

While the US was celebrating the Fourth of July, New Horizons was getting itself drunk. Well, there was a glitch. With just ten days to go until the encounter with Pluto, New Horizons shut down its main computer and the backup started up, putting the probe in safe mode.

Safe mode isn’t unusual for space probes, but the timing isn’t very good. Well, it’s not so bad, because not many pictures were expected to be taken over the next couple days. However, New Horizons is 4.5 hours away, and any commands will require 9 hours (4.5 hours confirmation). If they can diagnose it quickly, then it should be working properly in the next couple days. If not, it could take a few days to correct.  I really hope it’ll be corrected soon.  I want my Pluto pictures!

The Planetary Society has a very good write-up on this.

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Fantasy Novel Settings Based on the Real World

A lot of fantasy authors are influenced by real history and locations. Some come out and say that they are a part of Earth’s lost history, and some are Earth’s future. And it seems like many are based on the European Middle Ages.

Lord of the Rings is based on Europe, and I think Tolkien admitted that. I believe it’s supposed to be Europe, but long before recorded history.

A Song of Ice and Fire (or Game of Thrones) is also based on Europe, but not actually in Europe, but a fictional world. In fact, the entire war is inspired by the War of the Roses.

Shannara is quite different, though. It’s based in a world that had gone through an apocalypse. I’m not exactly sure of the precise location, but it is North America.

What are some other Earth-based fantasy novels and series?

Fascinated by Powerful Weather

Japan is a country that gets a lot of typhoons. I tend to go through about three every summer and fall. Sometimes more. Already had one this spring, which is strange.  In Canada, I was treated to multiple thunderstorms a week.  They’re not long, but they tend to come around in July the most. This kind of weather scares a lot of people.

Not me. When a thunderstorm comes, I want to watch. When a typhoon comes, I want to go outside and see how strong the wind and rain are. I am absolutely fascinated by this kind of weather. I love a good thunderstorm.

People find it strange when I mention that I actually enjoy typhoons and thunderstorms. I even find earthquakes interesting to go through. I went through a huge one four years ago, and whenever they hit now, I’m always interested in feeling it. What does this say about me?

I feel a somewhat scientific detachment from these phenomena. I observe with the mindset of a scientist. I like to know what’s going on, and I understand very well how these things happen. I also understand the risks involved, and how to keep myself safe. And I always unplug my computer during a thunderstorm.

It’s not just thunderstorms and typhoons I enjoy. I also like seeing blizzards or snowstorms. Last year, we had a couple big snow storms here, which is quite unusual. The Tokyo area is unprepared for heavy snow. The snow that we get here is very wet and heavy, and it’s extremely slippery and difficult to drive through. In this case, I enjoy watching other people try to cope with it. What’s funny is that one day that I was walking to the station because of no buses, a Brazilian woman came up to me and asked me in Japanese to take her picture with her phone. She wanted to show people the snow.

How do you feel about extreme weather?