Real Time Time Applications

Yes, I actually started a new chapter last night. Which also means the start of the new scene.  While I didn’t start out with another thousand word night, I did manage to get just over five hundred and fifty words.  In considering I was having to think up a bit of history about the school the whole time, I consider that a good beginning.

This is how good beginnings look.

A couple of quick things.  The first three scenes happen within a few days of each other. In case you’re wondering 22 September, 2013, is a Sunday.  This means that the second scene, as well is the third, occur on the day Annie and Kerry have Advanced Self Defense and Weapons class, which means or whatever they are doing happens in class.  And any time you see a scene titled Testing Kali, figure it has to do with that scene from the trailer where Annie and Kerry appeared to be fighting off a group of zombies.

As for that last scene?  27 September, 2013, is Annie’s birthday.  Only I’m going to write this scene up just a little differently than I have the last two birthday scenes, so it’s going to come off in the story just a bit differently than in the other novels.  No big deal; I just wanted to change things up a bit.

Now, let’s head back to the classroom…

Kerry has already shown an exploding tennis ball and it was very entertaining. However, he just did something else with the time spell that didn’t cause a tennis ball to explode, and Serafina wanted to know why.  Being the nice student/teacher that he is, Kerry’s about to tell her and the rest of the class–

 

(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016, 2017 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

Kerry replied as soon as he was certain he understood the question. “Treontdn’t—” A second later he nodded at normal speed, so this time his words didn’t come out sounding like accelerated gibberish. “The reason it didn’t is because only way that you can change your own time and still sort of interact with the unchanged world is to pull the field so tight around your body that us sort of wear it as a second skin.” He ran his open hand over his right arm. “When I had this time field in place it was like only millimeters thick across my body, which meant while I was moving five times faster than you guys I could also reach out and touch any of you—” He held up the tennis ball. “Or grab this without it doing something weird due to Normal physics.”

A number of surprised looks passed between the older students while Naomi and Subhan appeared slightly shocked by a concept that no one in the regular B Level Spells class likely even imagined. Pang sat back her up his hands. “Geez, man, I’d have never figured that one out.”

Nadine, on the other hand, was interested in figuring out the various complexities of the spell. “So, how would you do a spell that’s going to affect stuff outside your time field?”

“Oh, that.” Kerry touched his lip You have to open up micro holes in the time field so that you can access unaltered time and craft spells within that time frame. Depending on your personal time frame it’s going to seem like you’re crafting exceptionally slow or exceptionally fast, so you need to take the difference into consideration so you don’t screw up your crafting.” He shrugged. “Or enlarge the field just enough to craft in your own space and then drop it from around the spell once you’re finished.”

Nadine slung her right arm over the back of her chair as she crossed her legs. “Oh, is that all?”

 

It’s a good thing Nadine and Kerry are Friends, otherwise people would likely think Nadine was being an insufferable smartass.  And to a lot of students at Salem, that’s exactly how she comes off.  But that’s the way Nadine is: she comes off as rather gruff and straightforward to a lot of students, and they don’t like her because that.  You really have to know her to understand her.   And that’s not always an easy thing, because she doesn’t always let people into her inner circle.  Annie and Kerry have been lucky in that she’s become friends with them; not everyone at the school has been that fortunate.

And this leads up to his next teaching moment–

 

The whole room joined her in laughter, even Kerry, who looked down with a sheepish expression. “Yeah, I do make it sound a lot easier than it is. But that’s really the gist of how one should craft the spell. It takes some time to figure it out, however: Annie and I worked on it for a few days here, and I spent time over the summer visualizing how it should work. So I have a bit of a head start on everyone.”

Naomi finally found the courage to raise her hand. “Excuse me.” She looked at all the other students as if to make certain it was okay for her to speak before turning to Kerry. “Even though you can do this, how useful is it really? I mean, I can understand maybe being able to speed up crafting spells, but why else would it be useful?”

It wasn’t necessary for Kerry to think upon an answer: he’d anticipated the possibility this question would be asked by one of the B Levels and he had already prepared a response. “I think it would be better if I show you what I could do instead of tell you.” He turned to Wednesday. “Think you can help me out again?”

“Sure thing.” Wednesday walk down to the far end of the classroom and crafted a huge dark barrier that covered a significant portion of the wall. When she was finished she walked back about half the distance between her crafted barrier and Kerry impressed yourself up against the wall opposite where the students were sitting. She nodded slowly. “Go ahead.”

 

Up next is some more of that “science stuff” that shouldn’t have any place in a story about witches and magic, but damn it all, sometimes you gotta go there.  I mean, Kerry has to deal with g forces when he’s racing, so why shouldn’t there be some science here?

The answer is we have it.  And it’s like this:

 

Kerry levitated a tennis ball out of the box once they had left behind and left it hovering within arms reach while he stood as he had before when crafting the previous time spell. When he was finished he snatched the tennis ball out of the air with his right hand and transferred it to his left hand. He stood still for just a second and quickly drew his left arm back and tossed the tennis ball.

The tennis ball flew so quickly across the room as to be impossible to follow. It seemed to have just left Kerry’s hand when it crashed into Wednesday’s black barrier with a loud crack followed by a sudden burst of light, flame, and heat as it was was enveloped in the dark shroud. Nearly all the students jumped the second the room was filled with the sound of the ball’s impact: even Wednesday threw up her left arm as if to guard against the heat emanating from the far end of the room.

Kerry waited for the excited students to calm down before he addressed Naomi. “That’s one of the things that you can do. I did the same thing that Wednesday did: I gave the ball and underhand toss that would ascend to the cross the room at about seventy kilometers an hour. Only the big difference between what Wednesday did and what I did is that she threw her ball in the time field were encompassed and now—which is to say, Normal time—and I accelerated my personal time to five times greater than Normal time.

“When I tossed the ball, it appeared to me that I wasn’t throwing in any faster than Wednesday through hers, which is to say it wasn’t traveling at anymore than seventy kilometers an hour. However, with my time since accelerated all of my actions were also accelerated by a factor of five, so the ball in this Normal time left my hand going five times faster than that—which means when it hit that barrier down there it did so going about three hundred and fifty kilometers an hour. You probably couldn’t even track the flight because it was moving as fast as Riv, Nadine, and I can move when we’re racing flat out on a straight—and if you happen to be standing near a course when we go by at that speed, you can’t follow us, either.

“Wednesday’s barrier was designed to not only keep the ball from blasting a hole through the wall, but, with the help of the safety enchantments, to absorb the kinetic energy released when it came to a complete stop. What she created was something similar to what we use on the race courses, ‘cause going into a barrier at over three hundred kilometers an hour means you’ve got a dissipate a lot of energy. Otherwise—” He pointed a thumb at the barrier at the other end of the room. “You’re gonna get an explosion.

“And if you want to get an idea of how big will the explosion… I did the math on our tennis ball before class and figure the amount of energy released in this little demonstration was approximately 2.835 times 10 to the ninth power ergs. If you want to know what that much energy can do—” The right corner of his mouth curled upwards. “Technically, there’s enough energy there to vaporize the human body, with the TNT equivalent being approximately seven hundred kilograms.” Kerry smiled as he turned his gaze from one student to the next. “As you might imagine, our brooms would make a far bigger boom if they could explode like that.”

 

Yeah, bitch!  Science!  And yes, my calculations were correct:  Kerry’s tennis ball coming to a complete stop would have released enough energy to vaporize a human, in that it would have flashed all the fluids instantly into steam.  And since he likes to talk about this–

He’s gonna tell you all about getting hit with a super fast ball.

It’s lots of fun.

How Super Was My Lab: Let’s All Look

And here you thought you were gonna get an author’s interview…

I spoke with the author last night and she decided that since she can’t actually start her Facebook giveaway until Friday, she wanted me to run the interview that morning.  Being the understanding person I am I said okay, so you’ll see that interview in a couple of days on 3 March.

In the meantime I arrived at work in my latest dress–

Gotta greet the new month in new hotness.

Gotta greet the new month in new hotness.

And I’m ready to take you into the superlab–

 

(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016, 2017 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

Annie had seen pictures of the super lab of being inside was another matter. She hadn’t realized it, but given the height of the ceiling she figured they were actually in the sub level and that the entire of the lab cut through into the lower level above. It wasn’t necessary to guess why the additional space was needed: pipes and HAVC conduits covered most of the ceiling.

She recognized at least a half-dozen chemical reactors, two condensers, two cookers, and in the far corner of the room three distillation columns. Her now trained eye saw that the system was set up for batch processing, there she spotted a couple of control panels which told her that it was possible the lab could be switched over for continuous processing if necessary. There were safety stations every ten meters and next to every station was an emergency vent button that could be used to clear the room of noxious and toxic fumes in seconds.

There were two powered exoskeletons stationed between the supply entrance and the personnel airlock which she guessed were used for moving around chemical containers inside the lab. To her right, about eight meters away, was a safety cage where the two hundred liter barrels of chemicals were stored, and off to her left was an open door that she assumed led to a locker room and a rest area.

 

There’s a lot of big words there and even bigger amounts of equipment:

Sort of like this without the witches.

Sort of like this without the witches.

But trust me, it’s put together in a way that’s gonna allow these kids to make a whole lot of mixtures that are designed to do good things for a body.  You might say they’re magical…

 

 

Annie was standing in an area which was unknown even to her parents. As they had once mentioned, they both took three years of Formulistic Magic before electing to move on to other studies in their D Levels. Her father specialized in classes revolving around magic as applied to mechanical technology in the Tesla Center, and her mother’s pharmaceutical research was performed at another location, as the school didn’t have a proper superlab when they were here nearly twenty years ago. One day when they came to visit she would make certain her parents saw this laboratory, for while it wasn’t in her nature to boast, she felt a certain pride in being the first Kirilovi to enter this room.

Erywin positioned herself in front of a large chemical reactor and clapped her hands. “Here we are: the Tesla Center chemical superlab. We will hold class here once a month and everyone in this class will be required to perform at least three assignments during this school year. As we have done over in the Chemistry Center you will work in pairs— though, as in the case with our F Levels, they will work together as the trio for now. When you are working on assignments in here they will be done at times when we would normally be holding lectures in the Chemistry Center—” Erywin turned slightly to her right and something caught her eye. “Kerry, what are you doing?”

Annie’s soul mate and climbed atop a rolling safety ladder and appeared to be looking over the contents of an open chemical reactor. He turned slowly back toward the rest of the class with a huge grin on his face as he shouted out his reply. “Yo, Gatorade me, bitch.”

 

Annie is fairly proud that by entering the lab she’s actually doing something that her parents didn’t do when they were students–though I’m gonna say the odds are good neither of her parents killed a couple of Deconstructors when they were students, so she’s got that on them, too.

But, you know, leave it to Kerry to just have to let his inner Heisenberg out and come up with a completely different idea of why they’re there.  And where does he get the idea to yell out the need for an electrolyte replenishing refreshment?  From here:

Yes, Kerry just has to go all Jessie Pinkman the first chance he gets.  Fortunately for him Erywin knows the source material and has a sense of humor:

 

Though Erywin rolled her eyes Annie noticed that she covered her mouth for a few seconds, probably to hide the smile on her face from the rest of the class. “Kerry.” She motioned at the boy. “Come down from there, please.” He stepped down from the safety letter an approach both Erywin and Annie, who were now standing close together. She lay a hand on Kerry’s shoulder. “If possible, can we have less of you pretending that this is something more than a chemical superlab? After all, if Isis suspects someone was here trying to cook meth, she’s going to become exceptionally upset.”

He shook his head slowly. “I won’t do that again.” He cast a quick glance to his left and gave Annie a wink.

As soon as the couple stepped back Erywin continued addressing the class. “As I was saying before being interrupted, this year you are required to perform three assignments. The objective of these assignments is to create a successful mixture in bulk. Most of what you’ll create will be of pharmaceutical grade purity, so it is not only important that you may be required to create three hundred liters of a particular mixture, but it will be necessary to ensure that the entire batch is equal to or greater than a specified purity.” She held up her right finger to emphasize the point. “If a small portion of the test sample falls several percentage points below purity, that means your entire mixture has fallen below a specific purity level and you will be required to either take a hit to your proficiencies for that assignment, or start over.

“The whole idea behind working in the superlab is to gain an understanding of what is required in these exceptionally large batch processes. Many of you will not go on to a future that involves Formulistic Magic, but it is necessary for you to gain an understanding of the protocols and procedures required for this sort of work were you to advance into the various chemical engineering fields.” She smiled as she looked around the room. “And for those of you will be moving up a level next year, you get to do it all again.”

Erywin let everyone down to the north end of the lab; it was not only the entrance to a personal break area, but along the wall were several work cubicles. “Each of you have an assigned workspace where you can keep track of your progress as well as use a computer terminal to look up information related to your assigned. You will use these cubicles as a team and they will remain yours throughout this level year.” She clapped her hands. “Find your cubical; the sooner you do, the sooner we can get to making magic.”

 

This is not an easy class and these are not going to be easy assignments.  Here a simply screw up could see a few hundred liters of mixture getting poured down the drain while your proficiencies take a massive hit–yeah, the superlab is no joke.  Not only does your magic gotta be on fleek, but being just a few steps off in your protocols will jack you hard.  But I’m certain Annie and Kerry will do okay–

But we are not finished with the lab.  Oh, not quiet yet–

Getting Science All Up In Here

I don’t get out my these days–that’s sort of clear to a lot of people.  And one of the things I don’t get out to do is see movies.  Most of that is due to having sort of a high standard when it comes to seeing a movie, and that’s to be entertained without having too much of my intelligence insulted.  That’s why I’d only seen Mad Max:  Fury Road this year of 2015 and nothing else.  I’m just a cranky bitch when it comes to film.

Yesterday, however, not long after posted on my blog, I headed out to see The Martian, the movie based upon Andy Weir’s 2011 novel of the same name.  One reason I wanted to see the movie was because it was science fiction, and from everything I’d read of the novel, pretty accurate science fiction, with the emphases on science.  I will say now that I have not read the novel, but I’m probably going to pick it up and give it a read just to see the differences between the printed and visual versions.

The interesting thing about the novel is how it came about.  Weir wanted the novel as scientifically accurate as possible, and did a lot of research on the surface of Mars, on botany, astrophysics, space craft design, and orbital mechanics, going so far as to write is own program so he could track the orbits of the ships in his novel.

Which is something only a few crazy people do for, say, a game.

Which is something only a few crazy people–like the one who wrote this a few years ago–kinda sorta do for games.   Crazy.

Weir had been writing since his twenties, and The Martian was his first novel.  He shopped it around, and when none of the publishing houses showed interested, he started publishing the book for free on his website, going thought chapter by chapter.

That's insane.  What sort of nut does that?

That’s insane. What sort of nut does that?

After a while people asked him to put out a Kindle version of the story, and he did, and he sold the book for $.99, the lowest price one can offer for a work on Amazon.  After he sold thirty-five thousand copies in one month, Crown Publishing Group approached him and asked if he’d like a sweet deal for his book.  The deal made him another one hundred thousand dollars and got him a movie, so it sounds like he got what he was looking for.

If you’re asking, “What’s this about?”, it’s about a guy who, through no fault of anyone, gets stranded on Mars and has to find a way to stay alive until he’ rescued.

If nothing else, fall back on a meme that says the same thing through Apature.

If nothing else, fall back on a meme that makes you wonder if Aperture Science runs the space program.

That’s the story in a nutshell, and without going into a lot of detail, it’s what the movies shows.  What I loved was the attention to detail and how everything was so . . . sciencry.  As I indicated I haven’t read the book, but there were things in the movie that because of my knowledge of Mars and space stuff in general, I got right away.  (There was a scene in the movie where the main character was looking at a map, and the minute he realizes something and was hit with a light bulb moment, so was I.  Geeks, I know.)

The movie is magnificent in appearance.  The Mars stand-in was Wadi Rum in Jordan, which has stood in for Mars in a couple of movies, and one of the locations used in Laurence of Arabia.  With the help of a little CGI you feel like you could be there on the Red Planet.  All the tech looks workable and has an authentic feel.  And the spaceship Hermes and the Mars HABs . . . Oi.

Magnificent spaceship porn, yo!

Magnificent spaceship porn, yo!

I can look at the ship above and see stuff that’s supposed to be there on a real spacecraft, and that makes me happy.  There are things I saw happening in the movie that shouldn’t have happened (when you decelerate in space, your engine is supposed to be pointed towards the forward edge of your orbit, thank you), but they were minor and nitpicky.  Even Weir admits that he made the storms on Mars more visually impressive than they would be in real life because, you know, sometimes you have to do that.

The characters are good, though I think NASA in the middle of the 21st Century would be a tad more diverse than shown, and in one major instance, a character was completely whitewashed. The moment I saw the character’s name I thought “Shouldn’t she be Korean?”  This, again, came without reading the novel, and after a little investigation last night I discovered I was correct.  It isn’t impossible to find an actress of the proper ethnicity these days,  so Hollywood, you need to stop that shit right now.

There is one scene in the movie that got a huge laugh out of the audience I was with–and with me as well–and without going into detail:

When you see the scene, you'll get this completely.

When you see the scene, you’ll get this completely.

I came out really happy, not only because I saw what I’d say was a real science fiction movie, but because there was a scene involving engineering that was done while ABBA’s Waterloo played on the soundtrack.  I mean, come on:  that’s something I’d do in my stories, so you know I was smiling like crazy and bouncing in my seat as the scene played out.  And in a moment of disclosure, in a game I was running some twenty years ago, I’d planed to use Waterloo as a song-over during a scene were some people were preparing in invade a planet.

See?  Great minds think alike.  And so do those who know what makes science fun.

Down On the Deck: Response Gambit

Let me get all the happy news out of the way first.  I did, indeed, pass one hundred fifty thousand words last night.  Writing started out slowly because I seemed to have trouble getting focused–part of that may have been due to having the movie Elysium on in the background and not listening to music–but I ended with eight hundred and sixty-eight words total before the end appeared.  But I got there in the fastest sprint to ten thousand that I’ve had in a long time:  only eight days this time.

Eight days and then off to sleep, actually.

Eight days and then off to sleep, actually.

So there we are:  one of the big milestones I expected has arrived, and it’s got me wondering again if I’m going to finish this novel around the two hundred fifty thousand word mark.  Answer right now seem to be “no”, but you never know.  I’m thinking I should add another fifty thousand to that total–maybe?  Could be?  Should be?

So what is going on now?  Take a look:

 

 

(All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015 by Cassidy Frazee)

Alex look as if she were considering pushing for an answer when popped up out of her chair. “Hey, they’re here.”

On the edge of the display were four bright blue dots moving rapidly towards the image of Cape Ann in the middle of the hologram. Annie stepped next to Penny. “Why only four?”

“We’re only seeing those brooms with active tracking—that means Vicky, Erywin, Nadine, and Riv right now.” She leaned forward, scrutinizing the images. “Damn, they’re really moving.”

 

Now, it was already stated in the excerpt yesterday about the active tracking, and Penny’s stating something that obviously wasn’t either known to Annie, or she may have been under the assumption that all brooms were being tracked.

 

Alex reached in and tapped the area above the dots. “Svyate der´mo.” Her eyes widened as she read the numbers. “Speed five-seventy-five kph: altitude thirteen hundred.”

Penny gasped as if she’d been slapped. “Meters?”

Ta.”

“Nearly everyone’s flying Espinozas.” Annie was torn between being impressed and shocked. “Five-seventy-five is over the maximum speed for those.”

“For unmodified ones, yeah—”

Alex stepped around the display. “None of the Espinozas at the school are unmodified. Vicky tricked them out so they’ll hit six hundred easy.”

 

For the less metrically inclined, six hundred kilometers per hour is right at three hundred seventy-five miles an hour, so five seventy-five works out to three hundred fifty-six and a half miles an hour.  Remember when Emma worried that others wouldn’t be able to keep up?  This is why:  right now they’re on those flying mountain bikes traveling along at just over three hundred and fifty miles and hour four thousand, two hundred, and sixty-four feet up.  That’s eight-tenths of a mile if you’re keeping track.  And you can bet Annie is . . .

 

Annie stepped a little to her right so she could see the flight in the display. “They’re up so high.”

“It’s ‘cause it’s been dark a while; whatever team’s in the lead was probably chancing the last bit of light before the sun set.” Penny slipped an bud into her ear activated the enchantment. “Let’s find out who’s bringin’ the flight home.” She lightly tapped her ear three times so the response would broadcast to everyone and spoke in her clear, clipped English tones. “Salem Overnight, this is the Flight Deck. We have you in the bubble: lead team, please sound off. Over.”

While the girl’s voice was clear, the slipstream around flight was clearly discernible over the speakers. “Flight Deck, this is Team Myfanwy on lead, pilot speaking. We’re coming straight in. Over.”

“Roger, Myfanwy, we have you as Overnight lead; transferring call sign to you. Please stand by.” Penny pointed at Alex. “Check their course.”

Annie knew what Alex would find. “Kerry’s navigating; they’ll come in right on course.”

“She’s right.” Alex crafted a line from their point of entry into the bubble to their present position, then drew it forward towards Cape Ann. “They’re gonna hit Rockport head on and then right to the meadow.”

“Where are they coming from?” Annie hadn’t noticed the position of the flight before, but now noticed they were approaching from the ocean.

Alex expanded the display so it took up most of New England and parts of Canada, then backtracked the course. “I’d say Yarmouth, Nova Scotia.” She checked the calculated distance. “Three hundred and eight-four kilometers from there to Rockport.”

“Wait, what?” Penny touched the comm. “Overnight, this is Flight Deck. How long have you maintained your present speed? Over.”

Kerry’s voice rang out clear. “For just over three hundred kilometers. Over.”

Penny and Alex exchanged looks. “Overnight, do you have a reading on your current wind chill?”

There was a long pause before Emma spoke. “Low, Fight Deck. Over.”

“Roger, Overnight.” Penny tapped her comm off before speaking. “Alex, contact the hospital, tell whomever you get we’re probably going to need some warming blankets down here: it looks like we got a Narjinary Gambit going.”

This was an expression Anne had never heard before, but given how grave the other girls appeared, she didn’t think it was good. “What’s a Narjinary Gambit?”

 

First, Penny could probably work flight control duties at Heathrow right now the way she’s handing the incoming flight.  Second, Annie was right on when she said with Kerry one-half of the lead team, because she’s already talked up how he loves that.  Third, they’s been in the air at there current speed for just over a half-hour, if you’ve done the calculations as I have.  Which brings us to four:  The Narjinary Gambit.  And what is that?

 

“Something that happened during the Polar Express back in 2005.” Penny turned towards Annie. “One team—Indu Narjinary and Zhanna Mirokhin—got dropped in the middle of Labrador, Canada. After they determined where they were, they calculated they were sixteen hundred kilometers from the school. So, rather than fly back at a normal speed, they figured if they got their speed up to five hundred kph, they’d be home by late Friday afternoon and they wouldn’t have to camp out.

“So they ate as much of their rations as possible to calorie up, set course for the school, and flew for ninety minutes at five hundred kilometers per hour. They touched down, warmed up for a couple of hours, then struck out again—”

“Only their course was off and they missed the school by about thirty kilometers.” Alex stood up from in front of the display she’d used to contact the hospital. “By the time they figure out their mistake they were past Providence, Rhode Island, and spent another ninety minutes getting back.” She turned to Penny. “Hospitals coming down with warming blankets.”

“Great.” Penny finished the story. “You fly that fast in this weather, you’re hitting wind chills of minus forty to fifty Celsius, and while we got great arctic winter gear, even with magic you’re still gonna get a good case of frostbite and hypothermia after a few hours. That was what happened with Narjinary and Mirokhin: they came down with hypothermia on the first leg, didn’t warm up enough, and started having mental lapses during their second leg.”

“They received special recognition for being the team to complete the Express the fastest from over a thousand kilometers out—” Alex grinned. “—but the way Vicky tells the story, she wasn’t at all happy.”

“Not to mention they spent Friday through Saturday night in the hospital recovering.” Penny nodded towards the display. “They’re probably hitting below minus fifty right now; they’re gonna need warming when they land.”

 

Remember how I’ve spoke about meta-plotting everything out but when something comes to me, I get it in?  Well, this is one of those things. The Narjinary Gambit didn’t exist until two days ago, and it came about because of . . . thinking about future scenes.  See, there are reasons why people do things and reasons why they don’t, and one of the things that came up was, “Well, if I can zip along at five hundred kilometers per hours, and I’m dropped off some fifteen hundred kilometers from the school during The Polar Express, what’s going to keep me from just opening up the broom and getting home as quick as possible?”  And that’s easy to ask now, because back before the 1990s the gear being used in The Polar Express normally wouldn’t allow for a lot of fast zipping because frostbite and hypothermia would put you down fast.

But with the new gear you can withstand colder temps, or so the reasoning goes.  These two girls decided to put that reasoning to the test, and almost flew out over the Atlantic in the process because mistakes.

See?  Mistakes.

This is what a near-fatal mistake looks like.

That’s the route I worked out, and you can see–to the far right is there first camp where they were set down; the next dot to the left of that is where they figured out their course; the dot in the middle is where they stopped half-way; the dot at the far left is where they realized they screwed up; and the final dot is the school.  If they hadn’t realized they were way off course and well beyond the school, they’d have sailed right out over the Atlantic, where they probably would have succumbed to hypothermia and crashed into the ocean.

If you’re interested, -50 C is just about -60 F, and if you don’t think that’s cold, go outside the next time the wind chill is like -10 F/-24 C, get on your thermals and your best coat, mittens, and hat, and just stand in the open for about five minutes.  Once you come back inside where it’s nice and warm, imagine it being another fifty F/twenty-five C colder, and then imagine you’re on a bike a quarter of a mile up above the ground moving along at something like 250 mph/400 kph.

Yeah.  You don’t get to make a lot of mistakes under those conditions.

Needless to say I didn’t finish the scene last night.  Tonight?  Yeah, I think I will.  I’m sure I will.

Or not.

Either way, I’ll be here tomorrow, because it’s thirty days hath September, and the witch month is upon us . . .

History on a Math Shell

There are times when I’m writing my stories that I have to get all geeky for real.  The Foundation Chronicles actually takes place against the backdrop of our world of 2011, so there are times when things are referenced as being something real in my world.  Which is why, during the little time I had to write–driving a few hundred miles in the day tends to make you tired by the time night rolls around–I was able to come up with a short history of Professor Elenore Karasek, one of the school’s former flight instructors, and how she used her love of the city of Chicago to rename the school’s race courses after three mass transit lines.

You can't tell your race circuits without a map, right?

You can’t tell your race circuits without a map, right?

What you have in the picture above are two of the three school race course:  the Green Line (which is the solid line closest to the wall) and the Blue Line (the inner solid line).  I don’t have the third course up, the Red Line, only because designing it will be insane, and no one’s racing the Red Line right now.

(Oh, and in the picture above you’ll see, off to the right, that light green mat is Selena’s Meadow and, right below that, the Flight School.  Doesn’t look like much of a walk, but it is.)

Why go through all this?  Because I knew there would be a part in the current novel where racing was going to come into play, and that time is now.  Which means I have to do my prep to set everything up so I can write about what’s going to happen in the Great Illegal A Level Race of 2011.  And not only do I have a course, but I know the names of  the different sections of the course.

Always good to have a nice little cheat sheet of the neat racing names for your course.

Always good to have a nice little cheat sheet of the neat racing names for your course.

Just like an auto race track has its names for their straights and turns, the Green Line has the same, and the notes I have above show the areas that’ll get passed during the scene.  Most of those names are pretty literal, though you may wonder why there’s a section of the track named Graves . . .

"Don't worry, kids.  It's not like a turn called 'Graves' could mean anything bad . . ."

“Don’t worry, kids. It’s not like a turn called ‘Graves’ could mean anything bad . . .”

Like I said, some are very literal.

There is one part of the upcoming scene where a couple of my kids will race down a long, semi-straight stretch known as West End.  Why?  Because it’s on the west end of the school, that’s why?  It’s two kilometers long–that’s one and a quarter miles for you metricly challenged–and it’s the section of the course where one will get the most speed out of their PAV.  If they are of a mind, that is.

There it is, the West End, Girls.  Sorry:  bad 80's music pun.

There it is, the West End, Girls. Sorry: bad 80’s music pun.

How much speed are we talking?  In what I’ve already written for the scene, Annie recalls when Kerry and she were trying out the course a few weeks before, and they managed to reach about one hundred and seventy kilometers and hour without even working up a sweat.  She mentioned that she knows enough Imperial Units to know they were flying along at about one hundred miles an hour (one hundred and five, to be exact) and that probably would have gotten them in trouble if they’d been caught.

For this scene I want to know how long it would take Kerry to get up to a much higher speed, and how long he could fly down West End at that speed.  For that I head over to the Tutor 4 Physics site, which has a lot of nice calculations that I’ve used in my science fiction writing.  How will I used this?  Let’s look at what Annie said:

If they came out of Northwest Passage (that bend at the very top right of the above picture) as a speed of sixty kilometers an hour, and accelerated at forty-five kilometers an hour, it’ll take them seventy-eight meters, or two hundred and fifty-five feet, to get up to 170 kph.  That’s just under the length of a football field, so that’s some good acceleration.  And with those numbers, it’s easy to calculate they could cover the entire distance of West End in about forty-three seconds.

Of course Kerry will be going a lot faster, which is why I need to know just how much time he’ll have to think about what he’d going to do next.  Ergo, calculations are needed.  Which is why . . .

You tell 'em, Jessie.

You tell ’em, Jessie.

All to get a few thousand words into a story.

Yeah, I’m like that.

Quibbles in the Bits

Yesterday I roamed off on my own to see Godzilla.  There are many reasons I wanted to see the movies, but mostly it’s due to remembering seeing the first movie as a kid and completely digging the idea there were gigantic reptiles living in the ocean that would come up and smash your cities into dust just for the hell of it–and if you have radiation breath, that’s a plus, too.  I wanted to see it to scrub my brain forever of something that was released in 1998 that showed the role of the King of Kaijus performed by a mutated iguana.

It was like watching Pacific Rim, only there weren’t gigantic mecha beating the hell out of monsters, it was monster-on-monster action, and a lot of property damage left in the wake of such throwdowns.  It also drove home the point that Godzilla does not like Goggle Hipster Buses, so suck on that.

But . . . I gotta quibble.

I know you’re rolling your eyes right about now:  “Cassie, it’s a movie about giant monsters, and you’re written articles about how that’s impossible because of the square-cube law, so of course you’re gonna quibble.”  No, you’ve got me wrong.  If I’m digging something, I can suspend my disbelief enough that I know what I’m seeing is in no way possible, but I’m still gonna enjoy the movie.  That’s why I like Pacific Rim:  I know you can’t build those mecha, but that doesn’t keep me from cheering for Gypsy Dagger from kicking kaiju ass.

No, I gotta quibble about something else, and that is . . . geography.

There is a scene in the movie–and you can stop reading right now if you don’t want this spoiled for you, but if you’re like the majority of my friends you’ve either seen the movie already, or you won’t case, because it’s a minor point–where Las Vegas gets its whomping (as seen in the trailers shown everywhere) because the American kept a monster egg somewhere they should:  namely the nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain.  That’s a doubleplusungood idea, folks, but the part that made me go, “Why did you do that?” is showing the monster walking towards Vegas, presumably to try the lobster and champagne Sunday brunch at Caesars Palace, from the point of view of the section of Yucca Mountain it just busted out from.

Ugh–why did you just spoil my monster madness with something so wrong?

Most people will see this and go, “Nuke crap is being stored that close to Vegas?  Horrors of horrors!  What the hell is wrong with those people?”  That’s because they don’t know where Yucca Mountain is.  I do.  Why?  Because I’m strange.  And I love exploring by map.

So allow me to explain:

This is the Yucca Mountain Repository.  It’s not hidden from sight–hell, little is these days.

"You're not catching me on my best day."

“You’re not catching me on my best day.”

Pretty desolate place, right?  That tends to happen in the desert.

According to the movie Vegas has to be right over the next panel, right?  I mean, you can see the monster walking there . . .

Hope the monster brought water; wouldn't want it to get dehydrated in the desert.

Hope the monster brought water; wouldn’t want it to get dehydrated in the desert.

In case you’re wondering. the distance between those points is 86 miles, or 140 kilometers, with the point in Vegas sitting in the middle of the street between Caesars and Bellagio, which we see getting smacked around in the movie.  Those must be good cameras to be able to see that far, you know what I mean?

And to pick a few more nits, the monster is suppose to be going to San Francisco–presumably with flowers in its hair–and if that’s the case, you’re going the wrong way!  You’re not going to find anything interesting in Las Vegas save for a lot of people crying over lost mortgage money when they doubled down on 18, so why visit?  You know what would have been an even better place to visit?  Here:

I'll bet property values here are low.

I’ll bet property values here are low.

That’s the Nevada Test Range, aka Where We Used to Make Atom Bombs go Boom.  Each one of those craters is the aftermath of a nuclear detonation, particularly the one top and center:  that’s Sedan Crater in Area 10 of the Nevada Test Range, produced by the Sedan Nuclear Test on 6 July, 1962.  The crater is big enough to be seen from the ISS with the unaided eyes, which is another way of saying it’s big.  It’s 30 miles northeast of Yucca, and monsters who just busted out from an underground storage area would probably enjoy hanging there for a bit.

But wait!  Why stop there?  Because if you go just a little further to the east you hit this place:

Who said the desert was empty?  There's all sorts of stuff here!

Who said the desert was empty? There’s all sorts of stuff out there!

There’s Sedan Crater in the lower left corner, but what’s this airport in the upper right corner?  That, my friends, is officially known as the Groom Lake Test Facility (Groom Lake is that extremely shinny salt flat to the north of the runway), but we all know and love this joint as Area 51.  Only another 13 miles, or 21 kilometers, hike from the crater, and the monster could of hung out with some alien buds from Independence Day!  What a missed opportunity for a great crossover.

What does this all mean?  Nothing, really.  I get to rant for the morning, and you get a bit of a geography lesson brought about because Gareth Edwards wanted to set up a scene of Monster Apocalypse in Sin City.  Don’t make it wrong or bad, but Gareth, please:  next time call me and I’ll do your research for ya.  And I’m cheep, too.  Just call, bud.

But what about me, Cassie?  Do you still love me?

But what about me, Cassie? Do you still love me?

I still love you, Big G.  You’ll always be King of the Monsters to me.

See you at the squeal.