Monday, November 10, 2008

I'm Still Here

I managed to burn myself out this summer, I'm afraid, writing so hard. Since then, a number of things have distracted me from focusing as much attention on reading and writing as I like to -- the election, for instance.

Also, I got brought down by the death of DFW, a unique writer, probably a great one, to be remembered for many years to come. I'm not usually affected much by tragedies not touching me personally, but this one really got to me. I won't stop to analyze why. It's pretty obvious when you think about it. But the intensity of my own feelings still caught me by surprise. Such a damn shame.

Other distractions -- busy, busy at work. Busy, busy at home. Wave after wave of pre-school crud. And good stuff: Thing One and I have been checking out model rocketry and model aircraft clubs, special interests of his. And this last weekend, he and I began building a rocket we hope to fly with these guys next weekend.

And I've still managed to get some reading done:

  • Elizabeth Moon's The Speed of Dark
  • Frank Portman's King Dork
  • James Lee Burke's The Neon Rain
  • Gregory Mcdonald's Fletch's Fortune
  • The Paris Review Interviews, vol II
  • Dashiell Hammett's Red Harvest
  • Dashiell Hammett's The Dain Curse
  • Theodore Sturgeon's More Than Human


  1. Hey Lee -- good to hear from ya again! I hear you about the burnout. I'm trying to get back into writing too, and it's been hard, with the day job and the kids and the fam and the house... etc.

    I remember my jaw dropping open when I heard of DFW's suicide. Hadn't read any of his books, but yeah, it hit home. I feel for his family.

    Oh, and rockets! Awesome!

  2. Lee,

    I check by now and again...

    Hope things are well with your family and friends..

    It is interesting to think about the circle of life... it seems not all that long ago that you and I were in scouts and building model rockets.

    Glad to hear that you are starting them off early on this.


  3. Well, our outing with the rocket was a big success. We flew it twice. First time was perfect, though I had to tramp around for almost half an hour, with Thing One on my shoulders, in shoulder-high brambles to find the rocket. It was only an A8-3 motor, but the Estes Alpha really drifts on a parachute. Second launch, it blew a shroud line, and the parachute only partially deployed. It came down pretty fast, so no drift, but it landed on a gravel road and got scuffed up a bit. Oh, well. We have big plans for next months launch.

    Mark, you remember that science fair project? You made, basically, an electronic missile launcher. It was supposed to be operated over the RS-232 port by the Amiga, but we never got them to talk to each other. I did have a computer program I wrote that told us the best direction and angle for the launch rod given wind speed and direction. And I think I had another program that helped design rockets and made predictions about performance. Something like that.

  4. Lee,

    Yes, I recall that well...

    Your program - RocketCalc, did all kinds of center of gravity, center of pressure calulations and it all worked quite well. Your control program would have worked too...

    My end of things = fail

    I had big ambitions, but alas, many things fell short of my expectations.

    I'm still reaching for the stars as it were, and continued to be humbled at regular intervals, but now try to see them less as fails, and more as ways of identifying ways things don't work in the quest to find ways in which they will. My adaptation of Edison?

    Do you remember that boy scout rocket launch at Bobby Stough's farm? One of the rockets got stuck up in a tree and Bobby and Marcus, and Robert Burke(?) got the idea to try to shoot it down with a .22?

    An A8-3? Remember our jokes about the F100-0?

    I'm having a pretty good time in life now days, but I still enjoy our middle school and most of our high school days.



  5. Marcus had a lot of good ideas -- like the time he dropped a match in an empty gasoline can. Managed to burn himself pretty good there.

    Funny thing is, they now make F engines. Total impulse doubles with each letter class, so those would be 4 times the power (speaking loosely) of a D engine. There are commercially available motors all the way up to O now, though you need certification to purchase anything above a G. A G motor (the largest we've seen) is *loud*. Larger motors use composite fuel, like in the shuttle's solid rocket boosters, and the motors are usually reloadable, to cut down on cost.

    They also make "micro max" motors, which would be the equivalent of 1/8A1-1. People sometimes use Bic pens for the body tubes of micro max rockets! Teensy things. Very cool.

    Thing One, you may be amused to hear, has plans to cluster 5 G motors on a toy Jeep.

  6. This is very good that you shared your thoughts here. I was so interested what you were doing. I am waiting for more posts and thank you for this one.