Communion Of Dreams


Spirit of 1776

Remember this little fellow?

Kitten

That was three weeks ago. Well, here he was about an hour ago, watching me from a rag bag under my workbench in the bindery:

20150529_145513

Kinda hard to tell from those pics, but he’s grown and is starting to take on more “cat” characteristics, though he is still *very* much a kitten. And my shins have the scratches to prove it.

 

* * *

Been busy: Ammo test results in the Boberg XR45-S

Prep & clean-up took most of a full week. But good to get that test sequence done.

 

* * *

“Spirit of 1776”? It’s a little early to be invoking Independence Day stuff, isn’t it?

Yeah, I know. There’s more than a month before we get to that.

But that’s the number of this blog post, in the running tally which WordPress keeps. Who woulda thunk it?

 

Jim Downey

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Bits & pieces.

A number of unrelated items which I thought I’d share …

* * *

Astronomers Find Ancient Earth-Sized Planets in Our Galactic Backyard

Astronomers have announced what may be the most interesting exoplanet discovery yet made: five planets, all smaller than Earth, orbiting a very ancient star. And I do mean ancient: Its age is estimated to be more than 11 billion years old, far older than the Sun. These are old, old planets!

* * *

Perhaps you see the problem. If planets like Earth formed 11 billion years ago, and happened to form at the right distance for more clement conditions on the surface, life could have arisen long enough ago and started building spaceships long before the Earth even formed! They’d have planted their flags on every Earth-sized habitable planet in the Milky Way by now.

Where are they?

Oh! Oh! I know! Pick me!!

* * *

Thanks to all who helped spread the word about the 3rd anniversary promotion! It was a modest success, with a little shy of 200 books downloaded world-wide, including through the following Amazon portals:

  • Australia
  • Canada
  • France
  • Germany
  • India
  • Japan
  • Netherlands (for the first time!)
  • UK
  • US

* * *

Via BoingBoing, turn your iPhone into a thermal imaging camera in just seconds:

Yeah, I mentioned using this kind of imaging tech in the current novel some time back.

* * *

Speaking of tech predictions, this is the first step in the sort of thing I envisioned for the cyberware of Communion of Dreams:

Flexible spinal cord implants will let paralyzed people walk

* * *

I mentioned earlier that evidently the Wikipedia elves are trying to decide whether to nuke my entry there. It seems that they’re still debating it. As I noted on the BBTI Facebook page a few days ago, in response to comment by a friend that it seems weird that BBTI is little more than a footnote in that entry:

It’s a fair point. I certainly am known much better around the world for being the driving force behind BBTI than I am for a fun little art stunt which was intended to happen and then fade from memory. I know that BBTI has had a much bigger and more lasting impact in the real world.

So, whether or not an entry about me should exist at all, if one does exist, shouldn’t it be more about my part in BBTI rather than as a “internet performance artist”? Hell, even my work as a book & document conservator has had a much larger real impact than ‘Paint the Moon’ did.

Just a thought, if anyone wants to do some editing …

* * *

This doesn’t have anything to do with any of the books or anything I’ve predicted (that I can remember), but it is a pretty cool bit of astronomy:

Gigantic ring system around J1407b much larger, heavier than Saturn’s

Astronomers at the Leiden Observatory, The Netherlands, and the University of Rochester, USA, have discovered that the ring system that they see eclipse the very young Sun-like star J1407 is of enormous proportions, much larger and heavier than the ring system of Saturn. The ring system – the first of its kind to be found outside our solar system – was discovered in 2012 by a team led by Rochester’s Eric Mamajek.

 

* * *
And here’s a useful video for anyone out there who may need to remove some rust from old equipment:

I knew that this could be done with electrolysis, but I didn’t realize that it was actually quite so simple. I am definitely going to set up to do this on a number of old tools and suchlike.

* * *

A nice bit of space exploration history:

The Challenge of the Planets, Part Three: Gravity

 

* * *

And I think I will leave it at that for now.

 

Jim Downey



Stereotomy*

For those who don’t know, one of my other interests is handgun ballistics research. Specifically, in regards to how barrel length effects bullet velocity for different cartridges and loadings. Even if you don’t like guns, the physics behind ballistic performance can be very interesting.

And here’s a wonderfully graphic image showing those physical forces:

Ruger Alaskan .44 Magnum

Text from the source to go with this image (site is Finnish, and English is not the author’s first language):

Let’s talk a bit about .44 Magnum cartridge. Despite of being very close to diameter of .45ACP the .44Mag is totally different beast. Average .45ACP round generates ~650J of hit energy while .44Mag makes easily 1600J and can be pushed much more beyond that. This specific gun however cannot utilize all potential of .44 Magnum cartridge because of very short barrel. It simply cannot burn all powder. As you can see there is huge cone shaped spray of unburnt stuff flying in the air. With longer barrel show would be different.

Ok, you may have noticed the flames. They are something we haven’t seen before. Especially when you look picture below and huge left side flame in it. Interesting thing is that major amount of the flame is escaping between cylinder and barrel. That short barrel seems to puff bullet our so fast that powder mass just flies out unignited.

The site is filled with a bunch of great high-speed camera images of guns being fired. And it also has something else which is new to me: ‘natural stereoscopic’ images of guns being fired. Like this one:

Now, what do I mean ‘natural stereoscopic’ images? Well, this is pretty cool itself. Here’s a reference link & explanation from the Kuulapaa site:

Help: How to Free-View the Stereo Pairs

Each stereo view consists of two images, one for each eye. Free viewing is the technique that will allow you to direct each of these images separately and simultaneously into each eye. Once that happens, you are said to have “fused” the pair of images into a stereo view.

At the bottom of this page a stereo pair of images is loading with which you can practice. All the stereo pairs shown on this site are in the “cross-eyed” format (my apologies to all the “wall-eyed” people). That means that the first (leftmost) image is for your right eye and the right image is for your left eye.

There are then a series of practice image to show what he means and give you a chance to develop this viewing skill. It works fairly well for me, but does tire my eye muscles fairly quickly. Give it a try and see how you do.

Jim Downey

*Couldn’t resist. Lyrics here.

Cross posted to the BBTI blog.



Stuck inside of Columbia with the promotional blues again.*

Well, well, well. Some things to share.

First of all, thought I’d go ahead and post here the promotional video we made for the Kickstarter project. For those who might be curious about what I look/sound like, and who have yet to be tempted to go to the Kickstarter page:

A brief word about the Kickstarter’s progress so far, one week since launch: things are going well. We’re over $2,000 on pledges so far, from 20 backers. People have been contributing at levels from $5 to $500 — much appreciated! I’m a bit surprised that no one has just contributed at the $1.00 level so far, since that’s usually something which gets attention on Kickstarter projects where people just want to say “thanks”  for some previous efforts or lend a bit of encouragement for a favorite author or artist. But that’s OK, if people want to pledge at higher levels, I’m not going to complain.

Somewhat related to this, there’s a special drawing which may be of interest to those who are ‘into’ firearms — all the details are over on my BBTI blog.

I also want to give a head-up: Next Sunday (Sept 30) will be another promotional day for Communion of Dreams, when anyone will be able to download the Kindle edition of that book for free. You don’t even need a Kindle – they have emulators for just about every mobile device, reader, or computer system. Tell your friends! Spread the word!

Jim Downey

*With apologies to Mr. Zimmerman.



When I’m Fifty-Four.*

My wife answered the phone. I could tell just from her facial expression that it was bad news.

“Oh, no!” she said. “What happened?”

 

* * * * * * * *

As part of putting together the Kickstarter project for St. Cybi’s Well, I need to explain *why* I want people to hand over their hard-earned money. I mean, I don’t need to buy materials or hire someone to do research for me. I don’t need operating capital for renting a studio, there’s no up-front printing costs to speak of. Why not just write St. Cybi’s Well on my own time, at my own pace, the way I wrote Communion of Dreams and co-authored Her Final Year?

Writing such an explanation — writing anything, really — is the perfect way for me to clarify my thoughts, to push past vague thinking and distill my understanding. You’ll see the finished product in a few days, but this passage from a blog post a month ago is a pretty good insight:

I recently turned 54. And I have accomplished a number of things of which I am justly proud. I have friends and family I love. I have a wonderful wife. I have written books and articles which have brought joy, knowledge, and solace to others. I have helped to preserve history in the form of books & documents. I have created art, sold art, made my little corner of the world a slightly better place. I’ve even helped expand the pool of ballistics knowledge a bit. Frankly, I’ve lived longer and accomplished more than I ever really expected to.

But I have more yet to do. Time to get on with it.

 

* * * * * * *

My wife answered the phone. I could tell just from her facial expression that it was bad news.

“Oh, no!” she said. “What happened?”

She listened for a moment, then got up to go into her office. I heard her talking some more. When she came back I looked at her quizzically.

“Tanna had some kind of accident. John was calling to see if I had any ’emergency contact’ info from the Directory he could pass along to the hospital.”

A couple years ago, my wife and I put together this Directory for our neighborhood association. We’d included this option for people to list if they wanted. Tanna was one of our nearby neighbors, a nice semi-retired woman who we see almost daily on our walks.

I looked at her. “Anything?”

“Yeah, I told him what we had.”

“So, what happened?”

“She evidently had a stroke while out walking her dog. Just collapsed. John and a couple of other neighbors saw her go down, went to check on her, called an ambulance.”

“Wow.”

“Yeah.” My wife looked at me. “She’s only a couple years older than you are.”

 

Jim Downey

*Yes, of course.

 



Blimey.
June 26, 2012, 3:47 pm
Filed under: Ballistics, Guns, Humor, RKBA, Society | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Cross posted from the BBTI blog, just to give you an idea of what my day has been like.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Blimey. Just got the following email:

Someone directed me to this page from your site: http://www.ballisticsbytheinch.com/357mag.html

Now, I appreciate what you are doing, but how you are presenting it is not very helpful.

What a useless page that is. Hey, look, columns of unlabeled numbers! How exciting!

Is that velocity? Muzzle Energy? Momentum? Power factor? Drop over distance? What are the units?

It’s labeled at the top as “.357 Mag Results”. Why not “.357 Mag Muzzle Energy in ft-lbs”?

My response? This: “Sorry to disappoint you. We’ll be happy to completely refund your money.”

The guy wrote back, protesting that he meant it as “constructive criticism.” And then went on to protest that he *still* didn’t know what the data represented (in spite of the fact that it is listed on the Y-axis of every ammo graph and indicated elsewhere on the site).

Sigh. I wrote back the following:

From the homepage of the site, and also referred to in multiple locations elsewhere on the site: “Since we first launched BBTI three years ago, it has become a primary reference tool for firearms enthusiasts of all stripes and from around the globe. Our initial research data covered the relationship between barrel length and velocity for some 13 common handgun calibers/cartridges.”

But you’re absolutely correct, we didn’t spell out that the numbers were velocity in feet-per-second (the standard velocity measurement in the US). We’ll correct that to make it more explicit. The funny thing is that you are the very first person in 3.5 years to not understand that this was what was indicated. Probably because you came at it from someone else’s link direct to that one results page. At least that’s the most charitable conclusion I can come to.

And that, dear friends is why now each caliber/cartridge page now says .22 Results in fps. (or whatever the caliber/cartridge is). Never let it be said that we won’t go the e x t r a inch for the dimwitted and deliberately dense.

People really will always find something to bitch about, won’t they? Even if it is free & unencumbered research data that they can’t get elsewhere.

Blimey.

Jim Downey



Am I a prima donna?

There’s a reason I’m self-employed.

It’s because while I can work fine with others, by and large I prefer to do things my own way, on my own schedule. This comes with trade-offs, of course, and it doesn’t mean that I can completely eliminate the need to conform to societal or even corporate rules. But I can minimize that crap and get on with my life.

One of the things I’ve enjoyed doing for the last year or so has been writing for Guns.com. For the most part I’ve just picked a topic, ran the idea past my editors, and then produced a piece of writing within the appropriate word-count range. Usually the changes they made to my writing were minimal, and everyone was happy. It didn’t generate a lot of money (free-lance writing in this day and age doesn’t), but during some of the lean times it was money which came in very handy.

Well, Guns.com has seen a remarkable growth in the time I’ve been writing for them (I got started with them very early on), and they’re now one of the biggest firearms-related sites out there. They’ve been very aggressive in gathering together a lot of talented people, and seeing that they have kept their content fresh & interesting. It’s been a lot of fun for me to be a part of that. It’s also taught me a lot (doing the necessary research to write a review or article is always a good education), and it has allowed me to keep my writing skills sharp.

Well, the other day I mentioned that I was making some changes in my usual routine, because of limitations of time and energy. And I’m giving serious consideration to making another such change – curtailing or even stopping altogether how much writing I do for Guns.com.

Now, partly this is just due to the natural pacing of things. I had set out to do reviews of most of the firearms we’ve tested for BBTI, and I have now submitted reviews for all those which Guns.com had not previously covered – there still some 30 or 40 such reviews pending publication (they like to spread them out). I also did a bunch of other reviews of guns which I had a chance to try recently which are a little more unusual than what most people ever try, and that was fun.

But there’s another factor here. With the substantial growth of the site, as well as the expansion of the number of contributing writers, Guns.com had to come up with some formal style guides for people to use. This is a common thing for any large site, and it is a mark of their professionalism that they put together a very good style manual more than 30 pages in length, complete with links of a lot of example articles. I was flattered to see that quite a few of those articles were ones I had written.

I find, however, that it presents a certain quandary for me: having to write to certain style rules.

That’s not my writing . . . style. I like to play around. Innovate. Feel my way through an idea, a topic, a story. If you’ve read my novel, or even this blog, you’ll have a pretty good sense of what I mean. While I am perfectly capable of writing within conventional rules, I’m much more interested in playing with the expectations of the reader a bit, challenging them by subverting those rules now and then.

In short, I don’t want the rules to apply to me.

In other words, I’m a prima donna.

But maybe that’s not a bad thing.

Anyway, we’ll see what happens. I like the guys at Guns.com, and I respect what they have accomplished. But I’m not interested in doing cookie-cutter writing – leastwise, not as a regular course of affairs. And besides, if I take the hour or two I spend on each article/review I write for them, and put it towards another novel, well I think that might be a better use of my time & energy. Particularly so, given the response so far to Communion of Dreams.

Speaking of which, remember that the Kindle edition is free today!

Jim Downey