March 28, 2017

Re-entry: Coming Home

Catching the first sunrise of 2017.

We’re back!

The last week of 2016 saw us successfully make the jump back across the big pond that is the Atlantic Ocean back to the United States. It also saw us contract a flu that was sweeping the Spanish expat community of Jimena de la Frontera just days before departure, a flu which, despite our best efforts, progressed to mild pneumonia upon arrival back. Hey, we fully planned to get our yearly flu shot on return, honest. Anyways, we’re now (finally!) regaining strength, and thought we’d reflect on the trip last year and our return while impressions are still fresh in our mind’s eye.

It’s always a bit surreal, coming back to the U.S. Here, gas is cheap, and goods are plentiful. It’s hard not to grab random people and try to explain to them just how good they have it, and just what real poverty looks like. I know that it’s all relative to what people have experienced in their own lives, but travel opens you up to just how huge the disparity exists between the haves and have-nots is worldwide. And yet, we experienced such generosity from those who had the least to give us. Back in the States, it seems like we’re once again stuck in our own little bubble, with an indifference to others.

But its not all bad. Here, the WiFi screams along as fast as my fingers and brain can move, and I’m not clinching my teeth with every mouse click. In the States, we can really get business done. Whereas abroad, finding batteries or a place to get a haircut feels like a daily victory, here everything is a Walmart stop or an Amazon click away.

We also realize what a precious and expensive commodity personal space is on return to the U.S. Here, secondary roads are wider than main highways abroad, and garages are bigger than many European apartments.

Still, we miss the quiet solitude of writing amid the Andalusian foothills with the goats and cows, and the pleasant winding drive through the mountains home vs the endless redlight stop-start traffic of Florida’s US 19.

We did prove to ourselves that we can travel and work online indefinitely from the road in 2016, and keep the cash outflow equal to the very modest inflow our current lifestyle affords.

Of course, the return to the new ‘Occupied America‘ was a bitter sweet one, though the current political polarization isn’t as oblivious in day to day life even here in purple state Florida as our online life would suggest. We just do our best to break that bubble, and reach out to friends of all stripes. And speaking of which, PBS Newshour has an excellent quiz (and we almost NEVER take online quizzes) to help you see if you’re doing the same.

Well, that’s it for now. Time to rest up get healthy, and be ready to outrun the government’s fleet of flying killer robots if needed. Hey there’s and eclipse in 2017, so its already a good year.

Oh, and speaking of the eclipse, I wrote a book whilst traveling as well. be sure to check out our 101 Astronomical events to watch out for in 2017. Here’s to another exciting year!

I’m Writing a Book – ‘I’m Writing a Book?’

My view for the next few months…

There. I said it.

One sure way to carry through with an intended goal,  is to announce it to the world. Tell no one, and you always have a viable way out. In a way, keeping something under wraps can doom a project to failure. Hey, I finally quit smoking this way, way back in 1995. tell the world, and they’ll immediately know if you didn’t carry through.

Haven’t we written several science fiction books already? Yup… but the forthcoming project is something much larger in scope: our very first adventure into non-fiction.

Long time readers might recall our yearly roundup of astronomical events to watch out for in the coming year. This started way back when in 2009 on this blog, and migrated over to Universe Today in 2014.

It has grown in size and scope, and now, we’re taking it to the next logical step. We’re expanding this into The Top 101 Astronomical Events for 2017. Each event will get a one to two page entry, and the guide will be interspersed with factoids, tidbits, and tales of astronomical lore. This will be released first as an e-guide from Universe Today, and then as a download available from Amazon.

This, of course, is an experiment. If the demand reaches a certain threshold, this may become a yearly thing. I actually started doing this sort of list for myself, as a sort of outline on upcoming astronomy events to write about in the coming year. We also noticed that, while there are some amazing guides to, and almanacs for the coming year out there, none of them have really made the transition to digital. All this info is indeed out there on ye ole web, it’s just in disparate places. Most online guides we’ve come across on blogs and websites tend to treat astronomy in the coming year very superficially, in a standard ‘Top 10′ listicle format.

We’re looking to tie all of the ‘best of the best’ in one deep-diving handbook. Expect astronomical weirdness, and facts galore. What we don’t want to write is a simple basic learners book, nor will this be a laundry list of Moon phases in a standard almanac style. We’re aiming to make this something special, something in between. We’re incorporating tips, comments and suggestions from previous years, and we have some ideas for expansion (especially in the graphics department) if there proves to be a demand for this guide.

In previous years, we’ve even manged to include the list in Ical/Google Calendar format, and we’re hoping to do so again this year. Hopefully, this will be a resource you can download to your Ipad, smartphone, or viewing device of choice for use in the field.

It’ll be an eye-crosser to construct, for sure, but we hope to chronicle the creation process here over the next few months. And hey… we’re putting this all together whilst on the road traveling, using our 13.5” screen laptop.

Onward towards 2017, and another great year in astronomy.