Author Archives: Tao23
This is, uh, a thing. A thing I wrote. A thing that’s not really a story, thought there’s plenty of story suggested before it and around it and after it. And something, after all, happens in it. So it’s story-ish.
The direct pictures are the product of me putting my cellphone camera in manual settings mode & fiddling around until something weird happened. Not sure why the secondary crescent sun image appeared, but I’m super happy it did.
We’re in Norfolk, VA so we didn’t see totality. But the sun got down to a skinny crescent and the kids got their minds blown by science and nature. And so did I!
…it won’t be next to a tree. And it’ll be in a 30 gallon pot, not a 3 gallon pot.
I planted the thing on a whim because it sprouted in the vegetable basket after I bought it at the store & forgot to eat it for a week or so. When it reached for the tree I decided to look up its growing habits online.
It will probably grow few or no chayote in this little pot. We probably won’t find out until Septemberish when/if it flowers.
That’s how garden adventures go.
I cut the bread an inch and a half thick and *soaked* it in the egg & milk & probably more vanilla extract than *you* would add & dark brown sugar & cardamom & a teeny pinch of salt mix so it’ll be nice and custardy and delicious all the way through.
Use medium heat if you do it this way. It takes time to cook the middle.
…a goodly number of us dreamers are going to ruefully reflect that it was entirely possible for humanity to establish off-planet settlements following the Apollo program. Settlements that likely could have been self-sustaining by now because in the alternate reality where humankind put as much effort and resources and brains as possible behind establishing populations outside this fragile egg basket we call Earth, the early ones could have been in orbit and on the moon in the 1980s.
There could have been nearly 40 years to chase the kinks out of the recycling loops and life support and hydroponics. To build solar power plants all over the darn place up there and drag a water-ice comet into Earth orbit if we couldn’t find enough to fling up to orbital colonies from Luna with mass drivers.
40 years to send more and more people up and for people to start being born up there.
40 years to establish a reservoir of human beings and our technological knowledge out of range of Kim Jong-Un and Kim Jong-Trump (brothers of another ego-rage-spiritual mother) and their shoe-on-podium nuclear chest-beating.
So, yesterday on Twitter I got to thinking about laser-launched lightsail nanoprobes:
Currently, the big idea is to launch teeny-tiny lightsail probes at neighboring stars to get a look around — current thought is that technology as it is now could handle boosting some 1 gram probes attached to 20 meter lightsails up to 20% of lightspeed.
(I’ve cued the video to a bit about how teeny the working part of the probe would be — if you’re so inclined the whole video is a long, academic discussion of the whole idea that’s pretty decent if that’s your cup of tea.)
With only a few — but even better with a huge cloud, as I briefly fantasize about elsewhere — we could get a fine look at a stellar neighbor and see if there are any planets there that would be practical targets for a generation ship to settle. Think big, I say. Best to get humanity out of this fragile little egg basket we call Earth. Not just into the rest of the Solar System, but into others if we can manage it.
But nanoprobes, good for peeking at the neighbors, could be great for raw astronomy and investigation of the nature of the universe.
The Quanta link in my lead tweet above is about theories regarding the behavior of dark matter. Imagine how useful for that and other questions we itty-bitty humans have about our gigantic universe it would be to launch a gigantic lens of nanoprobes sailing off in a couple of different directions. To fire them out of the plane of the ecliptic and out of the cloud of particles and matter the Sun drags with it through space. To shoot them toward things we want to observe at 20% of lightspeed and compare the observations with what we see when that light and radiation reaches Earth. To fire them off the other way and let them crawl back in time (effectively) to compare to past observations.
To build expanding lenses light-minutes across in interstellar space, peering deeper and more clearly into the universe than humans have ever managed before.
Take some time to really think about it. It’s a breathtaking opportunity for pure science. And pure science, practical-minded friends, pays off in the long run.
Just for the heck of it, here are some pics from my favorite fishing hole. Fishing is relaxing and meditative for me, so I do quite a bit of it because STRESS BILLS WORRY CAR REPAIRS LIFE STUFF WHEN WILL I SELL MORE BOOKS AM I WRITING ENOUGH DOES THE STORY I’M WORKING ON NOW SUCK EEEEEK after writing that I want to go fishing right now.
But seriously, it’s a beautiful little spot. I get lots of little fishing companions even when I don’t bring along my 6 year old son (I’ve told the 4 year old that he may come along when he’s 5 because he’s a tad wild and unfocused still and I don’t want him flailing around with a hook).
Not pictured: there are always dragonflies in warm weather. And mosquitoes, but I bring repellent for them. Usually herons and egrets, sometimes a hawk or a duck or a water snake of mystery variety because I give them plenty of space.
Above, mantises and lizard. And lots of duckweed this year, unlike last year. I suspect the mild winter and very hot summer have something to do with it, and maybe a lot of watering and lawn fertilizing going on at the posh homes on one side of the lake.
This, by the way, is the location and activity that inspired the story Basshole, which appears in my Maladapt mini-collection. In that one, a transhuman living in a robotic body does a lot of fishing for 200 years because he’s all messed up about his ex-wife, leaving his fleshly body behind, and just what it is you do with a life anyway. There’s a lot of inner turmoil for him to sort through, but wouldn’t you be thrown off by your 200-years-ago wife showing up in her old human body, out of the blue? I think I would.
In any event, hope you enjoyed the view. I do.
So, whole pork loin, if you can catch a decent price or sale, weighs in at less than a buck and a half per pound. Good price for good lean meat. Mine, above, is a little shorter than when I bought it because I cut about a pound off the end to make delicious schnitzel.
But that’s another story.
My whole grilled pork loin recipe started as a quest to make a cheap home alternative to smoked pork chops, which are strictly a luxury at 7 bucks a pound.
The loin isn’t exactly the same, but it is as delicious and similar in flavor.
In fact, I think it’s better. And as a brined, smoked, cooked meat it lasts a long time in the fridge, giving you time to eat every last morsel.
I plop the whole thing in a big pot and toss in a cup of salt. Maybe a cup and a half, since I tend to freehand it. Then about a dozen bay leaves (dirt cheap at Hispanic or Caribbean grocery stores), maybe a tablespoon of whole allspice, a quarter cup or so of whole coriander (dirt cheap at Indian grocery stores), a sprinkle of whole cloves (ten-ish), and a cup and a half of unfiltered apple cider vinegar.
Sometimes I add a couple of packets of culantro y achiote sazon (sorry about no accent on the o – posting from mobile with limited keyboard) for variety.
Add water to just cover the loin.
Then I let that sucker marinate for 24 hours.
Grill slowly – an actual smoker is best but you can fake it by heaping all the coals to one side and keeping the meat on the other unless your grill is very small. You want to take at least 2 hours to cook the thing. The one pictured took 4.
It’s great smoked with hickory chips but cherrywood is even better.
Pull it at around 165°F. Give it at least 15 minutes to rest.
It’s juicy and delicious cut into chops for dinner. Cold and sliced thin it makes a hell of a sandwich. Sliced thick and seared quickly it reheats as chops wonderfully and still moist.
Get up in the middle of the night and hack off a chunk to gnaw on – it’s tasty that way too.
Hope you enjoyed the food interlude. I did. And I will for breakfast in the morning, too.