Wednesday, September 26, 2012

End of a Career

The delivery of Endeavor to California marks the end of a career. Not Endeavor's, but NASA's Shuttle Carrier Aircraft 905. In just a few weeks, she will mark the 42nd anniversary of her first flight, by which time she may have made her final flight.

The Boeing 747 (model 747-123) was constructed at Boeing's Everett, Washington plant. All their planes carry a construction number an line number (often written as 20107/86 for this plane). She was built for American Airlines and carried the registration number N9668. Her career with American Airlines was brief, less than four years, before she was sold to NASA. From 1974 to 1977 she was modified to carry the space shuttles. Inside, she was gutted down to her framework, except in the bow where she still has her original spiral staircase and the forward first class seating.

In 1977 she got to work. Her career with NASA started with Enterprise. The flights included five very important drop tests. To do this, 905 (as I'll call her from here out) dropped out from below the shuttle and then the shuttle flew (if you can call it that) to the landing strip at Edwards Air Force Base. The first drop test was with the engine covering, but the important tests were the ones with the [fake] engines exposed, just as her sisters would do when landing after their missions.

This was the beginning of a close associate between 905 and Enterprise. Before Columbia had ever rolled out, Enterprise had been hauled around and been processed just like it was a flight worthy orbiter. 905 delivered both Columbia and Challenger to Florida and retrieved the various orbiters from the landing strips they used besides at KSC.

With a fleet of 4 operational orbiters, NASA purchases a second 747 (a 747-200 SP) registered as N911NA, or just 911, to do half the work. 911 flew for the last time earlier in 2012. It has fallen to 905 to deliver Discovery, Enterprise, and now Endeavor to their new homes. That job is now done and it is time for her to retire. She first flew on October 15, 1970 and is about to make her last flight almost exactly 42 years later.

Goodbye 905. Thanks for your service. You will be missed as will your 6 most notable passengers.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Election Season or Writing Season?

With the Presidential, Senatorial, and House elections ramping up for November Election Day, a question tugs on my mind. Outside of the results, do we writers even care?

My answer is no. I know who I am voting for and I'm slated to get a mail-in ballot. I'm far more concerned with what I am going to write in November (as in National Novel Writing Month).  I've been hard at work (except for August) slaving away on Volume 4 of my Zaran Journals series. Volume 5 is my target for November and I have precious little prepared. To be fair, by the time you get to a fifth volume, there isn't much need for world building or character creation, that part is done and ready at the drop of a hat (or space suit helmet). No, it is the actual story that I will torture my characters with. As the days tick by, it is that stress that worries me, not who my choices are in any given race for office.

I guess it is one of the hazards of being a writer. I have a deadline. I have to know what my story is and where it starts by the end of All Hallows Eve so I can start my NNWM project on All Saints Day. I have to plan out when I can write, how much, and what days. I have less than the whole month to produce my goal, a complete novel written in a 30 day period (well, just the rough draft). If you have picked up either Well of Dreams or Pirates of I'ab, you have in your hand the length of work I intend to write in November. Just a hair over 110k words in 11 chapters. I have to have a story to fill that and be interesting, exciting, and that develops my characters in the direction I want them to go. The normal goal is about half that.

I've done it before, I can do it this year, or so I'm telling myself. Fortunately, if I don't finish by December 1st, I have a secondary deadline, December 23rd. I don't want to make use of that because I want to write a short story or two for more immediate publication in December.

So, while I am concerned with who will win in November on Election day, here in Colorado the polls are already indicating who this state will pick for President and neither of our Senators is up for re-election so the results of election night are out of my hands. I'll get my ballot filled out and sent in as soon as I get it and join the masses obsessing over the results that first Tuesday, but aside from that, I will be way too focused on Writing to give it much attention. November belongs to us writers, so for me, it is writing season, not election season.

Sites Now Linked

While I wasn't able to get everything spaced perfectly, my site and my new blog are linked. If you have come here looking for the older posts, click on Archived Posts on the left. Moving forward, this is where you will find all new posts. Enjoy.


Moving In

After my experience this summer participating in the Master Koda blog tour, I think it is time to migrate from the ad hoc blog I've had on my Google Sites page and make a real blog here on Blogger. My challenge was to get the same look. I think I may have that, but there is still some tweaking to do before I truly move in. But the move is in progress. If you find this page before I finish the process, please go to for the latest updates.