A trio of haiku about my favorite planet

Yes, I live on earth, but I have long been fascinated with Pluto. It’s in frigid darkness, far from the sun in the solar system’s outer reaches. Here’s a set of three haiku I wrote recently about Pluto. (The bold line is the first line of each haiku)…

Small, white moving blip

Against endless field of stars

Found 1930.

Then, blip was bigger

1978 bump

Was found on the blip.

No longer “planet”

We shall learn of its secrets

Three summers from now.

pluto latest

What astronomers believe Pluto looks like, from three looks at its surface…

Richard Zowie is a writer who thinks the decision to demote Pluto to planetoid was subjective and stupid. Post comments here or e-mail Richard at richardzowie@gmail.com.

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Richard’s poetry for March 9, 2011

2-22-2011 — The World Bores Me

The world bores me.

People bore me.

Why do they expect me

To do

Think

Dress

Act

As they do?

Sorry, but I hate most country music.

Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit issue?

I prefer an in-the-flesh woman

Who prefers to show me

Her beauty

In private.

Redneck humor?

I’d rather tolerate

A gargantuan migraine.

Fashion?

<Sigh>

Who made these rules?

Designers who think

Starvation

Is sexy

Especially bore me.

If the world and its people

Don’t understand me,

Maybe with enough

Education

Tolerance and

Sophistication

They will.

2-24-2011 — The Black Bird

The black bird

On the black light pole

Makes me think

Spring will soon dawn

And

Winter will exit, stage left.

2-24-2011 — The Russian Rust Haiku

Я, в Техасе,

Мне очень жарко, но

Я рад быть дома.

Translation:

(When) I’m in Texas,

I am very hot, but

I am glad to be home.

2-24-2011 — Ode of Odor

“Ode to the toilet bowl…

“Stinks real bad!”

Once said the unlearned

But

Comical poet.

Even now,

Nineteen years later,

I find this “ode”

Absolutely hilarious!!!

3-8-11 — Seeing the Sun

The sun

On earth

Is an angry,

Yellowish-white ball

Pink at sunrise

Orange at sunset.

On Mercury,

It is a giant beach ball

Angrier, much brighter, whiter.

Can it be seen

On Jupiter

Underneath

The thick clouds?

Or are the Jovian oceans

Guarded by a

Perpetual black sky that

Crackles with

Endless lightning?

I imagine that

On Pluto,

The sun is a much calmer,

Paler,

Twinkling

White star.

As bright in the Plutonian sky

As the evening star, Venus,

Is in our sky.

With Jupiter, perhaps our

Distant descendants will know.

With Pluto, we’ll know

In July 2015.

I can’t wait.

Poems and trying to develop a writing schedule

So much to write, and so little time.

There are times, many of them, when I wish I lived on Pluto. Each Plutonian day is six earth days. Just think of all the things one could accomplish! If you could condition yourself to somehow subsist on eight hours of sleep, you’d have 136 hours left in the day.

Alas, you’d never know since you’d instantly freeze to death. We’ll find out for sure when New Horizons has its rendezvous with Pluto in July 2015, but I’m guessing it’s around -384 degrees there. Cold, cold, cold.

So, we are left to ponder how to make the most of our time on earth.

Yes, a person could try to get by on five hours of sleep a day and have 19 hours to do the rest of their stuff. My problem is that after three days of five hours of sleep daily, I’m ready to crash for about 12 hours.

So, the best thing to do is to make a daily schedule and, if necessary, deny yourself the fun of Facebook, Twitter, Justin Bieber videos or reading about the latest Lady Gaga controversy until you get your writing done. Ideally, each day I’d love to write 2,000 words on my novel(s), a few thousand on short stories, update my blogs, write poems and journal.

Busy work? Yes, but it isn’t as difficult when you consider how much time wasted in an average day.

As far as poems, I have more written and may post by Monday.

Post comments here or e-mail them to richardzowie@gmail.com.

‘Moonrise’ by Ben Bova

It took me longer to finish this book than it did Jupiter, but it was time well spent.

Moonrise is an interesting branch inside the science fiction genre, one that focuses on the business aspect of space exploration, colonization and mining. Whether future generations try to mine ore from an asteroid, set up a colony on the moon, harvest hydrogen and ammonia gas from Jupiter or water from Pluto’s moon Charon, it all boils down to one thing: can money be made off of it?
 
So, in Moonrise, veteran astronaut Paul Stavenger is convinced that moon colonization is the future of mankind. The earth is getting far too overpopulated, and being able to colonize the moon and harvest previous elements from the moon are key to our survival. He has to deal with much corporate bureaucracy from the Masterson Aerospace, which, by the gross financial mismanagement of its boss the egotistical Gregory Masterson, is slowly teetering towards bankruptcy. Even with the hot-selling Clippership and even with Paul’s vision of how Moonbase could easily be turned into a profit.
 
Tensions arise as Gregory Masterson II, Greg’s son, uses manipulated nanotechnology to kill Paul months after Greg commits suicide and after Joanna Masterson marries Paul (who had been her lover). Paul, realizing nanobugs are in his suit, chooses not to head to the next station to prevent infecting them with the nanobugs also.
 
Paul’s son, Doug, 18 years down the road tries to continue what’s been going on with Moonbase as Greg II ends up in charge in what is, without question, the worst personnel move in the history of science fiction novels (something we can attribute to Joanna’s overprotective ways as a mother rather than Dr. Bova’s storytelling). Doug is determined to make Moonbase profitable for more than one reason: due to a sabotage attempt by a disgruntled employee, Doug is exposed to radiation and must depend on nanotechnology for the rest of his life. Since the earth has all but banned the research, manufacturing and selling of nanotechnology, Doug must stay on the moon indefinitely.
 
Greg II, who is Doug’s half-brother, finally snaps when he sees his mother favors Doug and when he realizes he will finally be held accountable for an old murder. The climax ensues and the book ends with Doug looking at the moon and realizing it’ll take many generations to do what needs to be done.
 
What I liked about this book: The storyline was very interesting as it wove business with science and exploration. The characters came from all walks of life (such as the short, pudgy, half Italian and half Korean astronomer Bianca Rhee, who’s attracted to Doug). Once you sit down and read and devote time to it, it’s not easy to put down. Again, I liked Jupiter better, but Moonrise was a very good read. It’s a prelude of what’s to come in future generations: whether or not a profit can be made will be a major factor in whether or not to explore space and whether or not to try to harvest products for use on earth.
 
The book also opens up ideas for the future: how about space crafts made out of pure diamond? If diamonds can be found in asteroids or terrestrial planets like Mercury or Mars, perhaps it could work.
 
There were a few love scenes in this book but Bova kept the details to the bare minimum. We are spared from cheesy, Longarm-style metaphors for breasts, legs, and genitalia (such as “fleshy orbs”). Bova tells you just enough to let you know sex took place, whether it was enjoyable, what it accomplished, and leaves it at that. Too much information diverts from the storyline.
 
Also, there is very little profanity in this book, something else that impresses me greatly.
 
We read in this book about New Morality and their attempts to quell nanotechnology. I don’t know what Dr. Bova’s spiritual beliefs are (two websites say he’s an atheist), but I feel he’s pretty fair with his depiction of Christians. To me, he’s the antithesis of Carl Sagan, whose treatment of Christians in Contact could be described as an amateur caricature at best.
 
What I didn’t like about this book:  It didn’t seem as fast-paced as Jupiter. Paul’s death and then Doug’s life seemed like they could’ve been separate books of their own. Other than these, I had no complaints.
 
What’s in store for me now? Ray Bradbury’s Zen in the Art of Writing: Releasing the Creative Genius Within You. Brent Curtis and John Eldredge’s The Sacred Romance: Drawing Closer to the Heart of God. A few weeks ago, though, I visited a used book store in Lapeer, Michigan and bought two more of Dr. Bova’s books and will no doubt be reading them in the next few months. It’s time I consider very well spent.
 
Richard Zowie’s been a professional writer for 10 years and is working on selling some of his fiction stories and writing others. He spends ample time assuring people that, yes, Zowie is his legal surname (howbeit Americanized from the German surname Zahnweh). Post comments here or e-mail Richard at richardzowie@gmail.com.

Despite Pluto’s dwarf planet status, the countdown continues: a short essay

pluto

Here’s how one artist imagines the sun would look as soon from Pluto’s surface.

Much has happened since Pluto was first discovered by the late Dr. Clyde Tombaugh in 1930.

In 1978, Pluto was discovered to have a moon. The moon, later christened Charon, resulted in new calculations being done regarding Pluto’s size. The verdict? Pluto, once thought to be roughly the size of Mars, was discovered to be smaller. Much smaller, even smaller than the earth’s moon.

In 1985 and confirmed three years later, tiny Pluto was discovered to have an atmosphere. But because it’s so cold on Pluto (an estimated -382 degrees Fahrenheit), the surface gases are said to freeze into ice and fall like snow to the surface during the tiny planet’s aphelion (when it’s farthest from the sun).

In 2005, two more tiny satellites were discovered orbiting Pluto. Unlike Charon, which is about half Pluto’s size, Nix and Hydra are much smaller.

On January 19, 2006, after delays due to weather problems, the New Horizons spacecraft launches on its 9.5-year voyage to finally explore Pluto. The craft has successfully received a gravity assist from a brief orbit around Jupiter and is scheduled to rendezvous with the tiny, frozen world on July 14, 2015 (I’m 36 now and I’ll be 42 when this happens). For now, Pluto remains a reddish-brownish-goldish enigmatic blip.

And now, the planet Pluto is officially the dwarf planet Pluto after the International Astronomical Union voted later in 2006 to demote Pluto. Pluto’s orbital plane is very eccentric, rising far above and below other planets and looping inside Neptune’s orbit 20 years of its estimated 248-year orbit. The biggest reason given for Pluto’s demotion is that it doesn’t clear out its own orbit. IAU’s decision has been both praised and criticized, with critics pointing out that few members actually voted and that the definitions of a planet are vague and subjective. Under the criteria, they say, other Solar System planets could lose their planetary status.

It’s possible that the decision may be reversed when the IAU meets again later this year in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

What also complicates the Pluto issue is that Pluto isn’t even the largest dwarf planet. That honor belongs to Eris, discovered in 2005 and estimated to be thrice Pluto’s size and about 27% more massive. Eris, estimated to reach a distance of about 14.6 billion miles from the sun and takes more than 500 years to complete its orbit, even has its own satellite—Dysnomia.

Will the controversy around Pluto be resolved in 2015 when we finally start receiving detailed images of what Pluto looks like? Hard to say. All we know for certain is that space, though the final frontier, is by far the most complex frontier.