Sir Terry Pratchett to be at North American Discworld Convention

Oh my gosh! I love Terry Pratchett and he is going to be at the North American Discworld Convention (the first ever NADC)! I’m passing along the info below (which includes news about the next Discworld book).

The turtle moves!

See Terry Pratchett at the North American Discworld Convention!

Don’t miss the first North American Discworld Convention, with Guest of Honor Sir Terry Pratchett and other great guests!

The convention will be held from September 4 – 7, 2009, in Tempe, Arizona, and will feature a Guest of Honor talk, a Maskerade, a Gala Banquet, a Seamstress Guild Party, a Charity Auction, booksignings, panels, and more!

With over 750 members registered, there are less than 150 spaces left, so get more information and register now at!

Can’t wait for the next Discworld book? Watch a video of Terry talking about Unseen Academicals here!


Total solar eclipse envelops Asia in daytime darkness

Photo courtesy of AP images

coffee to go

tanka with kigo
Annette Marie Hyder

after one huge bite
the moon licks its sun smeared lips
looks for the waitress
at this heavenly diner
and says “put it on my tab”

Century’s longest total solar eclipse

The English word eclipse comes from the Greek word for “abandonment” or “a forsaking” (ekleipsis). Ancient peoples thought, among other things (see Missing Sun Motif in Solar Mythology), that the sun literally abandoned the earth during an eclipse. By that way of thinking, today, July 22, 2009, the sky shall be bereaved of the sun.

From the Associated Press:

TOKYO, Japan — Millions of Asians turned their eyes skyward Wednesday as dawn suddenly turned to darkness across the continent in the longest total solar eclipse this century will see. Millions of others, fearing a bad omen, shuttered themselves indoors.

Chinese launched fireworks and danced in Shanghai. On a remote Japanese island, bewildered cattle went to their feeding troughs thinking night had fallen. And in India, a woman was crushed as thousands of viewers crowded the banks of the Ganges for a glimpse.

Starting off in India just after dawn, the eclipse was visible across a wide swath of Asia before moving over southern Japan and then off into the Pacific Ocean. In some parts of Asia, it lasted as long as 6 minutes and 39 seconds.

The eclipse is the longest since July 11, 1991, when a total eclipse lasting 6 minutes, 53 seconds was visible from Hawaii to South America. There will not be a longer eclipse than Wednesday’s until 2132.

The celestial event was met by a mixture of awe, excitement and fear.

Read the entire article here.

Related links:
NASA Eclipse Web Site
Solar Eclipses of Historical Interest
Missing Sun Motif in Solar Mythology

Not related at all really:
Total Eclipse of the Heart Literal Video Version

University research team has big plans for house of straw

Public domain image

Remember the tale of The Three Little Pigs and the Big Bad Wolf?

From Wikipedia:

The first little pig builds a house of straw, but a wolf blows it down and eats the pig. The second pig builds a house of sticks, but with the same ultimate result. Each exchange between wolf and pig has repetitive phrases:

“Little pig, little pig, let me come in!”
“Not by the hair on my chinny-chin-chin!”
“Then I’ll huff, and I’ll puff, and I’ll blow your house in!”

The third pig builds a house of hard bricks. The wolf cannot huff and puff hard enough to blow the house down. He attempts to trick the third little pig out of the house, but the pig outsmarts him at every turn. Finally, the wolf resolves to come down the chimney, whereupon the pig boils a pot of water into which the wolf plunges, at which point the pig quickly covers the pot and cooks the wolf for supper.


Researchers at the University of Bath will be testing to see if houses of straw are the buildings of the future. They will be constructing a “BaleHaus” made of prefabricated straw bale and hemp cladding panels on campus.

Science Daily reports:

Straw is the ultimate environmentally-friendly building material since it is renewable and is a by-product of farming.

The crop used for the straw can be grown locally, and because it absorbs carbon dioxide as it grows, buildings made from it can be seen as having zero, or even a negative carbon footprint.

Also, due to its high insulating properties, houses made of straw bales need almost no conventional heating, keeping running costs low and minimising environmental impact.

Professor Pete Walker, Director of the BRE Centre in InnovativeConstruction Materials at the University of Bath, said: “Up to thispoint straw bales have not really been seen as a credible buildingmaterial by much of the industry, even though straw has always beenused in building for centuries, and straw bales have been used forabout 100 years.

From 20 July people will be able to log on here to watch the progressof the build via “Strawcam”.

Read the full article here.

The straw house constructed by the researchers at Bath University will hopefully be impervious to huffing and puffing.

Public domain image

Poem that features straw

The Witch
Annette Marie Hyder
Previously published in Thunder Sandwich

I chopped the wood.
I carried the water.
I baked your yellow hued bricks.

To see someone else
lay the cornerstone,
stand at the fire,
season the soup,
is more than I can take.

My trusty axe
will not dull in making
another home for me.
My bucket will carry
on without you.
There is always more mud
and straw.

May your arm not know how to lift.
May you always know drip and leak.
May your endeavors fall apart
to match your nature
friable, uncooked man.

Links of interest:

CNN: The quake-proof house made of straw

50 Straw Bale House Plans

House of Straw

Former President Jimmy Carter leaves church over treatment of women

Loving Jimmy Carter

How could you not love these words, this decision, from former president Jimmy Carter?

Politics Daily reports:

After more than 60 years together, Jimmy Carter has announced himself at odds with the Southern Baptist Church — and he’s decided it’s time they go their separate ways. Via Feministing, the former president called the decision “unavoidable” after church leaders prohibited women from being ordained and insisted women be “subservient to their husbands.” Said Carter in an essay in The Age:

 “At its most repugnant, the belief that women must be subjugated to the wishes of men excuses slavery, violence, forced prostitution, genital mutilation and national laws that omit rape as a crime. But it also costs many millions of girls and women control over their own bodies and lives, and continues to deny them fair access to education, health, employment and influence within their own communities.”

And, later:

“The truth is that male religious leaders have had — and still have — an option to interpret holy teachings either to exalt or subjugate women. They have, for their own selfish ends, overwhelmingly chosen the latter. Their continuing choice provides the foundation or justification for much of the pervasive persecution and abuse of women throughout the world.”

After watching everyone from philandering politicians to Iran’s president taking a sudden look heavenwards when the roof starts to come down on them, it’s refreshing to see Carter calling out the role of religion in the mistreatment of women.

The question for Carter — and for others who find themselves at odds with leadership — is, when a group you’re deeply involved in starts to move away from your own core beliefs, do you stay and try to change from within or, at some point, do you have to look for the exit? Carter did give the former a shot — in recent years publicly criticizing and distancing himself from church leadership, while staying involved with his church. Now, he’s seeing if absence might do what presence did not.

I am flashing admiring glances at former President Jmmy Carter. I am feeling love for that man today.

Apollo 11 Moon Landing: 40 Year Anniversary

AS11-44-6552 (July 1969) — This view of the Earth rising over the Moon’s horizon was taken from the
Apollo spacecraft. The lunar terrain pictured is in the area of Smyth’s Sea on the nearside.

“The Moon is not the Earth.
Conditions there are weird
and our common sense
is likely to fail us.” — Phil Plait

on the moon there is
Annette Marie Hyder

no scattering of thick handfuls of sunlight
no smearing of shine across the sky
the air is dark
even at high noon
blazes with unseen stars
that look unblinking
at your nakedness
(you are stripped of the covering
the habitual wear
of atmosphere
and nothing separates
you from the night)

every harsh gesture
or hard movement
is turned to grace
gravity softens its hold
so movements unfold
slowly like a flower
in the dark
petals, stamens, leaves and stems
made of shadows
laid thick as blankets
to ward away the waiting cold
blossom in profusion
take root in your imagination

halos minus angels dance
in the thin space
between heartbeats
heiligenschein flashes
earth hangs like a promise
on the air
a mirage of beauty
that looks like it can be reached
in one jump

Moon landing

Today being the 40 year anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, the first manned mission to land on the moon, here are some celebratory links:

Space shuttle toilet overflows

A delicate instrument of desire

Delicate Instrument

Annette Marie Hyder

Imagine my ardor for you
as a delicate instrument
a delicate instrument of desire
finely wrought
intricately fashioned
like some old fashioned pocket watch
with fabulous properties
and sweeping hands
that brush the finely carved face
that measures not minutes or hours
but sighs and exhalations of delight.
Well you took that beautiful artifact
and crushed it beneath your heel
and the glass splinters alone
sparkle achingly enough
to break the hands of time
but there is no putting it back together.

So now I’m feeling that my desire for you
was embarrassingly old-fashioned anyway
outdated in its romantic style.
Who needs it after all?
Give me a digital throwaway.

July issue of InTheFray Magazine

This month’s theme is “The Great Escape”, what we run from (and to) and how we get away

The Imagine section has five poems by Larry Jaffe:

A soul with nothing up its sleeves        
Five poems touching upon transcendence and escape

Harry Houdini at work, 1899. (Library of Congress)

Click here to read.

Also, a book review of Nick Reding’s Methland: The Death and Life of an American Small Town explores one of middle America’s “great escapes.”

Read More:

Secret Asian Man
Boiling Point