In a small way for some, a huge way for others, history was made early this morning.

At 0744 GMT, a Falcon 9 booster with a Dragon spacecraft atop it successfully launched from Cape Canaveral. 13 minutes later, it was in orbit. It successfully shut down its engines and deployed its solar panels, switching to solar power.

Even as I write this, thousands of people involved - the employees and relations of SpaceX foremost - are celebrating.

The United States has placed a spacecraft in orbit, carrying a cargo towards the International Space Station - operating outside the NASA framework. Using NASA money, experience and facilities, true - but SpaceX has now launched three Falcon 9 boosters successfully, and has placed 2 Dragons into LEO on 2 attempts.

Commercial space is happening.

I might live to see ticket sales. Won't that be a thing?

Wow. I shudder when I watch space launches live. Wish I could be there. Wish I could be on there.

Space has always fascinated me and I suppose that is why I’m so supportive of space travel. I view it as necessary, inevitable, and FRICKEN MOTHERFUCKING COOL.

Now, while SpaceX does its historical history thing, thought I’d just dump some background notes I have from my in-progress Above Earth E2 serial as a long daylog. I’d put it in its own node, but it is a vanity project not directly connected with the story and subject to change as much as any part of the published narrative and if I post it, it will become “canon”. Whatever the hell that means. (I have strong objections to both authorial trespass and post-mutatio George Lucusum.)

Above Earth is a sci-fi-ish story (space drama, maybe? The sci-fi elements are not the focus of what I’m trying to do) set on the Moon in the near future of what is basically our universe if the Islamic world had a Pope due to the Prophet not making that idiotic decision to not appointing an heir-apparent. So, the Islamic World was united under one government and was a serious competitor to the West in the 1800s. Cue many, many wars and increased tech due to war development.

The result is a world where things are slightly, but only slightly, ahead of schedule. We would have launched the Mars rovers in the 1980s, for example, and while Challenger probably still would have exploded, while Columbia wouldn’t have because by that point the shuttles would have been replaced by, oh let’s say, twenty-minutes-into-the-future (well, maybe a bit more) spacecraft.

Spaceships are expensive, however, and as such the entire combined fleet of every nation on Earth has never exceeded twenty serviceable craft, not counting disposable onetime use craft such as the Russian’s Soyuz, unmanned craft, and private corporation launches. Like nuclear weapons, only a few nations have the technology, know how, and budget to launch spacecraft.

Number of Spacecraft By Country in Above Earth

Canada (1)
China (2)
European Union (2)
Greater Columbia (1)
Japan (4)
Russia (3)
South American Triad (2)
USA (5)
Tranquility City, Moon (3)
Hellas, Mars (4)
Magellania, Venus (2)
Ceres Mining Station (6)

Select Ship Profiles:

USC Potomac (USA)

Class: Westmoreland
Type: Battleship
Length: 1,400 ft
Propulsion: Six Arc-plasma Rockets. 72 neon thrusters.
Range: Theoretically unlimited
Complement: 300
Armament: 2 “rods of god”, 2 laser cutters, 6 380mm projectile cannons, 300 plasma darts, 12 tomahawk missiles, 1 ICBM (variable payload)
Armor: 7000 ceramic tiles, magnetic mesh, steal plating
Launched: 2 May 2056, Space Port America, New Mexico

The USC Potomac is a Westmoreland class Battleship, the second of that class built. The Westmoreland class was designed to replace the United State’s aging battle fleet and is considered a spiritual successor to the USC Bermuda, a ship that saw combat against the Lunar Colonies. After the Lunar Independence, the United States government saw the need for a cheaper, more powerful battleship capable of attacking rogue colonies without needing support and at a distance that was safe to the crew. The USC Potomac is a pretty ship, looking like a blue steal puff of popcorn with black racing stripes that gracefully twist around it.

LSS Daisy II (Moon)

Type: Observation Craft
Proceeded by: LSS Daisy I
Length: 20 ft
Propulsion: One Plasma Pulse Engine. 3 exothermic thrusters.
Range: 7,000 miles
Complement: 2
Armament: None
Armor: Projected Plasma Field
Launched: 16 September 2050, Tranquility City, Moon

The Daisy is a small spacecraft used mainly by the Lunar colonists to observe the far side of the Moon as well as mechanical missions where a moonwalk would not be ideal. The Daisy is launched once every three months to check Tranquility City’s communications array as well as the cables connecting the City to the Japanese Far Side Telescope, an unmanned telescope operating on the far side of the Moon.

For the first time in three years, I've unplugged from the corporate network. On Thursday of last week, I changed my password to something I can't now remember, and walked out of the data center and into the afternoon air. In California now, the sun is shining, the flowers are blooming, the Bay is doubtlessly blue.

I'm not there.

If I'm anywhere, I'm here, in Portland, though my mind feels adrift, overwhelmed. I'm in love. Confusedly, tangledly, contentedly so. So there's that, and there's the possibility of exit trajectories in a way I haven't considered before, even when I came west last year. The idea of leaving this corporate reality bubble, of leaving my servers and fiber and having a job that doesn't eat 50-60 hours minimum of my week, is astounding. The idea of having emotional support, stability, and love, is even moreso.

This town is so strange, too. It rains all the time, but the food is good, the coffee is good, and in the evening, I've come to cherish curling up on the couch with french press and a book or laptop, of small talk, of the press of good etouffee or German food or crepes in my stomach. And at night, I think, I steal the blankets.

I feel like I'm home, finally. For a moment, the exploding political drama and stress and crisis mode of the data centers has receded, and I find myself simply drifting, if fetching up against stones which bring me wide-eyed, awake, and reaching for the laptop I can't log into.

From here, I feel like I could simply walk out of my old life and into this one. I could package my laptop and my badge up into a box, return it to headquarters. Submit my resume half a dozen places and interview, walk out with something that's twenty hours a week, enough to pay the bills and for luxuries, but with enough time to figure myself out, to sit by the river, to read through all the books I've accumulated. Enough time to learn new things, enough time to sleep.

From here, I feel the tide receding from the river sands and faraway Rodeo Beach and fading into nothingness, leaving a broad path for me to walk.

Any day now, I could be here. And I will be soon.

So Sunday a friend was ill and needed some things, so I took his car and headed out to do (gasp) grocery shopping. I have to tell you, I hardly ever drive anywhere anymore, and I don't often enter a grocery store. So there I was after the shopping, driving out of the parking lot -- trying to, in any event -- and this very large woman was walking down the lane, not just in the lane but right smack in the middle of it, and not simply walking right smack in the middle of it but strolling extremely slowly, with her back to me, toward her car. Which as it turned out was all the way at the end of the lane, so it was a loooong walk.

I'm not keen to honk a pedestrian out of the way; and, as she was strolling slowly, I was unable to make it to the turn at the end of the parking lot before the next wave of cars rolled through that intersection (it is a poor design, naturally, where you essentially must wait for the light to change at the next intersection down before the steady stream of traffic stops and you can escape the parking lot.

And so there I am stuck at the intersection -- which means my car is now coincidentally blocking miss slow lady from being able to back out of her space. So she honks me. She honks me, she thinks I'm the bad guy here. She was unquestionably oblivious to the fact that I was stuck there, what with the steady flow of cars in the intersection preventing my egress until the next interruption in its rhythm. She was, surely, equally oblivious to the fact that I'd have been long gone and out of her way had she, in a moment of possibly uncharacteristic awareness and forethought, walked a few feet closer to the side of the road instead of right smack in the middle of it, so cars in the lane could squeeze past her. Then I'd have been gone from her contemplation before her need to back out became an issue.

So later that same day I was getting in an elevator up to my friend's place, and though the elevator was more than half full, there was still room enough, so I got on, and on the next floor, two more people got on (a parking garage is attached to the building with guest entrance from the first floor, residents from the second). But these folks were carrying those oversized shopping bags, seemingly just back from a binge of getting both food and clothing, so their entrance filled it full.

And so when the elevator reached my friend's lower floor before theirs, I was trapped, and my efforts to work my way out were met with exasperated sighs and eye rolling (and no polite offer of any of them to simply momentarily step out of the elevator and clear a path, and then step back in. Such is life. But I wonder how much better life would be for everybody if we all just took a moment here and there to be doubly courteous to each other. Not "helpful" even, necessarily, simply courteous.


In auditing news:

wertperch is done!! Bless you, brother.
gnarl -- just started page 5 out of 6.

Next up? I'm thinking borgo. You hear me knocking, brother?

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