The Stars that Bore Us

This is a short story by Jonathan Edelstein. It’s set in the same literary universe as his published works, “First Do No Harm” (Strange Horizons, 2015), “The Starsmith” (Escape Pod, 2016), “Iya-Iya” (Kaleidotrope, 2019) and “The Stranger in the Tower” (Andromeda Spaceways, 2019) . Here’s a brief backgrounder on the Mutanda-verse. I am grateful to Jonathan for sharing this new entry with the public and encourage everyone to read the rest!

Continue reading “The Stars that Bore Us”

Month 48: prayers #50to50

This post is several months late. I am basically catching up to my 50to50 list all at once, but for aesthetic reasons prefer to break them out into separate posts and backdate them. So, for the record, month 48 should have been posted on February 14th, 2020 but was actually posted on April 14.

Spiritual health is just as important as physical health and mental health. I am fortunate to have a rich religious tradition whose entire existence is devoted to my spiritual health. Generally, I take this for granted.

The base minimum requirements of my faith boil down to a few specific pillars of orthoproxy (assuming orthodoxy as an axiom). Fasting in Ramadan, praying 5 days a week, etc. There is a vast space beyond these pillars, a rich tapestry of supplication and discipline. For example, there are beautiful prayers called dua that beseech the Creator to intercede on our behalf. The point of these dua – in my opinion – is to broaden awareness beyond our daily existence. These are not mandatory in my faith, but like money lying on the ground, have immense value that I have been ignoring rather than seizing.

Therefore, I resolve to recite more dua. There are duas for the morning, which ask for health and hapiness of friends and family. There are duas after every prayer, which praise the stewardship of the Fatimi Imams and their regents, the Duat Mutlaqin, of whom my own Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin TUS, is the current office holder. And there are other duas that are poetic and powerful, some beyond my ability to really understand.

Concept Art from Star Wars: Duel of the Fates

This is official concept art created for the earlier version that would have been directed by Colin Trevorrow. Images have leaked online via https://twitter.com/DRMovieNews1/, which provides the following descriptions:

  • Force Ghost Luke blocking Kylo Ren’s saber with his hand
  • C3PO comforting a damaged R2
  • Rey being trained by Luke
  • Kylo Ren fighting Vader
  • Rey (with double bladed saber) fighting Kylo Ren
  • Rey taking out Stormtroopers
  • Hux commits suicide with a lightsaber after Coruscant falls to the Resistance
  • Leia delivering a message to BB-8 (callback to A New Hope)
  • C3PO & R2 exploring the Coruscant ruins
  • The Falcon lands on a new planet
  • The First Order resuming control over Coruscant (pre-defeat)
  • Finn yelling “REY!” during a battle scene
  • The Final Battle on Coruscant

The script itself was leaked and discussed by Robert Meyer Burnett in the following video:

Trevorrow was fired by Lucasfilm Kathleen Kennedy, who also was behind the director change for the Solo movie for similar reasons of “different vision.”

Month 49: biking #50to50

This post is several months late. I am basically catching up to my 50to50 list all at once, but for aesthetic reasons prefer to break them out into separate posts and backdate them 🙂 So, for the record, month 49 should have been posted on January 14th, 2020 but was actually posted on March 25.

These are my 2019 biking statistics from Strava:

  • 508.9 miles
  • 48 hours, 39 minutes
  • 21,975 feet
  • 28 rides

This was the result of intermittent effort, with me still really exploring and being tentative about how far I could go. The above does include some mountain biking, but mostly road. My wife bought me a brand new mountain bike (a 2019 Trek Roscoe) for our anniversary in 2018, and I am still making do with my old 2011 Trek 7.3 hybrid for road rides. I’ve upgraded to clips, a better helmet, safety gear like a helmet mirror and electric lights, and learned how to change a tire.

This year, i am determined to break the 1000 mile mark. Assuming I miss a month for Ramadan and another month for Ashara and other various events or reasons, and rounding down a bit to allow for laziness here and there, i’m assuming I have 40 weekends available. Therefore I resolve to ride at least 25 miles a week to hit my goal. Unlike last month’s resolution, this one has data – via a Garmin Instinct watch connected to my Strava account. So I can monitor my progress – and so can anyone else 🙂 Follow me on Strava and keep me honest! (and give me the occasional kudos, too. It helps!)

Month 50: caffeine #50to50

I drink too much caffeine. In college, I was notorious for drinking multiple cans of coke a day. In grad school, I made the switch to Diet and lost 10 pounds in a month. That was my peak Chipotle phase, too, clocking in around 175.

In the past few years, since moving to California, I’ve drastically reduced my caffeine intake from Coke (having made the switch to Coke Zero, which my crude palette likes as much if not better than original Coke, and miles better than Diet). I basically order it when we eat out, which is a few times a month, and on weekends once in a while. I estimate that I currently drink 5-10 cans a month.

However, I inhale coffee. I have at least two (large) cups in the morning (one on waking up either at home or at Starbucks, another on reaching work) and another in the afternoon (usually to stave off hunger from intermittent fasting). I also will make a cup in the evening if I need to stay up, and on weekends I typically have a few cups too. I estimate that I drink about 75 cups of coffee a month.

I can’t give up on coffee. I’m not really an aficionado of the taste – I can tell great coffee from terrible, but good vs bad coffee is not always clear. Low standards indeed, because for me it is purely functional. I did go nuts over Pumpkin Spice for a while but I’m well and truly over that now. My go-to drink at Starbucks is a flat white with sugar free hazelnut and vanilla, just enough flavor to keep me interested but not attentive. The bottom line is, I don’t get enough sleep, so I drink coffee.

However, caffeine after 2:00 pm has long been shown to interfere with sleep:

  • Caffeine consumed 0, 3, and 6 hours before bedtime significantly reduced total sleep time. Even caffeine consumed 6 hours before bed reduced total nightly sleep amounts by more than 1 hour.
  • Caffeine consumed at all three points diminished sleep quality. Caffeine taken 3 and 6 hours before bedtime, as well as caffeine consumed at bedtime, significantly increased the amount of time spent awake during the night.
  • Disruptions to sleep as a result of caffeine were perceived by volunteers (as recorded in sleep diaries) for caffeine consumed at bedtime and 3 hours before bed, but were not reported for caffeine taken 6 hours before bed. However, sleep monitors measuring total sleep time and sleep efficiency (time spent sleeping relative to total time spent in bed) showed that caffeine consumed 6 hours before bedtime had significant detrimental effects to both.

That third point is the most surprising. It means that even if you don’t perceive an impact on your sleep, there still may be one. I haven’t tried to replicate the study on myself because I don’t have/want a sleep tracker, but the point is compelling.

(Here’s a full-text link to the actual study)

This makes it easy to resolve to stop drinking caffeine after 2pm and limit myself to two cups of coffee a day. I’ll just switch to water (which I drink a lot more of since buying myself a cool hydroflask with a Joshua Tree design).

Table 3 from the study referred to above. Click for full-text link.

Countdown to 50 years old #50to50

in roughly one month, I will be 50 months from 50 years old. A friend of mine on Facebook just reached that milestone and decided to embrace it as a driving force for change:

I realized today that I’m 50 months away from being 50 years old. At first that seemed shockingly close, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I CAN DO SO MUCH in fifty months to make significant improvements to my life and the lives of the people around me.
So here is my commitment: I will make one small change every month between now and December 24th, 2023. I will share each change and my progress publicly. I want to see what’s possible in 50 months.

I love everything about this. I intend to follow suit, and will document it here.

Any ideas on what changes i should make? I have to come up with 50, after all :p

another Galactica reboot???

NBC Universal’s new streaming service will be called Peacock. It seems they have decided to go the mix of old content/new content route like everyone else, which is understandable. Less so is this:

The streaming service will offer a slate of original series from showrunners who have worked with NBCUniversal on a series of other shows, including Mike Schur (The Good Place, Parks and Recreation) and Sam Esmail (Mr. Robot). Schur will oversee the reboot of comedy Punky Brewster for the service, while Esmail will handle a reboot of beloved sci-fi series Battlestar Galactica.

All this has happened before, and will happen again.

Duet Battle: Community vs Stranger Things

Finished Season 3, and it was exactly the nostalgia/dopamine rush that I wanted. Like everyone else, the most delightful part for me was Dusty-bun and Susie-poo’s duet: (visual spoilers)

It gave me the exact same wistful childhood feeling as another homage duet – from Community season 1, “Environmental Science”: