Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Book review

An older book one of Robert A, Heinlein's juveniles, one which I had never read.  Well!!

Called "The Rolling Stones" This is set shortly after "The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress" on the moon actually.   The Stone family is bored. Things are getting too crowded and civilized on the Moon for Castor and Pollux 16 year old twins.  They live with their father and mother, their grandmother Hazel Meade Stone (who appeared in The Moon is..) and one or two siblings.

The boys decided to go to a second rocket place and check out something to run about the solar system.  Father is not pleased, the boys have not completed their formal education.  They have the money but it is in trust for when they are older.  The entire family gets involved and they ultimately purchase the rocket with the proviso that the twins help rebuild the thing and complete their education via home study while en route to where ever.  Many educational things follow mostly higher mathematics and the author throws in a great deal of hard science.  I mental skip these pages and keep an eye out for when the mathematical formulae suddenly returns to dialog.  Isaac Azimov wrote the same way, these men were determined to push the hard part of science fiction.  Thanks Guys but I still hum tunelessly during that particular exposition sometimes with a French accent.

One of the math problems is figuring an elliptical cometary orbit by earth on their way to Mars.  On their way, they pass another passenger ship, exchange pleasantries.  They get a distress call, is any Doctor available?  Um, Mrs. Stone is a medical doctor so off she goes to go into quarantine on the War Bird to treat an outbreak of modified measles.

The Rolling Stone proceeds to Phobos and the family is reunited.  They get stranded on Mars and decide to head out to the asteroids and sell high quality goods.  Before they go they purchase a Martian critter called a flat cat, as appealing and prolific as a Tribble. 

Ultimately they have to decide if they return to the moon for the boys formal education but they all decide to chuck it and head for Titan and Saturn's Rings as Hazel had vowed to get to see them before she died, being 95 and all.  This was a delightful romp, good bedtime reading material for the kids.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Back in the time of the dinosaurs...

Reminiscing this morning.  It is a windy day on the coast.  Which brings to mind my encounters with late 19th century technology in my grade school days.  I attended Parkview Junior High School in Emmett, Idaho. The building was actually the first high school built in Emmett and even had post grade studies for those students not quite ready for college.  I attended from the fifth grade through the eighth grade.  My eight grade class was the last class to have a graduation ceremony.  When I was in the sixth grade my teacher was Mrs. Shane. There was a janitor named Mr. Shane but they were not related nor married to each other.  Mrs. Shane had a very large wind up record player and a collection of records.  She would play some of them for us from time to time.  I remember one in particular.  I do not remember the title but it was a comedy sketch and was all about a Swede making his first ever telephone call to someone.  The reception was not good.  The story was a series of yelled lines, garbled repetitions and the last line was “The vind! The vind! Not da Devil!”.  Pretty sure it was straight from Vaudeville and one of the lesser acts. But we laughed politely, because even then Mrs.Shane made sure we knew “Vind” meant wind.  You had to be there. We also listened to some music. One was “Barney Google of the Goo Goo Googly Eyes!” Who apparently drove around in a Stutz Bear Cat, wore a raccoon coat and flirted with girls.  Dad used to sing that song.  He sang lots of oddments now and then.  As a result we grew up singing songs when we were on the road.