Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Bats on Radar in Central Texas


I've been watching the iPad app 'Radarscope' quite a bit, hoping for a thunderstorm to come my way.  It's been dry so long here.  But I've been noticing some activity about sunset every day and I finally realized what I was seeing.  In several locations here in Central Texas, the Mexican free-tail bat hides out in colonies of millions under bridges and in caves and tunnels.  When the mood strikes, at about sunset, they stream out and go foraging for the night.

Taking screenshots and combining them with Keynote, I made a 2 minute slide show of the display, with three different zoom factors.

The bats are fascinating to watch, on radar, and in person.  The Congress Avenue Bridge colony is famous, as well as the McNeil Bridge in Round Rock, but you can see many colonies all over the state.

Update:  Mary Ann Melton, my wife, has bats in her blog as well.  For a closer look, see here: Texas Bridge Bats - by Mary Ann Melton

Friday, August 12, 2011

Sweating Through the Hard Parts

I haven't tweeted, or blogged, or participated in any of the interlinked social networks in the past couple of weeks.  My todo list (automated of course) keeps building up reminders to go out there and be visible.  But I haven't.  The reason is a critical part of a novel coming out next year.

Some stories are a joy to write.  I can sit down and turn out thousands of words in a day with no effort.  The story is just ripe and ready, and all I have to do is keep those fingers moving.  I wish they were all that way, but sometimes a story takes a turn into the rough ground.

Most of my published novels are YA science fiction that in my fondest dreams are stocked in school libraries across the country, shelved between Heinlein and Norton.  It's those shelves that formed my taste in reading so many decades ago.

But the novel I'm writing right now has sections that I couldn't recommend for that shelf.  I'm writing a novel of post-collapse civilization rebuilding and part of that struggle is the battle against the dark spiral of human nature that would just love to be free of the constraints of civilization. The story demands I write this part to the best of my ability, but I don't like it.

So that's where I'm at.  My heroes and heroines are in deep trouble, and they and I can't just wish the situation away.  Here's where my detailed outline, by spreadsheet of word-counts, my heavily annotated Google Earth map of the area, and my nightly dreams are all necessary to pull me through.  Sorry I don't have time to tweet.  I'll be back later, I promise.