Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The Passing of a President

Sad news. President Gerald Ford passed away.

He was the only person in the history of the country to be both Vice-President and President, and was not elected to either post. He was appointed to the Vice-Presidency to fill the vacancy of Spiro Agnew, who resigned in 1973. And he then ascended to the Presidency in August of 1974, with the resignation of President Richard Nixon.

I had the honor of meeting him once when he was here in Grand Rapids after he was President. I remember back in 1977 when our “Close Up” high school group went to Washington DC, and we were saddened that he had not been reelected, and we didn’t get to meet him at the White House (President Carter stopped the meet & greet tours that year).

I also remember proudly wearing my WIN (Whip Inflation Now) button all the time.

And so passes the last honest President of the USA.

Monday, December 25, 2006

The True Meaning

"And there were in the same country shepherds, abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them! And they were sore afraid... And the angel said unto them, "Fear not! For, behold, I bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all my people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord."

"And this shall be a sign unto you: Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger." And suddenly, there was with the angel a multitude of the Heavenly Host praising God, and saying, "Glory to God in the Highest, and on Earth peace, and good will toward men."

"That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown."
--Linus Van Pelt (and Charles M Schultz)

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Remembering the "People's Astronomer"

"We have a choice: We can enhance life and come to know the Universe
that made us, or we can squander our [13.7] billion-year heritage in
meaningless self-destruction." - Carl Sagan (1934-1996)
I can't really believe it's been ten years since the death of Carl Sagan. I remember I heard the news just before going to my local astronomy club's winter "party" meeting, and he was the topic of much discussion, as he and his unique vision had touched all of us who were there. We ended the evening with a toast to his memory.

I believe, like many people, I got my first experience of Carl Sagan on television, watching him as a guest of Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show. The way he explained things during the discussions that he and Carson had really brought science in focus for the "lay person" who wasn't really deep into the study of astronomy and space, but found it interesting. This publicity, I believe, spurred that interest in the general public to learn more.

When Cosmos first aired on PBS back in 1980, that hour would find me sitting on the floor in front of the television in a state of awe and amazement. I guess the only thing that disappointed me was that there were only thirteen episodes, but those few episodes rekindled my fascination with astronomy and space.

(Not that I wasn't interested in astronomy beforehand. I had a long history of fascination with the subject, having gotten my first telescope (albeit an inexpensive model) when I was four years old. I can remember watching Neil Armstrong step on the moon; my father would wake me up for lunar eclipses; I got to watch space launches all the time; I would spend warm August nights around my aunt's cottage - miles and miles away from any small town - watching the Perseid meteors. I was an amateur astronomer from a young age.)

In addition to watching (and trying to absorb) the television series, I had received the companion book for Christmas, have vivid memories of only being able to read a chapter, or part of a chapter, at a time, because trying to wrap my mind around the concepts presented gave me headaches (or brainaches). But I had to understand it, so I didn't give up, but dove right in again and read more.

I can remember reading that other astronomers were not kind to Carl, because of the way he brought astronomy to the masses, and I thought it was so elitist of them to want to "keep everything to themselves" and not let people into their wonderful world. Later I realized that many of them were simply jealous of Carl's "celebrity." The others were not receiving the "glory" from the public, and it hurt their egos. But I never thought Carl was doing it for the glory; he sincerely wanted to "get the word out to the world" about the subjects that he thought the public needed to know about, and be concerned about.

Over the years I enjoyed hearing his talks, reading his books, as he strove to get people involved in not only trying to save the planet (and themselves), but to also use their minds - to think critically, and not give in to the mindlessness of pseudoscience.

Years later, Cosmos came into my life again at Christmas as the series finally became available on DVD, thanks mainly to the work of his wife Ann Druyan. It's now become a staple to watch the series at least once per year.

There are some people now who actively bring science to the public, but I don't believe they will ever have the impact that Carl Sagan had. But the word is still getting out, more and more every day. I often wonder what Carl would think about this global, internet-driven society we live in today, and the new discoveries coming out almost every day. I also believe he would be saddened by the attempts of some to squelch said research and data on important scientific fields.

Even though I would still be an active amateur astronomer, I don't think that I would be doing the public outreach today without the inspiration of Carl Sagan. Every time I answer questions via our club's website, or from a visitor to our observatory, I like to think I am continuing Carl's legacy of bringing astronomy and science to the masses, in ways they can understand, and kindle an interest in them, as he did to me (and others) many years ago.

Thank you Carl. We miss you, and we will try to keep the candle lit.

Note: I wrote this as a part of the Carl Sagan memorial blog-a-thon (link below)

Some links..

Carl Sagan memorial blog-a-thon
Ten Times Around The Sun Without Carl - Ann Druyan
Nick Sagan (Carl's son)
Celebrating Sagan
What I learned from Carl Sagan - from Phil Plait, the Bad Astronomer

The Carl Sagan Portal
The Planetary Society

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Floating in Space

Here's hoping some photos turned out tonight.

I had noticed that the ISS (International Space Station) was going over my area this evening, and thought I would go and take a look. I've seen it many times before, but as an astronomer, I always get a kick out of seeing anything up there.

Discovery undocked from ISS about 50 minutes beforehand, so - even though they were going to Immelman the ISS, I thought I might be able to see both objects. After checking the predictions, I realized that they would be going right over my house, all lit up with Christmas lights. This was a photo opportunity!

I got out the camera and wide-angle lens, and waited. Sure enough, at 5.59pm there was the bright light in the southwest sky, traveling to the northeast. I sharting shooting photos a few minutes later, and could see a dimmer object in front of the ISS (which should be the shuttle). I framed it so ISS was going from upper right to lower left in the frame, with the house (and lights) at the bottom.

It should turn out, but I won't know until I get the film developed. Ah, to have a digital SLR... someday.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Help the Bad Astronomer do Good Astronomy!!

The Bad Astronomer - Phil Plait - has a blog on his sight. Wonderful science from a great astronomer.

His blog is up for a Weblog 2006 Award in the Science Category, and he needs help from everyone out there.

The deadline is Friday, and you can vote once every 24 hours. Or, like I just found out, you can use more than one computer and do it twice every 24 hours.:)

Vote early and often!!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Conjunction Junction?

Of a planetary nature.

This morning, the planets Mercury, Mars and Jupiter were only 0.3 degrees apart, and there won't be a "triple conjunction" like this until 2053. So naturally, I had to witness it.

The original plan was to just drive up to a local overlook and take some photos as the planets were rising in the morning twilight. That way I could get the shots, see the conjunction, and get back home, as it was surely going to be cold outside. But plans never survive the first minutes, as usual.

I got up around 6.30am, got dressed, grabbed the camera stuff, and headed out the door. I headed the car out to the northwest on the expressway, and halfway to my destination I decided that my brother was correct the night before, and the planned observing place would be too light, even in morning twilight. And by light, I mean light pollution. So I banged a u-turn on the expressway and headed southeast out of town towards the observatory. I had taken photos on the moon - and even another conjunction years earlier - on an out-of-the-way county road south of Lowell.

I could see morning twilight getting stronger as I headed east on the various roadways, and the star Vega was shining bright in the northeastern sky. By the time I navigated my way to the new destination, I could clearly see the planets hanging low in the southeast sky.

I jumped out of the car, opened the trunk, grabbing my tripod and camera. I had to work fast, as the skies were getting brighter by the second, and I needed to shoot these photos before it was too bright.

Oh yeah, did I mention yet it was really cold? And windy? I had to stand to the side of the tripod so the wind wouldn't shake the camera during the exposures.

I wasn't sure about the correct exposure times, so I bracketed. I learned that years ago in photography class: film is cheap, bracket to get the shot. So I ran the shutter speeds up and down from a 1/2 second to 15 seconds, hoping to get something.

The only problem I had was cold hands, as I had to take my gloves off to work the settings and dials on the camera. By the time I had shot the last frame, I actually couldn't feel my fingers. I could have shot more - as I had more film - but I decided that 20+ images was enough. I had seen the once-in-a-lifetime triple conjunction and taken photos of it.

It was now after 7.30am, and I drove back into town and dropped the roll of film off at the local one-hour place, and went back home.

After a little nap, I went back up and picked up the photos. They turned out, but they could have been better. So I went back home, scanned the best ones in, and sent them in to and the local television station. I just hope they use them.

I normally would have sent the photos to a second local TV station, but the meteorologist there back in November said - on the air - that someone else was his "go to guy" for astronomy images. So screw him.

Now let's hope for clear skies Wednesday night for the Geminid meteors.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

We Have Liftoff!!

The space shuttle Discovery is safely on it's way into orbit. I can relax now.

Launch was a beautiful sight, and I just hope I get a chance to be down in Florida ocne to see it before it retires in 2010.

Ever since Challenger in 1986, I've always been nervous about the launches. You listen for the "go at throttle up" and know that's when the accident happened back 20 years ago. You hope and pray that everything's okay, and breathe a small sigh of relief when the SRBs let loose. And then you nervously wait for over six more minutes, until you near the MECO call, and know they are nearly in orbit.

Here's to a great mission guys!!!


After having this blog for years (and another, secret one) the "Blogger Team" all of a sudden thinks this is a "spam blog." It is no such thing!

Would scientific professionals read this if it was? Heck, when I post to other blogs (Bad Astronomy, Astronomy Today, etc) I always provide a link back to this one. I'm part of the scientific community.

I hope they get their act together.

Early Sunsets

This is the time of the year when the sun sets the earliest around here. Since this past Sunday, the sunset has been at 5.08pm. It will continue to be at that time until Saturday the 16th, when we will gain one minute in the evening.

Of course, that doesn't mean much. We're still losing daylight in the morning, as the latest sunrise is December 31st at 8.14am. It stays at that time until January 6th, just past perihelion.

Not enough daylight around here. Counting the days until summer.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

An Active Mars!!

Water on Mars now!

Also, evidence of new cratering.

More later....

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Sheesh - What Four Days Can Do

Wasn't it just three or four days ago I was outside taking my walk without a jacket?

Thursday, November 30th - 62 degrees and thunderstorms
Sunday, December 3rd -lake effect snow and 21 degrees.

What happened to Global Warming? It must have went south for the winter.

Friday, December 01, 2006


December 1 is the official start of meteorological winter, and winter sure arrived here today.

Freezing rain, snow, wind. Two days ago it was in the 60's with thunderstorms, and today it's 31 currently with heavy snow.

How long until Spring?

Wednesday, November 29, 2006


Oh Groovy!!

It's storming right now!! A thunderstorm in November!!

I love it.

But now the other shoe is around somewhere....

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Congress and DST

Proof once again that the people in charge don't have any clue as to reality.

Congress passed changing Daylight Saving Time to start three weeks earlier (March 11th) and end a week later (November 4). They looked at 30+ year old data and said "we can save energy" despite all the current research that shows that we wouldn't save any energy. Just because it gets darker/lighter earlier doesn't mean we're going to change habits of heating our homes or, in this modern era, turning on or off our computers and electronic devices. Congress is simply out of touch with reality on this one.

For astronomers, it’s bad news, as we don’t have enough dark skies during the warmer months, and now we will have a month less. In reality, because we are just "shifting" the hours of daylight forward or backward, we're not actually "losing" anything. It just means starting an hour later each night. But it's a pain, and is unnecessary. But there's nothing we can do. Or is there?

An article that was in the Grand Rapids Press on October 29, 2006 said this…
“Congress passed the changes last year, but lawmakers reserved the right to scrap the new dates; if you don't like them, complain to the Secretary of Energy, who can recommend going back to the old ones.”
The astronomical community as a whole is against the new DST standards, and is speaking out. My astronomy club isn't actively taking sides in this, because it's against their non-partisan rules in their bylaws. So when I tell people to contact the Department of Energy Secretary, I'm just doing it as a "regular" person, and not someone who has any official capacity one way or another.
I think it's s a stupid idea, this change forced on us, and have already written my letter to the Secretary. I just hope enough people do.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Signed by the...

On another forum I (sometimes) frequent, people were listing things that they had autographed. I was trying to remember what I have autographed by famous individuals. Here's a partial list...


Star Trek: The Motion Picture - autographed by Robert Wise (director)
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn - autographed by Richardo Montalban (actor)
Star Trek IV: The Undiscovered Country - autographed by Nicholas Meyer (director)
Superman: The Movie - autographed by Richard Donner (director) and Tom Mankiewicz (writer)


Battlestar Galactica: The Mini-Series - autographed by Richard Gibbs (composer)
Far From Heaven - autographed by Elmer Bernstein (composer)
Serenity - autographed by David Newman (composer)
Superman Returns - autographed by John Ottman (composer)


The Amateur Astronomer's Introduction to the Celestial Sphere - autographed by William C. Millar (author - astronomer)*
Daly Life - autographed by Chuck Daly (author - coach of the Detroit Pistons)
The Elegant Universe - autographed by Dr. Brian Greene (author)
The Fabric of the Cosmos - autographed by Dr. Brian Greene (author)
Standing Firm: A Vice-Presidential Memoir - autographed by Dan Quayle (author - former Vice-President of the USA)


Star Trek: The Motion Picture (Poster) - autographed by Robert Wise (director of the film)

* - Many of my photographs are published in this book, and will be in his future ones.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Pen in Hand

I'm currently writing to a friend of mine who is studying overseas for a few months. And by saying "writing" that's what I'm doing.

I've got a pad of paper and a nice pen. No computer, no typewriter, nothing fancy or electronic. Just a good old-fashioned letter.

I used to write my friend Mary like this, but have fallen from doing it. it's strange to actually try to write. Could I be a doctor? My penmanship - which was so great when I was younger - sucks now.

Oh well. But a letter to Thailand is something I've never done. Did many to Australia back in the day, but no where else.

Friday, November 10, 2006

An Anniversary - Pt 2

Tonight, years ago, I saw my first Star Trek episode.

It was The Corbomite Maneuver. I remember sitting on the floor in the living room at my cousin's house, and being scared when the bit "ping pong ball" ship - the Fesarius - approached really close to the Enterprise.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

A Little Black Spot

Was on the Sun today.

The planet Mercury went across the disc of the Sun today, which it does periodically. I had seen this type of event in 1999, so I wasn't going to be too upset if I didn't see this one. But I managed to.

I used our 4-inch refractor at the observatory, with a Baader solar filter, and was fortunate to have about one-half hour of clear/semi-clear skies to take a few shots with my camera, and with my brother's digital SLR.

I had some equipment problems (focusing) and they didn't turn out as good as they could have. However, I did get a really cute picture of Paula's dog Willy peeking at the eyepiece.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Hubble will Live!!!

Just announced (but we all figured it would be).

Shuttle astronauts will make one final house call to NASA's Hubble Space Telescope as part of a mission to extend and improve the observatory's capabilities through 2013.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

The Force is NOT with Him

George Lucas the loser.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Lack of Spirit

You know, driving around all the time "just seeing the sights" has got to get boring after a while...

Sunday, October 15, 2006

A "Swan" through the Clouds

Even though it was clear most of the day, it was clouding up towards evening, screwing up my chance to see one of the comets up there right now - C/2006 M4 (SWAN).

I got out to the observatory early, and as the clouds started to break up, I got things aligned and swung the 16-inch over to the west - where there were more clouds. So I patiently waited.

Finally, at around 8.15pm a sucker hole appeared, right in front of the scope's field of view. I jumped to the eyepiece, and there it was: a beautiful little bluish fuzzy, with an easily discernable coma. There were a few field stars in the area; otherwise the comet dominated the field at just over 100x.

Now for the new “Levy” comet. I was going to look for Faye, but upon going over my old notes I saw that one already. :)

But SWAN goes into the log, as my 46th comet observed over the years. But I want more, you understand!!!! MORE!!!!!!!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Not Ready for Prime-Time DVDs anyone?

Just read this on the Digital Bits website...
Universal has just officially announced the DVD release of Saturday Night Live 1975-1976: The Complete First Season for 12/5! The 8-disc set (SRP $69.98) will include all 24 90-minute episodes complete with their original hosts and all the original musical guests. You also get a 32-page book of liner notes and rare case photos. I'll tell you, we were wondering if this would EVER happen. How cool will it be to be able to go back and enjoy vintage SNL just as it was originally broadcast? Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, Chevy Chase, Gilda Radner, Garrett Morris, Jane Curtin, Laraine Newman. Can you imagine? Frickin' awesome, man. AWESOME!
All I can say is: Yeah!! About frigging time!!!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


Today I've had my car for four years. I've tried to take care of it as much as I can.

Mileage is 71905.

It's my baby.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Dark Side of the Grail, or Python and the Moon

It's the Full Moon!

Tonight's full moon will be bigger than usual, thanks to where it is in its orbit around the Earth.

Exact time of the "full moon" is 11.13pm EDT. So get ready to be mooned big!!!

In fact, I'm going out to photograph it.

Interesting fact 1: There is no dark side of the moon really. Matter of fact it's all dark.

Interesting Fact 2 (regarding the line above): [During the recording of Dark Side of the Moon] Studio time would be typically interrupted for one of two reasons, either soccer or Monty Python television broadcasts. In fact, Pink Floyd were such Python fans that they used some of the money they made from the initial success of the album to help fund Monty Python's The Holy Grail film.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Everyone Lives in the Dark

and now you're trembling on a rocky ledge
staring down into a heartless sea
can't face life on a razor's edge
nothing's what you thought it would be

All of us get lost in the darkness...
All of us do time in the gutter...


Like I told a few people these past few days, there's a little bit in all of us (especially me) and it has to come to the surface once in a while. it can't be all roses and rainbows and ponies 24/7.

Sometimes you must give in to the dark.

Friday, September 22, 2006


Here's the setlist of the Clapton show. more later

I Shot the Sheriff
Got to Get Better in a Little While
Old Love (with Robert Cray)
Everybody Oughta Make a Change
Motherless Children

Back Home
I Am Yours
Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out
Running on Faith

After Midnight
Little Queen of Spades
Further On Up The Road
Wonderful Tonight

Crossroads (with Robert Cray)

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Joy, Then Sadness

I wanted to write about an incredible concert I attended tonight, but when I walked into the house I was hit with bad news.

My friend Bruce - fellow astronomer and my dentist - was found dead in his house this evening.

I don't know what happened, and it's wrong to speculate.

I'll have to write about the Eric Clapton concert tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

A New Blogger

Found something cool.

Homer Hickam now has his own blog.

In case you don't know who he is, he's the author of Rocket Boys, which was made into the movie October Sky.

There's a link to his blog on the right side of the page.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Avast Mateys!!

Today is International Talk Like a Pirate Day

So bring me grog and wenches!!!

Monday, September 18, 2006

A Flash of the Galaxy (Song)

Here's a flash animation of The Galaxy Song.

(Thanks to Phil Plait - the Bad Astronomer - for the link)

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Goodbye SA, Hello SG

Some more about the end of Slacker Astronomy.

This podcast was the first one I had ever listened to. Now, over a year and a half later, I can't remember how I got turned onto it, but I sure am glad I was. I think I only missed the first "test cast" back in February of 2005. I even have the special, not-easy-to-find "The End of Slacker Astronomy" podcast that they did as an April Fool's joke.

Slacker Astronomy was fun, informative, and many other things I could write (but won't, because I can't find the adjectives), and the crew (Aaron, Pamela, & Travis) even got me thinking about doing a podcast for my astronomy club (an idea since put on the back burner). I've even had a few email conversations with them. They are good people.

But, things must change. Pamela got a new job, Aaron is going to grad school. And so comes the end of Slacker Astronomy.

But in it's ashes, like the mythological Phoenix, rises Slackerpedia Galactica.

No, it's not a missing BattleStar. it's a new podcast/website/forum that will rise ever higher.

And not to be missed, Pamela has a new podcast with Frasier Cain of Universe Today fame. It's called AstronomyCast.

Friday, September 15, 2006

A Sad Day

My favorite podcast - Slacker Astronomy - is no more. They have changed the way they are going to do things around there, but the great podcast that I've listened to for over a year is kaput.

I really think it had to do with Pamela moving away, but I don't know.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Be Afraid... Be Very Afraid

A friend of mine told me today that his wife has "plans for me."

This does not bode well, as being "set up" with a woman has never went well, where I am concerned.

Every time, the woman has something mentally "unbalanced" about them.

Five Years

Ago, I remember where I was. I think everyone above a certain age does.

I really can't say "my generation" because multiple generations area around, and "my generation" has had several of "these days" in the past.

January 28, 1986 - I remember exactly where I was when the Space Shuttle Challenger blew up.

February 1, 2003 - I remember exactly where I was when the Space Shuttle Columbia was destroyed.

And of course, I remember exactly where I was on September 11, 2001. What I originally wrote has been lost (mainly because after I calmed down a bit I erased it, but there is still part of it online.

Friday, September 08, 2006

An Anniversary

40 years ago this evening, Star Trek debuted on television.

Although I don't remember the day exactly (being a really little kid), I can remember the first episode I saw.

It was The Corbomite Maneuver, and it was November 10, 1966. I remember sitting on the floor in the living room at my cousin's house, and being scared when the bit "ping pong ball" ship - the Fesarius - approached really close to the Enterprise.

I've been a far since that day, but my fandom has been tested, mainly by the debacle that was Voyager, Enterprise, and the movie Nemesis. Of course, those were the "genius" of Rick Berman, who is an idiot. He's directly to blame for the floundering of Trek in recent years. Good thing he's gone now.

I'll post more later, as I reminisce more.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

About The Baby

It's going to cost the people across the street nearly $1000 to fix the damage to my car.

They better frackin' pay up!!!

Friday, September 01, 2006

Aughh!! My Baby!!

I've had my car nearly four years now... beautiful Kaylee (I always name my cars after the first girl that sat in it). I treat her as carefully as I can, because who knows when I'll be able to get another one.

But tonight I failed her.

I had parked in the street in front of the house all day, so we could get the van in and out. And after dinner, the neighbor across the street backed out and hit my car!!!

Oh she was apologetic, and they have insurance. But my car has been violated in the worst way. Yeah, it can get fixed, but my Kaylee will never be the same. She'll be damaged for the rest of her life.

I failed her.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Pluto is Just Mickey's Dog now

It's official - there are only eight planets in the solar system. Pluto got demoted.

Pluto Demoted

Can't say that I'm surprised. But also, I can't say I'm sorry.

And I'm sure the debate will rage on for years.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Forum? Fiveum? Sixum?

Almost looks like I'm reverting back to the old ways on the internet. No, I'm not getting back into the whole "chat room" thing.

No, logging into forums. I've always been in a couple of them, even though I don't post to them much. But this past weekend I've joined three more. Actually I formed one of them for my local astronomy club, and I hope it's well-used by the members.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Does the Dark Really Matter?

Of course it does.

Word is getting out that there has been a breakthrough in the search for proof of Dark Matter. Here's the Press Release, and also more in depth commentary by Sean Carroll of the University of Chicago.

My friend Jake, who's a genius anyways, had this to say...
Okay. I can summarize the 'importance of the result.'

So: everyone knows dark matter is right. I mean, my opinion (and that of all my colleagues in high energy physics and cosmology) has been 'it is 99% likely that dark matter exists and it is composed of new matter particles.' I see no reason to suspect that demanding the existence of new particles as being 'hard to believe'---partly because such new particles are obviously predicted by theories without any reference to dark matter.


The astro community (which I find hard to comprehend oftentimes) would rather believe that we don't understand anything (e.g. MOND=general relativity is wrong for no good reason) than believe that new particles exist beyond those in stars

Anyway, this result shows that dark matter does in fact exist, which everyone outside of astronomy has known since 1933.
(Note: Just as an FYI: "MOND" = Modified Newtonian Dynamics - a theory that explains the galaxy rotation problem without assuming the existence of dark matter.)

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Just How Many Planets?

From the IAU (International Astronomical Union)

The IAU draft definition of "planet" and "plutons"

16. August 2006, Prague

The world's astronomers, under the auspices of the International Astronomical Union (IAU), have concluded two years of work defining the difference between "planets" and the smaller "solar system bodies" such as comets and asteroids. If the definition is approved by the astronomers gathered 14-25 August 2006 at the IAU General Assembly in Prague, our Solar System will include 12 planets, with more to come: eight classical planets that dominate the system, three planets in a new and growing category of "plutons" - Pluto-like objects - and Ceres. Pluto remains a planet and is the prototype for the new category of "plutons."

So if this passes, we will immediately jump from nine planets to twelve. The new ones will be Ceres, Charon (currently Pluto's moon), and UB313 (it's current designation - a new name will come later).

I may only have one week to still say that I have seen every planet in the solar system. Because as of next Friday, it won't be true.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

I Can See For Miles....

At 1:04pm EDT, or 17:04 UT, the odometer in my car turned 70,000 miles.

Guess I need to stop driving so much.

Friday, August 11, 2006


While trying (unsuccessfully) to take photos of hummingbirds in the back yard, I just happened upon a butterfly on one of our bushes.

You can see the images at my website.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

The Birthday Conundrum

I had a birthday recently (extremely recently – but I won’t tell you when), and got the usual grief from my family about not celebrating nor caring about it.

For the past few years we haven’t really celebrated any of our birthdays in the family, mainly because my brother and I have been “adults” for a long time now, and are past the “kids party” stuff. Now it’s perhaps a card, perhaps a gift. Nothing really big.

I guess my problem has to do with the sappy way everyone gets when it’s a birthday. People use their “cute” voice when they talk to you on that day, and heck, even my mom – in a “cute voice” – asked “well, and now how old are you today?” Frack, she knows how old I am; she was there, I think.

I guess I’m just embarrassed by the whole thing. But on the other hand, I don’t mind helping other people celebrate their birthday. Perhaps it’s because I’m not the “center of attention” if it’s someone else’s day.

(Now, those of you who think you know me are probably saying “but Kevin loves to be the center of attention!” But you are dead wrong. There’s too much pressure being the center of attention.)

A part of me does like the attention; the recognition. But I have always existed more with my head than my gut, and logic tells me that this “craving of attention and recognition” is wrong. So I get embarrassed.

I’ve always found it hard to talk about myself. Heck, if you look at our club’s newsletter, you will rarely see my name in it. Mainly because I write the thing, and can’t “toot my own horn” at all. It seems wrong some how. And that also is the reason I don’t have a “bio” on our club’s website. I’m not good at that stuff. Oh, I can write about others, but not about me.

So, where does that leave birthdays? Do I just leave the day out there, and let people know, so each year they can offer me well-wishes? Or do I still keep the date to myself, and then sulk about how no one cares? But I don’t think I really sulk; it just seems that way to me.

I guess it all goes back to not being a very open and trusting person, I reckon. And I don’t know, after all these years/decades, that I can change. Or perhaps because I don’t have anyone in my life to share it with (I’m talking a significant other, not family).

However... Happy Birthday to me.

Whenever it was.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Doing My Civic Duty - But Why Today?

Well, I have done my civic duty, as I went up and voted in the state primary. I tweaked my morning walk so I would go right past the polling place, and just stopped in on my way past.

As usual, there's really no one good to vote for, especially here in Michigan, where you can't split your ticket. I'm neither a republican nor democrat, but you have to vote for one party (if you want to vote in that area at all).

But why have the primary today, of all days? Sure, it's the second Tuesday of the month, but on the 8th? That's sacrelidge.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Dr. Tyson Speaks!!

Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson - who is the Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium, among other things - was the guest Blogger on the Planetary Society's weblog (Emily Lakdawalla is on maternity leave - congrats Emily!!), and he had some great things to say. Here are the links to his weblogs...

Appetite for the Cosmos: The Fan
Appetite for the Cosmos: The Janitor
Appetite for the Cosmos: The Cabbie
Appetite for the Cosmos: The UPS Delivery Guy
Appetite for the Cosmos: The Sanitation Truck Driver

I had to drop him a note expressing my admiration for what he wrote. I also suggested that he perhaps think of doing something like that all the time, just like Phil Plait, the Bad Astronomer.

We'll see if I get a reply.

Friday, August 04, 2006

It's Invaded my Brain!!!!

Was just out mowing the lawn.

So why do I have the Nick Gilder song "Hot Child in the City" running through my head?

Does anyone know?

The Sounds of Sirens

Man, I just love the first Friday of the month during the Spring - Fall. Right at noon.

That's when they test the tornado (civil defense) sirens.

I love to sit outside and listen.

Good times.... good times..

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Looking for Dust

I'm now officially part of the "Stardust@Home" project.

What is that, you say?

Well, it's a world-wide effort by scientists to find particles of cometary material in the returned sample from the Stardust mission to Comet Wild2.

It's pretty fun, and I like it better than when I did Seti@Home.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Birthday Wishes

Happy Birthday Julie.

Don't see ya much anymore, but I still remember my "little baby sisters'" birthday.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Cops for Pets

Was watching "Animal Cops: Houston" tonight, and it just makes me sick how some idiots have animals and abuse them.

I think that if you abuse a pet, you should have the same abuse given to you, only doubly so.

Girls Girls Girls

Hmm. I might have dissed a girl I know tonight, but I'm not sure.

I was out and about, and walking into this establishment in town, when I felt a (kind of) tap on my shoulder and someone say "Kevin?" At the time I thought I was late for something, and it didn't really register. Man, I hoipe it wasn't Cat, or Kate, or Steph. At the time those are the only ones I can think of.

Oh well. If you were the girl, drop me a note or call me.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Back in Time

This is sort of cryptic, but I'll understand.

Tonight I went back to November 17th, 1987.

Something that happened today directly links to my situation on that day. And I'm pretty damn happy about it.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

The Guitar God II

Got my tickets for Clapton!!

Great seats, can't wait for the concert!

Friday, May 26, 2006

The Guitar God

Great music news!!!

Eric Clapton is coming to town!!!

September 21st - I'll be there!!!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Got Towel?

Today is Towel Day. Everyone Celebrate.

Not sure what it is? Read This

Friday, May 19, 2006

A Voice Returns

"Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that there is anyone who will come and save us from ourselves."
Word has reached me today that there is going to be a new book out by Carl Sagan.
"But Kevin," you say. "Sagan passed away almost 10 years ago!" Well, some of his lactures are being released in book form.

"The Varieties of Scientific Experience: A Personal View of the Search for God."

Here's a short interview with his wife, Ann Druyan.
And please read "The Sagan File."

This is wonderful news. I can't wait until November.

Monday, May 15, 2006

We have the technology

No posts for a while, but I guess there's a good reason.

I had a small heart problem. Now I have two stents in my ticker, and am going to get my ass in gear and shape up. I might not be posting about it here, but I'll be doing it. And it looks like I've got some friends who are gonig to help me.

It's funny, but before this happened I actually thought no one really cared about me. Now, I guess they do. I've got a long way to go, and it will be hard, but I've now had the wake up call to get me there. It's God's plan.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

The Right Stuff Loses a Member

I just read online that Scott Crossfield has died. Some won't know who he is, but I do. He was the first man to fly at twice the speed of sound, after Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier in 1947.

His Cessna crashed - possibly due to bad weather - in the mountains of North Georgia.

Somewhere a lone bugler is playing "Taps" and planes are flying over with a spot open for him.

Godspeed Scott.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Storms A Comin'

I'm just going to plug an item everyone should think about getting, especially those who live in bad weather areas.

It's a NOAA Weather Alert radio.

During severe weather, you can't always rely on the sirens going off - or your hearing them. That is, even if your town has warning sirens. And you can't trust the television stations either. What if they are off the air, or you don't have power?

The weather alert radios have a battery backup, so they will work without power if needed. If you don't know what they are, here's a quick overview...

It's just a small radio that is tuned to your local NWS (National Weather Service) office. When they send out watches and warnings, the first thing they do (I'm making this really simple) is trigger an alert tone to all radios set to their frequency. This tone "turns on" weather radios with an extremely loud alert siren/tone. This is followed by the actual alert which is read over the air.

I've done some timings in my area, and usually my radio "tones" up to 3-4 minutes ahead of the television stations alerting the public, and even the sirens going off (if it's a tornado warning). And those 3-4 minutes could save my life if there's somethign headed right at me.

(Of course, since I'm a weather chaser, I'm "out in it" anyways. icon_biggrin.gif )

There are several cities in the US near "tornado alley" where having a weather radio is "mandatory." Just like smoke detectors.

you can pick them up at local Radio Shacks or other electronic stores. They aren't that expensive, and the nice thing now is they come with SAME technology.

SAME, or Specific Area Message Encoding allows you to specify the particular area for which you wish to receive alerts. Most warnings and watches broadcast over NOAA Weather Radio are county- or independent city-based (parish-based in Louisiana), although in a few areas of the country the alerts are issued for portions of counties. Since most NWR transmitters are broadcasting for a number of counties, SAME receivers will respond only to alerts issued for the area (or areas) you have selected. This minimizes the number of “false alarms” for events which might be a few counties away from where you live.

Also, on some models, you can have it "ignore" warnings that you don't need to receive. Since I live in Michigan, I have "hurricane warning" turned off, since we rarely get hurricanes here.icon_smile.gif

Here's a link about the radios, what to look for, and where to buy...

Weather Alert Radios

We now return you to your regular programming.

And since it's thundering here, I've got to grab the cameras and head on out to "chase the wind."

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Defend Science!!

There's a new, important group out there called Defend Science. Their goal is to:
rally broad opposition and resistance to the mounting attacks on science and scientific thinking which are unfolding in the United States.
This is a good thing. Too much supression of scientific research and data is being done by politicians bending to the will of the "religious right," who are telling them what to do. Evil people like Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell are basically blackmailing our leaders and politicians to strike down what they do not like, and be damned with people in need, or people who seek the truth.

I urge everyone to go to their site, read their statement, and do what you can to support them. We don't have time to waste.

Things I've Done

(Stolen for fun from someone else.)

The ones I've done are in red.
The ones I haven't done are in White
The ones in blue are things I want to do one day.

I have eaten more than 5 meals in one day.
I have read a lot of books.
I have been on some sort of varsity team.
I have walked/run more than 2 miles without stopping.
I have been to Canada.
I have been to Europe.
I have watched cartoons for hours.
I have tripped UP the stairs.
I have fallen down an entire flight of stairs.
I have been snowboarding/skiing.
I have played ping pong.
I swam in the ocean.
I have been on a whale watch.
I have seen fireworks.
I have seen a shooting star.
I have seen a meteor shower.
I have almost drowned.
I have been so embarrassed I wanted to disappear.
I have listened to one cd over & over & over again.
I have had stitches.
I have been on the honor roll.
I have had frostbite.
I have licked a frozen pole.
I have stayed up til 2 doing homework/projects.
I currently have a job.
I have been ice skating.
I have been rollerblading.
I have fallen flat on my face.
I have tripped over my own two feet.
I have been in a fist fight.
I have watched the power rangers.
I do attend Church regularly.
I have played truth or dare.
I have already had my 18th birthday.
I've lost weight since one year ago.
I've called someone stupid. And meant it.
I've been in a verbal argument.
I've cried in school.
I've played basketball on a team.
I've played baseball on a team.
I've played football on a team.
I've played soccer on a team.
I've done cheerleading on a team.
I've played softball on a team.
I've played volleyball on a team.
I've played hockey on a team.
I've played tennis on a team.
I've been on a swim team.
I've been on a golf team.
I've been swimming more than 20 times in my life.
I've bungee jumped.
I've climbed a rock wall.
I've lost more than $20.
I've called myself an idiot.
I've called someone else an idiot.
I've cried myself to sleep.
I've had (or have) pets.
I've owned a Spice Girls cd.
I've owned a Britney Spears cd.
I've owned an N*Sync cd.
I've owned a Backstreet Boys cd.
I've sworn at someone in authority.
I've been in the newspaper.
I've been on TV.
I've been to Hawaii.
I've eaten sushi.
I've been on the other side of a waterfall.
I've watched all of the Lord of the Rings movies.
I've watched all of the Harry Potter movies.
I've watched all of the Rocky movies.
I've watched the 3 stooges.
I've watched "Newlyweds" Nick & Jessica.
I've watched Looney Tunes
I've been stuffed into a locker.
I've been called a geek.
I've studied hard for a test and got a bad grade.
I've not studied at all for a test and aced it.
I've hugged my mom within the past 24 hrs.
I've hugged my dad within the past 24 hours.
I've met a celebrity/music artist.
I've written poetry.
I've been arrested.
I've been attracted to someone much older than me.
I've been tickled till I've cried.
I've tickled someone else until they cried.
I've had/have siblings.
I've been to a rock concert(s).
I've listened to classical music and enjoyed it.
I've been in a play
I've been picked last in gym class.
I've been picked first in gym class.
I've been picked in that middle-range in gym class.
I've cried in front of my friends.
I've read a book longer than 1,000 pages.
I've played Halo 2.
I've freaked out over a sports game
I've been to Alaska
I've been to China
I've been to Spain.
I've been to France.
I've had a fight with someone on MSN or AIM
I've had a fight with someone face-to-face.
I've had serious conversations on any IM
I've forgiven someone who has done something wrong to me.
I've been forgiven.
I've screamed at a scary movie.
I've cried at a chick flick.
I've watched a lot of action movies.
I've screamed at the top of my lungs.
I've been to a rap concert.
I've been to a hip hop concert.
I've lived in more than 2 houses.
I've driven on the highway
I've driven more than 40 miles in a day.
I've been in a car accident
I've been homesick.
I've thrown up
I've puked all over someone
I've been horseback riding
I've spoken my mind in public.
I've proved someone wrong.
I've been proved wrong by someone.
I've broken a leg.
I've broken an arm.
I've fallen off a swing.
I've swung on a swing for more than 30 mins straight.
I've watched Winnie the Pooh movies.
I've forgotten my backpack when I've gone to school.
I've lost my backpack.
I've come close to dying.
I've seen someone die/dying.
I've known someone who has died.
I've wanted to be an actor/actress at some point.
I've done modeling.
I've forgotten to brush my teeth some mornings.
I've taken something/someone for granted.
I've realized how good my life is.
I've counted my blessings.
I've made fun of a classmate.
I've been asked out by someone and I said no.
I've asked someone on a date and been turned down.
I've slapped someone in the face.
I've been skateboarding.
I've been backstabbed by someone I thought was a friend.
I've lied to someone to their face.
I've told a little white lie.
I've taken a day off from school just so I don't go insane.
I've fainted.
I've had an argument with someone about whether cheerleading is a sport or not.
I've pushed someone into a pool.
I've been pushed into a pool.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

25 Years of Exploration

Today marks the 25th Anniversary of the first space shuttle launch.

Just after 7am on April 12, 1981, the space shuttle Columbia rose off the pad at Cape Canaveral with astronauts John Young and Robert Crippen in the first operational test of the new shuttle system.

I remember sitting watching in awe and fascination as that beautiful ship rose up from the clouds of smoke and ascended to its rightful place in the sky.

The first mission didn't last long - just 36 orbits and 2+ days - but it proved that the system worked (despite some flaws). Watching her land on the dry lake beds of Edwards was a sight to behold.

The musical group Rush even had a song about Columbia....

Lyrics by Neil Peart

Dedicated with thanks to astronauts Young & Crippen and all the people of NASA for their inspiration and cooperation

[Coming up on 45 minute point in out countdown. Everything going smoothly... T minus 45 minutes and counting…]
[Coming up on T minus 40 minutes. T Minus 40 minutes and counting… This is shuttle launch control.]

Lit up with anticipation
We arrive at the launching site
The sky is still dark, nearing dawn
On the Florida coastline

Circling choppers slash the night
With roving searchlight beams
This magic day when super-science
Mingles with the bright stuff of dreams

[…we are go for launch. At the present time, we know of no major problems, as we enter the final hold.]

Floodlit in the hazy distance
The star of this unearthly show
Venting vapours, like the breath
Of a sleeping white dragon

Crackling speakers, voices tense
Resume the final count
All systems check, T minus nine
As the sun and the drama start to mount

The air is charged - a humid, motionless mass
The crowds and the cameras,
The cars full of spectators pass
Excitement so thick - you could cut it with a knife
Technology - high, on the leading edge of life

[T minutes 27 seconds… sequencers start, T minus 20 seconds and counting…. T minus 15, 14, 13…
T minus 10, 9, 8 7 6 5 4... Main engines start, we have liftoff.]

The earth beneath us starts to tremble
With the spreading of a low black cloud
A thunderous roar shakes the air
Like the whole world exploding

Scorching blast of golden fire
As it slowly leaves the ground
It tears away with a mighty force
The air is shattered by the awesome sound

[T plus 30 seconds... 35... Columbia, Houston. you’re go at 40…]

Excitement so thick - you could cut it with a knife
Technology - high, on the leading edge of life
Like a pillar of cloud, the smoke lingers
High in the air
In fascination - with the eyes of the world
We stare...

[Columbia is now turning for it’s precise window in space for main engine cutoff…]
[Plus 2 minutes 40 seconds, Columbia now 39 nautical miles in altitude, 42 nautical miles downrange…]
[Columbia you’re looking a little hot and all your calls will be a little early...]
[Young and Crippin really moving out now – velocity now reading 6200 feet per second…]
[“What a view! What a view” “Glad you enjoyed it”…]
[Columbia Houston, we have 40 seconds to LOS, after LOS you’re looking good
for an over-the-hill and we’ll see you in Madrid…]
[“And we enjoyed the music Bob, thank ya.”…]
[“We enjoyed it. We just wanted to share some with ya.”…]

And sadly, nearly 22 years later, we would lose Columbia - and its seven astronauts - as it broke up over the skies of the United States that cold day in February 2003.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Have a Nice Day!

Mars says "hi"

image of Mars happy face crater

But it's just a trick of the light. Don't read anything into it. Unlike Hoagland and his conspiracy idiots.

In Years Past

April 11th. I remember where I was many years ago...

And even though I have a great interest now, back then they scared me to death. Mainly because I thought I was going to die. I can still hear the sound in my head...

Thursday, April 06, 2006

This Floored Me

Text might be hidden 'Gospel of Judas'

Wow, if this is true, it's a real revelation into the past, and the role Judas took in the life of Christ.

I'm very intrigued.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Setting up Woes

Working on the new Gallery for the photo website, and it's being a problem.

I had backed up the old one, but it doesn't really do any good. So I have no idea on data from the old site (dates, times, etc.) to put up on the new version. Plus, with the upgrade, the company removed some options that I had used before.

Oh well, lots of work. Thankfully I've taken access away from it until it's ready to be presented to the public.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Web Work

Well, looks like I'll have some work to do. We're switching all the personal websites to a new server, and even though I have all the pages, etc. on the local machine, I'm really not sure what images/graphics I've used.

So I guess I'll have to wait until the DNS updates so I can see what doesn't work.

Monday, March 27, 2006


A few things.

1. I took official "ownership" (re: the maintenance) of a new website today. It's for a couple of friends of mine who look for asteroids that could impact the earth. Check them out:

It's still the old design, but soon it will look better (I hope).

2. "Dawn" is reinstated.

NASA today announced that the Dawn mission to the asteroids Vest and Ceres is back on. This is good news: Dawn's an important mission to study these solar system bodies. Much too important to cut the mission. We can learn so much by space exploration, but the silly politicians always have to ruin things.

Space is - to quote Star Trek - "the Final Frontier" and we need to do whatever it takes to gather data on everything out there, and to do everything possible (and conceiveable) to expand the presence of the human race to the stars.

We're Number One!

I "googled" my name earlier this afternoon, and guess what?

My site is the first one listed!!! Woo-hoo!!

Sunday, March 26, 2006

The NEW Male Code of Ethics

The NEW Male Code of Ethics

1. Under no circumstances may you watch brokeback mountain.

2. Under no circumstances may two men share an umbrella.

3. Any man who brings a camera to a bachelor party may be legally killed and eaten by his fellow partygoers.

4. When you are queried by a buddy's wife, girlfriend, mother, father, priest, shrink, dentist, accountant, or dog walker, you need not and should not provide any useful information whatsoever as to his whereabouts. You are permitted to deny his very existence.

5. Unless he murdered someone in your immediate family, you must bail a friend out of jail within 12 hours.

6. You may exaggerate any anecdote told in a bar by 50 percent without recrimination; beyond that, anyone within earshot is allowed to call B.S. (Exception: When trying to pick up a woman, the allowable exaggeration rate rises to 400 percent.)

7. If you've known a guy for more than 24 hours, his sister is off-limits forever.

8. The minimum amount of time you have to wait for another guy who's running late is five minutes. For a woman, you are required to wait 10 minutes for every point of hotness she scores on the classic 1-10 scale.

9. Bitching about the brand of free beer in a buddy's refrigerator is forbidden. You may gripe if the temperature is unsuitable.

10. No man is ever required to buy a birthday present for another man. In fact, even remembering a friend's birthday is strictly optional.

11. Agreeing to distract the ugly friend of a hot babe your buddy is trying to hook up with is your legal duty. Should you get carried away with your good deed and end up together, your pal is forbidden to speak of it, even at your bachelor party.

12. Before dating a buddy's ex, you are required to ask his permission and he, in return, is required to grant it.

13. Women who claim they "love to watch sports" must be treated as spies until they demonstrate knowledge of the game and the ability to pick a buffalo wing clean.

14. If a man's zipper is down, that's his problem --- you didn't see nothin'.

15. The universal compensation for buddies who help you move is beer.

16. A man must never own a cat or like his girlfriend's cat.

17. Your girlfriend must bond with your buddy's girlfriends within 30 minutes of meeting them. You are not required to make nice with her gal pal's significant others --- low-level sports bonding is all the law requires.

18. When stumbling upon other guys watching a sports event, you may always ask the score of the game in progress, but you may never ask who's playing.

19. When your girlfriend/wife expresses a desire to fix her whiny friend up with your pal, you may give her the go-ahead only if you'll be able to warn your buddy and give him time prepare excuses about joining the priesthood.

20. It is permissible to consume a fruity drink only when you're sunning on a tropical beach...and it's delivered by a topless supermodel...and it's free.

21. Unless you're in prison, never fight naked.

22 A man in the company of a hot, suggestively dressed woman must remain sober enough to fight.

23. If a buddy is outnumbered, outmanned, or too drunk to fight, you must jump into the fight. Exception: If within the last 24 hours his actions have caused you to think, "What this guy needs is a good ass-whoopin'." Then you may sit back and enjoy.

24. Never hesitate to reach for the last beer or the last slice of pizza, but not both. That's just plain mean.

25. If you compliment a guy on his six-pack, you better be referring to his beer.

26. Never talk to a man in the bathroom.

27. If a buddy is already singing along to a song in the car, you may not join him.

28. Before allowing a drunken friend to cheat on his girl, you must attempt one intervention. If he is able to get on his feet, look you in the eye, and deliver a "leave me alone!" you are absolved of your responsibility.

29. Never join your girlfriend or wife in ragging on a buddy of yours, unless she is withholding sex, pending your response.

30. Phrases that may never be uttered to another man while lifting weights:

* "Yeah, baby, push it!"
* "Come on, give me one more, harder!"
* "Another set and we can hit the showers"
* "Nice ass! Are you a Sagittarius?"

31. Never talk to another man in the bathroom caveat: Unless you are on equal footing and both waiting in line. For all other situations an "I recognize you" nod will do just fine.

32. You can not rat out a friend who show's up to work or class with a massive hangover, however you may: hide the aspirin, smear his chair with limburger cheese, turn the brightness on his computer way up so he thinks its broken, or have him paged every seven minutes.

33. If you catch your girl messing around with your best friend, let your states crime of passion laws be your guide.

34. If your buddy is trying to hook up with a girl, you may sabotage him only in a manor that gives you no chances of getting any either.

35. If a buddy has lint, an eyelash, or any other foreign object on his hair or face, under no circumstances are you permitted to remove it. However an appropriate hand gesture may be made to make him aware of it.

36. An anniversary is recognized on a yearly basis, under no circumstances will anything be celebrated in an interval other than a year

37. When coming to a room which you know is occupied by your friend and possibly another girl, you must knock and wait for an adequate response. If no response occurs, and the door is locked, a 10 minute period is required before knocking again.

38. A man’s gotta scratch what a man’s gotta scratch. This applies to picking as well. Let the man be.

39. No man shall ever watch any of the following programs on TV:

* Figure skating
* Men's gymnastics
* Any sport involving women (unless viewed for sexual purposes)

40. If you accidentally touch or brush against any part of another man below the waist, it is an understood accident, and NO apologies or any reference to the occurrence is necessary. Ever!

41. No man shall spend more than 2 minutes in front of a mirror. If more time is required, a three minute waiting period must be allowed before returning to the mirror.

42. Any dispute lasting any longer than 3 minutes will and must be settled by rock, paper, scissors. There is no argument too important for this determining method.

43. Only acceptable times when a man is allowed to cry:

* When a heroic dog dies to save his master.
* After being struck in the testicles with anything moving fast than 7 mph.
* When your date is using her teeth.

44. If a bet is made, and the challenge is completed, then the bettor may recoup his money by immediately completing a more daring challenge. If he refuses the challenge or chooses not to propose one, then and only then, must the money be paid.

45. If a hot girl shall happen to pass by while you are in an arms reach of your buddy, you must, and will, tap him on the shoulder to make him aware of the babe.

46. No comment shall ever be made to a man about how much he is sweating. In fact, there is no need bring notice to any body part which he may be sweating from.

47. You have not made any mistake if you find that there are extra pieces after reassembling or assembling an object. In fact, you have just found a way to make that object more efficient.

48. Any object thrown with reasonable speed and accuracy, MUST be caught.

49. No man shall ever keep track of, or count, the amount of beers he has had in a night.

50. Under no circumstances may two non-related men share a bed or anything which can be perceived as a mattress.

51. In an empty room, car, ect., a man can not ask another man if he is mad because he isn’t talking.

52. If you jiggle more than twice, you’re playing with it.

53. A man shall never help another man apply sun tan oil.

54. The guy who wants something the most is responsible for getting it.

55. If your friend says "Lick my nuts" or "Kiss my ass" as a way to put you down, don't try to be funny by saying "OK" and moving your head towards his crotch, two homosexual references in a row are just plain scary...

56. If you say ouch, you are a wimp!

Saturday, March 25, 2006

I Now Pronounce You...

Just a short rant here.

Why can't people learn to pronounce things correctly. Especially when they are supposedly learned individuals.

I was listening to a radio program just a while ago, and the speaker constantly mispronounced words. And not even consistently. Once time they would pronounce it correctly, and then a few minutes later - incorrectly. This, I believe, is bad form for someone who hypothetically knows what they are doing, and is trying to impart knowledge.

People! Please take the time to check and make sure you know what you are saying. You might be completely familiar with the content of what you are talking about, but perhaps not the pronunciation. Take five minutes and learn something before opening your mouth on a worldwide stage.

Sorry to rant, this is just a pet peeve of mine. I guess it harkens back to the days in grammar school when I was winning spelling bees left and right.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Oh Brother!

I can't believe this. I might be out of retirement again. We'll have to see. Meanwhile, this quote is apropos...

"Just when I thought that I was out they pull me back in."
-- Michael Corleone

Monday, March 20, 2006


It's Spring!! The Vernal Equinox!!!

When a young man's fancy turns to thoughts of love..

(And then he kills himself when he realizes he'll never have it).


Check out the Bad Astronomer's blog, where he explains that you can set eggs up any day.

Current Meterological Conditions

Temp: 42.6 F.
Humidity: 19%
Pressure: 30.27
Wind: NE @ 5mph

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Can't see the Forest

"Now there's no more Oak oppression
For they passed a noble law
And the trees are all kept equal
By hatchet,
And saw..."

It... has... begun.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Women Drivers

Just found out something cool today.

Congratulations to Nicole Malachowski. She's the Right Wing (#3) in the 2006 US Air Force Thunderbirds!

Good going!!

You can read more about her here.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006


NASA Scrubs May Shuttle Flight

NASA announced today July 1 to 19, 2006, is the new launch planning window for Space Shuttle Discovery's mission (STS-121). The window gives the agency time to do additional engineering work and analysis to ensure a safe flight for Discovery and its crew.

Read more about it at the NASA Shuttle site.

It's the 15th!

Beware the Ides of March!

(But not really, unless you're Julius Caesar)

Here's why.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Have a piece of...


It's "International Pi Day!!

Monday, March 13, 2006

I've got the Spirit, and I have the Opportunity...

So I'm off to Mars!!

And you can be as well, just click here...

Funny thing about the Google logo for this.
If you mouseover, you see this....

Fitting, as today is his birthday (1855-1916)

Saturday, March 11, 2006

The Perils of Publishing


Looks like the book I submitted photographs to won't be out until the end of May now. Heck, it was supposed to be out last August! Why are they pushing it back all the time? I know not even the author can understand why.

And I thought it was a good, reputable publisher.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Marching to Mars

Another milestone this afternoon as the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter made a successful insertion into the orbit of Mars. It was a tricky maneuver, and that has killed other spacecraft going to the Red Planet. But it's there, and looking good. As soon as the orbit is corrected for data-gathering purposes, science can begin.

You can find more about the mission here.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Don't Worry, Be Happy

Leastwise I hope the "happy couple" will when they get home. Proofs came back today, and they look good.

Now to see what the bride and groom think.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

The Wedding Report

Well, I’m still kinda sore from yesterday as I write this, but here’s an overview of the wedding shoot. And again, why did I come out of retirement? Oh yeah, because I needed the money.

I hadn’t been feeling good for a few days anyways, just from the stress of having to shoot this wedding. I mean, I don’t want to screw it up, but I haven’t done a wedding in years/decades, and am nervous.

So I get up around 7am to get ready, doing the usual: shower, shave, etc. Put on some good clothes, gather my gear, and I’m off to the church. Arriving a little after 8am. I thought I was going to get the evil looks for being 5 minutes late, but not even the bride or groom where there yet!! So I put my stuff out of site and start thinking about how I'm going to shoot certain things.

Oh yeah - the wedding was at 10am. And I had to be there to shoot stuff beforehand.

Suddenly I realize that I left one of my lenses at home. Not usually a big deal, but this was the one the cross-screen filter fit. And I needed that filter for the unity candle and the rings later. So I had to drive like a maniac down the highway to get the lens. It took about a half-hour, and by the time I got back, the bride had finally arrived.

I’ll skip the details of the ceremony, as it was just a wedding ceremony. Everyone’s filed out of the place to the receiving line, and we’re setting up the lighting units (I was able to drag a friend of mine out of retirement as well to help with the shoot). Now, since the reception was just next door, the wedding party is back in shortly and making life really hard on us as they are rushing the shoot. That ticks us off, as you can’t rush formal portraits if you want them to look good. But we did the best that we could, and I just hope things turned out okay.

We get done, and they just go right next door to the reception, barely giving me enough time to switch lenses to catch the “entrance of the couple.” What is with this “hurry up” stuff? They (the wedding party) were making noises like “people are waiting for us at the reception...” Well, that’s what they are supposed to do. I’ll bet 99% of the people there are well aware of how long it takes photographers.

Suffice it to say it was a typical wedding reception. Well, maybe not typical, as there was no alcohol allowed, and there was no dancing (Baptist church).

And another thing: this wedding wasn’t in the “church” but in a “multi-purpose room.” And in the basement of this church, there was a “Saturday meeting” going on, and WE couldn’t make any noise upstairs at the wedding, in case we disturbed the people downstairs. What?!? Since when is a regular Saturday dealio more important than a wedding? We even had to whisper in certain areas of the upstairs, and I couldn’t take flash photos “in case the flash was visible downstairs and we disturbed them.” What a bunch of crap. But I was able to work around it. I’m just glad that it’s over, and I won’t have to go back there.

Or do another wedding. I’m back into retirement as far as weddings go. No amount of money (well, I guess it depends) will make me do another one. I’ll stick with the portraits and such. It’s much easier, less stress, and actually more lucrative.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Wedded Bliss?

I don't know about that. All I know is that the stress I was feeling about shooting this wedding is mostly over now that it's done with.

First wedding I've shot in years. I think it worked out fine. But I know one thing...

I'm really tired and sore. I haven't done that much standing and walking at one time in months.

And - hee hee - my hand's cramped up from holding the camera nearly nonestop for 6 hours.

More later.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

A Stressful Day

So far.

And it's thanks to a local store and their "one hour photo" idiots.

Last night I had done a test shoot with some new strobes for a wedding that I have to shoot this weekend. For a model I used a girl I know: went over to her house, set up the lights, etc.

So today I get the pictures back, and there's this 1/4 inch faded black stripe down the center of each image. What!?!?! That's all I need!! Two days from a wedding, and my main camera is broke! And I don't have a backup, since it's down for repair as well. I've got to check this out.

So I jump in the car and race downtown to the local pro lab, and roll out the negatives in the big light table. Under magnification, I can't see anything on the negatives. I ask Sasha – one of the people down there – to take a look, and she can’t see anything either. She goes and calls one of the techs down to look. While we’re waiting, Kevin comes out of the back and looks, but he can’t see anything. So what’s going on?

The lab tech arrives, and she takes the negatives upstairs and scans them in quick and prints off a couple of shots. In about 15 minutes she comes downstairs, and shows me their images.

Whew!!! Relieve sets in!! It’s nothing on the negatives – it’s the fault of the one-hour idiots. See, if you’ve ever taken your prints to a one-hour place, you will see black data on the back. It’s the codes for that picture, in case you need to have another copy made. Well, these idiots here have something wrong with the machine, and it bleeds through the whole picture, so it’s visible in the front – causing me MUCH stress as I thought my camera was broke.

But it’s not, and I can shoot this wedding on Saturday. More on that later. I need to go de-stress somehow. I could use a hug. Anyone? Anyone?

The Maestro!!!

Tonight's "Nightline" features John Williams!

And I just found this out by turning the channel to it!! And there's only 5 minutes left!

Rats!!! Rats!!! Grr!!! Arghh!!!

They asked him what his favorite scores were. He said two tracks/areas...

Ending from CE3K
Bicycles over the moon from ET.

Why oh why didn't I check the TV sooner??!!!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Giving Up

Today is Ash Wednesday, the First Day of Lent

In giving something up for Lent, I find I actually can't give up Lent. So I'm giving up Candy.

And Lisa. Stephanie. Julie. Christie. Jamie. Kathy. Kate. Wendy. Lori. Laura. Brandy. Mindy. Samantha. Sarah. Patty. Sara. Diana. Elizabeth. Marcie. Holly. Melanie.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Manhunt in the City!!!

Big manhunt going on here.

A dude that shot a local cop three times (back last year) escaped from the jail about a mile from my house. There's a whole area cordoned off, and the cops - in full SWAT gear - are doing a house-to-house. This dude escaped nearly 3 hours ago.

I hope he comes near here. just come into my yard. I'll shoot the f*cker.

There were so many eyewitnesses to the dude shooting the cop, he's guilty for sure. The trial is just "procedure."

We'll see....

Monday, February 27, 2006

The Big Dilemma

What to do...

If I buy Lady and the Tramp at best Buy tomorrow, I can get a free "Tramp" stuffed doggie. If I buy it at an evil local store, I can get a free "Lady" one.

What to do, what to do.

All Hail the King!!!

Kong, of course. in 30 Seconds.. by bunnies....

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Why Bother?

Why do I do it? Why bother?

I bust my six (ass, for those of you who aren't military brats) keeping our website up to date, putting out monthly newsletters with the latest intel/info, and no one reads the frackin' things!!!!

Why do I do it???? It sure the heck ain't for my health!!! And it sure ain't for the glory, as I get no gorram recognition at all.

I know I don't have the answers.

Friday, February 24, 2006

You think you're so smart!!!

Word of the Day....


Wednesday, February 22, 2006

It's a Man's Life...

"Good Lord!! I'm on Film!!!

How did that happen??!!"

Watching "Monty Python's Personal Best" on PBS. Even now, years - nee decades - later, it's still frickin' hilarious!

Solve for "c"

There was a young lady named Bright,
Whose speed was far faster than light;
She set out one day,
In a relative way,
And returned home the previous night.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Bored now

How bored, you ask?

I've spent the last 2.5 hours playing "Freecell" on this computer.

Pathetic, isn't it.

Frackin' Cold

Wake up to the wx station here reading -2.9F. Dewpoint -18.6F. Too cold.

Hasn't risen much either. Think I'm gonna stay home all day in the warmth, thinking about 90 degree summer days.

And thinking of nothing else.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

New Watch!!!

Oh yeah, there's a tornado watch too.


Ice Storm Warning!!!



Goodbye Cruel World!!!

We're having "Thunderhail!!"

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

WX Warning!!

Ah, if it were only late spring or summer. The words "Weather Warning" would set me to getting the cameras ready, wx meters out, ham radio charged, all so I could go "chase the wind."
But tonight we're talking crappy weather, since it's February. And according to the local TV meteorologists, we could get "a years' worth of weather in 24 hours." First heavy snow, then freezing rain, then snow, then thunderstorms, then back to heavy snow.

And while currently - according to my home Wx station - it's 41.2 degrees, the high Saturday will barely make it into the teens.

Frickin' winter. I hate you so!!!

So, tonight's plans? basically like every night for me, but this time I'll spend some of my time putting my Beethoven CD's on my iPod. I tried last night but things became "confused."

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Birthday Wishes

Happy Birthday Rachel and Sara.

Rachel, hopefully I'll see you around sometime. It's been nearly two years since you wanted to set me up with your friend. I wasn't holding my breath anyways.

And Sara... haven't seen you in years. But have a nice day anyways.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Pronunciation Rules

One thing I hate, is people that can't pronounce things (names, etc) correctly. Case in point:

Today is the anniversary of the Apollo 1 fire, where astronauts Roger Chaffee, Gus Grissom, and Ed White lost their lives in training to fly the first Apollo mission, back in 1967.

Now, Roger's a home town boy, and there a street named after him (Roger B. Chaffee Boulevard), a planetarium (Roger B. Chaffee Planetarium at the Public Museum), and a scholarship (Chaffee Scholarship). Needless to say, he’s well-known.

Now, a local television station did a story on the Apollo 1 fire. And the “news person” – whose name is Suzanne Geha – mispronounced his name, saying “ChAffee (long “A”) instead of “chaffee” (short “a”). This is not the first time she has done that. In fact, it’s a constant mistake.

So I got mad that she kept doing that, and I called down to the station and complained extremely loudly to the person who answered the phone, telling them they better let “Geha” know, because the science element in town were not going to stand by and let her screw up a national hero’s name.

I don’t know if it did any good, but it felt good.