Saturday, March 14, 2009

Finally, the Truth about John Lennon's Murder . . . from Florida

"California laughed. Look at California now."

Happy Pi Day

3.141592653589793238462643383279502884197169399375105820974944592307816406286 208998628034825342117067982148086513282306647093844609550582231725359408128481 117450284102701938521105559644622948954930381964428810975665933446128475648233 786783165271201909145648566923460348610454326648213393607260249141273724587006 606315588174881520920962829254091715364367892590360011330530548820466521384146 951941511609433057270365759591953092186117381932611793105118548074462379962749 567351885752724891227938183011949129833673362440656643086021394946395224737190 702179860943702770539217176293176752384674818467669405132000568127145263560827...and so on!

Kids and marrage...........

We may have heard this one before but it tickled me again this morning so I'll share it......

HOW DO YOU DECIDE WHO TO MARRY? (written by kids)

You got to find somebody who likes the same stuff. Like, if you like sports, she should like it that you like sports, and she should keep the chips and dip coming.
Alan, age 10

No person really decides before they grow up who they're going to marry. God decides it all way before, and you get to find out later who you're stuck with.
Kristen, age 10


Twenty-three is the best age because you know the person FOREVER by then.
Camille, age 10

You might have to guess, based on whether they seem to be yelling at the same kids.
Derrick, age 8

Both don't want any more kids.
Lori, age 8

Dates are for having fun, and people should use them to get to know each other. Even boys have something to say if you listen long enough.
Lynn, age 8
On the first date, they just tell each other lies and that usually gets them interested enough to go for a second date.
Martin, age 10
Martin is wise beyond his years

When they're rich.
Pam, age 7
The law says you have to be eighteen, so I wouldn't want to mess with that.
Curt, age 7
The rule goes like this: If you kiss someone, then you should marry them and have kids with them. It's the right thing to do.
Howard, age 8

It's better for girls to be single but not for boys. Boys need someone to clean up after them. Anita, age 9 (bless you child)

There sure would be a lot of kids to explain, wouldn't there?
Kelvin, age 8

And the #1 Favorite is........
Tell your wife that she looks pretty, even if she looks like a dump truck.
Justin,age 9

Friday, March 13, 2009

Joan Armitrading

Good voice, very eclectic music writing, and she was a gifted musician. I heard once she used a multi-track in her home and played every instrument. If you like this song, check out "I'm Lucky" and "Down to zero."

Aww heck, gotta let this one squeeze in here before I head to bed

Not lost, never found

Well a few found it. Dr. Buzzard's Original Savanna Band

Friday Nights Lost Video

Tonights piece of dust from the vaults is a song from 1979, that a few of you might have heard and said who is that. I know I did. The band is called The Tarney-Spencer Band. They are an Australian rock band composed of Trevor Spencer and Alan Tarney in the late 1970s. The band recorded three albums, and is notable for the song "No Time to Lose" which received substantial air-play in the USA on Album-oriented rock radio stations, and charted twice on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart . Cool song, classic late 70's video. Love the skating! Enjoy "No Time To Lose".

Dixieland Jazz fans

Anyone into the dixieland jazz type of music? At the Marriot this weekend.

Share a Laugh

Much of the local and national news is discouraging. I'm tired of being depressed over things that are out of my control. Here's a joke a friend emailed me. Please share some of your own.

On their honeymoon, the blonde bride slipped into a sexy nightie and, with great anticipation, crawled into bed, only to find her new Catholic husband had settled down on the couch.

When she asked him why he was apparently not going to make love to her, he replied, 'It's Lent'.

In tears, she sobbed, 'Well, that is the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard! Who did you lend it to, and for how long?'

Sense of Humor

I just absolutely love these kinds of stories.

Huck, if there was ever proof of a diety, this is it.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Rock and Roll Revival

Welcome back again ,to Rock and Roll Revival! Last week, Orbs commented on how U2's music had an affect on him. How it makes your hair stand up. I feel the same way about some of U2's music. Amazingly enough, U2 recently released a new album, No Line on the Horizion with critical aclaim. So naturally, I've been listening to a lot U2 lately, including their old stuff. One song in particular has been in my head all week long-Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses-from the Achtung Baby album. Now has anybody ever have a song ,sound, or melody stuck in their head? This happens to me all the time.

GLOBE at Night Wants You


GLOBE at Night (GAN), our annual dark skies campaign, is about to ramp up for 2009. GLOBE at Night will start on March 16th and culminate on March 28th in conjunction with Earth Hour.

GLOBE at Night is a citizen science campaign to raise awareness of light pollution and collect data on how bright the night sky is at various locations around the world. Anyone can participate and contribute data (and it is a good project to get students involved in, teachers!)

The procedure is simple. Go outside on a clear night from March 16th to the 28th and find the constellation Orion in the southwest. The GLOBE at Night website has magnitude charts (which I have included to embiggen).


If you have a bright sky with a lot of light pollution, you might see something like the magnitude 1 or 2 chart. If you are lucky and live in a dark site, you would see the magnitude 5 or 6 chart. Simply select which chart most closely matches what you can see in the sky. That's your data. You then go to the web and report your data. The report form will be up on March 16th when the campaign starts. You will also be asked for your latitude and longitude as well as the local time. You can find your latitude and longitude using a variety of online tools or a GPS system. Once you have entered your data, you can zoom in on your city and see your data as well as data collected by others around you.

You can (and are encouraged) to take lots of observations. We need lots of measurements in suburbs, city centers, parks, the countryside, everywhere. I take some nightly bike rides during GLOBE at Night and make measurements every half mile, taking different routes each time. I have a small GPS system I use to track my runs and use an MP3 voice recorder to record my data. I can canvas dozens of square miles over the course of a few nights (I know night bike rides can be iffy in Racine this time of year!)

So why should you care about dark skies? Won't decreasing light make the night more dangerous? Well, lights pointing up = energy wasted. The least we can do is shield lights and be sure they point downward. Second, very bright lights create lots of glare to the point that too much light can decrease safety. Glare can make it difficult to see pedestrians on the street and stop signs. Wasting energy and money and decreasing safety makes no sense.

Poor lighting effects wildlife in many ways. It can disrupt mating patterns of certain animals, disorient birds, and we know they can attract insects! Research is well underway on the effects of excess nighttime lighting on human health including studies indicating increased cancer risks.

Fortunately, this is a problem that can be solved and save money at the same time. Lighting companies make lots of high quality, well shielded lights that cost no more than poorly designed fixtures. Racine's Ruud Lighting is one of these companies. They are members of the International Dark Sky Association and have many well designed lights. Many cities are passing lighting ordinances and will be installing shielded street lights as their old ones wear out. The International Dark Sky Association has sample lighting ordinances and lots of information on good lighting design.

The first steps are raising awareness and collecting data. So please take a few minutes the next couple of weeks and contribute a little piece to this ongoing project!

Reprinted with permission from the Half-Astrophysicist Blog.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Another Sign of Spring

My cat, Charlie, was going crazy, running from window to window. Usually he acts like that when he spots another cat, or a dog. I looked out the window, and there was a chipmunk. They're regulars around here, but I don't see them in the winter like the birds and squirrels. Do these guys hibernate, migrate, or just appear out of nowhere in the spring?

Worm Moon Rising

This one's for Beejay who commented in my previous blog about seeing the full Moon rise last night. The Moon was rising over the Rincon Mountains on the east side of Tucson as I rode my scooter home after my after-work run. I saw the Moon from when it firste peeked above the moutains. The Moon illusion was in full force (the illusion that the Moon appears larger near the horizon). I have always thought the Moon illusion is more pronounced over the mountains.

March's full Moon is known as the Worm Moon. Guess it signals when the worms come up after the winter. Here is a picture I snapped when I got home.


And here it is through the Galileoscope. I used a different camera tonight and like the results better. I literally just took a cheap HP point and shoot digital camera on a tripod and pointed it into the eyepiece (although it is tougher to get it lined up than you might think! It has to be really well centered and pointing straight into the eyepiece...if it's off just a little bit, it doesn't work).


KK's BIRTHDAY!!!!!!!

HAPPY 31st BIRTHDAY KK...............

29 wasn't believable any more!!!!!!
We love ya girlie!!!!!!!!

Dear Madame Zoltar

Hello, my delightful kewpee dolls! How are you? It is so nice to be blogging here again. I always get such a warm reception from the JT Irregulars. I am very fond of you all.

Here’s a prediction: old man winter will go down for the count sooner rather than later. I see little buds peeking and poking out here and there. Which reminds me, I’d like to apologize to Mr. Hale-bopp for posting a silly comment on his blog about the National Phenology Network earlier. I made a dumb pun by bringing up phrenology. That was uncouth of me. I am sorry. I have removed the offending comment.

Our first message today arrived as an email from Mr. Logjam, entitled “Getting cursed:”

Dear Madame Zoltar,

I have been honored to have my postings of And From the "(whatever)" Dept..... to be featured on the sidebar (or any other bar for that reason) here on our illustrious JT Irregulars Page. I did notice however, my blog on the sidebar is above yours. Now I hope that doesn't upset you and can I be assured that I won't be turned into a frog or have a wart placed somewhere on my body?

Yours in JTI journalistic peerdom,

My dear Mr. Logjam, why in the world would I curse you? If I were going to do such a despicable thing, I would direct my disdain toward whoever placed your blog above mine in the Features section, not you . . . entirely . . .

Hee-hee, I’m teasing. Don’t worry, I won’t harm you.

Our next query comes from Mr. RWWackoStu, who writes:

Dear Madame Zoltar,

I hope you and the other Irregulars can understand that I have been busy with the election stuff but do check in every day, and Friday Videos will be back soon.

Now to my question. How do you see me doing in the Village Board Election on April 7th? Should I be planning a victory party, or a sorrow drowning party? Can you also predict the weather on Saturday for my literature distribution?


Dear Mr. RWWackoStu, of course I understand how difficult it is to campaign for public office. My own campaign for mayor must take at least one or two hours a week. Unfortunately, I have made it my policy not to publicly predict the outcome of local elections. I do not want my predictions to affect turnout at the polls. Once people already know who will win the election, there is little incentive for them to vote. And that is un-American.

I can tell you however, that Saturday’s weather will be delightful. Stick that in your windsock and shove it, National Weather Service. ;)

The glamorous Ms. Beejay sent the next email, entitled, “You knew it would happen:”

Mdm Zoltar,

I am pleased to let you know that I did receive a large credit to my MasterCard from the resort in Barbados. My blood pressure would have come down sooner, had I known this would happen! I know you must have placed a spell on the tour company to accomplish this and I do thank you.

Now tell me, my travel agent said there would be more to come. Is there? Or do you think I am to be satisfied with this large, but somewhat measly amount when you consider all the pain and suffering I had to go through listening to my two adult nieces berating some poor unsuspecting bartender about the problems?

Greedily yours,

Dear Ms. Beejay, I am delighted that you are pleased with your MasterCard credit. It is not difficult to influence simple minds.

As for being satisfied with what you’ve already received, I want you to know that I’ve never been fully satisfied in my adult life. I think that every woman should expect, and go for, more. More of what you want, when you want it, where you want it. Go for it, Ms. Beejay, expect the best. And take a few more twirls on the dance floor while you’re at it.

Our final message today comes from my dear friend, Mr. SER, in a missive entitled, “retransmit:”

Madam Zoltar,

I appreciate your work on trying to send me the winning numbers to the lottery.

As you listed in you last post, “I will be transmitting the numbers to you throughout the course of the day. I have a sort of auto-dialer for brain wavelengths. All you need do is relax, clear you mind, and let the numbers seep in.

“I’ll also expect the customary 10% donation of your winnings to Madame Zoltar’s School for the Psychically Challenged.”

Unfortunately, I can only receive on UHF (Ultra High Frequency) channel 600.06. Can you please adjust your auto-dialer to transmit on that frequency?

As for the customary 10%...I think 15% would be much better once it happens.


Oh my, Mr. SER, I am so sorry. My message must have been received by that lovely woman who won the Badger 5 the other day. At least all was not for naught. Thank you for upping my school’s percentage of your winnings. The poor underprivileged dears will greatly appreciate it.

I will do specifically as you have instructed and transmit solely on channel 600.06. As of this blog’s post time, 4 AM, I will be broadcasting the winning lottery numbers to you via UHF waves. Let’s hope that there are no unscrupulous ham radio operators out there to intercept the signal.

That’s my blog for this week, my lovely friends. Don’t forget to transmit your questions, comments, and diatribes to me at:

Have a gorgeous week. And watch out for the green beer on Saturday.

We're on the road, but you can still join us!

We've taken off again,
not sure where we're going but if you want
to run away with us, get in quick,
SER is at the wheel,
he's in a naughty mood and
has lots of knobs and buttons to play with,
this is going to get interesting!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Good/evil God/Satan

After reading a story the other day about a contest between god and the devil, I had a thought. Does your god do things half-assed? Folks say when ya go to hell, you suffer eternal damnation. Fiery pits, boiling sulpher, non-stop enduring agony. If this is the case, how do you get demons walking the earth? Did they get a pass for good behavior? If the demons do evil on earth, doesn't the fire and brimstone come back?

What I'm asking here is how can a creature that has been damned for eternity get time off from the promised damnation to do acts on earth? Logically it don't jive. You're either damned or you aren't. So, if your god damns something and the Devil lets em out, then the Devil can subvert god's orders. Again, the logic of all powerful don't pan out.

Just an atheist wondering how each religion manages to look past their own foibles while condemning all others.

Another Galileoscope Video

I just got back in from a short session with the Galileoscope. I put a webcam on the back and took a couple of videos of the Moon. here is my favorite.

The Moon is near full again as it was for my previous session (purely coincidental...I want to try this near first quarter!) which means you don't get lots of nice shadows from mountains and craters. I wish Youtube would do a better job of processing the video as some neat features are more prominent in the original. I want to point out the three craters at the top of the Moon near the end of the video. Look closely on the bottom one and you can see its central peak!

Remember to order your Galileoscope!

Reprinted with permission from the Half-Astrophysicst Blog.

Monday, March 9, 2009

The National Phenology Network Wants You

I was listening to the podcast of Science Friday and they had a piece on the National Phenology Network enlisting citizens to help track the effects of climate change.

Phenology is the study of recurring patterns of plants and animals in nature. Things like when ou get the first sprouts of plants in the spring, when birds migrate, when flowers bloom, etc. Many of these phenomea are very sensitive to small changes in temperature and can be indicators of climate change.

Monitoring these patterns all over the country is a task that is difficult for researchers to do. They don't have the funding or manpower, so this is where the citizen science effort comes in. They currently have a list of over 200 plants that they want to monitor. You can search by state to find out which plants you can monitor. They plan on adding animal monitoring in 2010 (which I think would be more fun for me personally...I am not as much of a plant person). You can make your own observations of these plants and submit them to the database, contributing a few points of data to scientific research.

In order to get significant results, you need to monitor plants over a long period of time. Fortunately, many gardeners keep meticulous records of their gardens. If you are a serious record keeping gardener, they want to see your records as well. This extra data will give the researchers a longer baseline. This type of research can make a good class project as well (teachers, I am talking to you!)

One of the interesting things they talked about was the relationships between different plants and animals. The same temperature change has different effects on different plants and animals that may have evolved an interdependent relationship. If the flowers bloom before the bees are ready to polinate them (or after) then both species can be negatively effected.

Climate change can have these types of unexpected consequences. Studying these patterns will help us understand the complex interactions between different plants and animals.

Reprinted with permission from the Half-Astrophysicist Blog.

Bluberries on Sixth Street

Great piece about Blueberries restaurant on Sixth Street. Lauren is fantastic and the food is great. My favorite is the lox and bagels.

Phone Line Problems

Okay, all you geniuses, put on your thinking cap and see if you can help me.

I have an adapter that is wired for two lines coming out of a single jack (not two devices into a single line, but two separate lines). Suddenly, it does not work. I went to replace it and found the adapter for two separate lines. I plug it in and only the main phone line works. Why would this be? Does this mean I should climb up in the attic (85 degrees here today and tomorrow) and see if the other number wires have come loose or is there something else I could check first .... I tried to find one of those phone line testers, but Home Depot doesn't have one.

Any assistance would be appreciated.

Coal Miners in the United States 1908 to 1935

The American Dream and some miscellaneous old photos from the United States

And From the "Out Of Winnie The Pooh" Dept......

At least it wasn't a snake.......

Australian Man Wrestles Kangaroo Intruder

Sunday, March 08, 2009

CANBERRA, Australia — When a dark intruder smashed through his bedroom window and repeatedly bounced on his bed, Beat Ettlin was initially relieved to discover it was a kangaroo.

"My initial thought when I was half awake was: it's a lunatic ninja coming through the window," the 42-year-old told The Associated Press on Monday. "It seems about as likely as a kangaroo breaking in."

But his relief was short-lived. Moments later, he heard his 10-year-old son Leighton Beman scream from bed: "There's a 'roo in my room!"

"I thought: This can be really dangerous for the whole family now," Ettlin said.

The extraordinary ordeal for the family of four began at 2 a.m. Sunday in their house in the upmarket Canberra suburb of Garran.

Ettlin, a chef originally from the Swiss city of Stans, wrestled the thrashing and bleeding 90 pound marsupial out the front door.

"I had just my Bonds undies on. I felt vulnerable," he said, referring to a popular Australian underwear brand.

The kangaroo, which Ettlin said was around his height, 5 foot 9 inches, left a trail of blood through the house and claw gouges in the wooden frame of his bed.

Ettlin, who was left wearing just his shredded underpants and with scratch marks on his leg and buttocks, described himself as "lucky."

The kangaroo vanished into a nearby forest from where it likely came. The family reported the intrusion to police and to wildlife authorities.

The animal hopped a fence to reach the family's backyard. The family suspects it felt trapped and tried to escape the yard through the bedroom window which is about 5 feet above the ground. It was likely cut by the broken glass.

Kangaroos rarely harm humans, but when they do, it is usually because they feel cornered. They have been known to disembowel people with the claws of their powerful hind legs.

Although it had been a dangerous and harrowing experience, Ettlin's wife could see a funny side to the family's unusual predicament.

"I think he's a hero: a hero in Bonds undies," Verity Beman, 39, said of her husband

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Saturn at Opposition

I should have posted this a couple of days ago. Tonight, March 8th, Saturn is at opposition. Opposition is generally the closest approach to Earth and the best time to observe a planet. Don't worry if you miss tonight...Saturn will be very well positioned for observing and impressive for several weeks (and Saturn is always impressive).

Opposition gets its name due to the fact that Saturn and the Sun are exactly opposite in the sky. When the Sun goes down, Saturn rises. At midnight, Saturn is highest in the sky and it sets as the Sun rises. If you could look at the solar system from above, the Sun, Earth and Saturn would form a straight line.

Saturn is easy to find. It is in the relatively bright constellation of Leo. Here is a finding chart for tonight (click to embiggen).


The backwards question mark is the head of Leo the Lion. A relatively bright star, Regulus, is at the bottom of Leo's body. Saturn is the bright yellow object beneath Leo's hindquarter.

If you can get a small telescope, you can see the rings. Try abot 50x magnification to start out. The rings are almost edge on right now, but they are still impressive. Saturn's rings appear edge on about ever 15 years, so enjoy this unique view of a think ring slicing the planet in half. Some people think this is a bad time to view Saturn, but I enjoy this unique view.

You should also see Saturn's brightest Moon, Titan. You may see a couple of other moons depending on the size of your telescope. To help you find the Moons, you can check out Sky and Telescope's Saturns Moon Applet. Simply type in your date and time and it will plot the positions of the brightest moons.

It's cloudy here tonight, but I will be slapping a webcam on the back of my telescope when it clears to try and get some images later this week...stay tuned.

Reprinted with permission from the Half-Astrophysicist Blog.

Jack Bauer Will Save Us From Global Warming (If He Can Stop Crashing Cars and Blowing Things Up)

Everyone seems to be going green these days. Now Jack Bauer is joining Al Gore in an unlikely crusade against global warming. 24 is attempting to be the first network televsion show to become carbon neutral. 24 will do the usual things such as increased recycling and buying carbon credits. To deal with the carbon created from the aforementioned car crashes and explosions, they are subsidizing a wind farm in India.

Try this out for the next season: We have perfected clean coal technology and are sequestering all carbon from coal and natural gas plants. A terrorist cell is plotting to release all the carbon resulting in catastropic worldwide global climate change. Only one person can stop it: Jack Bauer!

I would tune in for that season!

Reprinted with permission from the Half-Astrophysicst blog.

Pictures from the Lake

Last Friday, my son and I were out enjoying the mild weather that we were having that day. We decided to take the dog for a walk along the beach behind the lighthouse and Shoop Park. I was amazed by the snow and ice that was still on the lake. Antarctica as my son discribed it. I ventured out on the ice to take a few pictures. Be careful folks, there are a couple of weak spots!

Penny Postcards

Here's a site that has penny postcards from all 50 states organized by county:

Here's Racine:

Breaking Bad Tonight!

I just wanted to post a quick note that Breaking Bad has its season premiere on AMC tonight. Breaking Bad stars Bryan Cranston as a high school chemistry teacher diagnosed with terminal cancer. To avoid leaving his family with huge medical bills, he puts he skills to use by cooking meth.

At first, his chemistry skills outweigh his knowledge of the drug business. Over time, he learns the trade and starts working with the big time dealers in Albuquerque.

The series is very well produces and Cranston (long known as a character actor) finally got a juicy lead role that he could sink his teeth into and delivered an acting tour de force in season one earning a Best Acting Emmy.

This show is not to be missed, so check it out!

Barbie Turns 50, Gets Tattoos,0,239373.story

A midlife crisis for Barbie? What's next, Pierced Barbie? How about Laid Off Barbie, complete with 26 weeks of unemployment compensation? Maybe a special Racine edition Sex Addict Barbie - you buy her, then she goes to rehab for 6 weeks.