Friday, March 20, 2009

Pictures from the Lake Pt. 2

Last Tuesday, I was out enjoying the fabulous weather that were having that day. While I was cooking up some brats and burgers on the grill, I was thinking about the pictures I took of the lake. I was curious to know how much ice and snow had melted in a weeks time. Here's my answer...Impressive!

Tossing Tomatoes

I think I might have beat SER to this one:

Go ahead and throw some tomatoes at AIG~

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Equinox is Not Quite Equal

Yep, today is the spring equinox. But its not quite equal amounts of day and night. Checking the Weather Underground for Tucson yields 12 hours and 6 minutes from sunrise to sunset.

So where does that extra six minutes come from? The equinox would be equal day and night if Earth were a perfect sphere and had not atmosphere. Refraction effects due to Earth's atmosphere lengthen our day a bit. The exact amound depends on somewhat on your latitude. For instance, in Anchorage the day will be 12 hours and 10 minutes long tomorrow and at Barrow, Alaska 12 hours and 15 minutes.

NASA is celebrating with a Sun-Earth Day Webcast at 1:00pm edt. Enjoy the equinox, even if it isnt' quite equal.

Reprinted with permission from the Half-Astrophysicist Blog.

Holy SmartCar, Batman!!

Go ahead and caption this!

Rock and Roll Revival

Hello Again! This week's Revival features the Cathy Richardson Band. The first time I them play was on one side stages opening up for Ted Nugent at Summerfest in 1996. I was so impressed with Cathy's vocals that I bought two of their CD's on the spot. Live @Park West and Fools on a Tandem. I saw her again in 1998 right here in Racine at Harbor Fest. That time I got to meet Cathy. It was after the show while she was signing autographs. While she signing my Snake Camp CD, we chatted for a few moments about her music influences. Very nice lady and down to earth.

I didn't hear anything about her nor her band for years until I recently discovered that Cathy has sang for the newly reformed Big Brother and the Holding Company. She is now currently the lead singer for Jefferson Starship. So my friends, what celeberty, actor/actress, sports star, rock star have you met? Please tell.

Internet Explorer 8 Released Today

IE8 is being released at noon today, but only through manual downloads at Microsoft. No word yet on when it will be released through Microsoft Update.

I'll probably install it sometime soon, just because I like to play with new toys on the computer, but it would have to be an outstanding browser to win me back from Firefox. (And I'm still smarting from the experience of installing IE7 on my computer and then having my scanner software, of all things, poop out. It took me, and everyone else, awhile to figure that one out.)

I downloaded a beta of Microsoft 7, the upcoming operating system, onto the spare computer earlier this year, but never got around to installing it.

I always approach these things with a mixture or trepidation and hopeful anticipation. With Firefox and some other non-Microsoft software, I have been happily surprised. Unfortunately, with many of Microsoft's applications, the results have been less than delightful.

Video of Nadya Suleman Giving Birth

Thrusday Grin.......

A French doctor says 'Medicine in my country is so advanced that we can take a kidney out of one man, put it in another, and have him looking for work in six weeks.'

A German doctor says 'That is nothing; we can take a lung out of one person, put it in another, and have him looking for work in four weeks.

The Russian doctor says 'In my country, medicine is so advanced that we can take half a heart out of one person, put it in another, and have them both looking for work in two weeks.'

An American doctor, not to be outdone, says 'You guys are way behind. We recently took a man with no brains out of Illinois, put him in the White House, and now half the country is looking for work.'

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A Friend Needs Help

My friend is searching for a Nursing Home for her mom who is failing. She had a fall and now is unable to go home again. We can look up all the facts on these homes, but sometimes word of mouth is better than anything.

What does a trillion dollars look like?

We'll start with a $100 dollar bill. Currently the largest U.S. Denomination in general circulation. Most everyone has seen them, slightly fewer have owned them. Guaranteed to make friends wherever they go..

A packet of one hundred $100 bills is less than 1/2" thick and contains $10,000. Fits in your pocket easily and is more than enough for week or two of shamefully decadent fun.

Believe it or not, this next little pile is $1 million dollars (100 packets of $10,000). You could stuff that into a grocery bag and walk around with it.

While a measly $1 million looked a little unimpressive, $100 million is a little more respectable. It fits neatly on a standard pallet.

And $1 BILLION dollars... Now we're really getting somewhere.

Next we'll look at ONE TRILLION dollars. This is that number we've been hearing about so much. What is a trillion dollars? Well, it's a million million. It's a thousand billion.. It's a one followed by 12 zeros.
Ladies and gentlemen... I give you $1 trillion dollars. And notice those pallets are double stacked.
So, the next time you hear someone toss around the phrase "trillion dollars"....that's what they're talking about.

From your coordinator - a quick opinion poll


I need your input for our next outing.
I have the date, but not the details.

Saturday, April 25th
(time and details to be determined)

Some ideas I have, feel free to give more ideas too!!!

**Potluck/cookout at either my house or Beejay's**
**Dinner at San Fransisco Grill on Hy 20**
**An idea from your guys**

Here is your turn to get involved -

Let's throw some ideas around here and see what happens.
When I get the info ironed out, I will email you guys the final plan.
If you are new to us, or have been watching and wanting to
get involved, please email me so I can include you!!
We'd love to meet more of our bloggers.

Thanks guys!!

Dear Madame Zoltar

Hello, my darling daffodils! How are you? Wasn’t yesterday’s weather lovely? You can almost hear the old city crack her bones as she starts to stretch for spring.

Unfortunately, my blog must once again be dedicated to my campaign for mayor of Racine. None of the local civic groups will invite me to their mayoral forums and none of the local media take my candidacy seriously. Therefore I am forced to use the JT Irregulars as the primary outlet for my campaign information. (That, and a little macumba, does wonders, dears.) Thank you all for allowing me these opportunities to spread my message.

First, I want to say that I completely agree with a local alderman who recently called for the demolition of some worrisome properties in Racine. However, the first building that I would like to see torn down, one that has been a source of endless grief to the fine citizens of Racine, Wisconsin, is 700 Washington Avenue, City Hall. How much money would we save by bulldozing that old relic? What little city work that cannot be accomplished by internet, teleconferencing, etc., could be transacted at a much smaller, economical building, constructed near the tip of the wedge that City Hall currently occupies. It could also include a check cashing and bill paying operation, lottery sales, perhaps even a title loan company, all run for the city’s profit. The rest of the property could be sold for development.

I also agree with a former alderman who says that the city of Racine has an unwritten policy of “exclusion.” I hate to say it, but I believe that most of the people in city government and media are prejudiced against psychic gypsies. How else can you explain the snub of not inviting me to forums and ignoring my campaign? (Just wait until after the election, you crumbs, I guarantee you surprises that you cannot dream of.)

As far as residency requirements for voting and serving as mayor, say what? If homeless people can vote, why would anyone have to live anywhere? When I’m elected, I certainly won’t be spending a lot of time hanging around this burg, getting into trouble. That’s the city’s administrator’s job, isn’t it? I’ll be getting into trouble in other states and countries - that’s the mayor’s job.

I have been having visions concerning the stimulus money that Racine is about to receive from the federal government. The visions imply that an elaborate ruse is about to unfold in which the money will be swindled from the city. There is also a figure in the background of the visions, a woman, I believe, a figure of trust, who could possibly save the money from the swindlers, if the city has faith in her. Such a woman would be well versed in the mysterious secrets of the spiritual realm. She would be someone who has professed her love for Racine. Someone you can confide in and trust with $1.35 million. There, the visions stop . . .

Finally, I have decided to offer not only a free personal reading to each and everyone who votes for me, but also a free Madame Z Good Luck Charm®, which comes preloaded with 90 days of complimentary good luck. After that, the luck can be refilled, for up to a year, at any certified Madame Z™ retailer for a nominal fee.

Thank you for reading my blog this week, dears. I love you all, whether you vote for me or not. Don’t forget, if you have a problem, a solution, a complaint, a compliment, or a random thought, send it to me at:

Spring is coiling and ready to burst up with energy. See you in the sky.

Hey Hale-Bopp

How many seconds do you expose for your ISS and Shuttle pics? Will they be bright enough with city lights?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Another Close Meteor Flyby

After my recent blog about a near meteor that flew by Earth, a couple of people mentioned how they didn’t hear about it until afterwards (and I even heard Dvorak and Curry discuss Comet Lulin on No Agenda and seemed to imply that it was a sudden appearance in spite of the fact that it was discoverd in 2007).

So this is just a heads up…recently disovered asteroid 2009 FH will pass by Earth at about 80,000km at 8:17edt tomorrow, March 18th. Its only about 50 feet wide, so it is smaller than the previous one. No chance of it hitting Earth and it is well beyond our geosyncrhonous satellites so all is good there as well.

It might seem like a lot of these things are zipping by...but we are just getting good at discovering them. And since we have advance notice, I bet some astronomers are going to get some images of this one.

Reprinted with permission from the Half-Astrophysicist Blog.

Geekpop '09

I was catching up on my podcasts listening to the Naked Scientists last week and they highlighted an online music festival called Geekpop. Geekpop is a virtual music festival with music about and inspired by science. The festival has several different stages you can explore and listen to music from different bands. There is even a lost and found in case you misplace something while attending the festival.

I have long been a fan of music that incorporates science such as Lynda Williams to the Chromatics. There are several sites with links to science songs that have helped me build a pretty geeky mp3 collection.

Some people think its odd to have science songs, but would you rather your kid listen to gangsta rap, or MC Hawking?

Reprinted with permission from the Half-Astrophysicist Blog.


I wrote everyone and told them to vote "no." Both sides voted yes and blew me and all the others writing in to say vote "no." This isn't just about the bonuses, this is about paying off foreign banks. Next election, Feingold, and Ryan and Kohl are all out. They sure won't get my vote.

Legacy of the Bush era and the first bailout.


This is fun - for us "oldsters".... and a great memory check-up!!
Mark your "letter" answers on a pad - and see how well you do!!

This is NOT a pushover test. There are 20 questions. _Average score is 12.
This one will be difficult for the younger set. Have fun, but no peeking!

1. What builds strong bodies 12 ways?
A. Flintstones vitamins
B. The Buttmaster
C. Spaghetti
D. Wonder Bread
E. Orange Juice
F. Milk
G. Cod Liver Oil

2. Before he was Muhammed Ali, he was...
A. Sugar Ray Robinson
B. Roy Orbison
C. Gene Autry
D. Rudolph Valentino
E. Fabian
F. Mickey Mantle
G. Cassius Clay

3. Pogo, the comic strip character said, 'We have met the enemy and...
A. It's you
B. He is us
C. It's the Grinch
D. He wasn't home
E. He's really me an
F. We quit
G. He surrendered

4. Good night David.
A. Good night, Chet
B. Sleep well
C. Good night Irene
D. Good night Gracie
E. See you later alligator
F. Until tomorrow
G. Good night Steve

5. You'll wonder where the yellow went...
A. When you use Tide
B. When you lose your crayons
C. When you clean your tub
D. If you paint the room blue
E. If you buy a soft water tank
F. When you use Lady Clairol
G. When you brush your teeth with Pepsodent

6. Before he was the Skipper's Little Buddy, Bob Denver was Dobie's friend.....
A. Stuart Whitman
B. Randolph Scott
C. Steve Reeves
D. Maynard G. Krebbs
E. Corky B. Dork
F. Dave the Whale
G. Zippy Zoo

7. Liar, liar...
A. You're a liar
B. Your nose is growing
C. Pants on fire
D. Join the choir
E. Jump up higher
F. On the wire
G. I'm telling Mom

8. Meanwhile, back in Metropolis, Superman fights a never ending battle for truth, justice and...
A. Wheaties
B. Lois Lane
C. TV ratings
D. World peace
E. Red tights
F. The American way
G. News headlines

9. Hey kids! What time is it?
A. It's time for Yogi Bear
B. It's time to do your homework
C. It's Howdy Doody Time
D. It's Time for Romper Room
E. It's bedtime
F. The Mighty Mouse Hour
G. Scoopy Doo Time

10. Lions and tigers and bears...
A. Yikes
B. Oh no
C. Gee whiz
D. I'm scared
E. Oh my
F. Help! Help!
G. Let's run

11. Bob Dylan advised us never to trust anyone...
A. Over 40
B. Wearing a uniform
C. Carrying a briefcase
D. Over 30
E. You don't know
F. Who says, 'Trust me'
G. Who eats tofu

12. NFL quarterback who appeared in a television commercial wearing women's stockings...
A. Troy Aikman
B. Kenny Stabler
C. Joe Namath
D. Roger Stauback
E. Joe Montana
F. Steve Young
G. John Elway

13. Brylcream...
A. Smear it on
B. You'll smell great
C. Tame that cowlick
D. Grease ball heaven
E. It's a dream
F. We're your team
G. A little dab'll do ya

14. I found my thrill...
A. In Blueberry muffins
B. With my man, Bill
C. Down at the mill
D. Over the windowsill
E. With thyme and dill
F. Too late to enjoy
G. On Blueberry Hill

15. Before Robin Williams, Peter Pan was played by...
A. Clark Gable
B. Mary Martin
C . Doris Day
D. Errol Flynn
E. Sally Fields
F. Jim Carey
G. Jay Leno

16. Name the Beatles...
A. John, Steve, George, Ringo
B. John, Paul, George, Roscoe
C. John, Paul, Stacey, Ringo
D. Jay, Paul, George, Ringo
E. Lewis, Peter, George, Ringo
F. Jason, Betty, Skipper, Hazel
G. John, Paul, George, Ringo

17. I wonder, wonder, who..
A. Who ate the leftovers?
B. Who did the laundry?
C. Was it you?
D. Who wrote the book of love?
E. Who I am?
F. Passed the test?
G. Knocked on the door?

18. I'm strong to the finish...
A. Cause I eats my broccoli
B . Cause I eats me spinach
C. Cause I lift weights
D. Cause I'm the hero
E. And don't you forget it
F. Cause Olive Oyl loves me
G. To outlast Bruto

19. When it's least expected, you're elected, you're the star today...
A. Smile, you're on Candid Camera
B. Smile, you're on Star Search
C. Smile, you won the lottery
D. Smile, we're watching you
E. Smile, the world sees you
F. Smile, you're a hit
G. Smile, you're on TV

20. What do M & M's do?
A. Make your tummy happy
B. Melt in your mouth, not in your pocket
C. Make you fat
D. Melt your heart
E. Make you popular
F. Melt in your mouth, not in your hand
G. Come in colors

A graph of my stock portfolio...

"Senator suggests AIG execs should kill themselves"

"'I suggest, you know, obviously, maybe they ought to be removed,' [ Iowa Sen. Charles] Grassley said. 'But I would suggest the first thing that would make me feel a little bit better toward them if they'd follow the Japanese example and come before the American people and take that deep bow and say, I'm sorry, and then either do one of two things: resign or go commit suicide.'"

That's the most sensible suggestion I've yet read concerning this mess.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The International Space Station Over the Catalinas...

I got this picture this evening while I was at a star party at a local school. The ISS pass took it north over the Catalina mountains (click to embiggen).


This pass was nice and bright. The Shuttle pass later was not very bright and I think my tripod got bumped during the expsoure.

Check your local listings for future passes! Tomorrow night in Racine: ISS at 8:02 and Shuttle at 8:15pm. Both very bright.

Happy Saint Paddys Day

learn something new each day

It is possible to learn something new each day. Here's your little bit of knowledge for today.

Cannon Balls

It was necessary to keep a good supply of cannon balls near the cannon on old war ships. But how to prevent them from rolling about the deck was the problem.

The best storage method devised was to stack them as a square based pyramid, with one ball on top, resting on four, resting on nine, which rested on sixteen. Thus, a supply of 30 cannon balls could be stacked in a small area right next to the cannon.

There was only one problem -- how to prevent the bottom layer from sliding/rolling from under the others. The solution was a metal plate with 16 round indentations, called a Monkey. But if this plate were made of iron, the iron balls would quickly rust to it.

The solution to the rusting problem was to make Brass Monkeys. Few landlubbers realize that brass contracts much more and much faster than iron when chilled. Consequently, when the temperature dropped too far, the brass indentations would shrink so much that the iron cannon balls would come right off the monkey.

Thus, it was quite literally, cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey.

And all this time, you thought that was a vulgar expression, didn't you?

Space Shuttle AND ISS Pass Tonight for Racine

Tonight, Racine is particularly favored for a good pass of the International Space Station and the Space Shuttle. Both of them will be brighter than Sirius (the brightest star in the night sky). And the Weather Underground indicates a good chance of clear skies tonight.

The ISS passes first. It will appear low in the southwest at 7:46pm and pass very high in the southest (almost overhead) at 7:49pm. It will be followed by the Space Shuttle at 8:09. The Shuttle will follow a similar path (remember, it is going to catch up to and dock with the ISS in a couple of days, it had better be chasing the Station!)

This Shuttle mission is going to install a new set of solar panels. Solar panels are large and reflect a lot of light. You should notice the ISS get noticeably brighter after this misison.

You can always find the latest predictions at Heavens-Above or Spaceweather's Simple Satellite Tracker.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Fifty Dollars

Fifty Dollars

I recently asked my friend's little girl what she wanted to be when she grows up.

She said she wanted to be President some day.

Both of her parents, liberal Democrats, were standing there, so I asked her,
'If you were President what would be the first thing you would do?'

She replied, 'I'd give food and houses to all the homeless people.'

Her parents beamed.

'Wow...what a worthy goal.' I told her, 'But you don't have to wait until you're President to do that. You can come over to my house and mow the lawn, pull weeds, and sweep my yard, and I'll pay you $50. Then I'll take you over to the grocery store where the homeless guy hangs out, and you can give him the $50 to use toward food and a new house.'

She thought that over for a few seconds, then she looked me straight in the eye and asked, 'Why doesn't the homeless guy come over and do the work, and you can just pay him the $50?'

I said, 'Welcome to the Republican Party.'

Her parents still aren't speaking to me

New Grill question

I need help. I have always had hand me downs and rummage sale specials. I am finally going to buy a new gas grill. I can only spend up to $200.00. Has anyone bought a new grill, for a low price and had it last and work well? Help a brother out!

Get Your Brackets Ready!

You might think I am talking about the NCAA tournament, but NASA's Mission Madness. What is the greatest NASA mission ever? Apollo 11? Hubble? Voyager? The Mars Rovers? 64 NASA missions have been put into an NCAA style bracket. The 32 first round matches start March 19th. You get to vote for which missions advance. There is an info button on each mission you can use to learn what the mission did (just in case AD-1 and Bell X-1 don't mean much to you).

Let's take a look at the bracket (click to ebmiggen).


A couple of the intriguing first round matchups I see are FUSE (the Far Ultraviolet Spectroscopic Explorer) versus the yet to be launched Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter versus the yet to be launched LCROSS (I know what the mission is going to do but the acronym is too tortured for me to remember).

I am looking through there and I see some glaring omissions. Swift, the Fermi Space Telescope, the Chandra X-Ray Telescope, and the Spitzer Space Telescope didn't make the field (and the last two are in NASA's Great Observatories program!) Are they being relegated to NASA's equivalent of the NIT?

Vote early and often...action tips off March 19th!

Reprinted with permission from the Half-Astrophysicist Blog.

Sound Familiar?

Forgetter Be Forgotten

My forgetter's getting better,
But my rememberer is broke
To you that may seem funny
But, to me, that is no joke

For when I'm 'here' I'm wondering
If I really should be 'there'
And, when I try to think it through,
I haven't got a prayer!

Oft times I walk into a room,
Say 'what am I here for?'
I wrack my brain, but all in vain!
A zero, is my score.

At times I put something away
Where it is safe, but, Gee!
The person it is safest from
Is, generally, me!

When shopping I may see someone,
Say 'Hi' and have a chat,
Then, when the person walks away
I ask myself, 'who the heck was that?'

Yes, my forgetter's getting better
While my rememberer is broke,
And it's driving me plumb crazy
And that isn't any joke.