Saturday, April 18, 2009

Happy Birthday Drew's Kid....

And Many More....



I waited all winter for this.......The rummage sale season is upon us again.....Every Sat. I give the kids each $5.00 and we drive around and hit all the rummage sales we's an all day thing that gets me and the kids out of the house and they have so much fun.......they really are wheeler and dealers too, sometimes they come home with tons of junk and their $5...........................anyone else love to rumage as much as me?.............any good ones to know about?

Biosphere 2 at Night

I just got back from a star party out at Biosphere 2. I snapped a neat picture of Biosphere 2 with Orion setting in the background.

Biosphere 2 at night.

The building itself is not lit up. It is illuminated by the security lights around the facility. I just thought this was a neat opportunity to photograph a unique local landmark at night.

Reprinted with permission from the Half-Astrophysicist Blog.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Bird Crap Detector

This video is being posted without express written consent of the owner(s) or author(s). Your computer will not blow up or be confiscated by any law enforcement agency if you decide to view this video. You might giggle your ass off but that is within your personal rights as and irregular person.

If You Know Computers, You Are a Suspect...

This from the Electronic Frontier Foundation...a Boston College computer science student was arrested in an investigation into an email saying another student was gay. All his tech gear, computer, cell phone, etc. was seized.

They must have had good evidence, right? Well, um, he know about computers and he was seen using (Heaven forbid!) the COMMAND LINE PROMPT! Yes, if you use a command line, you know too much!

It is now officially a crime to be smarter than a police officer...or at least a good justification for them to seize your property.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Extreme Sheepherding

Who'd a thunk it?

Medical Tests

I saw the doctor today for my regular 6 month checkup. These are invariably preceded by lab work: fasting blood tests and a urine analysis. I knew I'd been a very bad boy over the winter and larded it on. I gained weight, I ate everything wrong, and I exercised not one wit. I was dreading today's visit with the doc. I knew I was gonna get a butt chewing.

Ha! Everything came in great. Yes, I gained weight, but my triglycerides dropped 55 points, my good cholesterol was up, my bad cholesterol was down, and everything else was normal. Even my blood pressure today was the lowest it's been in years.

I suspect that they mixed up my results with some 25 year old guy's. Today, his doctor told him that he has the body of a man more than twice his age. Poor sap.

Rock and Roll Revival

Welcome back my friends and readers! We bloggers here at the JTI are no strangers to censorship. How can we forget our fiasco with the Journal Times? This week, I want to discuss censorship in music. Over the years, music has been censored and banned. Yet, the envelope has pushed further and further. I recall stories of Elvis Preasley's gyrating hips and The Rolling Stones having to change their lyrics. I even remember the PMRC.

This blog features Guns n' Roses's song One in a Million, from their G n R Lies album. Guns n' Roses created a huge controversy over the lyrics in this song. The lyrics blast Afro-Americans, the police, immigrants, and homosexuals. Lead singer Axl Rose defends this song be telling his story. Instrumentally, I love this song, but I DON"T agree with the lyrics. I think they should be changed. But to me, it's merely just a point of view.

Well, my friends, I understand that are many songs out there more controversial than this one. The use of language and other pitfalls that have fallen on them. I have many questions to ask. Should this song be banned? Should music be censored? If so, how? What are your thoughts?

BTW, I apologize if I offended anybody by posting this video.

Sturtevant Shooting

Does anyone have any later news than what I found on the JT on the shooting in Sturtevant?

Pls let me know.

Kepler's First Light

I have blogged before about Kepler, a recently launched spacecraft that will search for Earth-sized planets around other stars. It is finally getting ready to start taking data and NASA just released the first light images (click to embiggen).

This may not look like much, but that's because this covers a huge area of sky. There are about 14 MILLION stars in this field! 100,000 of them are going to be monitored for planets passing in front of them, causing their brightness to temporarily dip a very small amount (about a few parts in 10,000 or so). You can see they makes star cluster NCG 6791 and Tres-2, a star with an already known planet in orbit (a Jupiter size planet orbits it about every 2.5 days). Let's zoom in on NGC6791 to see what this guy can really do.

NGC6791 is a very old (~8 billion years) cluster in Lyra. It has over twice the iron content of the Sun making it very unusual. There are also white dwarfs, some of which appear to be 4 billion years old and some 6 billion years old indicating that there may have been multiple bursts of star formation. It is an open clusters usually disperse within a billion years. This cluster is a real oddball.

Now Kepler, after all its instruments pass their checks and calibrations, will stare at this part of the sky for years, hoping to find those little dips of light that indicated the presence of other planets. Hopefully, we will be one step closer to answering one of the big questions: Are we alone?

The Funniest Man Ever

This video is from

The URL/link is

I did not make this video and that is not me in this video.

I do not necessarily agree with nor do I necessarily oppose any statements made or implied by this video.

I have nothing to do with this video.

It means zilch to me.

I don't even care if you like it.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

April 16th: My Day

I just wanted to post a quick reminder about the 365 Days of Astronomy podcast. This project lets anyone produce a short (~10 minute) podcast on the topic of their choice for the world to hear (or at least those who choose to subscribe).

Well, today is my day. Yep, that is me talking about the World's Largest Telescope. What I talk about more than anything is how hard it is to say what is the world's largest telescope...depends who is measuring and what you want to do.

The podcast is out on iTunes, but not on their front page yet...I am not sure what time zone they use when deciding to update their front page.

I will admit....I am afraid to listen to it again and here all the little pauses and awkward phrases I just know crept in there!

Dear Madame Zoltar

Hello, my vibrant violets! How are you? Isn’t it miraculous to see the earth spring back to life after winter? I especially like the sounds of the birds.

Did you see yesterday’s print Journal Times?

See, I told you and them that I would shrivel their newspaper in retaliation for ignoring my mayoral bid. I also predicted the “new and improved” spin that they are putting on the sudden shrinkage. Such is the power of the Zoltar curse!

Speaking of the Journal Times, I want the supposed psychics who have been advertising in that newspaper to know that they have not escaped my attention. I shall address you in a future blog, after I have checked your accreditation with the American Association of Professional Psychics®.

I also want to announce that I will be attending the upcoming bloggers’ bash. I will give a complimentary teaser psychic reading to anyone who so desires. After that, my customary 25% discount for Irregulars applies.

There were no questions or comments for me this week, so I’d just like to comment on the stimulus money that is beginning to trickle in to Racine. To borrow a phrase from Mr. OrbsCorbs, all I can say is: “Party on!” With money falling from the sky onto City Hall, I don’t see how downtown Racine can do anything but improve: more celebrations, more art, more coffee, more pretension. I invite all of Racine’s unemployed and impoverished residents to visit downtown in the coming months to see what the real Racine is all about. See the Heart of the Arts, the Historic District, your downtown. Please remember, though, that while you may look, you cannot touch. And don’t dawdle too long either, unless you’re buying.

That’s my blog, dears. Please send your questions and comments to:

I hope that you all have a wonderful week. Be careful out there in cyberspace – you never know what username Mr. Becker is hiding behind this week.

Our Childhood in Black and White.

(Under age 45? You won't understand.)

You could hardly see for all the snow, spread the rabbit ears as far as they go.
Pull a chair up to the TV set, 'Good Night, David. Good Night, Chet.'

My Mom used to cut chicken, chop eggs and spread mayo on the same cutting board with the same knife and no bleach, but we didn't seem to get food poisoning.

My Mom used to defrost hamburger on the counter AND I used to eat it raw sometimes, too. Our school sandwiches were wrapped in wax paper in a brown paper bag, not in ice-pack coolers, but I can't remember getting e.coli.

Almost all of us would have rather gone swimming in the lake instead of a pristine pool (talk about boring), no beach closures then.

The term cell phone would have conjured up a phone in a jail cell, and a pager was the school PA system.

We all took gym, not PE and risked permanent injury with a pair of high top Ked's (only worn in gym) instead of having cross-training athletic shoes with air cushion soles and built in light reflectors. I can't recall any injuries, but they must have happened because they tell us how much safer we are now. When they started to wear out, we taped them with duct tape. Boy did they smell. And if you wore them without socks, your feet got black.

Flunking gym was not an option, even for stupid kids! I guess PE must be much harder than gym.

Speaking of school, we all said prayers and sang the national anthem, and staying in detention after school caught all sorts of negative attention.

We must have had horribly damaged psyches. What an archaic health system we had then. Remember school nurses? Ours wore a uniform with hat and everything.

Oh yeah ...and where was the Benadryl and sterilization kit when I got that bee sting? I could have been killed!

We played 'king of the hill' on piles of gravel left on vacant construction sites, and when we got hurt, Mom pulled out the 48-cent bottle of Mercurochrome (kids liked it better because it didn't sting like iodine did) and then we got our butt spanked. Now it's a trip to the emergency room, followed by a 10-day dose of a $49 bottle of antibiotics, and then Mom calls the attorney to sue the contractor for leaving a horribly vicious pile of gravel where it was such a threat.

We didn't act up at the neighbor's house either because if we did, we got our butt spanked there and then we got butt spanked again when we got home.

I recall a friend from next door coming over and doing his tricks on the front step, just before he fell off little did his mom know that she could have owned our house. Instead, she picked him up and swatted him for being such a goof. It was a neighborhood run amuck.

To top it off, not a single person I knew had ever been told that they were from a dysfunctional family. How could we possibly have known that?

We needed to get into group therapy and anger management classes? We were obviously so duped by so many societal ills that we didn't even notice that the entire country wasn't taking Prozac! How did we ever survive?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Best of Elevator (Remi Gaillard)

I love this kind of stuff. It reminds me of the old Candid Camera.

Gardening Grows in Popularity as Economy Bites the Dirt

"Gardeners' motivations might differ - saving money in tough times, concern over the safety and eco-friendliness of food - but one thing seems clear: Vegetable gardening is in vogue, and sales are up at seed catalog and garden centers. And that was before the nation's first family started a garden of its own.

"Sales at the Jung Seed Co. in Randolph have increased between 15% and 18% this year in each of its five seed catalogs, Jung owner Dick Zontag said. Jung supplies plants and seeds to garden centers from the upper Midwest to the East Coast."

I love digging in the dirt. I've often told friends, "Give me a spade and some soil to dig into, and I'm in heaven." Too bad I can't pre-plan my funeral by literally digging my own grave. As I age, though, it gets harder and harder to kick that spade into the ground. My hips and lower back are worn out from years of landscape work.

I recently cleared some small areas where I live for planting. I thought about vegetables, but given the neighborhod, I assume most of them would be stolen by the time they ripen, so I'm probably going to settle for some ornamentals. I can't afford much, and I don't have a lot of space, but I just HAVE to get my hands dirty at this time of year. I already have my first blisters from raking up leaves and debris.

How about you? Do you plant or maintain a garden? Veggies or flowers or ferns? Or weeds?

The ISS (International Space Station)

This is right up Hale-Bopps alley.....

USAToday presented a very well done piece on the station assembly.

If you have not seen this assembly diagram, you will probably find it quite spectacular.

Space Station Assemble and Time Frame

Monday, April 13, 2009

Starbucks in Space (and Other Adventures in Zero-G)

Living is space is a little different when you don't have gravity to do things we take for granted like keeping coffee in the bottom of your coffee cup until you are ready to drink it. Science Friday recently featured videos by Astronaut Don Pettit. Pettit recently flow on the ISS and discovered a way to make a space based coffee cup. Here he demonstrates his invention.

He also took a bunch of candy corn with him to do a unique demonstration illustrating how soap gets the dirt out.

And saving the best for last, some of his time lapse photography. Watch the day/night cycles, the aurora, and the ISS solar panels rotating to maintain the best angle to catch the sunlight.

We need more astronauts who caputure videos like this for us!

Reprinted with permission from the Half-Astrophysicist Blog.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Easter Bunny--warning this post contains graphic dialogue. May not be suitable for some adults.

A man is driving along a highway and sees a rabbit jump out across the middle of the road.He swerves to avoid hitting it, but unfortunately the rabbit jumps right in front of the car. The driver, a sensitive man as well as an animal lover, pulls over and gets out to see what has become of the rabbit. Much to his dismay, the rabbit is the Easter Bunny, and he isDEAD .The driver feels so awful that he begins to cry. A beautiful blonde woman driving down the highway sees a man crying on the side of the road and pulls over.She steps out of the car and asks the man what's wrong. "I feel terrible," ! he explains, "I accidentally hit the Easter Bunny with my car and KILLED HIM." The blonde says,"Don't worry." She runs to her car and pulls out a spray can.She walks over to the limp, dead Easter Bunny,bends down, and sprays the contents onto him. The Easter Bunny jumps up, waves its paw at the two of them and hops off down the road.Ten feet away he stops, turns around and waves again. He hops down the road another 10 feet, turns and waves. Hopsanother ten feet, turns and waves, and repeats this again and again and again and again,until he hops out of sight.The man is astonished. He runs over to the woman and demands, "What is in that can? What did you spray on the Easter Bunny ?" The woman turns the can around so that the man can read the label.It says..(Are you ready for this?)(Are you sure?)(You know you're gonna be sorry) (Last chance)(OK, here it is)It says,"Hair Spray - Restores life to dead hair, and adds permanent wave."

There is a light at the end of the tunnel

Just to let everyone know I'm thinking of you today.

No matter what situations life throws at you...
No matter how long and treacherous
your journey may seem.

Remember ~~ there is a light at the end of the tunnel.