Saturday, October 10, 2009

Did President Obama Deserve the Nobel Peace Prize?

Sorry, but something just isn't right. If our president accomplishes all of his goals, then he damn well better get the Nobel Peace Prize, but I frankly do not understand this. Politics, I assume, on an international stage.

The poll below is set to run for one week and is unscientific, I'm sure. I'm voting Undecided.

Miley Cyrus Wants Privacy, So She Posts on YouTube

More here: Miley Cyrus Quits Twitter, World Ends.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Nice Morning Conjunction

When I was outside trying to image the LCROSS impact this morning, I couldn't help but noticing that we have three planets fairly close together in the morning sky, Venus, Saturn and Mercury. Mercury is the lowest of the three, Venus is the highest and Saturn is in the middle, all in a fairly nice line. They will be nice for the next few days. Here is what you will see tomorrow morning (map for 5:30 am in to embiggen).


Over the next couple of days, Saturn will get progressively closer to Venus until they are right next to each other on October 13th. This should be a spectacular conjunction and I will be luck enough to be in Bryce Canyon. Yeah, I am thinking pictures!

Reprinted with permission from the Half-Astrophysicist Blog.

Bad Business alert - Midas in Racine

Don't ever, and I mean ever take your vehicle to Midas. Here is my horror story. I took my truck in to get an oil change at Penzoil (Synthetic) with a seal condition treatment for 68.00on Wednesday. I knew that my catalytic converter was going, so I called around, and Midas was the lowest at $195.00. I get there early (5:00 appointment), fill out my paperwork and wait. At 5:45, John, the manager comes out and says "Ok,that will be 23.95". I said for a catalytic converter, what a deal. He says no for your oil change and tire rotation. WTF! No, I said I am here for a CC repair. Oh, hey says sorry, you wont have to pay for that, and has one of his guys put the car back in. I told him that he just wasted my 68.00 oil change from two days ago. He "Claims" that he put synthetic in it. BS! He then tells me, after looking at the CC that he cant do it for 195, it has to be a special CC for $485!!!! They also rotated my tires, and put my three month old front tires on the back. I told them to give me back my truck I am going elsewhere. Stay away from Midas, and don't believe what John, the manager tells you. FAIL, FAIL, FAIL. Plus, he was snotty to my wife. I have my nomination for the next bird of the week!

Watch the Moon Get Whacked Courtesy of Slooh:Update

Update: The impact went off on time this morning. Initial reports are negative of people on the ground seeing a plume (even with scopes much larger than I was using so I don't feel quite so incompetent!) However, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter did see the plume. Not seeing the plume from the ground is not necessarily a bad may mean more dark regolith was sent up which is much harder to see.

But I am not quite giving up yet. I took 10 minutes of video of the Moon. There is computer software that can search frame by frame to find the best images in the set. I will be working with my video this weekend to see if anything shows up with some more processing (unfortunately, busy at work today so I can't justify spending time on that trip is on Monday morning!)


This Friday morning, October 9th, at 4:30am PDT, the Moon is going to take a hit for science. The LCROSS mission (Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite) will impact a crater near the Moon's south pole.

There will be two impacts. The first one (which is the upper stage of the rocket that sent the mission on its way) will impact first and kick up a bunch of dust and debris. A few minutes later, the second spacecraft, known at the Shepherding Spacecraft, will fly through the debris with a suite of sensors before it crashes into the Moon as well. Although we stand to learn a lot about the composition of the Moon from this, the real goal is to find water (the Apollo missions landed near the equator so they couldn't do this when they were there).

You might be able to see this with a small telescope. I am going to be out with an 11 inch telescope and video camera optimized for astronomical recording to try and get it (well, I hope to...its a brand new scope that has not been tested or even put together yet...I know you are supposed to practice in advance and all that but we just got the scope and timing requires that the first test is live!) If I get anything interesting, I will post it here.

If you don't have a telescope, the good folks at Slooh will give you a chance to watch online. Slooh is a network of remote telescopes that you can watch as they take data live. Most of the time you have to pay to do this (a yearlong membership is a very reasonable $50...they have a telescope in the Canary Islands which is ideal for early evening observing in the entire U.S.). For this event, they are using a telescope in New Hampshire and one in Arizona to webcast the event. You can watch the webcast here.

So set your alarms early for Friday morning to catch this unique event.

Reprinted with permission from the Half-Astrophysicst Blog.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

John Pinette - "France & Italy"

A friend emailed me a link to this video with these words: "If you don’t laugh at this, there is something wrong with you." Well, I know there's something wrong with me, but I laughed like hell anyways.

Bird of the Week Winner

After the due process of nomination and unbiased voting on behalf of the Irregulars, I do declare that for the second week in a row, for reasons only known to themselves, the Irregulars have voted Jim Doyle the recipient of the Bird of the week, given this week by Mr Johnny (filmed in Wisconsin) Depp. Jim Doyle, We (one finger) salute you!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Time to vote!

vOTING IS NOW CLOSED. Thanks for voting and the results will be coming soon!


Who should be flipped the bird?
Jim Doyle
The weather
Brett Favre and Ted Thompson
The Racine City Council free polls

Monster New Ring Around Saturn

Saturn is famous for its rings which are one of the best sites to view through a small telescope. As the years have gone on, we kept discovering new rings. Surely there couldn't be more discoveries now...I mean, we have spacecraft there and stuff, right?

Wrong...the Spitzer Space Telescope just discovered a very large, diffuse new ring around Saturn. This ring is over 3.7 million miles from the planet and extends outward another 7.4 million miles. It's also very thick...over a million miles from top to bottom. For comparison, the rings you see in a telescope are only a hundred feet thick or so.

Of course this ring is very large and diffuse. The density of it is much lower than the other rings, so low that we have had spacecraft fly through this ring unharmed. It is not visible to normal telescopes, but cool objects give off infrared light making it the perfect target for the Spitzer Space Telescope.

Here is an artist conception of the ring. Saturn is way too small to see at this scale, a mere dot at the middle.

This ring is orbiting Saturn in the opposite direction of the other is the nearby Moon Phoebe. This leads to us to believe that Phoebe may be the source of material for the ring. And it solves a second mystery of the moon Iapetus. Iapetus is dark on one side and light on the other. It orbits inside this new ring in the opposite direction. Material from this ring appears to be spiraling in toward Saturn and coating one side of Iapetus giving rise to its unusual appearance.

Unfortunately, Spitzer ran out of coolant in May. These observations were made before the coolant ran out. Observations such as this illustrate the importance of observing in all parts of the EM spectrum.

Reprinted with permission from the Half-Astrophysicist Blog.

Star Party at the White House Tonight!

I have been droning all all year about how 2009 is the International Year of Astronomy. Tonight the Obamas are getting in on the act hosting a White House Star Party! Students will join the Obamas for observing and activities tonight.

I have been in the know on this for a while, but not at liberty to say anything (hence my secure and undisclosed location facebook status a few days ago) until the press release. My bossman is going to be there at the White House. I am in DC, but outside the White House setting a telescope for the public.

Skies are clearing after overnight rain...looks promising for tonight!

Journal Times Seeks Online Editor

The Racine Post published this link:


Dear Madame Zoltar

Hello, my gorgeous goblins! How are you? Did you get your flu vaccination yet? Don’t forget, there are two this year. There’s one for the regular flu, which is available, and a separate vaccine for the H1N1 flu, which they say will be available very soon. I was going to make some swine jokes, but I’ve decided that this is too important. I want all of my Irregulars and regular Irregular readers to be as healthy as possible over the flu season. Although I could recommend some MZ Flu-Away® (just like your money - ha-ha - inside joke), instead I urge everyone to follow their doctor’s recommendations for avoiding the flu. Wash your hands a lot. Especially you, Mr. OrbsCorbs. In fact, you should wash everything more.

There were no passes, no interceptions, no yards gained or lost, and no emails last week. Therefore, I’ve decided to give this week’s blog a seasonal theme: spooky videos. Before the festivities begin though, I’d like to take this opportunity to remind Mr. Brett F. that he owes me big time for Monday night, buddy, big time.

Here’s an interesting video involving highway accidents and ghosts, or does it?

This video seems to prove that ghosts are old people. And that high pitched sound effects get tedious quickly:

It’s not just ghosts that come out at this time of year. Consider “Flying Witches Filmed Over Mexican Skies:”

Finally, here’s a little clip to demonstrate the dangers of messing with the spirit world when you don’t know what you’re doing:

Be sure to avoid those kinds of complications and entrust your paranormal needs to a professional psychic. You can contact one here:

That’s it for this week, my dears. I love you all. Enjoy the ghosts and ghouls of October. The trees will put on a spectacular show for us. Brylcreem!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Bird of the week nominations

The chair will now entertain motions for nominations for who you would like to give the bird of the week. Tell me who and why. The nomination period will close at 3:00 PM Wednesday.

Irregular Football League Standings: Week 4

Resistance is futile!

Packers Fans Smash Car in Honor of Favre

I still think that the moment he took the field, the entire Packer defensive line should have beat the snot out of him. Sure, there would have been some fines, but think of all the pent-up hostilities that it would have released.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Wisconsin's SeniorCare Rx Ripoff

Mom received another letter from Governor Doyle touting the success of Wisconsin's SeniorCare prescription drug program for senior citizens. She got it on the same day that SeniorCare denied coverage for another one of her medications. That is how they save money: they decide that the medicines that your doctor has prescribed are too expensive, so go suck an egg.

Mom is 88. She fell and shattered a hip three years ago. After the surgery, her doctor prescribed Boniva, a medication for the management of postmenopausal osteoporosis. She received that for a month or two, then SeniorCare decided that was too expensive and they wouldn't cover it. So her doctor had to find an alternative. He then prescribed Fosamax, which essentially does what Boniva did, but it has to be taken more often. She's been doing OK on that for a couple of years. Now SeniorCare has decided that Fosamax is too expensive, too. So we're back to playing the find a less expensive (and often less effective) alternative game.

This has not happened with only one medication. It has occured with her acid reflux meds, pain meds, and heart meds. Her doctors prescribe something, the insurance says no, and she is left without medication while SeniorCare, pharmaceutical companies and the doctors slug it out. She once was transported to the ER because they thought she was having a heart attack. It turned out to be the under-treated acid reflux disease - under-treated because SeniorCare (NOT a medical doctor) demanded that she take a useless over-the-counter alternative. A trip to the ER is more economical than a pill?

It's quite obvious that the care of seniors is the last thing SeniorCare is concerned with. As always, money is more important than people. And as always, people who worked their entire life take it in the ass while Medicaid provides cradle to grave coverage for those who leeched off of them.

Screw you, Doyle.

Sunday, October 4, 2009


Bet you thought something else other than the Wisconsin Tourism Federation. That's exactly the problem and why they decided to rename themselves the Tourism Federation of Wisconsin (although they still have their old domain name).

There was a very amusing segment on this week's Wait, Wait' Don't Tell Me where they asked panelist P.J. O'Rourke a question about the name change. Turns out that he is part of an older, less internet savvy generation who didn't quite know the meaning of WTF until the other panelists kind of helped him out and led him to a very funny moment of revelation.

Just an amusing story about changing times and how name that may have been innocent years ago suddenly has some baggage attached to it.