Saturday, April 10, 2010

Changes in Latitude, Changes in Attitude.....

Stolen from Jimmy Buffett ( guess I have to give credit there)

Just posting that I have moved. So, KK.. if you see alot of hits from a strange place you have probably never heard of, it's ME!

Some big changes have happened in my life recently. Mr DA and I are doing just fine..
A family member is in need of some assistance, so I am here to be as assisting as I can!

Can't say the scenery doesn't suck.. but the lifestyle change is kinda scary to me. Not seeing my husband except for the weekends is gonna be rough.

Have limited internet. ( using my BlackBerry for a modem!)

I will try to check in and post when I can. It's kinda slow at times.
So. here's hoping this posts!

The Lottery

How many of you buy lottery tickets? Ever win anything?

I'm thinking I'll go out and buy some for tonight's drawing of the Florida Lotto...something like $46,000,000.... I normally don't buy them, but for some reason, I think I should today.

To date, the largest amount I think I won was in WI and it was something like $10!

RUSD Press Release and Poverty in Racine

With my week of rest and relaxation coming to an end, I decided it was time to check my work email and realign my thought process, once again, to the "go" mode. Sitting in my email was a press release concerning the most recent WKCE, The Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Exam. The WKCE is the benchmark that is used as the criteria of whether the district is educating their students or if it is failing.

In reading the media release, it was easy to see that the district used its best public relation skills in touting the individual successes of the yearly test scores. There were, and I'm certain, always are, some gains in some areas. Weeding through the puffed up reports is not an easy task. It is impossible from the release to really see how the district did overall. (We've heard from the defense, now we need to have the prosecution dissect the hard data.)

I'm not sure who the raw data is sent to... and after seeing some of the piles of data produced from these tests (I attended a week long summer academy) I'm still not sure who can decipher all that mess anyway! I have to state that I am still uneasy about the racial focus and direction the district is taking. To me, personally, color is less important than economic disadvantages. Race does not affect the ability to learn, in my opinion....

One set of data within the press release was eye opening and is something I directly see. The status of the students, and their preparedness to come to school ready to learn, within Racine's school district is dramatically changing. Our schools today are not the schools we think of when we attended school.

This is an excerpt from the media release: (It stated that I am allowed to share this)

Poverty Status:

"The level of poverty among our students continues to increase and we know that
economically disadvantaged circumstances remain a factor in students’ readiness to learn.
This school year, there are 62.3% elementary, 56.8% middle, and 44.3% of our high
school students who have been identified as economically disadvantaged per their
eligibility for subsidized lunch, compared to 57.7%, 52.1%, and 36.7% respectively last
school year. The State Summary percentage is currently 37.2% eligible for subsidized
lunch; last year the State Summary was 33.6%."

To add some clarification to these figures, to qualify for reduced or free lunch, parents/guardians must do the paperwork, provide proof of income... many do not do this for various reasons, including: shame, worry of prejudice against their children, lack of knowledge of the parameters of income eligibility, and for some it is language barriers.

The reason for this post, if you are still reading, is that it was shocking for me to see the poverty figures. 37% is the state average, up overall by 4% from last year. If you average out what is being reported in Racine, we are just shy of the 55% level of our students who are living below state levels of poverty or are targeted as needing assistance, not including those who don't file.

Next time you read reports about failing schools, remember that the benchmarks are going up every year with the No Child Left Behind Laws, making it more and more difficult to pass. While the requirements of success are becoming more strict, the raw materials being pumped into teacher's classrooms, (students with noted learning obstacles) is increasing as well.

I'm not giving anyone a pass, not the district, not the teachers, certainly not the administration or the school board. The fact remains that the quality of what is being pushed though the system is sub-par. There are certainly some students who excel and graduate at a very high level. I think it is important for everyone to see there are more sides to this story....

Friday, April 9, 2010

Still alive and well

Been away, no problems, still love you all, just wanted to try to get a life and a bit less computer time. Too much hate and us against them with no thought of reality on today's blogs. Not here, but turning off the box caused unneeded fallout with my disappearance here and other places. Maybe I should just delete the sites that rile my feathers.



Friday Morning Grin

Wife asks husband,
"How many women have you slept with?"

Husband proudly replies,
"Only you, Darling - With all the others, I was awake."

Hospital visiting hours
10 AM - 8 PM

Four for Fridays

Hello everybody! Just some random questions this week...

1) What do have on your computer desktop/screen saver?

2) What is on your desk?

3) What are you listening to right now?

4) Do you consider yourself organized?

Enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

History Test

It's labeled an Independence Day Quiz, but it's good for any day:


The site says:
"Our quiz is made up of 20 questions which were once used on the actual citizenship test. We've added a few curveballs-- The last ten questions may be a bit harder, but a score of around 24 out of 30 is considered a passing grade."

History was not a good subject for me in school. (Nor was geography.) I did not expect to do well on this test. As it progressed, I did a lot of 'educated' guessing (e.g., I thought the president is limited to 2 successive terms, but could run again later, so I guessed 4).

Anyway, my results:
"Your Score is 23
Congratz, you Pass! You should be proud."

Whew, barely made it. Just like back in school...

Danes go on Strike. Want more Beer

I see in the news that the workers at the Carlsberg brewery in Copenhagen, Denmark are being limited to beer ONLY at lunch. In response to this the workers are WALKING OUT. They are used to having coolers in their work areas to be accessed at ANY time, so long as they didn't get drunk, which was up to them to keep in control. I may go on the FIRST flight out of Mauston to Copenhagen to apply for a job. Lunch time would be just fine with me.

"City Council approves $50,000 Tingle settlement"

"RACINE — The City Council on Wednesday unanimously approved paying former Mayor Gary Becker’s administrative assistant $50,000 to settle a discrimination complaint."

http://www.journaltimes.com/news/local/article_e562d792-42c5-11df-80b3-001cc4c03286.html

Racine's City Council sat by and watched while former mayor Gary Becker partied his way through office, apparently attempting to inseminate every female he encountered. Those yahoos said NOTHING about Becker's behavior, even though blogs were so filled with tales of his misdeeds and lies that he held a special meeting with the bloggers in an attempt to defuse their ire. These "representatives of the people" silently smiled as Becker staggered through one term and started another. Yesterday they approved a payoff of 50,000 of our tax dollars to cover their negligence.

Party on!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

What's On the Dark Side of the Moon

Well, today's NASA Image of the Day shows the ISS on the Dark Side of the Moon.


Remember the ISS is not really that close to the Moon. It orbits only about 350km away from Earth and the Moon is about 380,000km, or roughly 1,000 times farther away.

This is a pretty impressive shot. When most people watch the ISS cross the sky for the first time, they remark about how fast it appears to be moving. The ISS crosses the entire face of the Moon in about .4 seconds which means it passes the dark side in this photo in a little under .2 seconds (the Moon is appears slightly over half lit here). It takes some timing to get that shot!

The ISS is currently making passes over the U.S. in the morning now. It will appear brighter than usual since the Shuttle is docked at it which makes it larger and hence brighter. You can find predicted pass times at Heavens Above.

Racine has a least one pass each morning from now until April 16th. Some mornings you get two (we rarely get two passes in a day since we are farther south...farther north, they can even get three passes sometimes in the summer).

Reprinted with permission from the Half-Astrophysicist Blog.

Chicago

Chicago Lake Front and Surrounding Attractions
















Dear Madame Zoltar

Hello, my crusty croissants! How are you? Did you enjoy our brief heat wave last week? I heard that if you were near Lake Michigan, it was still pretty cool. Today’s weather is more seasonal. "April is the cruellest month . . ." wrote Mr. TS Eliot at the beginning of his famous poem, The Waste Land. I suppose that’s because of those showers. But don’t forget that they bring us May flowers. And they help wash away the debris that accumulates over winter. So “if it's raining, have no regrets; because it isn't raining rain, you know, it's raining violets.”

Before I get to this week’s email, I want to say a few words about a new product that I encountered as a result of being a JT Irregular: Mini Chill®. In fact, you might say that I’m doing a mini-review it. Oh dear. Let me say right off, I give Mini Chill® an all thumbs up. People probably think it’s pretty easy being a psychic and spiritual advisor, but let me tell you, at the end of the day I am wound tighter than a three day alarm clock. I am so tense from tending to the needs of my clients and overseeing operations at Zoltar® Inc. Then when I do try to relax at home, Junior usually starts up with that loud robot dance of his (forever emulating the father he never knew). It gets to me and I really need something to help me relax. Thanks to the benevolence of the makers of Mini Chill®, I’ve discovered just the right thing. At first, I wasn’t sure why Mini Chill® worked so well, put then I read up a little about it on their website: http://minichill.com/lab/. Now I understand that it is the Relarian™ in the Mini Chill® that calms my jangled nerves and soothes my wretched soul. I can’t thank you enough, Mini Chill®, for the peace that you’ve brought to my days and nights.

This week’s missive arrived from the astounding Ms. kkdither a few days ago:

My dearest Madame,

I received an email this morning from Mr. Zoltar! He is claiming innocence in the dreadlocks affair... Typical man!

He also informed me he is not well. Beejay's assessment was correct. He claims it is Heart Rot. I looked it up online and this is what I found:

"Heart rot in living trees is caused by fungi which have the ability to decay wood. These fungi gain entrance to the wood of the tree through wounds, branch stubs, etc., which expose the bare wood. ... The rot will... usually be confined to a small central core of the trunk (how fitting) and the structural integrity of the tree will be maintained."

He wished me to convey that his lawyer has transferred all remaining assets to be disbursed amongst the thousands of Zoltar clones still in tact across the southern states. There was no mention of your son.

My heartfelt condolences, Madame. With what you have told us, I can only imagine how he contracted this disease...

Yours truly,
kkdither

(For those of you unfamiliar with what transpired last week concerning my ex-husband, and for those who need a refresher, here’s a link to the blog and comments: http://www.jtirregulars.com/2010/03/dear-madame-zoltar_31.html .)

Dear Ms. kk, thank you so much for conveying the above information to me. I must admit to a sudden surge of decidedly mixed emotions upon reading your email. Oh my. My first thought was that it is all too fitting for such a slut. He’ll end up a hollowed out shell of a man. (Indeed, the aforementioned TS Eliot also authored a poem entitled “The Hollow Men.” I wonder if he knew my ex.)

Of course, I expected him to deny responsibility for his shenanigans and dastardly deeds. And though he has heart rot, it cuts me to the heart to hear that he has completely disinherited our son. What a shameful parody of a man he is! He’s just been going through the motions for years. He is a con who hustles for pocket change. Though I wish no one harm, I cannot find a lot of sympathy within myself for him at this time.

Thank you for reading my blog, my dear, wonderful friends. What would I do without you? What would you do without me? Oh no, let’s not think like that. We have each other. That’s all we ever have.

Send your tips and tales to: madamezoltar@jtirregulars.com.

Enjoy your week, Irregulars. Remember to pick up some Mini Chill® from your local retailer. If he is out of stock, demand that he order a few skid loads. It is your right as an American citizen to consume. Neorama!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Last Stop, the VLA

Okay, there was one more stop on my New Mexico trip last weekend. After the Trinity site, I went to the Very Large Array (VLA). They have special tours of the VLA twice a year (the same day as the Trinity site is open) although you can visit the VLA any day you wish and do a self guided walking tour.

The VLA is a collection of 27 radio telescopes that combine their signals to make one big radio telescope. They were made famous in the movie Contact (although they do not do SETI work). Each dish is 25 meters (82 feet) in diameter. The radio telescopes are on tracks so they can moved into different configurations. When spread out, they get a very high resolution image of a small part of the sky. When close together, they get a low resolution image of a large chunk of sky. Just think of moving them around as a big zoom lens.

For this visit, they were in what is called the D configuration. The configuration is possibly the most photogenic as they are all very close together. They are set up in the shape of a "Y" and in the A configuration, they use the entire 13 mile length of each track so you cannot see all the antennas at once. Here is a shot of them from Saturday.


Here is a little closer view

.

The to move these telescopes and here is one of the vehicles they use to move them.


The dish is off to the right of this image. Note how the track the dish is on are perpendicular to the tracks used to move the dish. That is one tight turning radius! So here's how it works. The dish is put on this cart. The cart rolls to the intersection of the tracks. One corner of the cart is lifted up and the wheels rotate 90 degrees until they are aligned with the other track. They repeat this for the other three sets of wheels and off they do. Might seem convoluted by they saved millions in construction costs by not having to build long sweeping turns of track!

So if you decide to visit the Trinity site, consider the VLA in the afternoon.

Reprinted with permission from the Half-Astrophysicist Blog.

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Trinity Site

This last weekend I visited the Trinity site in New Mexico, famed for being where the first atomic bomb was detonated on July 16th, 1945. It is open to the public twice a year, the first Saturday of April and October.

I stayed in Socorro Friday night. New Mexico Tech was on my short list of colleges so it was interesting to see it 20 some years later. I came to the conclusion that I made a good choice and probably wouldn't have liked Socorro as much as Grinnell.

I got to the site pretty early Saturday morning, a little after 8am. Took about 15 minutes to get through the line at the entrance. The site is on the White Sands Missile Range so you have to show ID to get in and they tell you that you are not allowed to stop and take photos until you get to the ground zero site (they didn't say anything about snapping pictures out of your window while driving there, however, so I have a few interesting photos!) You drive along and see all kinds of intersting things with weird names, probably acronyms and you can play the "Guess That Acroynym" game.

There was no line for the bus when I got there, so I boarded and went to the Schmid/McDougal House. This unassuming ranch house is where the plutonium core of the bomb underwent final assembly.

Here is the room where it happened.


They made it a "clean room" by putting plastic over the windows and telling people to wipe their feet when they came in...hard to believe it made much difference in the desert.


They restored the house and tried to make it as close as they could to its appearance in 1945. The house is surrounded by ruins of the barn and a couple of windmills outside.

One thing that impressed me is the solemness of the occasion. People spoke softly and showed a lot of respect for the house and the site. There are some displays in the house with old pictures from the summer of '45 and information on the family who built the house and its history.

Then back on the bus to go to ground zero. In the parking lot are a couple of small booths, one stocking primarily books on the atomic bomb and another with the Trinity t-shirts and baseball caps. A food vendor is also set up there (along with the obligatory porta potties).

Ground Zero is about a quarter mile walk from the parking lot and a fence now surrounds the site. Right before you enter, there is an exhibit on radioactivity staffed by an enthusiastic bunch with Geiger counters showing off the radioactivity emitted by everyday items such as cat litter. A historic marker has been erected at Ground Zero.


The bomb was at the top of a 100 foot tall tower. One of the four bases still is visible.


And they had a replica of the Fat Man Casing. Fat Man as dropped on Nagasaki.


There is no visible Trinitite and very little visible evidence of what happened there. There was a bus tour there and the tour guide gave a great talk about the morning of the blast. People were again very somber and respectful. There was no sign of anyone engaging in politics one way or the other. It was presented as history, with all the good and bad that goes with it.

I will say that I am glad the U.S. developed this technology rather than Germany or Japan. Nuclear technology has changed the world, and not just militarily. It has countless applications from energy production to medicine. As terrible as nuclear weapons are, two superpowers both armed with them may have prevented some major wars in the second half of the 20th century.

I know some people argue it was immoral to use the bomb. I have some sympathy for that argument. Nuclear weapons are the ultimate WMDs and we used them. We didn't fully understand everything they did and the effects of radiation poisoning at the time, but we knew one plane could kill tens of thousands of people (or more) instantly.

Others argue we were justified using a variety of arguments such as we didn't start the war (which I think is irrelevant) or that fewer people died in the bombings than would have in an invasion (which is harder to refute, but does that make it right?)

I have thought about it and come to the conclusion that is was the best of bad choices. I would say I give it qualified support. If we did not use the bomb on Japan, we would not have known the horrors of nuclear war. When new weapons are developed, there is a tendency to use them in conflict. Look at chemical warfare in WWI. They were used until the world community decided they were too horrific to use in war. I don't think we would have learned that lesson without someone using nuclear weapons...if that first use came in a US-USSR war, the casualties could have been in the millions or higher.

Let us never forget the lessons of Trinity, Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The future of humanity depends on it.

Reprinted with permission from the Half-Astrophysicist Blog.

Well Planned Retirement

Outside England 's Bristol Zoo there is a parking lot for 150 cars and 8 buses. For 25 years, its parking fees were managed by a very pleasant attendant. The fees were for cars ($1.40), for buses (about $7).

Then, one day, after 25 solid years of never missing a day of work, he just didn't show up; so the Zoo Management called the City Council and asked it to send them another parking agent.

The Council did some research and replied that the parking lot was the Zoo's own responsibility.The Zoo advised the Council that the attendant was a City employee.. The City Council responded that the lot attendant had never been on the City payroll.

Meanwhile, sitting in his villa somewhere on the coast of Spain or France or Italy ... is a man who'd apparently had a ticket machine installed completely on his own and then had simply begun to show up every day, commencing to collect and keep the parking fees, estimated at about $560 per day -- for 25 years.
Assuming 7 days a week, this amounts to just over $7 million dollars ....... and no one even knows his name.

Best of Racine, 1st Edition - bumped up by request

The results are in for our 1st edition of the Irregulars Best of Racine.
Here are the top picks in each category -

Best Chinese - Whey Chai

Best Mexican - Los Mariachi's

Best Italian - We have a 2 way tie -
Salute & Infusino's - Infusino's won this after the tie breaker

Best Fast Food - Culvers

Best Sit down - Corner House

Best Bakery - O&H

Best Thin Crust Pizza - Well's Brothers

Best Pan Pizza - Infusino's on Hy 20

Should we come up with some kind of certificate for each of the places? Could be kinda cool, ideas anyone?
Thanks for voting!

Watch for April's installment - every kind of store I could think of with help from you guys! start thinking now! - is posted, please vote if you haven't already :)

Each place received a certificate and our brochure. I will need to take a pic of the certificate, as this isn't recognizing the format I have it in... but it is printed on marble paper and looks pretty cool :)






Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Floating Mountain (but not of Pandora)

And I am not talking about Avatar here. I visited the Very Large Array in New Mexico yesterday (blog on that coming). As I drove west on Highway 60 afterwards, I noticed a peculiar mountain that appeared to be hovering above the ground.


Look at the right and left side of the mountain and notice how they mysteriously don't touch the ground. This really is what it looked like visually and is not a trick of the camera.

This mirage is caused by warm air directly above the ground bending the path of light as it comes to you from the mountains. I will point you to a lengthy but complete explanation from Andrew Young at San Diego State University.

Reprinted with permission from the Half-Astrophysicist Blog.

Venus and Mercury: April 4th

Tonight from Gates Pass on the west side of Tucson. Look closely and you can see cars on the road heading west.

If you missed them, don't fret. They are now past closest approach but will still be visible. Venus continues to climb higher in the sky and Mercury will start to dip toward the Sun meaning it appears lower in the sky (Mercury is also drifting north as it heads back toward the Sun). Mercury will appear dimmer as it catches up to Earth and will pass between Earth and the Sun on April 28th. As it approaches inferior conjunction, more of its night side points toward Earth so it will appear dimmer as well as lower in the sky and get more difficult to spot. If you watch it every night, you will know about where to look the next night and have a much easier time tracking it. Knowing where to look is half the battle!

Reprinted with permission from the Half-Astrophysicist Blog.

Saturday Morning at the Lake


This morning my son and I decided to have brunch at Chartroom Charlie's, a local restaurant where the Root River empties into the waters of Lake Michigan. It was one of those cold, rainy and dreary mornings where the heart feels cold. We were seated down by windows that overlooked the river. What a great view I thought. My son said to me, "Racine is sure ugly." I didn't think so. I just see it in a different light.

As we were looking out the rain splattered windows, we were watching fishermen in their small boats drifting by. "These fishermen are a die hard breed" ,I thought. Wondering if they caught anything. Salmon, trout or walleye? I'll never know. We watched Mallard ducks bobbing in the river. Canadian geese and seagulls were flying by. It reminded me of the time that we saw a muskrat swimming in the river.

As I was sipping a warm cup of coffee, my mind drifted off to the places I've been to. Like the cottage on the lake Up North. It was the warm feeling I had before-sipping coffee and looking out of window. I remembered the smell of bacon and fresh cinnamon rolls while my mom was cooking breakfast. The fishermen were out there trying to catch their sunfish and bluegills. The indigo buntings, goldfinches, nuthatches, blue jays and downy woodpeckers were getting their morning fill at the bird feeder. The loons were diving deep in the water to catch their morning fish, only to reappear elsewhere. I remembered the bald eagles and the osprey diving for fish and scaring the heck out of the loons.

My mind drifted off to more recent days of visiting the warm and sunny Dana Point, California. It was a whole new world for me. The smell the salt in the air and the warm breezes off of ocean are still in my memory. The palm trees, tall and majestic against the glow of the sun, were just glorious in my eyes. The yellow rocky bluffs behind me looked forbidding, yet grand. I wondered why people would build houses on the edge of the cliffs. The wildlife was different there too. We saw pelicans, cattle egrets and white herons out there looking for a catch of fish. There was this sea lion swimming in the harbor, catching the attention of tourists. Those were some of the happier days in my life.

My point being of this blog, is every where you go, there is beauty to be seen and observed. Just got to look for it. The lunch was delicious and the service was great. As I walked out the restaurant, the rain had stopped and the sun started to shine...

Venus and Mercury: April 3rd

I was driving back from New Mexico tonight (more blogs on that trip coming) and stopped off of I-10 on Highway 191 to snap a few pictures of Mercury and Venus. They are having a nice conjunction and if you missed it tonight, tomorrow night is just about as good. Monday they will start moving noticeably apart. Anyway, here is a pic.


Now an interesting second pic. During this exposure, a car zipped past (the turnout I used was on the east side of the road and I was looking west). I thought the picture would be ruined, but I think it's kind of a neat effect in its own right...and I caught a plane in this one as well. You will notice I wasn't zoomed in on this on as much.


If it's clear, I will try a few more pics tonight.

Reprinted with permission from the Half-Astrophysicist Blog.