Saturday, July 10, 2010

When something changes . . .

. . . I don’t like it. Recently, Google News (http://news.google.com/) changed the layout of their site. Google News is one of the sites I’ve become addicted to. As far as I’m concerned, their new format is for crap. Although you can customize the page, you lose that every time you dump your cookies, and I do that quite often. And even customized, the page is not what it once was. If I perceived some benefit to these changes, I wouldn’t complain. But like so many other changes that I see, it seems to me like it was change for the sake of change.

I have a friend who managed the cafĂ© at one of a chain bookstore’s locations. She says that once a month, “the suits” would mandate that her stock be displayed in a different way. Every three or four months, the stuff would be back in its original locations. Change for the sake of change. I know that some of it is marketing, but I think that most of it is suits justifying their existence.

I also think this must be part of the natural process of becoming an old(er) coot, like my intolerance for loud noise/music (unless I generate it) and my general disdain for the “younger generation” and their habits and mores. I’m getting even crankier, if that’s possible. Thanks for letting me vent.

Change? No thanks, I don’t have or want any.

Hot, Hot, and More Hot!



The weather guys lied!
They were saying lower humidity and cooler weather for this weekend. Conditions at the time of post:
85.7degrees
Dewpoint 63
Heat Index: 87

current conditions


I tried to finally get outside and take a walk last night. I only made it a mile and had to retreat. Way too humid and buggy!

Friday, July 9, 2010

A Good Political Essay...

My friend Phil Plait over at Bad Astronomy just posted a very nice essay on his political philosophy. I recently mentioned that I have long thought about writing my a blog here on my own and it would share a lot in common with his.

There are things I would write differently, put a little more emphasis on some ideas than others, and I am a little surprised he didn't specifically call out pure research as a government function (pure research is that which does not have immediately obvious commercial applications so it is typically ignored by the private sector, yet frequently has enormous economic benefits later on. Such as the internet which was originally developed by ARPA to name a big obvious, easy to understand example...when I first got on the internet, I used ARPANET).

So give it a read. I have known Phil for a long time and shared many good conversations with him on science and politics. I wish I got to see him more often...mixing it up with people like him is fun and it keeps me sharp.

Open Blog - Weekend Version


Sorry, I'm a tad late this morning. I slept in . . .

Four for Fridays

Good morning everybody! Friday is here after a short week! Here's some more random questions about summer...

1) Gas grill or charcoal?

2) Brats or burgers?

3) What's your favorite kind of cheese?

4) White milk or chocolate?

Enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Budapest Multiparker 730



Wouldn't it be cool if the system somehow screwed up and you got someone else's Mercedes after parking your heap of a car?

A Little Boy

Why I write this here I do not know. I guess I have a bit of a heavy heart and need to unburden it a bit. I'm not sure.. Don't know what I expect for responses or if anyone will respond, not sure it's really right to tell this story as it's not mine, this comes from what I myself heard from her whether right or not here it goes...

Last week in a little town close to me there was a report of a little 3 year old boy who drown in a pool. I was sad to hear this news as I sit and think that my daughter Mina is 3 years old I could only imagine what the family must be going though, a horrid thought.

Today I was talking to my mother in law, who is very active in helping people of other cultures acclimate themselves in Swedish society, as it is not an easy culture to become a member in. Some two years ago she took on the responsibility of being what is called a contact person for a family that comes from Iraq. Well not quite a whole family as it was only a woman and her 1 year old son. She fled Iraq just over 2 years ago to Sweden because she had a baby with a man she was not married to, not only that he was an Egyptian man, truly scandalous.. She was once married and had 4 children with that man, something happened and he died (not sure what that story was)she then got together with this other man and got pregnant. Turns out this man is very abusive and she needs to get away from not only her dead husbands family who call her a whore but this new man whom she became this whore for...

She has tried to acclimate herself in this society but the need to work is far more important than spending real time trying to learn the language. If she does not work she will have no where to live or food to eat (within a certain standard as Sweden is a very liberal country and there is always help to be had but it's not easy to live on that).. School for the language is at the same time as her work so of course she chooses her work over school..

She left her 4 other children back in Iraq as she did not have the means to take them with her. They stayed with her dead husbands family no longer went to school because the family would not pay for it. They were expected to basically take care of everything around the house if they wanted to live there. The whole time they (dead husbands family) are telling her kids what a whore their mother is and unclean and everything truly despicable..

This woman was having a hard time with the whole situation, her 4 children back in Iraq and worried about the war going on there with her children so far away, she trying to get into the Swedish way, dealing with a very active and "difficult" 1 year old who unfortunately reminded her of the man that beat her..

She finally through a lot of paper work and saving of money got her 4 kids here, thank goodness, but they had been pretty much brain washed when they got here. So instead of getting her children safe and thought she would be happy. Instead she got kids that called her a whore. The oldest who is now over 18 thinks it's okay to spit at and scream at his mother. The youngest is a bastard child and not worth much.

My MIL like I said was a contact person for this family, which meant that she was to come help out when needed. Sometimes she would just need a break and have my MIL come and take the youngest. He has spent many nights over by them. My daughter Mina would play with him out at the parks around here. He was a difficult child only because of the situation he was in. As soon as he would be away from the mess of the family he would turn into this extremely sweet but extremely active little boy. he wanted to run and you really had to keep a close eye on him.

Last week sometime after his mother picked him up from daycare they went home to their apartment on the bottom floor. It was a hot day so all doors and windows were open. He needed to go to the bathroom so he took off his pants and sat on the pot. His mother went into the kitchen to start dinner. After (I don't know how long) some time she went to check on him because she didn't hear him call for her to tell her he was done and he was no longer there. She immediately went out calling for him and send the rest of her family out to look for him but could not find him. Later on that night he was found in a neighbors pool.... lifeless..

Today was the funeral. From what I understand a pretty typical Muslim funeral. They had it at the house. It started with a person washing his body and wrapping it in cloth. They put his clean wrapped body on a board and walked a procession to a part of graveyard that was set aside for Muslim families. They laid his body down in a grave. Only the men were allowed to be near the grave, the women had to keep farther back and they covered his body with dirt. This sweet little active boy is no longer in this world and it breaks my heart.

I don't really know how to feel about it. I knew him but not extremely well.. my daughter played with him but not that often. I am holding my children a little harder today and hopefully everyday from now on. I know that death happens to us all but you really don't expect it in a little boy of 3 years old. So it's really chocking and upsetting.. Thank you for letting me vent, like I said I really don't know if I should be writing about this but it's the only way that I can express myself right now and it feels like I really needed to get it out there somewhere.

Chutzpah from Lawrence Hunter, PhD

Warning: Rant on Poltics

Somehow, I have managed to get onto all kinds of Republican and conservative mailing lists recently. (I admit I considered changing my voter registration to Republican so I could vote FOR John McCain in the primary since I consider his challenger really unacceptable but it looks like McCain is in control of the race now so I won't have to do that). I have requested to be removed but to no avail. I got the following gem this morning which I am pasting verbatim (except for the pics that were in it).
____________________________
AARP Above The Law Once Again;
U.S. House Places Restrictions on Free Speech
for Groups Like SSI While Exempting AARP

It’s not enough for congressional liberals that AARP already has its own special private-letter ruling from the IRS exempting its insurance-commission revenues from the income tax; now the liberals in Congress want to give AARP special political-speech rights that it would deny to smaller, newer non-profits groups such as The Social Security Institute.

Such unequal treatment under the law is unfair, unjust and unconstitutional.

Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed its version of campaign finance reform (The DISCLOSE Act) in an effort to sidestep the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. The Federal Election Commission, which struck down the McCain-Feingold law as an unconstitutional infringement of free speech by corporations and labor unions. In order to head off opposition to the bill by the powerful National Rifle Association, which surely would have killed the legislation, bill sponsors slipped in a carefully tailored exemption freeing the NRA and a few other big liberal non-profit organizations such as AARP from the strictures of the law.

Do Not Allow Liberal Democrats to put AARP Above the Law Again;
Fax Congress NOW to Prevent Another Sweetheart Deal for AARP

The DISCLOSE Act draws an irrational and unjustified distinction between non-profit groups for purely political reasons, and in the process, it produces a discernable disparate impact politically by favoring liberal organizations over conservative groups. Only organizations at least 2 ½ years old with 500,000 or more dues-paying members (including at least one dues-paying member in each of the 50 states, DC and Puerto Rico) are spared the political-speech restrictions created by the bill. There are very few non-profit organizations that meet the narrowly drawn distinctions of the DISCLOSE Act, all of them liberal with the exception of the NRA.

By drawing this unwarranted and irrational distinction, Congress consigns newer, smaller groups such as The Social Security Institute to second-class citizenship status, imposing on them indefensible restrictions on their right to engage in free and unfettered political speech in election campaigns.

Such unequal treatment under the law is unfair and unjust.

There was no rational basis for the House to create two classes of organizations, one with fewer free-speech rights than the other. The only purpose of the discriminatory, rifle-shot exemption was political, to neutralize political opposition from the powerful NRA. But once Congress decided for political expediency to make some groups more equal than others, House liberals took full advantage of the opportunity to expand the exemption just enough to cover its favorite left-leaning groups and put liberal groups such as AARP, the ACLU and the Sierra Club above the law.

Do Not Allow Liberal Democrats to put AARP Above the Law Again;
Fax Congress NOW to Prevent Another Sweetheart Deal for AARP

Before the DISCLOSE Act moves to the U.S. Senate, all Americans who believe in free speech and equal protection under the laws must fax their senators and demand the AARP exemption be removed from the bill.

The AARP exemption not only is constitutionally repugnant, it is also a political rifle shot right at the heart of groups like SSI. This sweetheart deal for AARP will greatly disadvantage conservative groups such as The Social Security Institute in competing with AARP in the political arena.

The evidence of the political bias the AARP free-speech exemption creates is crystal clear: Liberals are in a heated rush to ram the legislation through Congress in time to freeze conservative advocacy during the upcoming fall campaign.

Do Not Allow Liberal Democrats to put AARP Above the Law Again;
Fax Congress NOW to Prevent Another Sweetheart Deal for AARP

It is bad enough that Congress is trying to circumvent the Supreme Court’s ruling and find a slippery constitutional means to restrict political speech by non-profit organizations. The only thing worse is for Congress to impose restrictions on some groups but not others.

It is irrational and unjust for Congress to sneak around the First Amendment with a backhanded restriction on the right of non-profit organizations to speak freely during elections campaigns. It is irrational, unjust AND outrageously unconstitutional for Congress to anoint some non-profit organizations freer than others to speak their piece.

Fax Congress NOW. Don’t let liberals exempt AARP from restrictions on political speech while imposing those restrictions on other groups such as the Social Security Institute.

Make your voices heard in the halls of Congress.

Do Not Allow Liberal Democrats to put AARP Above the Law Again;
Fax Congress NOW to Prevent Another Sweetheart Deal for AARP


Sincerely,

Lawrence A. Hunter, Ph.D.
Social Security Institute
15 Culpeper St.
Warrenton VA, 20186
P.S.Free Speech is for EVERYONE or it is notFree. YOUR FAXES DO HAVE IMPACT.Send Every Member of Congress a Message – SEND FAXES NOW!
___________________

So here is the key offending statement: "In order to head off opposition to the bill by the powerful National Rifle Association, which surely would have killed the legislation, bill sponsors slipped in a carefully tailored exemption freeing the NRA and a few other big liberal non-profit organizations such as AARP from the strictures of the law. "

The NRA is a liberal non-profit? Yeah, "the NRA and a few other big liberal non-profit organizations..." Sorry dude, you don't get to rail on a the liberals for a provision inserted into a bill for the NRA! Yes, the Sierra Club will also be exempt, but they weren't the ones threatening to kill the bill over this provision.

What gets my goat is the amazingly hypocritical rhetoric. A provision inserted into the bill for the conservative NRA and then conservatives criticize it! Make up your mind already! Talk about damned if you do and damned if you don't!

And the worst part is, I don't want this provision in there! I am in favor of full disclosure and don't want the Sierra Club, the NRA , or whoever exempt. You can also note that he lists many liberal organizations that would be exempt by not other conservative organizations which would benefit (such as the American Family Association which claims to have over the minimum number of members to be exempt as well).

We have the right of free speech, but with rights come responsibilities and I think one of those responsibilities is to have the cojones to tell us who you are.

By framing the issue a) disohonestly and b) in totally partisan terms, Lawrence Hunter, PhD, seems to be going out of his way to alienate people who might AGREE WITH HIM ON THIS ISSUE! No attempt is made to argue the merits (or lack thereof in this case) of the provision, just an appeal to oh, the evil liberals did it...I guess partisan pandering is more appealing that cogent arguments. And he could do a bang up job with the cogent arguments because I think he's on the right side on this one (but he doesn't want to risk badmouthing the NRA).

And Lawrence Hunter, Phd, if you don't want me posting your emails on for all to see, maybe you should finally honor my request (which I have made multiple times and again this morning) to be removed from you mailing list!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Time for some family input!

As you all know, you're like family to me.
We share our lives, our joys, our struggles, many things.
This is why I value your input on this one :)

This isn't the start of a parenting debate, it's 1/2 for fun but also
to get the wealth of input you all have to offer in my time of need.

Yes, Froglover, I AM doing this, deal with it, and DO NOT forewarn him
of any possible things he may be asked.
That said...

We have a probable male suitor who will be coming to talk with my hubby
and myself about dating our daughter, most likely this weekend.
(poor guy!)

I have come up with a few question for him, just to see how he handles
it and to see and get a little insight into how he thinks. I have checked out his family thru people that know them when his brother was a possibility for our
other daughter but we dodged that bullet :)
(thankfully, he would have driven us CRAZY!)
This seems like a good guy, but if a gentleman caller came calling on
your daughter , what things would you ask this poor soul before giving him
the OK to date her?

I am SO looking forward to all advice/input/cheers and jeers,
let the fun begin, and thanks in advance :)

Dear Madame Zoltar

Hello, my zestful zinnias! How are you? Did you have a delightful Fourth Fest weekend? Junior and I eventually made it to Mr. OrbsCorbs’ abode for the parade. He seemed less than pleased to see us. Oh dear. I hope we weren’t imposing, Mr. Corbs. You did invite us. Anyway, Junior had a great time and so did I. The marching bands were glorious. The floats were fabulous. The politicians were, um, there. And the flyby by those two jets before the parade was fantastic! Did you see or hear those? We were in traffic and heard them, but didn’t get a glimpse. They sounded awesome. (The Racine Post has wonderful pictures here: http://news.racinepost.com/2010/07/10-fighter-jets-spending-night-here.html) Racine does know how to throw a party. For a good time, call Racine. Tee-hee.

The smoking ban has gone into effect in Wisconsin and some people are fuming. To be honest, I think that both sides have good arguments. Like many others, I am a former smoker. I picked up the habit as an adolescent. Smokers had been around me since birth. Although my parents disapproved of my smoking, they both smoked. Once the habit was firmly entrenched in me and I approached legal age, they more or less accepted it. I smoked for decades after that. And even I, Madame Zoltar, had great difficulty quitting. But things are different for some people today. They grew up without smoke in their homes. They consider secondhand smoke a danger to them and others. They demanded, and eventually got, a law prohibiting smoking in most public places. Some people are celebrating that, some are cursing, and others just light up another one. Oh my.

This weekend, the Great Midwest Dragon Boat Festival takes place at Samuel Myers Park (11th St. and Pershing Blvd.) in Racine. (http://www.midwestdragonboatfestival.com/) There is a parade of teams on Pershing Blvd. Friday, at 6:30 PM. Then (from the site), “Dragon boat races begin at 8:30 AM on Saturday, July 10 and continue until 5:00 PM. The best viewing is from Simonsen Park, along the hill at Main between Sixteenth and Fourteenth Streets. Food vendors will be at both Simonsen Park and Samuel Myers Park.” This is a great event. It’s free and I believe that you can smoke, although I’m sure that any participants who do will wish they hadn’t.

Well that’s my blog for this week, my dears, short but sweet, like me. Ha-ha. No, short, like this work week. Oh my, I’m full of them. Wednesday already? The firecrackers are still ringing in my ears.

For the keys to your future, or penetrating oil to loosen up the locks on your past, contact me: madamezoltar@jtirregulars.com.

Thank you one and all for reading my blog today. I appreciate the time and effort you put into deciphering my thoughts and words. It is a pleasure and an honor to be associated with such an illustrious and irregular group. I love you. Epiplexis!

Open Blog - Wednesday


That shouldn't be hard . . .

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Kitt Peak From Afar...

I was out talking some pictures near Houghton and Old Spanish Trail on the east side of Tucson. Shortly after sunset, pointed my camera to the west-southwest.

That's Kitt Peak, over 50 miles away. And you can even make out some of the telescopes. Here, let me crop that and enlarge for you.


Now you can clearly see the large dome on the right. That is the Mayall 4 meter telescope. You can see several other smaller domes as well. Toward the left, you can see what looks like a little triangle. That is the McMath-Pierce Solar Telescope.

Since we are close to the solstice, the Sun is setting in the northwest. I will have to come back later in the year and try this shot when the Sun sets farther south. Might get some nicer colors or even silhouette the telescopes against the setting Sun. Look for that shot this fall/winter.

Reprinted with permission from the Half-Astrophysicist Blog.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Checking in!

Hey all! I miss coming here and reading and posting. :(
Bad internet service. Sometimes I can get on ( after a 10 minute loading wait) but to log in.. phhhtt! Surprisingly, today has been a good 'net day! That hasn't happened in .. well I can't remember when!

Just thought I'd try tonight and give you all an update on me.

I'm still at the lake. Mr DA is in MN. He comes every weekend. We had a long weekend this time! He's looking at houses for us. Has a couple 'guys' helping him with the areas. (weed out the bad) He's been to SD already! He stays in a motel when he's there. He really likes the new office and the people there. He says MN is beautiful!!
I can't wait to move there!

I'm helping out as much as I can with the in laws. Cooking mostly. Keeping them company, hanging out in the nice weather, watching the sunsets and the wildlife.. .. ( I know ... it sucks) :) Pretty laid-back life style here.. Fireworks everynight!!!!! Starting about now... ohhh yaaa!

I did have something happen last week. Woke up in the middle of the night with my foot in excruciating pain!! I think something bit me. Tried to walk and I couldn't put any weight on my foot. There is no mark or anything, but I have a very swollen foot. It was red ( could have been a bit sunburned) but the swelling and pain would not have been caused by that. Even a week later, it's a'hurting! ( Doesn't help I twisted it wrong today and it started all over again)
And I smacked my baby toe 5 days later, I think it's broke, or at least badly sprained!! NOT having a good week, this past week!
Minnie (dog) and I look pretty pathetic hobbling around for our walks. She's got bad legs too. :(

Have some family coming tomorrow to stay for a few days. Mr DA's older brother from TX and nephew from Racine. Will be nice to see them. Mr DA will be back on Thurs.

Hmmm not much of an update, but at least you know I am still here!

How was everyone's 4th? What's new??

I Kissed A Nerd...

There might be hope for me yet...


Open Blog - Monday



We've added a couple of stars since 1942, but it's still a Grand Old Flag.