Saturday, January 15, 2011

Are You Watching the Packers Game Tonight?

I am. This one is for the North Division Championship of the NFC.  I'm normally not much of a football fan, but the Green Bay Packers have been very exciting this season.

Are you watching the game at home? Having a football party? Going to one? I'll watch it at home. I have a TV tuner card in my computer and can watch as I surf online.

Go Pack! Take down the Falcons!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Some Disturbing News....

I was just checking though the JTI comments awaiting moderation and those marked as spam by the filter. I was surprised at the vast number of comments we received for penis enlargement. Were any of you aware that we had that problem? I just wish they would have had the nerve to tell us that to our face instead of posting it anonymously!  ;o

Greenland's Early Sunrise

The latest thing going around the internet today is that the Sun rose on in a small burg called Ilulissat in Greenland on January 11th. Ilulissat is north of the arctic circle so it experiences 24 hours of darkness for several weeks. Nothing unusual there.

The unusual part is that the Sun usually rises again on January 13th. Therefore, the Sun came back two days early and the question is why.

The first thing to do is to verify the claims is true. I checked out the NOAA Sunrise/Sunset calculator (after finding what I think is the lat/long of Ilulissat. There are lots of places with similar names in Greenland!) and the US Naval Observatory. Sure enough, January 12th, no sunrise. January 13th, there is a sunrise and a very short day. Okay, NOAA and USNO agree with the prediction and they are pretty reputable in such matters.

The next thing is to verify the observation. This part is much trickier. The story has gone viral on the web. The best I can tell, it started with a story in the Daily Mail. Read it and you can see the details of who made the observations and where are pretty sketchy...okay, non-existant. No mention of the time of the observation, how long the Sun stayed up, location of observation, azimuth of the Sun (I don't consider the stock photo they used in the story to have any bearing on anything) or who made the observation. A photo of the sunrise with an identifiable landmark would have been REALLY useful!

Now on to the possible why (assuming it really happened).

First, let's get rid of all the crackpot theories. Earth's rotational axis has not changed. Astronomers use telescopes every night and measure the positions of stars down to tenths of an arc second (or finer) resolution every night. If something had happened like that, everyone around here would be totally whigged out about now, yet calm prevails at observatories around the world. This is not related to the bird deaths, 2012 non-sense, magnetic pole shifting, etc.

The idea that is getting the most play and traction is that global warming is to blame. Greenland has been well above average this year by about 3 degrees Celsius. The running idea is that the glaciers are melting and the horizon is lower. A lower horizon lets the Sun peak above it a little earlier. If this is the case, surveying crews should be able to make some measurements and confirm or deny this rather quickly.

I decided to play around a little bit and see what I could find out. Checking out the NOAA Solar Position Calculator , I found the center of the Sun was only 0.68 degrees below the horizon at local noon. Since the Sun has a radius of about .27 degrees, the center of the Sun was only .41 degrees below the horizon. Converting to radians gives an angle of about .007 radians. So now I have a pretty good idea of the the angle the tip of the glaciers must have descended to let the sun rise two days early.

But how many meters of melting would have to take place? The math is easy, but knowing the numbers to use is difficult. The answer depends very much on how far away these glaciers are located. Looking at Google Earth and Google maps is of limited utility since you I would need to know exactly where they were looking!

However, I can still make some general calculations here. Let's say the horizon is 10,000meters away (about six miles). The height the glaciers must have lost is simply the angle times the distance to the mountains (using the small angle approximation here and the angle is small enough that works pretty well) or 10,000*.007 = 70 meters or about 220 feet! Of course, if the glacier is much closer, the amount of ice lost could be much smaller. If you were 1000 meters away, it would only need to lose 7 meters (about 22 feet) off the top. However, without information on exactly where the observation was made, there's not much you can say about it (although that hasn't stopped any of the whackos out there!)

Now I should also point out that it could also be due to the ground rising. As glaciers melt, the ground will rise as there is less weight on it. I doubt this could rise enough in one year to create the effect by itself, but if the glaciers fell a little and the ground rose you might be in business.

However there are other explanations. Accuweather proposed an unusual concentration of methane in the atmosphere may have changed the index of refraction of the atmosphere at let the Sun be visible a couple of days early. I find this implausible as the amount of methane needed to do this would be huge! Volcanic eruptions can release enough pollutants into the atmosphere to give colorful sunsets, but even they do not change the atmosphere enough to affect the time of sunsets!

Much more likely is an atmospheric phenomena. A certain rare but understood shape of ice crystal (called a pyramidilly-terminated hexagonal prism for those following along at home) can produce a halo with a radius of 4 degrees. This halo would extend a little above the horizon giving the illusion of a sunrise. I think it is fairly safe to say that Greenland is cold enough for atmospheric ice crystals to form at this time of year. These are pretty rare but then again this doesn't happen every year! Again, a good picture of this would be amazingly useful.

Although I need more info, I would put my money on the small halo. The amount of ice that would have to fall off the top of a glacier is pretty large and a fall of that size probably would have been noticed so let's see some evidence of it (I know this just happened and in a pretty remote place, so I am willing to give them a little time to get the info here).

As regular readers know, I love photographing sunsets...maybe someone will fund me to go to Greenland next January and take some pics to get to the bottom of this!

Reprinted with permission from the Half-Astrophysicist Blog.

Four for Fridays

Hello everyone! Thank God, it's Friday! It's been a long week of overtime... This week's questions are about vacations.

1) When was the last time you took a vacation?

2) Where did you go to?

3) If you could just take a vacation right now, where would you go?

4) Where and when was your favorite vacation?

Enjoy your weekend!

Open Blog - Friday

How casual are you today?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Always Be Polite

Powdering My Nose!

A little boy and girl are playing in a sandbox. The little boy has to go to take a pee and he was told by his mother to always be polite and don't talk about private matters in public.

At first he holds it in for a little while because he does not know what to say to the little girl to excuse himself. Then he remembers what his Mom had said at the restaurant to excuse herself from the table.

So he turns to the little girl and says, "Will you excuse me I have to go powder my nose."

And saying that he leaps out of the sandbox and runs to the washroom.

When he comes back the little girl looks up at him and asks, "Did you powder your nose?"

"Yes," said the little boy stepping back into the sandbox.

"Well then," says the little girl, "You'd better close your purse because your lipstick is hanging out."

Snow Falling in the UK - Waist Deep!

I just got off the phone with a friend in the UK.

He said that since early this morning the snow has been nearly waist high and is still falling. The temperature is dropping below zero and the north wind is increasing. His wife has done nothing but look through the kitchen window.

He says that if it gets much worse, he may have to let her in.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Heidi the Cross-Eyed Opossum

I think she looks scary. I may have trouble sleeping tonight.

Homemade Implants - Frances Dilorinzo - Chick Comedy

Some comedy for the ladies...pretty funny.,

Ornery winter time blahs

Sometimes you just need to blow something up. The kid in me laughed hard at this video. Hope you enjoy it too.

More Bird deaths reported

Officials have discovered more mass bird deaths reported. The latest was found in Philadelphia. Officials found 53 dead eagles. They are now worried about a group of falcons located in Georgia, and have dispatched a team from Wisconsin to check on them.

Officials are expecting to find more destruction on Saturday night.

More on this story as it happens.

Dear Madame Zoltar

Hello, my sassy snowballs! How are you? We received another blanket of snow to grace our homes and streets. Just lovely, isn’t it? On my personal calendar, winter starts December 1 and ends February 28 (or 29). Spring: March, April, and May. Summer: June, July, and August. Fall: September, October, and November. So this Saturday is January 15, which means winter will be half over. Huzzah! Huzzah! It will be downhill from then on. I don’t care what Mr. T.S. Eliot said about April being the cruelest month; February can be a b-i-t-c-h. At least it’s short. I know it snows in March, dears, just like it sometimes does in November, but green buds peak up through the snow in March and that’s all the encouragement I need.

Also encouraging, even intoxicating, was our exalted and majestic Green Bay Packers’ win over the Philadelphia Eagles last Sunday. Our glorious Pack has been devastated and dilapidated by injuries this year, yet somehow they keep coming back to win. Now, on to the Divisional Championship game against the Atlanta Falcons this Saturday night! Please, most noble Packers, please pulverize your opponents so that they may know the might of cheese head power.

I know that we’re gaining a minute and a half of daylight with each day since the solstice, but the skies are still so glum this time of year. I think maybe I’m getting a case of the winter blahs, or blues. I noticed that a couple of other Irregulars mentioned that in their comments, too. As a public service, and in an effort to cheer myself up, I’ve “researched” the subject online (i.e., on YouTube). Here are my findings:

Or you could just take some antidepressants, which keep your serotonin levels high. Here are some suggestions for chasing away the winter blahs with Feng Shui:

Oh my, keep your doors clear so that when opportunity comes to knock, it doesn’t slip and fall, suing you for everything you’re worth. Finally, here’s a Today Show segment with Katie Couric on Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD):

Well, I hope that some of the above helps you if you have the winter blues. I have a special potion, Madame Zoltar’s® Blues-B-Gon™, but it has not yet been approved for sale in the United States (or anywhere else on the planet). I’m also considering marketing it as a gasoline additive.

Thank you my wonderful friends for visiting with me this week. I love spending time with you. How can we have the blues for long when we have each other? Our friendship warms us through the winter.

It’s tax time – contact me for “special handling” of your returns:

Hugs and kisses to you all. Keep warm, drive safe, take care of yourselves. Bullimong!

Open Blog - Wednesday

Pay no attention to the thermometer!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Ketchup Robot Fail

It's good to know that researchers and scientists relentlessly seek new ways to improve our lives.

Funny, Offensive or both?

The story that goes with this ad is that Pepsi had a contest to produce and ad and people would vote on the best one. The winner would air during the Super Bowl. This ad was supposedly ahead and the Catholic Church got it pulled (and have been trying to get it pulled from everywhere so we'll see if that's true and this link dies).

It made me laugh. I put the disclaimer on there since the only references I can find are really other blog sites...I would think Advertising Age or someone like that would have an official story on this if it were true, so enjoy, but take it with a big old grain of salt (and if you find confirmation of the story, feel free to post it).

Monday, January 10, 2011

15th Disney Marathon, Complete

Yep, just a quick happy update. Did my fifteenth consecutive Disney Marathon yesterday after getting back on my feet from the accident in September. Ran better than I expected. I lost a lot of training. I thought I would finish, but that the speed may be down quite a bit. Only a few minutes slower than last year, much closer than I expected. Good training next year and I could go even faster.

Weather was wonderful. Mid-40s and calm wind at the start. Mild breeze at the end, but it warmed up enough by then that it was still comfortable. Lots of characters on the course this year...maybe I could have come closer to last year's time if I didn't stop so much for pictures!

For the first time ever, they gave marathon finishers a free ticket to the parks for "Marathon Monday". You had to bring your finisher's medal, so just entering the race didn't get you the tix.

Good days. Signing up for #16 as soon as registration opens.

personal ad


To the Guy Who Tried to Mug Me In Downtown Savannah night before last.

Date: 2010-05-27, 1 :43 a.m. E.S.T.

I was the guy wearing the black Bur berry jacket that you demanded that I hand over, shortly after you pulled the knife on me and my girlfriend, threatening our lives. You also asked for my girlfriend's purse and earrings. I can only hope that you somehow come across this rather important message.

First, I'd like to apologize for your embarrassment; I didn't expect you to actually crap in your pants when I drew my pistol after you took my jacket. The evening was not that cold, and I was wearing the jacket for a reason. My girlfriend had just bought me that Kimber Model 1911 ...45 ACP pistol for my birthday, and we had picked up a shoulder holster for it that very evening. Obviously you agree that it is a very intimidating weapon when pointed at your head ... Isn't it?!

I know it probably wasn't fun walking back to wherever you'd come from with that brown sludge in your pants. I'm sure it was even worse walking bare-footed since I made you leave your shoes, cell phone, and wallet with me. [That prevented you from calling or running to your buddies to come help mug us again].

After I called your mother or "Momma" as you had her listed in your cell, I explained the entire episode of what you'd done. Then I went and filled up my gas tank as well as those of four other people in the gas station, -- on your credit card. The guy with the big motor home took 150 gallons and was extremely grateful!

I gave your shoes to a homeless guy outside Vinnie Van Go Go's, along with all the cash in your wallet. [That made his day!]

I then threw your wallet into the big pink "pimp mobile" that was parked at the curb ... After I broke the windshield and side window and keyed the entire driver's side of the car.

Later, I called a bunch of phone sex numbers from your cell phone. Ma Bell just now shut down the line, although I only used the phone for a little over a day now, so what 's going on with that? Earlier, I managed to get in two threatening phone calls to the DA's office and one to the FBI, while mentioning President Obama as my possible target.

The FBI guy seemed really intense and we had a nice long chat (I guess while he traced your number etc.).

In a way, perhaps I should apologize for not killing you, but I feel this type of retribution is a far more appropriate punishment for your threatened crime. I wish you well as you try to sort through some of these rather immediate pressing issues, and can only hope that you have the opportunity to reflect upon, and perhaps reconsider, the career path you've chosen to pursue in life. Remember, next time you might not be so lucky. Have a good day!

Thoughtfully yours,


Unemployment Benefits

Congress has announced they intend to make it more difficult to claim Unemployment Benefits.

Starting next Monday the forms will be printed in English.

Open Blog - Monday

Let the slapping begin!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Tragic Events of Yesterday

Well, I am going to try and take a shot at this volatile topic. Hope I can do it some justice and I will mention a few things I think the MSM is missing on this one.

First, the disclaimer. Many of you know I live in Tucson and I live in Giffords district so she is my rep. I have voted for her three times (don't worry, not in the same election!) She is not a perfect rep, but I have never had a doubt she was the better choice in her races. She has been rated one of the more centrist members of Congress (although here health care vote drew the ire of conservatives leading to her office being vandalized earlier this year). One of her strong passions is space science, not surprising since she married an astronaut. I should also mention that I am not in Arizona right now (Florida, Disney Marathon time) so the coverage I have gotten is the national coverage and not the local coverage from Tucson.

The first thing I think needs to be pointed out is that there are millions of people in this country that have not seen an assassination attempt on a major political figure. I was too young for the Kennedy's and King's assassination. I was in middle school during the Reagan assassination attempt and even though I was probably above average in political awareness for my age, hey, I was still in middle school. This was a little over 30 years ago, so people much younger than me probably don't remember it at all. This is something that happens in other countries to a huge chunk of our population. Some of my memories of Reagan's assassination attempt were of the doctors remarking how fit he was and he humor asking if they were Republicans (although I believe I have since read his injuries were potentially much more serious but the doctors did a bang up job).

And I got to say, I was pretty upset by the whole thing. I compare it to Michael Jackson's death. Sure, I thought it was too bad that Jackson died, but I pretty much went about my life at the time. Yesterday, I was glued to the news updates, had a sinking feeling when reports said she died and was on the edge of my seat when she was in surgery. And pretty damn pissed at the six deaths and other injuries (although fortunately, they are all out of he ICU except Giffords). I was tossing and turning last night having difficulty sleeping, thinking about what happened.

Which leads me to my second observation: I have yet to see a major news outlet call this an assassination attempt when that term obviously fits! An assassination is the murder of a prominent person, frequently for political reasons. The shooter obviously tried to do that so let's call it by it's proper name.

Now onto the media firestorm. Much has been made of Sarah Palin's map putting certain politicians in the crosshairs "targeting" them during the mid-term elections (now removed from her website but it's easy to find screen captures on the internet) and her "reload" tweet. Sharon Angle made her "Second Amendment solutions" remark as well. Many have talked about heated political rhetoric from selected politicians and commentators as having contributed to this tragedy. Her opponent in the most recent election held a "Get on Target for Victory" event where he invited donors to shoot M-16s with him.

At this point however, we simply don't know his motivations. He was captured but isn't talking. What role, if any, this rhetoric may or may not have played in the shootings is unclear. An investigation is underway. Maybe the guy will at some point come out and say "I was putting Palin's plan into action". He could end up saying "Sarah who now?" The early indications are the guy had problems before anyone knew who Sarah Palin is. Stating what role the rhetoric may have played is not possible at this point (of course, dismissing it out of hand is just as naive).

One more note on the rhetoric, I don't think Palin was advocating someone to go out and shoot these politicians. However, she should not be so surprised that when something like this happens, someone will bring it up and latch onto it, especially in the sadness, hurt and anger that accompany an event of this horrific nature. The fact that it was removed from her website so quickly after the shooting indicates she realizes that was an "oops" moment.

Finally, I think all the responders, EMTs and the staff of University Medical Center deserve a big shout out (that's where I was airlifted to after my accident last fall) for that they have done so far and I wish them continued success in their work.

I know this is a volatile topic and I have tried to express myself without being unnecessarily inflammatory. All I ask is that when you respond, you take a deep breath and do the same.