Saturday, January 29, 2011

Bittersweet Valentines

Still time to place your order to arrive in time for Valentines Day.....

Touted as the option for the rest of us. How did they know? :(

A challenge!

I got this in an email. I thought all of you irregulars would be up for the challenge and to share this.

The Greater Green Bay Convention & Visitors Bureau has been challenged by the Pittsburgh Convention & Visitors Bureau to prove we have more fans than they do. We know that Packers Fans are all over the country, and we need your help to reach out to them.

Both CVBs have put together a contest that not only counts the number of fans we have, but there's an awesome prize... (2 Packers tickets for next season's opening game, hotel and dinner). We'll draw a winner after the Super Bowl.

The Packers Nation contest is located at . Click on Packers Nation Ticket Giveaway and enter!

Please share this with all your friends. Help us prove that Packers Fans are the best Super Bowl fans!

What If Teachers Graded Parents?

That's a proposal being put forth by Florida state rep Kelli Stargel. Teachers would be required to grade parents as satisfactory, unsatisfactory or need improvement. The bill contains three criteria for the grade:

  • A child should be at school on time, prepared to learn after a good night's sleep, and have eaten a meal.
  • A child should have the homework done and prepared for examinations.
  • There should be regular communication between the parent and teacher.
Now I might add that the students comes to class with everything they need (paper, pencils, textbook, calculator, etc) to the list.

Not everyone thinks this is a good idea of course. It will take extra time for teachers (and I don't see anyone offering extra pay for extra work in education). The other arguments against it seem to be of the grading parents will cause confrontation and bad feelings (as if grading teachers, which many support, would never do this).

I know there are some teachers on here (and I am a former teacher) and there are parents I would have LOVED to grade. I had a student that missed 35 days of class one semester yet his parents insisted that his grade was somehow all my fault. You know, I can't teach someone who isn't there. It's not uncommon for parents not to return or respond to repeated phone calls and emails, although they sure respond to a low grade on a report card! If your student can't stay awake or keeps trying to bring breakfast into class, well, there is a problem happening before the student walks in the door that the teacher doesn't have any influence over yet is expected to overcome these issues. If you come to my class with no book, no pencil, no paper and no calculator, you are going to have a tough time. All of this before the teacher even gets a chance to do the job.

I have never once had a parent say they sucked at parenting yet I know many to whom that terminology applies. Parents don't tend to be a very self-critical lot and maybe turning the tables and grading the parents would be a good way to get them to wake up and smell the toast burning.

Slideshow: Southeastern Wisconsin Mug Shot Hall Of Shame - Photos - WISN Milwaukee

Slideshow: Southeastern Wisconsin Mug Shot Hall Of Shame - Photos - WISN Milwaukee

They live amongst us. How do their lives get so out of control?

Friday, January 28, 2011

See Venus During the Day: January 2011 Edition

I know that this topic interests people since I see a slow but steady stream of searches that land on my blog that mention this topic. Therefore, since we have a good chance to see Venus during the day this weekend, I'll review how to go about it.

Venus is best seen during the day when it is far from the Sun in the sky. We call this greatest elongation. Venus passed greatest western elongation on January 8th and is still nicely separated from the Sun. Venus is hard to find during the day and it helps to have a nearby landmark to find it. The Moon provides a nice guide and makes a nice pass by Venus on January 29th. The Moon a waning crescent and sets late morning/early afternoon (depending on your location and time zone) so check sometime mid-morning is your best show. Here is a finder chart made for Tucson at 9:00am MST tomorrow.

The Moon moves about a half degree every hour (which is conveniently about the same as its diameter) so if you look earlier the Moon will be farther to the west of Venus and if you look later the Moon will be farther to the east of Venus. You can use the free program Stellarium to make a chart for your time and location.

Find the Moon and then slowly move your gaze toward Venus. Slowly scan the sky. There are a couple of tricks to finding Venus. First, you have to keep your eyes focused at infinity. When you look at the Moon, your eyes will focus at infinity. If you are conscious of your eyes focus point, you can keep it from changing. It may take a little practice, but it can be done. Looking at a blue sky, your eyes have nothing to focus on so the focus may drift if you are not paying attention to it!

Second, you have to look DIRECTLY at Venus. You want the image of Venus to form on your fovea, the part of your retina responsible for sharp central vision. You can't spot Venus out of the corner of your eye! It is amazing that you won't see it at all and then suddenly Venus pops into view when it his your fovea and is so bright and obvious you wonder how you missed it before. Don't be only get this view when you look directly at it!

Another trick is to stand near a building. You want to stand in a place where the building blocks direct Sunlight but you can see the Moon and Venus. Blocking the bright glare of the Sun helps.

If its your first time trying to see Venus during the day, you might try picking it up just before the Sun rises and track it over the course of the morning. That practice will help you in the future. The Moon will still relatively close to Venus on Sunday, so you can give yourself a test then!

If you have clear skies, there is no reason you can't see Venus anytime it is up and away from the Sun.

You can try this again next month as the Moon makes an even closer pass to Venus on February 28th.

Reprinted with permission from the Half-Astrophysicist Blog.

25 Years Ago...

January 28th, 1986. The day the Challenger lifted off on a chilly morning in Florida. 73 seconds after launch, the main fuel tank exploded in a spectacular fireball and the orbiter broker apart. Seven astronauts were lost int he accident.

I was a senior in high school. Kristin came in late that day for some reason and I saw her between classes. She is the one who told me the space shuttle exploded. A couple of years earlier, a joke went around about the space shuttle exploding. I forgot the punch line (but remembered I thought the joke was funny) and thought she was going to tell me that joke. The punch line didn't come and my heat sank as I realized she was delivering news and not telling a joke.

I had a schedule that let me leave school at noon since I had no afternoon classes. I went home and had the television on watching the coverage until I had to go to basketball practice later that afternoon.

I was not born at the time of the Apollo 1 fire (January 24th, 1967) which had its 44th Anniversary yesterday. For a good personal account of this tragedy, read Gene Kranz's excellent book Failure is Not an Option. It captures both technical and personal aspects of the Apollo 1 fire that almost derailed the Apollo program.

The 8th Anniversary of the Columbia accident is next week, February 1st. I heard about it on NPR listening to Weekend Edition. I was living in Racine at the time and remember the publicity surrounding Laurel Clark, a Horlick high grad (I was performing in a show at the time and remember driving by Horlick and seeing all the news trucks around it that evening). One year the Kiwanis Club sold Christmas ornaments honoring the Columbia astronauts at Zoo Lights. I bought one even though I never put up a Christmas tree.

NASA holds a Day of Remembrance each January since its major accidents are clustered at this time of year. I definitely remember all the NASA astronauts we have lost.

Reprinted with permission from the Half-Astrophysicist Blog.

Four for Fridays

Hello everyone! Can't believe it's Friday already! This week sure flew fast. This week's topic is about television.

1) What have you been watching lately?

2) What is your all time favorite TV show?

3) What was the last movie you watched or rented?

4) What was the last movie you saw in the theater?

Enjoy your weekend!

Open Blog - Weekend

Today, apparently, is a day to honor cowardice. 

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Check Out my Band's New Album

Someone mentioned the piano in the water would make a good album cover. It reminded me of something I found on Facebook. It was fun to play with and thought maybe you would like to give it a try... You create a first album cover for your new band by following the instructions below. The photo  to the left is my result.

My new band
1- Go to wikipedia and hit random. The first random wikipedia article you get is the name of your band.
2 - Go to and hit random. The last four or five words of the very last quote of the page is the title of your first album.
3 - Go to flickr and click on “explore the last seven days”. Third picture, no matter what it is, will be your album cover.
4 - Use photoshop, paint or similar ( is a free online photo editor) to put it all together.
5 - Post it, or post a link to the image.

 Here is my second attempt.  I blurred it a little to give it a more artistic effect.....Oooohhh.

Beautiful Sun

I was out at Old Tucson Studios today for Ted Walker Day, an annual event for students in Tucson. I was showing off the Sun with a Personal Solar Telescope. The Sun did not disappoint today!

Sunspot #1149 just departed over the limb of the Sun. However, it is going out with a bang sending huge plasma bursts into space. Here is a pic from the Solar Dynamics Observatory.

Now my telescope is much smaller and on the ground, but I couldn't help but holding up my cheap Sony point and shoot camera to the eyepiece and here is what I got. I could only fit in the limb of the Sun near the action. The camera has very few controls on it...I turned the flash off, put it in auto mode, lined it up with the eyepiece and held it as steady as I could.

Okay, not a great shot, but it's a nice way to remember this spectacular site! If you have a solar telescope, dig it out now!

Reprinted with permission from the Half-Astrophysicist Blog.

Just coincidence?

"Social networking leads to sex faster?"

"(Reuters Life!) - Nearly four out of five women and three of five men say they believe texting, Facebook and other social networking tools cause new couples to jump into bed faster, a survey released on Monday showed.

"But only 38 percent of women say they have actually slept with a date any sooner because of digital intimacy, according to the 1,200 women and men who participated in the third annual sex survey by Shape and Men's Fitness magazines.

"Smart phones and laptops are the new toys that lead to the bedroom, it said, with nearly 80 percent of women and 58 percent of men saying social media tools leads to sex faster.

"Texting is the No. 1 way lovers stay in touch, the survey found, with men texting 39 percent more often than phoning and women 150 percent more.

"Even before the magic begins, 70 percent of women and 63 percent of men use Google and other online tools to screen potential dates.

"Sixty-five percent of those polled said they had been asked out by text and 49 percent through a Facebook message.

"Once the relationship clicks, 72 percent of women report scouring a current partner's ex-girlfriends' Facebook pages.

"Even in the heat of passion, some people just can't get enough of their digital devices, the survey found. When a call or text comes in during sex, 5 percent of respondents said they glance to see who is calling and 1 percent say they stop to answer the phone."

I don't text, I don't even have a cellphone. And I don't use Facebook or MySpace, or instant maessaging of any kind. Well, I guess that explains a lot.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

We All Suck

What is your state worst at?

I am disappointed Massachusettes is home to the worst drivers. Bostonians take pride in that. For fun, tell someone fro Boston somewhere else has worse drivers and watch the veins in their neck pop out as they start frothing at the mouth trying to convince you that Bostonians are the worst drivers that are now, ever were and ever will be.

And Again From Florida....

Video here:

Beejay.... a piano purchased in Milwaukee ends up on a sandbar in Florida?  Sounds a little too coincidental. You did mention you were a party animal! :D

Dear Madame Zoltar

Hello, my poignant penguins! How are you? My, what a difference a week makes. Last week it was snow and then the deep freeze. Now it’s slush-o-rama. This is not a good time of year to stand out near the traffic lane while waiting for the light to change at a crosswalk. You could very easily get splashed with a dirty mixture of ice, salt, and snow. I know that from experience. It’s a good thing that I wasn’t wearing any “dry clean only” clothing that day or a certain driver might not have made it home that evening. Oh my.

Of course, of course, I do not have to report what we all already know: the Green Bay Packers triumphed over the Chicago Bears last Sunday to win the NFC Conference Championship and a trip to Super Bowl XLV in Dallas on February 6, 2011 to face the AFC Champions, the Pittsburgh Steelers. Oh my, indeed. I feel terribly sorry for the bad press that Mr. Jay Cutler, quarterback of the Bears, has received for leaving the game early in the third quarter. (That’s him on the right in the photo, meeting with our Mr. Aaron Rodgers after the game.) I’m sure that he will overcome it. Just like our glorious Packers will overcome the Steelers in the Super Bowl! That’s my prediction and I’m standing by it.

In response to that prediction, I was honored that Ms. kk composed a limerick featuring me in the comments of her recent Packer Poetry blog:
Here it is:

A prediction from Madame Z
How accurate will it be?
How good it would feel
To put a hurt on some steel
And send home the Lombardi trophy!

Oh thank you, Ms. kk, for writing about me. I would do anything I can to help our magnificent Packers win. Awhile back, a commenter was ridiculing our Packers for their name, mocking them for deriving the name from meatpackers. Which makes me wonder: do they even produce steel in Pittsburgh anymore?

And as long as I’m already a little on edge, I would like to most stridently state that the dreaded Zoltar® Curse has been placed upon the perpetrators of the hacking attack on Racine’s beloved “Racine Uncovered” news/blog site ( You can run and you can hide from the law, your family, or even yourself, but no one escapes the dreaded Zoltar® Curse, no one. It is difficult for me to believe that some people are so hateful as to destroy the work of others done for the benefit of our community. Poor parenting? Lack of morals? Lead poisoning? I don’t know, but the shrinking of your genitals shall soon overcome you. Oh dear.

Finally, for our edification, I present, “The Illusion of Peace!”

“All we are saying is give peace a chance.” I’m just an old hippy at heart.

Peace to all of you, my dear readers, irregular and otherwise. Thank you so very much for stopping by to peruse my blog this week. I so enjoy spending time with you. Tell your friends: “Madame Z, she’s for me!”

Please send your queries, comments, and Nigerian bank scam emails to:

Enjoy your week, my dear friends. Believe it or not, the days are growing longer. Slowly, but surely, old Sol will rise again in the sky. Outshine him with your smile. Velleity!

Open Blog - Wednesday

Aww, now you just have to have a good day. 

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Saleman gets fired!

THAT'S COLD .......

AP News : : Ventura County Star: "OAK LAWN, Ill. (AP) -- A car salesman in suburban Chicago has been fired for refusing to remove a Green Bay Packers tie that he wore to work the day after the Packers beat the Chicago Bears to advance to the Super Bowl.
John Stone says he wore the Packers tie to work Monday at Webb Chevrolet in Oak Lawn to honor his late grandmother, who was a big Green Bay fan.
The sentimental gesture did not impress his boss, Jerry Roberts.
Roberts says the dealership has done promotions involving the Bears and he was afraid the tie could alienate the team's fans and make it harder to sell cars.
Roberts adds that Stone was offered five chances to take off the tie but he refused."

Racine Uncovered Hacked

Local blog site Racine Uncovered ( was hacked last night according to a comment in our Monday open blog. Beth, who runs the site, prmosises prosecution to the fullest extent of the law if the perpetrators are caught.

Racine Uncovered covers the local crime scene, and covers it very well. The site has been a thorn in the side of the city of Racine's administration since its inception. Whenever our mayor opens his mouth to spew another lie, Racine Uncovered has been there to dispute it. Recently, the site endorsed Eric Marcus for mayor of Racine. I have little doubt that Beth's politics played a major role in this attack. Who would orchestrate an assault on a small, local, volunteer-run site that providies such a service to the citizens of Racine? I can think of no one other than our own lying John, the dirtiest piece of garbage to slime his way into City Hall in decades. This is filthy, lying, dirty politics - the kind that pigs wallow in.

Oink on, lying John!

5:30 PM - I've re-thought the situation and kk is right (see comments): I don't know for sure who hacked Racine Uncovered, so I shouldn't point fingers.

Monday, January 24, 2011

"Caught up in a cycle of sin."

So this Air Force Chief goes on an adultery and sexual harassment binge, and at his court marshal he claims that he was "Caught up in a cycle of sin." It's like the Race Card Christians use as a get out of jail card. I've been asked more than once the question of "If you don't believe in a god, what keeps you in check?" Well, the golden rule. I treat everybody or try to as I want to get treated myself. Anyway, an old comedy skit hit me from years gone by. I bring you Flip Wilson at the Ed Sullivan Show doing his skit, "The devil made me do it."

Party at Bee Jay's!

What can I tell you...we know how to party???? Well, the Packers were playing and it was the dog's birthday??? Decisions, decisions! All turned out well!

Google is so Smart

Open Blog - Monday

Monday is better when the Packers win the NFC Championship the day before. 

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Game Day Blog

NFC Championship Game - 2:00 PM CST - Soldier Field - TV: Fox (Channel 6), Radio: AM-620