Saturday, November 20, 2010

Green Flash With a Hint of Blue...

My camera is finally back from the shop and I had to take it out and put it through its paces on a sunset. I keep chasing those green flashes. This sunset looked a little odd and when I downloaded the pics, I got a pleasant surprise. I cropped these pretty close due to the fact that the effect is subtle and difficult to see.

This is a full res pic (now I am wishing I had a higher pixel density or a longer zoom!) Note how the Sun appears nice and yellow on the left. As you progress to the right (where the Sun has just set) you see some green. Further right, you start getting a hint of blue...yes, the even more rare blue flash! This pic is the first time I have caught any hints of blue. Normally, the blue light is scatter by Earth's atmosphere so you don't see it, only the longer wavelength green which is not scattered as much is visible. On rare occasions with a clear atmosphere, you can get the blue. Here are the next two pics in the series.

I have known that blue flashes are a possibility and even seen pics on the I have seen it in my own photos and want a better camera and lens to take it further...I hope I can hold out...this could be an expensive discovery!

Reprinted with permission from the Half-Astrophysicist Blog.

What I saw in my front yard

We've spotted this little guy before, but never so close! He was frolicking around in our front yard yesterday so I ran and got the camera. I've never seen a white squirrel before! It's hard to tell whether he is albino or not, I couldn't really tell if his eyes were pink.
Anyway.. thought I would share some cool pictures I took. :) Enjoy!

What's on your Thanksgiving menu and what does the holiday mean to you?

Last night I was watching "Chopped." The menu was for a Thanksgiving Dinner and the ingredients were less than traditional. In the place of a turkey, they had pheasant... But, when they asked the contestants what they traditionally had growing up, a few said 'ham,' one said 'turkey' and the last one said 'tv dinners!'

What is your traditional Thanksgiving meal? Mine is turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing (with cranberries, apricots, pecans, croutons of some sort, onions, apples, etc...pretty traditional!), sweet potatoes, veggies, a salad (cranberry, of course!), and dessert. This year, the dessert will be cheesecake of some sort. My Mom made a killer cranberry pie and normally a mincemeat pie for us when I was growing up. (I haven't had a mincemeat pie in probably 40 years!)

What memories do you have from your childhood of Thanksgiving. Mine was a very large group of relatives, sitting around our dining room table, eating and chatting...a very heart warming memory. Even back in the dark ages, there was a football game on the TV or radio.. The guys would have gone deer hunting early in the morning. And sometimes, they even brought back a deer.

Life changes and we all get so busy with our lives that I think we lose the reason for the celebration. This year, especially, I will not forget to give thanks. I am so thankful for what I have these days and appreciate each and every day for my friends, my family and that special person in my life. I am grateful for my health, which many of us take for granted, but we definitely shouldn't.

Have a wonderful holiday, JTI friends, a safe holiday. Drink responsibly and eat til you burst.

Friday, November 19, 2010

"Grandma's Superhero Therapy (18 photos)"

"A few years ago, French photographer Sacha Goldberger found his 91-year-old Hungarian grandmother Frederika feeling lonely and depressed. To cheer her up, he suggested that they shoot a series of outrageous photographs in unusual costumes, poses, and locations. Grandma reluctantly agreed, but once they got rolling, she couldn't stop smiling.

"With the unexpected success of this series, titled 'Mamika,' Goldberger created a MySpace page for his grandmother. She now has over 2,200 friends and receives messages like: 'You're the grandmother that I have dreamed of, would you adopt me?' and 'You made my day, I hope to be like you at your age.'"

You can read more and see the rest of the photographs here:

Then there are 10 more photos here:

Rémi Gaillard - "L'amour fou"

According to Wikipedia, "Rémi Gaillard (born 7 February 1975 in Montpellier, France) is a French prankster and football trickster. He gained attention in the French media after performing a well-documented series of pranks, including a famous appearance disguised as a Lorient football player in the 2002 Coupe de France final match, during which he took part in the winner's celebrations and was even greeted by the then president of France Jacques Chirac. Gaillard has appeared in several sport events, TV game shows and political rallies, normally breaking the security measures easily."

I think his videos are hilarious. Here's a short one - the first person in the scene is just a guy going to get his parked car:

You can see more of Rémi Gaillard's videos on his YouTube channel:

Four for Fridays

Hello everyone! I can't hardly believe that Thanksgiving is less than a week away! Isn't that something? This week's questions are about Thanksgiving.

1) What are your plans for Thanksgiving?

2) What is your favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal?

3) What are you most thankful for?

4) Planning going shopping the day after Thanksgiving?

Enjoy your weekend!

Open Blog - Weekend

Let the celebration begin!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

TDM Auto Sales

This ad was made as part of the I Love Local Commercials Series created by Rhett McLaughlin and Link Neal ( They consider local commercials to be an art form. They study them and they also make them. You can see more at the I Love Local Commercials website:

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Sturtevant Auto Salvage

Sturtevant Auto Salvage is my favorite vehicle bone yard. They’re at 2145 East Frontage Road I-94, Sturtevant, between Highways C and K. (262) 835-2914. I was out there earlier today to get a part for my truck. It’s been awhile. When I had the old, full-size Ford, something always needed fixing. I was at Sturtevant Auto quite often then. And I always liked it.

What I like the most about that yard is you can pull your own parts from the junkers and wrecks. For a gear-head like me, that’s a little bit of heaven. At times when I’m out there, far out in the acres of heaped metal, the sound of the heavy machinery in the distance, I feel a little serenity. It’s peaceful, kind of like a human cemetery.

The vehicles are arranged in rows of AMC, Ford, GM, Chrysler, and imports. If you find what you need and can manage to get it off yourself, you will save some money at the front counter. If they pull the part for you, it costs more. What I don’t understand is how they can afford insurance to cover this. I’ve seen a number of wrecks in precarious positions, held up by cheap scissors jacks, or even teetering on rocks, as someone works beneath. I just wince. They have to have insurance, don’t they? Their site says they’ve been in existence for over fifty years.

I got lucky today and found the part I needed, a plastic piece of the air intake system on my truck. It’s not the sort of thing that people normally want and is usually tossed aside as they work to pull other parts. That’s where I found it, cast aside in an engine compartment. The price? Only $5. I found a used one on eBay last night: $17.95 plus $8 shipping. I assume a new one at the dealership would go for around $50.

Sturtevant's prices are great, and if you disagree, you can always haggle (except for $5 – that’s their minimum). I’ve seen all sorts of people out in the yard, toting tools, pulling parts, getting greasy, looking for a bargain. If you like to crack a knuckle open occasionally doing your own vehicle repairs, I highly recommend Sturtevant Auto Salvage for your used part needs. Even if you just like the idea of walking around acres of wrecks, stop by and tour the yard. Be sure to wear appropriate footgear (and clothing if you’re going to scavenge). Finally, the place is a huge mud pie after rains and on warm days in the winter, so stay away then unless you want to get really, really muddy.

"Bristol Palin's dancing prompts man to shoot his TV"

"A rural Dane County man believes Bristol Palin should not be on 'Dancing With The Stars.'

"He demanded his wife get his pistols to emphasize his point.

"The result: A 15-hour standoff Monday and Tuesday involving hostage negotiators, a dog team and other law enforcement authorities on one side and the Town of Vermont man on the other.

"The only casualty: The man's television."

I don't think it's fair to shoot your TV unless it can shoot back.

RIP RacinePost

The stories were few and far between lately. You can't pay the bills with a free site. So it's over.

I'm devastated. The Post was at its best when uncovering the truth in local politics. The Journal Times publisher is in bed with lying John, so this means that the iron curtain falls again on the Racine news scene. All we will read now is the official lies that Dickert's paid hustlers spew. This is a tragedy. So much hope for Racine's future, hope for the truth, dies with the RacinePost. I'll bet that squeals of delight are oinking from City Hall today.

Italian President from New Jersey

Dear Madame Zoltar

Hello, my White-breasted Nuthatchers! How are you? Can you believe that Thanksgiving is only a week away and our temperatures are still in the 50’s? Can you believe that Thanksgiving is only a week away? Where does the time go? The Fourth of July parade was just last month, wasn’t it? Well, I hope that you have your plans in place for the holiday. Those of you hosting the feast are probably preparing already. And those who partake are whetting their appetites. For those who cannot afford a Thanksgiving meal, or have no one to share with, two fine local businessmen have arranged a free community Thanksgiving meal at Festival Park: What a wonderful thing to do for Racine! Thank you so much, Mr. Johnson and Mr. Stibeck. And thank you to the city for donating the use of the site and thank you to all of the volunteers who will help with the meal.

Another worthy event takes place a week from tonight: the Thoughts for Food Autumn Benefit. For the price of admission ($10) and a donation of two non-perishable food items, you get great music at various venues while helping the hungry in Racine. Get more information at their website:

I hope that our august and celebrated Green Bay Packers have rested well during their bye week. This Sunday they again face the notorious Minnesota Vikings and traitor quarterback Brett Favre. I don’t care what you say about the current season’s standings or the physical and mental condition of quarterbacks, the Vikings are always a threat to our beloved Packers. May Green Bay smite them!

I received an email this week from the abstruse Mr. OrbsCorbs. It was entitled “Frustrated” and reads thus:

Dear Madame Zoltar,

I hope that you can help me resolve this dilemma. I’ve been having trouble with my truck for a long time now, and it’s been looked at/worked on by a couple of professional, as well as a number of unprofessional (myself included), mechanics. I have over $500 invested in this and counting. I thought the problem was finally resolved last month, when the engine’s intake manifold gasket was replaced.

Everything was fine until yesterday. Suddenly the Service Engine Soon light came on (again – arrgh!). It posted a trouble code, twice. I cleared them both. Today it posted another one. This is just how the problem started a year ago. What’s up? Can you help me?


Dear Mr. OrbsCorbs: Thank you so much for contacting me regarding your difficulties. I am sorry, but vehicle repair is not one of my specialties, so I went into a trance and consulted the spirit of the late, great Henry Ford. He appeared to be more than obliging, but the ether was unstable and our connection was poor. Mr. Ford seemed to understand the question, but the interference was considerable and I had trouble receiving his reply. Once he realized that, he repeated two words over and over. I had difficulty making them out. I am almost positive that the first word was “vacuum.” So I was sure that he must be saying “vacuum cleaner.” But he wasn’t. The second word sounded a lot like “peek,” but I’m not sure, Mr. OrbsCorbs. Does any of that make sense to you? I’m sorry, I tried my best. I hope that helps somehow.

Thank you dear readers, Irregular and otherwise, for spending some time with me today. I look forward to our visits like a child anticipates Christmas. You are the gifts that I receive. Thank you for such wonderful presents.

Send you secret stuffing recipes and acerbic critiques to:

I hope that you all have a wonderful week to come. If you have a chance, spend a little time thinking about what you have to be thankful for in your life. An “attitude of gratitude” always seems to get good results. Lampadomancy!

Open Blog - Wednesday

May the Wednesday Fairy sprinkle happy dust on your breakfast cereal.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Flying Pasties

Just thought I would post this as the groping and stripping scandal escalates with reports of TSA agents putting their hands down people's pants and revelations that the scanners CAN store the images, the people fight back with Flying Pasties. They are designed to cover breasts and pelvic regions and be opaque to the scanners. Better yet, the next generation has messages to tell them exactly what you think of the scanning.

It's nice...they even thought of our gay and lesbian travelers and made special rainbow pasties with appropriate messages (I doubt the messages show up on the scanner but I appreciate the sentiments).

I got "randomly selected" for the enhanced treatment at SFO recently. It was tough not to tell him off and it was humiliating. Worst part: I knew it was coming. You can tell if you have been selected before you get to security by looking at your boarding pass. Only really, really stupid terrorists would miss it.

SFO didn't have the body scanners and were only giving the enhanced pat downs to people "randomly selected" or who set off metal detectors. I am less concerned about radiation (you get that while flying also, newsflash there!) but as these machines store images, do you want them to get out? As an educator, I would be fired if I posted images like that of myself online and we are seeing that others can post them. I travel a lot, I don't like it, there is huge potential for abuse and if history is any guide, systems that can be abused will be abused.

Give me a set of flying pasties.

The Leonids Are Here

Just a quick reminder that the Leonid meteor shower peak is coming up. The next two mornings (November 17th and 18th) are the best times to look. Unfortunately, the Moon is waxing gibbous and does not set until pretty late. Therefore, your best bet is to get a good night sleep and getup after the Moon sets (about 2:13am local time in Tucson...check your local listings for Moonset in your area).

The meteors appear to come from the constellation of Leo. However, don't look only at Leo! Meteors can appear anywhere in the sky (although if you trace their paths backward, you end up somewhere in Leo). You don't need a telescope or binoculars, just scan the sky with your eyes from as dark of a location as you can reasonably find. The Leonids are a decent 20 or so meteor per hour shower. No big forecasts of meteor storms this year.

However, you never know what you are going to see so you should always look. Last year, I was fortunate to see the Great Western Fireball during the Leonids. This fireball was probably not a Leonid, but a random meteor that happened to hit at the same time. It's always worth taking a look (although be sure to dress warm if you are in the north!)

Reprinted with permission from the Half-Astrophysicist Blog.

Brush With an Olypmic Champion...

Okay, this is an old one I have been thinking about writing up for a while. When I was in high school, the seniors on the track team would go to the Drake Relays. The Drake Relays are huge in college track. They have many of the top colleges and universities there. Drake also hosts some "elite" events as well where professional athletes run.

I was a senior in high school in 1986. One of the special events was a men's 100 meter dash featuring former world record holder Calvin Smith. Danny Harris (best known for breaking Edwin Moses's incredible winning streak in the 400 meter hurdles and winning silver in the '84 Olypmics) ran as well.

The race I am going to focus on here is the women's 400 meter hurdles which featured '84 Olypmic Champion Nawal el Moutawakel from Morocco. She ran, a great race of course, and won going away.

Now to the cool part. Turns out Nawal (I am not going to repeatedly butcher her last name) knew the people sitting next to us in the stands. After the race she comes up and sits right next to me! She was friendly, gracious and had no problems talking to a bunch of high school boys. Nawal sat there and chatted with us for quite a while, even staying after her friends left (and she hadn't showered yet and was still wearing her running gear!) She even signed my ticket stub.

Now this was a really cool event, but I really didn't know much about her at the time. What I learned later made it even more interesting.

Turns out she was the first woman from an Islamic country to win a gold medal in the Olympics. Being that young and growing up in Iowa, my knowledge of Islam was probably limited to the fact that Indian Jones sidekick was a Muslim. I had no idea she was or that she really broke a major gender barrier in the Islamic world. If I was able to sit down and chat with her today, the conversation would be very different!

She is still very active in track and field, not as an athlete but in various governing functions at the international level. I read about her occasionally in Runner's World as she weighs in on issues affecting the sport.

Unfortunately, I didn't have a camera with me that day to capture the moment. I just have my signed ticket stub that I can proudly show off and remember that day.

Monday, November 15, 2010

"Eric Marcus -- Racine aldermen must not raise taxes"

"On Tuesday, the City Council will meet at 7:30 p.m. to vote on Mayor John Dickert's 2011 budget. The budget has a deficit of $3,925,518 which is being met by increasing taxes $1,225,518 (2.7 percent) and taking $2.7 million out of our reserves. This is the last opportunity for you, the citizens of Racine, to be heard before the budget is voted on by your aldermen.

"Like it or not, city government needs to acknowledge that earlier this month the voters said they want all government to cut costs and not raise taxes. You and your families are hurting. Unemployment is not getting better and many continue to lose their homes to foreclosure. In fact, the state Workforce Development Department reported that Racine County lost 600 jobs in September. The many middle and low income households of this city do not have the option of living beyond their means and neither should your city government. You have challenged us to change the way City Hall operates and we must take that seriously and act upon it."

The complete commentary by Racine alderman Eric Marcus appears in the Journal Times. I agree with it 100%.

Open Blog - Monday

Here comes Monday!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Thought I've Seen it All...

There are some days I think I've seen it all...Yet people continue to surprise me. After a recent trip through Oshkosh revealed me the Three Farves, made me wonder about the Three Stooges..