Saturday, December 31, 2011

Sunset Animation

I went out to photograph sunset tonight and put my pics together into a little animation. I did not photograph continuously so you will notice some jumps as I paused a little bit (I tried to pause when there was not likely to be much action, but I know I missed a couple of potentially interesting moments...the buffer in my camera will fill up if I take too many in a row!)

It was a nice sunset with multiple green flashes as different parts of the Sun disappear behind the jagged mountain. Look closely and you can even see some rare blue flashes and at least once I see some even more rare purple. The blue and purple get scattered more by Earth's atmosphere than green light so it is harder to catch them. Of course we get some great conditions with low humidity and pollution here so you can occasionally catch them. I have never seen them naked eye, only in my pics.

If the weather holds tomorrow night, I am planning on trying to get pics from Windy Point up on the Catalina Highway. I need to get up there more often since the extra elevation can give some interesting effects...stay tuned!

Reprinted with permission from the Half-Astrophysicist Blog.

Friday, December 30, 2011

"My PVC Instrument - 'Wizards in Winter'"

Well, that's one thing you can do with plumbing pipes.

Four for Fridays

Hello everyone! Welcome to the final episode of Four for Fridays of the year! Hope everyone had a great year! Here are some questions to ponder...

1) What are your New Year Eve's plans?

2) Do you have any resolutions for the new year?

3) What event did you enjoy the most in 2011?

4) What what you looking forward to the most in 2012?

Enjoy your weekend!

Open Blog - Friday & Weekend

Enjoy your New Year's celebrations this weekend.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Dear Madame Zoltar

Hello, my year-end lovelies! How are you? Are you suffering from Post Christmas Stress Disorder? I suggest that you do like Ms. Lizardmom says and keep the decorations up, keep the celebration going. After all, aren’t there twelve days of Christmas? Even more in some religions. So keep the mistletoe growing and glad tidings flowing. All of that last week, that was for everybody else. Now have some Christmas for yourself. Take a break, relax, and soak in the holiday spirit.

Some of you will be imbibing spirits of a different sort this weekend. Happy New Year! If you are indulging, please leave the driving to someone else. I certainly hope that 2012 will be less angry than 2011. Nastiness seems to be the norm now. Oh dear.

Our marvelous and majestic Green Bay Packers won against the Chicago Bears on Christmas. Happy, happy, merry, merry! Next, they face the Detroit Lions on New Year’s Day at noon in Lambeau Field. I predict another holly jolly win.

Psst, have you noticed how little snow we’ve received and how mild it has been? Shh. Don’t wake Father Winter.

In honor of the upcoming New Year, and in the hope of kick-starting that year with some good vibrations, I have selected this video for you. Please enjoy Ian Axel performing “This is the New Year.”

Oh my, that certainly is upbeat, isn’t it? Now I have some hope and love in my heart going into 2012. Bring it on.

Thank you for reading my blog this week. It’s so nice to visit with the JTIs and other friends. No matter how many presents you gave or received for Christmas, you’re all gifted. Your best gift to me is being my friend.

Want to know what your New Year’s resolutions should be?

Enjoy New Year’s Eve and Day, my dear friends. Remember, moderation is the key. All my blessings upon you for the coming year. Peace, love and joy to everyone. Madame Zoltar™ commands it. Mythomania!

I think it's someone's birthday...

The day has come for Lizardmom to take a day off work and think it's all about her.
I don't know about being productive...

I wanted to be the first to put it on here, hopefully no one has one pre-set to upload at midnight...
Happy Birthday, Mom :)

Yes, someone has been quite ambitious with the cake decorating this year...

Open Blog - Wednesday and Thursday

The last Wednesday and Thursday of 2011.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

To Boldly Go Where No Man Has Gone Before...

Okay, I intentionally used the original "No Man" for a reason. It turns out that Dennis Hof, proprietor of the infamous Moonlite Bunny Ranch in Nevada has bought another brothel that he is remodeling with a science fiction theme and will open an Alien Cathouse. Yep, that is where nerds and geeks everywhere can live out their alien fantasies.

I can definitely see the Captain Kirk Suite and the Jabba the Hut with Slave Leia rooms. Not sure how Doctor Who would fit in...maybe a Police Box door to the room for starters. Should have a Millennium Falcon suite in there. Surely all Star Trek versions will be honored in there somewhere.

I am holding out for the zero-g suite personally!

Irregular Football League Final Standings

Congratulations to drewzepmeister and his Racine Irregulars as the Champions. Fred and The Debate Team took second, while hale-bopp's Half-Astrophysicists took third.

Venus and the Moon

Just had to post a few pics of Venus and the Moon tonight. These were taken around Tucson from a couple of different locations over the course of an hour or so as I was running errands, grocery shopping, etc. Enjoy.

Reprinted with permission from the Half-Astrophysicist Blog.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Jingle Barks

No Christmas is complete without dogs barking Jingle Bells.

Four for Fridays

Hello everybody, welcome back to Four Fridays! Sorry for a such a late post. It's my day off for the holidays and I'm doing something that I haven't done in a awhile...SLEEP IN! Here are some random questions.

1) Are you a planner or are you the spontaneous type?

2) What your holiday plans?

3) Are you bummed out that this isn't going to be a white Christmas?

4) What is your favorite Sesame Street character?

Enjoy your holidays!

Open Blog - Friday & Weekend

Love and Best Wishes to All!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Christmas Song for Ya!

For the longest time I had all of the Heart albums except for one-A Lovemonger's Christmas. After searching for this album pretty much since it's release in 2001, it was Tender Heart Bear that tracked the album down recently. Fittingly, just right before Christmas....


Tomorrow, don’t forget to pick up the Christmas presents you guys put on layaway for me!

PS - Jed, if I get a 5th, I'll share it with you!!!

Wow! Comet Lovejoy Time Lapse from the ISS

Comet Lovejoy is a sungrazing comet that recently passed VERY close to the Sun. Many astronomers thought it would burn up on this passage, but it survived and is now a nice morning comet for the southern hemisphere.

And for astronauts on the ISS who captured this amazing video!

Watch all the lightning as before the comet rises over the horizon followed by the blinding dawn. It is much easier to get this from space when you don't have the brightening twilight you get on Earth. You can even see the layers of Earth's atmosphere...stunning!

Reprinted with permission from the Half-Astrophysicist Blog.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

"Why no bid process for Festival Hall?"

Bumped again, for new developments.  See below.

Originally posted Wednesday, November 23, 2011, at 9:15 PM:

The first letter to the editor here,, from Patrick Flynn of Caledonia, concerns the recent no-bid renewal of VenuWorks' contract to run Racine's Festival Hall. I've seen this mentioned before in a couple of comments on other sites, but no official story anywhere.

From Mr. Flynn's letter: "Last week, the City of Racine renewed the three-year management contract with Venuworks for Festival Hall. This contract was never let out for bids despite the fact that interested parties have been requesting a bidding process."

So, what gives? Why were the Oasis and the boat launch contract renewals let out for bid, but not Festival Hall's? Is that even legal? It certainly appears less than aboveboard. An explanation is in order. What's going on, lying John?
 _______ ________________________________________

December  21, 2011

From The Journal "Same company to manage Racine Civic Centre"

VenuWorks gets the contract without any bids. While the man who took the Oasis from a gang hangout to an attraction on North Beach had his contract bid out and lost it. VenuWorks' contract with Racine is $70,000 a year. The Oasis' old contract was worth about $11,000 a year.

The stink in City Hall doesn't come from mold.

Guess who got Christmas cookies?

Tender Heart Bear and drewzepmeister gave me a plate of 13 different kinds of homemade Christmas cookies today. Thank you guys so much, and especially you, THB, because I know you did the baking.

The Irregulars are just a swell bunch of people. My stomach says so.

Dear Madame Zoltar

Hello, my elfin friends! How are you? I know, I know. It s-worded. Half an inch the other night. I’ve had time to process and accept it, so from now on I’ll call it by it’s real name: snoop, snuff, er, snot, oh my, I’m sorry, SNOW, damnit, snow! OK, it’s December and it snowed. I really should get over it. And I have. Almost. Until the next time it snobs.

The weather now appears to have been a bad omen for our sainted, most magnificent, illustrious, glorious Green Bay Packers, who, sadly, lost a game to the lowly Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday past. Oh my, oh my, oh my. Oh dear. I guess I’m processing the loss, but I don’t know how long it will me take to get over it. I was so tempted to add to the game with some psychic phenomena, but I promised not to interfere. With that, our heroes stumbled and fell. Well, then, good, they got that out of the way and there is no more pressure to maintain a prefect record. Now, the Packers can do what they do best: play football. Sunday hence, on Christmas Day, Green Bay will meet archenemy the Chicago Bears, at 7:20 PM, Lambeau Field. What better gift for His birthday than a sound thrashing of the Bears? Maul the Bears, Packers! Muzzle them.

Christmas is only four days away and I still haven’t finished all of my decorating and shopping. Junior could do some of the decorating, but the only time I see him is when I’m baking Christmas cookies. Well, what needs to get done, will, and what doesn’t, won’t. It all turns out fine on Christmas Day. Those of you stressing out in the hustle and the bustle of the holidays, remember to take time out for yourselves. Certainly you can find fifteen minutes to do some deep breathing exercises and knock back a few shots of your favorite libation. You owe it to yourselves. Unwind, deflate, relax.

In the spirit of the season, here is a 1952 cartoon, “Pluto’s Christmas Tree”:

Oh my, tee-hee, I really enjoy those rascals, Chip and Dale. Poor Pluto.

Thank you for taking time out of your busy holiday schedule to read my blog. I so enjoy our visits. I also love the feelings of goodwill that come with Christmas. I hope that all of you have joyous holidays. Peace on earth.

What does Santa’s list say about you? Find out:

Now be careful my dear, dear Irregulars and regulars, just in case it snores again. I would like a white Christmas, but that doesn’t necessarily mean 10 inches. Please enjoy making each other happy. Palpebrate!

Open Blog - Wednesday & Thursday

Let's act like kids again.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

More Recommended Reading

From RacineUncovered:

Click on the link above to be taken to the story.

These lawsuits were announced awhile back. Now they're moving forward. Like the other lawsuit, these also stem from Dickert's Neighborhood Stabilization Program. Word on the street is that another principal player in this tragicomedy will soon be filing suit against Racine.

It's not like some people haven't been hollering about this over and over and over for a long, long time. But the powers that be, including the Journal Times, refuse to acknowledge this festering mess.

Thank you, lying John. Without a doubt, you will win the title of Racine's Most Expensive Mayor Ever. Party on!

Monday, December 19, 2011

The First Senior Moment

And that's what happened to the dinosaurs.

The Muppets at CERN

I just saw the Muppets yesterday and enjoyed it. If you have been thinking about seeing it and you like the Muppets, put it on your list.

I don't think it's a spoiler to tell you the Muppets get the gang back together again in the movie. They decide to round up the gang via montage. Look where they find Bunsen Honeydew and Beaker.

Yep, that's the ATLAS detector at CERN. Turns out Honeydew and Beaker spent their down time looking for the Higgs Boson. Yeah, I let out a little "squee" when I saw this.

Reprinted with permission from the Half-Astrophysicist Blog.

Merry Christmas!

Yes it is time for me to write about Christmas.

I think everyone has forgotten the true meaning of the Christmas Holiday. This is suppose to be about Baby Jesus born to Mary and Joseph in Bethlehem. He was wrapped in cloth and laid in a manger in a barn. They had visits from the animals, wisemen and angels. They brought Mary and Joseph gifts.

I remember growing up and going to church to celebrate Christmas about Jesus being born. This is the way I had raised my kids. Then all of a sudden I am listening to my nieces telling my sister what they want for Christmas. The things that they wanted was really expensive. I asked one of my nieces if they know the true meaning of Christmas. She said yes just to tell my mom what I want for Christmas and I will get what I want. I was really shocked what came out of her mouth. I heard the same thing from my boyfriends son saying what he wanted his grandparents to get him for Christmas. Then my youngest daughter told me he said he can get what ever he wants from his grandparents. I know he was never taught this from his dad. That is not what you would hear from my kids.

When I was living back in Illinois my kids and I would help out with a live nativity scene for church. The kids loved to do this with my parents. You should have seen my son and my dad just goofing around getting ready for it. I wish I would have taken pictures of them. My ex-husband would never take part in this with us.

I love going around looking at the Christmas decorations. I remember when I was younger my dad taking my sisters and I around looking at the decorations. My dad has been gone for about fifteen years and I miss him so much.  This was his favorite holiday and the one holiday I really like. There are times I get sad because I think of my dad.

When I was growing up my parents would have the family and friends coming over to visit during the week of Christmas and New Years. Some of them would call and ask if they could bring one of there friends and my parents would never say no. This is how I was raised you never say no to people and you share what ever food you have with people. There was also one Christmas my dad was laid off his job. That Christmas we really didn't get anything from our parents but we where happy with what we did get. My mom would make all her homemade cookies and give them out to family and friends. I took on this tradition with my mom.

 Now it is all about getting what you want not about being with your family and friends. I really miss seeing my family that I use to see when I was younger. Some of my cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents have passed away.

I just wish some of the kids would just realize how it was for us when we were younger. The really should get the real reason for Christmas.

I also have fun putting up the Christmas tree and the decorations in the house. While I was married my ex-husband started a Christmas village for me and my family kept it going. I have about a fifty piece village to put under the tree. I haven't put it up in the last two years because we don't have the room for it.

I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas and please be safe. I am leaving you with a Christmas song and video!♥

Open Blog - Monday & Tuesday

Here we go again.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Recommended Reading

From RacineUncovered:

Click the link above to be taken to the story.

The lawyers always win.

I Finally Got My Tree Up

Ahhhhhh the smell of fresh pine.

Ahhhhhh the smell of fresh pine.

"T-Mobile's Home For The Holidays Surprise "

"With Director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon and Musical Director Paul Mirkovich at the helm, T-Mobile surprises shoppers at the Chicagoland area's Woodfield Mall with a surprise performance and updated spin on the holiday classic, '(There's No Place Like) Home For The Holidays.'"

Thanks to SER for sending me a link to this.

My Top 2011 Albums (That I Bought)

t's that time of the year again. The year end reviews, except this year I didn't get too many 2011 album releases. Money's tighter now and spent it on the more familiar names like Yes' Fly From Here. Instead, I bought many albums from rummage sales and burned many CD's from the local library, trying to fill the gaps and the holes in my collection. This year, I think I got too many albums (Is there a such things as too much music?) and now I've literary got stacks of vinyl, cassettes and CD's piled everywhere around me. Some of which I haven't gotten a chance to listen to yet, many I have. Here's a list of some of my favorites I've gotten my hands on this year...

John Lennon John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band 1970 I don't know why I never gotten any this sooner. Maybe it was mine preference for Paul McCartney. Any rate, this album is FANTASTIC! Inspired by his primal therapy, Lennon creates a revolutionary and harrowing set of unflinchingly personal songs, laying out his fears and angers for everyone to hear. Simple, yet extremely intense, Lennon pushes towards themes of child-parent relationships and psychological suffering.

Iron Maiden The Final Frontier 2010 Those who would of thought Iron Maiden was left for the dead are in for a surprise! Sounding much like the '80's Iron Maiden that I fell in love with, the reunited Maiden offers no compromises, just complexities and challenges and many moments of brilliance. It's an engaging effort with a cinematic vision.

XTC Skylarking 1986 Never really heard of XTC till I picked up their Oranges & Lemons at a rummage sale over the summer. I thought that one was phenomenal, yet I thought Skylarking was a notch better. Their lush post psychedelic pop-enhanced sound by detailed sweeping instrumentation reminds me of the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds, the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's and REM's Murmur all wrapped up in a multidimensional package. Just plainly sheer brilliancy!

Mott the Hoople Mott 1973 "The rock and roll circus is back in town" sings frontman Ian Hunter in a line from "The Ballad of Mott the Hoople". The truth it may seem. Mott the Hoople keeps it straight forward, yet eccentric as they drive home with a collection of songs of road fraught with exhaustion, disillusionment and dashed hopes all told with a wry sense of humor.

Bruce Springsteen Working on a Dream 2009 Working On A Dream is the Boss's most exuberant and pop-orientated album for a long time. It is as if the swell of goodwill sweeping across anyone's soul...Bright and punchy, there is no pandering here, with Springsteen and the trusty E Street Band rocking and rolling with free abandon and sounding like they thoroughly enjoyed every single moment recording the album.

Marshall Tucker Band Running Like the Wind
1979 Like their southern colleges the Allman Brothers Band, the Marshall Tucker Band are known for their extended free flowing instrumental jams. The nine plus minute country flavored title track could take a listener on a dreamy ride across the wild western skyline interweaving flutes, guitars and fiddles. Aimless as it may sound, but it shows the strong musicianship within the Marshall Tucker Band.

Asia Phoenix 2008 Like the Phoenix of the title of their 2008 album, Asia has risen from the ashes and made their first studio album with their original lineup in a quarter century. This album have could easily followed their debut in the terms of musicianship. While 1983's Alpha was more pop oriented, Phoenix has a suppleness when they stretch out into multi-part suites while retaining a knack for big, arena pop hooks.

Yes Fly From Here 2011 A decade since their latest studio
album, Yes pulls off a keeper. Similar to their 1980 release of Drama in the terms of the lineup and feel, except the singer is the unknown Jon Anderson sound alike Benoit David. Drawing comparisons to the early days, the 25 minute eight part suite "Fly From Here" presents a depth and lushness that makes one think.

Black Keys Thickfreakness 2003 Inspired by the their success of last years' release of Brothers, it was only fitting to check out some of their older material. Recorded in the drummer Patrick Carney's basement in a single day, the Black Keys wail is hot, primal, and heartfelt. Dan Auerback's lean but meaty guitar lines and room-filling vocals drag the blues into the 21st century through sheer force of will without sounding like these guys are in any way mocking their influences.

UFO Obsession 1978 The last studio album to feature star guitarist Micheal Schenker. It did indeed contain lots of prime metal cuts. Much of the album is fun and carefree. The album kicks into gear with melodic tasty rockers without sounding lame and in your face. Under appreciated and often overlooked...

Too many albums and too little time....Some of them worth mentioning on this list. Steely Dan's Aja offers some great jazz rock. The North Mississippi Allstars Hernando has got some exceptional straight forward bluesy rock while Joe Satriani coughs up some extreme guitar work in The Extremist. Heart put out a great Christmas album in the Lovemonger's Christmas. The Dixie Dregs laid out some usual shit, blending southern fried boogie with progressive instrumental rock in the Night of the Living Dregs. Muse's Black Holes and Revelations rock!

Coming soon.... the worst of 2011 plus the best dust blowers (if time applies.

Useless Information

Did you know:

In the mid-1880s the Mohawk Indian started as ironworkers when they were hired as unskilled laborers to build a bridge over the St. Lawrence River onto Mohawk land.

Working in New York City they helped build prominent landmarks, including the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, the George Washington Bridge, and the World Trade Center.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Irregular Football League Standings

Click the pic to make it bigger. 'Resistance is futile.'

When Did Respecting Religion Come to This?

Okay, this might come off as a bit of a rant, but I am hoping that everyone tells me I just encountered a couple of idiots.

Recently, I attended a Christmas party with a friend. They hosts had a blessing before the meal. Okay, their party, it wasn't a government function so there is no church-state issue or anything. If they wanted a prayer it's a private function, so it's their business. The host asked everyone to bow their heads and led a prayer. Of course being an atheist I just sat their quietly while everyone else did the prayer thing.

Later in the evening, a young woman comes up to me and tells me I was rude and disrespectful. I wasn't quite sure what she was talking about. Turns out she noticed I didn't bow my head during the prayer. I told her I was an atheist. That's when she pulled out the you are disrespecting religion card. I told her I thought sitting quietly was respectful as I didn't disrupt or interfere with anyone's prayer. She again insisted bowing your head showed respect. I told her that I can't respect her beliefs by disrespecting own by pretending to pray. She left in a bit of a huff. I didn't hear anything more about it.

So, is not bowing your head when everyone else is praying showing a disrespect for religion? To me, not participating in someone else's prayers is not disrespect, but following my own conscience. If that's the new standard, I need a heads up so I can be sure I am not in the room at the time of the prayer.

So please, just tell me I encountered an idiot and this isn't the social standard now.

Four for Fridays

Hello everyone! Welcome back to Four for Fridays after a rather 'normal' week. It's getting closer to that special day in December and here are some Christmas questions...

1) Artificial or real Christmas tree?

2) Traditionally, do you open your gifts on Christmas eve or Christmas day?

3) What is your favorite Christmas song?

4) Done with your Christmas shopping yet?

Enjoy your weekend!

Open Blog - Friday and Weekend

Here comes the weekend!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Santa Stories

This is an actual conversation between my girlfriend and I had the other day as we were watching TV together..

Her: Here's something to watch, "The Dog Who Saved Christmas".

Me: Let me guess-this one Santa gets kidnapped, abducted, beaten, tortured, raped, sodomized, maimed, murdered, killed and set on fire. Along comes a lovable canine, perhaps a talking puppy, rescues Santa from the perils of Hell and saves Christmas. For that, all the children in the world are happy.

Her: So you've seen that one before?

Me: No. All these new Christmas movies are the same. Something happens to Santa and he gets rescued by some kid or dog and Christmas is saved. It gets old and mundane after awhile. I'd rather watch paint dry.

Her: So you don't like Christmas movies?

Me: I like 'em, but I'd would to see something original for a change.

Her: Like what?

Me: How about a drunken Santa, despondent over the loss of Mrs. Claus, crashes into the side of a 747 with his sleigh, killing everybody aboard? Think about the legal repercussions about that one...

Her: You're crazy...

Me: You have no idea...How about Santa in the Philippine jungle gunning down terrorists? Like Rambo? That ought to be a hoot! Or an elf murdered in Santa's workshop. A CSI crew comes in a clears Santa as the prime suspect. I could go on...

Her: Please don't...

Me: Or Santa can do a romantic comedy...

"Bearded Dragon playing Ant Crusher"

Lizardmom, can your guy do that?

Dear Madame Zoltar

Hello, Santa’s irregular helpers! How are you? Ho, ho, ho, one more week with no, no, no s-word on the ground. Isn’t it lovely? And it’s in the 40’s again after last week’s nip of winter. Don’t forget, winter doesn’t officially start until December 22. On that day, and a few after, you can think, “s-word, s-word-, s-word” all you want. It’s fitting to have a white Christmas. But after that, stop thinking about the s-word. January and February’s cold and wind and gloom are enough. We don’t need s-word, too.

Hail, hail, o mighty Packers, warriors supreme! Green Bay stifled the Oakland Raiders last Sunday, and we can expect a repeat performance at noon this Sunday, Dec. 18, when the Packers meet the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. (Oh my, how do they get away with such politically incorrect names?) Knock the Chiefs back onto the reservation! (Oh dear, I can’t believe I said that.)

I thought I’d check into what some of my competition has been doing for Christmas, and, my, was I surprised. Here is what Vine, from Australia, posted last year:

Of course, they have summer weather for Christmas down under. I think that’s a pretty nice video. I’m ashamed of what other Christmas videos I found posted by psychics, so we’ll let it go at that.

I still have almost all of my shopping and decorating to do. Christmas is such a busy time of year. Busy, but joyous. I especially like the concerts and choirs at Christmas time. Good music, good people, good cheer. Goodness gracious.

Thank you for taking time out of your busy holiday season to read my blog. I appreciate it very much. My Irregular and regular readers are my favorite people, and this is my favorite time of year. Glad tidings to all. Madame Zoltar ♥ you.

Holidays have you down? Get perked up:

Get out your car’s brush and scraper just in case we get any s-word. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. An ounce of my medications average about 25¢. If they don’t cure you, you won’t care anyway. Be careful, my friends. Lucubrations!

Open Blog - Wednesday & Thursday

I have no idea what that means. Click the pic to make it flashy.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Time to take attendance!!!

Forgive me Hale,
I punched 'black hole' in the search and got this.
It feels like a couple of our 'kin' have gotten sucked into
some cyber black hole and are missed.

Jed, Huck and others, we miss you!
Hope you're ok,
ya 'all, we better check in.
I sure hope Lee Ent. didn't kidnap them
hoping for a huge ransom from us to keep themselves afloat!

"Newspaper group Lee Enterprises files for bankruptcy"

From Reuters:

"(Reuters) - Lee Enterprises Inc (LEE.N), which publishes 48 daily newspapers including St. Louis Post-Dispatch, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection to refinance nearly $1 billion in debt, as newspapers struggle with falling advertisement dollars and dwindling readership."

If they could just sell one edition of a newspaper for $1 billion, everything would be OK.

"Proposal to review city positions paying over $100,000 stalls"


"KIMBER SOLANA | Posted: Tuesday, December 13, 2011 6:28 am |

"RACINE - A proposal to review vacant high-paying city positions in hopes of finding cost-saving opportunities failed to move past the Finance and Personnel Committee on Monday.

"Under the proposal, any position vacant due to retirement or resignation that typically pays more than $100,000 in salary and benefits would be reviewed by the committee and City Council before any hire, said Alderman Eric Marcus, who proposed the idea."

Haw, haw, haw. There is NO way the pork in Racine will ever be trimmed as long as the recipients of the pork are in charge of its distribution. Citizens: shut up, fix your sidewalks, and pay for lying John's lawyers. Happy Holidays, Racine!

"NTSB recommends states ban all nonemergency driver cell phone, electronic use device use"

From JSOnline:

Associated Press

"WASHINGTON (AP) -- States should ban all driver use of cell phones and other portable electronic devices, except in emergencies, the National Transportation Board said Tuesday.

"The recommendation, unanimously agreed to by the five-member board, applies to both hands-free and hand-held phones and significantly exceeds any existing state laws restricting texting and cellphone use behind the wheel."

I agree. I cannot count the number of times I have been cut off by someone on a cellphone. It's pure selfishness from a selfish generation: My yacking is more important than your life.

Geminid Meteor Shower Peaks Tonight

Just a quick note, the Geminid Meteor Shower peaks tonight. The Geminids usually give the more famous Perseids (which occur in August) a pretty good run for the money for the best meteor shower of the year (I have seen better displays from the Geminids on a regular basis). However, across much of the U.S., people would rather be outside at night in August than December!

Simply go out, lay down and look up. Scan the sky, no telescope or binoculars required. There will be a pretty bright Moon out tonight which makes meteors more difficult to see.

One nice thing about the Perseids is that they action picks up a little earlier in the night than for the Perseids (although it is better to watch later if you can). Since Earth is tilted away from the Sun in the winter, we turn into the meteor stream a bit earlier. Gemini, the radian of the meteor shower, clears the horizon by 8pm local time here in Tucson.

Looks like it will be raining here in Tucson tonight. Fortunately, the Geminids are a fairly wide debris stream, so it might still be worth checking out the next night. Bundle up everyone!

Reprinted with permission from the Half-Astrophysicist Blog.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Attery Squash - "Santa's Laughter Mocks The Poor"

"Santa's laughter mocks the poor, it's Christmas time again
You hear it in the songs of joy promoting fiscal gain
You see it in the credit cards that flutter down the drain, cos
Santa's laughter mocks the poor, and here it comes again

"Santa's laughter mocks the poor, it echoes in the night
A nagging sound that makes you wonder if you got it right
Everybody lies awake and thinks there's more to life, but
Santa's laughter mocks the poor, and you're to blame tonight

"Santa, we love you
Santa, don't you care?
Why do you ignore us Santa?
At this time of year

"Santa's laughter mocks the poor, a liability
That taunts you every time you turn on one of your TVs
Or choose the leather option, or a nice Moroccan tea oh
Santa's laughter mocks the poor across the seven seas

"Santa's laughter mocks the poor, the catchiest of songs
If everybody else is singing it, it can't be wrong
You hear it in the news reports of panic in Hong Kong
Santa's laughter mocks the poor, you've known it all along

"Santa's laughter mocks the poor, they just don't have the clout
To make a difference in the way society's turned out
Share out all the money in the world - we'd soon run out, oh
Santa's laughter mocks the poor, of that there is no doubt"

This song by The Attery Squash features Rev. Ian Stang, the leader of my faith, the Church of the SubGenius.

Useless Information

Did you know:

In 1909 Woodward Avenue in Detroit Michigan became the first paved street in the United States.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

"Parallel Parking"

[There is no audio.]

I think that guy lives in my neighborhood.

My Lunar Eclipse Photos

Here are a few of my favorites from the eclipse this morning. First up, a nice wide view of a partially eclipsed Moon over some Tucson city lights.

Now a zoomed in view.

Wide view with the deep blue of early twilight.

Back to close up.

And finally, one of the last pics I got before the Moon faded from site due to the brightening sky and the increasingly eclipsed Moon.

Obviously, I didn't see the senelion here. The Moon vanished before sunrise. I don't see how you can see this with a totally eclipsed Moon. Maybe with a partially eclipsed Moon. Look forward to seeing if anyone got pics of that using a fisheye lens or something similar.

Reprinted with permission from the Half-Astrphysicist Blog.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Seeing the "Impossible" During Saturday's Lunar Eclipse: The Selenelion

I just posted a blog last night about tomorrow's lunar eclipse. It seems that on facebook and twitter, a lot of people are passing around a story about seeing an impossible site dubbed the selenelion. I am not quite sure this site is so impossible or even so rare and would love comments from other hardcore astronomers/atmospheric physics experts if my thinking is fuzzy or spot on here.

Okay, as I discussed yesterday, a lunar eclipse occurs when the Sun, Moon and Earth are in a perfectly straight line. Therefore, the full, eclipsed Moon should set just as the Sun rises and you don't see them at the same time...assuming Earth has no atmosphere and you have nice flat eastern and western horizons with no buildings/trees/hills etc. But this phenomena happens every month at full Moon! Even if you argue that it's rare because the Moon will be eclipsed, well, every lunar eclipse happens at sunset somewhere in the world so a selenelion happens during every lunar eclipse (of course, the world is 70% ocean so you could argue that many of them occur over water where no one can see them, but it is still not a rare phenomena).

The best I can tell this is "rare" because it is happening over a heavily populated portion of the United States.

But Earth does have an atmosphere. Due to refraction of light by Earth's atmosphere, we see the Sun rise a few minutes earlier than it should and the Moon set a few minutes later than it should. Therefore, you can see both the Sun and the full Moon in the sky at the same time even though it should be impossible if they are 180 degrees apart. This is something I have known for many years (and has been known for a long time) so no new discovery here.

So my question is, why is this such a rare event? This happens EVERY MONTH at full Moon. Even if you are at a spot on the world where the sun rises (or sets...this can happen at sunset with the full Moon rising in the east) . Yeah, this is a cool phenomena and I am trying to figure out where I can go to attempt to see it here (lots of mountains in Tucson) because I am fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time, but it is something that happens during lunar eclipse and even every full Moon!

Reprinted with permission from the Half-Astrophysicist Blog.

Four for Fridays

Hello everybody! Welcome back to Four for Fridays, after a seemingly long week filled with trips to Milwaukee and tons of overtime. Here are some questions for ya!

1) What was the most memorable Christmas for you?

2) Ever get a Christmas present you didn't want?

3) Do you think politics has changed over the years?

4) What kind of winter sport do you like?

Enjoy your weekend!

Saturday's Lunar Eclipse

Certain lucky people will get treated to a total lunar eclipse on Saturday, December 10th. Unfortunately for many people living in North America, the Moon will set before the total phase of the eclipse begins. For those of us in the west, the totally eclipsed Moon will set in the west as the Sun rises in the east.

Okay, quick review. A total lunar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes through Earth's shadow. That means the Sun, Earth and Moon (in that order) are in a straight line. Lunar eclipses always happen at full Moon, but not every full Moon heralds the arrival of a lunar eclipse (the Moon's orbit is tilted so most months it passes either slightly above or below Earth's shadow). A lunar eclipse is visible to everyone on the side of Earth facing away from the Sun when it occurs (in other words, on Earth's night side).

The penumbral phase (when the Moon enters the very outer part of the shadow) starts at 11:33UT (EST you subtract five hours from UT, CST subtract six, MST subtract 7, and PST subtract 8). The outer part of the shadow is not very dark so you might not notice the Moon get slightly dimmed if you weren't paying attention. The real action stars when the Moon enters the umbra, the dark part of Earth's shadow at 12:45UT. You can watch the Moon get progressively more covered until totality begins at 14:06UT. Totality ends at 14:57UT, the umbral phase ends at 16:17UT and the eclipse is totally over at 17:30UT. Here is a chart from NASA that shows where the eclipse is visible.

In Tucson, sunrise on Saturday is at 7:15am, just nine minutes after totality begins at 7:06am! In reality, the Moon may set a little earlier since there are mountains to the west. I already have my spot to watch and photograph the eclipse picked out. It will be interesting trying to photograph the setting, eclipsed Moon as the sky gets progressively brighter toward sunrise. I suspect there will be lots of great photos of the eclipsed and partially eclipsed Moon setting over scenic areas (Tucson Mountains in my case).

One thing I encourage everyone to do is follow the eclipse on twitter. I did this for last December's total lunar eclipse and it was a lot of fun. There will probably be a twitter hashtag (search for eclipse and you will find might be #eclipse, #lunareclipse or something similar). People will be posting their observations, comments and pictures in real time. You can respond and converse with people about what is happening even if you can't observe it yourself due to your location or local weather conditions. For last Decembers eclipse, there were lots of people observing and conversing, many of whom I knew personally. It was like watching the eclipse with friends even though I was alone with my camera outside my townhome.

Reprinted with permission from the Half-Astrophysicist Blog.

Open Blog - Friday & Weekend

That's beautiful.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

"Night Before Christmas Through Celebrity Impersonations "

I know most of those, but not all of them. He's darn good.

My Christmas Card to all JTIrregulars

My Christmas Card to all JTIrregulars

One for jedwis

Apollo 17 Anniversary

Apollo 17 launched on December 7th, 1972. It was the last of the six missions to successfully land on the Moon and the first to have a scientists, Harrison Schmidt (geologist), walk on the Moon. They spent more time on the lunar surface (over three days) and walking on the Moon (over 22 hours spread over three Moon walks) than any other mission.

Watching this launch is one of my earliest childhood memories. I have vague memories of other Moon missions, but this one is the most clear. It's easy to pin down since it was the only night launch. I was only four years old. I remember watching it and there was a launch delay that I remember taking a long time and that I got to stay up way past my usual bedtime to watch the launch. Boy, was I right! Now I can look stuff up and see that it was a 2 hour and 40 minute delay and Apollo 17 finally launched at 12:33am EST. I was in the central time zone so I saw the launch at 11:33pm, pretty late for a four year old to stay up glued to the television!

Gene Cernan and Harrison Schmidt landed on the Moon while Ronald Evans stayed in orbit with the command module. Next year will mark forty years since we last set foot on the Moon. We are long overdue to get back.

Reprinted with permission from the Half-Astrophysicst Blog.

Dear Madame Zoltar

Hello, my festive friends! How are you? Still no s-word on the ground in Racine. I’ve seen a few s-wordflakes, but nothing substantial. Hurray for us. I’ll accept a white Christmas. In fact, I’d like one. But, after that, I would be just fine with no more s-word for the winter. Let it s-word somewhere else.

The New York Giants fell, barely, to our glorious Green Bay Packers last Sunday. I mistakenly put the Packers’ record at 12-0 last week. That is their current record. Until this coming Sunday, that is, when the Packers will beat the Oakland Raiders. It starts Dec. 11, 3:15 PM, at Lambeau Field. Destroy the Raiders, please, o mighty Pack. Attack, attack, attack! Slash and cut and hack! Grrr! Oh my, so that’s what testosterone feels like.

As usual, I perused the news for noteworthy topics, but again I found it depressing. In this time of “peace on earth, goodwill to men,” I see little of either. Politics have people at each others throats locally and nationally. So much bitterness. I hope that I offend no one by referring to Christmas. That is the tradition I was brought up in. If yours is Hanukah, or Kwanza, or something else, or nothing, I respect you and your faith. And I truly wish you peace, and I truly wish you goodwill, all year round.

In keeping with the season, here is a tune you’ll recognize, but with a hepcat treatment. The Basily Boys – Gipsy Christmas:

Well, that has me feeling better. I hope that you feel great. Thank you for reading my blog this week. It’s a pleasure to post for your pleasure. I love you all.

Put the X back into your Xmas:

Only 18 more shopping days until Christmas! Oh dear. May the panic of the season be with you - not. Take it easy. Try to savor the holidays. Try to remember that less than perfect is perfectly human. Madame Zoltar watches over you more closely than Santa Claus, and I don’t keep score. Relax. Enjoy. Perceive. Verbigerate.

7-Dec-1941 – Pear Harbor

Pearl Harbor - December 7th, 1941 a date that will live in infamy!

On Sunday, December 7th, 1941 the Japanese launched a surprise attack against the U.S. Forces stationed at Pearl Harbor , Hawaii . By planning his attack on a Sunday, the Japanese commander Admiral Nagumo, hoped to catch the entire fleet in port. As luck would have it, the Aircraft Carriers and one of the Battleships were not in port. (The USS Enterprise was returning from Wake Island , where it had just delivered some aircraft. The USS Lexington was ferrying aircraft to Midway, and the USS Saratoga and USS Colorado were undergoing repairs in the United States .)
In spite of the latest intelligence reports about the missing a aircraft carriers (his most important targets), Admiral Nagumo decided to continue the attack with his force of six carriers and 423 aircraft. At a range of 230 miles north of Oahu , he launched the first wave of a two-wave attack. Beginning at 0600 hours his first wave consisted of 183 fighters and torpedo bombers which struck at the fleet in Pearl Harbor and the airfields in Hickam, Kaneoheand Ewa. The second strike, launched at 0715 hours, consisted of 167 aircraft, which again struck at the same targets.
At 0753 hours the first wave consisting of 40 Nakajima B5N2 "Kate" torpedo bombers, 51 Aichi D3A1 "Val" dive bombers, 50 high altitude bombers and 43 Zeros struck airfields and Pearl Harbor Within the next hour, the second wave arrived and continued the attack.
When it was over, the U.S. losses were:
USA : 218 KIA, 364 WIA.
USN: 2,008 KIA, 710 WIA.
USMC: 109 KIA, 69 WIA.
Civilians: 68 KIA, 35 WIA.
TOTAL: 2,403 KIA, 1,178 WIA.
USS Arizona (BB-39) - total loss when a bomb hit her magazine.
USS Oklahoma (BB-37) - Total loss when she capsized and sunk in the harbor.
USS California (BB-44) - Sunk at her berth. Later raised and repaired.
USS West Virginia (BB-48) - Sunk at her berth. Later raised and repaired.
USS Nevada - (BB-36) Beached to prevent sinking. Later repaired.
USS Pennsylvania (BB-38) - Light damage.
USS Maryland (BB-46) - Light damage.
USS Tennessee (BB-43) Light damage.
USS Utah (AG-16) - (former battleship used as a target) - Sunk.

USS New Orleans(CA-32) - Light Damage..
USS San Francisco(CA38) - Light Damage.
USS Detroit(CL-8) - Light Damage.
USS Raleigh (CL-7) - Heavily damaged but repaired.
USS Helena(CL-50) - Light Damage.
USS Honolulu(CL-48) - Light Damage..

USS Downes (DD-375) - Destroyed. Parts salvaged.
USS Cassin - (DD-37 2) Destroyed. Parts salvaged.
USS Shaw (DD-373) - Very heavy damage.
USS Helm (DD-388) - Light Damage.

USS Ogala (CM-4) - Sunk but later raised and repaired.

Seaplane Tender
USS Curtiss (AV-4) - Severely damaged but later repaired.

Repair Ship
USS Vestal (AR-4) - Severely damaged but later repaired.

Harbor Tug
USS Sotoyomo (YT-9) - Sunk but later raised and repaired.

188 Aircraft destroyed (92 USN and 92 U.S. Army Air Corps

Open Blog - Wednesday & Thursday

That's why they call it hump day.