‘Cause I haven’t done one of these since last October, that’s why.
- I used to do these about every six to eight weeks at the most. Now it’s been nine months. What the hell have I been doing for the last nine months? Hmmmm… I should know this one…
- Back at the end of June I posted a Photoshopped picture and said there was someone in the original who was mentioned in a Tom Lehrer song, and I invited anyone to guess who it might be:
- My fannish/filkish friend Harold Groot got it correct over on Facebook.
- Most days I try hard to be friendly, helpful, and cheerful. After a couple of long, miserable nights (leg cramps, again) my goal today was to be minimally offensive. I think it was a roaring success. Neither I nor anyone around me ended up in jail or the hospital!
- It’s Wernher von Braun
- With the raccoons going nuts every night on the flat roof above me in my computer room/office, I finally went and bought a better tool to take pictures of them. I got a Bushnell wildlife trail cam. It has an infrared flash and is triggered by motion, so you set it out and when something wanders into its field of view, it snaps a picture. I didn’t do anything fancy to mount it up there, just put it on a short tripod, then lashed the camera and tripod to the legs of a ladder propped up against the roof. It makes it easy for me to get up there and check it, and hard (I hope) for the curious raccoons to destroy it or tip it over. We’ll see.
- The Long-Suffering Wife is doing well on her trike. She reports that the hardest part is getting it unlocked and locked back up again. I’ll admit, we might have overdone it on the bike lock. About four feet of coiled, braided steel about 3/4 inch thick. It doesn’t much want to get uncoiled and it’s like wrestling a pissed off octopus to get it around the tree and then through the bike frame and unlatched.
- Speaking of the raccoons, when I posted pictures of them last week, the aforementioned Harold Groot did some research and told me over on Facebook that it was almost certainly a mother and three kits, not a male/female pair and two kits. He didn’t mention whether or not that made my imaginary dialogue less funny, more funny, or had no effect on the funny to begin with because you can’t improve or lessen that which did not exist to begin with.
- Best Pokemon Go line of the day was a comment on a local television station’s story about how a gym or beacon or some sort of special place was in front of the house of a registered sex offender. Think of how this endangered the children! To which someone pointed out that there were no children playing the game – it was all twenty-somethings and thirty-somethings.
- As I have been here working and writing this, I can hear the raccoons directly above me, right where the camera is. They keep coming back, and now I can hear them chirping and chittering (if you’ve never heard them, you should listen to the clip), even over the sound of the air conditioning and the music. (Toccata & Fugue in D Minor by good ol’ JS Bach, at the moment.)
- Should you happen to need a bicycle shop in the west San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles, we can highly recommend Spoke ‘N Wheel at Platt and Van Owen. When we bought The Long-Suffering Wife’s trike they were having a bad morning (a break-in overnight) but took great care of us anyway. Most impressive was when they politely pointed out, after The Long-Suffering Wife had picked out a particularly rakish and stylish helmet, that it was a $250 helmet and given the expected speeds and hazards involved on the trike, maybe a $45 helmet might work just fine. That’s some good customer service right there!
Remember, “The only secret to magic is that I’m willing to work harder on it than you think it’s worth.” From Penn Jillette, a freakishly brilliant human.
‘Cause giving a damn is too much of a pain in the ass at the moment, that’s why.
- Listening to “Jeopardy” by Greg Kihn Band as it comes up on the satellite feed reminds me again how many songs of the late 1980’s through the early 2000’s I now recognize more by the Weird Al Yankovic parody version.
- Taking the trash out yesterday evening was an adventure. It was full dark, but we have one of those motion-activated flood lights out there, so no worries. I was just opening the gate from the front yard and it hadn’t yet triggered on, when something slammed into my left leg and another something slammed into the trash bag I was carrying in my right hand. No flood of insanely bad smell, so they weren’t skunks, and I don’t usually see the raccoons moving that fast, so my money’s on rabbits.
- Observation made the other day – I would prefer that my life story be directed by Frank Capra, but instead I got Hitchcock. Or Kubrick.
- Twenty-nine days until “NaNoWriMo” starts. Do I participate this year? Do I have an idea to use? Feeling a bit stretched thin and abandoned by my muse.
- After the leporine hit-and-run, the light turned on and I looked behind me into the front yard. Jessie was there, oblivious to the (at least) two conejoes that had just scampered in front of her nose. We’ll cut her some slack, she’s getting really old and having some mobility issues. Back in the day, she would have chased those rabbits all the way down the block. Of course, I would have been trying to chase her all the way down the block, so maybe it’s just as well.
- Maybe I need to learn to play the bagpipes. Yeah, that’s it!!
- Even then, could I get the “2001: A Space Odyssey” Kubrick? No such luck. More and more days it’s feeling like the “Clockwork Orange” Kubrick. Or “Full Metal Jacket.” Or “The Shining.”
- re: NaNoWriMo, it might be like the line about needing an hour of meditation a day, unless of course you can’t afford the time, in which case you need two hours.
- No, I haven’t seen “The Martian” yet.
- Wait, a decent set of bagpipes costs how much??!! And I thought it was the noise that kept more people from playing them.
- Can we try for “Eyes Wide Shut?”
Remember, “You have to go to people’s funerals or they won’t come to yours.” Thanks, Yogi.
‘Cause I read the comments, that’s why.
- The dog survived her day and night alone with me.
- Saw a huge accident on the other side of the freeway when I was heading home from the hangar. Many fire trucks, cops, and ambulances, three and a half of the four lanes blocked, traffic backed up for ten miles. Big surprise, given that we’ve gotten rain (so, so, SO weird for SoCal) from the remains of Hurricane Blanca after it pummeled Cabo San Lucas. On the other hand, our side of the freeway was cruising right along at 65+ up until some freakin’ moron decided to slow down to 5 mph in the #2 lane so that he could watch the carnage. That’s a special kind of freakin’ stupid!
- Of course you’ve seen the first full trailer for “The Astronaut.” Of course. It’s okay, go watch it again. (Watch it in Hi-Def. On a big screen. With the sound turned waaaay up.)
- The third best thing about how Jessie deals with the absence of The Long-Suffering Wife is the way her ears perk up and she snaps her head around to look at the front door with every creak of the house or sound from the street. When she’s here along with The Long-Suffering Wife and I come home, I’m sometimes here for five or ten minutes before she wakes up enough to notice that I’ve arrived.
- While you’re waiting for “The Astronaut” to come out, go pick up a copy of the new, remastered, extended, director’s cut, Blu-ray version of “1776.” It’s a masterpiece, I say! You will cheer every word, every letter!
- The second best thing about how Jessie deals with the absence of The Long-Suffering Wife is the the way she uses gas as a weapon when she wants to go to bed and I’m not ready yet. She lays next to the desk and farts and farts and farts. The Syrian army could learn a lesson from her. “Just a dog being a dog,” you say? Right, sure. So how do you explain the big smile on her face and the way she keeps glancing up at me after each “event”?
- Did everyone see that the cubesat launched two weeks ago by The Planetary Society has successfully opened the world’s first solar sail? Did everyone see the fantastic picture of it?
- The best thing about how Jessie deals with the absence of The Long-Suffering Wife is the way she takes off across the yard, even in her ancient, arthritic, and decrepit condition, when she sees The Long-Suffering Wife’s car coming into the driveway. Who fed her, took care of her, cleaned up after her, took her outside over and over, gave her treats… It’s sort of like the way a dad will worth with his son for innumerable hours in Little League baseball or Pop Warner football, and then when the kid gets on national television during his debut he grins at the camera and says, “HI MOM!”
- 867-5309. Ask for “Jenny.”
- Has everyone joined The Planetary Society so they can build a full-sized solar sail to test? Plus, you’ll help support their efforts to keep our Congresscritters informed and educated about space and science. Just for taking on that thankless task they should have the support of all of us!
Remember, “Don’t EVER read the comments!”
‘Cause I ran a 5K today without benefit of any training, that’s why.
- My 5K time was 44:03 officially. How “good” that might be is a matter of perspective. If I were in the kind of shape I would prefer to be in, that would completely suck. Under 30 minutes would be a good time. On the other hand, given the absolute zero training time, 44:03 and still breathing and not needing an ambulance is pretty good.
- Every cell phone company is running ads where they show you a US map with their SuperDuper 5G+ coverage in a bright color, their 4G coverage areas in a slightly less vibrant shade, their 3G coverage area in a pale shade, and some grey areas out in Nevada, Montana, Wyoming, and about 99% of North Dakota. There’s some fine print there that I can never read, but I’m betting that part of it says something like, “Grey areas represent areas where you are up the creek without a paddle. Have a nice day.”
- Where everyone else was in a 5K “race”, we were in a 5K “run.” (I ran with my LA Marathon training partner from 2012, who happened to live a couple blocks away and be neighbors with one of the organizers.) Early on, when everyone else was taking off into the distance and I was trying to get at least one lung to work, my goal for the day became obvious. There was a young woman who was running while pushing a stroller with twins and a seven or eight-year-old in tow. The only “racing” I wanted to do was beat her.
- Sunday morning, grocery shopping, about 10:30. I’m passed by a frazzled looking guy who’s wearing a sweatshirt, red checkered pajama bottoms, and slippers. He’s carrying a jar of peanut butter, a bottle of vodka, a quart of orange juice, and a pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. No one bats an eye — this is Los Angeles after all. The only question I had was, “Chunky or smooth peanut butter?”
- The mom with the twins in the jogging stroller? We totally kicked her ass, finished at least two minutes ahead of her! WIN!! (At this point, I’ll take them where I can get them.)
- The Long-Suffering Wife notes that I missed a couple of things in my analysis of how we’re looking for a good place to retire in a few years. I guess I thought they were obvious “givens,” but we will need someplace with good, high-speed internet. She would also like to find a place which has a good deli, but would settle for a place that has decent bagels.
- Old note found — “Having a cat asleep on your lap when the Raccoons Of An Unusual Size start romping around on the roof can be…unpleasant.” Yes, yes it could.
- Someone else noted that the title “Where’s A Good Place To Retire To?” should be “Where’s A Good Place To Which To Retire?” Never finish a sentence with a preposition. Fine. Granted. By the way, have you heard the joke about the cowboy and the snooty, uppity Brit?
- Overall for my age group (male, 55-59) I finished eleventh. And no, it wasn’t out of eleven! (You know that you were thinking it, weren’t you.) It was out of thirteen. Since I was expecting to finish fifteenth out of thirteen, again, WIN!!
- On the 101 Freeway headed toward Ventura, where they often have a 5th lane on the far right that begins where an onramp dumps traffic onto the freeway and ends at the next exit where it is a mandatory exit lane. Traffic is reasonably heavy. A handful of cars are getting on the freeway, and the first three or four are having a difficult time getting into the through-traffic lanes. As the “exit only” ramp approaches, I see that the final car isn’t hanging back to find an open spot. It’s a classic, cherry red, convertible Mustang, probably a ’65 or ’66, top down, and the driver is making an extremely aggressive move to gun it and squeeze into an open spot several cars ahead, barely making it before the lane exits. I’m figuring that it’s some kid who’s got more testosterone than brains. Then I pull up next to it a couple miles later and see that it’s a woman, probably in her late 60’s or early 70’s, boufant hairdo like something straight out of an “Animal House” sorority, wrapped up in a thin, transparent scarf like my mom always wore. She’s grinning like she just stole the car. YOU GO, GIRL!!
Remember, “I may be old, overweight, and slow — but I’m ahead of you” (Gotta get me one of those running shirts!)
‘Cause it’s cloudy and I can’t go comet hunting tonight, that’s why.
- But there was a break in the clouds at sunset and I was at a location where I had a good view of the western horizon. Venus and Mercury are only 1° apart and while I could clearly see Venus of course (REALLY STINKIN’ BRIGHT!) I could not see Mercury.
- How did people playing poker become a television “sport” complete with breathless color commentary? And why does it have to come on after the hockey game so that I have to either stop what I’m doing to change the channel or just put up with it? (Yeah, #FirstWorldProblem!)
- There’s no “Flash Fiction” tonight (or last week) because our Grand High Phoobah Chuck Wendig hasn’t given us new assignments. Probably a holiday break sort of thing. And I didn’t participate two weeks ago just because it was about 23:30 before I realized that it was Thursday…
- So that’s another “next clear night” thing – get the binoculars (and camera, of course), get to someplace with a good western horizon (the hill at Pierce College sounds good) and go hunting for Mercury.
- A thing going around The Intranets today showed where it was colder here (mainly northern tier states, New England, and 99.9999% of Canada) than it was on Mars. Cool meme (yeah, I passed it on) but the “spin” on the facts that makes it true(ish) is that we’re comparing high temps for the sol on Mars to low temps for the day on Earth. The lows on Mars (apples to apples) was about -75°. Plus there’s that whole total lack of a breathable atmosphere thing.
- Re: not realizing that it’s Thursday until 23:30 – I might have a rotten brain. Or I might just be trying to stuff ten pounds of thinking and stress into a five-pound brain pan. (That old figure of speech got mangled pretty badly there, didn’t it?)
- In thinking about a good local place with a slightly darker sky (to do it right I would need to drive up into the San Bernadino mountains, or better yet, out to someplace like Joshua Tree, but that’s four hours each way) I realized that there’s a “wilderness” park up in the canyons near our home, between LA County and Ventura County. It’s listed as “closed at dusk” but I called, got some administrative dude, and got told that I “probably” would be fine going there after dark with a camera and/or telescope. A ranger or cop might see me, but they “probably” would leave me alone once I explained why I was there. And I was “unlikely” to have anyone close the gate and lock me in for the night. But I did need to be cautious about the coyotes. And rattlesnakes. And possibly mountain lions. And skunks, especially skunks…
- Bitch, bitch, bitch, bitch, bitch!
- I’m going to check out that park and see if there’s a gate to be locked. If not, it might be critter time!
Remember, “There are two types of people in this world – 1) Those who can extrapolate from incomplete data”
‘Cause I’ve got a 0500 wake up call for tomorrow, that’s why.
- The aforementioned dreaded wake up is because it’s NASA Social Eve! Had a nice “pregame” dinner with three other participants who are here, and met others at the hotel. It looks like a great, varied, interesting group of folks.
- It’s soooooo dry out here (the Santa Ana winds are blowing) that I’m getting very weird responses off of the touchscreens on my phone and pad. At least I think that’s what’s causing it, otherwise seems odd to have both of them flaking out at the same time.
- For most of the “live” stuff tomorrow and Wednesday, check out my Twitter feed (@momdude), or if you’re not on Twitter, the last twenty or so tweets (sorry, I forget what I’ve got it set at) should be showing on the right side of this webpage.
- The relatively new “baby” Hilton (it’s a Hilton Garden Inn) is nice enough, but the heater is REALLY FREAKING LOUD WHEN THE FAN TURNS ON!
- It did occur to me driving up here that there’s another tourist spot to hit for the NASA Social participants who are coming in from out of state, many for the first time to this area. On your way back to LA, get off the 14 Freeway at Agua Dulce Canyon road and follow the signs to Vasquez Rocks Park. My money says that anyone coming to one of these events will immediately recognize where they are. (Beware the Gorn!)
- Glad I brought earplugs. I thought they might be needed for the jet noise out at Edwards, but they’re definitely needed for the HVAC here.
- WHY do they still have telephones in hotel rooms? Does anyone ever use them to do anything other than call the front desk and/or schedule wake-up calls? Who would pay $0.50 plus $0.10 a minute to call locally when everyone down to the toddlers all have their own cell phones with unlimited calls?
- Best (maybe?) feature of the hotel is these new low-flush toilets that use an air cartridge or something to speed up the water that is used – touch the handle gently and it’s like, “By The Power Given To Me By Almighty GOD I Will Send This Waste To HELL!” I like that in a plumbing fixture.
- I’m thinking there’s a conspiracy here between the hotel architects and the telephone handset industry…
Remember, “What do you mean it’s 5:55?!” is not the correct response when you’re driving and you’re meeting people in the lobby at 6:00.
‘Cause there’s no Flash Fiction this week, ’cause we’re supposed to be working on our NaNoWriMo, that’s why.
- If there truly is a kind, beneficent, loving God, how can you explain Adam Sandler movies?
- Once again, I’m a pint down today. (Donate blood, save a life!) However, after only getting a bit over four hours’ sleep last night, and then having yet another long, frantic day, by the time 3:30 rolls around and they’ve got me lying down on a comfy chair… You would be amazed at how you can freak out the blood bank personnel by repeatedly falling asleep while donating blood.
- Seriously, I was doing something else on the video setup in the living room, the television turned on to a commercial which I ignored, then the show coming out of commercial was “The Benchwarmers.” Okay, Adam Sandler was only a producer on this one, but the stupid was so deep that I had to use one arm to keep the other one from gouging out my eyes. This movie’s one step below “Honey Boo-boo” on the stupid scale, and until today I didn’t know there were any steps lower than “Honey Boo-boo!”
- Oh. My. God! If you haven’t seen it yet, go look at this image from the ALMA radio telescope. Not a computer simulation, not an artist’s rendering, an actual picture of planets forming around a star 450 light-years away. Taken by a huge, new radio telescope array (ALMA) it shows a level of detail that is mind boggling.
- And “The Benchwarmers” gets a score of 5.6 from IMDB members?! That’s out of 1,000,000,000,000,000, right?
- Somewhat closer to home, remember that on Wednesday, November 12th, the Philae lander from the ESA’s Rosetta mission will attempt to make our first landing on a comet. The landing is scheduled to start at 08:35 UT (03:35 EST and 00:35 PST) with the landing at 16:03 UT (11:03 EST and 08:03 PST). If you haven’t seen any of the pictures of the comet itself, taken over the last few weeks from just a few hundred kilometers away, you have GOT to browse here.
- This particular channel was following up “The Benchwarmers” with “Click,” which IS an Adam Sandler movie. I didn’t dare to wait around to see what was coming up after that. “Little Nicky?” “You Don’t Mess With The Zohan?” “Big Daddy?” “Grown Ups” (either one)?
- A lot closer to home, this picture was taken last week by a Chinese spacecraft. It’s a completely new view of the Moon and Earth together from a long way away. If this doesn’t make you stop and go “WOW!” then maybe we can’t be friends.
- I know Halloween’s past and it’s too late for this kind of horror, but here’s a contender for the most frightening phrase in the human language — “Adam Sandler returns in Jack & Jill 2!”
- Just came thiiiiis close to falling asleep on my desk after hitting “Save Draft” when I though I had hit “Publish.” That would have been stupid.
Remember, “Two wrongs do not make a right – but three lefts do!”