Category Archives: Paul

A Red-Letter Day!

There won’t be photos of tonight’s pretty decent ISS pass – it’s cloudy with a 20% chance of rain out there. If you know anything about SoCal it’s that we get rain in June about once every other blue moon. Fate, man, it’s a bitch.

But it’s a red-letter day!

I needed to use shampoo on my hair this morning! Granted, not a lot given the circumstances, more like I just sort of opened the bottle and let some of the fumes waft over my scalp – but it’s a start!! And I can now use a towel to dry it again instead of using a squeegee!

Big doings here!

What are your plans for the weekend?

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Filed under Farce, Paul

ISS Pass & A Bonus

The weather’s better, there’s a nice, high, bright, ISS pass… Let’s see if I can avoid screwing this up two nights in a row, shall we?

(Image – Heavens-Above.org)

It was sweet, especially with a little contrast cleanup in Photoshop.

There was a bright, almost full moon rising, so I kept the exposures shorter, just 2.3 seconds each.

Then I tried to shift to another location to catch the rest of the pass as the ISS swung overhead and headed back toward the southeast where the moon was rising. The rabbits covering the lawn didn’t appreciate it and tried to trip me going down the hill.

I finally made it and got set up to see it fade into night as it got down near the moon (that honkin’ bright thing at the lower left edge).

As I pulled the tripod and started heading home (I had moved a couple houses down the hill to clear the street lights and trees) I noticed another satellite straight overhead. I quickly put the tripod back down and started shooting again.

It was MUCH dimmer than the ISS – this is a single frame and you can see it in the center top, heading down and slightly to the left.

Why not a combined file like with the ISS? When I tried to combine these images in StarStaX the satellite trail vanishes. It’s too dim and therefore too thin and each segment gets overwritten by the other layers where it’s dark.

But… I learned a new trick and I’m not afraid to use it three days in a row.

In a GIF format, you can see the unknown satellite moving down toward the horizon, before it too goes into darkness.

The fact that it went into darkness at about the same distance to the east of us means that it was probably at a similar height to the ISS. If it were higher, it would have stayed in sunlight longer – lower and it would have gone dark sooner. Beyond that, I have no idea what it was.

Keep looking up. You never know what you might see!

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Filed under Astronomy, Paul, Photography, Space, Video

Ridiculous – Part Deux

Yesterday I wrote about an unexpected side effect of shaving my head. This morning, thirty-six hours after the initial event, it caught me off guard again, but this time I realized what it reminded me of:

Velcro GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

I also realized what the proper tool is now for “drying my hair”:

12 in. Window Squeegee without Handle

Thank you! I’ll be here all week! Tip your waitress!

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Filed under Farce, Paul

Ridiculous

As in, “From the sublime to…”

SpaceX and NASA and Dragon and Falcon didn’t launch today because the weather pretty much sucked in Florida today. They’ll try again on Saturday. Or maybe Sunday. Or maybe some time next week since the weather forecast for Saturday or Sunday isn’t much better than it was today.

This isn’t a problem, just a frustration, especially in our society that expects instant gratification. But they’ll fly when they’re ready and when it’s safe and meets the established launch criteria. As has been pointed out, it’s much better to be on the ground wishing you were flying than flying and wishing you were on the ground.

So that’s not what I’m here to entertain you with tonight.

Last night, you see, there was some genuine hysteria. As in laughing so hard I could barely stand. Self-inflicted. Stupid.

Because when you’re in your 58th day of self-isolation, despite the fact that you have sufficient food, shelter, entertainment, and so on, SOMETIMES you just need to do something really stupid to see what happens.

First of all, it had been five weeks since this little slice of insanity. And while I wasn’t all that shaggy, especially compared to April, the places where it was bothering me were a result of me doing a half-assed job back then, so those spots that tickle and annoy me WERE shaggy.

It was time to try again.

So out to the backyard I went, doing my best to basically just go evenly all over everything, concentrating this time on the odd spots behind the ears and at the nape of the neck and places where I can’t reach well and can’t see at all. I was trying to do better than last time, to learn from my previous experience.

It didn’t totally suck. (But jeez louise, those eyebrows! Anyone have any suggestions? Aside from, you know, nuclear fire?)

But this, like last time, was with the “#1 guard” on the clippers. If you’re not aware, when you’re getting a buzz cut of some sort, with the number indicating how close you want it cut. Smaller numbers are shorter. The clippers I bought came with attachments for #1 through #8. When I would go to the SuperCuts or Fantastic Sams or Great Clips or whatever, my normal was a #2. A #1 is shorter, but I figured I would give it a try.

And I thought to myself, for reasons I can only chalk up to advancing age, diminished capacity, or being cooped up too long, “What happens if you take that guard clippy thingie off completely? Do you get cut? Does it hurt? Or does it just cut your hair really, Really, REALLY freaking short?”

It’s that last one. And while it doesn’t hurt, the buzzy feeling goes right into your skull and makes your head vibrate. It’s a weird feeling. (The first of many for last night.)

Essentially this is a “#0” cut and it leaves your hair at about 1 to 2 millimetres, tops.

Well… If you’re going to do that, and then be still finding those little spots you missed that are going to be tickling, why not just go all the way?

So I shaved it.

But that’s not what caused the hysterical laughter. Granted, every time I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror I’m surprised all over again, but not hysterically.

No, it turns out that there’s one thing that no one has EVER mentioned about shaving your head.

First, as I expected, it’s stubbly and rough. I guess somehow I was hoping for it to be much smoother, more Uncle Fenster-like, but it’s more like fine grit sandpaper.

Secondly, I expected it to be colder than it is. That may have something to do with the temps in the 90’s here in LA right now, but inside where the A/C’s going full blast it still should feel colder than it is. It doesn’t. However, going out into the sun definitely feels hotter. I can see where I’ll have to be careful to not get sunburned, or make sure I’m wearing a hat.

Third, even being really careful, little knicks from shaving a place that’s never been shaven before hurt like a son of a gun. Doing some research online I see that sites that talk about head shaving recommend shaving it two or three times a week to maintain it – that might not be happening here. I’m sure the skin would toughen up and get used to it sooner or later, but that’s too damn much work. The reason I don’t grow my hair long is because I want to spend an absolute minimal amount of time on maintenance and care – this is even worse than long hair. No thanks!

Fourth, since I don’t really see it unless I pass a mirror, it just feels weird to my hand every time I touch it without thinking. Remember, sandpaper.

But I knew those things in general and while the specific details and sensations are no, they’re not completely unexpected. And none of them cause hysteria.

No, what caught me completely off guard and caused hysteria was the fact that it’s like freakin’ Super Velcro.

When I was getting out of the shower after cleaning up and I start to rub the towel across my head, it stuck. A full 20-G emergency stop. And I was howling.

Normally, even with short hair, there’s a decent coefficient of friction. (There’s a reason that shampoo uses “silky” as a selling point.) Rubbing your hand or worse, a cloth across your hair will generally be easy because the towel or cloth will glide across the hair smoothly.

With sandpaper-grade stubble and a big fluffy towel, it’s completely different and completely unexpected.

When I finally calmed down enough to finish drying off and I went to put on a T-shirt – same thing! Pulling it over my head was like dragging the shirt backwards through a paper shredder. And the hysteria resumed.

And then I tried to put on a sweatshirt, and it was even worse. That fluffy, warm interior lining of the sweatshirt practically glued itself to my head. Plus, it’s hard to pull it loose and pull it over my head when I’m laughing again.

There was a concern that when I lay down on my pillow and then sat up, the pillow might stick. It turns out not to be the case because the force there is normal to the surface of the pillow case, but when I try to simply turn my head while my stubbly scalp was in contact with the pillow – scrrraaaaaaaappppeeeeee!

So there you have it. You’ve heard it from me. If you ever shave your head, not only will it feel funny, look funny, get sunburned, take a lot of maintenance, leave you with little painful knicks all over, but you will have the equivalent of high-grade hooks all over your scalp and every piece of cloth out there will look like a sea of hooks.

I can’t judge if you’ll look good or bad like that, but you’ll be prepared. You can still laugh when you see yourself in the mirror. And that may make you hysterical as well.

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Filed under Health, Paul, Photography

When The Going Gets Weird…

Quarantine Day #26? Maybe? I should check and see when this started here…

Anyway, people online have been complaining about needing haircuts, including the subhuman cretins out “protesting” (by which I mean they’re following the right-wing cult leaders who lead them around by the short hairs) about “opening up” the states. Sorry, that got away from me…

Anyway, people online have been complaining about needing haircuts and I know the feeling. I normally keep my hair short and it was about time for a haircut when everything got shut down, so four weeks down the road I’m even shaggier. It’s not that I don’t like how I look – geez, have you people every actually met me? No, it’s that it gets to be a pain in the ass to take care of, it tickles, it just starts to bug me.

Fortunately, I don’t have a complex haircut requirement. Buzz cut, all over. I’ve said for years, if I could see the back to trim it up a little I wouldn’t even bother going to SuperCuts or Great Clips or Fantastic Sam’s or wherever it’s fastest and cheapest.

Time to test that theory.

The clippers came today, the instructions were scanned enough to verify that they could be ignored, the light was fading, and I went out into the back yard to cut my own hair!

Of course, I did it live on Facebook. Because a little bit of harmless insanity goes a long way these days.

It’s not for everyone, but I had fun.

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Filed under Castle Willett, CoronaVirus, Paul, Video

When I’m Sixty-Four

The Younger Daughter said that I was a Nintendo. I hadn’t thought of that. I just sort of was thinking about it terms of powers of two – I’m now 2^6 years old. What are the odds of getting to 2^7th? Less than stellar, even before this pandemic swept across the globe.

My brother was the first to point out the obvious. His email this evening was the first time that anyone had actually made the Beatles joke. Will they still need me? Will they still feed me?

Well, yes, to the latter. I just finished off a nice chunk of carrot cake in celebration and there was a lovely dinner earlier (at home, of course), so my status hasn’t changed there.

But it was during dinner that the phone started to light up. First it was the notices from the City alert system, telling us that the Mayor was putting a “shelter in place” order into effect at midnight. The banks, grocery stores, essential services (which is a pretty long list, really) all will stay open while exercising all of the social distancing that we’ve been practicing for the last couple of weeks. But shopping malls, other retail stores, offices, most other places are off limits and everyone should stay home for at least the next couple of weeks.

Then the Governor put an order into place for the entire state. California, which by itself would be the sixth biggest economy in the world, is on lockdown in an effort to prevent hundreds of thousands of deaths in the next month to eight weeks. And even if it “works,” we’ll probably still have thousands or tens of thousands of deaths here, with hundreds of thousands or even millions across the US.

Happy Birthday to me, right?!

Despite the low-level anxiety of this whole debacle (and the white-hot rage every time I start reading about the current resident of the White House and his cult) I’m feeling a bit numb to it all. Maybe I’ve just been exhausted by it all already.

Either way, we’ve done all we can to prepare, both at home and at work, and now we’ll just do the best we can. As will everyone else, for the most part.

Welcome to the next power of two! (Is there an actual term for that, the equivalent of “decade” or “century”?) I doubt it will be dull.

Now, go wash your hands! And stop touching your face!

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Filed under CoronaVirus, Los Angeles, Paul

Courage

We’re going to need it.

I won’t even bother repeating what I think about the current head of the US government and those around him – go to my Twitter or Facebook feed if you’re curious. Be prepared for massive amounts of profanity.

This is going to be a bad week.

I just deleted a whole big, long rant about economic crises and health crises and you can read the news yourself.

We’re going to need to keep moving forward, keep fighting, and keep watching out for one another.

This is going to be a bad week.

 

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Filed under Deep Thoughts, Paul