Category Archives: Politics

Sunset – October 10th

It’s been a while since we’ve had a nice pink, orange, and purple sunset. Lots of them without a cloud in the sky, lots more after with grey, brown, and orange clouds of smoke, and a few with just grey clouds. But tonight was the first that I’ve seen in a while where looking out through the front door glass to the west it had that wonderful, special, colorful glow.

On another note and related to absolutely nothing, why is it that we don’t have “southeastern” food or culture or style or furniture or architecture? This stunning revelation (almost certainly a sign of early onset brain damage – do doubt the rot in my right rotator cuff has now spread up into my cranium) was brought as I was fixing a “southwestern chicken salad” for dinner, and I thought about all of those other things with “southwestern” attached. I’m sure most would recognize salads with corn & beans, stylized roadrunners and Kokopelli figures, Santa Fe-like adobe houses filled with turquoise furniture, all as being “southwest” in some way.

And “northwest” is there in our culture. Seattle, rain, Pearl Jam + Foo Fighters + Nirvana + Heart, Mt. Rainier, Mt. Saint Helens, flying fish in Pike Place Market, fat bears, salmon.

Let’s not forget “northeast!” Yankees, Vermonters, Mainiacs, Live Free or Die, clam chowder, maple syrup, “paaaaking yah caaah by the maahket,” the Duck of Justice

But “southeast?” Nada. Zip. Zilch. Zero.

It’s all the “south.” Let’s get real, there are states in the southeast corner of the United States – Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, the Carolinas. But they’re all “south,” not “southeast.”

Why is that?

Remember when we used to worry about things like that instead of whether key top government officials were trying to execute a coup d’etat or allow a pandemic to kill a half million of us or both?

Good times!

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Filed under Farce, Photography, Politics

Car Battery

Hissy wouldn’t start up on Tuesday, just made those clicky noises. It wasn’t clear that there was any cause for it, no lights left on or anything else to drain it overnight. It just was about 99% dead.

It’s almost five years since we bought her, so it’s not that much of a surprise. And it was a pleasure to see how easy it was to get to the battery, remove it , and replace it. On my 20+ year old minivan you have to disassemble half the engine compartment to get at the battery to begin with. Honda made it easy.

That’s the good news.

But what it got me thinking about was the fact that we didn’t have any warning. In fact, Hissy just went in for her annual work a month ago and they did their normal “1,823-point courtesy check-up” to make sure everything was hunky dory (and find things that weren’t so they could charge us to fix them) and this didn’t get flagged. In addition, today after fixing that one of the wiper blades started to shred and fall apart. Shouldn’t that have been found in an all-points inspection as well?

Just to be clear, I don’t bring this up as an indictment of the dealer’s service department. They’ve done real well by us recently and I’m not unhappy. But I do see a parallel with this and what’s going on with the world, or at least how I’m perceiving it. (Or maybe my brain is doing pattern matching and finding coincidences where there really aren’t any.)

But this whole situation where you can know that there’s a potential issue with A, B, and C and you do the regular maintenance and you check to make sure you’re good – and all of a sudden, out of nowhere, shit goes sideways anyway? I get it, I’m not an idiot, I understand that we’re not eliminating problems, just lowering the odds, but jeeze Louise, it’s annoying!

And “the world” right now, where we’re already leaking oil like a sieve, have two flat tires, the engine’s making some awful squealing noises, the radio won’t play anything other than elevator music, the windows won’t roll down or up, and the air conditioning is just blowing hotter and hotter air? If we’re already in that condition, how fast can the next big breakdown be and just how bad can the consequences be?

Seriously, might be time for a major tune-up and oil change. And maybe a whole new pit crew and set of mechanics!

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Filed under Deep Thoughts, Politics

Never A Team Of Psychiatrists Around When You Need One

“You’re seeing a whole team of psychiatrists, aren’t you?”

Watching one of the all-time greatest movies while simultaneously watching psychotic folks with nuclear codes on mania inducing steroids Tweet nonsense, and that line comes up.

If only.

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Filed under Freakin' Idiots!, Movies, Politics

With A Little Help From My Friends – October 03

Thanks to suggestions from fellow writers & bloggers Wendy and Jemima, I think I’ve regained control of my WordPress editor. I’m grateful for their help – if the WordPress customer support had been 1% as useful I probably wouldn’t be still sticking pins in their mental voodoo dolls.

Of course, with everything (by which I mean EVERYTHING) going on along with all of the usual everythings, I’m too drained to do much tonight.

But I did get this:

As has been famously said recently, “I’m not throwin’ away my shot!” One vote might be the equivalent of a single drop of water – hundreds of millions of them will be a tsunami.

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Filed under Politics, Writing

My Circus, My Monkeys

There’s an old Polish proverb that goes, “Not my circus, not my monkeys!”

I wanted to think that today, between the deadlines and work piling up and then tonight’s “Presidential” “debate.” (Yeah, read the Twitter feed on the right if you’re still in the dark about where I stand on that Charlie Foxtrot situation. This is the sorta clean, I’m-trying-by-best-to-keep-it-mostly-family-friendly site – I place no such limitations on my Twitter feed and I’m pretty much on my last nerve there about 24/7/365.)

But in verifying the origin and exact wording of that circus/monkeys thing I got a half-dozen ads for coffee mugs that say, “That awful moment when you realize that this is your circus and those are your monkeys!”

First of all, I probably need one of those mugs.

Secondly, it’s true. Being one of the grown-ups in the room, with a sense of responsibility along with certain PTSD issues about quitting and giving up, this really *IS* my circus and those really *ARE* my monkeys.


Well, that probably explains the trouble sleeping and the stomach pains…

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Filed under Disasters, Politics

Roses Vs 121°

It hasn’t been that bad here recently – upper 80’s, low 90’s. A dry, SMOKY heat, since we’re still getting a lot of it from the local fires, including the Bobcat fire which is threatening the world-class, historic astronomical observatories on Mount Wilson. As of last night, the flames were within 500 feet of the observatory grounds. You thought that I was worried and upset about Lick Observatory near San Jose when it was threatened a month ago? This one REALLY has me worried.

But a couple weeks ago, when it was 121° a couple miles from here and 117° here, I was out in the noonday sun (like an idiot, because… well, I’m an idiot) and noticed a couple of roses that had tried to bloom in the previous couple of days.

They were losing the fight.

As pretty much are California, Oregon, and Washington at the moment.

Good thing that we’ve got such a proactive, supportive, aggressive Federal assistance response going on to help us out! We can count on the White House and Congress!

(And I’ll leave it at that, leave this site relatively family friendly, and go back to Twitter to see what I can say about the GOP and President that might get me put into Twitter jail again.)

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Filed under Flowers, Photography, Politics

Remember Being Bored?

Remember when every day was a whole lot like every other day and there was a serious boredom factor involved and we wished for a little excitement?

Yeah, about that.

Let’s get back to a little more boredom, a little less stress, a little bit more routine, a little bit more predictability.

Is that too much to ask?

The critters are doing their part. Look out in the back yard – the lizards are lounging, the mockingbirds are mocking (it’s right there in their job description!), the finches are finching, the bunnies are bunnying…

How about we humans get with the program? Before the powers that be just reboot the planet by sending in that 900 gigaton iron ore meteor at .99C to solve the problem once and for all.

I know that the “Giant Meteor 2020!” bumper sticker is funny, but can I request “Boredom/Ennui 2020” as the ticket I would fully support?

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Filed under Deep Thoughts, Politics

No Context For You – June 09th

In the coverage of the current societal situation in the US I’ve seen any number of people suggesting that certain politicians need to be “shot into the sun.” This was also something that was mentioned a number of times in the first four seasons of “The Expanse” which we’ve just binged over the last few weekends. (Very good show, we enjoyed it a lot, FWIW.)

While there is a certain visual image that brings joy to the heart of all good and decent people when they fantasize about the Mango Mussolini and his cult being dropped into the corona to be fricasseed and flambeed in 17,000,000° nuclear fire, the simple fact of physics is that it’s hard to shoot people into the sun!

It might be counter intuitive – we think of the sun as being at the bottom of a gravity well and all we have to do is let got of them, right? Well… wrong. The Earth doesn’t drop into the sun because we’re in orbit, and moving at about 67,000 mph to keep us here. So to “drop” into the sun you need to lose all of that energy and slow down to about 0 mph relative to the sun. That’s a delta-v (change in velocity) of about 29.95 km/sec.

On the other hand, if you want to send something (or someone) on a trip out of the solar system to wander aimlessly through the galaxy with almost zero chance of ever hitting anything or even coming near anything before the heat death of the universe, you only need about 42.1 km/sec. Since the Earth is already going at almost 30 km/sec, you only need a delta-v of about 12.1 km/sec. That’s well less than half of what it takes in rocket fuel to drop someone into the sun.

You can launch TWO politicians on a slow boat toward Alpha Centauri -ish for the same delta-v as you would use to launch one politician into the sun, and still have enough delta-V left over to go to the Moon!

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Filed under Astronomy, Photography, Politics


So much frustration right now. *waves vaguely at everything*

There are little things that make me think that the gremlins are just rubbing it in.

For example…

I’ve mentioned that I had to get a new “normal” lens for my Canon Rebel XT. The original lens is flaky, at the wide end of the zoom it won’t trigger, just locks up the camera mechanism. The new lens I got is much more new and faster and wonderful, but might be too new and wonderful for the old camera body. It auto-focuses like a dream, but for manual focus like I use all the time in astrophotography it’s just been a nightmare.

I thought that I had figured it out, right up until I didn’t.

One trick from when I had “figured it out” was to go out a few minutes early and take a test picture which I could review on the spot in the camera. And I got this. Recognize the Big Dipper? Maybe? Kinda? Yeah, if you say so…

Ten frantic minutes trying my new “trick” over and over and over – same results. Finally it’s time for the ISS and Dragon to rise, so set up one more time and take my chances.

It looked amazing. I’ve got that memory.

Do you see that streak in the bigger, right-hand oval? That’s the ISS. See that dimmer streak in the smaller, left-hand oval? That’s the Dragon spacecraft.

It’s more obvious in a blink comparison with the images before and after this one. (New thought, stand by – can I do that in Photoshop?)

(thirty minutes later)

YES! I can. (Remember this for a minute, I’ll be back to this in a minute.)

Here’s a three frame animation with a long pause on the third frame so you can see the looping action. Dragon shows up just to the right of the telephone pole in the middle frame.

Frustrated by this failure on Saturday night, on Sunday I sat down with the camera to figure out just WTAF is going on with this new, fancy, somewhat expensive lens that should be perfect but instead makes me want to scream.

And I figured it out.

Short version – the lens is sort of “fly by wire” in that the focusing ring doesn’t move the lens elements, so it doesn’t have a mechanical hard stop when focusing in or out. Instead the lens simply detects motion on the focusing ring and makes the mechanical adjustments to move the lens elements based on that input. BUT, and here’s the key, since this is being run off of the camera battery, in order to avoid draining the battery at an extreme rate (apparently) it shuts itself off after about five seconds. If you don’t know this (I didn’t) you can spin that focusing ring until the heat death of the universe and it’s not going to change a thing. If you do know this (I do now!) you can flick the power off and then right back on to “wake up” the lens, focus away, and then wait for it to “go back to sleep” after about five seconds.

So I was proud of my stubborn ass self. I had figured it out! REALLY really this time! Now to test it!

There was a pretty good ISS pass on Sunday! And it was cloudy.

So try it on Monday, an even better pass! And it was cloudy.

A great pass tonight! And…

Completely socked in.

As I said, the gremlins are just screwing with me because they can at this point.

Which was my original point when I started writing this an hour ago. But then my brain said, “Wait, that looks better in a blink comparison type of GIF, can I make one of those?” And I didn’t have a clue but I tried and asked the question and fought through some so-so tutorials and finally got close enough to just figure it out on my own before I fiddled with it a bit to make it better and when all was said and done, not only did I have a tiny little thing that I created myself and shared with all of you, but that made the existential angst-ish blanket of frustration lift just a little bit.

And that helped.

It also helped that this popped up on my news alerts about five minutes ago:

Change is possible. That’s one absolutely evil, ignorant, guanopsychotic, complete waste of protoplasm down, a few hundred more to go.

It won’t be tomorrow. It won’t be completely done in November or January. It’s going to take the rest of our lives, and maybe our children’s lives and grandchildren’s lives.

But we’ll get there.

One at a time.


Filed under Astronomy, Photography, Politics, Space

Never Accept This As Normal

I fear that if I start ranting there won’t be any stopping, and there will so, so many obscenities used. I want this site to be a happy, goofy, thoughtful, occasionally joyous place. There are those who are trying to turn our society into a festering cistern of hatred and chaos, because that’s all they know. We can’t let that happen. So I’ll not start that rant. At least, not tonight.

But never, NEVER believe that my deferral from that rant in this forum in any way is a signal of acceptance or agreement. Just go look at my Twitter feed.

Never accept anything that’s happening now or what I fear might be to come as normal. NEVER. Fight it, always.

And remember to smell the flowers.

You might be seeing a lot of them in the weeks to come. I’m finding less and less to say that isn’t existential screaming.

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Filed under Flowers, Photography, Politics