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Brighter Days Ahead

Physically and astronomically, at least. The political and social aspect of “brighter” are much more uncertain.

But erase us from the planet in an eyeblink and the rest of the biosphere in the Northern Hemisphere will merrily go onward toward June 21st with each day getting more hours of daylight.

The winter solstice is three weeks behind us, the Christmas lights are off and it’s a bit darker out there for that.

The moonlight waxes and wanes from night to night and that porch light can only do so much. Orion can guide our way, but we’ll have to bring our own inner light to our actions and attitudes.

Be kind. Be aware. Be responsible.

Get fully vaccinated. Wear a mask. Stay away from indoor crowds. Socially distance.

Be intelligent. Stay out of the cults that seem to be fracturing our society.

Be an adult but hold tight to a childlike sense of wonder.

Balance maintenance of a healthy skepticism with an open mind driven by facts.

Have fun.

Enjoy life.

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Bob & Weave

It was chaotic, it was over full, it was stressful. But at least there was a plan.

Then things changed. And now, it’s chaotic, it’s hectic, it’s stressful. But there’s no plan at the moment.

It will be fine. I’m not the one who is having issues. No one’s dying. At least, not today and not anyone I know. It’s just a bit…disorienting.

EGBOK! Everything’s Gonna Be OK! And it will.

But for the moment it’s one step at a time. Literally.

When I was a kid and we lived in the Kansas City area our house had a fairly steep in half of our back yard. There was a chain link fence at the bottom, to keep me and my siblings in I suspect, not to keep others out. My dad worked with computer drum drives on mainframes and would occasionally bring home one of the shipping containers they were transported in. They were cylindrical, heavy, thick cardboard, about four feet long, about three feet in diameter, a little bigger than a trash can.

We would cram three of us in there, sort of like tennis balls in a can, then roll it down that hill. It would pick up some pretty good speed, then slam into that fence. We would tumble out, always dizzy as hell, sometimes bruised, always giggling and laughing and trying to run back up the hill to do it again.

Today feels a bit like that, trying to run back up that hill while super dizzy and a bit bruised and banged up.

There’s less giggling and laughing, but I’m trying to keep my sense of humor about it all. So far, so good.

But I really would prefer not to do it again.

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Happy New Year 2022

HAPPY NEW YEAR! Welcome, 2022!

No resolutions – it’s a lousy way of making changes in your life that you want. If you need to eat better and drop ten (or forty) pounds, you’ll do it when it’s worth it to you enough to make the changes. If you want to start training for that marathon, you’ll do it when you want it enough to find a program and stick to it. If you want to start learning a foreign language or writing that novel or taking flying lessons or whatever else it is that you’re longing for, you’ll do it when you’re ready. Like, really, Really, REALLY ready. Not because someone else is telling you to.

Been there. Done that.

FYI and TMI, I dropped that weight years ago, wouldn’t hurt to drop a bit more. Ran those marathons, would sort of like to run a faster one. The point being that I speak from experience. Until your “Come to JESUS!” moment comes, you’re just raising your blood pressure.

You know what changes are needed. You probably know why you want to make the changes. If it’s because society tells you to, you’ll either realize that society’s right and you’ll do it, or you’ll realize that society is an asshole and you’ll tell it to take a long hike off of a short pier.

But that’s you.

I hope that in 2022 you get some clarity and find the strength and courage to do what you need to do. It’s hard. It’s worth it.

Remember the Litany Against Fear from “Dune.” This shit is scary. But you’re far stronger than you think you are.

Balance.

On the one hand, it is all up to you. It’s up to you to overcome the fear, get started, get back up when you get knocked down, and get to the finish line.

On the other hand, there is always help out there when you need it. We’re all just too scared to ask for it or take it when offered. More stupid fear. We think we’re alone, but we’re not.

Good luck. You can do it.

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New Year’s Eve 2021

Well, here we are, the last 90 minutes of 2021, at least on the West Coast.

Proving that 2021 is still trying to rack up points to win the award for Worst Year EVER, on top of COVID and all of its variants, and the GOP, and the brush fires, and the climate change, and on and on and on, we got the news that Betty White, beloved actress and comedienne supreme, died just seventeen days short of her 100th birthday.

This year is going to need to be strangled hard and have a stake driven through its heart.

On the other hand, as my SIL said, “What did she know about 2022 that we don’t?” Yeah…

Looking for some light in that tunnel, specifically some starlight and Christmas lights, I figured out tonight how to get my annual picture of Orion over the house with the house lit up with Christmas lights. It used to be easy with Orion high in the south and the house facing north:

From 2007. But that was the old house, and the “new” house (coming up on three years!) faces west. So I had to change the angle a bit, go stand in the middle of the street for a few minutes (what a stupid way to end up in ICU that would be on New Year’s Eve!), and end up with a huge freakin’ telephone pole in the way (nothing a chain saw wouldn’t solve).

A 1/2 second exposure. The urban forest with utility poles, streetlights, and wires everywhere.

A one-second exposure. It might not be art, but it is what we have.

To top it all off, I yoinked some muscle in my back this evening doing nothing more strenuous than sneezing. It’s a good thing that the alternative is worse, because this getting old crap is a pain in the ass.

With all of that said – Happy New Year to you all! I hope that you are all safe as 2021 ends and 2022 begins. I beg you all to continue to be careful, both with politics, our changing world, and especially the diseases threatening us. We still have a way to go and every indication is that the next few months (the “fifth wave”) will be brutal.

Be kind.

Be smart.

Take care of yourself.

Take care of others.

We’ll get through this together.

Happy New Year!

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Tonight’s 97% Lunar Eclipse

I’m posting this earlier than normal tonight since I want anyone who reads this (all 10 or 12 of you!) to have the information on tonight’s partial lunar eclipse. Go here to follow along with the schedule – we’re starting in a touch over three hours!

First of all, this is a lunar eclipse, not a solar eclipse. I’m sure you’ve all heard of the cautions about watching a solar eclipse ONLY with proper eye protection. (Who wants to go blind?) But this is a lunar eclipse, so just relax and watch it with ye olde naked eye! Get a lawn chair or blanket, kick back, stay warm, watch the show!

In short, the show starts with the penumbral eclipse as the Moon enters the “outside ring” of the Earth’s shadow. Not much to see, some dimming. That will start at 06:02 UTC (22:02 PST Thursday night on the US west coast, 01:02 EST Friday morning on the US east coast).

The real action starts when the Moon enters the umbra, the “inner ring” of the Earth’s shadow. You’ll start to see dimming of the Moon’s left-hand limb, growing over the next ninety or so minutes. That will start at 07:18 UTC (23:02 PST Thursday night on the US west coast, 02:02 EST Friday morning on the US east coast).

The maximum eclipse (97% covered) will be at 09:02 UTC (01:02 PST Friday morning on the US west coast, 04:02 EST Friday morning on the US east coast).

Then it all just runs backwards as the Moon starts to exit the umbra, which finishes at 10:47 UTC (02:47 PST Friday morning on the US west coast, 05:47 EST Friday morning on the US east coast).

This, of course, all assumes that it’s not cloudy.

If it’s cloudy, you can follow along live at a number of sites, such as these:

Finally, will it be clear, or at least clear-ish, here in Los Angeles tonight? Well…maybe. Right now it’s about the same as last night, when we had an ISS rising. Speaking of which, just seconds before a Zoom event that I had tonight, there was another really nice ISS pass. And the clouds?

Rising from the west! I wish that I had fewer overhead lines and aircraft, but that isn’t going to happen in Los Angeles. ISS coming from the horizon to straight overhead and then some with the “light bucket” lens, Venus setting near the bottom. And as it goes over we do a quick flip…

…to watch it disappear and fade near the northeastern horizon.

Still a few clouds.

So now, we’re 3:11:20 out from the start of the eclipse. Clear skies!!

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Suddenly, November!

Whoa, when did THAT happen?


I remember asking Santa (or his October equivalent) for some things in that 10th month of the year which from it’s name obviously used to be the 8th month of the year. (How trustworthy can a month like that be?)

How did that go?

  1. Not looking so good. The Chiefs had a very unconvincing win tonight over a lousy team, at Arrowhead, on Monday Night Football, to somehow get lucky enough to get back to 4-4. The next three weeks they’re playing teams that are way, WAY better than .500 and their remaining strength-of-schedule for the nine games left is the toughest in the league, as befits a team that’s been to the Super Bowl two years in a row. So we might roar to life and finish 13-4. Or we might keep playing like this and finish 4-13. It’s feeling a lot more like the latter than the former, but having suffered through plenty of 3-13 seasons, I’m going to continue to have faith, even if it gives me a heart attack. And it might.
  2. The Kings started off with an impressive win and then lost six in a row. Not playing too poorly, just poorly enough to lose. But then they’ve won two in a row, so hope springs eternal. It’s early. We’re in a lousy division. We won’t have to be great to be a playoff team, and if we’re just a bit better than great we can be at the top of the division in March. Again, hope exists, against my better judgement.
  3. A win! I actually haven’t seen another ad for one of these stupid wind sculptures that looks like something out of a “Saw” film. There are plenty of other stupid ads, and both FaceBook and Twitter have increased the number and frequency of ads in the last week or two, to the point where I’m seriously considering shutting down my accounts in both – but I haven’t seen this ad again!
  4. Some progress on the backlog of “back burner” tasks at work, but it’s a never ending battle. I think I’m at least crossing things off of the big whiteboard to-do list at least as fast as I’m putting new ones on, but it’s the Red Queen’s race.
  5. Ditto for the hangar. I’m desperate to get things wrapped up here and caught up since I’ve announced that I will *NOT* be running for the volunteer Finance Officer gig for the next two-year term. I’ll help whoever the new guy is, but I’m out. Eight years is enough.
  6. Progress – the strict “ultra low carb” diet from Hell for six weeks succeeded and my A1C numbers are now excellent! I also lost a few pounds, got my blood pressure down a few points so that they’ve backed off bugging me about that, so if I can stay good, maybe at least the medical computers and their human sycophants will stop bugging me for a few months. Now if I could just get my eyes to work again…
  7. THE JUNCOS ARE BACK! Not unusual to see nine or ten in the back yard daily. In addition, there seems to be another flock that have moved into the hedges across the street. I see them feeding in our front yard every night, a dozen or more. This is a spot of happiness!
  8. Didn’t get to sit and read one. Single. Day. In October. That sucks.

So, for November? More of the same. It would be nice to see “Dune” in IMAX, but I might have to settle for simply seeing it in a theater instead of on television. Or just in the living room. But I need to see it.

As for all of the other items, #1, #2, #4, #5, and #8 above? One step at a time. Just keep fighting.

Yeah…

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If All Of Those Deadlines Got Met…

…then why am I even busier NOW?

Insert many, many head-exploding emojis here…

You know those “oh, shit, look at the time!” posts?

This is a classic.

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No Context For You – September 01

Welcome to September – for values of “welcome” which start with “Oh, GOD, is it ever going to get better again?” and go all the way to “JHFC, they’re doing WHAT in Texas now?”

Where every day feels like this in an endless loop:

Screaming is optional.

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Sirens

“Payroll night” (there’s a pattern here which is obvious to me, but it occurs to me that others might notice it) so it’s late and there’s not much time to post, or think. Not that the two are necessarily related…

So all I’ve got is a question, probably for my British friends, but I’ll leave the comments open for all.

There’s a fair amount of BritBox television that gets watched, often their police procedurals, and I notice that a lot of the police cars shown have the “American” brand siren, a long frequency, maybe 10-15 seconds per cycle. But I always associated British police sirens with a much faster frequency with just two notes, about a second or less per cycle. (I know, that description sucks, but I don’t have time to go find audio copies of the sounds and embed them.)

Are both used? Is it regional? Is there some other distinction? Are the faster, sing-songy sirens for ambulances and not police cars or something else like that?

Just curious. And busy. And short on time. But mainly curious.

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No Context For You – March 21st

It’s not food.

Well, at least I’m pretty sure that it’s not food.

Speaking of food (smooth segue, amIright?), on the way home from the weekly grocery shopping trip this morning, a GREAT song came on my favorite SiriusXM channel. (Looking up the video for the link makes me pretty sure that I’ve linked to it in the past. That’s okay – it’s a really good song!) I found out that it sounds really, really good on the Volvo’s premium sound system, especially turned up to eleven. (Which makes me think that I’ve written about a very similar circumstance in the past. This might be a serious deja vu thing going on.)

The sourpuss woman who was stopped at the light next to me probably would disagree (hey, I didn’t have the top down, didn’t have the windows open, it wasn’t that bad!) but just gave her a grin, a thumbs up, and mentally composed a series of physiologically improbably suggestions for her.

Her loss for not headbanging along with the tunes. There was unbridled joy, right there for the taking. If she had some need to turn her back on it and scowl at me… Via con Dios!

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