Category Archives: Video

Vote!

Early again today with a couple of quick notes and one critically important message for the day:

    1. Critically important message for the day – if you’re in the US and eligible,

      VOTE!

    2. For last night’s total lunar eclipse, the last one until 2025, as expected, I saw exactly diddly squat.
    3. In case you haven’t heard, there’s an incredibly important election in the US today, so make sure you vote if you’re eligible!
    4. About an hour before last night’s total lunar eclipse started there were huge breaks in the clouds and the extremely bright full moon was lovely. You can see Jupiter just above the tree in the lower left.
    5. In many US states, California included, you can sign up and register to vote on the day of the election, so not being registered isn’t an excuse. If you’re in one of those states and you can do this, then vote!
    6. We didn’t win the $2.04B lottery last night, even though they’re reporting that the ticket was sold in LA County. There’s something like ten million plus folks in LA County and about 99% of them bought tickets. Someone’s a megabazillionaire today, but not on our block.
    7. In most states (I’m not an expert, but it’s what I keep seeing repeated) if you’re in line when the polls close, stay there and they have to keep the polls open until everyone votes. So get in line and stand your ground to vote!
    8. This morning, we’re getting some much needed rain. It’s only an inch or so, but given the multi-year drought we’re in, that’s a good thing.
    9. Finally, even if it’s raining or snowing where you are, even if the lines are long (which is actually a good thing!), even if it’s inconvenient, even if it means you’re going to miss some TV show or sportsball event, even if you’re really tired – none of those are legitimate excuses. For probably the most critical threat to our government since the Civil War over 160 years ago, we all need to go out and vote. Bury the fascists and their attempts to drag us back to the 1850’s with an overwhelming vote for democracy, personal rights, and human decency.
    10. With this list format, pictures, and video, the formatting on this is going to be bizarre – whatever. You know what’s important?

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Filed under Astronomy, Photography, Politics, Video, Weather

Vandenberg Video

This was a shot in the dark. There were so many unknowns. Where would the rocket be rising over the mountains? How loud would it be? How fast would it move? How big would it be? Which direction would it be going?

I had some good guesses for some of those. If you look at the video, my eyeballing of the map and directions said “over that white barn with the brown roof out there.” It actually came up directly over that telephone pole to the left of the white barn.

I had my iPhone set as wide as possible in order to increase the odds of catching the rocket – but that also means that when it did, the rocket was just a dot. If I had been actively controlling the video recording, I could have done much better, zoomed in, etc. Next time.

It was windy out there. You’ll hear a LOT of wind noise, and I don’t know if anyone makes a wind sock to slip over the bottom (i.e., the microphone end) of an iPhone 13. Probably should Google that, they probably do. Or I should probably make one, patent it, and get rich.

Lessons learned.

If you can zoom in to see portions of the video, do so. You can actually see the rocket pretty well since this is a high-definition video. I’ve also got some reasonably fancy video software that I’ve never used that says it can do that and give me a video output of that – we’ll see how my learning curve goes. But not tonight.

Through the wind noise, in the background you can hear the launch comms (the guys in the foreground had a radio) and you’ll hear “Engine start,” then “Liftoff,” then at 0:24 you’ll hear people say “There it is!”

At about 0:37 you can start to see the rocket as a glint, heading straight up from that telephone pole toward the sun, and at about 0:47 you start to hear the roar of the engines.

At about 1:18 you see a vapor condensation trail start to appear just to the right of the sun and you can really start to hear the “ripping” sound from the engines.

At 1:48 the vapor trail stops but you can still see the dot of light from the engines as the rocket starts to pitch over to the left, headed south over the Pacific Ocean.

I gave the camera a nudge to the left to keep tracking it at about 2:00, and you can follow that dot all the way to the left edge of the frame, about the time you hear a helicopter go by at 2:39.

The vapor trail starts to drift, down at the bottom you see a cloud of exhaust start to rise from the pad, over the hill, and there’s a ton of wind noise as the video wraps up.

A lot of room for improvement, but it doesn’t suck for a shot in the dark.

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Filed under Space, Video

Another Night Launch Out Of Vandenberg

Perhaps not quite as spectacular as a launch just after sunset, when the sky is almost dark but the Sun’s still just over the horizon, illuminating the cloud of gas at stage separation to make a giant “space squid” in the sky. Perhaps. But far easier to see than a day launch, where with binoculars you might see a bright dot for five seconds, if you’re lucky.

About 45-50 seconds after launch something like 100 miles northwest of here, the rocket climbs high enough to be seen above the mountains to our west. The rocket’s tail is orange and grows longer as the rocket climbs and the atmosphere gets thinner. It also turns more blue and white, finally blinking out as the first stage shuts down and separates from the second stage.

Visually I could see the rocket’s second stage firing and pushing the payload on to orbit for another two minutes or so. With binoculars in the past I’ve seen it for another two or three minutes, all the way until it disappears over the horizon to the south. Tonight, with just my Mark I eyeballs, I wasn’t quite that lucky.

Quite the show! I can’t wait to see a launch much more up close and personal.

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Filed under Space, Video

A Conversation With StumpTail

StumpTail apparently drew duty guarding the front porch. I didn’t want to distract or disturb him, but didn’t want to be rude either, so we exchanged a few pleasantries:

Some might say that StumpTail is too small to serve as a proper guard lizard. Oh, ye of little faith! Have we seen one single Mongol horde or legion of Uruk-hai come through that door today? NO!

I say the results speak for themselves. All praise and honor to StumpTail!

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Filed under Critters, Video

Video From The Back Forty

There were critters about, despite the heat!

This guy wasn’t so much scared as he was annoyed. He had been in a nice, sunny spot out on the back wall at the lip of the hill and when I had the gall to walk by in my own yard, he felt compelled to hop down, jump up onto the sidewalk, and glare at me. And I do mean “hop” and “jump” since he did both. I’m not sure I’ve seen other lizards do that, usually they just run and skitter and slink and scramble. But this guy I’ve seen jump several times, including twice today. He’s not much on height, so I’m not worried about him going for my throat, but he’s pretty good on distance.

These were the surprise of the day. They’re about 40% to 50% the size of the normal mourning doves, so I’m guessing their fledgelings. They didn’t fly away or even try to fly, but they also didn’t seem too upset about me being just a couple of feet away. I guess they missed that “OH GOD RUN FROM THE GIANT HUMANS!” lesson. I think that the nest is low to the ground in the hedges behind them that separate the yards, so I’m not surprised to see them here. I just hope one of the neighborhood feral cats or a hawk doesn’t see them as well.

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Filed under Birds, Critters, Video

A Crow Pontificates On The State Of The World

Same, crow, same!

I wish I had the option of flying away when no one paid attention to me.

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Filed under Birds, Video

Fine Feathered Friends – May 12th

Well, “feathered-ish” at least. Perhaps “potentailly feathered.”

We’re at about the time when I would be expecting Lucy & Ricky’s eggs to be hatching – but there are a lot of variables. We don’t know exactly when they were laid, the gestation period is 12 to 16 days, etc. But soon. Very soon.

One thing I would note is that I’ve seen Ricky hanging around the nest more than usual and twice it looked like he was feeding Lucy. The article I read on finch gestation said that for a few days just before hatching and the first week or so after hatching the female will sit on the next constantly wit the male feeding her. So, maybe it’s a sign?

Also this evening we got a huge racket going on out in the trees out back. (See yesterday for a picture of the trees.) The crows were sounding the alarm, and the red-shouldered hawk pair that live down in the canyon below us were up shrieking in our trees.

Seeing and hearing the two of them up close (maybe 20-25 feet away) didn’t suck.

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Filed under Birds, Critters, Photography, Video

Texans!

Unusual for a Friday, but the Condors were out doing maneuvers and formation flying practice near our house this afternoon.

As is usual when they’re near, the blaaaaaaaaaaaaat of four big, old, radial engines makes a very loud and distinctive sound, so I yell, “TEXANS!” and run outside to watch. (The planes that the Condors fly are Texans, also known as SNJ’s, or Harvards if they were of British manufacture – all the same type of plane, a WWII trainer.)

Today I didn’t have time to grab the good camera, but I always have my phone, so…


One note about last night’s post – the uncommon bird that was hanging out was a White Crowned Sparrow. It was pointed out that someone (i.e, ME) somehow forgot to include that key fact.

Oops! Story of my life…

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Filed under Flying, Photography, Video

Reprise From Sting

One of my all time favorites from Sting, I do truly love this song:

And now he’s got a live version for the people of Ukraine. As he says, he hasn’t played this very much recently because he didn’t think that it would be relevant again.

Cry your way through either, or both.

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Filed under Moral Outrage, Music, Video

What Does A Hummingbird Sound Like?

I don’t know about all of them, but the local male Anna’s Hummingbird sounds like this:

I tried to catch it once before, with minimal success, but tonight the little bastard (that’s actually what I call him, he’s VERY territorial and has chased off most of the other hummingbirds) was right outside the back door and going like crazy. I never did quite see him in the video – turns out he’s in those vines along the post on the left hand side.

I sort of hate what YouTube does to the audio, overly emphasizing the base and wiping out the higher frequencies where the hummingbird’s clicking away. But to me he sounds a bit like the mouse click on my old Logitech trackball, a really rapid staccato, like you were scrolling one page at a time, really fast, through a really long document.

But I might have just been sitting at the computer for way, way too many hours.

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Filed under Birds, Critters, Video