Sunday, 27 August 2006

Now It's Much More Exclusive to be In Club Planet!


OK! Not only did the ludicrous idea of allowing all the asteroid riff-raff in end, they even went the step in the right direction and decreed Pluto to be an asteroid itself. Pluto and Charon seem to have a friendly relationship and that works well for them, but let's face it, what planet has a moon its size and that also happens to be a rough asteroid? So we went, in a brief span of time, from nine planets to 12 planets to 53 (!) planets and now we are holding at eight. I'm sure Percival Lowell is spinning in his grave to know that Pluto (not named for the Disney dog, for the love of little apples) is no longer a planet and has been dissed, so to speak!

Well, really.

You have the Solar System. See the above image. If you click on it, you'll get the blown up version, which will make the terrestrial planets visible. This image is meant to show scale and I think we all know that when it comes to scale, Jupiter is the big cheese. No mystery there! This is an older image, so there is a Pluto in there.

Mercury is your first terrestrial planet and looks a lot like the moon - our moon, not someone else's. It is pocked with old craters, but let's face it - it is close enough to the sun to be bombarded by all the junk that something the size of the yellow G-type star would suck into it. It has a very short sidereal year - 59 days (not 88 as previously thought) and zing! It's time to ring in the new year again! The confusing part is that its sidereal day is 176 days long... that is one LONG day for a planet so close to the sun. Just one of those freaky things, I guess. Mercury is not easily visible without a telescope and some kind of guide to give you optimal viewing times and coordinates. And don't be stupid - you absolutely need a solar filter to try to view Mercury!

Our next stop in the pantheon of solar system live-ins is Venus. While Venus looks pretty enough from space, don't let that lethal atmosphere fool you. It is as harsh as any terrestrial planet could be and looks more like the jovian planets than it does the terrestrial ones. (A siderial year is one measured by the placement of a specific star in the sky.) While it has a siderial year of a 224.7 days, it's rotational period (siderial day) is much slower than that of Mercury, one day being -243 of our days! Wondering about the negative? It's not a typo - Venus rotates retrograde, so it has a western sunrise and an eastern sunset. How strange is that? On 8 June 2004, Venus passed directly between the Earth and the Sun, appearing as a large black dot travelling across the Sun's disk. This event is known as a "transit of Venus" and is very rare: the last one was in 1882, the next one is in June of 2012 but after than you'll have to wait until 2117.

You've been to earth - or Terra - and while you may not have seen much of it, you know the basics - it is in the right place to have water, enough of a breathable atmosphere to support life and while temperatures can be drastic, we still manage to live on most of the planet. We have a generously sized moon, too, just known as the Moon - no Greek or Roman names for this one. Interstingly, the moon has a siderial rotation length of 27.321661 days - one Terran month, for the most part. Its sidereal year? The same.

Mars we all know. It is comparible to Terra in size, shape, axial tilt, length of day 24.6 hours instead of 23.934 hous for us. Its siderial year is 686.93, nearly twice the length of our year. It has a ruddy look to it from the amount of iron in its soil. There seems to be no doubt of the existence of water on Mars, but it has too weak a gravitational pull to really hold onto a good viable atmosphere. Mars does have two moons, Phobos and Deimos, but having seen images of them, they clearly appear to be asteroids that are amenable to following Mars around rather than staying put in the huge asteroid belt separating Mars and Jupiter or our terrestrial planets from our jovian planets.

Speaking of that asteroid belt, it is known as the Main Belt and has over 90,000 numbered asteroids in it. So the next time you are scratching your head over those two not-so-moon-like moons that Mars has, this is undoubtedly their origin! The Main Belt does not need a lot of attention, other than to point out its placement and number of known bits and pieces.

Onto the fun stuff, the four jovian planets, separated from us Terretrial planets in so many, many ways!

Jupiter is no small creature. And all that bulk definitely attracts some of the smaller moons to crowd around it. At this time, Jupiter is very busy with its brood of 63 moons! I know of about 12 - 15 but not 63. I suspect when you are that size, with that kind of gravitational pull, you are getting everyone! Jupiter has a siderial day of 9.925 Earth hours - wow, that is one fast-moving day! However, its siderial year is 11.8865 of our years. It probably could have been faster, but may be held up by its mass... Where we have an orbital inclination of 23.5 degrees and Mars is our sister planet with an inclination of 25.2 degrees, Jupiter has hardly any axial tilt - just 3 degrees! Pretty short. Then again, I can't quite see spring, summer, autumn and winter there, can you?

And here is a list of Jupiter's many, many satellites... (just the named ones...)

1. Metis
2. Adrastea
3. Amalthea
4. Thebe
5. Io
6. Europa
7. Ganymede
8. Callisto
9. Themisto
10. Leda
11. Himalia
12. Lysithea
13. Elara
14. Iocaste
15. Praxidike
17. Harpalyke
18. Ananke
19. Isonoe
20. Erinome
21. Taygete
22. Chaldene
23. Carme
24. Pasiphae
26. Kalyke
27. Megaclite
28. Sinope
29. Callirrhoe
30. Euporie
31. Kale
32. Orthosie
33. Thyone
34. Euanthe
35. Hermippe
36. Pasithee
37. Eurydome
38. Aitne
39. Sponde
40. Autonoe

Yikes. Again, those are just the named ones...!

There is Saturn, huge in its orbit but the first to be noticed by astronomer Galilieo as having "ears". Its sidereal day is about 10.656 hours; but its sidereal year is 29.4 years. Wow, that is a long time. The bigget attraction, of course, are the rings, of which we have the A through F belts. The largst gap between them is the Cassini Division. Pretty cool, eh? The fun part is postulating how the rings got there... was it a freak accident? A moon that somehow bit the dust and ended too pulverized to be a satellite but not so much that it didn't leave a really obvious trail around its home planet. Saturn is not lacking for moons. It has a total of 56 moons, of which 35 are named:

1. Albiorix
2. Atlas
3. Calypso
4. Daphnis
5. Dione
6. Enceladus
7. Epimetheus
8. Erriapo
9. Helene
10. Hyperion
11. Iapetus
12. Ijiraq
13. Janus
14. Kiviuq
15. Mimas
16. Methone
17. Mundilfari
18. Paaliaq
19. Narvi
20. Pan
21. Pallene
22. Pandora
23. Phoebe
24. Polydeuces
25. Prometheus
26. Rhea
27. Siarnaq
28. Skathi
29. Suttungr
30. Tarvos
31. Telesto
32. Tethys
33. Thrymr
34. Titan
35. Ymir

That is an insane amount of moons to have orbiting one planet, no matter how generously sized that planet may be! I suspect that as more moons (or small trapped objects encircling Saturn) come to the fore, more got names outside of the usual Roman/Greek pantheon. Prometheus, Rhea, Titan, those all look quite familiar and known but when I look at names like Sianaq, Suttungr and Paaliaq, I find myself thinking that those names have more Middle Eastern flavour...

Well, the best is yet to come!

The best will always be Uranus, (pronounced YOOR un us), a gorgeous blue ball with very faint rings of its own. Once considered one of the blander-looking planets, Uranus has been revealed as a dynamic world with some of the brightest clouds in the outer solar system and 11 rings. The first planet found with the aid of a telescope, Uranus was discovered in 1781 by astronomer William Herschel. The seventh planet from the Sun is so distant that it takes 84 years to complete one orbit. Fortunately its siderial day is considerably shorter at -17.54 hours. Yes, Uranus' rotation is retrograde.

Uranus is even more unusual in that its axial tilt or equatorial inclination is 97.86 degrees - which basically means that it has east and west polar regions and the sun rises in the north and sets in the south - I think. That seems very odd. Not one of the other celestail bodies that comprise our solar system have such a different approach to things like Uranus does!

Uranus also keeps a fair amount of moons, as seen below.


1. Cordelia
2. Ophelia
3. Bianca
4. Cressida
5. Desdemona
6. Juliet
7. Portia
8. Rosalind
9. Mab
10. Belinda
11. Perdita
12. Puck
13. Cupid
14. Miranda
15. Francisco
16. Ariel
17. Umbriel
18. Titania
19. Oberon
20. Caliban
21. Stephano
22. Trinculo
23. Sycorax
24. Margaret
25. Prospero
26. Setebos
27. Ferdinand

Not as out of hand as the other two gas giants, Uranus still has its shares of moons. Those names are all fairly obvious although how Juliet snuck in without Remeo or any of the others from Romeo & Juliet is a mystery to me... Maybe there is a Juliet in A Midsummer's Night Dream...

And then there is, finally, the last planet in our very exclusive group: Neptune. The eighth planet from the Sun, Neptune was the first planet located through mathematical predictions rather than through regular observations of the sky. (Galileo had recorded it as a fixed star during observations with his small telescope in 1612 and 1613.) When Uranus didn't travel exactly as astronomers expected it to, a French mathematician proposed the position and mass of another as yet unknown planet that could cause the observed changes to Uranus' orbit. After being ignored by French astronomers, Le Verrier sent his predictions to Johann Gottfried Galle at the Berlin Observatory, who found Neptune on his first night of searching in 1846. Seventeen days later, its largest moon, Triton, was also discovered. Nearly 4.5 billion kilometers (2.8 billion miles) from the Sun, Neptune orbits the Sun once every 165 years. It is invisible to the naked eye because of its extreme distance from Earth. Interestingly, due to Pluto's unusual elliptical orbit, Neptune is actually the farthest planet from the Sun for a 20-year period out of every 248 Earth years.

Neptune, like its brethren, is a fast bugger on the sidereal day level, taking a zippy 16.11 hours to complete one rotation! But the length of its year is a bit on the long side - longer than our life spans! Its equatorial inclination sounds a lot more like us: 29.58 degrees, although I still can't imagine its seasonal changes being anything like ours.

There are visitors that come on a regular basis to visit, such as a plethora of comets (the most well-known being Halley's Comet who pops in about once every 76 years. (I saw Halley's Comet through the telescope on Garrett Mountain... good thing, otherwise there'd have been nothing to see! I had a much better time viewing Hale-Bopp, which wizzed through over the course of many days in the spring and the winter as it made its slingshot arouns the sun. It was delightfully visible to the naked eye, and more amazing through the lowest setting on my telescope!
We also have the Oort cloud and the Kuiper Belt as part of our solar system, but I am happy to say that Pluto, while a part of our solar system and certainly welcome to stay, is now what it always was: an asteroid!

Almost a Year of Blogging!

That's me, a year ago.

When you consider how slim some months were (October 2005 had one posting for the whole month; December had three), I have really done a lot of postings. True, there were a lot of repeat things in there, such as my overabundance of hormones and the hospital thing with my mother and of course there is a lot about the NYRF. That is eight weekends of a lot of excitement, you know - expecially after the depressing stuff!


I did finally see George this weekend, too, but it was just for a very short while! Disappointing, really. I'm sure I will see him again, before the Faire is over.


But a year! That is a year of many, many changes! When I began this blog, I was working at Berlex Labs in Wayne on a three-week assignment, covering for a woman on her holiday. I was working the Faire but for full hours and it was more of my main income for that season - scary, eh? And I was riding with the Thursday night crew who at that time consisted of me, Bob Heinzerling, Mary Miller and Rob Greenberg (LeRoy Rodriguez left it in February of 2005). I had never heard of my current place of employment, worried all the time about where I'd find my next job, and wasn't terribly happy in general. And I weighed 35lbs (about 19kg) more.


So on 30 August I posted my first "article" ever on my brandy-new blog and there started a beautiful relationship! Not to mention the ride along the way of meeting new people through (and not through) my blog!


I will have to post on Tuesday... no, Wednesday, to make sure I commemmorate one full year of blogging!
That's me, now, one year later, holding up a sign I snagged from Security!

Rained Out at the Faire!

It's been a weekend. One filled with cloudy, cool weather (which in and of itself is not an issue or problem. In fact, we made some killer sales yesterday and that was with highly mediocre weather!). Today the cloudy and cool part also threw in torential downpours and tornado warnings, so at 1240, someone sucked it up and made the executive decision to shut the faire down.

Good thing. I have no plans to work in a tornado. And if one were to come rolling through Ren, where would we hide? Booths may be solid, up-to-standards constructions but not one of them has a basement that is in any way shape or form submerged. Where would we run to for protection? There isn't any!

I did make a huge leap forward today and have decided to replace (finally) the buttons on my 9-button Catskill Mountain Moccassins. You laugh. Those maoccassins cost me (with a hefty employee doscount) about $525.00 in 1989 or 1990 (I think I got them in 1990). Now these same pair of boots would run about $600 with no features at all. They are up to just under the knee and they were the best I could afford at the time. I got the pig skin boots in black with burgundy trim, conveyor belt soles (extra cost but worth it) and the bronze buttons that they came with (at the time, the buttons were either bronze coins, silver coins or antler - the bronze were the most affordable, the antler the least affordable). I have worn them for the last 16 years at Ren and sometimes not at Ren and I keep them nice and clean with saddle soap and treat them really well. I need to have them resoled at some point, but I always vowed I would get the buttons replaced first.

I stopped into Catskill Mountain Moccassins today and picked out my new buttons and made a nice big downpayment on them. I will drop them off next weekend as I have two other pairs of boots (yes, Catskill Mountain Moccassins) to wear in their stead. They'll have them done in two weeks, so the next to last weekend of the faire they will be ready.

I have two other pairs of boots, but they are the smaller 3-button boots. I have one pair in a butter colour pig skin (pig skin is better than the cow hide in this case - better curing properties and better, softer feel. Very important!) and one pair in black with hunter green trim. The butter-coloured pair were another "this is all I can afford right now" pair - they have the silver buttons, which at a total of six might have added on another $50 but there is no top stitching and finish to the tops of the boots. They ran me about $300.

The full length, 9-button boots are the same, no fancy buttons, and no top finish work. That might be next year.

The third boots I bought were the full top, silver button black with green ones and they also came with the extra-extra padded heavy-dity fleece lined support. These are wonderful for long-term standing and use. The whole package was just over $400 - not a bad price, when you consider all the extras I got on them. I'm not seriously considering another pair, but down the road, I might invest in another pair. I really love these!

The boots are not something you select off the rack and then they add things to them. Not quite. First, you put on a sock and then have the leg (as far up as need be) wrapped up in masking tape. This creates a mold of your leg. Then you stand on some cardboard while the person measuring your foot draws an outline of each foot. Then your molds are complete and this is what they base your boot on. The boots are handmade off site and then either shipped or you pick them up (if you get them the first weekend or two and they are not super intricate, then you'll likely get them prior to the end of the faire. My first pair took me over a year to pay off, so I did not get them right away.

The second and third pairs were bought during the time that I had my primary job and the Ren Faire provided extra income. While that is the case this year and does allow me to purchase some really nice things, I'm not terribly loaded with spare cash, so the boots will take a little while to get up to date. I put down about a third today, will put down another third 0r better next Saturday (the 3rd of September) and should be able to pay off the balance the following Sunday (the 10th). But it won't be long and I'm very excited about them!

Monday, 21 August 2006

Definition of "pluton" in Danger - IMPORTANT!

********************************
Definition of "pluton" in danger
********************************
From: Allen Glazner afglazne@email.unc.edu
Greetings,
Members of the volcanology community should be aware that the International Astronomical Union (IAU), meeting now in Prague, is proposing a new term for Pluto-like planetary objects --"pluton". This seems like a remarkably bad idea, given how important and well-established the word is in Earth science and that planetology and geology are closely related sciences. Unless we want students coming into our classes thinking that plutons are transneptunian objects , we need to convince the astronomers to come up with a different word.I am writing to encourage you to contact members of the IAU and ask them to change this. Officers of the IAU are listed at

http://www.iau2006.org/mirror/www.iau.org/Officers.60.0.html

http://www.iau2006.org/mirror/www.iau.org/Vice-Presidents.59.0.html

http://www.iau2006.org/mirror/www.iau.org/Advisers.58.0.html

Final vote on the contentious issue of whether Pluto should be called a planet is scheduled for this Thursday, August 24, so time is short. Please take a moment to let your feelings be known--we need to educate planetologists about their home planet.

Thanks,Allen Glazner

**********
Prof. Allen F. Glazner
Dept. of Geological Sciences, CB# 3315
University of North Carolina
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3315
919-962-0689,
fax 919-966-4519
http://www.geosci.unc.edu/faculty/glazner/glazner.html

Sunday, 20 August 2006

More Fun at The Faire

No one gets why I do this.

I've been at the Faire twenty years now. Twenty years. That is over half of my life! Can you imagine? I never can, and I have been doing it! But it is not the same as a fulltime job, it isn't the same as when I went through PSG, where there were people displaced from their job of twenty or thirty years. This is an annual thing that is every weekend from the first weekend in August to the last one in September (and Labor Day). Well, so what?

Ah, "so what" indeed!

I don't know anyone who does not escape to somewhere or something. A lot of people escape in alcohol, or drugs, or gambling every penny away, or illegal or illicit activities. Some people escape in tawdry affairs or turn into couch potatoes or maybe crime sprees. A lot of us try to find more exciting but less dangerous things to do, such as speed racing, sky diving, flying (an airplane, a hot air balloon, a glider). Some of us join first aid squads and revel in that sort of publicly conscious but bizarre sort of thing... or do something in the volunteer arena. And many have hobbies - writing, reading, studying something (or several things); pick your poison. We all have some place we go to repeatedly, I think. I love the beach, although I still have not yet gotten there; Luis loves Las Vegas (and would NEVER gamble all his money away - he is too "spending-smart" to do that (he hates it when I call him a tight wad. So I'm replacing it with the previously mentioned phrase. It's all about marketing, you know...).

Since money seems to be a consistent issue with me (and it is, really, not just seems to be - again, marketing, I guess), I have every excuse in the world to go up there. I make money. I don't make a lot, granted, and I can't say that a fair amount of it doesn't go back into the pool of exchangeable money up in that fairgrounds. But I usually manage in some insane way to bring back more than I went up with (not every weekend...). And there is a huge trading factor invovled. David will trade a lot of goods with other vendors and if it is someone I'm interested in, I will get partially paid in goods. Also his goods - I suspect I own more of his jewelry than most people... he works primarily in silver (sterling silver, guaranteed to tarnish) and I purchase primarily silver! Works out nicely, eh?

He and his wife Dorita also make clothing and while I am not quite the weight I would like to be to wear the tops, I am fine with the skirts and I hope to get one of the filmy silk cloaks. I already have a heavy winter-weight woolen cloak that I adore (and spent a goodly amount of money to get), but these are purely decorative and fun. Luis liked it when I wore the cloak with nothing else - you can sort of see through it but things are not completely visible. And it feels just delightful. It is rare that silk doesn't feel great against the skin! So there is that as well.

I also have other loves, like the minerals I collect and the pottery that I purchase ad nauseum (this why we never have a big enough house - the two of us can fill it in no time!). I usually collect only practical items such as expensive pens, jewelry (in my case it is useful - I wear all of it and cycle it so that every item gets its day), CDs, DVDs (yes, I watch them over and over), books (yes, I read them over and over), mugs, ets. However, the minerals are not intrinsically useful items. I don't use crystals for anything: not for divination, trances, healing, channeling, whatever. I just really love the way they look. It is fascinating to see what the earth or Mother Nature or Gaea or whom ever you like to call it makes things form over time and with the elements. I have all sorts of quartz, calcite, a lot of flourite (not to be confused with flouride, what is used on your teeth), a lovely garnet ball, many labradorite (guess where that comes from...), and the list goes on. No, they are not locked up somewhere. They are dotted all over the house on anything that is nice enough to display them and not accessible to cats! The value is minimal other than to me personally. It's not as though I have diamonds.

Come to think of it, this is one of those weird areas where I am missing the "girly" gene. While there is no mistaking that I am female (at least, I don't think there is), I am not typical at all in that I have zero desire to own any jewelry that requires insuring it - in this my mother and I are very much alike. She owns no diamonds or truly expensive or rare stones and like me, she doesn't wear anything but silver. So we are cheap dates (I'm a cheaper date than she is, but still) that way. Luis once told me that he would not even consider an engagement ring that is not gold with a real diamond in it. I told him he was nuts. All I want is a heart-shaped garnet (my birthstone) with a couple of cubit zirconias (a very cheap sort of diamond by comparison) in a silver setting. You can probably get that for $200. It is silly to spend thousands on an engagement ring. It is supposed to be a token of your love, not proof that love equals money! You wanna blow the wad? Let's buy a house and have good, safe cars that are nice but not an outrageous amount of money for no reason other than the name Porsce or Lambourghini (did I spell that right?). And then the wedding - well, let's not even go there (there are several other posting that have my somewhat offensive views on what I think of spending an extravagant amount of money on that).

So back to the fun that is the NYRF. This is my escape. No one expects me to put on a fake accent for them, thakfully (although anyone working there is expected to, it would not sound right and I usually cringe at the sorts of English "Cockney" accents people attempt. Clearly they've not heard a true Cockney accent. And the Scotsmen there are usually real Scots, from Scotland, so listening to them is like listening to one of our staff in the Golf department - that delightful brogue that only a highlands Scot can have. (I love listening to that man talk!)

The Scots there also wear the kilt in the true Scottish fashion. I will leave to that to you find out or figure out. And do I peek under kilts? Certainly when invited to do so! I'll even take pictures. I find the human body to be a lovely thing, all parts of it.

Men find me sexy there - not all, granted, but enough to make it stand out. Men are fairly easy game, however, being the visual creaters that they are, and so while the rest of the package may not appeal, they are all fascinated by the mammary display - whether they are breast men, leg men, whatever the case may be. It's nice to be noticed like that. And there are women at these things that are far, far bigger than I will ever be, and baring more than I am willing to until I get to that better weight! (More credit to them!)

And so this is my escape - and it will be for time to come!

Batteries are Nearly Full!

With all the bad kind of stress that I went through in July and early August, it is a more smooth ride than it ever could have been since then. There are some negative stressors at work at the moment, but this will smooth itself out shortly, I think. Before long, September will be waning and we will be going into the time of year that I love most, Autumn.

But it is the New York Renaissance Festival that is reloading and recharging the batteries for me and allowing me to get from one nutty week to the next. The fun, the joy, the freedom, the power and the opposite sex are all up there in one concetrated area, looking for the next slice of fun in life! We can get stressed out and crazy, but it is so easy to get out a bit and loosen up from that!
It's mostly just fun. Eye-candy galore.
So I feel great on Saturdays and Sundays with freedom at hand to play and have fun.

Friday, 18 August 2006

Club Planet: It's Not Hard to Join

There was a time when the solar system we lived in was only nine planets (and that last - or sometimes the eighth or seventh one, depending on where it is in its orbit is questionable. Always has been). You should know them but I've seen Howard Stern and Jeno Leno ask people (models for the former and just anyone on the street for the latter) if they knew how many planets are in the solar system. It is rather staggering how many people don't know this! Which is just wrong. I love astronomy and I know my planets and not just who they and where they are but their nomenclature and the number of moons, siderial days/months/years and whole host of other information. I also own an absolutely gorgeous telescope that can zero in on the planets (as well as other things when the air isn't so poluted with... stuff - light, junk, clouds, ha, ha). I love astronomy.

Well, I am not sure that astronomers love astronomy, because either someone thinks more planets will get more funding or maybe our standards are just sinking lower. I really don't know. And yet, there was the headline on My Yahoo! page on... let me see... oh. Just yesterday. Obviously it's on my mind a lot. Seems like I have been thinking about this rather preposterous idea for days, not hours (or just a day).

Quite honestly, let's redefine our solar system as eight planets and give Pluto an oppotunity to be itself - the rogue asteroid that it really is. Its elliptical orbit immediately suggests that something other than our sun is butting in and lending some pull to its path... it wanders in and out of Neptune's orbit periodically (granted the periods are really long in comparison to anything we put up with from Terra or any of our immediate neighbours. But Pluto is tiny, and not as polite as Mercury (also tiny). Personally, I think Percival Lowell was just looking to leave his mark on the solar system or curry favour with the scientists of his day or maybe he really thought he had something. Planet X became Pluto, the ninth planet in our select little group, which ironically has a moon, Charon, about the same size... hmmm...

So a quick review. The Greeks found a handful of bright objects and called them planets (meaning "to wander"). The list got bigger and then planet was redefined as "one of nine bodies, bigger than asteroids, that orbited the sun". Done. Finished. Good to go. The article states that the definition of a planet is "a celestial body that (a) has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a hydrostatic equillibrium shape (meaning close to round), and (b) is in orbit around a star, and is neither a star or a satellite of a planet". OK. Not terrible. Maybe still a little incomplete in detail but still a good strong definition. Jupiter got lucky... a little more mass and it would have had the possibility to initiate fusion and be reclassified as a star...

But I don't have any beef with Jupiter. Sure, its core may be tiny, but the whole gassy thing going on around that tiny core, complete with storms, high winds and gasses that would just about kill anything outright is a planet, one of our gas giants. We can't all look like Terra or Venus or Mars. Personally, Uranus and Neptune are my favourites. They've odd things like smaller less visible rings and Uranus rotates on its side - top to bottom instead of "side to side". Of course, there is no "up" in space, so maybe we are all rotating on our sides and Uranus has it right...

OK, let's start at the beginning. There is a sun. Big, monstrous, bright yellow G-type star, shines during the day, is occasionally occluded by our ferocious little Moon. It puts out tons of radiation. Its hydrogen reactor seems to have many billions of years before our sun reaches retirement age and begins to have fusion issues. It's a good star.

Inside that you have Mercury, with a year of 88 days, a day that is acutually 56 days long (it's a slow rotator), and a teeny diameter of 4,879km. I've been given to understand that it is the hottest and coldest planet we have.. simultaneously. The daytime soars up to 430 C and the night side? A chilling -183 C. BBBBR-R-R-R-R!

Next on the roster is Venus, sort of planetary hothouse. Venus is a little wacky. It has a year of 227 days, but its rotational speed is a variable thing... its planetary rotation is 243 days. but the winds just 60km above the surface go zipping along at 100m a second. Scary place. The surface temperature at 464 C, is a tad hot.

I certainly hope you know what follows Venus but precedes Mars. Welcome to Earth, or by its real name, Terra. We have it all, here. Volcanoes, craters, meteor strikes, etc...

Then we have Mars, following us. Its pretty, somewhat temperate, in the part at the right time. I usually know the right time, but I'm tired and running out of steam and shall finish this anon...

Saturday, 12 August 2006

Recharging the Batteries!


...at the 2006 Renaissance Faire!

Oh, it was nice to be there - wonderful to see everyone and wonderful to be out in the fresh, beatiful air and great to be away from home and some where out-of-doors! I looked really nice and everyone told me how much thinner I look! Unfortunately everyone noticed I was looked rather tired but I got a lot of warm hugs and people cared about what I'd been going through. It was a great day!

I miss Lady Gaea's pottery, but all is not lost. There is another pottery maker there and although her goods aren't as unusual and amazing as the original, she has some very well-made, user friendly goods and I will shop there. More than once...!

I also stopped in at the henna tent and had an Om drawn on my right breast. Most people won't see it. As low as my shirts may be at work, nothing is as low as my bodice and it will not be noticeable under the regular clothing. Still, the artisan did a good job, although it is a little bigger than I'd wanted. Some of it is still on the spot where he painted it - impressive. I have to put olive oil tomorrow morning when I take my shower to ensure that it stays visible longer on my skin. I plan to stop in there, though, to have it touched up. I'm hoping that at some point the skin around it will tan, leaving a long-lasting imprint. I love henna. Painless, temporary and lovely.

I came home and Luis grilled some chicken, basted in Hawaiian teriyake sauce. It was delicious and so is he!

All in all, a perfect day!

Thursday, 10 August 2006

Running on Empty

The emotional and physical well-being tank is out of gas.

Around 1030 this morning the engine sputtered and stopped and I felt awful. Nothing I can pin down, like a stomach ache or onset of a cold, just... general malaise. I was suddenly exhausted and feeling just "not right". Time to go home. I've pushed myself unbelievably hard the last four weeks and probably working all weekend last weekend was not the smartest thing in the world. And yesterday was definitely a test of my ability to deal with bizarre situations. Staggering.

I guess there is not much more to say beyond this. I'm super tired and I need to have some down time. Away from the situation with my mother more than anything else. Fortunately the end is in sight and she is slated for release tomorrow. I called every day since they told me that to make sure that this evil place is not going back on their word.

If you have a loved one that is in the hospital, do NOT, under any circumstances, talk you into putting that person into a rehabilitation facility. Unless you are ungodly rich and can afford a place that is ungodly nice, you will be putting him 0r her into a prison that is looking for the money.

Wednesday, 9 August 2006

The World Is My... Ashtray?

How did this happen?

After a particularly trying day at work, dealing with some knotty issues, I find that the commute home was fraught with little examples of all kinds of annoying, stupid and of course, outright dangerous behaviours that were staggering in their stupidity! Not that this is unusual... nay, it appears to be normal, thoughtless behaviour perpetrated by so many people who are wholly unaware of the terrible habits and behaviours they possess.

Poor driving is the hallmark of the American roadways. There was a time, not too long ago, when you could blame it on NYC drivers or DC drivers, who definitely are imbued with that "kill or be killed" mentality when driving anywhere. The deeply ingrained sets of driving skills required in Manhattan, Washington DC, or any metropolitan area are unlike any others and while it is what works inside those cities, it is not so good to apply those same techniques to the rest of the world - even northern New Jersey is not as much a "running the guantlet" kind of thing as driving inside of Manhattan!

But when you throw the millions of technological toys into the mix, and the sudden thinking that smokers' should all have clean cars (not possible), we have suddenly lost our ability to be just annoyances along the road of life.

Cell Phones
At what point in time did it occur to someone that having the utter distraction that only a cell phone can provide be an acceptable risk when driving? Talk about not thinking that one through. A device that allows one to yak away about their vacuous day while actually operating a 1500lb vehicle should have at least jumped up as a possible red flag as not being safe. Someone did finally figure this out and the outcome was making cell phones while driving is only allowed if a hands-free kit is involved. Ths does not fix in any way the utter distraction issue that really makes drivers do a plethora of stupid things behind the wheel, but I suspect the government thought it was a start.

After some time (and the rather obvious fact that everyone across the board ignores this edict), the cell phone offence was just a secondary offence and the perp had to be pulled over for a primary offense... such as speeding. If the officer who pulled the offending party wished, he could issue various types of secondary tickets, such as for tinted windows, cell phone usage, no safety belt on, obstruction of view (something hanging from the rear-view mirror), etc. At this point, driving with one cell phone on is in the works as becoming a primary offense. I'll be thrilled when it is...

Baby on Board stickers/hanging signs
OK, honestly. Do you really, honestly, deep down inside think for even a floating, fleeing moment that anyone sees that stupid yellow sign in a car's or truck's window indicating the possible presence of a small child inside and suddenly turns into the Mary Poppins of drivers? Hmmm? No? Yes, I don't buy that for a second, either. And quite frankly, if you are nice enough to suddenly cease tailgating parents, then why aren't you person enough to stop tailgating altogether? Or is that sort of poor driving perfectly acceptable somewhere else? I tend to doubt it...

And that brings us to...

Expectorant and tossing cigarette butts out the window
And this is socially acceptable how?

Today, driving home on Whippany Road, the white service vehicle in the right lane, just a head of me, suddenly opened its window. Instead of seeing a hand or the side of the driver's head appear, I saw the drivers head jerk back suddenly out of sight and then a huge wad of expectorant come flying out to arch suddenly and fall with resounding SPLAT on the street in front of me. OH, YE GODS, WHO WAS RAISED TO THINK THAT THIS IS ACCEPTABLE BEHAVIOUR?! I was sickened and disgusted by it. Here is a person who needs to be pulled over for being criminally disgusting and unsanitary!

Shortly after that, I must have ended up behind every possible smoker with a vehicle in the area... in concert, they all finished their cigarette butt and happily sent it sailing out of the open driver's side window to festoon the streets with more unwanted disgusting used up cigarettes. I do recall that all cars had ashtrays and recepticles to hold the ash cast-offs and left over unsmokable parts. That now seems to be passé, out of vogue, so instead the world is every smoker's ashtray.

Your honor, I object!

Wednesday, 2 August 2006

This Amazing Life

Come with me
I want to show you something
You don’t see
You’ve given up trying
Watch the leaves
Rustling in the wind
The summer breeze
That’s living and dying
Ah, Ah

Come with me
Remember when you were
So carefree
Laughing not crying
Spin around
And listen carefully
Can you hear the sound
Of living and dying

It’s amazing, it’s amazing,this amazing life
It’s amazing, it’s amazing, this amazing life

Come with me
Stop making it so hard
You can be
Laughing not crying
Nothing’s changed
Just got to recognise
That it’s a game
Of living and dying
Ah, Ah

It’s amazing, it’s amazing, this amazing life
it’s amazing, it’s amazing, this amazing life
It’s amazing, it’s amazing, this amazing life
It’s amazing, it’s amazing, this amazing life

Come on now baby please
Just look around
Look around it’s there
It’s good to feel alive
Feel alive, feel alive
This amazing life
It’s good to feel alive
Feel alive, feel alive
This amazing life
This amazing life
Relax it’s easy
relax it’s easy


Living and dying. That is it. I try not to think a lot about the whole dying part. No one seems to appreciate the value of death - and there are many, not just the one or super-obvious ones! No matter how you slice it, though, death is a part of life, not the other way around, and not as its own stand-alone thing. Everyone sees and recognises death. No one really truly seems to see life. It's easy enough to take for granted, like the mist in those pockets on Route 24; the gorgeous leaves across the street in October that line the park entrance; the beauty of a passing Monarch butterfly; the feeling of joy to see so many hot air balloons slowly fill out, then begin to rise up and then at some point part company with the ground and float majestically to the eastern horizon!

Everyday in my car I hear the sounds of others and I drown that out in great music. So I cease to be aware on the annoying levels the heaps of poor driving that run rampant along the trip in and homr from work. But I see things. The cuvature of the road, the trees, the skyline, the cloud formations (especially fascinating now with the air overripe with possibilities of storms). Who sees this any more? Not most of the commuters. Everyone is in a hurry but seems to go nowhere quickly.