Showing posts from December, 2006

Full Moon Names for 2007

"Full Moon names date back to Native Americans, of what is now the northern and eastern United States. Those tribes of a few hundred years ago kept track of the seasons by giving distinctive names to each recurring full Moon. Their names were applied to the entire month in which each occurred. Photo: Taken through my telescope during the last total eclipse of the moon, 27 October 2004. I took this while the moon was in totality, which is why it has that odd yellowish colour. Normally the fully eclipsed moon has a ruddy complexion, but that did not translate that way onto the image taken. Note the lighter portion up at the top lefthand area. That is the colour beginning to fade, as totality does not last long.
There were some variations in the Moon names, but in general the same ones were current throughout the Algonquin tribes from New England on west to Lake Superior. European settlers followed their own customs and created some of their own names. Since the lunar ("synodic&…

2006: The Year in Astronomy

"The year 2006 was one of things lost and found. The solar system lost its former ninth planet and NASA lost a long-serving Mars probe, but scientists found good evidence for dark matter, signs of liquid water flows on present-day Mars, and a planet just a few times more massive than Earth around another star.
The year opened with the spectacular return to Earth on 15 January of the Stardust mission, which had spent years travelling to and from Comet Wild 2 to collect samples to be examined in the laboratory.
Early analysis of the samples led to the surprising finding that although the comets were formed in the frigid outer solar system, some of the building blocks must have been transported there from very close to the Sun, because they appear to have been heated above 1000°C.
In other comet news this year, the close passage of a disintegrating comet by the Earth in April gave astronomers a rare view of what may be a common fate for comets.
Planet crisis
Some say Pluto is just an ov…

Travel Broadens the Mind

I hear that but never really get to see it. For the moment, though, I am seeing it. We are in Winter Haven, Florida, with cloudy weather and unbelievable humidity.

We left my parents' house (well, the neighbour's house) at 1330, headed to Newark Airpor and the gods of travel bestowed their blessings of good travel. We were going to use long-term parking, and we were looking for it when Luis realised that some smart-ass in marketing changed the name of long-term parking to "economy" parking. Well. At the distance this was from the airport, it should have been called "unbeievable" parking. It was quite literally miles from the terminals. As in about three miles from it. No walking, but no tram (or, as I call it, the moneyrail system), just a rickety bus. However, when we showed up at the unbelievable parking area, it was full, so we were shunted to the Daily parking (which used to be long-term parking) which cost the same as the "economy" or unbeliev…


Once upon a time I had plenty of nothing,
Which was fine with me.
Because I had rhythm, music, love,
The sun, the stars and the moon above,
Had the clear blue sky and the deep blue sea.
That was when the best things in life were free.

Then time went by and now I got plenty of plenty,
Which is fine with me.
'Cause I still got love, I still got rhythm,
But look at what I got to go with 'em.

"Who could ask for anything more?",

I hear you query.
Who would ask for anything more?

Well, let me tell you, dearie.

Got my diamonds, got my yacht, got a guy I adore.
I'm so happy with what I got, I want more!

Count your blessings, one, two, three

I just hate keeping score.
Any number is fine with me

As long as it's more

As long as it's more!
I'm no mathematician, all I know is addition

I find counting a bore.
Keep the number mounting,

Your accountant does the counting.
[More! More!]

I got rhythm, music too, just as much as before
Got my guy and my sky of blue,
Now, however, I own the view.

Theory: Jupiter is the Star of Bethlehem

Look to the east on Christmas morning, just as darkness gives way to light. A celestial body cresting over Mount Sentinel's southern ridge will shine above Missoula until the awakening day absorbs its brilliance. What you will see is very likely the same “star” wise men saw some 2,000 years ago - the star foretold in prophecy, announcing the birth of a great king.
That guiding light is Jupiter, the fifth planet, which has rotated the sun and brightened our nighttime sky since time immemorial. Twice as massive as all the other planets combined, and 318 times larger than our small world, Jupiter is the fourth brightest object in the heavens, shadowed only by the sun, moon and Venus. Jupiter, a growing number of professional stargazers believe, is the Star of Bethlehem. If we look skyward around 7 a.m. on Christmas morning, those of us in western Montana will see what some scientists believe is the Christmas star hanging in the eastern horizon at approximately the same hour that the M…

Dead Star Offers Clues to the End of Our Solar System

CHICAGO (AFP) - "British astrophysicists said they have found evidence of planetary material in the orbit of a white dwarf for the first time, a discovery that may provide clues to the end of our own solar system billions of years from now.
The team at Britain's Warwick University identified an unusual ring of metal-rich gas orbiting very close around a white dwarf, a former star, about 463 light years from our solar system in the constellation Virgo.
Their analysis of the traces of magnesium, iron and calcium seen in the ring suggests the materials are the evaporated remains of an asteroid about 50 kilometers (31 miles) in size, which got sucked into the orbit of the white dwarf and then gradually pulverized and irradiated.
"This is very direct evidence that white dwarfs have planetary systems around them," said Tom Marsh, professor of experimental physics at Warwick University.
A white dwarf begins as a star similar to our sun. Late in life, the star swells into a red…

A New Book: The Planets

"In all the history of mankind, there will be only one generation that will be the first to explore the Solar System, one generation for which, in childhood, the planets are distant and indistinct discs moving through the night sky, and for which, in old age, the planets are places, diverse new worlds in the course of exploration." -Carl Sagan, from The Cosmic Connection: An Extraterrestrial Perspective

I love books. I have so many books it is mind-boggling. Staggering. A thing to overthrow all other things! I have piles of them and all over the house. We have a bedroom downstairs that is "the library". It has bookshelves lining the walls and every shelf is groaning under the weight of many, many books. Between Luis and I we have thousands of books. I have a bookcase in my office; Luis has one in his; the eating room off the kitchen/sun room has three or four bookcases and one DVD case. The dining room has three big CD cases. I take my music, my shows and most espe…

What Can Happen in 24 Hours

You might think to yourself, "How much can really happen in one 24-hour period?"
A whole bloody lot...

On 12.21.06 I wrote to my friend Daniela in the Czech Republic:
"Well, there is just no happiness tonight. Apparently, Luis' grandfather is dying and I am going to Florida - I don't want to go but Luis is insisting we go. As in us, not him. I'm amazed and not a little disappointed. I don't mean to sound like such a self-cnetered wretch, but he is not close to his grandfather and I am a hell of a lot less close. This means missing Christmas with my family to go sit in a hospital - a trip surrounded by sitting in an airport to go there and back. How is this supposed to sound appealing? I know, I know, I should do this for Luis and with good grace. But flying down to Florida to see somoeone die and then having to fly back either Christmas Eve or Christmas day is insane. And we are both expecting to be at work on Tuesday. That is going to be ugly...
So ther…

The Etiquette of Regifting

An interesting article:

Everyone loves opening a perfectly wrapped package with a shiny bow. But sometimes once you open that gift, it's not exactly what you expected-or even something you want. And after you feign excitement for the obligatory amount of time, what do you do with it? Well, if you're like most Americans, you regift or pass the less-than-stellar present on to someone else who might enjoy it more. A recent Tassimo survey found that a whopping 78 percent of Americans feel that it is acceptable to regift some or most of the time. So, if you are going to regift this year, here is how to do it right.
Make sure the recipient will like it. Most people who regift do so because the gift is perfect for someone else (77 percent), which is what gift giving is all about. "You don't want the recipient to have any feeling at all that you are giving them the castoff," says Peggy Post, etiquette expert and author of Excuse Me, But I Was Next. "At the bottom of a…

The Shower is the Time When I Do My Best Thinking

Why is that?

Don't worry, I've the answer to that question! All that thinking, remember?

I get in the shower and I am immediately on auto-pilot. The brain is going! Off and running out the gate like a racehorse, with all those thoughts in my head. I think constantly in the shower. They are all pouring out like the water from the showerhead. And with me, that is a lot.

Unfortunately, my brain is not terribly orderly. I'm sure that people who know me well understand this but it takes getting used to. I appear very organised. I need that in my life and really work hard to have it. I need to push my brain into some neat, orderly place where the passion for everything isn't ruling me and there is some good, controlled, orderly thinking.

Some days are really good, I'm really focussed, sharp, right on my game and getting things done. The brain can actually pick up on what people are telling me and I remember things and I can actually accomplish things in a straight, orderly f…

Holiday Party!

We had our holiday party at work and it was a lot of fun. Everyone had a wonderful time, so it was a huge success!

Happy Christmas?

I dunno. Christmas seems so often like a period of higher stress, more agony, more insanity, less tolerance and patience. Where is the love? Where is the "breathe-deep-and-wow-doesn't-that-tree-smell-amazing! feeling? We have our tree up and the room is hip deep in lights and oh, that magical amazing aroma. It is truly a wonder!
But we are all rushing around, wholly unprepared and unready and not feeling anything resembling love. But I am happy and I am loved and I am super-super happy that my father after all this unbelievable bullshit with his knee, is feeling so much better - finally! They finally let him out of the hospital on Monday, 4 December and sent him home, loaded with meds and his pick line and tons of things to not do. It's not the high life. But it is life - living free of the hospital and eating real food, not that unforgivable stodge that they laughingly pass off as food. his picture was taken by me on Wendesday, 29 November. Things were looking up then! No…

Christmas is Coming Doldrums...

I don't understand the big fuss about the holidays. People get so worked up over them, but these are days like any other save one thing: the fuss. The drama. Boiled down, the stress. Don't get me wrong. I'm not against having fun, seeing people socially, giving and receiving gifts. But it has become a major thing in life, so much so that despite it being one period in a year, it is one that some people start preparing for in July. This doesn't seem a little... well... overkill?
Obviously everyone suffers from this overkill thing. Jewish people do this for eight days. Granted, when you think about it, they are probably saving money; Christmas gift exchanging is completely out of hand, and far more pricey overall. Ramadan is an entire month. I don't believe that gift exchanging is built into it; but fasting during the daylight hours and making up for it during the night hours is not healthy - what if you have a medical condition? Look how long it took for the Catholic…