Thursday, April 30, 2009

Mercury III--Curse Ye, American Idol!

Have I seen Mercury yet?


Last night the sun went down right in the middle of American Idol, with Adam Lambert in the hot seat! OK. I confess. I've become a fan of American Idol, mostly because there are people in that competition who are just plain likeable. Admittedly Adam Lambert isn't one of them. He feels and looks like a Ken doll to me--all plastic perfection and an empty head. So I was hoping--beyond hope, as it turned out--that Adam would be voted off.

The moment I found out Adam was preserved (*sigh*) I dashed out the door with my binnoculars and headed for the park where we have an amazing view of the horizon. But no Mercury. We watched for awhile, hoping it would emerge from behind the one cloud in the sky (sound familiar?) that hovered just above the skyline. But, no. So we stayed and watched the stars wink on, found the Big Dipper, Arcturus, the Twins, Polaris, and SATURN!!

Now THAT was pretty cool. Saturn lies in the southwestern quadrant of the sky right now and is the first star-like body to show itself in the darkening evening sky. Last night the atmosphere (contrary to meteorologists' predictions--surprise, surprise) was brilliantly clear, and with my binnoculars I could actually see color as Saturn winked at me. It was awesome. I really need to get me a telescope.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Mercury II

Have I seen Mercury yet?


It's the weather. I look at the weather for the next seven days and, guess what? Not a sunny day in the lot. Clouds, clouds, clouds. The one night I had hope of seeing it, I went out side to find the sky a brilliant blue--except for one large cloud covering the place where I would have seen Mercury!

Friday, April 24, 2009


So, while the sunspots were a wash, we DID find out that there is a fairly rare opportunity to observe Mercury occuring even as we speak. From now until about the middle-ish of May, you can observe Mercury in the sky above the newly-set sun. Mercury can be clearly seen for up to two hours after sunset at the zenith of the sighting window. This zenith occurs on Sunday, May 26th.

I'm crossing my fingers for clear skies!

Saturn is also observable this month. If you know how to find the North Star, it shouldn't be too hard to find Saturn. Instead of following the line formed by the outer cup stars of the Big Dipper to Polaris, follow them for a little bit greater distance in the opposite direction. Saturn lies just on the other side of the constellation Leo, and is, at about 10:30 p.m., almost directly south of the North Star.

How do I know?

I found this great site:

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Sun! Sun! Sun!

Today my kids and I put together a safe solar observatory!

1 longish lens, like a telephoto camera lens, a binocular lens, telescope, or spotting scope.
1 carboard box the size of an orange box
1 9X12 sheet of white paper
1 tripod (optional)

It ended up looking SOMETHING like this:

At least you get the idea. We kind of combined the cardboard collar and the projector screen into one contraption by cutting a hole large enough for the lens to rest in at one end of the box, then taping the paper onto the opposite end of the inside of the box. This allows for a much more easily observed image, because the projected image is always in the shade and always directly opposite the lens, avoiding any problems with image distortion.

We were so excited at the prospect of seeing sunspots.

Unfortunately, there has been NO sunspot activity since December and a minimum of sunspot activity for the past year. In fact, 2008 has been called the 'blankest' sunspot year since the dawn of the space age. Any 'sunspots' we saw turned out to be dust on the lens--you can test whether the spots are dust by twisting the lens in the hole. If they move, they're dust.


Anyway, by the time my youngest is in high school, we should be able to observe sunspots with our observatory. For now, it's just COOL!!!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A Fundamental Misunderstanding

So I didn't, in the end, make it to a tea party.

My day just didn't allow for me to attend events that were scheduled in the midst of my busiest day of the week.

But I read as much as I could on the coverage of it.

It was pretty awesome.

Except for much of the mainstream news coverage.

In a nutshell, the media--and the government for that matter--viewed the tea party attendees as right-wing extremists capable of Timothy McVeigh style violence. The CNN reporter sent to cover the event picked some guy who wasn't the sharpest tool in the shed to 'prove' that point. It was obvious she didn't spend time researching the intent of the tea party. She didn't spend time talking to a bunch of people once she got there before going live with her 'interview.' She not only did a disservice to the ideas of truth and justice, she did a disservice to her profession and showed herself to be far from prepared and far from objective--two of the very most basic fundamentals of good journalism.

So what was the intent of the tea party?

Was it bash Obama?

Not specifically. Obama isn't the problem. He's only the tail end of a long string of problems stretching all the way back to (now don't be shocked) Alexander Hamilton's attempted paper-money fiscal policy during the very first presidential administration.

Hamilton's attempt was killed by President Washington's wiser and more accurate interpretation of the founders' intent for this fine nation.

But Hamilton's ideas didn't die. They grew over the course of 200+ years until today, when we have come to a point at which many eyes have been opened by a president who is taking the policies of generations of 'liberal' and 'revisionist' presidents and congresses before him to a more extreme (and expensive) level than ever before seen.

Who are the liberals and revisionists?

They constitute the majority of politicians since FDR, and a good percentage of them since Teddy Roosevelt, and a considerable number before then.

It's not about party. Conservative and Republican can hardly be used accurately in the same sentence. It's about ideals. It's about a group of men who were considerably more learned and wise than we, who studied the myriad of mistakes made by governments for thousands of years before their own and tried to establish a government that would most nearly solve every issue of decay those previous governments fell under.

And they almost did it.

Their only flaw?

Us. You. Me. A populace spoiled upon the fruits of the labors of those who came before us, filled with pride in our prosperity, more concerned with security than liberty, void of passion about the things that our founders held MOST dear--individual liberty and contempt of the necessary evil of government. They failed in their expectation that we would continue to hold those things dear. They failed in their expectation that we would make wise and educated choices about the representatives we elected, and that we would then continue to keep track of their performances and kick out those representatives who failed to treasure and protect our liberties and keep government limited to the powers carefully enumerated in the constitution.

A radio host I sometimes listen to has a 'test' for new laws our representatives consider:

If the new law limits personal liberty AND/OR expands the scope/size/role of government and governance in our lives then it fails the test.

I know of few laws and measures passed these days that pass that test.

That's what the tea party is all about. It's about being tired of a government (and NOT just the current government) that continually fails that test--now to the detriment of untold generations after us who will be paying for policies already proven unsuccessful all over the globe and for time immemorial.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Tax Day Tea Party, Ogden, Utah???

I would LOVE to attend a Tax Day Tea Party in my area, but haven't found one yet. So I'm going to see if I can find one through my blog. I understand that if you repeatedly include information in a webpost, it will be more likely to come up in a websearch, so here goes:

Ogden, Utah, Tax Day Tea Party anyone? If you live in Ogden, Utah or Weber County, Utah and are organizing a Tax Day Tea Party, I and possibly my family would be interested in attending.

That's Ogden, Utah, Tax Day Tea Party or Weber County Tax Day Tea Party.

Got that?

Ogden, Utah, Tax Day Tea Party


Weber County Tax Day Tea Party

Leave me a comment!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

I Swear...

...if it snows one more time this week, I'm going to scream!!

Doesn't the weather know about global warming?

Doesn't Mother Nature know it's April?

I need to get my garden tilled and my peas planted, but my garden hasn't dried out enough to do the first, which nullifies the second.


At least my little baby tomatoes are growing nicely.

I'm trying a new method of growing this year. It is to plant them in only an inch of soil, let them grow to 3" tall, then add more soil to the pot, then let them grow a 'new' 3" tall, then add more soil, and so on. I've read that this method will leave you with sturdy stems and abundant healthy roots. We'll see.

What does this have to do with writing?

Nothing. Absolutely nothing. But this is MY blog.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Empty Promises?

Gosh, I don't know, but things seem like business as usual in Washington D.C.