Monday, November 24, 2014

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Hooray Philae!

They've done it!  The Philae probe landed on the comet!

I LOVE space success stories :-)

Thursday, November 06, 2014


The people who explore space via unmanned vehicles are up to their shenanigans again.  Last time, it was NASA lowering a rover to the surface of Mars via sky crane.  This time it's the European Space Agency (ESA) rendezvousing with a comet, staying with it as it orbits the sun, and next week (fingers crossed, oh please, oh please, let it work) deploying a probe to land on the comet as it spins its way along.

Those of you who think of scientists as dry and boring might want to re-evaluate your perceptions - these people are nuts!

Both agencies created videos to promote their missions - I was impressed by the NASA one explaining the Curiosity mission - and it's still good - but the ESA video for Rosetta is mind-blowing on a whole other dimension...

Monday, September 08, 2014

Hurricane Iselle, Long Version

Below is the response that I sent on August 12 to several friends who emailed me just after the storm (which hit Aug. 7).  After the original email is an update and some photos...

Original email:
While I suffered no personal property damage, many of the electrical poles and lines in my area were devastated - I do have pix which I will try to post soon.  So: no electricity.  Not even a fan - in August, in the tropics, with various storm systems blocking the trade winds when they weren't busy blowing trees down onto power lines.  Even worse for someone who has been relying on the window A/C unit in her bedroom to get a decent night's sleep.  I thought it was annoying back in April 2011 when I had to replace my fridge - and it was - but this is so much worse.  I didn't realize how bad the damage was to the electrical grid so I sat around Friday waiting for the electricity to come back on, trying to preserve the coolness in fridge and freezer - long story short: on Sat. afternoon I ended up in the ER with low potassium.  I strongly recommend you try to avoid this at all costs - potassium thru IV burns!  (Yes, I know - eat more bananas...)

Also, no electricity means no water!  Try for one day to fully concentrate every time you use water:  shower, flush the toilet, laundry, flush the toilet, dishes, flush the toilet, wash your hands, flush the toilet (sensing a theme?).

BUT, it's nowhere near as bad as it could be.  I was very fortunate to be spared any damage that I will have to pay for - other than tossed food.

I flipped the electrical main at the house, loaded the poor kitties with food and water, asked the neighbors to keep an eye on things, and basically abandoned the place (except for periodic kitty checks).  I am extremely fortunate to be staying with a co-worker friend in Hilo, so I have a fan at night, a shower in the morning, and a toilet that flushes itself.

I know I'm complaining about "first world problems" - but I live in the first world, darn it!!
End of original email.

Our electricity came back on and I returned home on Monday August 18.  I discovered that day that my hot water heater needed to be replaced and on Tuesday I discovered that my fridge wasn't working correctly and it took a few days to find and appliance repair person.  Last week I discovered that the washer and dryer aren't working either.  The reason?  On Aug. 10 the electric company tried to restore power to me and my neighbor (there's a line that comes from the street between our properties and then branches off to each house) but the workers didn't notice that the neutral line that serves our houses was damaged so our houses got a HUGE jolt of electricity. 

I'm still fortunate that I didn't end up with a tree on my house or my water catchment tank, which would have resulted in major inconvenience and expense.  Now the semester has started and I'm working Sundays again (which I enjoy) and things are almost back to normal.  {HUGE sigh of relief}

snapped power pole

trees on power lines

cones marking power lines dragging ON the road

Monday, August 11, 2014

Hurricane Iselle, Short Version

Short Version:  I am fine.  Mom is fine.  All the cats are fine.  All our personal property is fine.

Long Version:  To be posted soon...

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Volume of TV Commercials

Dear TV People,

When you figured out that you could make the commercials louder than the TV program, it was merely amusing and annoying, but now with so many people watching TV using headphones it's potentially dangerous and damaging - please stop. 

Wikipedia is NOT a Doctor

It breaks my librarian heart that we still have to tell people that Wikipedia is NOT a Doctor.  I created my Why Not Wikipedia? page and presentation more than three years ago, and I was late to the game...

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Curved TV?

I'm glad that they used Carl Sagan and Gravity in the commercial, but what's the point of a curved TV?

Monday, March 10, 2014

Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey

I'm sure that Carl Sagan is grinning ear to ear about the reboot of Cosmos - and I'm not the only one (CNN story). 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Valentine's Day

A few days late, but I didn't see this post by The Bloggess until today.  She nicely sums up my own feelings about this farcical holiday:  "this is a ridiculous non-holiday made to make everyone feel insecure about their relationships or lack thereof."  I've never had positive feelings about the day and it got worse when one of my grandfathers, an incredibly sweet man, died on February 14, 1999.  {Yes, anniversary dates stick with me.}  So, no chocolates or roses or ridiculously expensive dinner for me.  Instead I did as The Bloggess suggested and did something I enjoyed: I sat on my couch with my kitties and read from several books, completed a slew of crossword puzzles, and continued my Fringe-athon - and a pleasant day was had by all.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Movies Should Be Entertainment

I meant to post this when Gravity was first released - and if you didn't see it in the theatre, you really missed out - but since it comes out on DVD soon, it's timely now, too.

On the Critique of Science in Film (gotta love NdGT)

As consumers we demand a lot, but those demands need to be reasonable.  First, a movie (or TV show) is a form of entertainment.  Even if the world in it seems like ours, it's not; events in it do not have to conform exactly to ours to be true in the movie's version of the universe.*  Stop nitpicking and enjoy the presentation! If at the end you feel like you've wasted valuable minutes of your life that you'll never get back, then be upset, but not at the differences from "reality."  If the show entertained you, it did it's job.

* The most outrageous ones I've seen are the Goofs listed on imdb for Sherlock Holmes: Garment of Shadows where someone(s) actually compiled a list of "errors" when something that was present in the movie (music in a bar scene in 1891) was wrong because it hadn't appeared until later (the song was written in 1892).  Why focus on that?