April 8, 2016

Incredible aurora lights

This is an image of the northern lights over Lapland. It doesn't get much better than this. As always, these shots are taken from NASA's Astronomy Photo of the Day site. (Link)

Click the photo to see a larger version.

March 22, 2016

Who knew there was such a thing as airglow?

This photo is from NASA's Astronomy Photo of the Day site. The headline says "Rainbow airglow over the Azores". Cool, isn't it?

You can see a huge version of the image by clicking on it.

March 19, 2016

Religious gits say incredibly dumb stuff

I mean, really.
According to Wayne Propst, he was replacing soil in his aunt Sharon Givan’s yard when he made the amazing discovery of the fossilized snail shells which he believes date back to the time of Noah’s flood.

“What’s really interesting to me is we’re talking about the largest catastrophe known to man, the flood that engulfed the entire world,” Propst explained, while showing off fossilized remains and adding, “Noah’s flood in my front yard. How much better can it get?”

Seeking to verify the veracity of his claim, Propst contacted self-proclaimed fossil expert Joe Taylor who stated that the fossils indeed are a remnant of the Biblical flood that covered the Earth due to God’s wrath.
Although Taylor has yet to study the fossils — or even lay eyes on them in person — he believes that they are a sign of the flood in the dry East Texas town and called the discovery “rare.
Indeed. Want some more? You know you do. Here you go.
“Now all I got to do is go in front of my aunt’s house and pick up something from back when it all began. I don’t even have to search anymore,” said Probst, adding, ” Who else can say they have a front yard full of Noah’s dirt?”

Propst’s aunt Sharon agreed, saying: “To think that like he says that we have something in our yard that dated back to when God destroyed the earth. I mean, how much better could anything be?”
How does someone end up this brain-dead? Oh, right. Churches. Never mind.

March 18, 2016

This and that -- expanded version

Note: some of the items below may be repeats. I didn't clear out my "This and That" file  very well the last time I did one of these posts. Rest assured there's new stuff interspersed throughout.

Oh joy! We are informed that Monster Theresa will be sainted on October 4, 2016. Don't forget to mark your calendars! This pope is now two-for-two in appointing monsters the the exalted position of Saint. Attaboy, Frankie. (The first monster he sainted was Junipero Serra.)

I get irritated each time I see a TV news story that includes this statement: "It so happens the Bee Gees hit, Stayin' Alive, uses exactly the right beat for proper chest compressions." Why does this irritate me? Because typically in the same report they show video of people compressing someone's chest much faster than the actual beat of the song. Methinks these people have the musical skills of a Ronald Reagan. (Ever see Ronnie try to clap along with music? Hilarious.) So, ummm, I don't think this is a good guideline for the musically challenged -- which is mostly everybody. Time for a new idea.

I love to hear "decease" used as verb, and I get the chance to hear this quite often on crime shows. I recently heard a police officer say, "It was apparent she had deceased." Bravo! I also love when the investigator thinks "this is the guy" because he "didn't show no remorse". This is what makes the guy a suspect. But...ummm, as it turns out, he didn't do it. So why would he show remorse? Most police officers are, like most people, unintelligent. This is why you should never talk to the police if they think you committed a crime. Just slam the door in the officer's face and hire a lawyer. It's the only sensible thing to do.

AP word insanity. A headline on 3/12/16 said "Storm to stay lingering over northern California". And the sub-head said: "Rough weather that gave a brief blast to Southern California was set to maintain its steady stay over Northern California into the weekend." I wonder if "stay lingering" will become the new "stay loose".

A woman on the teevee said, "She was very nice, very go-lucky". Indeed. I hope to meet some go-lucky people later today.

Seriously, I love crime shows because I get to hear gits say things in their backwoods accents. The other night I heard a Texan say, to excuse having missed a clue, "the paperwork had just not caught'n up."

On another show, a nervous girl said of a suspect, "he kind of gave me a willy feeling." Watch out, young lady. That can get you pregnant.

"Charm the pants off him" is such an odd phrase, because it's so easy to get a man's pants off. What's hard is getting him to keep them on.

I've never heard of a keeping room. Ever. Found it mentioned here.

I'm going to ask my devoutly religious sister to buy me a statue of Baphomet for Xmas. I haven't asked her yet. Shhhhhh! I think this is going to go over really well.

When I saw an article about searching for the best NY biscuit in the Times, I had to look up what a biscuit is. Oh, those things. We never ever had biscuits in our house when I was growing up, nor did I ever see one at a relative's house. It must be something fat Southerners eat.

I wonder how many logic teachers believe in god.

When in the supermarket, it's great fun to loudly refer to the meat as "dead animals". Like if I'm far away from my sister in the store, I often yell, "You go buy the dead animals while I get the toilet paper." My sister's face turns beet-red.

Unkempt has become "unkept" in common usage. This is how language changes. And again, it makes sense. I find it enjoyable to watch language change in real-time. It's always happening. Always. Language never stays still.

Funny AP headline of the day (Jan 1, 2016): "Man Attacks Soldiers Guarding French Mosque With His Car". The nerve o' them soldiers using this poor man's car to guard a building.

I wondered about the origin of the term "Charley horse". According to the unimpeachable source called the internet, the pitcher Charley Radbourne was nicknamed Old Hoss -- and he got a cramp during a baseball game in the 1880s. Thus the phrase was born. Odd, but I'll take it as fact.

TV guy: "It's not happenchance." Me: I hear this all the time. Happenstance is no longer the word. It's now happenchance -- and as with all these things, you can see why. It kinda works better. I wouldn't use the incorrect version but I grok why others do.

"Inherent nitwittery killed humanity". Dog (my visitor from another galaxy) told me they've already carved this on our tombstone in the Hall of Failed Species. Sad, but I thought I'd pass it on. And even more sadly, I understand why the intelligent species of other galaxies wrote us off. We ain't much.

In a bar scene in a Scottish movie, the bartender yelled "last orders". I assume this is their version of "last call". I think I like it better.

Let's end with something from the current news cycle. A USA Today story today recounted the clubhouse reaction to the White Sox losing player Adam LaRoche simply because he wanted to bring his son to work. And okay, he wanted to bring the kid every day. But he'd already gotten the team's agreement on this before signing his contract. Unfortunately, the bit with the kid was sealed only with a handshake. And then the damn WS brass suddenly decided he couldn't bring the kid to work. Tch.

So LaRoche (who just about everyone, including me, loves) walked away from a $13 million dollar contract and retired. I say all this by way of introducing a comment in the USA Today story. It reported that Chris Sale (a WS player) was furious over what happened and said, “We got bold-faced lied to’’ by the WS brass. Of course, the usual phrase is " a bald-faced lie", I suppose harkening back to the clear view provided by a clean-shaven face. It's kind of fun. I like "bold-faced lie" too. It kinds of makes sense, and as I say, most of these alterations do make sense. But people are losing language skills quickly, madly and irrevocably.

Ah, well. Things change. That's the nature of the universe.

March 16, 2016

Aurora over Iceland

Kinda looks like a Phoenix, eh? Cue the wingnuts. As always, these cool shots come from NASA's Astronomy Photo of the Day site.

If you can spare the bandwidth, click to see the photo in a much larger size.

March 14, 2016

The curious incident of the orange flames on the stove

For weeks, I couldn't cook. This isn't quite the tragedy you may imagine, since I hate to cook. Still, one must eat.

The problem was that the friendly blue flame on my gas stove had been replaced by an angry orange (some would say yellow) flame. The first time I saw it, I shut the gas off immediately, thinking something was wrong with the gas mixture. Yellow-orange flames can indicate carbon monoxide, and that's not how I want to leave this world. (I'd like to be sucked up into a tornado, BTW. Sounds like a really exciting ending.)

So we called the gas people and eventually a friendly gas guy arrived. He walked into my house and within 30 seconds, pointed at the humidifier. "That's doing it," he said. Though he'd never seen this scenario before, he was sure the humidifier was the culprit. My sweet, darling, cute and oh so friendly humidifier was being called a common criminal. Oh, the fruited plain!

I balked. I said in a "you must be a total jerk" voice: "That's ridiculous! How could a humidifier affect the stove like that?" And I kept on haranguing the guy. In an instant, I had turned into a monster rather than a customer, so strong was my belief that he was wrong. But the fellow kept his head and repeated, each time I'd pause, "That's doing it." Once again, he pointed his finger at my poor, innocent humidifier. The finger was really irritating me. How dare he?

To show the man just how stupid he was, I turned the humidifier off and opened every window and door in the house. It was a windy day so it didn't take long for the room in the air to be replaced.

And the flame turned blue.

Oy, I felt like a jerk. (And let's be clear, I acted like one too.) But it seemed so unlikely. Nevertheless, the guy was right. I apologized profusely, because I'm a good-good person, and said goodbye to the stalwart gas guy.

Later on, I googled "humidifiers and gas stove" and found a zillion posts by people who had had the exact same experience. And in every case, they were as shocked as I was at the drama's conclusion. Plus -- and I find this so odd -- in each case the humidifier-stove connection was also news to the gas installer. You'd think if this was a thing, and apparently it is, the installers would know all about it. After all, it's not rare for people to use a humidifier. But they were as baffled as I was.

One poster said he was particularly shocked because his house is two stories, and the humidifier was in a kid's bedroom upstairs -- far from the stove. Yet he too experienced the odd orange flame.

Keep this info in your back pocket, folks. Humidifier = orange flames on stove. One nice thing, after all is said and done, is that I can shut the humidifier when I feel it's done its trick -- and later on, all I have to do is turn on the stove to check the humidity. If the flame is still orange, I don't need to turn the humidifier back on. It's kinda nice. And when I want to cook, all I have to do is open the windows.

This has been your Monday story. Protect and treasure it, for tomorrow is Tuesday.

March 12, 2016

Queer rage lets loose

I almost dropped dead when I heard that Hillary Clinton praised Nancy Reagan for "helping to start a national conversation about HIV/AIDS". Nancy, of Ronnie-and-Nancy-hate-queers fame. These two were literally monsters in the most crucial days of the AIDS crisis. We were all dying and they didn't say a thing.

Thankfully, Dan Savage handled this for me.
“You could only say the Reagans started “a national conversation” about AIDS if terrified, desperate, and dying people screaming “WHY AREN’T YOU SAYING OR DOING ANYTHING ABOUT AIDS!” at the Reagans counts. It does not.”

Savage argued that Clinton “needs to walk this back immediately or she risks losing the votes of millions of queer Americans who survived the plague. We watched our friends and lovers die by the tens of thousands while Nancy and Ronnie sat silently in the White House.”
Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. This confirms for the umpteenth time that Hillary Clinton isn't real. She lives in some alter reality that doesn't really connect with anything. She was an adult, an ambitious, politically-oriented woman when Ronnie and Nancy steadfastly did nothing to help people with AIDS. She didn't notice when we were dying in the streets while Ronnie and Nancy thought everything was swell?

No one who is gay wants to vote for this woman right now. Take my word for it. And I'm with Savage here:
He [Savage] also stated that he was “literally shaking” as he composed his criticism of Clinton.
Yes, yes, a thousand times yes -- again. Hillary Clinton is a sham, an unreal creation affiliated only with corporate America. If it doesn't shed money that falls at her feet, she's not for it. Sure, she says things that some liberals like. But she only does that to get her hands on power -- so more money can work its way toward her and her friends. And who the hell cares what happens to real people?

I have never respected Hillary Clinton, not for one second. And with this, I'm now veering toward hatred.

Perhaps you weren't there when all this went down. I was. My friends were dying all around me. And Ronnie and Nancy ignored it.

March 5, 2016

My hope for the Olympics

Yeah, yeah, the Zika virus. I know. Still, there could be something scintillating at this year's Olympics, something that will have everyone jumping out of their seats.

Yes, I'm hoping for the long-awaited Saran Wrap Handling event. Can you imagine the excitement? Mortals can't even touch Saran Wrap without it turning into a tangled ball. But there are some halcyon individuals who can handle this challenge -- and it is they who will enter the Olympic competition.

Just picture the championship event, the penultimate Advanced Saran Wrap Handling competition. A pitcher tosses a savory roast toward the competitor -- who wraps it as it passes by in the air, without ever slowing its passage. Like magic, the wrapped roast lands on the target table behind the competitor.

And here comes a pie. (The event includes increased difficulty with each pass.) Oh, it's the dreaded custard pie -- the hardest kind to wrap in the air. But the stalwart competitor hardly moves. His or her hands fly up into the air, and voila! The wrapped pie ends up on the target table.

And in the final round, a Bloody Mary is tossed from a glass into the air. Can the competitors possibly wrap it before it spreads too far? Oh, the agony of competition!

Fans will jump out of their seats as they watch this virtual sorcery. Could anything be more exciting and sportsmanlike? No! This is what Olympic fans have been waiting for.

I cannot wait to see this.

March 2, 2016

Cool clouds over Hong Kong

Yup, I got the photo at the Astronomy Photo of the Day site, hosted by NASA. Ain't it purty?

You'll find a larger version of the image here.