Never pass up a chance to sit down or relieve yourself. -old Apache saying

Friday, April 29, 2011


The Ring of Fire!

Tungurahua, Ecuador volcano, Sends Town Fleeing From Truck-Sized Flaming Boulders

QUITO, Ecuador — Ecuador's Tungurahua volcano hurled truck-sized pyroclastic boulders more than a mile Friday in a powerful eruption that prompted at least 300 people to flee their homes, authorities said.

Schools were closed for a third straight day as ash showered down on a dozen towns in the sparsely populated area surrounding the 16,480-foot (5,023-meter) volcano.

Thundering explosions could be heard miles from Tungurahua, which is on the Andes cordillera 84 miles (135 kilometers) southeast of Ecuador's capital, Quito.

A state Geophysics Institute scientist monitoring the volcano from a nearby observation post said by phone that incandescent boulders were landing up to 1.2 miles (2 kilometers) beneath crater level.

"The smallest blocks are that size of an automobile while the biggest reach the size of a truck, which cause impact craters up to 10 meters (33 feet) wide as they hit the flanks," the scientist, Silvana Hidalgo, told The Associated Press.

She called the eruption level "moderate to high."

Civil defense officials reported an intense shower of ash east of the volcano, including in Banos, a tourist destination three miles (five kilometers) away that is popular for its hot springs.

The volcano has been active since 1999. At least four people were killed and thousands evacuated in eruptions in July and August of 2006.


Pray for rain!

Rick Perry is a pathetic excuse for a Governor.   When, oh when, will Texans finally see through the crapcloud that surrounds the Republicans?

Oh, and by the way, the "Days of Prayer for Rain" didn't work.  Surprise, surprise!  Perhaps God is punishing Texas for their ongoing stupidity?  That's just as plausible as "Days of Prayer for Rain."

Meat glue?!

Meat glue?!  How low will they go to increase profits?  Poison us all?

Industry-Wide Use of Meat Glue Sticks Together Scraps of Meat To Sell You Prime Cuts

Did you know your meats contain this meat glue? Just one more way food producers can sell more, while lowering the quality of what you consume. If it’s so harmless and miraculous, why didn’t we know before? It’s not on labels because technically it not part of formulation of the product. That’s a giant stretch. It is not harmless…and yes, you are actually ingesting it all the time!
It creates a type of franken-meat in that it allows butchers to use the undetectable glue to piece together scraps of meat into a seamless full meat cut. England banned use of Thrombin coagulant last year. They found it mislead consumers to think they are getting a prime cut for their money, and also the original glue was made from cow and pig blood, something they didn’t think was wise in restaurant meats.

When multiple pieces are globbed together, bacteria has a better chance of growth. “If there is a bacteria outbreak, it’s much harder to figure out the source when chunks of meat from multiple cows were combined,” said Keith Warriner who teaches food science at University of Guelph.
The EU recently brought back the use of the new glue, Thrombian, or Transglutaminase, right along with Australia, Canada and the US. The FDA, of course, deems it GRAS (generally recognized as safe). The meat preparers in the video below need to wear masks when using it because, “It’s dangerous s—.”

It’s hush-hush because meat preparers are afraid to lose their suppliers and customers.  The next time you buy natural and organic meat, it wouldn’t hurt to ask about its use.
~Health Freedoms

Read the original here.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The End Is Near

 And all I can do is cheer and think, so long overdue!

The End (Of Religion) Is Near, Scientists Say
Scientists often have a funny way of talking about religion.

A case in point concerns a new study that was discussed at the American Physical Society meetings in Dallas, Texas, in late March. Religion, it seems, is going extinct. You heard me: extinct. Dead and gone. Like the dinosaurs.

Read the rest here.

Quit Whining

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Contrary Farmer

I've just started reading "Holy Shit - Managing Manure to Save Mankind," the latest book by Gene Logsdon.  So far, it's great.

Gene has a blog called The Contrary Farmer.  Very interesting.

“Contrary farmers are those who have another job or career and look to their home pursuits as a form of enjoyment that at the same time provides good food and meaningful work. On many days a contrary farm requires nothing more than sitting at the breakfast table or reclining in a hammock while watching animals graze. And what the contrary farmer is learning, from the hammock, he or she may someday turn into a commercial farming venture.”
Gene and Carol Logsdon have a small-scale experimental farm in Wyandot County, Ohio. Gene is the author of numerous books and magazine articles on farm-related issues, and believes sustainable pastoral farming is the solution for a stressed agricultural system.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Adult Truths

*** Adult Truths ***
1. I think part of a best friend's job should be to immediately clear your computer history if you die.
 2. Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you're wrong.
 3. I totally take back all those times I didn't want to nap when I was younger.
 4. There is great need for a sarcasm font.
 5. How the hell are you supposed to fold a fitted sheet?
 6. Was learning cursive really necessary?
 7. Map Quest really needs to start their directions on # 5. I'm pretty sure I know how to get out of my neighborhood.
 8. Obituaries would be a lot more interesting if they told you how the person died.
 9. I can't remember the last time I wasn't at least kind of tired.
 10. Bad decisions make good stories.
 11. You never know when it will strike, but there comes a moment at work when you know that you just aren't going to do anything productive for the rest of the day.
 12. Can we all just agree to ignore whatever comes after Blue Ray? I don't want to have to restart my collection...again.
 13. I'm always slightly terrified when I exit out of Word and it asks me if I want to save any changes to my ten-page technical report that I swear I did not make any changes to.
 14. I keep some people's phone numbers in my phone just so I know not to answer when they call.
 15. I think the freezer deserves a light as well.
 16. I disagree with Kay Jewelers. I would bet on any given Friday or Saturday night more kisses begin with Miller Lite than Kay.

17. I have a hard time deciphering the fine line between boredom and hunger.

18. How many times is it appropriate to say "What?" before you just nod and smile because you still didn't hear or understand a word they said?
 19. I love the sense of camaraderie when an entire line of cars team up to prevent a jerk from cutting in at the front. Stay strong, brothers and sisters!
 20. Shirts get dirty. Underwear gets dirty. Pants? Pants never get dirty, and you can wear them forever.
 21. Sometimes I'll look down at my watch 3 consecutive times and still not know what time it is.
 22. Even under ideal conditions people have trouble locating their car keys in a pocket, finding their cell phone, and Pinning the Tail on the Donkey - but I'd bet everyone can find and push the snooze button from 3 feet away, in about 1.7 seconds, eyes closed, first time, every time.
 23. The first testicular guard, the "Cup," was used in Hockey in 1874 and the first helmet was used in 1974. That means it only took 100 years for men to realize that their brain is also important.
 Ladies.....Quit Laughing.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Super Wi-Fi

Houston leads way in launching 'super Wi-Fi'
1st hot spot in U.S. opens Web to disadvantaged

Leticia Aguirre seems an unlikely candidate for the vanguard of wireless Internet technology.

But that's just where the Houston grandmother finds herself today, as quite possibly the nation's first user of "super WiFi" technology at her east Houston home.

"To me the Internet is like a window to travel to places I don't think I'll ever be able to get to," said Aguirre, 48, who works at a nearby restaurant.

She's an early adopter of super WiFi because of a partnership between Rice University, which provided the technology, and Technology For All, a Houston nonprofit that provides free wireless Internet access to low-income households in a three-square-mile area in east Houston.

As its name suggests, super WiFi has created a buzz in the technology community, with providers scrambling to determine how best to use the valuable new WiFi spectrum.

With money from the National Science Foundation, Edward Knightly, a computer engineer at Rice, was able to build prototype equipment this winter and create Houston's first super WiFi hot spot a few weeks ago. He believes it is the first such hot spot in the nation.

"This is an early trial," he said. "We're still trying to determine the ideal use for the technology."

Space on spectrum

Super WiFi was made possible in September when the Federal Communications Commission issued rules for the use of spare patches of the radio spectrum that opened up when broadcast TV stations switched from analog to digital signals.

Normal WiFi signals use a portion of the spectrum in which wavelengths are much shorter, and therefore not good at penetrating through trees or walls.

The newer chunk of the spectrum allowed WiFi signals at longer wavelengths, which are much better at penetrating natural and man-made barriers.

In Aguirre's Pecan Park neighborhood there are a lot of, well, pecan trees.

"I think the biggest opportunity is the extended range and the penetration through trees and buildings," Knightly said. "It can provide the in-home service that WiFi never could."

Aguirre has tried to use Technology For All's equipment for several years, but could never get a reliable signal. 

"I had told them the antenna was not helping, so maybe they should come and take it down," Aguirre said. "It worked, but the Internet was very, very slow. To go to a page it took an hour or longer. Who wants the Internet like that? Now it's working a whole lot better."

Aguirre said she uses the Web to view her paychecks, conduct online banking and watch movies. Her 5-year-old grandson likes to play games.

Traditional WiFi signals travel about 100 yards before petering out. 

The new space in the spectrum can produce signals that travel up to a mile, and penetrate into homes.

A benefit to rural areas

But there are drawbacks as well. The amount of spectrum available between digital TV stations is smaller than the segment reserved for traditional WiFi, so there's limited bandwidth, especially in urban areas with more broadcast TV stations.

That's why Knightly and others believe the technology may see its widest applicability in rural areas.
Will Reed, president of Technology For All, said he's working with about 70 public computer sites in Texas to eventually distribute the technology, including rural areas such as Duval County in South Texas.

"It's a huge opportunity," Reed said. "You can really blast the signals a long way. I think it will work really well in rural populations where it would be very expensive to run wires to."

Bag It

Earth Week starts April 17, 2011, and to get you in the spirit, PBS will air the national television premiere of the award-winning film Bag It, a touching and often funny documentary about how we use and abuse plastic.

The film takes a look at the environmental and health dangers posed by the global use of disposable, non-biodegradable plastic products, including the infamous plastic bag. Told with wit and humor, Bag It follows “everyman” Jeb Berrier as he embarks on a global tour to unravel the complexities of our plastic world.

As a society, we have a throwaway mentality, culture of convenience, and addiction to the over-consumption of unnecessary, disposable products and packaging – things that we use one time and then, without another thought, throw away.

But where is AWAY?? Away is over flowing landfills, clogged rivers, islands of trash in our oceans, and even our very own toxic bodies.

When Jeb discovers that he and his partner are expecting a child, his plastic odyssey becomes a truly personal one. How can they protect their baby from the health dangers associated with plastics?

Jeb looks beyond single-use disposable plastics and discovers that virtually everything in modern society – from baby bottles, to sports equipment, to dental sealants, to personal care products – is either made with plastic or contains potentially harmful chemical additives used in the plastic-making process.

A 56-minute version of Bag It will air nationally on public television stations starting April 17, 2011, just in time for Earth Day. Viewers should check their local PBS stations for showtimes. Broadcast dates and times will also be posted on the screenings calendar of the Bag It website.

On Comcast in Houston - KUHT-TV:
Sunday, April 24 @ 11:00am 
Wednesday, April 27 @ 8:00am.


Real-life Barbie

Poor thing is going to have some serious back issues.

Short story, plus a video, here.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

April Gardening

Some of the country may in fact be getting "April Showers" but not here in Houston.  YTD, we are now over 5" behind in rainfall.  

Normal rainfall by 4/17 = 11.82".  
So far, for us, 6.63".

Still, the Garden is growing like mad.  Tomatoes seem to be the easy #1 choice so far this spring planting season.  They are EVERYWHERE.  And we've only lost two so far to worms.

With that in mind ...

... and this is just a sampling

Friday, April 15, 2011


While having a network of companies give 1% of their sales to environmental organizations is a great, practically painless and easy idea, the largest companies in the world are, naturally, nowhere to be found on the list of Members.

As I see so often, those that have the most, and could most-easily give to a group like this, don't, and are the most greedy and stingy. Those that don't have so much are the most generous. Fascinating, isn't it, Spock?

1% for the Planet is a growing global movement of 1427 companies that donate 1% of their sales to a network of 2,459 environmental organizations worldwide.

1% for the Planet exists to build and support an alliance of businesses financially committed to creating a healthy planet.
Check out their website here.

Thursday, April 14, 2011


Future farm

Farm indoors, with LED's! Brilliant! Now just cut the cost of LED's by a factor of 10, and we're getting somewhere.

It's really rather embarrassing and shameful that we actually have answers to so many of the world's problems, but we consistently don't have the will or willpower to make things happen.

Future farm: a sunless, rainless room indoors

DEN BOSCH, Netherlands – Farming is moving indoors, where the sun never shines, where rainfall is irrelevant and where the climate is always right.

The perfect crop field could be inside a windowless building with meticulously controlled light, temperature, humidity, air quality and nutrition. It could be in a New York high-rise, a Siberian bunker, or a sprawling complex in the Saudi desert.

Advocates say this, or something like it, may be an answer to the world's food problems. "In order to keep a planet that's worth living on, we have to change our methods," says Gertjan Meeuws, of PlantLab, a private research company.

The world already is having trouble feeding itself. Half the people on Earth live in cities, and nearly half of those — about 3 billion — are hungry or malnourished. Food prices, currently soaring, are buffeted by droughts, floods and the cost of energy required to plant, fertilize, harvest and transport it.

And prices will only get more unstable. Climate change makes long-term crop planning uncertain. Farmers in many parts of the world already are draining available water resources to the last drop. And the world is getting more crowded: by mid-century, the global population will grow from 6.8 billion to 9 billion, the U.N. predicts.

To feed so many people may require expanding farmland at the expense of forests and wilderness, or finding ways to radically increase crop yields.

Meeuws and three other Dutch bioengineers have taken the concept of a greenhouse a step further, growing vegetables, herbs and house plants in enclosed and regulated environments where even natural light is excluded.

In their research station, strawberries, yellow peppers, basil and banana plants take on an eerie pink glow under red and blue bulbs of Light-Emitting Diodes, or LEDs. Water trickles into the pans when needed and all excess is recycled, and the temperature is kept constant. Lights go on and off, simulating day and night, but according to the rhythm of the plant — which may be better at shorter cycles than 24 hours — rather than the rotation of the Earth.

In a larger "climate chamber" a few miles away, a nursery is nurturing cuttings of fittonia, a colorful house plant, in two layers of 70 square meters (750 sq. feet) each. Blasts of mist keep the room humid, and the temperature is similar to the plants' native South America. After the cuttings take root — the most sensitive stage in the growing process — they are wheeled into a greenhouse and the chamber is again used for rooting. The process cuts the required time to grow a mature plant to six weeks from 12 or more.

The Dutch researchers say they plan to build a commercial-sized building in the Netherlands of 1,300 square meters (14,000 sq. feet), with four separate levels of vegetation by the end of this year. After that, they envision growing vegetables next to shopping malls, supermarkets or other food retailers.

Meeuws says a building of 100 sq meters (1,075 sq. feet) and 14 layers of plants could provide a daily diet of 200 grams (7 ounces) of fresh fruit and vegetables to the entire population of Den Bosch, about 140,000 people. Their idea is not to grow foods that require much space, like corn or potatoes. "We are looking at the top of the pyramid where we have high value and low volume," he said.

Sunlight is not only unnecessary but can be harmful, says Meeuws. Plants need only specific wavelengths of light to grow, but in nature they must adapt to the full range of light as a matter of survival. When light and other natural elements are manipulated, the plants become more efficient, using less energy to grow.

"Nature is good, but too much nature is killing," said Meeuws, standing in a steaming cubicle amid racks of what he called "happy plants."

For more than a decade the four researchers have been tinkering with combinations of light, soil and temperature on a variety of plants, and now say their growth rate is three times faster than under greenhouse conditions. They use no pesticides, and about 90 percent less water than outdoors agriculture. While LED bulbs are expensive, the cost is steadily dropping.

Olaf van Kooten, a professor of horticulture at Wageningen University who has observed the project but has no stake in it, says a kilogram (2.2 pounds) of tomatoes grown in Israeli fields needs 60 liters (16 gallons) of water, while those grown in a Dutch greenhouse require one-quarter of that. "With this system it is possible in principle to produce a kilo of tomatoes with a little over one liter of water," he said.

The notion of multistory greenhouses has been around for a while. Dickson Despommier, a retired Columbia University professor of environmental health and author of the 2010 book "The Vertical Farm," began working on indoor farming as a classroom project in 1999, and the idea has spread to several startup projects across the U.S.

"Over the last five year urban farming has really gained traction," Despommier said in a telephone interview.

Despommier argues that city farming means producing food near the consumer, eliminating the need to transport it long distances at great costs of fuel and spoilage and with little dependency on the immediate climate.

The science behind LED lighting in agriculture "is quite rigorous and well known," he said, and the costs are dropping dramatically. The next development, organic light-emitting diodes or OLEDs, which can be packed onto thin film and wrapped around a plant, will be even more efficiently tuned to its needs.

One of the more dramatic applications of plant-growing chambers under LED lights was by NASA, which installed them in the space Shuttle and the space station Mir in the 1990s as part of its experiment with microgravity.

"This system is a first clear step that has to grow," Van Kooten says, but more research is needed and people need to get used to the idea of sunless, landless agriculture.

"But it's clear to me a system like this is necessary."

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Rush Hour!!

Obama budget speech

OK, so Obama said a lot of the right things today. I've heard lots of rhetoric, but seen little follow-through. My cynicism rears its ugly head again and wonders how long it will take Obama to compromise away everything he spoke about today? And I wonder how badly our "media" will twist everything he had to say today? POTUS REMINDS GOP WHO SPILLED THE MILK.... In addition to the debt-reduction plan, the rejection of the Paul Ryan proposal, and the spirited defense of progressive governance, President Obama's speech included one other thing that's worth noting: a reminder about how we got to this point. It's worth keeping in mind because there's apparently a widespread Republican belief that the large budget shortfall -- the ones the GOP claims to be desperate to address -- is Democrats' fault. Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) said last week of Dems, "It's their debt." Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.) added soon after, "We're here mopping up their spilled milk, to be honest." With this nonsense in mind, I was glad Obama set the record straight today.

"As a result of ... bipartisan efforts, America's finances were in great shape by the year 2000. We went from deficit to surplus. America was actually on track to becoming completely debt-free, and we were prepared for the retirement of the Baby Boomers.

"But after Democrats and Republicans committed to fiscal discipline during the 1990s, we lost our way in the decade that followed. We increased spending dramatically for two wars and an expensive prescription drug program -- but we didn't pay for any of this new spending. Instead, we made the problem worse with trillions of dollars in unpaid-for tax cuts -- tax cuts that went to every millionaire and billionaire in the country; tax cuts that will force us to borrow an average of $500 billion every year over the next decade.

"To give you an idea of how much damage this caused to our national checkbook, consider this: in the last decade, if we had simply found a way to pay for the tax cuts and the prescription drug benefit, our deficit would currently be at low historical levels in the coming years.

"But that's not what happened. And so, by the time I took office, we once again found ourselves deeply in debt and unprepared for a Baby Boom retirement that is now starting to take place. When I took office, our projected deficit was more than $1 trillion. On top of that, we faced a terrible financial crisis and a recession that, like most recessions, led us to temporarily borrow even more. In this case, we took a series of emergency steps that saved millions of jobs, kept credit flowing, and provided working families extra money in their pockets. It was absolutely the right thing to do, but these steps were expensive, and added to our deficits in the short term. "So that's how our fiscal challenge was created. That's how we got here."

This isn't opinion; it's simply a recitation of recent history. Those who consider the deficit and debt a mess, and want to know who "spilled the milk," shouldn't have any real doubts. It is, ironically, the party that created the mess that's whining the most about the speed with which it's being cleaned up. Original.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Krugman - Missing

This Obama bit is really getting old.  I can't remember the last time he actually stood up for a typical "Democratic" ideal. 

And to think, we're going to be stuck with this farce of a Democrat in 2012.  Oh joy!  Another 6 years of giving away anything and everything to Republicans.  Are there no real Democrats left at all?  Democrats were thoroughly hoodwinked by Obama in 2008.

The President Is Missing

by Paul Krugman

What have they done with President Obama? What happened to the inspirational figure his supporters thought they elected? Who is this bland, timid guy who doesn’t seem to stand for anything in particular?

I realize that with hostile Republicans controlling the House, there’s not much Mr. Obama can get done in the way of concrete policy. Arguably, all he has left is the bully pulpit. But he isn’t even using that — or, rather, he’s using it to reinforce his enemies’ narrative.

His remarks after last week’s budget deal were a case in point.

Maybe that terrible deal, in which Republicans ended up getting more than their opening bid, was the best he could achieve — although it looks from here as if the president’s idea of how to bargain is to start by negotiating with himself, making pre-emptive concessions, then pursue a second round of negotiation with the G.O.P., leading to further concessions.

And bear in mind that this was just the first of several chances for Republicans to hold the budget hostage and threaten a government shutdown; by caving in so completely on the first round, Mr. Obama set a baseline for even bigger concessions over the next few months.

But let’s give the president the benefit of the doubt, and suppose that $38 billion in spending cuts — and a much larger cut relative to his own budget proposals — was the best deal available. Even so, did Mr. Obama have to celebrate his defeat? Did he have to praise Congress for enacting “the largest annual spending cut in our history,” as if shortsighted budget cuts in the face of high unemployment — cuts that will slow growth and increase unemployment — are actually a good idea?

Among other things, the latest budget deal more than wipes out any positive economic effects of the big prize Mr. Obama supposedly won from last December’s deal, a temporary extension of his 2009 tax cuts for working Americans. And the price of that deal, let’s remember, was a two-year extension of the Bush tax cuts, at an immediate cost of $363 billion, and a potential cost that’s much larger — because it’s now looking increasingly likely that those irresponsible tax cuts will be made permanent.

More broadly, Mr. Obama is conspicuously failing to mount any kind of challenge to the philosophy now dominating Washington discussion — a philosophy that says the poor must accept big cuts in Medicaid and food stamps; the middle class must accept big cuts in Medicare (actually a dismantling of the whole program); and corporations and the rich must accept big cuts in the taxes they have to pay. Shared sacrifice!

I’m not exaggerating. The House budget proposal that was unveiled last week — and was praised as “bold” and “serious” by all of Washington’s Very Serious People — includes savage cuts in Medicaid and other programs that help the neediest, which would among other things deprive 34 million Americans of health insurance. It includes a plan to privatize and defund Medicare that would leave many if not most seniors unable to afford health care. And it includes a plan to sharply cut taxes on corporations and to bring the tax rate on high earners down to its lowest level since 1931.

The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center puts the revenue loss from these tax cuts at $2.9 trillion over the next decade. House Republicans claim that the tax cuts can be made “revenue neutral” by “broadening the tax base” — that is, by closing loopholes and ending exemptions. But you’d need to close a lot of loopholes to close a $3 trillion gap; for example, even completely eliminating one of the biggest exemptions, the mortgage interest deduction, wouldn’t come close. And G.O.P. leaders have not, of course, called for anything that drastic. I haven’t seen them name any significant exemptions they would end.

You might have expected the president’s team not just to reject this proposal, but to see it as a big fat political target. But while the G.O.P. proposal has drawn fire from a number of Democrats — including a harsh condemnation from Senator Max Baucus, a centrist who has often worked with Republicans — the White House response was a statement from the press secretary expressing mild disapproval.

What’s going on here? Despite the ferocious opposition he has faced since the day he took office, Mr. Obama is clearly still clinging to his vision of himself as a figure who can transcend America’s partisan differences. And his political strategists seem to believe that he can win re-election by positioning himself as being conciliatory and reasonable, by always being willing to compromise.

But if you ask me, I’d say that the nation wants — and more important, the nation needs — a president who believes in something, and is willing to take a stand. And that’s not what we’re seeing. 


Friday, April 8, 2011

No more cumadin!

This week, the wife's doc told her she could stop taking the cumadin (Warfarin) she's been on since January, ever since she fractured her ankle and developed a DVT (deep vein thrombosis - blood clot). Yes! She's a healer!

The wife already bruised like a banana. Any little bump would develop a bruise. Add on cumadin on top of that, and she got a little black and blue. Just the simple act of drawing blood last week resulted in a large hematoma where they stuck her.

One of the best things about getting off of the blood thinners is that she can now go back to using ibuprofen (Advil), which is the closest thing to a miracle drug I've seen. You can't mix NSAID's with blood thinners, unless you feel like dying, from the inside.

All it took for her to fracture her ankle was one slightly wrong step on the stairs in our home. Slipped off of one step, rolled her ankle, and pop! Either from the trauma or from purposefully elevating her leg to relieve swelling from the ankle, she developed a blood clot. One wrong move with a blood clot and that sucker can dislodge and travel into the lungs or heart or brain, and can result in death.

So, everyone, watch your step!

Aren't we just in awe of this "intelligent design?"

Thursday, April 7, 2011


Good news from GE, and it's about time.  Why is it so hard for our sacred, much-vaunted businesses in this country to set some money aside and open up some new facilities in this country?  Sure, people overseas will work for a small fraction of what U.S. workers expect, but where is the loyalty to your own country? 

I think we need to trash this whole "free trade" bullshit.  It has done little but move technology and jobs overseas.  U.S. companies should be PUNISHED and not REWARDED for moving jobs overseas.   They should be REWARDED for keeping jobs here.

This story tends to offset (a little) those recent stories about the mega-billions that GE has made over the last few years while not paying ONE CENT in taxes, and THEN demanding concessions from the unions!

GE To Build Largest Solar Panel Factory In U.S.

NEW YORK -- General Electric says it's going to build the nation's largest solar panel factory, part of a $600 million dollar bet on the future of solar power in the United States.

The new plant will employ 400 people and produce enough solar panels to power 80,000 homes per year, GE said Thursday. The company isn't saying where the plant will be located, but it does say that there are multiple locations being scouted.

GE says its thin film solar panel has been certified as the most energy efficient of its kind by the National Renewable Energy Lab in Colorado. The technology for the panel, called CdTe thin film, lends itself to low-cost, large-scale manufacturing.

GE recently acquired PrimeStar Solar Inc. a maker of thin film solar panels based in Colorado.


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Saturday, April 2, 2011

April Stargazing

Keep looking up!

Stargazing Summary for April 2011

With the constellations of winter on their way out, the stars of spring dominate the sky for most of the night. Leo, the season's signature constellation, stands high in the south by the time the last glow of twilight fades away. Look for the backward question mark that outlines his head and mane, and the small triangle to its left that marks his tail. Virgo follows Leo across the sky. And Bo├Âtes, the herdsman, rises in the northeast, marked by yellow-orange Arcturus, one of the brightest stars in the night sky.
More stargazing information:

Radio Program Highlights

Hear StarDate every day on more than 360 radio stations nationwide or subscribe to our podcast:  

April 4-10: Charging past the bull. The Moon charges past the shoulder, the face, and the horns of Taurus, the bull, this week, and we'll have details. We'll also have details on a "great" observatory, plus a lot more on the night sky.

April 11-17: Follow the water. Missions to Mars have found that there's water all across the Red Planet -- a resource for future exploration -- and for possible life. Join us for Martian water, plus a possible explosive birth for a Martian moon.

April 18-24: A basketful of planets. A single spacecraft has tripled the number of possible known planets -- it found as many as 1200 of them. We'll have details, plus the profile of a single star system with at least six planets.
April 24-30: Traffic jam. There's a planetary traffic jam in the dawn sky this week. Only one of the planets is easy to see, but the others are climbing into better view. And the Moon rounds out the crowd. Join us for this and much more.
April Program Schedule:
Find an Affiliate:

Open House in Fort Davis

Come enjoy an Open House at McDonald Observatory on Saturday, April 9. The day of free, family-friendly events runs from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m., and includes tours of large research telescopes, science talks, a star party and other telescope viewings. We'll also have hotdogs, face painting, and balloons.

For more information and to make your reservations for the free events, which are likely to fill up, see:

Getting a Facelift for Science

The Hobby-Eberly Telescope is about to get a facelift. This summer, engineers will lop off the package of mirrors, instruments, and electronics sitting 60 feet above its primary mirror and replace it with one that is heavier and more sophisticated. The replacement will give the giant telescope a wider yet sharper view of the sky and support a new set of powerful instruments that will allow it to begin probing the mystery of dark energy.

Read More:

News From the Observatory

Texas Astronomers Find Super-luminous Supernova
Astronomers led by graduate student Emmanouil "Manos" Chatzopoulos and Dr. J. Craig Wheeler of The University of Texas at Austin have found another extremely bright, rare supernova to add to the new class of exploding stars that University of Texas astronomers identified a few years ago. Supernova 2008am is one of the most intrinsically bright exploding stars ever observed. At its peak luminosity, it was over 100 billion times brighter than the Sun. It emitted enough energy in one second to satisfy the power needs of the United States for one million times longer than the universe has existed.

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Astronomy Night at the Museum

An evening of free, family-friendly astronomy events will be held on April 11 at Austin's Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum. From 7-8 p.m., the Austin Planetarium will conduct shows in its mobile planetarium. At 8 p.m., University of Texas at Austin astronomy professor Jenny Greene will speak on "Black Holes: Tiny but Powerful" in the Spirit Theater. Additionally, astronomers will be on hand from 7 to 9 p.m. to answer questions at an "Ask the Astronomer" booth. These events are held in conjunction with the American Astronomical Society's Division of Dynamical Astronomy Meeting being held in Austin April 11-14.

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