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

Thursday, June 15, 2017

NatureVision TV

On a recent airplane flight, I discovered "NatureVision TV". It's wonderful and a little reminiscent of the "slow TV" movement coming out of Norway.

NatureVision simply puts beautiful pictures to soothing music. It's also a little reminiscent of "Soylent Green" where people get to spend their last hours viewing beautiful pictures of a long-lost nature. Kinda weird, but nice.

You can find NatureVision TV on some airplanes, on Sling TV, on Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Netflix, Amazon Prime and others.

Here's a preview:

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Chong Lincoln ad

How is it that this Tommy Chong spoof of the Lincoln ad series was released over two years ago and I didn't see it?! Spooky.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Saturday, June 10, 2017

reap what you sow

Will Republicans keep pushing this crap? I don't recall any outpouring of sympathy at the several attacks upon liberals, abortion providers, etc, in days past.

Friday, June 9, 2017

The Resistance

It's becoming more and more obvious that any thinking person needs to be among the resistance to the Agent Orange asshole currently occupying the White House.

Thursday, June 8, 2017


They say that Stand Up Paddle Boarding was invented in Hawaii by a bunch of surfers that hung out around the north shore of O'ahu. What a coincidence! We're renting a house on the north shore of O'ahu for a week, right down the beach from where the guys who "wrote the book" on Stand Up Paddle Boarding invented it. Or that's the legend. Hawaii is full of legends.

PaddleTV, huh? Well, of course.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017


As long as I'm on the topic of new tech, the site Techlicious does regular reviews of all things technology, including, as in this one, a rating of different tech systems of picture storage. You can join their daily newsletter. I'm already using two of the top sites.

The Best Photo Sharing Sites
Digital cameras and smartphones mean that most of us have a ton of photos scattered everywhere from phones and computer hard drives to Facebook and Instagram profiles.
But what happens when you switch phones, upgrade computers, or simply want to search all your photos at once?
Uploading pictures to a photo sharing site is a simple way to answer all those questions—and the services offer lots of other benefits, as well. You can organize large photo collections, make it easier for friends and family to contribute to shared albums and ensure your pictures stay with you no matter what device they came from.
There are four main criteria to think about when picking the best site for your needs:
1. Cost of storage. First, you need to figure out how much memory you’ll need. This is largely determined by where most of your pictures are coming from. Smartphone photos can range from 500KB to 2MB in size, while photos from point-and-shoot cameras are usually 1-5MB, depending on the megapixel-count of the camera. Choose lower storage limits at first; you can always pay for more when you need it.
2. Automatic photo sync. If you take a lot of photos, a service that syncs images automatically via a smartphone app or folder on your desktop can take the hassle out of backing up.
3. Privacy. Do you want complete control over who can see your pictures? Family albums, for instance, might benefit from a site that keeps albums password protected.
4. Full-size upload and download. If you want to back-up a collection or print your photos, find a service that allows full-resolution uploads and downloads. Some services downsize photos for quicker uploads.
Below are our favorite sites and their best features.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017


The site TechRadar often has some great info if you are shopping for some kind of tech.  Still prepping for Hawaii, and I think that a GoPro Hero5 Black might be just the ticket.

The 10 best GoPro and action cameras in 2017

They're small, they're simple, and they're tough.

Action cameras are unlike any other kind of camera. They're designed to be attached to helmets, surfboards, cars and other objects, and they're small, tough and simple to operate, with a lens that captures the world in high-definition video and in a wide-angle fish-eye perspective.

Their small size and dramatic POV ('point of view') footage has made them popular with extreme sports participants, who capture their adventures by attaching cameras to themselves or their equipment. They're also used by TV production companies where using a regular video camera would be impossible.

GoPro is the market leader with its iconic box-shaped Hero cameras, but action cams also come in a 'bullet' style, like the iON Air Pro. There's lots of choice now, and you shouldn't just buy on brand – think about what you want from an action camera and how you plan to use it.

If you're helmet-mounting, then a bullet cam will probably be the best choice. For a chest mount a box design will be more stable. And when it comes to features, do you really need Wi-Fi, 4K, GPS or even a screen? These all bump up the price, and while they are invaluable in some situations, you can still get great footage without them.

Monday, June 5, 2017


Tides4Fishing lists tides and other weather info for quite a few spots in the Northern (and Western) Hemispheres of this beautiful blue globe at this link. Sure wish they had an app. Tides Near Me is a good app for local tides, but not much else.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

final farewell

Another massive mothballed ship, this one the USS Independence aircraft carrier, was towed past South Padre Island on its was to dismantling at the Brownsville Ship Channel. The size of these things is amazing.

from the Port Isabel-South Padre Island Press


Hundreds of people gathered on the rocks of the jetties at Isla Blanca Park Thursday afternoon, June 1st, to say their final farewells to the USS Independence, a Forrestal class aircraft carrier with nearly four decades of service in the American Navy fleet. 

“I just wanted to see it,” said Pete Rico, who traveled with his wife all the way from Tulsa, Oklahoma just for the occasion. “(It was) a 14 hour drive,” he said. Rico served aboard the Indy from 1965 to 1968, he said. 

Though he was somewhat sad to see that the ship will be dismantled, he understood why it will be. “It needs to be recycled. The taxpayers have been paying the storage fees up in Bremerton, Washington where it came from,” he said. After waiting on the jetties for six hours, Rico stood with his back to the water as his wife took a photograph of him holding a sign in the Independence’s honor. 

“We served with a lot of people. I think there was 175,000 crewman that served on it, both officers and enlisted people, over the 38 years that it was on active duty,” Rico said. 

Seeing a ship that could comfortably hold the same number of people as a small town was definitely a spectacle for another Navy veteran, Brownsville resident Doug Nelson. “It’s just amazing, especially these big aircraft carriers that are so large that my little guy, we had 100 people, and these had 5,000 of them,” he said. Nelson served aboard the USS Lowe, a radar picket ship, in 1972, he said. Asked why he came to see the Independence off, he replied simply, “It’s a Navy thing.” 

Another Independence vet, James Ory, traveled from San Antonio to say goodbye to the old girl. “Came to see my boat for the last time. This is her last port of call,” he said. “It’s sentimental. Never going to see it again,” Ory said. 

He previously saw the ship in Bremerton, Washington, where it was held in storage until the government decided what its final fate would be. But it wasn’t just Navy veterans who came to say goodbye. La Grulla resident and Army veteran Juan Antonio Garcia, and his wife Isabel, sat in camp chairs facing the calm ship channel waters. The couple are currently staying at Isla Blanca Park for the summer. 

“Es un orgullo verlo ya por última vez y ya no vamos oírlo. Ya no se va volver a ver,” Garcia said. 

“It’s a proud moment to see it for the last time, and we won’t hear of it again. It will not be seen again,” he said. He likened attending the Independence’s arrival as attending the funeral of a loved one. He came to pay his respects, he said. 

“Es como cuando acompañas un difunto al cemeterio. Eso se trata aquí, ahorita,” he said. “It’s like when you accompany a deceased loved one to the cemetery. That’s what’s happening here, right now.” 

Ory said he was happy to see so many people turn out for the farewell voyage. “I’m glad there’s a lot of people here. All up and down here, there’s a lot of old Indy shipmates and everybody has a different story,” he said. “I really hope nobody forgets her; she was a great ship, the last of her kind,” Ory said.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

dry drowning

Wow, no idea. As if drowning in water wasn't bad enough, how about dry drowning or secondary drowning?

Dry Drowning and Secondary Drowning: What to Know?
If you're like most parents, you probably figure once your child is done swimming or playing in the water, his risk of drowning is over. But "dry" and "secondary" drowning can happen hours after he's toweled off and moved on to other things. There are steps you can take to keep your child safe.
These types of drownings can happen when your child breathes water into his lungs. Sometimes that happens when he struggles while swimming. But it can be a result of something as simple as getting water in his mouth or getting dunked.
It can happen to adults, but it's more common in kids because of their small size, says Raymond Pitetti, MD, associate medical director of the emergency department at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh.
With dry drowning, water never reaches the lungs. Instead, breathing in water causes your child's vocal cords to spasm and close up after he's already left the pool, ocean, or lake. That shuts off his airways, making it hard to breathe.
Secondary drowning happens a little bit differently. Your child's airways open up, letting water into his lungs, where it builds up, causing a condition called pulmonary edema. The result is the same: trouble breathing.
Symptoms of dry drowning usually happen right after any incident in the water. Secondary drowning generally starts later, within 1-24 hours of the incident, Pitetti says.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Cyclone Mora

Instant worldwide communications allows us to worry about things on the other side of the world that we never would have worried about before, in real time!

Cyclone Mora Makes Landfall

Cyclone Mora pummeled Bangladesh with high winds and heavy rain on May 30, 2017. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this natural-color image of the cyclone that day.
Maximum wind speeds reached 120 kilometers (75 miles) per hour, according to the Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System. The organization reported that more than 11 million people were affected by winds equivalent to a category 1 hurricane—strong enough to cause damage to houses, crops, and trees.
Millions of people live in the low-lying coastal regions of Bangladesh, India, and Myanmar. Authorities in Bangladesh oversaw large-scale evacuations as storm winds battered the coast, local news sites reported. Cox’s Bazar, the town where Mora made landfall, was especially hard hit, with damage to thousands of structures, according to news reports.
In its final warning, the Joint Typhoon Warning Center reported that Mora should dissipate as it moves into rough terrain over northeast India.
NASA Earth Observatory image by Jesse Allen, using data from the Land Atmosphere Near real-time Capability for EOS (LANCE). Story by Pola Lem.
Aqua - MODIS

Thursday, June 1, 2017

June stargazing

Keep looking up, even if everything turns to shit. There is much we do not understand.

Stargazing Summary
June offers warm nights for watching the sky but a limited amount of time to enjoy the view, with the longest days and shortest nights of the year. Even so, there is plenty to look at, with Leo diving toward the western horizon in early evening and the Summer Triangle climbing into view in the east. The triangle's leading light, Vega, is the second-brightest star visible from most of the United States on summer evenings, only a fraction fainter than Arcturus, which is high in the south at nightfall.

More stargazing information

Coming Up in StarDate Magazine
Our next issue of StarDate magazine will focus on the Great American Eclipse. On August 21, a total solar eclipse will be visible across a wide swath of the United States, with a partial eclipse in store for the rest of country. We'll tell you how to make the most of it.

Subscribe today

Radio Program Highlights
If you want to start hearing the StarDate program in your area, you can request a station to carry our program by emailing the request to

June 1-4: Morning light. The brilliant planet Venus stands at its farthest from the Sun in the morning sky this week, and we'll have details. We'll also talk about some colorful storms on the brilliant planet Jupiter. Join us for this and more.

June 5-11: Hot sights. The hottest objects in the universe emit most of their light at wavelengths that are invisible to the human eye. But they are visible to space telescopes. Join us for views of the ultraviolet sky and much more.

June 12-18: Second to none. Saturn may be the solar system's second-largest planet, but its brilliant beauty is second to none. Join us for tales of the ringed planet, plus the beauty of a dying star and much more.

June 19-25: Our star. After a busy period a few decades ago, the Sun is in a quiet mood these days — and it may get even quieter in the decades ahead. Join us for the variable Sun, plus an encounter between the Moon and the "morning star."

June 26-30: Fireworks. Two stars recently merged, producing a big outburst of pyrotechnics as they did so. And a similar system appears to be ready for a similar outburst in a few years. Join us for stellar fireworks and much more.

Program schedule »

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News From the Observatory
Do Stars Fall Quietly into Black Holes,
Or Crash into Something Utterly Unknown?

Astronomers at The University of Texas at Austin and Harvard University have put a basic principle of black holes to the test, showing that matter completely vanishes when pulled in. Their results constitute another successful test for Albert Einstein's General Theory of Relativity.

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About SkyTips
SkyTips is a monthly email newsletter for visitors to McDonald Observatory and StarDate Online. Each issue features stargazing highlights, upcoming StarDate radio program descriptions, and other news. Please feel free to forward this newsletter to your friends and family.

SkyTips is a publication of the University of Texas McDonald Observatory Education and Outreach Office, 2515 Speedway C1402, Austin, TX 78712. Reproduction of SkyTips content is permitted with proper credit given to McDonald Observatory.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017


Time is somewhat relative, so it's time for the End Of Month Meme Dump.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017


The Mayor of Pittsburgh certainly didn't agree with pulling away from the Paris climate accord. #45 is a complete buffoon and embarrassment, but he knows how to play the rubes.

Monday, May 29, 2017

CO2 capture

Science is about the only thing that will save us from ourselves.


First Commercial Carbon-Capture Plant Goes Online

The plant will collect 900 tons of carbon a year, piping it into a nearby greenhouse to boost vegetable growth

Yesterday, the Swiss company Climeworks switched on its first carbon capture plant—a machine designed to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The company hopes to quickly scale up its technology and capture one percent of the global carbon dioxide produced by burning fossil fuels by 2025, reports Bobby Magill for Climate Central.
The company estimates that the plant will remove some 900 tons of CO2 from the atmosphere every year—a tiny fraction of the 10 gigtons that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change determined must be drawn down each year to halt global warming, writes Tereza Pultarova for Live Science.
Located near the Swiss village of Hinwil on the roof of a garbage incinerator, the direct air capture technology uses a proprietary filter to absorb atmospheric CO2 as it passes through the plant, according to a press release. Once the filter is saturated, it is heated to 100 degrees Celsius, causing it to release the gas. The CO2 is then redirected to a greenhouse where it will help grow vegetables like tomatoes and cucumbers. The carbon boost could improve the lettuce harvest by up to 20 percent, according to the company's website.
To achieve their goal of one percent, the company estimates they will need 250,000 plants the same size as the Hinwil unit, Magill reports.
Though the plant doesn’t result in net negative emissions, it is recycling the carbon dioxide for other uses, Magill writes. In order to actually achieve negative emissions the removed CO2 would have to be sequestered via capture in underground chambers or transformation into substances like rock.
In the future, the technology could also be used to capture and sequester carbon dioxide. But for now, the plant is giving CO2 emissions a function, rather than simply letting them go in the atmosphere. The company also sees potential in selling the captured CO2 to the beverage industry to carbonize drinks or producing a renewable hydrocarbon fuel.
“CO2 capture from air has been a very controversial topic in research for a long time,” Valentin Gutknecht, a business development manager at Climeworks tells Pultarova. “There was a belief that the cost can’t get down below $600 per ton of CO2 even at the mass scale. But we have managed to break this barrier.” As Magill reports, the company hopes to get the price down to about $400 per ton.
But the technology is controversial for more than its cost. Last year, leading climate scientists, including Glen Peters, published a paper in the journal Science arguing that the nascent technology directs focus away from reducing overall emissions. And it could cause complacency in some global leaders who believe that a future technological breakthrough could readily solve the climate crisis.
But Climeworks co-founder Christoph Gebald has no scruples about his project, he tells Magill. With effects due to climate change increasingly apparent, we need to use all tools possible to clean up global emissions.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Der Spiegel

The German weekly news magazine Der Spiegel recently published a rather scathing look at Donald Trump, after the disastrous meetings Trump had in Europe. Or as Trump and FOX News called it, "a home run." Pretty scary to see a whole TV network (Fox) bowing down to our "fearless leader". Fortunately, there is a lot of media that is having none of it.

It's Time to Get Rid of Donald Trump
Donald Trump has transformed the United States into a laughing stock and he is a danger to the world. He must be removed from the White House before things get even worse.

Donald Trump is not fit to be president of the United States. He does not possess the requisite intellect and does not understand the significance of the office he holds nor the tasks associated with it. He doesn't read. He doesn't bother to peruse important files and intelligence reports and knows little about the issues that he has identified as his priorities. His decisions are capricious and they are delivered in the form of tyrannical decrees.

He is a man free of morals. As has been demonstrated hundreds of times, he is a liar, a racist and a cheat. I feel ashamed to use these words, as sharp and loud as they are. But if they apply to anyone, they apply to Trump. And one of the media's tasks is to continue telling things as they are: Trump has to be removed from the White House. Quickly. He is a danger to the world.
Trump is a miserable politician. He fired the FBI director simply because he could. James Comey had gotten under his skin with his investigation into Trump's confidants. Comey had also refused to swear loyalty and fealty to Trump and to abandon the investigation. He had to go.

Witnessing an American Tragedy
Trump is also a miserable boss. His people invent excuses for him and lie on his behalf because they have to, but then Trump wakes up and posts tweets that contradict what they have said. He doesn't care that his spokesman, his secretary of state and his national security adviser had just denied that the president had handed Russia (of all countries) sensitive intelligence gleaned from Israel (of all countries). Trump tweeted: Yes, yes, I did, because I can. I'm president after all.

Nothing is as it should be in this White House. Everyone working there has been compromised multiple times and now they all despise each other - and everyone except for Trump despises Trump. Because of all that, after just 120 days of the Trump administration, we are witness to an American tragedy for which there are five theoretical solutions.

The first is Trump's resignation, which won't happen. The second is that Republicans in the House and Senate support impeachment, which would be justified by the president's proven obstruction of justice, but won't happen because of the Republicans' thirst for power, which they won't willingly give up. The third possible solution is the invocation of the 25th Amendment, which would require the cabinet to declare Trump unfit to discharge the powers of the presidency. That isn't particularly likely either. Fourth: The Democrats get ready to fight and win back majorities in the House and Senate in midterm elections, which are 18 months away, before they then pursue option two, impeachment. Fifth: the international community wakes up and finds a way to circumvent the White House and free itself of its dependence on the U.S. Unlike the preceding four options, the fifth doesn't directly solve the Trump problem, but it is nevertheless necessary - and possible.

No Goals and No Strategy
Not quite two weeks ago, a number of experts and politicians focused on foreign policy met in Washington at the invitation of the Munich Security Conference. It wasn't difficult to sense the atmosphere of chaos and agony that has descended upon the city.

The U.S. elected a laughing stock to the presidency and has now made itself dependent on a joke of a man. The country is, as David Brooks wrote recently in the New York Times, dependent on a child. The Trump administration has no foreign policy because Trump has consistently promised American withdrawal while invoking America's strength. He has promised both no wars and more wars. He makes decisions according to his mood, with no strategic coherence or tactical logic. Moscow and Beijing are laughing at America. Elsewhere, people are worried.

In the Pacific, warships - American and Chinese - circle each other in close proximity. The conflict with North Korea is escalating. Who can be certain that Donald Trump won't risk nuclear war simply to save his own skin? Efforts to stop climate change are in trouble and many expect the U.S. to withdraw from the Paris Agreement because Trump is wary of legally binding measures. Crises, including those in Syria and Libya, are escalating, but no longer being discussed. And who should they be discussed with? Phone calls and emails to the U.S. State Department go unanswered. Nothing is regulated, nothing is stable and the trans-Atlantic relationship hardly exists anymore. German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel and Bundestag Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Norbert Röttgen fly back and forth, but Germany and the U.S. no longer understand each other. Hardly any real communication takes place, there are no joint foreign policy goals and there is no strategy.

In "Game of Thrones," the Mad King was murdered (and the child that later took his place was no better). In real life, an immature boy sits on the throne of the most important country in the world. He could, at any time, issue a catastrophic order that would immediately be carried out. That is why the parents cannot afford to take their eyes off him even for a second. They cannot succumb to exhaustion because he is so taxing. They ultimately have to send him to his room - and return power to the grownups.