December 1 Conjunction

27 11 2008

My post on planetary conjunctions has gotten a lot of hits this month.  If you haven’t noticed, there’s a gorgeous alignment of the planets Venus and Jupiter coming up next week.  Plus, a very thin moon will hang nearby.

NASA published a webpage a couple of days ago outlining the event and describing it as the Sky Show of the YearYou should go there and read it. Pointing you to their webpage sure is an awful lot easier than coming up with one of my own.  :o)

Clear Skies!


Look! Up In The Sky…

26 11 2008

By now you’ve heard about the lost bag o’ tools in orbit.  I’ve been thinking a lot about Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper, the poor astronaut who lost that bag, ever since the moment I read about it.  I feel for her from the deepest pit of my heart.  Think about the titles we give our astronauts.  Gus Grissom, test pilot.  Alexei Leonov, first spacewalker.  John Young, first shuttle pilot.  Paul Lockhart, Mars mission planner. Noble titles for some really exceptional individuals.  Those titles will remain with them forever, regardless of whatever else they do or have done with their lives.

Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper, first female lead for a spacewalking mission for a shuttle flight… and the one who lost a toolbag.

toolbag-reach toolbag-gone

She also will live with this always.  Even though it was something that could have happened to anyone.  You know that moment haunts her dreams.  Watching a $100,000 worth of tools float just out of reach, and then fall well beyond her reach.  I know she’d like to forget all about it.

Would you like to see it?  Turns out people have been watching this thing fly overhead all week.  According to the toolbag is visible with a pair of 10×50 binoculars.  One guy even recorded a movie of a pass over his area. is keeping track of the bag (along with the ISS, Hubble, Genesis, and several other popular satellite targets) and has updates for predicted flybys in your area here.  For those of us in the southern US, don’t go looking for the bag for at least a week.   Since it’s now at a lower altitude than the ISS, it’s moving faster than the station and pulling farther ahead each day.  And the station won’t be visible over our area until the weekend of Dec. 6.  But when the passes favor my backyard again, you know I’m going to be looking for it!

Talk about messing up where the whole world can see.  I really, really feel for her.

Sunday Funnies

23 11 2008

So I’ve found a couple of funnies that I wanted to share.  The first one is now listed in my blogroll, Criggo!  Here’s an example of what you’ll find there…


If you look hard enough you might even find something from Conway’s Log Cabin Democrat.

Also, a little something I found in youtube land.  This is a literal version of A-Ha’s Take On Me, one of the greatest videos of all time!  The guy who made this did a really great job of recreating the sound — even the crazy vocals.  It sounds as professional as any Wierd Al parody.  Careful at the end, there’s a bit of cussin’.  :o)

Trick or Treat

23 11 2008

So I know this is coming WAY late… but I just found it.  From Nick Sagan’s blog, I present to you, THE BEST PUMPKIN EVAH!


For those who can’t tell, it’s the ever omnipresent Carl Sagan.  Which, for some people, might actually have been a very scary thing!  Hehe.


21 11 2008

I noticed today that I have been quite negligent in introducing new music.  I write about bands and videos and concerts gone by, but what is it that I’m listening to right now?  I’ve compiled a list of current artists that have caught my attention that you might have never heard.  Of course, being the visual learner you are I’m including some youtube links to kill your bandwidth.  Enjoy!

Here’s what’s currently spinning on my hard drive:

The Violet Burning!

They’ve been one of my favorite bands since the early 90s with one of the most unique frontmen in the industry.  Michael Pritzl’s voice takes some getting used to, but after a bit you can’t imagine the band sounding any different.   Interesting story… I was at a music festival in Illinois in 1995 and had just talked to a friend the night before about how I wished I could catch a Violet’s concert, but being a somewhat obscure band from LA I guessed it wasn’t meant to be.  I was walking from one tent to the other during the hot afternoon.  There were little groups of amateur performers scattered everywhere.  But off the path a bit I could hear someone playing a Violet’s cover.  They sounded really good!  I walked over to see.  I was entirely shocked and overcome with joy when I saw Michael Pritzl and some members of The Prayer Chain performing beside a van with about 20 kids standing around!  Just an impromptu jam.  They played for about 20 minutes.  I can remember thinking over and over how I must have been dreaming or else hallucinating after being awake for the last 40+ hours of the festival.  But it was one of the most memorable concert experiences of my life.  Afterward I got to tell Michael how cool I thought he was.  You can see me now blabbering on and making him feel completely uncomfortable.  Later I would front a band that would do two Violet’s covers.  They have out a much more current album (which is supposed to be why I’m writing this post) but I found this song on youtube and felt you should give it a go.  The name of this song is As I Am.  It’s about being accepted for who you are — naturally.  This version is 8 minutes long and was shot at that same festival in 2000 by some guy in the crowd.  The girl on the right isn’t actually part of the band, she was just singing the harmony.  The audio isn’t the best and there are better videos to be found around the net, but there’s just something about this song.  You don’t have to watch the whole thing, especially since whoever was holding the camera seems to have been distracted at several points, but I find it a gorgeous piece of music.

Sugar and the Raw!

I’m glad I can say that they’re current again.  They’re having a reunion show at Juanitas in Little Rock on Sept. 29.  For $8 you not only get in… you also get their new CD!!!  This is a local band with a really tight sound.  I can’t find any video footage of them, but click on the link above to their myspace page and a music player will pop up.  I think you’ll like it.

All That Remains!

Not an obscure band in the least, but probably something you don’t listen to very often.  Be warned, they’re up for MTV Headbanger’s Ball Band of the Year.  So why would I want you to listen to them?  Because of the drummer.  He’s unbelievable.  Make sure you have a good sound system so you can hear just how awesome he is.  Just released last month, this is their most commercially friendly single, so looking for their other offerings will probably hurt your ears.

Missy Higgins!

I’ll end with an artist I consider to be a female version of Sting (you can argue that in the comments).  I can’t believe I haven’t written about her before this.  I’ve been completely captivated by her voice, music, and lyrics since I first heard her during the Live Earth concerts back in July.  She’s Australian, and anyone who reads this blog knows how much I love the Aussie music scene, so that just makes it that much better.  I’m not one who likes love songs, unrequited or otherwise, but somehow they sound right coming from her — especially when she isn’t afraid to use words like ‘scrupulous’.    I just can’t say enough nice things about her, so I’ll let her video speak for me.  This is Where I Stood.

BTW, this is one of three official videos for this song. I like this one best.

After watching this one, you might want to check out the videos for Ten Days, Steer, Greed For Your Love, and The Special Two.  I know, too many options and you won’t choose any.  Look, she’s had a lot of hits on the other side of the world.  These are only a fraction of her videos.  Well, pick that last one at least!

I’d like for you guys to also recommend some bands.  They don’t have to sound like the ones I’ve posted here, or even like anyone else at all.  I’m just always looking for things I should be listening to.  Got a suggestion?  Post it in the comments!

Shuttle & ISS Over the US this week

18 11 2008


The shuttle Endeavor is at the space station right now.  It had a flawless launch just before 7pm CST Friday.  My boys and I were watching Space Chimps and we had just watched the scene where they blast off of the launch pad and I said, “Hey, it’s about time for the real shuttle to launch!”  I paused the cartoon and flipped over to NASA TV just in time to catch the 9-minute countdown.  It was really cool because that gave me just enough time to explain what happens in those last 10 seconds before lift-off.  If you didn’t catch it, it was great!  Night launch.  Gorgeous.

One of my favorite astronauts, Don Pettit, is aboard this flight.  He’s a NASA Science Officer, which is way cooler than being a pilot or mission commander.  I like him so much because of his devotion to scientific experiments, even simple elementary-level ones.  But what’s great about him is his constant attention to NASA’s mission of educating the public.  Check out some of his articles, especially this video collection of what happens when you get Alka-Seltzer wet in space!

Folks in the continental US will be able to see the shuttle each evening this week.  Head over to and put in your location to get all the visible passes for you this week.  Since the shuttle and the ISS are connected right now, the shuttle isn’t listed as a satellite.  Click on the link for the ISS instead.  No binoculars or any other special equipment needed.  It’ll be as bright as the brightest star in the sky.

Viva la Politico

5 11 2008


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