altivo: Clydesdale Pegasus (pegasus)
Yeah, I know, it was last night, but it's still really, really bright.

While I was out a-ridin'

The grave yard shift midnight till dawn,

The moon was as bright as a readin' light

For a letter from an old friend back home...

--Michael E. Burton, Night Rider's Lament





Other news: handspinning show finished yesterday, I went in and took it down this afternoon. Now just have to get all those items back to their owners.

Fall color is coming on fast here, proving me wrong in my belief we'd have little due to the long drought. It is intense and widely varied in fact. I should try to get some photos, though the best views in our areas area along roads on which it is difficult to stop and use a camera.

Gary and I agreed yesterday that it was time to unhitch ourselves from Virgin Mobile, so we signed up to transfer to Consumer Cellular. The big guys are just too expensive and don't suit our requirements. We will in fact be getting smart phones (Android) but not by any means the very latest. The final selling point was the no-contract plan that still allows us to share minutes and data over two lines instead of having to pay for two full plans. Activation in one week, looks like. I'm bracing myself for a lot of complaints and explanations of how to do stuff with one of these goofy phones. I mean, who makes phone calls on them? Seems they're all busy playing games and updating their facebook pages.

Ow my ears

Apr. 23rd, 2012 08:12 pm
altivo: From a con badge (studious)
*sound of whip cracking* Back to work, eeww. Think I better schedule some more time off soon.

Fortunately our other cataloger kept right on top of the cataloging load, so there was no backlog there. But I had to prepare a lesson and handout for an in-service training this Thursday, validate a couple hundred catalog records, and do some other stuff to catch up. Waiting me is the installation of three new multi-user machines, a new firewall box, and the reassignment of several desktop machines. Have I said before I'm tired of those sort of tasks? Really tired of it? Of course, no one else on staff can do it and if I make them hire it out that's just one more excuse for no pay increases. This is growing pretty tiresome.

Minivan sized meteor exploded over California Sunday morning, supposedly with the intensity of 4 tons of TNT. Probably rained small fragments over a wide swath of land, too.

No Lyrid meteors were visible here, due to clouds as anticipated. But at least it isn't snowing, so no complaints.
altivo: (rocking horse)
Was slow but it did finally come to an end. Got home, found a small (really) amount of cash waiting in payment for my Irish music appearance last Saturday. We went out for dinner and used it. ;p

Stopped at Wally-Mart for cat food, cheap breakfast cereal, and a couple of other items, came home, going to bed soon. Model train show tomorrow, Gary wants to go, so go we shall. Report afterward. I need to get photos of the landscaping he has done, too.

It was densely overcast until just before sunset. Now it's almost clear with lots of bright stars, and, most miraculous, still 60F outside so you can just go outside and gaze up at them. Most striking is the alignment of Jupiter, Venus and Capella in a straight vertical line above the western horizon. The Pleiades are quite visible near that, and Canis Major is bright to the south with Orion standing over him.

The exceedingly warm weather has brought out all our spring bulbs at once. Gary has waves of daffodils that are supposed to bloom in a cycle that takes most of the month of April. Almost all of them are blooming right now, at the same time. Scylla is popping out all over, and the day lilies and iris leaves are standing six inches tall before the trilliums even show. Looks like a bad year for slugs, they are everywhere. Probably the warm weather and mild winter has brought them out. *refills his big salt shaker*

Vet came today for the horses, said they all look good in terms of weight. I've been concerned that they are on the thin side this spring, but she says otherwise. Asher had a bit of allergy a week ago and we started rinsing his hay to reduce the dust, which seems to have nipped it in the bud.

Our vet agrees with the animal control: rabies in raccoons has not been observed here. She says the symptoms observed in the raccoon and squirrel yesterday were either distemper or poison, just as I thought. The squirrel disappeared overnight, and I hope it wasn't taken and eaten by a fox or coyote.
altivo: The Clydesdale Librarian (Default)
Probably tomorrow or Sunday evening they say now. Another outburst from the same sunspot group took place today. Venus, Jupiter and the slightly past full moon are well worth seeing anyway.

Interlibrary Loan person out sick this week, last in on Monday. Today the pile of waiting stuff got large enough that I thought I'd better process it. Took three hours. Each item is different, it's all process intensive.

On St Patrick's Day I agreed to do a couple of hours of fursuit (wolf costume) as part of the library's presence at a city expo. Today I learned that they want me to pass out fortune cookies. They got a special deal on 500 individually wrapped cookies with custom fortunes in them There are 17 different messages. The cookies arrived today. They look just like the ones from Chinese restaurants.

So this weekend I need to go over the suit and make any needed repairs as well as some adjustments to see if I can get the moving jaw to work the way I originally intended it.

Saw literally hundreds of geese flying in every direction over one small field on my way home today. No idea what that was about.
altivo: The Clydesdale Librarian (Default)
Saw a turkey vulture in Harvard, circling over Lions Park today. I'm sure this is the earliest I've ever seen one. Went to the Audubon meeting tonight with friend Susan who said she had seen a red headed woodpecker in her yard, as well. That's about a month earlier than we usually see them.

Gary called the heat pump guy a couple of days ago because our system was acting irregular again. It would run normally for 20 hours or so, then lock up. He found a defective (sticky) relay. No parts cost because there were spare contacts on another relay that operates in parallel with it anyway. He transferred the problem circuit and everything is working again. Hopefully we're now good for a couple of years. He checked the pressure in the underground loop and it was OK. The compressor is transferring heat as it should, and the problem with the relay was cutting off the pump that circulates the coolant in the wells. All seems to be functional now.

Clear skies, brilliant full moon. Even if there is an aurora display tonight, I suspect the moon will mask it for us.
altivo: From a con badge (studious)
I hate doing these, and never like what I come up with. I found I had nine different versions from previous places and publications, but I didn't care for any of them. Now there will be a tenth that I'll probably dislike when I look at it later.

Big (BIG) solar storm in progress folks. If you're at a higher latitude in North America (Alaska, Canada, Maine, maybe even Minnesota or Wisconsin) and have anything like a clear sky, check it for aurora displays tonight.

This is probably already at its peak, but it's quite possible that another particle ejection from the sun could arrive before it settles, raising the energy to an even higher level.

Gary is fiddling with his embroidery machine. I asked him to do something for me and he hasn't used it in months so now it's out of adjustment. I feel bad about eating up his time on it now.

Not as cold as last night, but the stove is going again just the same. We get spoiled I guess and like warm hands and feet.

Weekend!

Dec. 9th, 2011 10:27 pm
altivo: The Clydesdale Librarian (Default)
But you know what? I need it to rest and recover, not to party. Quiet, where I can hear myself think. Supposed to attend two parties tomorrow, and I'm definitely skipping one. Wish I could skip both. I've never been much for crowds of people being noisy and social. It pounds on my ears and makes me want to withdraw.

Wireless is now active at work. They turned it on yesterday afternoon while I was off. Tried it a bit, and it works as well as can be expected. I don't know how well it will handle a load, though. I did manage to throw together a splash screen with some basic policy statements on it. And the system is configured to block P2P file sharing, and shuts down when the library is closed. No sitting out in the park at midnight using our connection.

Trying to get hold of a book on the history of the Detroit, Toledo & Ironton Railroad, which is turning out to be more difficult than I expected. It was published in 1988 and I could just buy it. There are some used copies available. But I don't like to drop $50 on a book sight unseen. Since I'm the lord of interlibrary loan for another week or so, I ran through my request to borrow it from somewhere. No copies in Illinois at all, but they are at some libraries in Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan. We generally pick five and try them in order. First one wanted a $20 fee to lend it, which I declined. The next two say it is too rare and valuable to send. Waiting on the other two. There are a few more I can try if they both say no, but the odds are looking slimmer.

Bitter cold and clear tonight. Probably going to get into the single digits (F) before dawn, so we have the woodstove going for real. Lunar eclipse just at dawn probably won't be visible here because the moon will be too low in the sky, but those of you out on the west coast should look for it. Should be quite dramatic, as it's a full eclipse, the kind where the moon turns blood red.

OK, time for bed.
altivo: (rocking horse)
Even though I have a full day of gallery watching ahead of me tomorrow (and then I'll be done until the show closes on the 30th.) This has been a week full of side trips and distractions.

Gary did go to his doctor's office today and saw the nurse practitioner. $100 (cha-ching) and she prescribed an antibiotic. Price of 20 pills: $120 (cha-cha-ching.) Fortunately he did get an AARP discount on the prescription at Walgreen's, so that only cost $22. Finger still swollen and feverish, but he only started the antibiotic this evening.

I finally looked over the result list for the show judging. I had 12 entries (13 actually, but I withheld one from the judge) and received 11 awards. That sounds better than it really is, though, since the competition was thin. In many cases I had the only entries in a category. For instance, I got all three ribbons in cotton spinning, but I was the only one to submit cotton yarns. Total take (the awards are only symbolic, no actual prizes involved) was 4 first place, 4 second, and 3 third.

Got home too late to change water on the flax, will do it in the morning.

Weather is delightful now, probably our last pleasant spell before the winter. Sunny skies, daytime highs around 80F, nighttime lows mid-50s. You folks in EU should watch for the Draconid meteor shower tomorrow evening (peak around 2000-2100 UTC) which may reach a rate as high as 1000 per hour. In spite of our clear skies, the whole thing will be mostly over before dark here. The waxing moon may cause some interference in viewing even if you have an otherwise clear sky, though.
altivo: 'Tivo as a plush toy (Miktar's plushie)
Not that the weekend looks relaxing as I'd like, but at least it's not work. Sorta.

Gary had a farmers' market gig to play today. Yesterday the weather forecast said 30% chance of rain, which he considered acceptable. This morning it said 80% chance of thundershowers. Of course, both were wrong. There was not a drop of rain in either Marengo or Harvard today. They were still saying 80% chance tomorrow as well, up to mid-afternoon. Now no rain for tomorrow (when he has another farmers' market.) How much do we want to bet he gets rained on? ;p

Auroras are flaring in northern EU tonight, so if you have clear skies in North America and especially if you live north of 47 latitude or so, it's worth checking out around your midnight local time.

The local apple orchards open this weekend. Guess where I'm planning to go. And no, not for the doughnuts.
altivo: (rocking horse)
Tonight is the perigee full moon. The moon is at it's closest point to the earth and also full. These two conditions coincide only about once every 19 or 20 years. The moon will look about 14% larger and appear 30% brighter than it does when at its greatest distance. It was certainly bright enough last night to cast shadows and read by. I can't say about tonight, because we are overcast. If you have a clear sky be sure to take a look.

After repeated experiments with CHKDSK, none of which ran to completion, I gave up. Every sure-fire cure offered by web pages and individuals made no difference at all. CHKDSK on Gary's drive simply stalls near the start of phase 2 and sits there. I let it sit for more than eight hours on the last attempt, with no sign of progress. The task was using no CPU cycles and a fixed amount of memory when I killed it.

Instead, I went into the Windows Registry and altered the autocheck invocation on boot up so that it will no longer try to check that drive. Gary was finally able to retrieve his files from the drive, and so far all have been intact and usable. Once he has all the files he needs off, we'll try formatting the drive. It's a 1.5 TB SATA drive, so I expect a low level format will take many hours too. It's under warranty, so if it won't format, we'll get it replaced.

Not as springlike today as I'd hoped, but at least it was sunny. Birds are coming to life: cardinals and robins singing, blackbirds calling, woodpeckers drumming. I saw a huge hawk late this afternoon, circling and circling overhead. Probably hoping for a try at one of the neighbors' kids...

Oh, and I see we now have Obama's war to add to Bush's wars that are not yet resolved. While I agree it is time for Qaddafi to give up his power in Libya, the hypocrisy of the US accusations and behaviors in this are just too overwhelming for words.
altivo: Running Clydesdale (running clyde)
But it isn't going to feel like one. Too many obligatory things on the schedule, so many in fact that they aren't all going to get done, obligatory or not.

At least the weather should be tolerable, though cloudy.

Apparently there was aurora visible last night as close as Madison, Wisconsin, so quite possibly it could be seen here. I didn't stay up late enough and go look. There is a possibility of a repeat tonight, but now it's cloudy of course. Last night it was pretty clear, at least at 10 pm.

Windows utilities fail to see or read Gary's primary HD on his desktop machine. Looks like a hardware crash, except that when I boot the machine from a Linux LiveCD the drive is readable. I'm guessing something is scrambled in the NTFS but it must be something that Linux ignores. Currently copying files off for him onto a USB attached HD so he can copy them onto his laptop and make sure they are in fact usable.
altivo: Horsie cupcakes (cupcake)
Dinner for OneWith Gary in Chicago, I was left to my own devices. That usually means I get to eat vegetarian and on my own schedule. Here you see whole wheat penne baked with broccoli, marinara sauce, and two cheeses. It was tasty, but a little garlic toast would have gone nicely with it. No wine because I'm already tired enough for bed and I have ironing to do yet.

The computer swap I mentioned yesterday is going to be amusing though perhaps not unnoticed. The old one had that bouncing cow screen saver on it, commonly available in Linux. A Holstein cow named "Harmilda" is one of Harvard's trade marks, and a plastic statue of her stands at the main intersection in town. Windows doesn't have a bouncing cow, so I set up the "Marquee" screen saver with large bold italics saying "This is not a cow". The PC itself decided to help with the joke this morning. Apparently the HD or the fans make a soft moaning sound that sounds rather like a cow. We'll see if anyone gets it.

The heat wave that has been punishing much of the central US finally got far enough north to hit us today. Heat index went over 100F and it was pretty beastly out. Too beastly for beasts. I didn't let Tess go out to the pasture because the mosquitoes would have sucked all the blood out of her within an hour or so. She was not pleased with me, but acted resigned as usual, just giving me a disapproving look and a lot of grumbles. She has an indoor pen in the arena that's large enough for her to trot in circles if she chooses, but of course it has no grass. It is under a roof, which is good in some weather, including today's. It also attracts fewer biting insects.

Perseid meteor shower is supposed to peak tonight or tomorrow morning before dawn, with rates that may exceed one visible trail per minute. It's usually one of the better shows of the year. And the sky is clear here. Unfortunately, the mosquitoes are ferocious.

OK, time to get that ironing done.
altivo: Geekish ham radio pony (geek)
If you have a clear sky, and are located at a fairly high magnetic latitude, it may be worth checking for aurora around your local midnight. The activity index is climbing as a result of the CME that took place on Saturday. That one was a much stronger flare than the physically large one of a week ago, but it wasn't pointed directly at the earth.

It's amazing how much dust can collect on conventional monitor screens. I cleaned mine this morning and I can't believe how much brighter they look, not to mention sharper. Duh.

Over the weekend I received the official letter stating that my pension is fully vested. And, today the occasion arose for me to have to tell the new director that "I don't do Windows." She was a bit surprised, I think, but seems to have taken it in stride for the moment. I meant it too. I hate all the fiddly, poorly documented twiddling required to keep a Windows network running. And I really hate what it takes to keep Windows running reliably on public workstations. I've done it, of course, and for a good many years, but it has been a terrific relief not to be doing it any more over the past five years, and I'm not about to return to the stress of it. Especially not at my present payscale, which is about half what a Windows network administrator makes even in this area. I've been providing minimal support for staff members who are helplessly dependent on Windows, but I am not going to maintain public Windows stations. Life is too short.

Attempt to clean a couple of non-functioning keys on the VT220 keyboard did not succeed. They remain non-functioning. I did, however, get a Linux-based terminal session script that provides most of the functionality of VT220 emulation. It's clunky trying to duplicate all 25 or so of the extra keys on the VT220 keyboard with SHIFT-this and ALT-that, but it does work. I gave in and bought another keyboard, this one guaranteed to work or it can be returned. So it's just a matter of waiting for it to arrive. I did finally receive today a graphics interface for the DS10 at work, so I'll have full windowed access to that Alpha just as I do here at home. At least, should have. The board looks shiny and little used, and is supposed to work.

We had terrific thunder and lightning early this morning, between about 3 and 4:30 am. It just kept rolling along. Very little actual rain, only a quarter inch, but there sure was a lot of pyrotechnic display. Looks like we may get something similar again tomorrow morning, judging by tonight's forecast.
altivo: The Clydesdale Librarian (Default)
It takes 30 minutes or so for NOAA to post the results of the latest polar orbital observation of auroral activity. In that time, the value may rise or drop by as much as two activity points. And a half hour ago they posted a value of 9. Somewhere between 9 and 10 is when aurora activity usually becomes visible at my location.

It was pretty cloudy at sunset but the forecast calls for "mostly clear" tonight. So do I walk out to the pasture, braving the mosquitoes, to see if I can spot the aurora? I dunno. I'm sorta waiting for them to post another reading to see if it is holding steady or moving up or down.

In any case, for those of you in North America and at latitudes above 40N or so, there's a good chance of visible aurora around your local midnight time, plus or minus an hour or so. If you've never seen it, I assure you it's well worth seeing.

Those of you who reside above 50N and see it more often are allowed to yawn, but I'll still point out that although I've seen hundreds of gorgeous sunrises and sunsets in my life, I still don't miss an opportunity to see another. Aurora is much rarer. I've seen it perhaps a handful of times in my life, and I don't want to miss an opportunity.

In other news, a federal court judge who was appointed by Ronald Reagan (and we know Reagan didn't favor liberals) ruled today that California's Prop 8 is unconstitutional. Apparently though, he stayed his own judgement from being carried out pending the inevitable appeal. Thus he has fixed nothing, but affirmed my belief that even a so-called "conservative" can't easily argue a way around this. Either the Constitution affirms equal treatment for everyone, or it does not.

Some voices on the extreme right are already mustering to repeal the 14th amendment. I can't believe the selfish gall of such people, I really can't.

Also, the great "I'm in favor of change" Obama has reaffirmed, though a spokesperson, the statement that he opposes gay marriage but favors civil unions. What? Here's a supposed black man saying he supports "separate but equal" treatment. I swear, we have no history at all in this country. Anything earlier than living memory didn't ever happen.
altivo: The Clydesdale Librarian (Default)
Still down in the dumps, maybe farther than yesterday. This is so unlike me I don't know what to make of it. Read Kyell Gold's latest story posted on FA, which didn't help. It's not porn, which pleased me as I think he's a really fine writer when he talks about feelings, hopes and fears of his characters rather than describing every "unf" in graphic detail. But it ties into the stuff I'm already feeling down about, so it doesn't help with that.

The screeching, irrational fights over health care reform are no help either. I am absolutely appalled that so many Americans, who ought to be educated and rational, are willing to believe the total made up fictions being circulated about the bills in Congress.

Frankly, I think those bills are a disaster because they don't do nearly enough. They will fail to help even if they pass, which now seems unlikely since the profit sector has started breeding mass hysteria with lies and distortions.

Oh, and last night's "peak" in the meteor shower was a dud, at least here. Apparently counts have been rising across Asia today, and there should still be plenty to see tonight if you have a clear dark sky. I'll go look again in a few minutes.

At last

Aug. 11th, 2009 08:47 pm
altivo: The Clydesdale Librarian (Miktar's Altivo)
Finally managed to squeeze a week off into the calendar. Last week of August, and boy do I need it. What I really need is two solid weeks off, but every time I hint at that, there's a certain feeling of terror I see creep over some people. Not that our network needs constant tweaking. Other than changing backup tapes, I often go months without doing much of anything to it.

I'm in an unusually low mood tonight, inspired by the news of two long term relationships among my friends breaking up and dissolving. Both of them outlasted the average for straight marriages in this country, and I am utterly furious at those who keep denying legal recognition that would help stabilize things more. I'm also feeling pain over it because I know they feel hurt even though they are doing really well at covering it and smiling. And I know I couldn't do that. I'd totally lose it. I'll be 60 in just a few months, and I've spent nearly half my life with one person. I don't want that to change, I can't imagine that changing. It would destroy my world.

Enough of that. Don't miss the meteors tonight. For those of us in North America, the peak is supposed to come around 0800Z, which is 1 am in California, 2 am in the Rockies, 3 am in the Central zone, and 4 am on the East coast. Guy Ottwell's astronomical atlas says that a second peak should come at around 2000Z, which is after dusk on Wednesday for Asia and the most eastern part of Europe. Western Europe gets the short end of it this time, though there should still be good meteor viewing if you have clear skies just about any time tonight. Check spaceweather.com for more details and early photos of meteor trails. I plan to try to get up and look around 3 o'clock if I possibly can.

Tomorrow, the farrier, then I have to lead a committee meeting, then work the usual late shift. And Thursday the dogs and cats to the vet, an ordeal I've come to dread.

Darkness

Nov. 9th, 2007 09:54 pm
altivo: From a con badge (studious)
I think when "Daylight Saving Time" ends we should call it "Darkness Saving Time" because that's what the effect is. I left work in pitch darkness, where a week ago the sun was still showing. It seems to me that we need later sunsets at this time of year much more than we need them in July.

According to spaceweather.com, Comet 17P/Holmes has grown a tail now, and then over the last day or so, the tail appears to have separated from the main body of the comet the way a chameleon's tail will pull off if you grab it unexpectedly.

I shall leave Argos to ponder his captivity for the night. I'm partway through the chapter but having trouble staying awake enough to write the rest. Perhaps in the morning it will flow more easily.

altivo: Clydesdale Pegasus (pegasus)
In quotes because it isn't really exploding, as far as we know. Comet 17P/Holmes, a normally insignificant object so faint that you need a hefty telescope even to see it, suddenly blossomed last week from a 17th magnitude pinprick to a 2.5 magnitude noteworthy. Currently in the constellation Perseus, it is easily visible to the naked eye after sunset, as soon as the sky darkens, in the northeast. For photos and sky diagrams, check out Spaceweather.com. Print out the chart unless you are very familiar with the night sky and have a good eidetic memory for where to look. I thought I could get it by memory and failed, had to come back into the house and memorize the diagram more precisely. I was looking too far to the north.

Although descriptions keep saying that the hazy coma around the nucleus of the comet is visible to the naked eye, I did not find it so. I have above average night vision, but without the binoculars it just looks like a second magnitude star to me. Comparing to the star chart, you realize that there isn't supposed to be a star there, and it is so bright and obvious that it never could have been missed when the chart was made. With the small pocket binoculars I use for birdwatching, the image blossoms to match the photos on the website. Yes, it looks like a pinprick of bright light surrounded by a haze of glowing gas or droplets. I kept dropping the binoculars and looking, then looking through them again. I couldn't believe the difference. My eye told me it was just a star, but the binoculars reveal the comet nature of the object. It is not displaying a tail at present.

I usually rely on Guy Ottwell's guide to the sky, but that was printed last December and of course he had no clue that this event was going to occur. In fact, 17P/Holmes isn't even mentioned, because it is normally so faint. He must already be preparing the text for the 2008 edition, or may have already sent it to print. I'm sure he'll be chagrined if he missed the chance to comment on this in retrospect.

The comet is bright enough to see even through city lights. Try to catch it between sunset and moonrise, presently between 6:30 and 9:00 pm local daylight time in the US. Unless you have a really dark sky, you'll probably need binoculars or a small telescope to see the detail. It's worth the effort though. In fact, it is much more spectacular than Halley's comet was on it's most recent appearance.

Without Ottwell's guidance, I'm at a loss to interpret the tables of orbital data available at Spaceweather.com. I don't know if the comet is approaching perihelion or already moving away from it. Perhaps someone like [livejournal.com profile] dakhun will tell us. If it is still inbound, then there is a possibility of a really spectacular display.

Interestingly, 17P/Holmes did something similar back in 1892 or so. Since then, it has remained quite undistinguished until this year. The speculation seems to be that the comet has sinkholes or ice caves in it, and when one collapses it exposes new surfaces to rapid evaporation and erosion all at once, producing this nova-like effect.

So why am I irritated? LIght pollution and stupid (very stupid) neighbors. It's bad enough that our once clear view of the Milky Way has been eroded by useless parking lot lighting in the blossoming suburbs 20 or 30 miles from here, but we also have an immediate next door neighbor who is apparently terrified of the dark. She keeps four blazing high powered floodlights aimed at her driveway, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. They are never off. When there is snow on the ground they are blinding. They shine right in my dining room window and I could read by them in winter even though they are a football field away. Fortunately, my view to the north is best by going to the pasture, which is behind her house, away from those obnoxious lights and usually darker. Not tonight. on my second trip out there, she apparently noticed the sound of my feet in the leaves or something. Before I was done locating and examining the comet, wham, on comes another million-watt floodlight right in my face. This thing is casting shadows a full quarter mile long, and her two ill-behaved yappy dogs come charging out of the house barking at the maximum volume they can obtain. Said mutts know better than to cross the property line now, but they track me all along it as if it were a fence, barking their guts out. She stands under the floodlight calling them in a shrill voice, which they ignore, because neither of them has had the least obedience training. There is no point in arguing with her about this, she just doesn't get it. She can't understand why anyone would go out in the middle of the night to "look at stars" and is sure that anything moving around out there in the dark is either about to rob her or eat her flowerbeds.

The moon was rising anyway, so I just came back inside. I think I need to move to Wyoming or something.

When the present collapse in the housing market recovers, they will begin to progress again on the obscene development just north of me. Where there was just a 400 acre cornfield, there will be 85 suburban houses, every one of them equipped with enough light polluting and noise producing gadgetry to make me weep. Losing the Milky Way in the last ten years will be as nothing. I will lose all but the brightest stars, and all of my quiet. It will be perpetual lawnmowers by day, and blaring television receivers by night, I'm sure. My abnormally sensitive hearing detects neighbors having a party half a mile or more away now. Some 85 neighbors at a quarter mile is likely to be unbearable.

Fireflies!

Jun. 30th, 2007 09:30 pm
altivo: Clydesdale Pegasus (pegasus)
So it was clearer tonight than last, though still a bit hazy, and we went out after sunset to look at the Venus-Saturn conjunction. At first I was a little disappointed. It may look spectacular through a wide-field telescope, but to the naked eye or with my bird-watching binoculars Venus pretty much steals the show. The inner planet is blindingly bright, while Saturn is not in a good position in relation to the sun and looks like a star, somewhere between first and second magnitude. They really are within less than a degree of each other, but just barely. It's about half the width of my thumb when held at arm's length. Nonetheless, it's an interesting view. There's another very bright planet high in the southeast. It's probably Jupiter, judging by the brightness, but I haven't looked up a chart to be sure.

The real fun thing is actually the fireflies. They are out in full force, making the woods downright ghostly with their flitting lights, and hanging about in the trees as high as 30 or 40 feet up. This is very much like a scene from Fantasia and I wish I could capture it with a camera to show those of you unfortunate enough to live where there are no fireflies. We also spotted a number of bats cruising about, collecting mosquitos no doubt and welcome to all they can eat.

We had cheap champagne with dinner (celebrating all weekend, heh) so the effect of all this may be somewhat artificially enhanced, but it's fun anyway.
altivo: From a con badge (studious)
As often happens with bitter cold in winter here, the sky is crystal clear tonight. Venus was spectacular just after sunset, calling to mind for me the story of Eärendil in Tolkien, the origin of the evening star. In the new moon, it seems so bright that it might almost cast shadows all by itself. Orion is high in the southwest, probably one of the best recognized and certainly brightest of constellations. Only the "big dipper" (properly Ursa Major) is better known I think. I had brief thoughts about hauling my telescope out from the barn loft, but it is just too cold out there. The only reason I was out after sunset was that I had been doing the animal chores alone and underestimated the extra time I would need for hauling water by myself.

Gary is at his mom's place in Chicago tonight, having stayed here last week so he didn't think he could skip again. She needs his help with groceries and getting her prescriptions. I'm most grateful that he filled up the wood rack in the garage before leaving, as I need the woodstove tonight for sure.

Today was the deadline for libraries to make a decision whether to join our rebel group or stay with the main flock. One that had declared an intention to join us was forced to back down by a deadlock among its board members. So it's now official, there are eight of us. We serve a geographically contiguous region and are used to working together and using a common catalog database. I expect things to go pretty smoothly from here on with that.

And I think that's the limit of my tolerance for sitting in this chilly room where the computer is, so I'm going back to the stove and the dogs.

March 2017

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