Monday, August 31, 2009

Just Under the Wire

It's been a missing summer, what with buying a new house, moving in, my operation, and my Mother-in-law's broken ankle (and subsequent surgery). So we've missed out on some summer staples like camping and Rockygrass.

But all is not lost: we went to the drive-in this weekend! Didn't think we were gonna be able to squeeze that one in. We saw the mildly diverting and utterly forgettable "Shorts." No matter, the drive-in is not about the movie. It's about playing catch til it gets too dark, about the pre-teens flirting at the concession stand, about everyone honking their horns impatient for the show to start, about the Twizzlers and the popcorn and the pleasure of seeing a movie in a lawn chair under a summer sky.

Better than the movie was the thunderstorm that came rolling in over the course of the show, louder and louder, brighter and brighter. We watched the last fifteen minutes huddled under the hatchback door, and drove home in pouring rain. By the time we pulled into the drive the storm was over.

Mercurial, this life of ours.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Sunday Best

My sister dressed up in her Sunday best.

Clearly, that tyke in the background is up to no good.

Happy Birthday, Jennifer.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


I read about this yesterday, and dreamed about it last night. Vividly. So I'm gonna try to go out and see it, if only to see dream imagery appear in real life.


Two moons of Jupiter (Europa and Ganymede) are going to be simultaneously casting shadows on Jupiter Thursday and Friday. A pretty rare event. Jupiter clears the horizon about 8 p.m. or thereabouts, so go out and take a look. Admittedly, you need a telescope to see this one, and I think Gordo is the only one out there with access to one, but go out and look anyway. It's such a pretty planet. It'll be the brightest thing in the eastern sky. Take your wife, your husband, your kids, your neighbor, your girlfriend. Point it out to them. Impress them with how much you know. Maybe you'll get lucky.

Here's video of one moon shadow (Ganymede's) on Jupiter, taken with an amateur camera and telescope, no less. Imagine how cool two will look.

Thanks to the One Minute Astronomer for the heads up, and the video.

Monday, August 24, 2009


We visited the 45 foot climbing wall at the new YMCA this weekend. Seriously Big Fun. Small made it to the top twice, and Large went all the way up so many times we lost count. Me? I got about a third of the way up until my still-recovering stomach muscles began complaining. They hurt all weekened, and are still barking a little today. Worth it? To quote Sarah Palin: you betcha!

This Sunday the Mets had two runners on, the winning run at the plate, when they hit into an unassisted triple play (where one guy makes all three outs, with no help) and lost yet again. Eric Bruntlett, the second baseman, caught the ball (out 1), stepped on 2nd base before the runner could return (out 2) and tagged the runner coming from 1st base (out 3).

To put this in context: this is only the second time in the 109 year history of baseball that a game ended with a triple play. The other time was in 1927*.

Halley's Comet is more common than a game-ending unassisted triple play.

I guess there is some satisfaction in that the Mets don't merely lose, but lose in epic, historical fashion.

Alright. I'm done venting. You may continue with your day.

*The baseball statistician in me requires me to add a footnote: there have been 15 unassisted triple plays in the 109 year old history of modern baseball, but only 2 of them were game-ending unassisted triple plays. It is the rarest play in all of baseball.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


Sweet picture, eh? Looks like a sea creature to me, or perhaps some microscopic organism.

Actually it's Victoria crater on Mars, as seen by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. It the one the robot Opportunity has been exploring for the last year or so. If you click on the image you can acually see the rover's tracks off to the left.

The weblike structures at the borrom of the crater are sand dunes.

Thanks to Bad Astonomy for the picture. And to NASA, of course, for actually taking the picture.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Speed Scrabble

Life is returning to normal, or as normal as it ever gets around here. Back to work full time (full time-ish; I work 6 hrs/day and then hang with the little clowncars after school/daycamp), as of yesterday. And my Mother in Law is out of the hospital, in a wheelchair, with a large cast on her leg. She got a "Fall Risk" bracelet at the hospital too! We're gonna wear em to parties together.

Lotsa family in town last week for a family reunion, my mom's sister's branch of the tree. Cousins I grew up with. Then watched their kids grow up. And now my own kids get folded into the mix, threaded into the tapestry, insert your own metaphor here, as so many apply. The same stories get told over and over again, the same lame jokes, the same memories. My girls are hearing them all for the first time, though certainly not the last. A fine week. I ignored all doctor's orders about taking it easy and played whiffle ball, swam, ate too much. But whaddaya gonna do?

Learned a new game. Speed Scrabble. You don't use the board. Just dump all the tiles in the middle of the table, letters down, everyone chooses seven. Yell "Go!" and you try to make a crossword out of all seven letters. First one who does yells "Pull!" and everyone grabs two more letters. Once alll the letters are gone, first person who uses all of theirs wins. Fast-paced, and allows for multiple winners.

Of course, my 15 year old niece handed us all our butts on a platter, and won 3 outta 4 games.

Saw District Nine last night. Pretty good. Coulda been better, if only because the premise is so rich with possibilities. It ultimately succumbs to the belief that the only way to whip things up into a climax is to blow up a bunch of crap.

Much better is the 6 minute short it was based on. Economical story-telling, no Hollywood bloat. My advice: save eight bucks, skip the movie, watch this instead.

Friday, August 14, 2009

And So It Begins....

The squirrel was said to be drawn to the camera by the sound of the auto-timer.

Either that, or he's studying it before beaming it up to his home planet for analysis.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

More Saturnian Weirdness

Something big and weird punched through Saturn's F-ring recently. Here's a picture.

To help you make sense of the image: the thing was approaching from below the ring, blasted through the ring and left a plume of material pointing toward the upper right hand corner of the picture, the plume is casting a shadow toward the lower lefthand corner.

No one knows what it is. Other than a great big space rock, probably.

I learned about it by listening to Phil Platt, of Bad Astronomy, on Coast to Coast last night (I got the pix from his site as well). For those of you not in the know, Coast to Coast is the gloriously strange radio show devoted to alien abductions, the Hollow Earth theory, the Taos Hum, Bigfoot, etc. It's about 80% silly, 20% interesting.

This is from the 20% interesting bit.

It comes on the heels of the comet slamming into Jupiter last month. Do I sense a pattern here? Did some passing object perturb the orbits of all those frozen space rocks at the edge of the Solar System? Are we about to be bombarded with shrapnel from the Oort Cloud?

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Girls With Rainbow

We've had two rainbows this week, a result of the nearly daily mid-afternoon thunderstorms we get this time of year. Delightful. Me, la huquita and the little clowncars were basking in the cool breeze under the porch when this one reared its colorful head.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Whistling Past the Graveyard

My Mother-in-Law fell down a short series of steps in our house and shattered her ankle. She's in the hospital now. She's a good woman, and we are hoping for a quick recovery. The extended clowncar family is feeling a little worn down as of late.

The reason I bring it up: there was a small spot of blood at the base of the steps which the girls noticed before we did. We cleaned it up. The girls point it out - "that's where the blood was" - whenever they pass. They look to it solemnly, blank-faced but wide-eyed, as if they were passing a graveyard, or a holy place.

I recognize the look very well, from when I was in the hospital. It was the way they looked at me. In particular I remember the way they watched me when I took my first shaky walk down the hospital hallway, with folks on either arm to steady me. The look is a mixture of fear and confusion and reverence. Confronted with a sight they do not understand, unsure if they should be frightened or not. Like they are looking down the edge of a deep chasm, unable to see the bottom, fearful of what lies below.

Makes me want to sweep them up in my arms and protect them from the world, the unknown, the passage of time.

I can't do that, of course.

Wish my Mother-In-Law well.