Saturday, April 26, 2008

Astronomy Alert

A great set of 59 images of interacting galaxies has been posted by the European Hubble group:

Galaxy wars!!! They shred each other, in many different configurations, until nothing is left of the original galaxies!!!

Sunday, April 20, 2008


I finally finished "Sixty Days and Counting" by Kim Stanley Robinson. Very positive stuff, that to fix the earth we have to fix everything -- health care, economics, etc. Clearly a best of all possible outcomes scenario.

So, why did it take me so long to finish this book (540 pages)? I started it on my way home from England. I guess my time is being spent instead on:

  • My project to enter the Abell Catalog of clusters of galaxies into google sky. The latest post is here -- it has links to the other ones. I'm now out to around 250 Mpc, so the numbers are going way up. My value add was to set the viewport to include the whole cluster. For the hundreds of more distant clusters, I will instead be writing some perl scripts to convert raw lists into the XML that Google Sky accepts.
    Google sky has some great images of clusters out to around 1000 Mpc, amazing. I'm looking forward to finishing my 1st pass and then coming back and doing a "best of" list -- all the ones with dozens of galaxies, and with the viewports set to emphasize the populous central regions of the cluster, rather than the whole cluster.
  • Answering posts to the google sky message boards. I don't know how much longer I can keep this up. The clueless factor is so high -- "look, it's a spaceship", or "this looks like the firefox logo". And as my son says, they always win in the end. Still, you hope that maybe you can help get a young person interested in Astronomy.
  • Playing the stock market. Don't ask ...
  • Playing music. Jams have been generally going well, my 4 piece band is doing OK, but needs a lot more work. We are to the point tho where we are trying to come up with some more unique arrangements, to make the material our own. I'm getting busted at the jams tho, for the old black man growl. I had thought it was working ...
  • Spending quality time with my wife, when the good doctor is not working.
I'm two months behind on the magazine stack. I need to make more time to read. I have now decided I will retire at 62, five years from my birthday in June. I think I have enough going on to keep me busy.

Music-in wise, I am right now listening to a new pandora radio station I created from Man Man. Four songs by groups I have never heard of, and all quirky and good. Pandora kind of scares me. All the time I have spent collecting, collating, classifying music, unnecessary? This is only the 2nd station I have created there. The 1st was based on The Band, and it performed admirably.

Other new music I have gotten lately:

  • Cosas en ComĂșn, by Juanito Pascual. He's a flamence guitarist out of Boston, we saw him at Woodsongs, show 479. He totally blew the other two (very excellent) guitarists away. 3.5 stars.
  • This Is What Is, by Daniel Lanois. A studio pedal player, an interesting mix of music, 3.5 stars. I was pointed at this by the blog of the local music critic Walter Tunis. It seemed to me like he has been doing this forever, and per the profile, he's been the Herald Leader critic since 1980, we got here in 1981, so I guess that the local forever is true.
  • Keep It Simple, by Van Morrison. Van The Man totally succeeds here by keeping it simple, there's not a bad song on the album. 3 stars.
  • Life, by The Cardigans. Guilty as charged, 3 stars.
The blackbirds we have are common grackles. They are totally dominating the yard now, need to figure out a plan to maybe get rid of them. Maybe real restrictive small bird feeders, and safflower seed, which they don't like.

My oldest daughter says I should use this picture for my blog profile. I don't think so.

I am also undecided about putting my flying spaghetti monster car emblem on the black prius, which I now have back. There are currently no fish emblems in the parking lot at work, why should I cast the first stone?