Thursday, August 28, 2008

Game on...

It is finally here: college football 2008..!!

Fourteen games tonight in Division 1-A and probably that many more in the other divisions to fill out the evenings schedule. And many more to follow through the rest of the weekend..!!

All the prognosticating is over, no more pre-season hype, and unrealistic expectations ...well maybe some until the first games are played out.

Time for the tailgaiting to begin and the parties to commence..!!

Time for cheerleaders and marching bands and rivalries being turned up to a rolling boil.

Time for first downs, completed passes, and touchdowns.

Time for sacks in the backfield, dropped balls, and turnovers.

Time for cheerleaders and silly mascots, game-dates and bringing the kids.

Time to get it on..!!

(edited to note: Gee. I mentioned 'cheerleaders' twice. Imagine that.)

Yahoo..!! 'Hook 'em Horns' and 'Roll Tide' and 'Rock, Chalk, Jayhawk' ..!!

This is gonna be fun...


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

' Starstruck '

I have written before of my 'love' for Astronomy Picture of the Day.

The images they send to my inbox every day continually amaze me. Not to mention their years of archived photos, explanatory text, and abundant links to more photos and information within their domain and across the web. The site truly is 'most helpful'.

Today's image, for example, is a fantastic look at "47 Tuc: A Great Globular Cluster of Stars".

"...the dense cluster is made up of several million stars in a volume only about 120 light-years across." They also note the light we see in this image took 13,000 years to reach us. Several million stars clustered in an area incredibly small (relatively speaking..!!) far from us in the Universe.

A link in the text for today's picture leads to a broader view of this cluster 'near' the Small Cloud of Magellan. Of course, they are not really 'near' each other but appear so only in two dimensions, as we see them from Earth. The Small Cloud of Magellan is actually much farther distant from us.

Also a today's pic/page (first photo above) is a link to a picture and discussion of "exotic x-ray binary star systems" that are found in 47 Tuc

If you have a pair of eyeballs (or even one), the imagination to think beyond your immediate surroundings, and the curiosity to wonder what is 'out there' will find much to educate and amaze you at Astronomy Picture of the Day.


Saturday, August 23, 2008

'Beer goggles' and 'looking good..!! '

We have all heard the term 'beer goggles'. Indeed some of us kept a pair of 'em handy all through our college days.

Turns out that the effect is real, at even lower levels of alcohol than previously suspected. Certainly at levels much less than those required at the college bar:
I am not taking her home ...she has a mustache..!!

British scientists gave small, measured doses of an alcoholic drink or a placebo drink to the subjects. They then measured the subjects ratings of the 'attractiveness' of photos of males and females.

They found the effect of finding the faces more attractive was consistently higher for those who had consumed the equivalent of a large glass of wine or a pint-and-a-half of beer. It was also noted that the increase was not related to a general increase in a 'happy' mood.

Chelsea Cooley, Miss USA, 2005
Shelley Henning, Miss Teen USA, 2004
Some lucky military stiff
Source: Wikipedia Commons

Published earlier this month in the Oxford Journals Alcohol and Alcoholism, the abstract (available here) of the published article notes that the 'he/she looks great..!!' effect is not only at work for the opposite sex but also has a measurable effect on . . .hey, quit looking at your buddy like that..!! ...the perception of same-sex faces.

Perhaps even better (or worse, depending on your point of view) the study noted the 'increased attractiveness' effect lasted up to 24 hours ...but only for the males in the study.

So, when you wake up in the morning ...well, just remember guys, she probably looks better to you than your ugly mug does to her..!!



Tuesday, August 19, 2008

So when do you not comment..??

I am curious about what others might think about leaving a comment at any given blog post.

Is there a point when you just do not bother..?? 5 comments..?? 10..?? ...a hundred comments..??

Do you ever read through them, two or a hundred, to see if anyone has made your point already..?? Or do you even bother to read past the first few comments..??

If someone has made your point already . . do you add your thought anyway..?? Do you reference that 'similar' comment you already found in your comment..??

Too many questions, I know. Perhaps too much thinking about it.


I will often read the first screen or two of comments, particularly at a post about a topic that really interests me. Or a comment thread that has value in and of itself. I find that I really enjoy the threads where readers play off each other, amplifying this thought or that thought.

But too often they just seem to be a bunch of disconnected thoughts, some over and over again. Others totally off-topic and often moronic.

But not that I will ever have to worry about such problems. I am perfectly content for my rare comment and the smile it brings to my face.

Anyway, just some random questions and thoughts about comments.


Friday, August 15, 2008

Random after-work pics...

Walking about the neighborhood, looking for a vantage point for some pictures of big, fluffy clouds...

Found some bricks stacked, waiting to be used...

...and some flowers and an odd hydrant.

. . .just another day in the neighborhood...


Monday, August 11, 2008

Peeking through your window...

OK. I confess. I am an online voyuerist.

(Is that a real word..?? The Firefox spellchecker tells me it is not. Harrumph..!!)

Anyway . . .where was I..?? Oh yeah.

I love to surf the web randomly, seeing what I can find. The world of users like me and you randomly noting and marking our passage through this vale of tears has made this 'hobby' even more interesting recently. As the number of people out here blogging increases so does the opportunity to find new and interesting stuff.

At the top of all the main pages of these 'blogger' pages is a link to go to the 'Next Blog' What the..?? What exactly defines 'the next blog'..?? Apparently it is a random selection, a roll of the dice. You never know what is going to come up next.

Some are pretty tame. For instance, you will find a lot of family blogs. Mom and Dad creating memory records for themselves and for their kids. What better way to record Jake's first haircut..?? Mom is obviously happy and proud...

Others have grand plans for their blog. Perhaps it will be the cornerstone of their online entrepreneurial empire...

Hmmm. Jennifer has the original template for the post, with dummy text and links, and one additional post ten days later of her kid, I assume. Both in May, 2008.

I am sure it is just a temporary hiatus.

Then there are the just 'strange' blogs.

This one for example, barefoothoof, that is a collection of a hundred-and-some pics of hooves..??

Horse porn maybe..?? Hey, I am still puzzling that one out...

Others use the internet for more serious purpose. Here is a group of Japanese students, of unknown age, apparently blogging about their experiences while on a study (..??) trip to Canada. I am impressed by their blogging efforts.

Others are a bit risque . . .and still others just a bit strange.

But always there is the beauty that can be found on the net. The beauty of nature, as the sun drops to meet the distant horizon at sea...

The beauty of a young smiling face...

Or simply the beauty of a flower staring you down.

So if you are ever bored of hitting all your 'regular sites', places you feel you must go visit while online . . .stop, take a break from that 'job', and just surf around a while appreciating the value and the beauty of the precious moments and small things that so many others dare to share with you, with me, and with the world.


Sunday, August 3, 2008

Hot air and colorful balloons...

Indianola Iowa has been a hotbed (no pun intended) of hot air ballooning on the national scene for decades. In 1970 the newly created Balloon Federation of American was looking for a site to hold a sanctioned National Championship event. The Iowa State fairgrounds and sites in the city of Indianola were used that first year and eventually all events moved to the Indianola area.

Sanctioned national championship competitions continued to be held there until the late 80s. Since the sanctioned championships left, Indianola has continued to host ballooning festivals every year. The events are well attended by both competitors and fans alike.

Each year there are ascensions and competitions nearly every night of the week-long-plus event. The cost is reasonable for spectators to enter the actual event launching area and observe the balloons and their crews 'up close and personal'. The website for the event is found here.

There are balloon flights in the morning and evening and free entertainment events scheduled over the full run of the event. A balloon flight for yourself and your family can even be arranged ahead of time.

Our family has a long-running tradition of going to watch the balloons fly each year. We usually watch from properties that surround the launch area and simply watch the balloons as they drift through the dusk air. This year we found a viewing area just a short distance from the launching area. We were able to get some great shots as many balloons floated by directly overhead or nearby.

This year one drifted over not thirty feet above us, making for some wonderful shots of the colorful balloon. Another landed in a field nearby and we were able to observe that process; both the landing and the deflating of the balloon.

Take a look at some of our pictures and imagine drifting lazily on the evening breeze. If you ever get the chance to go see a mass ascension of hot air balloons ...go. And make sure you take your camera.