Friday, May 29, 2009

It Takes Fewer Muscles To Smile Than To Frown.

Odd, Isn't It?

Cartoon Come To Life?

This little Pygmy Jerboa is for real, and on You Tube
Pygmy Jerboa

Wall-E For Real?

A fully functional Wall-E from Uruguay-based Elso Lopez.

I thought I was a little overly impressed by the movie, Wall-E, but I am reading about a world wide group of people who build operational Wall-E robots! They have a membership of 3,000 fans of the movie, who are building their own characters from the animated feature about a little robot/trash compactor. If you haven't seen Wall-E, I recommend that you do. It is even available in the Redbox $1 DVD-vending machines.

It is one of 3 movies I would actually buy. The other 2 are; Blazing Saddles, and Happy Feet. I almost bought theWall-E DVD, at Target. It would have cost $30 with tax, so I decided I would wait and rent it for $1, whenever I feel like watching it. I am still keeping an eye out for a High Definition download. That might be interesting.

The Wall-E robot makers, are making operational versions of the other robot characters from the movie.

Wall-E, the bug-eyed robot star of the movie, is clearly the hot favorite in this DIY community. But other robots from the film, such as Eve, M-O and Autopilot, have also been brought to life. Some of the group’s homemade bots will be on display this weekend at the Maker Faire, a festival of DIY arts, crafts and technology in San Mateo, California.

Russian Wall-E PC

This Wall-E is even more amazing. Made in Russia!

If you read Russian, you can go here; Моддинг корпус - Робот Валл-и

If you would like
to see the impressive step by step process used to make this personal computer, in English, you can go HERE.

Waitin' On The Storm

Possible thunder storm to the west. 5/29/09

Mountain thunderstorms
are in the forecast through next week. This evening they developed in the coastal ranges, but began to dissipate by the time they got close to here.
I hope to capture an image and a good recording of at least one lightning flash and accompanying thunder in the next few days.

In the meantime, it's just beautiful.

Sundown 5/29/09

Today's relatively Appropriate Song;
I Don't Miss You - The Phil Seymour Band


Thursday, May 28, 2009

Heaven Is All Around Us


Happy Phil steps out into the nice, warm, 100's. (8:00PM)

I have been recovering, (loafing), today. The band rehearsed yesterday. I can see that future rehearsals should have a 1 hour limit, no matter how much fun we are having.

The rehearsal was recorded with GarageBand, using 1 condenser microphone. I got to use the, "Icicle XLR to USB", doodad, plugged into the Macbook.

It may take some time to paste together something to share with you, but I have a couple of ideas.


Mercury from 1st flyby

Mercury on second flyby

The top view uses images from Mercury flyby 1, with the thin crescent of Mercury imaged during approach forming the right portion of the globe and the fuller departure view showing Caloris basin forming the left side and majority of the view. The black strip between the approach and departure images is a portion of Mercury's surface not viewed by MESSENGER during the flybys. Similarly, the approach and departure images obtained during Mercury flyby 2 yielded the bottom view. The top and bottom projections are centered on 180° and 0° longitude, respectively.

Our Little Planet

Messenger view of Earth

This image shows how Earth and its orbit (blue line) appear from the perspective of the MESSENGER spacecraft. The positions of the Sun, Mercury and Venus are marked when they appear in the 30-degree field of view. When visible, the apparent size of the Sun is shown. Positions of stars with magnitude 9 or brighter are shown.

Mercury Surface Movie

This is a still from a movie of Mercury's surface.
Click here to watch this movie

Lots more cool stuff
from Messenger, HERE

Coffee Anyone?

I Googled, "Shade Grown", the other day and found 100's of sites about shade grown coffee. I wrote a little piece about it on my other blog, (THERE), but there were too many pictures for the other format.

Here are some pictures from the Varzea da Onco tour.
Take Tour

Each flower will turn into a coffee, "cherry".

On the branch

Stages of ripening

Hand picked

Shade Grown is best.

Our Little Planet

Earth from lunar orbit. SELENE project, JAXA.

Japan’s space agency, JAXA has a spacecraft called KAGUYA carrying out observations of the moon from lunar orbit.

KAGUYA, (SELENE), launched on September 14, 2007.

Amazing Video, HERE.

My Upstairs Apartment

The trusty Buick awaits my next adventure. 5/27/09

The weather report
is calling for mountain thunderstorms all this week and next week too. I see a photo, video, recording adventure in my near future. I am thinking of going east, toward Lassen. I really enjoy thunder and lightning.

Today's Relatively Appropriate Song;
Knock On Wood - Eddie Floyd

I Love This Place

Sunday, May 24, 2009

One Week Early

Memorial Day Weekend

I remember camping one Memorial day, in Sequoia National Forest, with Kathy, (wife #2), in a little pup tent. I think it was 1971. We drove as far as our little VW bug would go, to get away from the maddening crowd. We found a meadow, down a rutted dirt road that seemed ideal for our purposes. We were miles from any pesky humans.

During the night it began to rain and we discovered our new tent was not very waterproof. I got out and made a diversion ditch to prevent the runoff from flooding the tent floor. It was getting pretty cold out and it was a good thing we liked to snuggle in one sleeping bag. As the the first light of dawn began to illuminate the interior of our yellow nylon tent, I noticed our stuff was wet and the sound of the rain had stopped. I poked my head out of the tent flap and discovered a white wonderland. Snow had covered the meadow and hillside, it was about 3 inches deep, and still snowing heavily.

Had we been prepared for cold, wet and snow, we might have stayed, but we beat a retreat while the road was still a road that the bug could climb, and we headed back down from the High Sierra's, in search of a laundromat to dry our stuff.

Remembering The Soldiers
Map The Fallen on Google Earth

Sean Askay, a Google engineer released a Google Earth layer, called Map the Fallen, that contains detailed information of more than 5700 service members who died in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. This is an interactive tool that allows you to see photos, learn about how each service members died, visit memorial websites with comments from friends and families, and explore the places they called home and where they died.

(I recommend a visit to mapthefallen)

Whiskeytown Lake

Picture from the live WhiskeytownCam

Beaches, parks and campgrounds around the north state are booked full for the weekend. I am glad I have so many interesting things to do at home, but I still might go to the aggregate plant and record some echos. Then again, there are those college girls, partying on Lake Shasta. (I sure will be glad when my hernia gets repaired.)

As Time Goes By
The ancient Venus figurine from Hohle Fels, Germany.

I have been reading some amusing
blogs and news articles where people are upset by the idea that this figurine could have anything to do with sexuality. Somehow, the, "puritanical types", figure ancient man didn't think about women as sex objects. "It's just a fertility symbol", they cry out, protesting any analogy that links it to Playboy, pin-ups, or porn.

Call it what you like, but if early women were not sexually attractive to early man, I would not be here writing this. I suspect that the female features attracting men 35,000 years ago, are the same ones that keep us impregnating fertile Goddesses in this day and age.


Does that pirate have a peg lego?

Wow! Frank Loyd Wright, Lego house.

Lego's were after my time, ( I was of the tinker toy/erector set, period), but I have stuck the little bricks together with kids now and then. I had no idea that they had lego architectual monument kits. Read the whole story, HERE.

'Tipsy Tow' program offers rides home

AAA Northern California will offer free rides home this Memorial Day to keep drinking drivers off the road.

Drivers, potential passengers, party hosts, bartenders and restaurant managers can call 1-800-222-4357 for a free tow home up to five miles, AAA Northern California spokesman Matt Skryja said. Tell the AAA operator: "I need a Tipsy Tow."

Tows will be offered from 6 p.m. today to 6 a.m. Monday. Callers don't have to be an AAA member to use the service.

Atlantis In California

Landing at Edwards Air Force Base

Touchdown at 240 miles an hour

I first visited Edwards 50 years ago when I got to see the X-15 fly. Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier there 60 years ago, and today Atlantis dropped in for a visit.

Today's Relatively Appropriate Video;

Space Shuttle Landing


Friday, May 22, 2009

For My Birthday

New DooDad

Happy Phil gets his Icicle.

One of the reasons
I opted to get a new Macbook was for the portability. I like the idea of recording the sounds of nature, or even vocal tracks or acoustic instruments in great sounding locations. The only thing that I felt was lacking was being able to use really good microphones in places where there is no electricity. High quality condenser microphones require 48V of phantom power to function. This means I need my mixer or a power supply to use my condenser mic's in the woods or on location, (Like the agregate plant with the cool echoes.), or I need the, "Icicle".
I sent off for one.

Open the box.

What's this?

I opened the box, and inside were a bunch of special offers, the invoice and return sticker, the icicle, and a plastic mailer for my old cell phone. "Cell Phones For Soldiers", seemed like a cool thing to do with my old cell phone. I had been keeping the phone in the glove compartment of the Buick, for emergencies, (911 still works on it), but if I could send it to a soldier, cool.

There was a website on the bag and I checked it out. A soldier doesn't get my phone, but an organization that a couple of kids started, gets some money from the recycler that they use to buy pre paid phone cards that they send to soldiers. Still, a good thing.

While I was deleting data from my old phone, I was reminded how much I liked that phone. I had rounded up the charger, the car charger, the manual, and the phone and thought, "This is still a good phone, I'm keeping it." I figure I'll just put it back in the glove compartment in case of emergency, since it wouldn't be going to a soldier anyway.

Why do our soldiers
need to pay for phone calls? They should have government issued iPhones for their service to our country. They deserve it.

The XLR to USB device


The flip side.

So I plug the microphone
cord into one end of the icicle, plug the cord to the USB input on my computer, and my condenser microphone is operational without a mixer or external power supply.

Next stop, recording in the great outdoors.

Just Minutes Away

Lake Shasta

Whiskeytown Lake

I have been ready to go out and record for two days now. I couldn't figure out why I kept being diverted until I looked at the local newspaper. It's a holiday weekend. The lakes and rivers are packed with noisy monkeys! There will be no peaceful place in the woods or on the water for a few days.

Had planned on going west to Whiskeytown because its only 15 or 20 minutes away, but there was an accident that had 299 backed up for 3 hours around the time I planned to go.

Thought I might go
up the road to Lake Shasta, it's only 15 minutes away, but I got a report that it's packed with drunken college kids. I will try to slip over to the aggregate plant and try for an echo track, tomorrow.

For Tonight...

Trader Joes columbian supreme decaf.

For now, I have some good books I am reading, the Tonight Show is coming on, and with a tasty cup of arabica bean Trader Joes decaf at my side, I can truly feel blessed to have a home, (with A/C), here in Redding on a Memorial Day weekend.

Oh yeah, Thursday was my birthday.

I sang and played with The Valentine Blues Band at Lulu's.

You can see pictures and more stuff. Click HERE

Drive Safely

Sometimes It Is Amusing

All In A Name?
Every once in awhile, the perfect name pops up for the job. This time it's our new head of the FDA. It should be a good Jeopardy question.

Hamburg Heads Food & Drug

New head of FDA, Dr. Margaret Hamburg

Hamburg, 53, told senators at her confirmation hearing that she wants to restore public confidence in the agency by putting science first and by running an open and accountable operation.

As an assistant health secretary under President Bill Clinton, Hamburg helped lay the groundwork for the government's bio terrorism and flu pandemic preparations. Before that, she ran New York City's health department. (AP)


Spring Chicken

I thought I would share
some pictures I found while surfing the net.

A retrospective of my thoughts and feelings about 64 trips around the Sun is on my mind. It should be ready in a couple of days. In the meantime, enjoy the pictures, I did.

I Like Lemurs

Lemur like fossil may help illustrate evolution of primates.

In a new book,
documentary, and promotional Web site, paleontologist Jorn Hurum, who led the team that analyzed the 47-million-year-old fossil seen above, suggests Ida is a critical missing-link species in primate evolution (interactive guide to human evolution from National Geographic magazine).

Moon Over St. Petersburg

St. Petersburg, Russia, May 19, 2009--A full moon seems to hover above the dome of the Smolny Cathedral at dawn in a photo taken with a digital camera through the eyepiece of a telescope.
—Photograph by Dmitry Lovetsky/AP

Line Of Equatorial Storms

Great enhanced satellite graphic from weather report.

"Come on, let me in!"

"Dave's not here."

"Very funny. Now let me in."

This picture from 1999

The atmosphere looks a lot, "cleaner", 10 years ago.

The Emerald Isle

Wave clouds surround
Ireland in an image captured by NASA's Aqua satellite on March 18.

One More Hubble Picture

Great picture of John Grunsfeld and Hubble

Today's Relatively Appropriate Song;

Rocket Man - Elton John

Small/Big World

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

I Remain Enchanted

On Solid Grounds

Mother Earth News Conscientious Coffees and Teas

Ever since I received
the coffee table book on coffee from Marian, I have become more aware of the world of coffee. Where it's grown, who grows it, how it is harvested, dried, cleaned, shipped, roasted, packaged, stored, ground and brewed. The more I have learned, the less satisfied I am with a can of Folgers in my cupboard. On the other hand, I am delightfully transported to mountainsides of exotic lands around the world when I sip a cup of fresh brewed coffee that I have prepared with fresh ground, creatively blended, recently roasted beans from specialty coffee companies.

Coffee table book about coffee on coffee table.

I enjoy the process
of trying different beans from different sources. Freshness matters. Place of origin matters. How high on the hill was it grown? Were the beans sun dried in their husks and the husks removed by washing with water? All sorts of variations in the trip from bush to brewing will show up in the flavor, and I am learning to discern the differences. I like this awareness.

Fair trade, organic coffee is some of the most delicious coffee I have brewed, and I am told it is good for the farmers and environment. I thought I might try a pound of Ethiopian from these Mother Earth people. When I talk myself into spending $7 shipping and tax on a $13 pound of coffee, I will let you know how it tastes.

Here are some more things you can do with coffee grounds that I found at Natural Home Magazine .

More Uses For Grounds;

• The coarse texture of coffee grounds is perfect for scrubbing difficult-to-clean dishes. Pack the grounds into a square sized cloth, gather the cloth’s ends and secure with a rubber band.

• After chopping garlic or other fragrant foods, rub grounds on your hands to get rid of the odor.

• Grounds can repel refrigerator odors. Use old nylons or an old sock as a small satchel filled with grounds and keep in your refrigerator or freezer.

• Diluted coffee grounds act as a natural flea rinse.


• When garden pests dine in your garden, add coffee grounds to keep them away from beloved plants.

• Coffee grounds release nitrogen into the soil and act like a fertilizer.

• Add grounds to your compost pile to restore the nitrogen level.

• Also, worms eat coffee grounds and help your compost by moving the pile around.


• Coffee grounds act as a natural exfoliate. Add an egg white with ¼ cup of grounds for a facial mask.

Leaping Lizzards

Venomous Komodo Dragon

It seems that the idea of Komodo Dragons infecting their prey with bacteria was wrong. They actually produce highly toxic venom and have delivery ducts between their serrated teeth.
Read the whole story, HERE.

God Bless Our Money

The 2007, one dollar coin.

That weird email is circulating again. You know the one with the conspiracy to take God off our money? Like a lot of these emails, it claims some person or agency is out to take away our, (fill in the blank), ________. If you are a true, (fill in the blank), _________, you must send this to every email address you have in your contacts immediately or you will have doomed us all.

The 2009, one dollar coin.

In God We Trust was on the coins all the time!

I am guessing that those who believed the email;

  • Had never actually looked at one they had.
  • Like me, have never had one.
  • Just want to believe in a conspiracy.

I could see,
"In God We Trust", being removed for religious reasons, like the 2nd commandment; "You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.", but religion is big business and their motto is; "God needs your money".

It still puzzles me. Why do people get all excited and ready to storm the castle over dumb things like God's name on money? What good does it do to storm the castle? Will it matter if I carry a torch made in China. Do we still make torches and pitchforks in America?

What Is This?

This is reCAPTCHA
Have you ever wondered about this thing at the end of an on line form?
I knew that the funny code you have to do to submit on websites is to prevent computers from flooding the site with spam, but I recently found out that I am helping to save books for posterity.

Image from recaptcha website.

If you want more information you can click, HERE.

Atlantis Leaves Hubble

Picture from Earth as Atlantis transits the Sun.

View from inside Atlantis of Earth and Hubble solar panels.

Astronaut repairing Hubble space telescope.

What a time to be alive! Life is good.

Today's Relatively Appropriate Song;

Catch A Falling Star - Perry Como

Heaven is all around you