Monday, February 27, 2006

Religious Freedom in Texas

I was renewing my vehicle registration today when I came across an insert urging me to purchase these religious license plates for my car:

It struck me as being awfully close to the State promoting religion, a specific religion, namely Judea-Christian monotheism. I doubt we'll ever see Texas plates expressing "Allahu Akbar" or respecting "the Goddess" (which is ironic if you look at all the pentacles around Austin these days).

I even looked it up in the Texas Constitution. Article 1, section 6: "... No preference shall ever be given by law to any religious society ..." That's pretty clear to me. And we all know about the First Amendment to the US Constitution, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion."

So what's the deal? Am I off-base here, or is the State?

Three Weeks Later

Finally, a clear night. This is a pretty typical shot it seems. I'm so close, but still not quite where I want to be. I'm going to try again to collimate, but I'm not convinced that I'm not simply battling the atmosphere itself.

I'm trying to get a pier built in the back yard for a more permanent setup. I'm learning about concrete almost as fast as I am about astronomy.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

My Exciting Life

I finally fixed the freezer door so we once again can get ice by pushing a cup into the slot. Which is fine, but I'm not looking forward to the boy learning about it.

In other news, I'm thinking about getting one of these for the back yard. What happened to trying to decide which bar to go drinking at?

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Winter Olympics

I still love watching the downhill and the bobsledding, but my new favorite Winter Olympic sport has to be snowboard cross. Which is weird, because I've never gotten into the whole snowboard "scene," preferring regular skiing. (I always claimed it was because I didn't have a goofy hat.)

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

A Mild Rant

I'm a member of several mailing lists, and I see this sort of thing happen way too often. Someone has a problem, and asks how to fix it. Today was, "I've stripped a screw head. How can I get the screw out?"

So I go to Google, type in "remove stripped screw," and in 0.21 seconds I've got 363,000 results on how to remove a stripped screw.

Is it really that difficult for people to do their own searches?

I worked with a woman at a job years ago. She was moaning and carrying on about how she couldn't find the lyrics to some song. Fifteen seconds into her rant, I was reading the lyrics aloud. Pissed her off mightily, but I didn't care.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Dam Astronomers

I opened a Dam Astronomers Cafe Press store with this design:

Please buy lots of stuff!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

"Bush Urges End To Cartoon Violence"

Today's top story on

Could this mean the end of Itchy & Scratchy?

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Seeing: 4/5

Finally, a decent night! I just came in from imaging this. Saturn at 260x was tack-sharp in the eyepiece. The picture doesn't really do it justice.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Helping Out

Jay posted a request yesterday for volunteers to come out to the elementary school where his wife teaches for a star party. I packed up the big scope and the 6" dob, and headed over after work. We lucked out--it was cloudy as we set up, the sky cleared right at sunset, and 2 hours later when all the kids were through, the clouds came back.

Observations: Everybody loves looking at Saturn. The Orion Nebula is cool, but Andromeda is unimpressive in city skies. Kids like watching the scope slew from one object to another almost as much as looking through it. Everyone wants to see the lunar landers, and are disappointed when I explain you'd need a telescope with a 200-meter mirror. I can't explain why Saturn is the only planet with rings. It's not, but that's even harder to explain.

And here's a really unimpressive first-light imaged using the new focuser. It looked sharper in the eyepiece is all I have to say.