Saturday, March 31, 2007

Lone Star Rod & Kustom Roundup

First clear day in two weeks! Embarrassing moment: seeing a fellow who looked like Jimmie Vaughn and wondering aloud, “When does the Jimmie Vaughn look-alike contest start?” Guess who the guy was.

Lots more pictures here.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Bike Messengers Are on Crack

Explain to me again why I want my child to learn how to ride his bike?

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Honeycomb Sucks, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah

Trudes recently bought a box of one of my favorite childhood cereals, Honeycomb. But inside the box were some weird cardboard-like nuggets instead of the sweet honeycombs I knew so well. What happened? We turned to the font of all knowledge:
Recently, "Bran Blend", defined as whole grain corn flour and corn bran, has been added to the ingredient list. This addition has also coincided with a near-tripling of the fiber content shown on the nutrition label (from originally about 1g to 3g per serving) and the inclusion of Honeycomb cereal in Kraft's Sensible Solution program.

Aficionados of Honeycomb cereal were able to immediately taste the difference. Post has registered many calls of complaints from Honeycomb fans since the change. It remains to be seen whether this new form of the time-tested cereal will continue to sell well with the cereal eating public.

I fired off a note to Post & Kraft Foods:

The "new" Honeycomb, quite frankly, sucks. If I wanted a high-fiber, "healthy" breakfast cereal, I'd have a bowl of Twigs-N-Berries™. If I wanted a sweet, nostalgic bowl of cereal of dubious nutritional value, I'd have a bowl of Honeycomb. Not any more--you've lost a customer.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Abusive Astronomy

Found this here.

Dream Cars

I don't know what's going on, but on the way back from lunch today I passed a whole nest of Cobras, and my dream car, a beautiful powder-blue-and-orange Ford GT40. Nearly ran off the road, I did.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Messier Half-Marathon

A little background from Wikipedia:

The Messier objects are a set of astronomical objects catalogued by Charles Messier in his catalogue of Nebulae and Star Clusters first published in 1774. The original motivation behind the catalogue was that Messier was a comet hunter, and was frustrated by objects which resembled but were not comets. He therefore compiled a list of these objects.

The first edition covered 45 objects numbered M1 to M45. The total list consists of 110 objects, ranging from M1 to M110. The final catalogue was published in 1781 and printed in the Connaissance des Temps in 1784. Many of these objects are still known by their Messier number.

Because Messier lived and did his astronomical work in France in the Northern Hemisphere, the list he compiled contains only objects from the north celestial pole to a celestial latitude of about –35°. Many impressive Southern objects, such as the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds are excluded from the list. Because all of the Messier objects are visible with binoculars or small telescopes (under favorable conditions), they are popular viewing objects for amateur astronomers. In early spring, astronomers sometimes gather for "Messier marathons", when all of the objects can be viewed over a single night.

Well, that's just what I attempted Saturday night from Canyon of the Eagles. Trouble was that the weather--which started out great--turned to mush and the completely overcast by about 1:00 a.m. As a result I only made it through the first 45. Still, I saw a lot of things I hadn't seen before and want to go back and photograph.

Trudy & Ian came along for the first time. The boy had a pretty good time running around. He & Trudy wound up watching movies on the iBook in the tent after it got dark, but he did come look through the scope a couple of times.

Object Name Start Time Notes
M74 8:39:11 PM very faint
M77 8:43:15 PM ok
M33 8:53:56 PM large faint patch
M31 8:59:57 PM not bad for low in sky
M110 9:00:09 PM averted vision
M32 9:00:34 PM compact
M52 9:02:22 PM nice, easy
M103 9:13:01 PM pretty!
M34 9:16:19 PM big
M45 9:23:53 PM hello ladies! Better in ED80. Some nebulosity visible
M79 9:28:02 PM medium dim
M42 9:28:50 PM great in ED80; a,b,c,d,e & f easy with 13mm Nagler in 10"
M43 9:34:00 PM yup
M78 9:34:27 PM dull
M1 9:44:11 PM 3D-like, maybe texture with ultrablock?
M35 9:49:56 PM too big for 10"
M37 10:22:24 PM nice
M36 10:24:33 PM meh
M38 10:26:40 PM ok
M41 10:28:55 PM yup
M93 10:29:32 PM ok
M46 10:38:39 PM cool w/neb in cluster
M50 10:39:33 PM ok
M48 10:40:32 PM ok
M47 10:40:49 PM ok
M44 10:51:41 PM bah
M95 10:55:40 PM nice
M96 10:56:04 PM nice
M105 11:05:58 PM nice
M81 11:24:33 PM love 81 & 82
M82 11:25:23 PM love 81 & 82
M97 11:31:14 PM dim
M108 11:34:51 PM slim
M109 11:47:35 PM texture w/ averted vision
M40 11:50:37 PM why is this even on the list?
M106 11:55:14 PM definite shape
M94 12:07:50 AM hints of spiral?
M51 12:19:07 AM not bad. definite spiral, no bridge
M53 12:30:36 AM ok
M3 12:36:36 AM nice. tight center, loose edges
M85 12:37:43 AM hazy w/ bright center, like picture
M98 12:41:44 AM unremarkable
M99 12:45:53 AM something w/averted vision
M100 12:48:53 AM faint, no detail (pity)
M86 1:01:39 AM 84 & 86 together ok
M84 1:01:39 AM 84 & 86 together ok

Friday, March 16, 2007

Best Saturn of the Year

I think this is my best one this year. CSC said 4/5 seeing; that seemed about right.
10" LX200 w/ TeleVue 2.5x Powermate, Philips SPC900NC webcam with UV/IR filter, 975/1200 frames stacked in Registax.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


I've had this question stuck in my head for a while now, and it's starting to bug me: If the Brady Bunch and the Partridge Family had a fight, who would win?

Thursday, March 08, 2007

NGC 2903, A Galaxy in Leo

I'm both pleased and disappointed with this shot of NGC 2903. I'm happy with the color and the structure of the galaxy, but I'm unhappy with the noise. The noise and the elongated stars are related--I stayed with just 60 sec. exposures because my tracking seems to be getting worse instead of better.

I guess it's time to train & retrain the PEC on the LX200. I also wonder if I'm asking too much from my equipment. I'm using the cheap rail with outriggers from ScopeStuff, so I'm sure I'm getting some flex there. I'm also not convinced that guiding with a 400mm fl guidescope + 2x barlow is working with the 2500 mm fl LX200, even with the f/6.3 reducer.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

If I Drank Coffee …

… and had an extra $1,800 laying around, I'd own one of these:

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Saturn In Above-Average Seeing

What a difference the atmosphere makes.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Lunar Eclipse

The Moon was well on its way out of the Earth's shadow by the time it was rising over Mansfield Dam in Austin, Texas. Shot with the Digital Rebel XT through Barry's Orion 80ED.

Friday, March 02, 2007


I'm having to recreate a bunch of sales sheets in Word and Excel, and all I can say is how the hell did Microsoft become the dominant software company on the planet? Just changing the borders around a group of Excel cells takes a dozen clicks. Edit the embedded Excel sheet inside Word, and when you return to Word it's been shrunk down. And Merge Cells? Right there under alignment and spacing, duh.

Sheesh, how do you people deal with this steaming pile every day?