Posted in astronomy, Birds, clouds, commute, daffodils, Moon, morning, Oregon, photography, sunrise, writing

Early January Photos

Just a few recent pics.

Moon and Venus, 7AM, Jan. 6, 2016

1-6-15 Moon Venus

Sunrise over Farksolia, Jan. 6, 2016. The roads were total ice, so traffic was doing about 20mph through this stretch.

1-6-16 Sunrise Farksolia

And without the wires

1-6-16 sunrise no wires

Snow earlier in the week (January 3) so I got to work from home that Monday (Jan. 4). It didn’t amount to much, only about an inch and a half, but it stuck around in my area for several days. My backyard was still snowy on Thursday (the 7th) when it was gone from just about everywhere else in the area. The hills of course had it worse.

1-4-16 Varied Thrush

1-3-16 snow on grass


1-3-16 snowy grasses


1-3-16 snowy road

Daffodils aren’t afraid of a little snow.

1-3-16 daffodils snow




Posted in astronomy, full moon, Oregon, photography, Super Blood Moon

Super Blood Moon – September 27, 2015

SO. I had all these grand plans of driving up a local mountain to watch the eclipsed moon rise behind Mount Hood across the valley, and this was the view:

Mount Hood through haze????????????????????????????????????

Grrr. Argh.

Unbelievable haze. It was kind of a circus up there, too. I passed one area that must have had 100 cars parked in a field. I went much further up, by the substation, which wasn’t nearly as crowded. The only thing I objected to were the two teen boys kicking a soccer ball around all the people who had cameras up on tripods. But what did they care? And dogs. Oh my god, people. Leave your dogs at home when there are going to be crowds.

Anyway, eventually, close to 7:30 local time, we were able to barely make out one side of the moon. Here it is at 7:27

Super Blood Moon september 27 2015

Moon over Hood

Yeah, pretty disappointing. Darker moon over Hood

I gave up around 8:00 or so and drove home. Naturally by then it had cleared the trees, and the sky was crystal clear.

Super Blood Moon 9-27-15

And here are some shots of it setting this morning and one of Venus, aka Lucifer, star of the morning. Hail Lucifer.

(Venus) Lucifer, the Morning Star
(Venus) Lucifer, the Morning Star
Posted in flowers, full moon, Oregon, photography, Planets, Space, writing

Around the ‘hood and beyond

Just a few more recent pics. Here’s the nearly-full moon on June 30, and the Venus-Jupiter conjunction that same night (basically the moon was to the south, and I turned around to face west-northwest to see the conjunction). The brighter of the two planets is Venus. Even though Jupiter is MUCH larger, it’s so much further away it looks smaller.

Posted in clouds, ebook, morning, Oregon, photography, Portland, Revenants Abroad, self-publishing, Space, Vampires, writing

Revenants Abroad – Chapter 17

Chapter 17 went live this morning. This chapter finds Neko and Anne-Marie off together, without Andrej, leading to some unwelcome surprises for Anne-Marie. I kind of felt bad for doing this to her… naaaahh, not really Winking smile

Saw a pretty sunset on the way home last night for just a couple minutes before being swallowed up in the fog again:

Sunset 1-6-15

And pretty moon this morning, which of course I had to try to get pictures of, despite already being late out the door to leave for work:

Morning moon 1-7-15

Tried to get a shot that included Jupiter, which was up, but it didn’t turn out very well. If you look closely in the upper left of center you can sort of see Jupiter through the branches:

Moon and venus 1-7-15 am

Wish I could have stayed home with my telescope. Jupiter is rising about mid-evening now and is visible all night. Observing pointers on Universe Today.

Posted in random thoughts, science fiction, writing

Weird Things I Wonder About

You guys are probably used to my bizarre musings, but just in case the needle on the weird-o-meter hasn’t been pegged lately, allow me to give it a nudge.

I’m a huge classical music fan (as you no doubt know) so I’ve often felt sad thinking about people who lived before Mozart was born and never heard his music, or Handel’s Messiah, or Bach’s Brandenburg concertos. As a lover of words and devourer of books, I can’t imagine never becoming acquainted with Shakespeare, or Jane Austen. Of course the flip-side to that is: What are we going to miss that hasn’t happened yet? I  bemoan all the great books already written that I will never have time to read. I also regret all the great music yet to be composed that I will never hear. And I wonder how many geniuses, alive now or before we were born, are/were out there who will never be heard or read.

So to take this to a new level with my astronomy interest, today we have this article:

Astronomers anticipate 100 billion Earth-like planets

Holy hell. :::picks self up off the floor:::

Think of that. 100,000,000,000. One-hundred-billion planets, potentially teeming with life. Think of all the people we’ll never meet, the societies we’ll never know about.  All the fabulous beaches and sunsets we’ll never see on alien worlds. What if Mozart was reborn out there somewhere? Shouldn’t we be trying to find him?

M42: Inside the Orion Nebula
Image Credit & Copyright: Reinhold Wittich

I wonder if they tuck their children into bed at night, if they even HAVE beds. Do they tell stories around a campfire, or are they enmeshed in their own space race? Do they have music? Do they even hear?

Then again, if I could meet them all, just think what my Christmas card list would look like. I’m imagining something like this, neatly categorized by galaxy, quadrant, solar system, planet, species…


But, just in case you’re out there, we’ll leave the light on for you.

Milky Way large

Posted in random thoughts, Uncategorized, writing

Reinventing the Zodiac

Have you heard there’s a new zodiac sign? That’s right, Ophiuchus, the serpent-bearer.

You can see a larger picture here.

So how did this happen? Well, according to this article at The Christian Science Monitor, Ophiuchus should have been there all along. The ancients simply discarded it (not sure why, maybe they didn’t like the number 13?). However, some astrologers do take it into account. Ophiuchus lies on the ecliptic (the imaginary line that the sun crosses) and is sometimes used by astrologers. The Japanese have acknowledged it, it’s fairly common there. There seem to be two symbols for it:


Even without Ophiuchus, the signs are in very different locations due to the Earth’s precession (wobble on its axis) than they were 2000 years ago. This is not news, many people know this, astrologers included. I’m not an astrologer, so why this hasn’t previously been taken into account I can’t answer.

Here’s how it shakes out now, with precession added into the equation:

Capricorn: Jan. 20-Feb. 16.

Aquarius: Feb. 16-March 11.

Pisces: March 11-April 18.

Aries: April 18-May 13.

Taurus: May 13-June 21.

Gemini: June 21-July 20.

Cancer: July 20-Aug. 10.

Leo: Aug. 10-Sept. 16.

Virgo: Sept. 16-Oct. 30.

Libra: Oct. 30-Nov. 23.

Scorpio: Nov. 23-29.

Ophiuchus: Nov. 29-Dec. 17.

Sagittarius: Dec. 17-Jan. 20.

I just became a Cancer.

Update 1/15/2011: People sure got het up about all this. New article in the Houston Chronicle says the whole thing was a class project for Parke Kunkle. MSNBC has more in their Cosmic Log.

Posted in writing

Seven Degrees of Separation

Well, it seems I’ve been tagged for the Seven Degrees of Separation meme by Uppington (who, by the way, is also responsible for getting me to take a stab at NaNoWriMo last year, for which I am eternally grateful). I’m playing a little fast and loose with the rules, but the deal is to ‘fess up with seven things about myself. So here goes:

1. Ghosts and the supernatural fascinate me. I have never encountered a ghost, and would publicly scoff at the suggestion, but I can’t resist the idea of them. I even own two ouija boards, which I never use. I love to watch those “Haunted Places” kinds of shows on cable channels. I suppose like most people who want to believe in ghosts the desire to believe stems from wanting proof of life after death. If I have ghosts in my house they are very quiet and more than welcome to hang out. I’m just sayin’.

2. As my screen name implies, I am a curious mix of Luddite and 21st-century tech geek. Part of me longs for a return to an agrarian-based simple life, but another part embraces new-fangled gadgetry.

3. I took violin lessons briefly, when I was nine-years-old, and have loved the violin ever since. It was only for one year, then we moved away, and I haven’t touched a violin since. (cue sad violin music)

4. As I mentioned to Uppington, I don’t much care for the telephone. I was somewhat notorious in high school for not calling people when I said I would. Just couldn’t bring myself to pick the thing up and make a call. I had an unreasoning fear that I would be interrupting something important, that my timing would always be bad and disturb the person unduly. To this day, I still have that fear. Incredibly enough, I worked as a receptionist for awhile. It was torture. Not that I had to call out much, but the awkwardness of talking to someone unknown became a daily torment. I think it’s that shy thing, I was always very shy.

5. I’m an amateur astronomer, and live in possibly the worst part of the country for that particular hobby. My telescope has been gathering more dust than starlight lately. Don’t get me started talking about it, though. Like most amateur astronomers I LOVE to talk about this hobby and don’t know when to shut up. By the way, it’s the International Year of Astronomy this year…

6. I attended a two-room schoolhouse in first grade. The first grade occupied the first floor, second grade was upstairs. We had an actual bell in the belfry that students would be chosen to ring to summon us in to class. The girls got to play on the blacktopped side, the boys played on the grassy side of the building (total segregation of the sexes). It’s now a museum.

7. I collect Tarot cards. The collection is hovering at approximately 50 decks right now, and I’ve got a couple new ones in my sights… I collect them, read them, study them, absolutely love them.

So there we have my seven things. All that remains is for me to pass the… I mean tag seven more to play. Tragically (or lucky for you) I don’t know that many bloggers who haven’t already been tagged for this particular meme. Be that as it may, I’ll pick on:

1. Pace J. Miller, who may yet be saved from a life of lawyerdom, and who is also an aspiring writer and cycling enthusiast like myself.

2. Just Williams, who writes a thoroughly entertaining blog about his biking and life in Wales.

3. Ana C. Nunes, a fabulous artist and writer residing in Portugal, and who also encouraged me through NaNoWriMo.

4. janflora at Writer’s Flow, who is just a lovely, expressive writer, and totally put me to shame by staying up and writing late into the night during NaNoWriMo while I was happily snoozing.

5. Mike at The Misanthropist’s Muse because we both catch our typos after it’s too late… 😉

6. MaryJBlog at Year of the Ox because we have known eachother since… well, not quite since the Pleistocene, but close.

Ok, that’s close enough to playing by the rules.