Sunday, October 23, 2016

Who the fuck is Evan McMullin?

He is running for president.

He is only on the ballot in a hand full of states but he can be written in elsewhere.

He is conservative, and  Mormon, so he sides exactly where you would think on most social issues, but he thinks that same sex marriage is a done issue and people should get over it, I am guessing that this is partially because he is 40 years old and still capable of adjusting to the society that he has to live in.

On most of the issues he would fall as a standard conservative, tax cuts, cut social security, do something about the ACA, although he does like some of the provisions of the ACA, which means there is some hope.

Will he get my vote?  Well, no.  I am not a conservative, and there is far too much disagreement on some of the issues, for instance I am extremely pro-choice, as no one should ell some one else what to do with their body, to do so makes them second class citizens.

Is he better than Trunp?  Oh fuck yeah!  He may be out of the short-sighted conservative plank as I see it, but at least he would not start the next World War through ignorance and avarice.

So yeah, that is what I am sating on this point.

Oh, and he is better looking than Trump, so there is that if you are a shallow voter who just wants a pretty president.  He is no Justin Trudeau, but, meh, doesn't matter to me, I am not into guys.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Preview of the Winter Cross Country Ski forecast!

So far it looks pretty freaking awesome!

The last couple of years we have not had enough snow to even bother putting weight in the back of the car for (some people who have driven rear-wheel drive cars in Duluth will know what I am talking about).

The skiing last year was mostly ice skating, with a few days of decent trails, usually the 24 hours immediately after a snow fall, or the 8 hours immediately after the trails got groomed.

This year look pretty damn awesome!  According to NOAA we will have a colder and wetter winter than normal.  Last year was warmer, but we got rain, yes freaking rain, well into what should have been the accumulating snow time, and it was a travesty.

The Accuweather long term forecast, which is rather inaccurate, as it is more of a well trained guessing algorithm, gives us this forecast, which I will be updating as we go along.

14.8 inches in November, half of which is after Thanksgiving, but they are showing a 4" accumulation half way through the month that will then freeze down to form that icy base under the good snow.

20.2 inches in December

6.5 in first half of January...

This is actually down from what they had predicted earlier this week, when if you added it all up it totaled about 40 inches in December, but like I said, it was a guess.

Compare this to last year...

 November .2 inches of snow, average high was 47 degrees.
 December 7.8 inches of snow, but almost an inch and a half of rain at the beginning of the month.December 17th was the first day it stayed below freezing.
January 8.6 inches of snow for the month, 8 days peaked up above freezing
February 5 inches of snow, hit 55 degrees before the end of the month.
March 6.5 inches of snow, March 5th was the last day I made it out on the trails, and they were getting pretty lousy by that point.
April 9.2 inches of snow, but never enough to recover from the March melt.

The guessed at November and December totals for this coming winter are equivalent to the total snow fall for last year!

And don't forget how winter abruptly ended on May 6th last year when it hit 94 degrees...

But anyway, I am hoping for the best!  We will see how it goes.  I have four pairs of cross country skis hanging in the rafters behind me and another pair in the garage waiting to get the crap beat out of them!  Lets hope for the best!

10/24 update:

The amounts of snow and timing predictions have not changed substantially on Accuweather, still looks like we will have to wait until the second week of November before the flakes start to fly, and about the first week of December before we dare bust out the "rock skis".  I did take a peek at how the hill changes the forecast, which is relevant for things like Piedmont and Hartley Fields.  It looks like there is a touch more predicted there, although it looks like it is the same algorithm making a random guess at the long term forecast.

Oddly when I put Canyon, MN in as a location to get a guess for the Boulder Lake Environmental Learning Center I got predictions for 21.6" in November, and 30.3" in December.  This included a 2 day event of  13" at the end of November and a 11" drop in mid-December.  Not sure why those are up there and not showing in Duluth at all, or at least not nearly as large.  In the Duluth forecast the same days show 6" and 4.5".

10/25 update:
It looks like November got downgraded to being 40 degrees all month and only giving us 2.9" of snow, which is disappointing.  However December now has 32 inches of snow listed but January is only showing like 7 inches for the first half of the month.  I have stated before that these forecasts are wild guesses, although I a pondering if they just vacillate from one extreme to the next until we get an accurate forecast that may just work.

10/31 update:

Well, November flip flopped again, it does not show much of anything until the 20th, but 15 inches of snow in those last ten days.  This could mean skiing before December!

Ironically Canyon, where last week they were predicting 21" of snow in November is now only showing 6" for the month.

I am guessing we will know what is going to happen when t is about to start happening, but the models should gradually diverge over time.

11/1 update:

I know it has only been a day since the last update, but things have changed completely again...
November now shows only 7 tenths of an inch of snow for the month, down from 15" yesterday.  But December is now showing a whopping 41" of snow!  January, which yesterday was a middling 15" for the month now has 26" of snow.  As I have stated before the long term forecasts by Accuweather are random guesses at best, but I didn't think there was this much day to day variation.  On the positive side if teh December and January forecast holds that is more snow than we got all of last year.

Just for giggles I looked up Canyon again, 16.4" in December, something like .5 in November, and a bit shy of 15" in January.  It should be noted that this is only about 30 miles away.  Thirty miles and three feet of snow...

Since we are going thirty miles out and getting completely different numbers lets look at Poplar, WI..  November 1.6"  December 48", January 29"....  Lets see how these numbers change over time I am going to guess they make a nice sinusoidal wave if you graph them out.

11/2 update, well now November is back up to a whole inch!  December is showing 43" of snow, and January is up to 27.6"  This would be awesome, especially if that snow started about a week sooner.  On the positive side the guess-cast is showing a solid foot of snow and change in the first four days of December.

11/4 update:

I am seriously going to graph the variation in the accuweather forecast once we get some more data points.

November 1.8"
December 25"
January 16.8"

This is only down 2.5 feet since Wednesday...

Ok, End of November now, sorry I got frustrated b reality for a couple of weeks there...

We still have jack shit for snow.

There is snow in the long term forecast though!  Next Wednesday is showing 7.3" according to Accuweather, this is only a week out so it is within the range where the forecast is slightly better than just a wild guess.

On a side note, I already have my ski pass.

December starts tomorrow...

So anyway, November total, although it may snow tonight, jack-squat, depending on where you are in Duluth it ranges from slush to a couple of inches, either way it all gone, but what to expect the average high temp for the month has been 50 degrees.  Accuweather says our month snow total is 1.3"

Meh, Accuweather forecasts...

December 26.3" Coldest forecast temp -4
January 31.4" Coldest forecast temp -8
February 19.1"  Coldest forecast temp -4

Guess what, it been two days!  Everything has completely changed again!

I checked the forecast for next wednesday and it went from 7.3 to 6.6" and now by this afternoon has dropped to 1.8"

On a side note, we picked the Broccoli in the Garden today, it is December after all.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Stratagies against archatecture

The proper plural would be stratagem, but there was a great Einsturzende Neubauten album called Stratagies Against Archatecture, hence the title.

So I was looking at the ceiling of this bar that I find myself in and noticing the way that the beams are structured.  I think that it is a function over for with the cross beams coming up at a roughly 45 degree angle to support the flat roof above.  A peak roof would be actually easier to build and maintain, but a flat roof is cheaper I guess.  It also allows you the freedom to go up later if such a thing is desired.

I guess there is a reason it happens, there is a reason why people do the things that they do. They really don't need some special meaning.

If you have a special meaning in your construction that gets you to a new level. I would like there to be a special meaning in things that I build, but most of the time I end up with a straight wall, no excitement, no expression.

I suppose I would use the 45 degree boards to run stiffen the frame if I were building this place too, function over form.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

First official night of observations!!!!!

It started out normal, it was my short day at work so I decided to go home and work on the doors on top of the observatory.  You know, the doors that the telescope looks out of.

I got the doors mostly figured out, I need to do some adjusting/trimming/weather sealing.  But there are now two doors that open up to the world and allow me to look out of the dome at will.

After that, and dinner, I decided to go out as the sun was going down and shoot some picture with just the camera and see what I could get.

I got a good shot of the moon at 22% phase...
I was pretty happy with that shot so I tried to shoot Saturn, that did not go so well...

After some more attempts I finally decided to bite the bullet and go and grab the telescope.

This is a bit of a process, especially considering that although the telescope breaks down into a mount and a tube, it still weighs a combined 90 pounds and I had to lug it up 20 feet of ladders to get it up there.

But the thing made it, and got aligned, as soon as I remembered that we actually are in daylight savings right now.

I tried to shoot Saturn, it was not really dark yet though and the focus is not perfect (not to mention mirror alignment)...
Still Saturn showed up as an oval and not just a dot, which is an improvement.

Then I tried to shoot things further away....

Andromeda has always been a goal, it is only 2.5 million light years away, and getting closer, but what the hell...
The focus and alignment are not perfect yet, but that is a hell of a lot more than I had seen before.

I decided to try something a little harder...

Barnard's Star, for those of you who don't know Barnard's Star is a red dwarf and only 6 light years away from Earth, so it is comparatively right next door!  But it is dim, and was not discovered until 1888/90 and did not have its proper motion measured until 1916.
 There is a reddish dot, about half way up, and about 5/8th of the way to the right.  That is Barnard's star.  It has about 15% the mass of the sun, and only has a visual luminosity of .0004 suns (Thanks Wikipedia)...

The cool thing is that it is estimated to be between 7 and 12 billion years old, which would make it the oldest thing I have ever seen!  Except your mom.

But where to look now????

First Stop was the Beehive cluster, which is theoretically in there somewhere, I was not impressed...

 So I tried the Wild Duck cluster, this is found a lot more impressive.  This is actually a ball of ~2900 stars, 6,200 light years away.
 The Eagle Nebula?  Missing something....  I am guessing that if I had the white balance right it would have shown up better, but I did not learn that until later... Anyway, it is 7,000 light years away!
 Omega Nebula, ok, that is a lot cooler.  Once again, about 5-6,000 light years away, the cool thing is that apparently this cluster is only about a million years old!
 Down in the lower right you get the Fox Head Cluster, i the lower right again (sensing a theme)...  Once again about 7,000 light years away.
 The Triangulum Galaxy, the picture smeared a little, but you can see the nebulousness in there.  This one is about 3 million light years away.
 Way off to the right is Bode's Galaxy, it should also be noted that at this point I had finally bothered to look up the correct white balance for shooting stars.  That is what that Tungsten setting is for....  This one is about 12 million light years away.
The Cigar Galaxy, oh, thank you Tungsten lighting....  This is also about 12 million light years away.  This Galaxy and Bode's Galaxy are actually only about 300,000 light years apart, close enough that they gravitationally interfere with one another.

Well, now I have a functional observatory!  And there will be a lot more coming out of there!  Yeah!

Monday, October 3, 2016

First night of the observatory!

I have not moved the telescope in yet, I have not finished building the door, but I can still take my digital camera out there and shoot pictures!
 Just trying to get the focus right, looking North.
 A little milky way, a little air glow....
 A touch of horizon glow in there...
 The aurora was just at the edge of the horizon....
 The seven sisters popping into view.
A long exposure around Polaris, like 23 minutes at iso100....

Very soon the observatory will be up and running for real!  If you think this is cool and want to support the effort, here is a link!

A few photos of tall ships from the roof of work

I was at work as the tall ships were doing the parade into the harbor.  I actually had to go an do some coffee deliveries shortly after the parade started in Canal Park, which worked out perfectly because everyone was out on the pier and the Lakewalk and not wandering around Canal Park proper.

Anyway, here is what I saw.
The Galleon

The Schooner

The Brig

I am going to go through these later and see if I can get some more information.  I am still spending most of y time working on trying to finish the observatory, actually just getting ready to go out there and put some more plaster on the walls!  Maybe even do some sanding of the plaster in the first floor and get it ready for paint.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Times are changing.

This is a brain dump, just fair warning.

Times they are a changing, well, actually they always have been, but the older I get the more noticeable that it is. I still have never jnderstood hip hop, random lyrics, sensical, nonsensical, all mixed over a bass line. I get why it is popular, pondering if anyone has tried to fuck with the genre by mixing sick beats with truly sick literature, like hip hop mein kampf.

Ok, now that is out of my head, the couch in the observatory is coming soon, like really, really soon, like I need to sand, put some paint on the walls, let it dry for a few hours and put the couch in soon.

This changes everything, also, the deck is structurally present now, it does not have railings tet, and it will be a bit before the twelve foot ladder drips off the end, but the basics are there. The deck gives the possibility of plein air painting on nice days, mostly I am thinking spring and fall, Summer I can retreat to the basement, winter I can pull myself inside of the big window and still have the afternoon sun.

I just realized I do not believe I have ever painted in natural light, thus may change everything.

I already know what the first painting is going to be, but it will remain secret, at least until after it is done, dried, packed, and mailed.

Plans, construction, designs on my future.

It has been a crazy, busy, and productive summer. Hopefully the fall and winter will match, I have been fighting off the seasonal ennui again, alas.

Ok, that is enough for a "from the phone" update,  mostly just wanted everyone to know I am still alive.