Tuesday, September 30, 2014
Punctured wheels and all, Curiosity made it to Mount Sharp, a Mount Rainier size mountain in the center of a huge crater on Mars. It will now examine various layers of stratification as it climbs the slope. The above is a picture, actually a panorama of many images, showing some of the nearby rock details,
and you will note most of those rocks are broken into fragments. That's what happens when a large meteoroid punctures the crust of a planet and explodes inside its core. And no, Virginia, we haven't found the very first McDonald's yet,
but the search continues! Stay Tuned..... And those bluish rocks look like they might by Bornite, a copper concentrate. But we can't afford to bring it home.
Monday, September 29, 2014
Why? Why do these phoney turkeys try to masquerade as 'Joe Lunchbuckets' when everyone knows they are the highest of high-octane Suits? The only ones they are fooling are themselves. Would you buy a used car from somebody who pretended to be someone he wasn't? If he lies about that, what else is he lying to you about? Think about it!
Sunday, September 28, 2014
This, I think, is probably what Tutankhamun's so-called 'favorite mug' originally looked like, before it spent all those years in his tomb with him.
Back in the 1980s, I believe, there was a traveling exhibit of Treasures from Tutankhamun's Tomb which came to our Museum in the same complex here as our Planetarium, of which I've always been fond. So I took the tour and bought the glossy little book with lots of pretty pictures. And got blown away by this one....
As I turned the pages of that glossy booklet and came to this image of the 'mug' I caught my breath, and found myself saying to myself, "There you are!". Then I stopped myself, because obviously this was impossible. There's no way I could ever have been familiar with this object. It was bizarre! I thought, "Ray, you're really losing it this time, Kid!" And yet I had this extraordinary feeling that I had seen this before, and perhaps might even have helped to create it. It seemed instantly familiar to me. And no, Pascal, I'm NOT King Tut reincarnated. But I might have been an artisan of the royal court back then, maybe. One never knows.
In any case, when I read the description of this piece, it gets even more bizarre.
Around the rim of it, those hieroglyphs are in two parts. One part lists Tut's five royal and familial names, in flowery terms, as was their custom. The other part is a wish, or a blessing, or a prayer, and it goes like this:-
May you live millions of millions of years, you who love Thebes, sitting with your face to the north wind, your two eyes beholding happiness.
I looked at that, and said to myself "That's what it says, but that's not what it means." Why not? Because: we don't take everything we write literally, and neither did they. So what it says is not exactly what it means. You have to understand the context and the times from which it came. So let's break it down and look at it...
Those budding blue lotuses forming the handles each have the God of Eternity sitting on top on a reed raft, holding a palm frond in each hand. The meaning of that is "Forever". Thebes in those days was the center of their culture and the heart of their academic institutions, a source of enlightenment. Sitting with your face to the north wind would mean you had your back to the 'red wind' from the south, meaning the sand storms, because the cooling breezes came off the sea to the north. Your two eyes beholding happiness meant just that: happiness.
So it was really expressing this, when 'boiled down' to its essence:-
May you live Forever,
And Enjoying Happiness.
And that's a wonderful wish or blessing or prayer for anyone, don't you think?
I colored and framed this little picture many years ago and had to dismantle that for this scanning, because the glass and frame made it out-of-focus for the scanner, and I do like sharp scans. And I did want a copy for a desktop background, so I thought I'd annoy you with this little tale at the same time.
I hope it hasn't been too boring for you.
Did I ever figure out where I saw the chalice before? No, I never have, nor am I likely to. But I do think it is a chalice rather than a common drinking mug. King Tutankhamun, in his role as Pharaoh would also automatically be the Chief High Priest of the principal Temple, and thus expected to participate in certain ceremonies at least a few times a year. This was likely his ceremonial chalice for use at those religious festivals.
Saturday, September 27, 2014
This is the new patio at the outdoor pool in the development across our back street, and down about a block's distance. They took so long preparing the ground, and refinishing the pool, summer was almost over by the time it was finally ready. There was another outdoor pool closer to this end of that property but they removed it about four years ago. I guess the families who were attracted to that development all grew up, and there weren't as many kids to use it.
This is a sample of what's left. It didn't start anyone's motor. Both of them have seen more lunches than lunchtimes. The good news is, they'll never drown.
And everyone's working for the phone company so they can play those stupid games on the screen at the bus stop, or in the elevator, or the sidewalk, or the crosswalk...and the people who talked you into all that are laughing all the way to the bank. You wouldn't be here today if civilization hadn't been able to survive quite nicely without all that until someone decided you had too much money in your pocket, or your credit was too good, or you were just stupid.
This was a very popular symbol in Egypt about 3,500 years ago and it still is at my house, where I, like ancient Egyptians, have my own little shrine in part of the room where I like to say my prayers. The Ankh in those days was part of a very well-known formula, as shown below in this page from my hieroglyphic dictionary....
The formula consisted of the Ankh, a candle flame, and a shepherd's crook, and meant "Life, Strength, and Health" which loosely interpreted came out as something like Commander Spock's "Live Long and Prosper!" I'm being facetious of course. It was actually a combination wish and prayer. And if you add to it "Thank You, Holy One, Everywhere You Are!" the prayer part works even better.
Religion isn't something you subscribe to, nor some kind of club you join - it's your own personal respect and admiration and gratitude to your Creator for everything you have been given. It's a 'Do-It-Yourself' project. Just do it!
Iran, and Persia generally, has a long and very colorful history and we need to do our homework before we jump to any hasty conclusions. These bottom two screenshots are good places to start.
I'm prejudiced on this whole topic, because many of my neighbors here in these hundreds of apartments are Persians from Iran, and those I've met are very nice people, and very warm and friendly. They provide a definite enrichment to our culture.
If you do some homework on this whole topic, you will of course discover almost at once why my Iranian friends have long had a legitimate grievance with western infidels who have been skinning them alive, so to speak, ever since the first discovery of oil in Iran in 1908. So they come by their distrust of us quite honestly, and with good reasons. And we have to be careful selecting our sources for the facts, because there are a lot of 'creative writers' in the news business, being paid to 'spin-doctor' the story in favor of special interests. I like to do what I can to 'unspin' those 'spin-doctors' to get us down to the bare-assed facts underneath all that. I encourage you to do the same.
Friday, September 26, 2014
The mysteries of physical love have always eluded me. My sexually active years were the most traumatic and frequently most frustrating of my life. And my performance was rated by experts one evening during the Flower Power Years, during a discussion on the subject after a lovely dinner at the home of two single moms sharing the place, and a third one visiting along with me for the dinner. We had all gained sufficient experience with the subject, as one of the gals pointed out when she said "We all know what Ray is like!"
Taking that as a cue, I had to ask, "And specifically what is Ray like? May I have a rating, please?" These three lovely young ladies put their heads together, did some tittering and giggling, and finally came up with the verdict. The one who had begun the discussion, speaking for the group, said, "Our consensus is that you are disgustingly average, with a lot of room for improvement."
I wasn't expecting a hero medal, but that deflated me some, and I asked, "Is there any remedial program available?" One replied, "Just because two of us are teachers, it doesn't mean we're sex therapists." I tried another tack. "Do I get a look at the Check List?" "What about a Trouble Report?" "How can I fix what I don't know is broken?"
After more silly remarks and a lot of giggling, we decided that I wasn't so bad after all, and very few guys are really as good as they think they are, because the gals are quite good at acting out their own parts in the play. As one put it, "You wouldn't be encouraged if we said 'Aw, Shit! Not this again!'..."
Like I said, the mysteries of love have eluded me, and I never did get that Trouble Report...
Thursday, September 25, 2014
For four guys supposedly men of science with brainpower to burn, these oversized children of the ghetto leave a whole hell of a lot to be desired and they aren't one iota funnier than they think they are. Personally, I'd rather not watch their painfully puerile antics. I'd rather read a book, or take a bath, or all of the above simultaneously. I already have my PhD in Stupid, thanks.
Wednesday, September 24, 2014
(1.) Gee! I hope my horse doesn't get towed!
(2.) I really wanted to bring my pole! This isn't as good without it...
(3.) JLo, eat your heart out! This is what a leg looks like in its natural habitat.
(4.) I've always looked better with good backlighting!
(5.) Be gentle with your Mommie now, OK?
(6.) Granny will be so proud! Isn't this wonderful?
(7.) Stop looking at my Smart Watch, Dumb Ass! We're on national TV!
(8.) I've always dreamed I was Dancing With The Stars in my Maidenform Bra!
(9.) I told you! Press your pants! Didn't I tell you that? Do you ever listen?
(10.) And I have the nicest dress here, so there! Mmnnnaahh!!
(11.) I think something's coming loose....
(12.) She: Do I look ridiculous? He: Nah! I'm the pretty one here!
(13.) And I want my Mommie! - Goodnight, Folks!
Tuesday, September 23, 2014
I've always liked Pink Floyd. My first 'in living color' trip as a midnight astronaut sampling 'the good stuff' with Rocky, the Friendly Neighborhood Witch, was greatly enhanced by 'Dark Side' in Surround Sound. I vividly remember it yet.
I can draw you a color reproduction of parts of that flight, a spherical spacecraft with the upper half a transparent dome from which I could see everything, and
a small foreign planet upon which very tall transmission towers wirelessly exchanged bursts of laser-like energy, and coming home in that little craft, with the real sense that I was returning from a long and futile battle, during which I had been wounded and repaired with bionics, and as I'm approaching my final destination, a huge domed city-like structure, I can look down into it and recognize everyone I have ever known. I land the craft in an airlock on the edge of it, walk inside, and everyone is holding up their glasses in a toast to my arrival safely home - and Rocky says, "Ray! Ray! - Wake Up, Ray!..." and I look at her standing there in that floor-length robe looking concerned, and I ask, "Rocky, have you any idea where I've been for the past half hour?" And she gave me a knowing smile, and said,"No, but I can guess....and after you finish coming down, you must tell me all about it." I did better than that. I drew her a picture in living color with my oil pastels.
She looked at that picture and said, "WOW! You really did have a trip, didn't you?" And I said, "Yes, My Dear, I really did."
But I'm digressing again.....Pink Floyd hasn't been the real thing since the second of its original four left the group in 1985. What we've got now is nothing more than a limp-dicked geriatric gold-mining operation, which should be put out of its misery, because it's not even a decent ghost of Christmases Past. And I have 20 albums from Christmases Past of theirs to prove it.
Monday, September 22, 2014
Why am I having the greatest of difficulty believing these young and horny and desperate spotlight-seekers are really clueless about possible uses of their nude or topless photos? Have they all got I.Q.s on a par with a bag of unwashed turnips, or do they think we have? I can spell 'Photoshop', Honey, and I've seen
images on line with the ever-radiant Jeri Ryan's head and neck on a luscious porn star's nude body. There are in fact whole sites devoted to that kind of fakery, so don't try to bullshit an old bullshitter, OK?
If you don't want the publicity, which again I have the greatest difficulty believing, then keep your clothes on, or keep your nude selfies out of the email.
Surely you're aware Google crawls through all your Gmail looking for clues to use in their ad revenue business, and privacy these days is only a word in the dictionary between pin-up and prostitute. Get the picture?
I'm pointing to this above website, because it's coming around to that time of the year again when most of us in the northern hemisphere will be spending more time indoors, and if your home is underneath or near one of our high voltage power lines, you may be interested in some of the information provided by the nation's original experts on radiation.
Periodically, some self-styled 'expert' (being defined as 'anyone more than ten miles from home') shows up, trying to convince us that our cell phones are killing our brain cells with their radiation, or that our kids are in danger of being cancer victims because their school playground is partly beneath the electric company's high voltage power lines.
So before some huckster induces panic in your already stressful life, may I please suggest that you bookmark the above website for HPS.org?
Briefly, or as briefly as I can manage, here's the poop: Cancer-producing radiation has to be radiation of a certain range of high frequencies, such as those found in microwave ovens, radar equipment, and similar high frequency or ultra high frequency devices, also including natural radiation from sources like our sun with its various thermonuclear radiation types.
You can't get cancer from exposure to radiation from that nearby power line.
Why not? Because: the frequency of it is only 60 cycles per second, which is rated as 'ultra-low frequency' on the internationally accepted rating scale.
Also, air being a very good insulator, and those lines being many feet above anyone's head, and that frequency being ultra-low, and the voltage, even at let's say 500 Kv, or 500,000 volts, being insufficient to produce a significant radiation field beyond the limits of safe approach, which, in this case is listed as being 7 meters, or 22.98 feet. So, for example, if that 500 Kv line is mounted on 90-foot towers, there's still 67 feet between you on the ground and the nearest limit of safe approach to that 'hot' or 'live' conductor, and you have
absolutely nothing to fear from its radiation.
"But", you say, "I've seen little blue lightning-like emissions and heard hissing noises with those, around the hardware of those high voltage conductors, so what about that?" That is called 'corona' and is caused by the high voltage of the conductor's electrical field around the cable stressing the surrounding air's
insulating value, and overcoming that insulating value of the air for a few inches next to the conductor at points on the hardware where those voltage stresses are greatest, such as at sharp corners of the hardware, or on fasteners like bolts that may not have been adequately designed with rounded surfaces to distribute those voltage stresses more evenly. So if you see 'corona' after dark at certain places along a high voltage line, you know the hardware wasn't made to reduce or eliminate that effect. And that 'corona' effect is part of normal line losses during transmission of the energy, and it can amount to as much as ten percent of the total output of the system. So it's not an insignificant consideration in the design of a system. Modern systems have specially designed hardware with smoothly rounded surfaces to more evenly stress the surrounding insulating air, to reduce this 'corona' effect, but there will be some, especially at switching points. But you can't get cancer from that either.
"How do you know?" you ask. I know because from the 23rd of August, 1950 until the 31st of March, 1988, I worked closely with an electric company's power distribution and production systems, with equipment up to and including 500,000 volts, and sometimes, that included being inside the safe limits of approach as outlined in the rule books, and I didn't get cancer from it. So if I didn't get cancer while working on the equipment, you aren't likely to, just living nearby. And I hope this clears that up for you. But do read what they say on HPS.org for more details. And leave me a comment with any questions, please.
Sunday, September 21, 2014
It's hard to tell from this distance, but the lettering on the tail of this plane says "Whistler Air" and it's returning some Big Spenders back to civilization, from where some of us never left. The first time I skied Whistler, a daily lift ticket cost $8.00 and breakfast at Peter's Cafeteria near the base of the original Gondola cost $2.95 for all you could eat, and that consisted of bacon, eggs, hash browns, toast, and coffee. And guess what? That mountain hasn't grown one inch since then, but the prices now are astronomical because the "In Crowd" have discovered it. Isn't progress wonderful?
The picture of Rhett and Scarlett I included as a reminder of my erudite and academic Atlanta cousins who are probably wondering what they did to deserve being related to an ignoramus like me. To which, I would facetiously reply: "Just lucky, I guess." They are retired from distinguished careers in universities, and their hobby is ancestry - I very nearly slipped mental gears there and said 'incestry' but caught it in time - although, upon reflection.... (Don't go there, Ray!). Sir Thomas Overbury said: "The man who has nothing to boast of but his ancestry is like a potato. The only good belonging to him is underground." And while having illustrious forebears may be wonderful, what about those you might prefer to shoot between the eyes just to be rid of the aggravation? Obviously, it's a mixed blessing; a constant strain on one's tenuous magnanimity.
And this morning's photo out the window? Just because - because there's a long dismal rainy season coming in a couple of months, during which a sunny scene will improve my disposition immeasurably.
Saturday, September 20, 2014
Pull an old pair of socks over a suitably-sized bottle, cut the legs on an old stool
to the right height to rest your lower legs on it while on your back on the floor, place the padded bottle under the back of your neck, close your eyes, and have a nice nap. It's good for your neck, it's good for your back, and it's good for your circulation if you happen to have pitting edema of the feet and lower legs.
And before someone says, "That pitting edema in the feet and lower legs may indicate a right-side heart problem, and/or heart failure..." may I say "Thanks, but I have the Merck Manual, and I'm aware of all that." Like the guy said after falling off the Empire State Building, and passing the third floor going down, "So far, so good!" And we won't get into my ECGs, and the periodic skipped beats, and the Atrial Fibrillation, and the Xarelto (Rivaroxaban) 15 mg. to thin the blood to reduce the likelihood of clotting due to that fibrillation, nor what it sounds like if you listen to it with a stethoscope (like sloshing in a bucket) - so instead of all that, I'm just going to say it doesn't affect me-affect me-affect me hardly at all. And now, let's change the subject, may we?
And yes, it really is possible to have a relaxing nap in this position. One note of caution, however: I don't recommend that you use the bottle/headrest as you would an ordinary pillow for sleeping on your side. Because? Because it isn't designed to have the same weight distribution characteristics as pillows, and if
you are lying on your side, there's a danger of putting too much pressure on a
carotid artery, possibly restricting blood flow to the brain. ( see illustration )
So this is why the ancient Egyptians, using headrests, or me and my bottle-in-a-sock substitute, use those while on our backs, not on our sides. If you must sleep on your side, get a nice big pillow so the weight of your head will be spread over a larger area, without danger of creating pressure points. I think what I'm trying to say here is that these things aren't toys, and must be used with care.
This may not be earth-shaking news, but you can read all about it right here.
I dumped Internet Explorer from Windows 8 Pro a while ago, because I won't settle for a 'number five', when I can have a 'number one'. Would you?
Today's 'Question Everything' is: "Why hasn't Microsoft made a better browser?"
Your Internet experience is only as good as your browser, so that needs to be the very best available, and Microsoft's Internet Explorer just isn't even close!
If I were them, I'd get serious and do something about that.