Sun Halo – May 4, 2011

Spotted a halo around the sun on May 4th. I’ve seen them around a full moon before, but not around the sun. By obscuring the sun with my hand or my index finger I was able to shoot some reasonably good photos of the phenomenon.

22° halo is a halo, one type of optical phenomenon, forming a circle 22° around the sun, or occasionally the moon. It forms as sunlight is refracted in hexagonal ice crystals suspended in the atmosphere. As the light beam passes through two sides of the prism forming a 60° angle, the angle of minimum deviation is almost 22° (namely, 21.84° on average; 21.54° for red and 22.37° for blue). This wavelength-dependent variation in refraction causes the inner edge of the circle to be reddish while the outer edge is bluish.

Sun Halo 3

Sun Halo

Sun Halo 4


When I picked Cynthia up from work on Monday she was carrying an empty 40oz plastic pretzel jar. I asked her what it was for and she proudly announced that she was going to make a terrarium out of it.

As we drove home we talked about the project and I suggested getting a lizard to put in the terrarium. She suggested a frog. We both quickly recognized that this was a recipe for disaster. I then suggested a fake plastic lizard or frog. Cynthia didn’t really like that idea so much and as the conversation unfolded she came up with the idea of staging a diorama of an alien spaceship abducting someone in the woods. I countered that maybe it should be a diorama of an alien spaceship abducting a cow.

Cynthia liked this idea. I said we could call it a “diorarium” (pronounced die-a-rare-ee-um) to which Cynthia immediately said “no” due to the unpleasantness of how the word sounded.

I told her I had a perfect UFO in the form of a die cast model of the Jupiter II from the original Lost In Space TV series. I also suggested we could probably find some plastic cows at the toy store.

As the plan unfolded we I came up with the idea that we could go to the model shop where I was sure we could find some N Scale cows used for scenery in model railroading. They ended up having the PERFECT cows.

Then it was just a matter of getting the plants, the soil, activated carbon and gravel to build the terrarium part of the diorarium (by day two Cynthia embraced this as the name of what we were creating).

With all the parts assembled we had to figure out how to suspend the spaceship and the cow being abducted. I went to the hardware store and purchased some monofilament fishing line which ended up being perfect.

If it works as it is supposed to we should not have to open it or water it again, or at least for a very long time.

Here is the completed project. As it turns out, photographing a fake UFO abducting a fake cow inside a plastic jar presents many of the same challenges as photographing the real thing. If the real thing actually exists. Which it probably does. (shhhh!)

Diorarium 5

Diorarium 4

Diorarium 2

Diorarium 3

Arc Attack

The main thing I wanted to see at the Gloworama event was one of the performances by Arc Attack. Imagine two custom engineered hand built Tesla Coils that throw out electrical arcs up to twelve feet long, each one acting as an instrument with a sound reminiscent of the early days of the synthesizer. Each “arc” of electricity carries the sound of the music. During the show, the MC engages both the crowd and the Tesla Coils by walking through ½ Million Volt sparks wearing a chainmail Faraday suit. Spectacular!

Arc Attack

Arc Attack

Arc Attack

Arc Attack

Arc Attack

Arc Attack

And if that’s not enough, after the MC does his thing a guy in another Farady suit comes out with a modified electric guitar that plays through the singing Tesla Coils

Arc Attack

Arc Attack

Arc Attack

Arc Attack

This was a challenge to photograph. I used my vintage Minolta 35/2 lens to capture the action and I am pretty pleased with the results.

Shiny Euros

Shiny Euros

Shiny Euros

We have received our travelin’ Euros for the upcoming trip. I love the colour of European money. The holograms are so pretty. It’s like play money in that it doesn’t look real, but it also evokes the passion I associate with travel. Having Euros in hand makes the whole thing more “real”, if that makes any sense.

Of course, being the shutterbug I am, I wanted to photograph the bills as a matter of course so I played with different configurations and ended up with the above shot.

When I had finished procressing the RAW file and went to open it in Photoshop CS3, the strangest thing happened. This message popped up saying “”This Application Does Not Support the Printing of Banknote Images”:

In doing some research, this seems to be the same for the new American bills that were recently issued.

What stikes me is that this is not a scan of the Euro notes. It’s a photograph and it doesn’t even include a complete, unobscured bill in the photo. Yet Photoshop recognized the content of the image and produced that warning and, presumably, will not print it in the unaltered form.

It only let me save the oringinal file as PNG and I have not tried to print it.

Technology is cool!

Wake n’ Bacon


What: An alarm clock that wakes you up with the smell and sizzle of cooking bacon.

WHY: No one likes to wake up, especially by an alarm. This clock gently wakes you up with the mouthwatering aroma of bacon, just like waking up on a Sunday morning to the smell of Mom cooking breakfast. Unless you’re Jewish.

HOW: A frozen strip of bacon is placed in Wake n’ Bacon the night before. Because there is a 10 minute cooking time, the clock is set to go off 10 minutes before the desired waking time. Once the alarm goes off, the clock it sends a signal to a small speaker to generate the alarm sound. We hacked the clock so that the signal is re-routed by a microchip that in responds by sending a signal to a relay that throws the switch to power two halogen lamps that slow-cook the bacon in about 10 minutes.

Nice Pants

New Flint Police Chief David Dicks orders police to crack down on sagging pants

I only recently learned that the sagging pants phenomenon has it’s origins in the American penal system. Prisoners combined one size fits all pants with the “no belts” policy of prisons to come up with this little bit of gangster chic.

The resulting “sagging pants” look was later adopted by the rap/hip-hop community as a way to enhance street cred and, I suspect, as a means of “keeping it real, yo” …

Personally, when I see some young person walking around, struggling to keep his pants on I am not thinking “gangsta” … more like “idiot.”

I’m much more “old school” about my trousers and I obviously had MUCH better taste in pants when I was young.

100 Years Ago Today

Today is the 100th anniversary of the explosion that flattened some 500,000 acres of Siberian forest near the Podkamennaya Tunguska River on June 30, 1908

Commonly referred to as the “Tunguska Event” it is widely accepted that the explosion was the result of an air burst of a large meteoroid or comet fragment at an altitude of 3″“6 miles above Earth’s surface.

I remain unconvinced.

1978 Czech song Jozin z Bazin

Apparently this song is all the rage in Poland right now and totally worth watching from beginning to end….

The Lyrics in English

I drive Skoda 100 to camp here on Orawa
So I hurry, take a risk – go through Morawa
The monster lives there, comes out of the bog
Eats mostly Prague citizen, its name is Jozin (Joseph)

Chorus: Jozin from the bog creeps through swamp
Jozin from the bog closes to the village
Jozin from the bog edges its teeth
Jozin from the bog bites, strangles
To defend Jozin from the bog, who could imagine, only works a plane with manure (white powder)

I was driving through the village on road to Vizowice
The village mayor greeted me, said to me during drinking Sliwowica
‘The one who will bring Jozin dead or alive
gets my daughter and a half of National Agrarian Farm


I said: ‘give me a plane and powder, mayor,
I’ll bring you Jozin, I see no trouble about that’,
Mayor helped me, in the morning I went up in the sky
The powder from the plane prettily fell on Jozin.


Joe Swamp is now all white
Joe Swamp escapes from the bogs
Joe Swamp has turned to stone
For Joe Swamp, this is the end
I caught Joe and now I have him, woohoo!
Cash is always good so now I’m selling him to the zoo

Do a Youtube search on Jozin z Bazin to see various new versions and adaptations of the song…

Big Brother Is Making Your Music Video

Spotted at The Telegraph

The Get Out Clause, Manchester stars of CCTV

Unable to afford a proper camera crew and equipment, The Get Out Clause, an unsigned band from the city, decided to make use of the cameras seen all over British streets. They set up their equipment, drum kit and all, in eighty locations around Manchester ““ including on a bus ““ and proceeded to play to the cameras. Afterwards they wrote to the companies or organisations involved and asked for the footage under the Freedom of Information Act.

I For One Welcome Our New Ant Overlords

With another blistering summer firing up and an in-place population of any number of unpleasant bugs and critters, life in Houston may be getting just a little more unpleasant as we find ourselves being invaded by a species of ant that seems to be impervious to pesticides and has an appetite for electronics.

Exotic Texas Ant, Paratrechina also known as the Crazy Ant or the “Raspberry Ant” (named for Tom Rasberry who discovered them) stands to make his mark our humble little town.

Mentioned at Engaget this horrifying little creature has captured the limelight and is making headlines all over the web.

They have been known to short out many different types of electrical apparatuses. In some cases the ants have caused several thousand dollars in damage and remedial costs. These ants often cause great annoyance to residents and businesses.

For now they seem to be mostly in the South and the East…near the chemical plants oddly enough.

(queue 50’s sci-fi music).




I’ve already had one support call where the user jokingly suggested the problem with our Blackberry Enterprise Server might be a result of Crazy Ant infestation…har har…Rasberry, Blackberry, get it? Ugh!

On the plus side, these “Crazy” Ants seem to eat Fire Ants so they could be a boon to our area.

Now playing – Cheepnis by Frank Zappa

Ladies and gentlemen,
The monster,
Which the peasants in this area call FRUNOBULAX
(Apparently a very large poodle dog)
Has just been seen approaching The Power Plant
Bullets can’t stop it
Rockets can’t stop it
We may have to use NUCLEAR FORCE !

Baby Loves Disco?

When I first read this I thought Baby Loves Disco must be a hoax or a prank but it looks like the real thing. Imagine your local disco filled up with parents and their toddler, preschoolers and pre-adolescents moving to the groove.

The fun spills out from all corners of the club: bubble machines, baskets of scarves and egg-shakers, a chill-out room (with tents, books and puzzles), diaper changing stations, a full spread of healthy snacks and dancing, LOTS of dancing.

Sounds like a rave for children!

As this video from points out, these folks manage to inculcate in our youth the finer points of bar culture…

I can only imagine that this is a precursor to a much more violent and subversive movement that will inevitably be called Baby Loves Mosh Pits.

I grew up with disco and it’s my cross to bear but I just can’t imagine inflicting it on someone too young to defend themselves.

Hello therapy!

Give Me Coffee

Give Me Coffee

Give Me Coffee

One good thing about these high end hotels where we hold our sales conference is the the hotel’s commitment to providing an abundance of coffee in the morning.

Speaking of coffee, I had the oddest dream the other night. In my dream there was an online service where you could upload your unused coffee to a web site to make it available to others to download free of charge.

It was for those times when you brew a pot of coffee, but don’t finish it. It wasn’t for uploading a half drunk cup of used coffee though I could see that as a potential abuse of the service.

Cynthia tells me it strikes her as a very “Jay-like” dream. I have to agree.