Partial Solar Eclipse For Most Of N. America Tomorrow Evening

I will be spending much of today preparing for the eclipse tomorrow. (10/23/14) Here in W. Tn. we should see around 40% coverage, just less than half of the sun eaten by our moon. I am stoked for this event, for two reasons. One the forecast calls for clear skies, and two I am just that much of a nerdy science loving geek.

The eclipse will begin right around 5:00 PM CST.

Standard boilerplate warning. Do not look at the eclipse directly. Do not look at the sun with binoculars or a telescope without proper filtration, unless burning the eyes out of your sockets sounds like a good time. I have heard that a welders helmet is safe, and not safe, so that one I would call risky. Old cheap telescope kits used to offer a solar viewing eyepiece, they should not be used if you have them as they have been proven likely to explode, that sounds fun.

The only way to properly view the sun, or an eclipse, is to use a telescope or binoculars with proper modern filtration. More specifically with either a Mylar filter or a white light glass filter. Or you can use a decent quality telescope as a projector. Setup a white board, and let the telescope project the image upon the board.

There are Ha (hydrogen alpha) telescopes built specifically for viewing the sun, they are the cats meow, but terribly expensive. I wish I had one…

There are also solar viewing glasses on the market that allow you to look at the sun safely.

Then there is the option of building a cheap solar viewing box, with a shoe box and some tin foil. Instructions abound on the internet. When I was a young lad, there was a total eclipse where I lived. Our school teacher had us all bring in supplies to build one of these, and I was able to experience my first total eclipse with it. It was an amazing experience I still remember to this day. When the sun goes dark the birds and critters go quiet. There is an eerie calm I will never forget. The box worked like a charm.

Here is a link to one such solar viewer made from a box, although the one I had as a kid, we just cut a viewing hole in the top of the box, and did not stick our head in the box…?

Another one here, remember the longer the box, the bigger the sun appears through the viewing hole.

I will be setting up with two telescopes. One a 90mm achromat* refractor by way of the projection view upon a whiteboard, the other a nice quality 80mm apochromatic** refractor telescope using a full aperture white light filter. I hope to get many pictures. I used this same setup a while back for the Venus transit with pretty decent results. (I should dig up those old pics and post a few)

Most of N. America will experience this event. While not as spectacular as a total eclipse, a partial is still pretty cool, so get properly rigged up and go out there to see it! I am sure it will be live streamed as well, the internet is good for stuff like that, but there is nothing quite like actuall experiencing events like this.

Oh…in 2017 there will be a total eclipse of the sun. The maximum duration of this eclipse will be an hours drive from here. Guess where I will be?  :)  The eclipse will be viewable from where I live, but I can gain precious seconds by taking a short drive. I can’t wait.

* Achromat refers to a refracting telescopes converging of color. An achromat focuses most, but not all, of the colors in the spectrum to the same focal point. Plainly speaking you will get a violet fringe on bright objects.

** Apochromat is a refractor lens designed to more adequetly focus the spectrum, reducing or eliminating this violet/purple fringing. The apo requires much more work to get done properly, resulting in a higher cost/ better peformance ratio.

It’s Good To Be Home

As has been mentioned in some comments recently the wife came down with abdominal pain 2 weeks ago yesterday. It was bad enough we went to the local emergency room at 4 in the morning. . They sent her 60 miles by ambulance before noon the next day, suspecting an abdominal blockage, or intestinal kink. After several days of no food, and pumping the stomach of the fluids in constant manufacture there, plus daily x-rays and multiple cat scans with no improvement noticed, they decided to do an exploratory surgery.

Upon entry they immediately saw the problem was an abcessed appendix. It had ruptured at some point, and continued to fester. Appendicitis being a bacterial infection, a lot of the surrounding area was inflamed with pus pockets. With the appendix removed, and the area cleaned up as much as humanly possible, she was left to recover.

Usually, and I thought this was mostly the case, an appendix will go bad and rupure very quickly and is easily dignosed. In this case, and while it is more rare, but not unheard of, the appendix went through more of a slow burn process, and even with the modern tech available was not easily diagnosed. It was suspected early, but they just did not know for sure till they opened her up.

We finally rolled in last night around 8 PM. After living in a small hospital room for 2 weeks it feels oddly strange being home, but at the same time very comforting. It is a pleasure to see the boys, to get my hugs whether I need them or not, and to sleep in my own bed.

The wife is still quite tender having a 6 or 7 inch gash in her gut, that is nicely stapled up in a classic Frankenstein way, and she will require much attention for the next several days. The biggest job before me is to keep her down. She is just not the type to want to lie around, and will soon overtask herself if I am for a moment distracted. I have threatened to tie cinder blocks to her, to keep her from getting up and moving around. She will want to clean something before the day is out. This I know.

It is good to be home. I suspect a nap in my near future… and a lot of work to be done.

The Basis For Creation Science Revealed

Yes indeed folks, make up a bunch of nonsense, toss in some science-y words, add a colorful graph, and voila! You have what passes for gas, I mean meaningful, insightful, horse shit… I mean creation science.

Now add some demented misguided liars for jesus, with lab coats they bought at Wal-Mart, and a green screened lab to complete the illusion, I mean the scam, I mean, the clinically sterile cargo cult pseudo science known as… creation science.

Moral of the story…just because it looks all spiffy, with people in lab coats, and science sounding terminology, oh and graphs, does not mean it should be taken seriously. Mocked is the first word that springs to my mind.

I rather like that headline: Blinded by Non Science. Perfect.

Pastor With Aids Refuses To Step Down, After Sleeping With Church Members

In a case of blatant misconduct, that should damn well result in charges being filed…

An Alabama pastor who knew he had AIDS and slept with multiple (no good number named as of yet) parishioners, among other claims of misconduct, who was voted out of the church…has the audacity to refuse to step down. I am not sure how that kind of stuff works, but I am hopeful that his next preaching job will be from his shiny new cell in the state pen.

Anyone knowing full well they are HIV positive, keeps that to themselves, and sleeps around is IMO guilty of attempted murder. There are other all too common claims of misuse of funds, and taking drugs as well. You often see these more mundane activities from the faithful, indicating some sort of morality issue.

I thought they were supposed to have cornered the morality market?

I apologize for not yet knowing how to copy/paste a link on a Kindle. They do abound on this story.




Quote Of The Month

This month’s quote is by yours truly.

God Damnit!

Mon night, well Sun. morn, the wife of Shelldiger reported to our local ER with severe abdominal pain. The next morn she was transferred to a much better regional H. Looks like an intestinal blockage/kink.

The treatment thus far has been cutting off all intake besides IV fluids, to eliminate pressure on the system. This is supposed to allow the kink to fix itself. If after several days (and the time is nearing) surgery will be required.

I expect by this time tomorrow night surgery it will be. I can assure you the wife is ready for this to be over. She has been receiving morphine and toridal (sp?) for pain. The ordeal very painful.

The Shelldigger has been sleeping on a hospital room chair thingy which can only be described as NOT comfortable. Every time sleep is allowed the DR ‘s and nurses show up for something. I am zombie.

My two boys at home are doing their best to take care of the critters, and themselves. Good to have some backup. Even if some prodding was required. Sometimes kids have to be reminded to put away their wants and desires when the world demands such. I hope this is a g rowing experience for them.

Anyway my posting is and will remain very light until things get ironed out. My friends who show up here, and who’s blogs I enjoy, please excuse my absence. I’ll g e t back when I can.

Posted with the wife’s Kindle, at least they have WiFi here! Please overlook formatting and or spelling issues.

Can I Keep My Free Will Now?

An interesting study from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute indicates that many of our decisions are influenced by past experiences (which is the leading cause for determinism) but also points out that random choices (or what I might perceive as a bit of free will, otherwise touted as compatibilism) might be benefecial at times.

A couple of notable quotes from the article: “Scientists at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Janelia Research Campus have shown that the brain can temporarily disconnect information about past experience from decision-making circuits, thereby triggering random behavior.” and : “in certain circumstances, random behavior may be preferable. An animal might have the best chance of avoiding a predator if it moves unpredictably, for example. And in a new environment, unrestricted exploration might make more sense than relying on an internal model developed elsewhere.”

The article here:

Shows how rats were able to switch between these modes of thought, predictably, by using different ways of presenting food/reward scenarios. There was noted an interesting side effect, notably the possibility of being stuck in the random mode of thought once it was initiated. They did figure out how to reverse that behavior by suppressing a stress hormone in the study animals, which I thought was pretty cool.

Now, admittedly I am extrapolating a bit here, moving this new information to the free will argument realm. But this study seems to show that having the ability to randomize our actions can be beneficial. What is free will if it is not the ability to make a random decision? I contend that yes our past experiences influence our decisions greatly, but that we do have the ability to occaisionally make a random choice if we want to. I don’t feel like EVERY decision we make has to be influenced by our past, and that yes, we do have a modicum of free will. Although it may be a small part of our makeup.

I just cannot buy into the determinist camp as of yet, and yes I’m probably grasping at straws here. But I remain a compatibilist for now. I know it’s not feasable just yet to be doing a happy dance for free will, but in this article I’ll take what I can get. :)


I hate to admit it, but this is how pathetic my life is.

I have been an amateur astronomer for a long time now. When you get the astro bug as I have, you want to enjoy a few of the astro goodies that are available to enthusiasts.There is an online astronomy buy and sell web site known as Astromart. It has been a great boon to guys like me, you can save a great deal of money buying gear used as opposed to paying the full new price. I also briefly ventured into a small side business making and selling parallelogram binocular mounts.


Astromart began as a free use site. Then I suppose the cost of upkeep for servers, and at least an IT guy or two, eventually meant that the site had to start charging people for the service. It started off if my memory serves well (and it is suspect) around 5 bucks per year, then over time has increased to 15 bucks a year. There are also other means of support. A guy like me that was in effect a small manufacturer was considered a Blue Dealer, I don’t even honestly remember the rest of the support level structures they have, but there are several.

Now as I mentioned early on the site was free, and slowly progressed to a pay site, which slowly but persistently increased in price. The Blue Dealer, which I was, had a built in loop hole. In that you bought a block of ads for a certain fee, and as you used up your ads you just bought more. Having these ads in your pocket from the Blue Dealer status secluded you from the ever pervasive “Support Astromart” push. Let it be known I did not set up the system as such.

Well, I only needed to use a few of the ads. Once my binocular mounts started selling they were hot for a while. I had more business than I could honestly keep up with. As I am a family man, and was working full time as a commercial diver. What spare time I did have was dedicated to being in the shop slaving over these mounts.

At some point I decided to quit making them. If I placed an ad, I’d get more work than I could honestly handle, plus over time the cost of steel and hardware kept going up, or in some cases became no longer available. Toss in the fact that my shop is not air conditioned, and there is a lot of cutting, welding, and slaving over each and every part, being built from scratch. I finally decided to not post anymore ads, though I would still make a few by request, as word of mouth turned out to be a pretty good seller. I did not sell a lot more mounts after I decided to formally quit, but the requests did trickle in here and there.

Anyway, my interest in the site waned. I pretty much have all of the necessary items I need to enjoy my time under the stars. I am no longer interested in being a dealer. I no longer have any use for their forums. Many an online community requires the existence of moderators, and moderators tend to generally rub me the wrong way with their authoritarian Barney Fife tendencies. So I was reduced pretty much to a bystander, with access to the site, because of my Blue Dealer status. I did not in any way profit from or benefit from their site. I would drop in from time to time and browse. That’s it.


I tried to login yesterday and it was refusing my pw. So I used the online chat system to see what was up. Apparently they had decided that guys like me, that had the Blue Dealer status, were gaming the system. A system that they themselves had put in place.
Enter Herb York. The owner of the site. I have seen many an altercation with this guy on the site. He is somewhat a cross between a brutal dictator and a Clint Eastwood itchy finger. Also, though I have never seen the guy, he demonstrates much of the “little man” syndrome. I’ll bet you a cold beer he stands around 4′ 4″ tall. There is no dialogue or reasoning with the man. He is as cold and unforgiving as the Arctic ice.


They did not try to fix what they perceived as a problem. There was no attempt to notify or intent of discourse, they just deleted the accounts in question, and that was that. I know better than to even try to reason with the guy. With Herbie there is no rational discourse. Unless you are the getting down on your knees and begging for forgiveness type, or willing to wag however much $$ he is demanding today, to access his site under his nose. I am willing to do neither.

I repeat, I did not in any way profit from or attempt to profit from this site after my decision to quit being a dealer was made. I may have been open to some sort of change of strucure, or new system, but was denied the opportunity.

Herbie, being the dictator with a Clint Eastwood itchy finger, as most are, is always quick to eliminate any dissent at his site, and refuses to allow audience with his immortal self. So, while I was suffering just a tad from the sting of being deleted and dumped, all of my ratings being forever gone, I realized that “I have a fucking blog” I have a voice. All I have to do is use it.

Right or wrong, I was aware that I was able to avoid the yearly taxation they wanted. I figured at some point they would change the system to accomodate that, but I was never notified of any such intent. I am sure much better people than me were cleansed from their site. I am also sure I have been dumped by better people than Herb York in my life. It took me all of two seconds to delete the website from my browser, I will miss Astromart, a little, but it will pass.

I’ll bet there is a Herb York support group out there somewhere, I will have to Google that.

Herbie, I have been done with you and your site for some time. I was just unwilling to admit it.

Oh, and Herbie… stick it where the sun don’t shine. I don’t feel much better, getting that out of my system, but at least I was able to have my say. And that is something.



I have never had as much trouble with getting paragraph spacing just so, as I have had in this post…it was initially a copy/paste job from word pad, so that could be the problem.

EDIT: Just for shits and giggles I Googled “Herb York Astromart” Here is just a bit of what I found:

There are many more, but these few trend towards my experiences and what I have seen of others. Turns out there really is a Herb York support group out there. It lives in the blogs and posts of those who have run afoul of ole Herbie.

Nuther Edit: I just had a look at ole Herbies Twitter feed. Sickening bastard. I should have known from the way he handles his business, he is a RWCRFM. (Right Wing Conservative Republican Fundamentalist Moron)