Picture Day!

Finally! A post from this blog. Mak was supposed to be keeping the place up, but I don’t think he has been here in a while. Cobwebs and dust bunnies all over the place…

I eventually got the boat I have mentioned in earlier posts and comments restored to the point it can be taken out. We have had a ball with it, It is truly a pleasure to go for a boat ride on Ky. Lake, especially in a boat you brought back from the dead. I took my digiscoping rig (An Orion ED 80 Apochromatic telescope and a lightweight digital camera) with me the last time we went out, hoping for some good wildlife shots, but I soon discovered the boat itself is a terrible platform for taking pics, no matter how solid and stable the boat is, if there is more than a ripple in the water the image in my magnified picture taking view looks like we are out to sea in 20 foot waves. One of those “it seemed like a good idea” moments. I also discovered that the annual migration of the pelicans had either already taken place, or I was early. Darn it.

It was hot, probably around 92 degrees and humid. So every time the boat came to rest the heat immediately slapped us in the face. The water was down too making it difficult to get around. There are hundreds of shallow bars and underwater obstacles to be wary of, it pays to know your way around.

Anyway I tried to get a pic from the boat, that wasn’t happening, so I just grabbed the tripod, scope and all, and set it down at waters edge to get a few pics. First up is a pair of gulls. Note the exposed bar they are standing on is usually under 3-4 feet of water in summer months.


This one I suspect is an Egret?


This one highlights the low water danger. It is obvious the stumps on the shallow bar, my trained eye sees that you do not want to get anywhere near it. The shallow water goes well beyond what you can see. I have seen guys lose their lower units from their boat motors from these kinds of places, or knock the entire back end of the boat out because they did not understand the lay of the land and go running around with wide open throttles. Dumbasses…


This one a Great Blue Heron standing on a point jutting out into the water. Note the ripples indicating shallow water well beyond the heron.


This one a lonely Cypress with some gulls for company. That’s all of my river shots for today, but can you imagine this scenery being the place you worked for 3 decades? I was the luckiest guy…


This next one, being an old pot smoker from days gone by, I got a whimsical chuckle from this sign.


Sun Dog!


Guess what? Another Sun Dog! Certainly less spectacular, but a sun dog nonetheless.


This one is a result of my strange eye. I saw the reflection of the “Objects in mirror are closer than they appear” thing reflected across the side of this red truck. You can see my forearm and legs there, and the front wheel of the car in the reflection too. Also I had no idea anyone was in the truck when I took the pic! You can see their fingers in the shot. They probably thought me a weirdo, they could be right…


This was a bright cloud that caught my attention.


A foggy sunrise. Almost looks like it is hovering over the field.


This one, we went to the Kroger, I parked next to this truck. Had to get the pic. If you can’t read the sticker in the window it says “Resist Democrats” “Resist Lying Media” The Trump sign speaks for itself, and the owner of the vehicle. You know, what you can’t see here, I got a good look, the guys truck was literally painted in places with a rattle can. This guy is not exactly living the Republican dream, but he is living the delusion for sure. (I assume it was guy. Probably a pussy grabber!)


A Tennessee sunset.


This is a new moon (just above the dark cloud) from a few days ago. The iphone did not care for the low light, it is a crappy pic, but here it is anyway!


This is the last one. A lonely bunch of Black Eyed Susans with the ready to harvest corn as a backdrop. I saw this and realized the corn would be gone soon, and the pic impossible afterward. Fall is upon us. This would be one tough puzzle!


That’s it for this one, hope you enjoyed. I’ll see you guys and gals soon.

















Damn You Harvey!

I know I have no place to complain with the many thousands homeless, many missing, and several dead already with this storm. The tragedy of its entirety has yet to be understood. I am sure it will be historic when it all gets sorted out. Probably already is. My heart goes out to all affected by this storm.

And we were just affected. Not to the extreme of most, we just got the remnants of the hurricane, but wow what a ride we had last night. Heavy downpours, tornados to our east, and the wind was really whipping. I slept as best I could through it, but about the time you thought it would ease up it came back just as ferocious as before. We could hear things banging and clanging and the occaisional snapping of wood out there, no one dared go look in the dark. The power predictably went out. (just got it back maybe 30 min ago)

First thing I saw this morning a tree across the street was down. But our damage was limited to a few shingles, a lot of tree debris, and then one of the boys had me go look at the shop. A tree lost a large limb that caved the roof of the shop in. Damn. (And my homeowners ins, does not cover outbuildings)

I got busy with getting the coffee on, which means digging around for the little propane camp stove and getting it going. Also forgot to fill a few buckets with water before the storm, when you lose power out in the country you need water on standby to flush a toilet because the well runs off of electricity. So I had one of the boys help me gather 4 buckets of water from the now swollen pond. Then I stretched out an extension cord from the car to the house. I have a small inverter that makes a little bit of 110 power from the car battery, so we could get television enough to see what was going on in the world.

Then about that time Vanderbilt called, we had an appointment to make today, they called to let us know that they were flooded. So no taking the wife to the neurologist. We were about to call them and cancel anyway, but it’s just freaky when they call you, because they were flooded…

Well as I mentioned the power is back. The wife is pleased that she can get a shower. So am I actually. We can only be thankful that things are manageable. We will get through this with little difficulty. I only wish the same could be said for all those from Houston to Nashville and beyond.

Hope all is well with all of you.


I have been busier than a six legged dog a scratching fleas, but…I made time to gather up my telescopes, binoculars, eclipse glasses, umbrellas, cameras, snacks, coolers, lawn chairs, then load up the fam damily even if they did not want to go, picked up a straggler, (a friend of one of the boys) and drove the hour and a half drive to Eddyville Ky. for the Total Eclipse of the Sun!

Eddyville was darn close to the centerline of totality, and NOT one of the big towns garnering all of the attention, (and droves of people by my reasoning) so it seemed like a good spot to go.

We rolled into Eddyville snooping for a good place to setup, I saw a sign about some city park, figured that might be a good place to try. We got there only to be met by a park employee with lights flashing away on the park truck, they were not allowing eclipse goers to access the park. I mean they shut down a city park! I guess they knew we were coming… 😉 The nice lady handed us a printed map showing the “approved” viewing locations in Eddyville. Sheesh! I looked the map over, they were malls, a water park, and other places with concrete/blacktop to setup on, and my goal was grass. It was a blistering 95 degrees today and with the kind of humidity we get ’round here you really don’t want to be spending time on a blacktop lot for any reasonable amount of time.

So we backtracked a ways, I remembered seeing a sign previously indicating a river access point for the launching of boats. (We were right along the Cumberland River) We got down there and first thing we saw were a handfull of other eclipse enthusiasts setup. So I pulled in. I drove around to where a couple of folks were setup and took a parking spot. The parking lot was paved, but fortune leaned my way, right at the edge of the pavement was freshly cut grass. It took a good while to get everything unloaded and arranged, but we managed.

I set up my ED 80, equipped with a solar filter, and mounted on the Celestron ASGT mount. The mount is driven and keeps up with the motion of the sky, but you have to set it up just so for the tracking to work right. Try as I might, I nudged and fudged and fiddled but never got that mount to track as it should. Which meant I had to tweak it along the entire time I took pics. I also setup another 90mm achromat refractor in front of a whiteboard. This was a projection rig that could be safely observed with no glasses or other eye protection.

I took some time to chat with my new neighbors, the people right next to us was a mother from Wisconsin, and her two sons from Chicago. They had other family on the way, and they did indeed make it for the event. Just on the other side of them was an older gent from Indiana, and he had his mother with him. He had an 8″ Schmidt Cassegrain setup for solar views and pic taking. I also met another astronomy nerd who hailed from New Hampshire. He won the ‘who drove the farthest for the eclipse award!’ At least among those I met.

I took a few pics the day before as a test run. This is one:


It was hot. Damn hot. I was fiddling with the scope mount and missed first contact. Dammit. I caught this as my first pic of the day today:


There was a persistent haze in the sky, and a few wispy clouds. The haze made it difficult to achieve good focus. Any upcoming pics that look whiter will be suffering from the haze. The haze pretty much was consistent.







This next pic was my last. My ding dang battery died! I had another battery but it refused to take a charge, and I thought I would maybe get through this event, I sadly did not. The wife got a decent pic through her handheld camera, I will try to get it up soon.


Once totality hit it was like someone hit the light switch. It got dark! We could see Venus to our right. And Jupiter to our lower left. I had binoculars on hand for totality because when totality strikes you can look directly at it with binoculars and it was spectacular! The corona was glowing brilliantly. We could also see Mercury in the same binocular view. Everyone in my group got a good look with binoculars and we oohed and ahhed so much, I felt bad for my immediate neighbors, they had no binoculars, so I walked over and shared the binoculars with them. They were as stunned with the view as we were. I got the binocs back and took another good look, as I did the eclipse was seconds away from ending. I actually saw through the binoculars Baileys Beads. Baileys Beads is a well known phenomenon that resembles 4-5 bright pearl like beads strung out along of the freshly exposed limb. Just a mind blowing sight, and then it was way too bad to look at anymore as the suns glow was bright enough to hurt my eyes, I had to look away. It was over.

Hey there is another total eclipse not far from here in 7 years. I am making plans…  🙂

Jesus and Mo

I must admit to seeing this first at WEIT. At first I thought maybe Jesus was too stupid to realize that this result is bad for religion. Then I thought, wait… maybe because the analysis indicates that people who follow religion might be a little dense, they can’t realize they are being scammed. Either way works for the chuckle I suppose.



So being the what I am, and curious about this analysis, I followed a link here:


Now I briefly looked at DL -ing the PDF there, but it looks like it might be a pay to view thing, so I’m not going to go quite that far. However there is a very interesting abstract, or summary if you will. I will share that with you, note that this was back in 2013:

“A meta-analysis of 63 studies showed a significant negative association between intelligence and religiosity. The association was stronger for college students and the general population than for participants younger than college age; it was also stronger for religious beliefs than religious behavior. For college students and the general population, means of weighted and unweighted correlations between intelligence and the strength of religious beliefs ranged from −.20 to −.25 (mean r = −.24). Three possible interpretations were discussed. First, intelligent people are less likely to conform and, thus, are more likely to resist religious dogma. Second, intelligent people tend to adopt an analytic (as opposed to intuitive) thinking style, which has been shown to undermine religious beliefs. Third, several functions of religiosity, including compensatory control, self-regulation, self-enhancement, and secure attachment, are also conferred by intelligence. Intelligent people may therefore have less need for religious beliefs and practices.”

Note the word significant in that first sentence. Fascinating 🙂

And moving along: Intelligent people are less likely to conform? Maybe, maybe every inmate in prison has an intelligence problem? I don’t know, but I know I do have issues sucking up what religion has to offer with no supporting evidence for their claims. It all goes way beyond reason and slips into the realm of complete absurdity very quickly for me, and frankly I am somewhat surprised that a great number of people have no issues at all with talking snakes, virgin births, and massive floods that if happened would have left ample evidence for, which we do not see. It is just a fine and dandy fantasy for them. For us, it’s just wacky…

I find it intriguing that an analytic vs. an intuitive thinking style was brought up. I believe that may be a huge factor in the differences between the them and us, and a significant reason in the why, we can’t really seem to communicate across the divide very well. We find the way they arrive at their world view completely alien to how we understand things, and I figure (from what I have seen) their side is just too damn stubborn to bother learning or thinking about the how and why they wound up where they are at in the first place.

Being self sufficient, and dealing with reality on realities terms, which is how I am interpreting this: “several functions of religiosity, including compensatory control, self-regulation, self-enhancement, and secure attachment, are also conferred by intelligence.” That is we deal with our emotions, our control, our inner selves, on our own. We need no outside influence to keep us on the straight and narrow path. We need no imaginary friends to keep us in line. We just manage with no need of some social construct to supposedly make us better. We find we have no need of some mysterious godly excuse for all of the bad things that happen in life. Also I can’t even imagine what sort of person needs an outside influence to keep them straight so badly that church every damn Wednesday and twice on Sunday is a must experience situation for them. Doesn’t even compute for me. Just suck it up people and do what needs doing, reason will help you get there! Sheesh.

I suppose we all sort of already knew this was what we were bucking up against. Only thing I can figure is, we may never fully understand what drives the religious to adamantly oppose reality, and avoid analytical thinking at any cost. Even to the point of not sending their children to a public school. The fantasy must be maintained!

All we can really do is keep on keeping on and deal with our own realities the best we can. Of course pecking away at the stone of ridiculousness every now and then can keep us happily occupied.  Just thinking out loud, I hope this finds you all well.



Old Diver Tales

I was just over at WEIT, one of my regular web site stops, (I didn’t call it a blog!) and there was a story posted about a Japanese diver and a fish friend of his that has been the result of a very long friendship. 25 years this guy has visited his fishy friend which is an amazing story.

It reminded me of my fish friend story, so I shared it over there. Then since Mak came in and dusted the cobwebs out of my blog I figured I’d share it here. (Check is in the mail Mak) Here is what I shared over there:

“I was a commercial diver in Tn. for 30 years. A harvester of freshwater mussels, and now my handle might make sense 🙂

Anyway, one day I was working fairly shallow, and quite often game fish would use my activities (disturbing bottom features, and causing bait species to scatter) as a hunting opportunity. I have seen some huge bass using this tactic. But this day a small bass was piddling around in front of me, its movements slow, lethargic, and when it made a pass exposing its bad eye, I could see it was completely hazed over due to cataract. (it happens to bass a lot I hear) But it occurred to me this little fellow was very hungry. I had no shortage of shell, so I cut one open with my dive knife ond offered the meat up to the little guy. It took it with great enthusiasm. So I fed it till it looked like it might burst.

That fish actually started rubbing up against me, swimming in front of my mask looking at me with its good eye, and followed me everywhere I went like a happy puppy dog for the duration of that dive. A unique experience, of many, I’ll never forget.

This story inspired me to share. :)”



Off With Their Heads!

Well, this is still a democracy, maybe no longer a respectable democracy, but nonetheless I guess we can’t be lopping off the heads of government officials. Maybe a public flogging? No? How about dragging the four Musketeers straight off to jail for obstruction?

For anyone who has been paying attention, you are aware that yesterday four of our esteemed upper echelon members of government were moderately grilled for answers about our Presidents meddling in the Russia investigation in front of the Senate. All four refused to answer questions for what amounts to personal reasons. They had no legal requirement to not answer the questions. They had no one holding guns to their heads demanding they do not answer the questions. They simply refused because they didn’t feel like it was ok to answer these questions in a public format, and they were towing the party line instead of respecting their oath of office.

They are all guilty of the same charge that our Orange Pumpkinhead President is guilty of. Obstruction. They should each and every one be dismissed from their positions. Stripped of any pensions or other notable perks, and be put in jail. At least that is how I feel about it.

When this enormous shit storm finally subsides, I honestly hope that the Republican party is destroyed beyond repair. This last year has shown that there is no such thing as a Republican with honesty and integrity as virtues. I am absolutely disgusted with my country. Disgusted with our President. Disgusted for being dragged through the cesspool along with everyone else due to the actions of our government officials.

National Security Agency Director, Michael Rogers.

Director of National Intelligence, Daniel Coats.

Deputy Attorney General, Rod Rosenstein.

FBI Director, Andrew McCabe.

Remember those names. Remember how they responded in front of a Senate inquiry. Remember what they and our President have done to our country. Remember when it comes time to vote.

Oh, Comey is set to testify today! Popcorn, and plenty of snacks & drinks at my place!

The War Is Ongoing

It began innocently enough. Spring in Tennessee quickly moves from greening to greened, and humid. The colder days of winter forgotten, the trees soon show their leaves, the grass grows tall, the bushes bloom. The north wind turns southerly, moisture from the gulf settles in and the sun goes from welcome winter friend to a blazing furnace intent on wilting your entire being.

It is thus as the war rages on. The bushes in the yard, I saw them planted many years ago, trimmed them and mowed around them, and then I got a little slack with the bushes. And they grew. And grew. I used to have a snowball bush. It was overtaken by the forsythia to its left and the almond bush to its right. Every so often I’d see a snowball bloom amongst the tangled web of bush, trying hard to find the light. Alas it appeared to be lost and forgotten.

But the first thing I noticed as the leaves began to grow this year was my enemy. My enemy had taken root, and taken over. It had encapsulated the bushes and taken defensive positions. It was out of control and had to be taken on. I knew I must meet the challenge. The honeysuckle had to go. Once I realized that, I soon realized that to tackle the honeysuckle problem, the bush problem had to be dealt with first. The almond bush was 15′ across and 8′ high, the forsythia 18′ x 14′ and 9-10′ tall, a constant threat to the satellite dishes that had to be cut back several times a year due to actively interfering with communications.  The lilac bush 12′ across and 9′ high and rounding out the problem a bush I don’t even know, it does sport small red flowers once or twice a year, this one had held back the onslaught of the honeysuckle, but was a wild sprawling mess.

But the honeysuckle, the insidious menace, had entirely overtaken the forsythia, what was left of the snowball and the almond. Tendrils had advanced to the lilac and set up shop there too. I really wasn’t aware of how bad the honeysuckle had infiltrated, I spent two mornings and one evening out there just trimming the bushes back. I could see then this was going to be one big job.

Wounded! I was using a spade in a jackhammer fashion to uproot a couple of forsythia clusters that were too close to the satellites. I was successful in removing two of them. The next day I had pretty  much lost my ability to even hold a coffee cup with my right hand. The forearm would take odd moments to throb with an electric shock feel that was quite intense. I had to take some considerable time off from my attack. Got back at it again yesterday morning.

I was actively destroying any honeysuckle I came across, tracing its twisting, winding, vine to the ground, snipping it about halfway so I could pull the vine free of the entangled bushes. That, a difficult sweaty miserable job is the easy part. You then trace the vine back to its rooted position and have to pry and pull and yank and hope your hands don’t fall off, I found that a pick works well to attack the root, you slam down close to the root and push the handle leveraging the pick under the root. Even then it is a difficult task to free it, this stuff is tough as nails. But I’m a tough old bastard too. Not tough enough, I am typing this with my right hand/wrist wrapped up again!

Interesting thing I discovered about honeysuckle. For every bit of vine you can see, there is just as much in the root system. If not more. It looks like it just goes to the ground to root, but oh no, not that simple. It expands in every direction above ground with reaching tendrils looking for a place to climb. These tendrils will go a couple of feet, then establish a root to ground, then keep spreading until it decides to ascend. It also, and this was the surprise, stretches out in multiple directions underground! There is a vast root system stretching this way and that up to two inches deep! You start uprooting what you think is the home base, the grandaddy root that will destroy the vine for good, and all of a sudden the damn root starts pulling up and you keep pulling, walking along several feet till it finally gives out. Long story short, you can’t just eliminate what you can see, you have to search and destroy the vast underground system if you want to free yourself from honeysuckle.

As I am wounded again. And find that I have muscles aching I wasn’t even aware existed this morning, I will have to take a few days off to heal up. But I will continue this war till every damn bit of honeysuckle I can find has been destroyed. If it doesn’t destroy me in the process.

I hope your transition to summer is faring better  🙂