About Me

This was my second blog post, should have been the first I guess, but I was pressed to get a story up, and didn’t think to take the time to introduce myself. So, this is going to be the About Me page. I ain’t writing up another one, this one should do for now.

I have long been appreciative of science, I was a young lad, and watched with much enthusiasm the Apollo moon landing, I saw Cosmos at some point, and of course was a Star Trek fan. Growing up with black and white sci fi movies, that haunted my dreams at night, and looking at the moon with a pair of Jason 7×35 binoculars my aunt gave me for x-mas are fond memories of my youth.

As a kid, I was smart enough to do well in school, and held my own with the nerdy kids. I also was boy enough to hang out with the wild bunch, that roamed the streets and the infamous “woods” that was close by. Safe to say I could enjoy both worlds without being completely ostracized by either group.

As an adult, I’m married, 2nd time around, have kids from both marriages, I love em all, and also safe to say, my wife of the 2nd time around is a good un : )

I love astronomy. I have 4 telescopes of varying sizes and design, and 3 or 4 pair of binoculars ranging from smaller hand held, to large bins that require mounting. I’m also fond of classic cars, music, I play guitar..quite well, and good food, and good drink are welcome companions.

Enough about me, just another life form among the many on this wonderful planet we call home. Nothing special, I reckon. I can only hope my jump into the blogosphere is as good an idea in the end, as it seems in the beginning.

I don’t expect to be a widely read blog, if anything this is merely a place for me to vent. When you live in a redneck infested zone, full of RWCRFM’s (Right Wing Conservative Republican Fundamentalist Morons) it is difficult to strike up a conversation about anything except dogs, guns, trucks, and that damn “N” word president we have, that is ruining our country and “may be the devil”  It is impossible to to have an intelligent conversation with anyone here, I’m not sure but maybe the population here has an IQ approaching the 90′s overall, and a rare few show the ability to think critically, and most just keep parroting the same old crap they hear their daddy’s say, or what they hear from Fox News, without taking a moment to even think about “what” they just said. Then the expected response is to nod approvingly, and backslap each other with a big grin and a “yee haw”. I swear I do not belong in the same clade as these people! Indeed, this is my place to vent, and to speak freely about what is important to me.

As I still have a couple of kids that go to school ’round here, I will keep my name to myself for now, lest the local populace decide to do the x-ian thing and persecute my kids, because I claim no alliance to their idiotic ways.


40 thoughts on “About Me

  1. One of my closest friends in college saw the moon landing as a young child and became a physicist as a result. When I said I was “bad in math” she encouraged me to take more math classes and I found out that I wasn’t so bad at it after all.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That’s cool fojap. Interesting how scientific achievements can trickle out into society and influence people to achieve great things. With an addendum of “used to” I suppose this is still true, but you don’t hear about it much…I still have an algebra defiency lol. If they could just put algebra into milk like they do vitamin D it would make advanced math much easier.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. “When you live in a redneck infested zone, full of RWCRFM’s (Right Wing Conservative Republican Fundamentalist Morons)…”

    Oh how I can relate, except I live in a redneck invested zone, full of RWCRFSB (Southern Baptists).

    Very nice to meet you, and I look forward to reading your blog as time permits.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I read your blog frequently but have never read the about me page. Maybe it was not just important. We got along well from the beginning and now at least I know a little bit more about you.
    I live in a place where every stone you throw- without aim- will most likely fall on a believer. At least I don’t worry about being ostracized at work.
    Great blog my friend and glad we made acquaintances

    Liked by 1 person

    • “Great blog my friend and glad we made acquaintances”

      Mak, I can with no hesitation say the same for you. If this blog has anything going for it, it is the making of friends I appreciate the most. Likes and follows are pretty awesome, but nothing better than making a friend that shares your interests. You fit that description quite well. 🙂 To friendship! (there should be some kind of internet doodad that represents someone holding their ale filled mug high)


  5. I remember watching the moon landing as a boy as well. What a sense for a great future I had back then. Too bad we aren’t in another arms race with a Soviet Union type opponent to hasten our exploration of space again. I’m afraid unless we Americans fear another country will gain a military advantage against us by their exploration of space, as we did in the race with Russia to get to the moon, space exploration will need to continue to rely entirely on independent financing to advance at all. Makes it slow. I’m hoping that by the time I die, evidence of “life” on one of the various exo-planets we continually seem to be finding is confirmed. I don’t mean Yoda and ET, I’d settle for algae and some moss, hell, even an amoeba would would cool.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know! The thing is, having some idea of the vastness of the universe, and an understanding of how stars and galaxies and solar systems form, as well as the tenacity of life and an understanding of evolution, the odds are good that life is out there. Finding it will be the trick.

      There is no doubt in my mind it is out there…and I’m not talking advanced species with quantum powered flying saucers, but life in simpler forms.

      The problem with advanced forms (like us?) is it took so long to get here, our star is already at its half life (roughly). So… it would be somewhat safe to assume it would be a similar circumstance for other advanced forms, so that shrinks the window of success in us finding them, or vice versa. Plus they would have had to evolve at or in roughly the same time period we did. If they were off by a few million/billion years from us we would completely miss each other.

      Even if we found an exoplanet with a high probability of life (simple or advanced), by the time we could do anything to verify it, our planet could be facing all sorts of issues such as the global warming thing or even being gobbled up by the red giant stage of our own star. The vastness of space, the distance between stars and galaxies is so enormous, that even having light speed capabilty it would take many generations to even get a probe to a star we would think of as our neighbor.

      So yeah, life is almost certain out there somewhere, finding it before we run out of time, will be the trick. (and that assumes we don’t kill ourselves off before our star does it for us, or Earth goes all Venus on us)

      Our best hope is one of the water/ice moons in our solar system…if you and I will see extraterrestrial life verified in our lifetimes. Still a sliver of hope of microbial possibilities on Mars…I fear though that may not be there. Or verifiable if it was.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Shell, you really need to put up a Follow Blog by Email widget thing. I never look at the Reader, and that means I’m missing your posts 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Psst. Right there at the bottom of the page. Under “Blogs I Follow.” 🙂

    I think that’s what you meant…?


    • Oh… The e-mail thing. I didn’t put that one up because for me it is a PITA to have to go into the “Blogs I Follow” and turn that function off. My e-mail is so spam clogged I’d miss posts there…

      So I figured it might be a PITA for other folks. I will consider it.


  8. Hi Shelldigger!
    I see you comment on some of the blogs I’m on and I have read through a few of your latest entries. You remind me of my husband! (Although no one could be a replica of him!) He can fix anything and if he doesn’t accomplish a great deal in a day, he goes to bed feeling dejected. (He can still recite what some teacher told him in High School along those lines) Anyway, I figure you must be a good and intelligent person (and I see you’ve got a bright lot for friends) – pleased to ‘meet’ you! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Carmen! It is undoubtedly my pleasuere to meet you 🙂

      I absolutely am a kindred spirit with your hubby. If I can’t get something worthwhile done in a day I feel like a worthless bum undeserving of my supper. Although If I’ve had a few days of hard work previous I don’t mind taking a day off!

      I’m pretty sure I’ve seen you over at Maks place. Maybe elsewhere too. And if that’s the kind of blog company you keep, you must be a welcome part of that bright lot. Again pleased to meet you and will see you in our travels 🙂


  9. I remember watching the moon landing and it really pissed me off when I learned down at the feedstore, the whole damn thing was filmed in the desert somewhere over by Hollywood ! Are you sure you don’t live around here pretty close ? Sounds like we share some neighbors ! lmao ! Nice meeting you.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Hey Shell! Thought I’d hop over here, browse a bit, see what sort of trouble I can find. 😉

    Btw, thank you for stopping by my corner of the web.


  11. Excellent article on the Jason Comet 600 Model 335 Newtonian reflector telescope. While not my best telescope, I did pick it up for $ 10.00 at a yard sale.

    A scope like this was probably meant to be used as a rich field reflector at low magnifications and a wide field of view. It was never meant for planetary observing or high power views. Overall, it’s just a small scope with decent optics, but 3-inch reflector telescopes seem to suffer from just being too small in practice.

    As with this, as well as my other reflector telescope, the actual primary mirror size is not quite as advertised:

    2.91″ primary mirror = 6.65 square inches
    – 1.19″ secondary mirror = 1.11 square inches
    = 5.54″ primary mirror actual/usable square inches

    I’ve found that inexpensive/budget telescope primary mirrors, with the included set of lenses top out at about 15x per square inch. So in practice, this 2.91-inch reflector works, at best, up to 83x. But it is rare indeed that instruments this size would benefit at all from two times that telescope magnification, as such, the OEM 2x Barlow lens had to go.

    I truly believe an engineer who initially designed the Jason Comet 600 Model 335 Newtonian reflector telescope did not include a 2x Barlow lens, but I suspect the marketing people took over, added the 2x Barlow lens, and targeted the beginner, who is usually easily wowed by magnification.

    So… I sawed off 1/4″ from the cast aluminum rack-and-pinion lens housing, and removed the 2x Barlow lens and sawed off the bottom end of the rack-and-pinion tube flush with the end of the rack-and-pinion track. I then carefully counter-sunk and finished my modification to give it that clean, machine shop look.

    Without the 2x Barlow lens, the focal length is now shortened by about 15mm, so I wrapped a couple turns of black plastic tape around the chromed part of the 20mm Kellner lens and inserted it directly into the rack-and-pinion tube for a snug fit, followed by tightly wrapping black plastic tape around the lens and the rack-and-pinion tube for an overall sound joint. A simple if not elegant solution, but clean looking.

    So, at 30x magnification the focus and clarity is perfect, and the modification prevents the next owner from frustrating himself, wasting their time with higher magnifications with this particular instrument.

    Just saying.


    • Well hello Fred!

      Yes once these little rascals are cleared of optical issues, mine as you know had a rotated secondary, they do a fine job at low mags. They will never excell at planetary observations. Too many obstacles to overcome to get there with the Bird Jones design, the wobbles of the mount, and the completely inadequate finder. Not to mention the relatively small aperture.

      I know better designs can do some planetary observations, my ED 80 for example has no problem on a good night hitting a sharp 200x on planets. But we are talking about a pretty decent piece of glass vs. a novice instrument.

      The Jason for all of its quibbles, does have limited potential for low power wide field views, and it can do that if one has the patience and determination to make a go of it.

      It was good to hear from you. Nice to know another astro enthusiast has one of these little scopes to play with 🙂

      And your mods are intriguing. I left mine stock as it does work as is, and the ability to use plossls with it is kinda neat.

      One thing for sure though, no matter how they function, they will always look cool! I love the looks of them 🙂


      • Ever the tinkerer, I further modified my Jason Comet 600 Model 335 telescope again, right after posting my comment.

        Without the 2x Barlow lens, the focal length is now shortened by about 15mm,to a true 335mm focal length, so I carefully measured, marked, and removed the primary mirror and holder, and accurately cut off 24mm from the end of the telescope tube, re-drilled 3 holes, and mounted the primary mirror and holder back on the end of the tube. I also removed the black tape from the 20mm Kellner lens and put back the original 2-screw lens holder. A simple if not elegant solution, and clean looking, except for part of the Jason logo covered by the re-positioned primary mirror holder.

        With the OEM 2x Barlow lens removed, this reflector telescope now enjoys a true 335mm focal length, f/4.5 aperture. I’ll laser collimate this telescope next, heeding your advice on alignment.

        So now the OEM 20mm Kellner lens provides a modest 17x magnification, but the focus and clarity is perfect, and this simple primary mirror modification allows focusing from 20 feet to infinity, and this telescope is ready to accept other lenses for greater magnification and detail… and without that darn 2x Barlow lens in the way.


        • Well done!

          It takes a true tinkerer to chop a scope tube. I don’t have that much tinkerer in me, yet. The day could come though.

          The collimation turned out well then?


          • Actually, if one is patient and practices good craftsmanship and double-checks their math and measurements, shortening a telescope tube is just as clean and accurate as it’s done by the original manufacturer.

            I used my bench shears to carefully trim out and double-checked a 24mm wide strip of paper, wrapped it around the telescope tube and taped it, end-to-end, but allowing it to slide freely up and down the tube. The front end (glass + secondary mirror) was left in place to provide strength and rigidity to the tube during the cutting process. Next, standing the telescope tube on a flat, absolutely smooth tabletop (mine was a smooth formica surface) and I slid the paper loop down to the table surface, and marked a black line around the tube with a fine point Sharpie, exactly 24mm from the end.

            I then stuffed some crumpled newspaper into the telescope tube to protect the secondary mirror and rack-and-pinion mechanism from cutting grit and metal shavings. Mounting a #540 Dremel Cut-Off Wheel (1.25″ diameter x 3/32″ thick) to my Dremel (25,000 rpm), I held the telescope tube in my lap and carefully cut (actually a high-speed grinding process) right along at the edge of the thin black line until the 24mm wide piece of tube fell through. You’ll wear down almost two of these grinding disks in the process. I then dressed the metal burrs off the cut end with a large, fine file until clean, carefully rotating the tube during the filing so as to create a near-perfect 90-gegree cut. Note: These Dremel Cut-Off Wheel are quick and effective. I accurately cut out a large hole in the metal roof of my electric pickup truck to install a removable sunroof with these wicked little cutting disks.

            Placing the telescope tube on its newly cut end down, on the tabletop, I carefully rotated the tube and checked it all around with a 90-degree angle gauge. If the cut was somehow off, I would have lightly dressed the uneven (the slightly longer length) again with the fine file, until the cut was 90-degrees true all around.

            I then removed the crumpled newspaper from the tube, carefully cleaned the inside, and then pressed the primary mirror-holder back into place. Standing the telescope vertically on the tabletop, with the primary mirror-holder on the bottom, I carefully drilled three 3/32″ holes into the tube, through and in alignment with the primary mirror-holder. The screw threads in the primary mirror-holder were not damaged by the slightly undersize drill. I then screwed the three screws that hold the black mirror holder in place. I did align the primary mirror-holder to its original 3-hole position, just in case the manufacturer had made off-center corrections.

            Visually, both mirrors seemed aligned, and a field test out my front door went quite well, with excellent sharpness and clarity. I haven’t used my laser collimator on this particular telescope yet, but the secondary mirror check and adjustment should be quite routine. But adjustments, if needed, for the primary mirror. I’ll probably start with 120-degree rotations of the mirror first. If more is needed, I’ll just continue to laser collimate with the telescope standing up on a tabletop, with the primary mirror-holder on the bottom, with all three screws out. That way I can take laser measurements and fairly quickly open the primary mirror and add shims, etc. until everything is in alignment.

            I swapped out the OEM 0.965″ 20mm Kellner lens (17x magnification) with my 1.25″ 12.5mm Plossl lens (27x magnification) and my 1.25″ 6mm Plossl lens (56x magnification) and again the image was sharp and clear.

            And I forgot to mention that I removed the OEM finder scope early on and replaced it with a far more functional illuminated red dot finder.

            I’ve used your star collimation, years ago, but the quick and easy laser device gets it there, at least to my not-so-exacting standards anyway. But, who knows, I might give it a try again, as maybe the sight of an off-center star may irritate me enough to fine-tune the telescope alignment to your standards.


  12. Hey Fred. I have copied and pasted this conversation over at the Jason 335 link as it is pretty much relevant to the scope and there is a lot of info here that could help someone looking for info on the scope. I am happy to put this info out there just in case somebody finds one of these and wants to know more about the scope. This is my most recent response to your last comment:

    Ha! My standards aren’t that great. I just learned how to collimate at high powers using a star. Mostly because I’m too cheap to go out and spend a bunch of money on collimation tools. 🙂

    Stars are cheap, always available, and all you have to know really is how to tweak the collimation to make as perfect a bullseye you can get with a defocused eyepiece. Then swap eyepieces to a higher power and do it again.

    It does take some practice. I had to collimate my 8″ SCT when I let it accidentally tip over while extending a tripod leg. Stupid, stupid, stupid! I was horrified when it tilted over and hit the dirt with a thud. Fortunately the finderscope broke the fall, and took the hit, it busted up pretty good. The SCT corrector was fine, as well as the primary mirror, but the fall did knock it out of collimation. Well I had no choice then but to learn how the hard way. Turns out it isn’t too difficult, it just takes doing it to get it.

    I am very reluctant to chop a scope tube, I don’t know why really, other than I haven’t had the need or the urge to do so. When that time comes though, I’ll have no problem making the attempt. When I do I might look you up for some tips 🙂

    Good to know the little Jason came out of it with sharp stars. Clear skies my friend.


  13. Hey Shell — you’re a fan of sci fi comedy, aren’t you?


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