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Completing Another Trip Around the Sun

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The Gothic Script above is the translation of Seventy-Seven (literally seven and seventy) as I recall from my high school (der Hochschule) German Classes. I took two years of “Die Deutche Sprache” as my language credit towards graduation. I made the graphic posted above for the occasion of my turning 77 this month.

“Ich habe zwei jahre in der Hochschule die Deutche Sprache gelernt” which, I’ve been told is grammatically correct for “I have learned two years of the German language in high school.” Truth be told and in 20-20 hindsight, I would have been better off taking Spanish in school, given the places I lived and the fact that Español is primarily the language spoken by most illegal invaders of America these days.

As for the birthday, I am happy to say that whatever ailments I may have or had seem to be in remission and we can cope with those minor things that generally prevail with age. I thank GOD for His blessings. We may make it to octogenarian temporal territory after all.

On another topic, last evening I witnessed the apparition of the comet NEOWISE, currently visible above the western horizon after sundown. I resolved the fuzzy coma and a fair amount of the gaseous tail using a pair of 10x Image Stabilizing Canon Binoculars. Unlike Comet HALE-BOPP of 1997, this comet was difficult to see, even with the optical aid. NEOWISE is not as bright as HB97 and not easily seen with the naked eye. Despite the relative dimness, many amateur and professional astrophotographers are getting some great imagery and posting the pictures online.

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Tropical Weather Activity

Tropical Storm CristinaAs we enter mid-July, the tropics are busily producing waves of disturbances and low pressure systems both in the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans. Pictured is Tropical Storm Cristina in the Eastern Pacific currently moving westward and away from Mexico. We also have Tropical Storm Fay which is currently dumping moisture on the Northeastern US and Canada.

Image: T.S. Cristina (courtesy NOAA and GOES West). Click on the image to enlarge.

While Fay is drenching areas of New Jersey, Delaware, New York and beyond, Cristina poses no weather threat to land areas although it could still develop into hurricane force and dangerous to shipping in the 15° to 25° N latitudes in the Eastern Pacific. The storm is drifting westward at a rate of about fifteen knots.

The only effect Cristina is having on us here in the middle of Arizona is a few high clouds. We have summertime temperatures here for sure with forecast highs in the 110-117° F. range for the weekend. We almost wish the storm would make a hard right turn and bring us some monsoon weather, but I guess monsoons will be coming sooner or later without the help of T.S. Cristina.

In other news, we have been doing genealogy research here and have been discovering some interesting things about our ancestors. We now know that we had several ancestors who were in the military for the Revolutionary War, The War of 1812 and the Civil War (on both sides of it). We already knew about our grandparents and parents involvement in WW1 and WW2.

We also submitted a DNA sample and found out our roots from a general ethnic standpoint. The results dispelled a family rumor that we had Native American ancestors, which proved not to be the case. We have DNA in common with English, Irish, Scottish, German, Dutch and Swedish ancestors with a possibility of some other European lineage thrown in the mix.

The DNA result also proved that I’m related to other family members who also submitted samples: a nephew (my brother’s son) and a granddaughter (my daughter’s daughter). The DNA also shows we’re linked to other users of the service, most of whom we don’t know nor care much about (fourth to eighth cousins twice removed?). Some of those are sort of interesting in understanding the family tree, but we don’t especially want to dig any far distant relatives out of the woodwork at this point.

We are still sorting out facts and hints in the family tree (from a pedigree point of view) and are halfway through our third great grandparents level (of which there are 32 potential ancestors). I will post something further on this if I discover an ancestor built the Brooklyn Bridge or something of similar magnitude.

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May 07, 2020 Super “Flower” Moon

Super “Flower” Moon

I put the new Canon EF 100-400mm lens on my Canon EOS REbel SL1 camera last evening to attempt to photograph the full moon at perigee. So called a “super” moon, it only appears slightly larger to the naked eye, but is around thirty thousand miles closer than when at apogee.

From EarthSky:

This year’s farthest apogee comes on March 24, 2020 (252,707 miles or 406,692 km), and the closest perigee occurs some 2 weeks later, on April 7 (221,772 miles or 356,907 km). That’s a difference of about 30,000 miles (50,000 km). Meanwhile, the moon’s mean distance (semi-major axis) from Earth is 238,855 miles (384,400 km).

There is good Lunar information at the above link with a nice photo comparison of the difference in apparent size from perigee to apogee. There is also a graphical illustration showing the lunar elliptical orbit compared to a circular orbit about the earth.

I took the above image at 8:28 PM AZ time last evening from the courtyard in front of our little house. The camera was set to Tv (shutter priority) with an exposure of i/4000 sec. The focal length was set to 400mm and the ISO was set to 6400. The lens aperture at this setting is F5.6. I also took this photo of the moon last Tuesday while it was in its waxing gibbous phase.

this photo

The moniker “Flower Moon” is based on the fact that there are flowers in bloom at this time of year. We certainly have a lot of them opening almost daily in April/May.

Update: I found out that it was also possible to resolve the planet Venus as a crescent using the new lens.

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Canon EF 100-400 mm High Performance Telephoto Lens

Telephoto LensIn the not too distant past, maybe last December or so, Damsel and I watched a documentary on our local PBS station about wildlife photography. It was very interesting to see the birds and other wildlife that we regularly see here near our retirement home, being showcased in a presentation about amateur photographers and the wildlife subjects of their interest. We both enjoyed watching the informative documentary and learned some things as a result. Foremost, I concluded that the stock 100-300 mm zoom lens I use with my Canon SL1 is inadequate for the type of work we saw on the show.

We both enjoy photography and have both made some extraordinary shots from time to time, but when something is out of the capability reach of our equipment, it shows. After watching the documentary mentioned above, the cerebral juices started flowing and had been simmering since until I read a View From The Porch article that mentioned the lens I now have. I was impressed by the results Tam posted and put the lens on my wishlist at Amazon. When I finally had enough money tucked away to cover the cost, I went ahead and ordered the lens.

Today, the Good Truck of Brown® delivered the package. Aside from some imperatives that had to come first, I could hardly wait to try the new toy out! At last, I had the time to unpack and attach the lens to my camera. I went straight outside and took about 35 shots of “stuff” I regularly see around here. The two below are just a couple of things I was able to capture on my maiden outing with the new lens. A Curve Billed Thrasher at the backyard bird feeder and a Mourning Dove in the Mesquite Tree by the RV Drive. Click on either image to enlarge.

Curve Billed Thrasher Mourning Dove in Mesquite Tree

UPDATE: I added photos of a house sparrow and a Gambel’s Quail below.

House Sparrow Male Gambel’s Quail

I shared these and some others on the FecesBook™ thing. I am very happy with the initial performance of this lens as compared to my old zoom lens. The built-in image stabilizer and the quick-to-respond ultrasonic focus drive mechanism were splendid in allowing these and other photos from a hand-held camera/lens combo.

The product page from Canon is here and the Amazon listing is here (the price went up since I ordered mine for a little over 1.8K).

By the way, our CARES Stimulu$ was in the bank yesterday and has now been distributed to charities in our neck of the woods. I did not use those funds for this purchase. Damsel and I believe investing the .gov money back into local charities will get it to work where it’s needed. Charity begins at home.

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Spring Begins in the Northern Hemisphere

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Grand Octal Image via archaeoastronomy.com

Today marks the first day of spring North of the Equator. The graphical “Grand Octal” image above shows our planet as of today, passing through the Vernal Equinox portal in its orbit around the Sun. The other portals depicted have special meanings as well, dating back to primitive people whose cultures would depend on knowledge of the position of Earth during the year.

Here in our little patch of Arizona, we have been enjoying occasional spring-like days since February, as well as some not-so-warmish days and nights. Checking with our weather history on this day (courtesy NWS), we find that our forecast high of 65°F will be below the average 78°F temperature for this first spring day while we will be slightly above the record cool for this date (61°F) and well below the record high (92°F). I guess Global Warming has yet to catch up with us.

During these times of the overblown fake news media and democrat demagoguery (but I repeat myself), forecasting doom and gloom, we’re doing fine. We have things in stock, as we always do, that keep our household up and running with all our needs covered. Since we maintain two households on the premises (house and motorhome) there is plenty of everything available until all the bull$#!t blows over.

We hope everyone who reads this has planned accordingly and wish you comfort, safety and good health. We pray for these things.

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St. Patrick’s Day 2020

St. Patrick’s Day 2020

We don’t have much in the way of shamrocks or clover in these parts, so I posted a photo of something green that might be seen in Arizona.

I still have a lot of Ancestry/Genealogy work to do to establish our roots, but I now know with reasonable confidence that I had an ancestor born in County Mayo, Ireland in 1717. It is unknown if Irish ancestor “John” came to America, bit the line of descendants from him in my lineage all were born in Monongalia (now Marion) County, West Virginia.

After John (1717), came William (1751), then Francis (1776), then “Squire Billy” (1796), then Enos (1833), then James (1866) and finally My Dad’s Mom, Mary (1891). My Dad broke the West Virginia chain by being born in Los Angeles, CA in 1914.

I’m sure there are more Irish ancestors in other branches of the tree, but having the one confirmed Irish Great(6) Grandfather ancestor entitles me to the festivities and celebrations and traditional eating/drinking (but not TOO much) on this day as a descendant son of the Emerald Isles.

Damsel’s lineage is replete with Irish ancestors, so no need to go into whether she comes by her Irishness honestly. Besides, one of Damsel’s sisters is an expert at the genealogy stuff and has on numerous occasions rattled off a substantial listing of their Irish ancestors. They definitely qualify as celebrants of St. Patrick’s Day festivities and food.

Here in our little desert conclave, our festivities will be mild compared to what other celebrants are doing on this day. We will be having traditional Corned Beef and Cabbage with Boiled Fauxtatoes (turnips make a good low-carb potato substitute) served with horseradish sauce (for the meat) and vinegar (for the cabbage). Dessert will be a small Irish cocktail.

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PI Day

pi.pngNot exactly a holiday, but March 14 has become the penultimate math nerd’s recognition of the (approximate) ratio of the circumference of a perfect circle to it’s radius. I posted last year about approximating the value of PI in the old days using ratios resulting in not exactly PI, but close enough.

Going back even further than the hand-held electronic calculators, we did not need to figure out PI using ratios for programs, because the value of PI was engraved (along with other important math constants) right on most slide rules. You could crank out solutions to equations for radial velocity or any other esoteric calculations using PI by just using your handy-dandy “slip stick.” In those days, one could get answers calculated to three or four significant digits with just the slide rule. For more accuracy, some of us had the option of punching a deck of cards, submitting it to the Computer Lab and wait a couple of days to find out that we had an error in the program. Thank goodness there are now much better ways of dealing with numerical calculations.

In honor of PI day, the Damsel and I will be preparing today’s dinner from a low-carb recipe for “Spaghetti Pie.” The dish consists of a rich marinara sauce and some smoked chicken served in a casserole with noodles from spaghetti squash rather than pasta.

Yesterday, I loaded a couple of chicken breasts in the smoker and cooked them to their desired 165°F internal temperature. When they cooled, i shredded the meat and put it in reserve for today’s meal preparation. I may put up more about Spaghetti Pie later on by updating this post.

UPDATE: PIE ARE SQUARE! Damsel served a square of this with a green salad for dinner this afternoon. Click on the image to enlarge.

PIE ARE SQUARE

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