Archive for July, 2008

Independence and Updates from Space

Posted on July 4, 2008. Filed under: Culture, Musings, Science |

Not only is it a holiday week for those of us in North America, it’s also a slow-posting weekend. I’ve wished some of my Canadian friends a Happy Canada Day (July 1) and, to my fellow Statesians, a good Independence Day, too (July 4). Independence is a wonderful concept. I don’t think it can be achieved merely through establishing national borders, but my country’s “Declaration of Independence” was a good effort, at least. We live in changing times, though; our world is shrinking (just take a look at this blogosphere, for instance) and I’d rather focus on community and inter-communication than divisiveness and borders.

From Space, no one can hear you scre no one can perceive exact borders on the earth. No boundaries; no divisions. With that in mind for this weekend I’ll just give a few updates on spacey stories I’ve been monitoring…

I reported on our local Moonlight Collector most of a year ago. I had quite a time there, and was just getting ready to visit it again when I saw that the Mainstream Media has recently reported on this huge light array. I find the coverage to be pretty balanced, if a bit incredulous. It can be found at this link.

I was sent an email featuring the “top ten images ever captured by the Hubble telescope”. I link to the thumbnails on Space . com. I don’t know about you, but I find these images stunningly beautiful, and, in some way, they give me a sense of hope and contentment. If such beauty, amazement, and wonder can be found beyond our planet, we can find it here, too, can’t we?

Many of you saw the news articles proclaiming things like “The earth is crying!” or, “What a racket: planet earth” or, “The earth sounds really awful!”  You can hear for yourself, back on Space . com. (I love this website, but just be advised: if you watch their videos, you’ll get a movie or TV preview first.)  I don’t think our planet sounds awful at all, just busy! Some years ago it was thought that potential aliens on other planets might be receiving our television signals, which would explain why they haven’t wanted to visit us. 😉 Now, it seems, they’d hear these magnetic disturbances first. Other planets emit these sounds, too. It would be wonderful if we could learn to interpret differences among them to yield useful information.

Finally, an update from our brave and wonderful Phoenix Mars Lander, which successfully landed earlier this year, and has been busy finding WATER, and, perhaps…LIFE? on Mars!!!  Is there life on Mars? I don’t know. Do I want there to be life on Mars? You betcha!

Here’s to a good, safe, heathy and joyful weekend. 😀

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Is someone drilling directly into my head, or is it just time to wake up in the desert?

Posted on July 2, 2008. Filed under: Musings, Travel |

I think we were having a woodpecker convention on my roof today. I don’t know if woodpeckers are just not the brightest birds in the flock, or if it benefits their beaks to attempt to drill into solid metal, but there are times I wish my chimney was more substantial than just the steel pipe that it is.

Those ‘peckers get up early in the summer—4 or 5 a.m. I do not. Or at least that is not my preference. There have been times when I’m just getting to bed about 3 or 4. (Perhaps I should resume that practice) 😉 After having watched a television documentary containing a small amount of rapid machine gun fire last night, you can imagine how I felt being awoken thus.

Usually, there will only be one woodpecker on my roof, but today, for some reason, my usual one told all her friends about my tasty metal pipe. Ah well. After my heart rate returned to normal I was able to sleep a little more.

Good thing, too, because the first of the desert monsoon thunderstorms hit in the afternoon. These used to be quite predictable, coming at 3 or 4 p.m., and causing very heavy rain for a brief period. This is how most of the local vegetation prefers to get watered: long periods of intense sun, followed by brief, heavy rain. The wash behind my house can turn from a dry gulch to a raging (relatively) river within 15 minutes. It’s quite a sight. The monsoons haven’t been as predictable of late, due to shifting weather patterns (I’m told), so it was good, and refreshing, to get the rain plus an almost instant 15 degree temperature drop. One of the odd things about this storm was that for a few minutes there was hail hitting the ground along with the rain! Hail, when the temp. had been over 100? (40C). It was small hail, and didn’t last long. This can happen when it’s very windy and the moisture is blown up into the clouds. Or something like that.

After the rain stopped, I went for a nice walk ’round the ‘hood, when suddenly a large rabbit streaked across my path. We have many bunnies here, and usually I just see them sedately munching on something or other, but this bunny was on a mission. I soon saw why. Right after the rabbit’s passage, a coyote trotted off after it, looking for an early dinner. I crossed my fingers for the bunny’s sake (they’re so cute!) but I know the coyote has to eat, too—it’s part of the cycle of life. I don’t know the fate of either animal, as they both soon disappeared into the scrub.

It’s odd to see a coyote in the daytime, but it does sometimes happen after a long period of high heat with no rain. I suppose our recent rain flushed out the rabbits, and this trickster (as he’s known in native lore) decided to avail himself of the opportunity.

I know I write a lot about Arizona, but when I look out the window, that’s what I see! These are just a few of the “natural” occurrences around my home. I’m off for a nap soon, to make up for some of the sleep lost to the woodpeckers. Perhaps I shall go out later to gaze at the stars, observe some bats, and do my best to avoid the rattlesnakes.

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