Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Meth, We're On It!

As a resident of South Dakota, I just have to cringe at the new state anti-meth ad campaign that uses the above slogan as its tag line. After watching it the first time, I thought it was a Saturday Night Live skit. I was expecting Dan Aykroyd and Jane Curtin to pop up in cameo roles.

As a taxpayer I wonder if we can sue the ad company that came up with that to get our $449,000 back. I wish there were video of the pitch meeting where the ad company presented this lunacy to state officials. Everyone thought it was a good idea? Unbelievable.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019


I have been eating more sensibly recently, but I still have one packet of Maruchan Ramen lurking in my pantry. Does throwing away the flavor packet get rid of all the 830 mg of sodium? How about using the packet for cooking but draining away the broth, which is what I usually do? The back panel of the package doesn't break it out, and good luck finding the answer on the internet. Let's just say opinions vary.

I did notice one little disclosure on the package that should cause Millennials to flee to their safe spaces: "Partially produced with genetic engineering." Cool. Now I want to eat it every day just to be a contrarian. Instead I'll probably switch to Rice Ramen (0 sodium) or (if the United States Postal Service ever finds my spiralizer) zucchini noodles aka zoodles. My Amazon tracking update says the package was left in the parcel locker yesterday, but the USPS didn't give me a key.

Update: I stood and stared at the mail carrier today to make sure he put the parcel locker key in my box. Zoodles!

Monday, November 11, 2019


On the 11th day of the 11th month, it was 11 degrees in my yard as I prepared to witness the Transit of Mercury. The forecast said it might be cloudy until 10 a.m. but by 8:00 there were only scattered clouds interfering occasionally. In the warmth of August 2017, I got a few images of the total solar eclipse through my telescope with the old Canon S45 camera attached. Today it was just too cold to fiddle with that setup, which is very hard to aim and focus. I gave up on that and just used my DSLR with 400mm lens. (Everything is protected by appropriate solar filters, of course.) I also set up my little Coronado solar telescope, but photography through that is impossible so that was for visual observing only.

I could not see the planet through my camera, but on the solar scope I was able to make out a little dot near the center of the sun. The apparent size of Mercury is much smaller than Venus, but we won't see another Venus transit until 2117. So this is what we have today. Unlike the total eclipse, which was rather exciting, this really doesn't get the adrenaline pumping, but it is a somewhat rare event involving another world. The next such transit is in 2032. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Next celestial events are an annular "Ring of Fire" eclipse Oct. 14, 2023 (I plan to be in Albuquerque) and a total eclipse Apr. 8, 2024 (I probably will be near Austin, TX). Previous celestial events:

2017 Eclipse
Total Eclipse 2017
2017 Eclipse
Total Eclipse 2017
Annular Eclipse Iceland 2003
Annular Eclipse 2003
Transit of Venus 2004
Venus Transit 2004
Transit of Venus 2012
Venus Transit 2012
Partial Eclipse 2014
Full Moon 2015
Full Moon 2015
Transit of Mercury 2016
Mercury Transit 2016

Monday, November 04, 2019

Badlands Bighorns

There are certain places where I stop just about every time I drive by, and the Badlands is one of them. I know there are usually bighorn sheep in the Pinnacles Overlook area near the western entrance, and the rams usually hang out just west of there a short distance down the Sage Creek Rim Road. I saw a couple of rams when I drove through there Oct. 28, but on my return trip yesterday I saw nothing on my first pass. After a pit stop, I did another short loop and saw a herd of something off in the distance.

It was a herd of bighorns, including five or six rams of various ages. Most of the group eventually came closer, and a few approached the canyon rim just a few yards from me. A couple of the rams curled their lips and tasted the air, which is a mating behavior, but to my disappointment they didn't engage in any head butting. There were only about four ewes, so it seemed the females who usually frequent the area were elsewhere.

By my count I have posted 268 images of bighorns on my site, including 11 from this trip. Click on the image to start the slide show:

Bighorn Rams. The one on the left is tasting the air.