Monday, March 31, 2008


As you may have noticed, I changed the colors on the blog. Actually, I changed the colors and removed the logos, and changed the background colors, too. I wanted it to be bright and cheerful, but the background was grey and depressing. So I went to the customization page and changed the colors. Then I saw that it didn't change the background so I went back and realized that the only way I had the option of changing the background was to start over with another template or to edit it in HTML. Well I wasn't about to start over 'cause I just did all that work and got it the way I wanted it. But I know nothing about html. So I left it.

But the next time I logged on, there was that grey looking back at me and I thought I just don't want to be responsible for people looking at a grey screen. So I started experimenting. As it turns out, changing the colors using html isn't hard at all. You just look for where it says color:# followed by some numbers or letters. And when you put in different numbers or letters, you get different colors. Fun, really.

I try not to let little things intimidate me. I mean, if I screw it up, the worst that can happen is I have to start over. And I just don't like grey.

I put on my description of myself that I like to paint. I do. But mostly it's because I like to make things bright and shiny and colorful. I like to paint pictures, but I also like to paint walls and cabinets and fingernails. And this was a lot like painting. First it was boring and grey, now it's colorful and bright. And I am happy.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

M-2 through 6: The Clusters

These pretty things are star clusters. I put them in order, just in case anyone should ever want to go outside and try to see one. You can look them up on wikipedia to find out which constellation to look in. Or just post here and I'll look them up for you. The first four (M-2, M-3, M-4, and M-5) are called Globular Clusters. That's just a fancy way of saying that they large dense groups of stars which orbit the core of a galaxy.

This first picture of M-2 doesn't look like much. But it's got 150,000 stars in it. The light from there takes 36,000 years to get here. And of course the light from here takes the same amount of time to get there. So if someone there is looking at Earth, they'd be seeing Cro-magnon men. But they'd better have a darn good telescope.

This one is M-3. It has half a million stars in it. I know. I counted them last Saturday. It took up the whole afternoon.

M4 looks like a fuzzy ball of light in even a small telescope, and in bigger ones you can see that it's made of stars. It was the first globular cluster that they were able to see individual stars in, and now they've even managed to find a planet in it.

This one is M-5. (How did you guess?) It's one of the biggest and oldest of the globular clusters. It's 13 billion years old, which is about three times as old as the Earth. And before anyone gets all over me for religious reasons, let us not forget... In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth had no form.
M-6 is a galactic, or open cluster. Open clusters are made from only a few thousand stars that were all formed at the same time. It's about 2,000 light-years from Earth, so this is what it was like when Jesus was walking the Earth. It's mostly made of blue and white stars with the brightest being a yellow or orange giant. Some people call it the Butterfly Cluster, but it doen't look like a butterfly to me. Maybe the guy who first discovered it had a little girl with him.

Well, it's too cloudy to see the stars tonight, but not too cloudy to do the dishes. So I'm off to work on the other Messier stuff. Good night.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

If Dick Cheney were president

Years ago, back when Bush and Cheney were running for office in 2000, Dick Cheney said the funniest and most presidential thing a man can say. Bush had just seen New York Times reporter Adam Clymer, and unaware that a nearby microphone was broadcasting their conversation, turned to Cheney and said that Clymer was a "major-league asshole." To which Cheney replied, "Oh yeah, big time."

And that, my friends, is the perfect thing for a president to say. Think about it.

"Mr. President, did you use drugs in college?"
"Oh yeah, big time."

"Mr. President, do you intend to raise taxes in the coming year?"
"Oh yeah, big time."

"Mr. President, are you really planning on bombing Denmark?"
"Oh yeah, big time."

"Mr. President, did you have sexual relations with that woman?"
"Oh yeah, big time."

"Mr. President, did you really just shoot a hunting buddy?"
"Oh yeah, big time."

And isn't that the most perfectly presidential response you've ever heard? Oh yeah, big time!

Friday, March 28, 2008

The sky is falling

We had some storm damage to our roof last week, and the section over the bathroom and kitchen had the shingles ripped right off. Since this happened during a series of storms and heavy rains that lasted a few days, we got inside damage, too, and now there's a hole in our bathroom ceiling.

This isn't quite as bad as it sounds. You see, back when we first got married Scott had to reshingle that section of roof. It was an addition to the house and somehow that part was in a lot worse shape than all the rest. Since we couldn't afford to do the whole roof, and that part doesn't really show from the front of the house or the road, we just reshingled it and left the rest. Then a few years later we started the never-ending roofing process for real. We got some beautiful metal to put on, hired a team to do the work... and then another team, and another. Somehow nobody wanted to stay on the job when they realized that Scott was going to get up on the roof with them and make sure they did it right.

Eventually we got most of the roof on, but not the section over the bathroom because that was sound and freshly reshingled and even though it didn't match, it didn't show. So last week's storm only ripped out the part of our roof that was going to eventually be covered up anyway. And that hole in the bathroom ceiling? Right over the tub. It'll be a pain to fix, we can't use the shower, and right now the mildew smell coming out of it is awful. But no rain damage to the floor. If you have to have a leaking hole in your ceiling, over the tub is an awfully convenient place.

So we called the insurance people, and they sent a nice lady out to come and take pictures. Zoe must have overheard that she was coming for that reason, because when she got here Zoe looked up at her and said, "Hello. The sky is falling."

The woman looked a little surprised but took it in stride and said, "Really? The sky is falling?"

"Yes," Zoe told her. "The sky in the bathroom is falling down and you need to come take a picture of it." Then Zoe gently took her by the hand and led her to the bathroom and showed her where the sky had fallen in. It was so sweet and innocent that it somehow didn't seem real. Who is this sweet child, and what have you done with MY kid?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Easter pictures

Just started looking through the Easter pictures and this one of the girls goofing off was my favorite. I'd bought them matching dresses, which I'd wanted to do since Zoe was born, and I was trying to get them to pose for a picture. I was going for a pose with the skirts of their matching dresses swirled sweetly around them and angelic smiles on their faces. But somehow I forget that they like each other. So they started playing and this is what I got. All you can see of poor Caly is the crinkle she gets on her nose when she laughs. But I wouldn't trade it for anything.

I tried to get the boys into the picture, too. Zaven was trying his best, sitting quietly and not sticking his tongue out, but Quinn wouldn't even come sit with them. He didn't want a bit of it. If they grabbed him up and tried to put him in the picture, he's just start crying. So we just let him wander around.

While I was trying to take pictures he found the Easter basket remains and was working hard to eat every crumb of animal crackers he could find, and when he finished with those he just started eating the box.

I've got a great video of him biting little shreds of the box off, spitting them out, then checking to see if there were more crackers in it. Nope, no crackers. Takes another bite of box, spits it out and checks again. When he was done there was nothing left but a pile of cardboard scraps and the string that had been the handle.

It did snow on Easter, but this picture of Quinn with the dog is from a few weeks ago. I'd not downloaded the pictures for about a month, so it was a nice surprise to see this one. Scott took it and I had no idea it was there until it popped up on my computer screen. Quinn is the only one of my kids who plays with the dog. The other ones love her, but get kinda overwhelmed because she jumps up on them. I kinda think they may be cat people more than dog people. That's OK though, because we've only got one dog, but have about 7 cats. Quinn likes the cats, too, but he really likes Mattie. He just looks at her with such amazement, like she's the coolest thing he's ever seen. Maybe she is.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

M-1 Crab Nebula

Since I said I'd be blogging about things that interest me, I thought I'd start with some of the astro- nomical Messier Objects. No, I'm not an expert. I can hardly find these things at night. But I like to try from time to time. This is M-1 (short for Messier-1) and it's the Crab Nebula. It's the remains of a supernova. Think the debris from a large explosion, the dust hanging in the air, only bigger than a planet. Bigger than the solar system. If you want to see it, look in the constellation Taurus. It amazes me when I think about the fact that humans saw the supernova that created this nebula. It wasn't even that long ago - 1054, when they were busy building castles and having crusades in Europe. The light from it was so bright that the only thing in the night sky that was brighter was the moon. Of course, they didn't see it as it was happening. The thing about astronomy is that there's a time delay. You're watching what happened year ago, or hundreds of years ago, or thousands. This photo is borrowed from Wikipedia by the way, and of course they borrowed it from NASA. It was taken by the Hubble telescope, and it looks much, much better than what I see when I use my Wal-mart binoculars. But then again my binoculars only cost me $5.

I had planned to put some family pictures on tonight. But I'm feeling a little like going outside and seeing if the stars are out. It was a beautiful sunny and warm day, and soon the evenings will be just right for camping out or building a fire. I think I'd better go enjoy it while it lasts.

Messier Objects

I was considering what to name this blog, and I decided to go tongue in cheek on this and call it Messier Objects. For those of you who aren't astronomy buffs, the Messier Objects are a group of galaxies, nebulae, star clusters, etc. that are easily visible from the northern hemisphere using binoculars. (Named after Charles Messier, the French comet-hunter who felt all these shiny things which do not move were annoying.) My Messier Objects are shiny (and sometimes annoying), but do move quite a bit. They are my four kids who keep me so busy that I only get time to myself at night, when I could be outside with binoculars looking for galaxies, etc, but am too tired from cleaning the Mess.

I'll tell you all about us and start putting pictures and stories and all the interesting stuff on here tomorrow or the next day. But in the mean time, I'm going to consider it quite the accomplishment to have started this in the first place.

Have a happy night. I hope you enjoy it.