Archive - 2003


December 19th

Visit to the Planetarium

Took in two shows at the University of Arizona planetarium last night. The first featured the telescopes on a 14,000 ft peak in Hawaii. The second showed some of the sights that can be seen in the Arizona sky, and explained how best to see them.

As with any hour-long presentation, I get restless when they include a lot of information I consider trivial. However, there are always one or two tidbits to be gleaned from even the most long-winded program.

Some of the tidbits:

Warming up in Tucson

This is what Arizona is all about--perfect, 80 degree day, still, clear skies. You almost don't know what to do with it. I am fully used to the traffic. When I first arrive here, my country habits make me rankle at every stop light. In fact, my first evening here, I felt road rage as I sat behind a stopped city bus for two or three green lights. I wanted to jump out and tell off the bus driver. Now I just put on some music and think about something else. Before you know it, you're there.

December 18th

Justice in the news...

Seems as though the criminal justice system has been under more scrutiny than usual the past few weeks.

In response to the Dru Sjodin case, Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty issued a call for the death penalty in Minnesota. Today, Pawlenty announced that he wants to discipline the doctors who allowed Alfonso Rodriguez, Jr., Sjodin's likely murderer, back on the street. In addition, Republicans in the Minnesota House of Representatives want to lock up level 3 sex offenders for good.

Astronomical clarifications

I asked astronomer Ron Fevig to look over the account I wrote below of our conversation about the solar system, since no doubt I lost some of it in translation. I will let Ron do the talking:
(1) The largest main-belt asteroid, 1 Ceres, is a little over 900 km in
diameter or almost 600 miles across (not 200 miles).

(2) Long ago it was thought that the asteroid main-belt might have been
the result of a single planet that disintegrated. It is now believed
that numerous "protoplanets", small bodies that never formed one big

December 17th

Tucson weather update:

Clear, sunny, 79 degrees today in Tucson. The stores had their doors thrown open. Windows down on the cars.

Tucson is my annual time of trying to get my act together. In other words, I try to get in a little better shape and develop better habits. So this afternoon I ran around the block and jumped some rope, and followed that with a very healthy Greek salad.

Now I can barely move. And I am hungry for something substantial.

Something's Gotta Give

Attended the above movie last night. I think it is the first movie I have seen in a theater in four years. It was a sweet, harmless, feel-good movie starring Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton. There was no violence. That is important to me, as I get nightmares when they have blood spattering all over.

Fertile's oldest resident dies

Ella Ellegaard died this week at age 107. She lived in her own home up to last spring when she went into Fair Meadow nursing home in Fertile. They threw a birthday bash at Fair Meadow for Ella this fall. Afterwards, she sent a gracious note of thanks in the Fertile Journal, as usual.

Ella kept most of her marbles up to the end, although the last time I was at Fair Meadow she insisted she was 112 years old. I didn't argue. How often to you get people adding five years to their age?

December 16th

Talking outer space with a pro

University of Arizona astronomer Ron Fevig is an expert on near-earth asteroids. He also has roots in the Old Country (my father went to daily vacation Bible school at the same church as his mother), which led him to this weblog, which resulted in us having lunch this afternoon.

Naturally, I was full of questions. Ron studies the light which reflects off asteroids in order to discover the chemical composition of the surface of the asteroid. That chemical composition tells a great deal about the history of each particular asteroid.

Puffery alert

I just passed by a sign in a window which said: "If this door is locked, please utilize the side door." Utilize. Wouldn't use have worked just as well? Oh well, I am on the campus of a university, where signs become signage. where buildings become facilities, and where teachers become educators.

December 15th

Politics on the web

The internet is full of weblogs like this one, with most of the more popular ones devoted to politics. Because it costs little or nothing to run a weblog, anybody can start one. You don't have to have advertisers, you don't have to have editors, you don't have to have a printing press, and you don't even have to have readers.