Friday, April 30, 2004

Vilsack, Pederson spells VP?

"From everything I hear, he's on the very short, short, short, short, short list" - Tom Harkin

It's a long, long way from that evening in 1997 when six of us showed up at the El Charro Mexican restaurant in Conesville to talk to this obscure state senator from Mt. Pleasant and his wife.

I became a Vilsacker that night and while I haven't been 100% happy, I've been happy enough.

As someone who believes in and practices the minutiae of grass roots get out the vote, I like having someone on the ticket who believes in that stuff. I'm remembering 1994, when Bonnie Campbell ignored the field operation and spent all her time and money on TV ads - and really ineffective ones at that.

The Vilsacks, on the other hand, know and appreciate the drudgery of phone banks and absentee ballot drives. The best yard sign plan I ever saw was written by Christie Vilsack.

I realize I'm sounding like one of those people who cares more about the courthouse than the White House - and I guess that's what I am. The interesting thing from my parochial perspective is: Vice President Vilsack makes Sally Pederson an incumbent governor before any 2006 primary. Chet Culver must have profoundly mixed feelings.

Naaah, it doesn't matter. It's gonna be Bill Richardson.

Thursday, April 29, 2004

Double Secret Probation

Fire code violations and unsanitary conditions will force a University of Iowa fraternity to close next month - though the chapter's leader says the house is in good shape.

"I don't think that the house is in that bad of shape," said Daniel Kurtzman, Beta Theta Pi fraternity president. "Things are going to get a little bit dirty."

Hm - the place looks a lot like MY old house did! check it out

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Part Butler and Part Buddy, Aide Keeps Kerry Running

The saga of Marvin Nicholson Jr., John Kerry's Body Guy:

He keeps little black books filled with the names and numbers of people Mr. Kerry meets; dials many of his telephone calls; helps select his neckties and opening one-liners; collects gifts from well-wishers; transports his leather briefcase, three hunter-green duffels and two navy suit bags; and, at night, often stays by his side until he is ready to go to sleep. Here in Youngstown on Tuesday morning, as rain threatened an outdoor rally, Mr. Nicholson had a large green-and-black umbrella at the ready...

I met this guy once back in the early days of Caucus 04. For those of you not used to the length of caucus cycles, that means a year and a half ago.

We chit-chatted amiably for a couple minutes and then he excused himself, explaining that he needed to get back to the candidate.

I let him go with one of Pete Clemenza's lines from The Godfather: "Take a walk around da neighborhood, do your job."

And he got it.

Ill-informed Hockey Geography Rant

I pay virtually no attention to pro hockey, what with not being Canadian and all. But I have as much right to an uninformed opinion as anyone else so here goes.

In tonight's big game the Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Montreal Canadiens. There are so many things wrong with that statement.

First of all, nicknames should be plural, not conceptual. The only pro sports nicknames that should not end in an S are those ending in X (as in Sox). I'll give college a little more leeway. Fighting Irish is at least plural, but I never felt right about Crimson Tide.

But the bigger issue here, and this needs to be enshined in the Canadian constitution as soon as possible:

No hockey team should be located in any city in which it is never even theoretically possible to play hockey out of doors at some time in the year. The line should follow roughly the last Ice Age glaciation of 12,000 years ago.

Chicago? Fine. Philadelphia? Borderline. Denver? Well, the mountains make it OK but remember the Avalance is really the Quebec Nordiques.

But Atlanta? TAMPA BAY?!? MIAMI????

PHOENIX? What, do they use cacti for nets? What is Arizona doing with Winnipeg's team?

I blame this all on the trade that sent Gretzky from Edmonton to the LA Kings back in the late 80s. Then the Minnesota NORTH Stars move to Dallas and became the Stars, and Minnesota, which loves its hockey so much it should be annexed to Canada, wound up with an expansion team with a stupid non-plural name.

A semi-related issue is that the Stanley Cup finals end in June. I don't know if they play hockey in Australia, but if they do that's where hockey should be played in June.

This situation can only be resolved by a return to old-time hockey...

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Let the circling Expos land at Dulles

I've been calling this one for years. The Beltway Boys want convenient baseball, and the Washington Expos - no, it has to, HAS to be the Senators - are the price of keeping the anti-trust exemption. George Will must be peeing his pants in excitement.

Somewhere Walter Johnson is smiling.

Of course, Peter Angelos and the Orioles may have other plans.

Speaking of Walter Johnson. I don't think he gets quite the glory the winningest pitcher of the 20th Century deserves. And the main reason is that he played for a team that is no more, in a city that has been without baseball for 30 years now.

Enough about the Big Train. Another Big Johnson - the Big Unit - whomped the Cubbies last night...

Monday, April 26, 2004

$50 Bill Gets Colorful, Hi-Tech Makeover

"'The new design is more secure than ever before. We believe it will be extremely effective in discouraging counterfeiters.'"

Hey! I didn't know Ginger Grant was on the $50 bill...
To the new owners of 714 Brookside Drive

I used to own this house. If you have any questions about it please feel free to call me and I’ll help you the best I can.

I’m sorry it is such a mess. You should have seen it four years ago when we moved in, expecting to stay here the rest of our lives. I’ll spare you the long story. Let’s just say things didn’t work out. Some of us are better off now, others are worse off.

A few things you should know.

You’ve probably already figured out that the carpets are ruined. We had too many cats. We loved them all but it was still too many.

There’s a wasp nest the size of a beachball in the playhouse/shed out back so be careful.

The fenced in area was a garden. We grew gigantic sunflowers there a couple years ago. There’s catnip everywhere – I transplanted a bunch to my new home to try to keep something positive from here. A few perennials and volunteers may still pop up. I suppose if you want you can tear it up and put plain old grass there. I hope you don’t. There’s also raspberries growing along the fence on the creek side.

Ducks like to come up into the yard and we always welcomed them with bread, corn, and assorted breakfast cereals. We’ve seen a few other critters too including possums, owls, and even a deer once.

The neighbors are nice. They put up with a lot from us and hopefully they will be happier with whoever eventually comes to live there.

My hope is that this will be a happier home for someone new than it was for us.

The actual sale this morning, by the way, was rather anti-climactic. No auctioneer, no dramatic scene, not even anyone there. The bank just faxed in its bid and that was that.

Friday, April 23, 2004

The return of Farmer John

After a year off I am going to have a garden again this year.

It seemed a shame last summer. Here I am, living on the best farm land on the planet, and I hadn't planted one seed, hadn't picked a single tomato. The year before I spent every free minute pickling and canning and freezing and harvesting.

I tried last year. Did the rent a city garden plot thing. Problem is I live on the far north side and the public garden is on the far south side. After one 35-minute bike ride with tools lashed to the side baskets, I called it quits.

I'd had a garden every year since 1994. Five different locations. One was along the side of my apartment parking lot: 20 feet long and 12 inches wide. Row of pole beans, row of peas.

This new spot is a tiny patch with four gigantic boulders and a big light post to work around, but it should work. I dug it up today - the soil looks a little weak but I'll work on it. Now let's see if the seeds I saved from the 2002 purple pole beans will sprout...

I've already got transplanted catnip growing all over Gaslight Village. You can't stop the stuff, it's a native weed! In a couple years it'll be everywhere. (Aside: Supposedly the reason Gaslight Village has all sorts of semi-wildflowers and interesting bulbs is that the city was after Old Man Black to mow. So he planted the stuff and said "NOW make me mow it.")
The Paul Westerberg Nickel?

The back of the new commemorative nickel is supposed to somehow honor Lewis and Clark. But instead it brings to mind the cover of that great 1987 Replacements Album Pleased To Meet Me.

I hope Paul Westerberg is getting royalties on the new nickel. That, and also on every hit the Goo Goo Dolls ever had.
Millions of new jobs?

A friend shared this story with me yesterday:

He was driving through a drive-thru at a McSomething place and engaging in conversation with a cheerful young woman, and somehow the conversation got around to her general overall perkiness. Then she dropped Da Bomb:

"Hey, I've got three jobs. I have to keep my pep up somehow."

There it is. The New Economy in one phrase. One car breakdown or week sick away from homelessness.

Want fries with that?

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Lyric of the day

Want it in writing
I owe you nothing
Want it in writing
I owe you nothing

The Replacements

Tuesday, April 20, 2004


Columbine Five Years On: This one's for Denise

When I was a senior in high school, I didn't have a car. OK, I was a Geek. Picture Anthony Michael Hall in any John Hughes film, only without scripted dialogue. (Or you can picture Donna from That 70s Show if you prefer. I know I do.)

We weren't even called Geeks yet then, so we didn't even get the identity and solidarity of a name.

I rode up to school waaaaay too early in the morning with my dad the gym teacher, and in the afternoon walked myself either back home or to the grocery store where I was a bagboy, clean-scrubbed in a white shirt and a tie.

But lunchtime was a problem. We seniors had Senior Privileges, which basically meant open campus for lunch. Not having a car made the customary McDonald's run difficult, but a mighty SENIOR dare not be seen in the cafeteria for fear of looking Uncool. Even a Geek Senior is still a Senior.

Of course I was Uncool anyway. The harrassment mostly stopped after 8th grade but I was still awkward, trying desparately to fit in with people who wanted nothing to do with me. Right around this time Elvis Costello made an album that he wanted to call Emotional Fascism. (I was Officiallly Weird bacause I listened to it.) The phrase was perfect for High School USA circa 1981. My brother home-schools his son because of shit like that. He doesn't want my nephew's sweet little spirit crushed and tortured by an institution and a peer group that could care less.

Anyway, back to lunch. The only remaining alternative was The Shack.

The Shack was a well past its prime drive-in located just down the hill from school, about a two block walk. They had very salty fries, burgers with lots of onion, and root beer in an old fashioned paper carton with a clip on the top.

I went by myself because my regular friends (picture the geeks from Sixteen Candles. Or picture Molly Ringwald if you prefer. I know I do) Anyway, my regular friends had different free hours. And I kind of kept The Shack secret from them.

You see, The Shack was the hangout for The Dirtballs.

I'm ashamed that I ever referred to fellow human beings as "dirtballs." It's an evil, evil phrase, sort of like "Zero Tolerance". But that's what everybody called them, even the teachers, like it was a proper noun. Just like Butt-Head's given name was Butt-Head. Every school had the type, every school will: smoking cigarettes on the corner between metal shop classes, not good at sports (no matter how skilled you are, skateboards don't count), not good at class, not noticed at all.

The Shack was where the Dirtballs went to cut class. And into this mix of misfits walks The King Of The Dipshits (Molly Ringwald: "That's kinda cool...)

And to my amazement I met... human beings. I remember Conrad who drew amazing pictures, along with a lot of band logos. I talked with my... friends? Too strong a term. I talked with my warm acquaintances for endless lunch hours, talking about music, school, petty gossip, Normal Stuff, sharing our contempt for the mutual enemy of Geeks and Dirtballs: the Jocks.

See, the Jocks partied as much as the Dirtballs. They just didn't get caught, or they had enough mainstream social skills - I'm talking like a grownup now - that they could hide it. (Geeks didn't party. One of dad's jobs was to discipline Jocks who got caught at parties. This was a significant social disadvantage, in that it was widely assumed I was a narc. But Dad usually knew where the party was before I did.)

The Dirtballs and I saw through the hypocrisy and passed the ketchup.

They might have laughed at me behind my back, like the Jocks did. But I never FELT like they did, and that mattered.

But most of all I remember Denise.

She was a year behind me in school but the same age. (I'd skipped a grade back in the days before gifted classes, and I paid a big social price.) I'd been in classes off and on with her since elementary school but never really paid attention to her.

Denise was usually the only girl at The Shack but she didn't seem to be attached to anyone. I'd been in classes off and on with her since elementary school but never really paid attention to her. Denise wasn't the kind of person you would ask out on a Date. She was the kind of girl you would Hang Out With, or in today's terms Hook Up With. She was short and petite, with dark eyes and dark brown hair that was long and feathered back like they did in the 70s. Sometimes she wore big round glasses but usually not. She was blunt and articulate and a lot of times funny. I suppose she was pretty. But by definition there was no such thing as a Pretty Dirtball Girl so I didn't let myself acknowledge it.

The Shack had a jukebox. Denise used to play Alice Cooper and dance, turning slowly, her slim hips swaying in her faded jeans:

It's hot tonight
Too hot for talkin'
It's hot tonight
I sweat tonight
I sweat no sleeping
It's too hot tonight
Dogs are barkin'
Cats are screamin'
Streets are steamin'
Gods own heats the devil' demon
My turn tonight
To burn with fever
I burn tonight
I smoke tonight
I'm all on fire
It's damn hot tonight

I wondered what the smoke on her lips tasted like.

We all used to play the country songs on the jukebox and laugh at them, our own in-joke. Our favorite was "I'd Love To Lay You Down" by Conway Twitty. We'd sing along in mock country voices. To this day when I hear that song I think of Denise.

It started as an awkward necessity, sharing my meals with these people I had no business talking to. But before long I started forward to seeing Denise and the gang. I suppose I had what you would call a crush on her. But the social barriers between Geeks and Dirtballs were too great for me to Hang Out with her. I have no idea what she thought of me and I'll never know. She was just good enough to have lunch with, I guess.

I went to college. All my friends went to college, in my middle class world it was just assumed that's what you did next. She went to wherever it is Dirtballs go after high school: to work, to tech school, the military, to a party, I don't know. I just graduated and turned my back, or maybe the circumstances just changed and the happenstance that forced us together was done. Either way I never saw Denise again.

A few years later I was home from grad school on a break, reading the local paper. I saw a picture of a familiar face in a place it didn't belong.

Denise was killed in a car accident when she was 28 years old. She left behind a baby.

This is not my Great Lost Obsession. It's just a sad story. I don't mean it's sad simply because she died too young. Our story - me and Denise, young and alive - repeats itself year after year, decade after decade, generation after generation. People reaching out to each other in adolescent awkwardness and failing to connect, because their imagination is too small to fully reach past their differences. Eventually some of us get to a point where we can try to overcome the class divisions, the cultural expectations. But even then it can be too late. The wounds may be too deep, the moment may have passed, or in our case it's the Big Too Late.

And it's fresh in my mind today because of this anniversary and because I have a teenager of my own now.

I remember watching TV in the fall of 1999 when the kids went back to Columbine.

Some girl was giving a speech about how we should respect each other's diversity and differences.

The camera switched over to the crowd. Everyone was wearing matching WE ARE COLUMBINE T-shirts. Identical. Every kid.

Except for: the CHEERLEADERS.

Nothing had changed.

Last week a kid in Davenport took a gun to school. He wanted to scare someone who'd been bullying him.

Now this kid is in serious trouble. They're talking stuff like federal weapons charges. Zero Tolerance.

The bully is presumably still going to school.

Nothing has changed.
The right references Wellstone?!?

"Specter is facing Representative Patrick J. Toomey, a conservative who has attacked Mr. Specter as a Ted Kennedy liberal too supportive of abortion rights and the United Nations.

I represent the Republican wing of the Republican Party, Toomey said recently.

Mr. Specter has said Toomey is not far right, he's far out."

Toomey gets off the better soundbite, though Paul Wellstone is spinning in his premature grave. At least it made sense when Howard Dean borrowed it. "Far out" sounds faux-60's; I'm hearing it in a Marcia Brady voice. (Groovy!)

Joe Hoeffel awaits the winner...

Monday, April 19, 2004

The Troops Are Coming Home

Flag-draped coffins are secured inside a cargo plane on April 7 at Kuwait International Airport. Military and civilian crews take great care with the remains of U.S. military personnel killed in Iraq. Soldiers form an honor guard and say a prayer as, almost nightly, coffins are loaded for the trip home.

A lot of news organizations are not showing pictures like this one. It's awful but it needs to be seen.

Is Hy-Vee Hiring?

"Kurt Warner spent the first part of his career looking for an NFL job. And after winning two MVPs and a Super Bowl MVP in his first three seasons as the Rams starter, he's looking for work again. On Monday, Warner was informed by Rams coach Mike Martz that he will be cut after June 1..."
Dean as the 21st century Goldwater?

The parallels to today are startling, a sort of Dean bizarro world stuck on opposite day -- a Republican Party that was trying to be "Democrat-lite" and an establishment hostile to "outsider" forces. With Goldwater railing against his party's establishment and the special interests that controlled it. Throw in innovative use of tactics and technology (Goldwater pioneered the use of direct mail) and a crushing defeat, and you've got the Dean phenomenon...

It may seem obvious to note that Goldwater begat Reagan, but I'll note it anyway. I'll also note that my daughter loves the phrase "opposite day."
Please return the egg: Godzilla vs. Rainforest

I need to upgrade this thing for photos. You'll just have to follow the links and decide for yourself if the Iowa Environmental/Education Project (a/k/a The Fake Rainforest) bears a frightening resemblance to the Mothra Egg Incubator from the classic 1964 film Godzilla vs. Mothra.

I can see it now: we build the thing, and Godzilla emerges from the Iowa River and stomps it. Then he knocks over the hotel and convention center...

"He's headed down I-80! Evacuate the Coral Ridge Mall!"

Americans have NO appreciation for foreign film.

Sunday, April 18, 2004

An automotive rock and roll cliche, or just great road music?

It seems like I spent the whole day today driving.

And I got in one of those moods where only one kind of music sounded right.

See, I always grossly overpack the music. A 15 block drive to the office takes 4 CDs. A run up to Cedar Rapids? At least ten. Weekend road trip to Wisconsin calls for a milk crate of 100.

Of course, I always play the same one or two for the whole trip, but the point is to have the wide selection AVAILABLE.

So Today I had maybe 20 CDs with me, but all I could play was Springsteen. Over and over and over.

Inspirational verse of the day #1

Blame it on the lies that killed us
Blame it on the truth that ran us down
you can blame it all on me Terry It don't matter to me now
when the breakdown hit at midnight there was nothing left to say
but I hated him
and I hated you when you went away

Now, I've never been to New Jersey. I suppose some parts of Cedar Rapids could PASS for Jersey if you look at `em just right. But anyway, that was today. Four lanes and Born To Run at top volume.

Inspirational verse # 2

In the tunnels uptown
The Rat's own dream guns him down
as shots echo down them hallways in the
night No one watches when the ambulance pulls away
Or as the girl shuts out the bedroom light

Outside the street's on fire in a real death waltz
Between flesh and what's fantasy
and the poets down here don't write nothing at all, they just stand back and let it all be
And in the quick of a knife
they reach for their moment and try to make an honest stand
but they wind up wounded, not even dead

Both Inspirational Verses Of The Day end in gutteral Spring-screams. One of the things about great music of any kind: it doesn't hold anything back.

So walk tall, or baby don't walk at all.

Saturday, April 17, 2004

Packers can give Vikings lumps of coal

"Thousands of beer-guzzling cheeseheads streaming across the border for a Christmas Eve football game at the Metrodome..."

"I'll be grouchy because I'm missing the game," said the Rev. Steven McKinley.

The Packers are 4-0 on Christmas Eve games the last 15 years.

Friday, April 16, 2004

ANC Wins Big in South African Election

It's amazing the stories that get taken for granted...

And, it appears, other things are taken for granted too:

"70 percent of voters cast ballots Wednesday, a drop from the 89 percent 1999 turnout..."

REALLY pushing your luck, Henry...

Gangster Night with Henry Hill from Goodfellas
Julia's on Broadway, Seattle WA
April 22, 7 - 10 PM

Anybody wonder how tight security will be at THAT one? Or maybe he WANTS to get whacked. Remember from the Goodfellas credits: Jimmy The Gent is up for parole this year...

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Report: Kidman Richest Aussie Entertainer

Beautiful, talented, AND rich? She STILL (!) hasn't called. Somehow I have my doubts that our lifestyles would be compatible:

"What shall it be this weekend, Nicole? Take your private jet to Tahiti and go windsurfing, or walk on down to Pearson's for a malt?"

Still, there is that Enquirer headline that she is NOT in fact getting back together with Tom...

While I'm at it here's a list of My Least Favorite Redheads

  • Margaret Thatcher
  • Lizzie Borden
  • That really obnoxious "You ARE the weakest link" lady
  • Tuesday, April 13, 2004

    Gun Groups May Not Be Bush Campaign Weapon

    Strange bedfellows:

    "The issues that have most alienated many gun groups from the Bush administration have little to do with firearms, but rather with the Patriot Act and other homeland security measures instituted after Sept. 11. Opposition to such laws has aligned gun-rights activists with unlikely partners, such as liberal Democrats and the ACLU. 'It's not just gun rights for us, it's the Bill of Rights,' said Angel Shamaya, executive director of"

    Monday, April 12, 2004

    Rare Agreement With Yepsen

    "For years, economists and demographers have reported that we need more people in Iowa - over 310,000 by the end of the decade just to maintain our current economy. We need these newcomers to fill jobs, particularly ones we natives don't want to do. They'll also make Iowa a more varied and interesting place. Well, it's 2004 and we're not going to make that population goal. So most of Iowa will continue to be a colony state that exports everything from corn to kids.

    One reason we'll fall short is because politicians do demagogic things to win votes - like bash gays, metal-music fans and Latinos. It's an appeal to the darker angels of our nature, and it's disgusting because it often works..."

    "Some jokers who don't like the Democratic presidential candidate are trying to make his campaign Web site,, the first answer to a search of the word 'waffles' on Google, the No. 1 Internet search engine," USA Today reports.

    Fighting back: My link is to a bed and breakfast that serves waffles and currently ranks #1 on Google...
    Senate surprise: Democrats pulling ahead

    "Democrats, who less than a year ago faced dim chances of overcoming the GOP's 51-48 majority, now lead in the polls in all seven competitive races in which head-to-head public polling has been done, a trend that would produce a gain of three Democratic seats, in Oklahoma, Colorado, and Alaska..."

    Throw in Illinois, and maybe Pennsylvania if Specter loses his primary...

    Thursday, April 08, 2004

    If Elected, I Will Be Extremely Surprised

    Some of you may recognize me as the guy who runs for office a lot. In the past, I've sought seats on the school board and in the city council. Last year, I even ran for mayor. Today, I cast my hat in the ring once more. The state-senate run marks my most ambitious, and most absurd, campaign to date. Please flabbergast me with your support.
    Data Churners Try to Pinpoint Voters' Politics

    This is what I do, on a very small local level:

    "Oh, to find that one piece of esoterica, or more realistically, that pattern of likes and dislikes, that will predict the politics of millions of voters. A belief in the wizardry of computers, in the idea that they can "know" enough about everyone in the land to predict each voter's politics, is fueling experiments, hopes, dreams and even many an expert's election-year income in this campaign season..."

    Wednesday, April 07, 2004

    Aurora Alert

    "A coronal mass ejection (CME) hurled into space by a solar explosion on April 6th is heading in the general direction of Earth. Sky watchers should be alert for auroras when it arrives, probably during the early hours of April 8th UT (for North Americans, that means during the night of April 7th).

    Earth is already skirting through a solar wind stream flowing from a coronal hole on the sun. Because of this, geomagnetic storms and auroras are likely, off and on, for the next few days. The best displays will be at high latitudes--e.g., Canada and Alaska. When the incoming CME arrives, auroras could descend to lower latitudes, too..."

    Monday, April 05, 2004

    Tom and Nicole?!?


    She never DID call, ya know...
    Cobain, 10 Years Later

    I used to turn on the radio and every one in a while just get slapped in the ears with a song that made me go WOW.

    It's been a long time. The last time it happened was in 1991. I's seen this blue album cover of a naked baby and didn't know what the big deal was.

    Then I HEARD it.

    Here we are now, entertain us.

    It was impossible to make the radio go loud enough.

    Suddenly the gawdawful hairmetal bands were dropping like flies, choking on their own hairspray. Suddenly something REAL was in the air.

    Fifteen years too late, America has its punk rock hereo, its Johnny Rotten and Sid Vicious all in one.

    I was driving back from Wisconsin today, in my minivan with the I GUESS I WAS PUNK ONCE bumper sticker, playing Bleach and Nevermind.

    Kurt Cobain put every bit of himself into those songs. Then when he had nothing left, when he debuted and number one and destoryes the meaning of the word "alternative," when the pain in his heart and his stomach and his soul got to be too much, he ended it.

    Or so he thought.

    Because when you make music that alive, even a bullet in the brain can't kill you. When you make a song as incredible as Teen Spirit, you live forever.
    Dylan Appearing in Victoria's Secret Ads

    Don't worry. The 62-year-old Dylan keeps his clothes on.

    "What would you rather have Bob Dylan selling, ladies' underwear or cat food?"

    Consult this site for a long series of punchlines...

    Thursday, April 01, 2004

    Space Geek Report

    Clear skies again tonight and I topped my previous feat by viewing the ancient astronomical perfecta all in the telescope:

  • Mercury rapidly disappearing into the sunset
  • Venus as high and bright as it ever gets, en route to the June 8 transit, passing right by the Pleiades for a couple days (got them both in the same field of view)
  • Mars, much much faded from the glory of last summer
  • Jupiter, with three Galilean moons on one side and one on the other
  • Saturn, with the air still enough for me to maybe make out the rings (my eyes are getting worse!)
  • The Moon at waxing gibbous, with really nice relief on the big craters of the southern hemisphere

    Then I topped the ancients an hour later by checking out a space station pass.

    The scientific evidence from these observations is that I'm a bigger space geek than I thought.
  • Tragic News

    THE future is bleak for redheads.

    Red hair, say scientists in a report by the Oxford Hair Foundation, is in retreat because a maximum of just 4% of the world's population carry the gene.

    Dr. John Gray said black and brown haired people are wiping out the red hair gene.

    "The way things are going red hair will either be extremely rare or extinct by the end of the century."

    Well, it's not my fault, since I certainly haven't contributed any of my DNA to any redheads...
    Herseth leads in poll

    A big lead for the Most Attractive Woman In American Politics:

    With two months remaining in the campaign for South Dakota's U.S. House seat, Democrat Stephanie Herseth has maintained a healthy lead over Republican Larry Diedrich.

    Herseth leads Diedrich 53 percent to 37 percent, according to a poll of 501 likely voters conducted last weekend by Zogby International. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percent. 8 percent are undecided.

    48 percent said they were unfamiliar with Diedrich, who has not run for a statewide office before. Twelve percent were unfamiliar with Herseth, who ran unsuccessfully against Republican Bill Janklow in 2002...