Sunday, September 27, 2009

On the Road.

I'm in Boulder, Colorado for a workshop on the effects of plasma outflow from the ionosphere on the entire magnetosphere. For the first time, I drove to a scientific meeting/conference and also brought my family. A few notes before the workshop starts:
  • THE LIONS FINALLY WON. First time in my daughter's lifetime; first time since 2007. Because we were deep in the mountains of Colorado during the game, I couldn't follow the game online or over the radio. Phone calls kept me up to date on the score, but it sucks missing out on the first win in oh-so-long.
  • My daughter handled the 8 hour drive very well, mostly because she was not feeling well and slept most of the time. She felt well enough to go swimming at the hotel, however...
  • She didn't sleep through the "tire incident", however. Closing in on Boulder, a car about 100 yards in front of us was struck by a free rolling tire. The windshield exploded and the tire was launched high into the air and over our car. The man driving the car was cut up a bit but not injured seriously. Crazy times.
  • As my wife pointed out, today must be "rile up spacecataz" day. The Lions won, which always gets me worked up. Then there was an insider look at Walmart on CNBC that was sprinkled with promotional ads for Scientology. *grumble grumble* Nothing quite like getting good and pissed off before a conference where I will be making presentations.
  • Met with former graduate school colleagues and talked about future collaboration efforts. Very exciting to be able to work with good friends again.
That's about all for now; tomorrow should produce great conversations about the role of the ionosphere in space weather.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Two Groups!

Wow! Looking at the sun today, you can see two scoops groups of raisins sunspots!
Check out the SOHO MDI image:

Space weather, here we come!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

No title could do this justice.

I've had a strange past few weeks, but last night hit a 21 out of 10 on the strange-o-meter. Rather than try to explain what happened in detail, I'll just post the picture and use the same caption that I typed into Facebook while extremely drowsy:
"I went to take out the garbage, and this cat was hanging by his balls. Looking at the picture, I'm not sure if he was hanging by his waist or his balls, but while I was outside it really looked like his balls. He was very mad. This could indicate ball hangage. I cut the bag loose with a knife on a stick. The cat was very angry. He ran away with a piece of garbage bag tied to his balls."

A good friend of mine followed up this harrowing tale with a graphical retelling:

Friday, September 18, 2009

Whiskey Tango Friday: ViperKeeper

This one isn't fair.
This guy is really close to landing on Good Internet Monday. Realllly close. He's very knowledgeable, posts incredibly interesting videos, has regular Q&A sessions for interested viewers, all the things that characterize what a good youtube channel SHOULD be...

...but his area of expertise is snakes.

Youtube user Viper Keeper, true to his moniker, keeps dozens of rare, highly venomous snakes in his home. His videos demonstrate what he goes through to feed and care for them while he discusses the specifics of the different species.
Embedding is disabled, so be sure to hop over to his channel. Here's an example of what he does when he has a snake that doesn't want to eat, and here's some footage of his favorite snake, the aptly named "Mr. Sniffles" (yes, that snake actually sniffs at him.)

If this stuff didn't give me the heebeejeebees, it would definitely fall under GIM.

Quick update:
For the bravest of you out there, check out this vid.
After posting this, I was watching the Mr. Sniffles vid with my 20 month old daughter. She rather enjoyed it.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Good Internet Monday: The NetRat

Oh, football... OOOOoooooooh, football.

The first week, wrapping up as I type, was great. Unless you're the Lions. Oh, Lions... *muffled sobbing*

After showing that they just might not be any better than last year, I needed to step away from the ledge. I handed my wife my belt and shoelaces and went to go weep by myself in the bathroom. It was that bad.

It's times like this where I need a calm, reasoned voice to help me calm down. I often find that voice over at NetRat's Lions blog. NetRat follows the Lions very closely and his musings are insightful, level headed, and accurate. When it comes to breaking down the Leos' recent moves, he surpasses many of the professional pundits by a good measure.

NetRat isn't just a blogger, however. He has a whole page dedicated to the Lions, where he follows them in gory detail. He keeps close watch on their signings and contracts in order to report accurately on their current salary cap situation. He hosts several competitions, from W/L predictions to mock drafts. He has built an amateur site that is a true resource for Detroit fans. Good stuff, indeed.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

A Quick Sob Story

After not posting for a week, here's a quick sob story to explain my absence:

I started the week (Labor Day) doing what any red-or-blue-blooded scientist should be doing on such a day: LABORING! I had science to do, dammit. It was a fairly productive (yet stressful) day as I tried to wrap up and plot results that I owed my superiors on the eve of their return from a long European trip. I also needed to finish up replies to reviewers on my latest paper.

Tuesday started pretty good- my new laptop (as demanded by all of 5 votes, it has been named UPGRAYEDD!) arrived and was off to the IT folks for setup. But it quickly deteriorated when I found out that it was time to switch offices- a move I had been informed of, but was formalized that morning. As such, I had to begin packing and moving my crap -- a fairly frustrating distraction. Finished most of the reviewer replies and started switching offices.

That night I made a bad mistake. I left the bedroom window open overnight despite the fact that the nice, cool air was drying out my throat quickly. I woke up with a sore throat that didn't distract too much that day. It kept me up that night, however, as what was bad for the throat is also bad for the sinuses. On Thursday, I tried to fight through a pretty bad head cold, but didn't get much done over all. Friday was pretty bad too. It was supposed to be my day off, but I went in for a few hours trying to make up for time lost due to moving and sickness. Blerg.

Today was spent resting. It's really hard to concentrate with a nasty head cold. I've found the best medicine is Mucinex-D. The pills are so large that I doubt they were meant for humans, but it gives you 6 hours of relief. I discovered this pill-shaped-miracle last year at this time when I was interviewing with the Airforce Research Lab. That's right, I was almost a professional space weather forecaster for the US Airforce.

I should have some interesting stories starting Monday. Being that it's the first full day of NFL goodness, I'll spend the day weeping over the Lions.

Oh, and GO BLUE!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Name! That! Laptop! ...part 2.

The new laptop came in, which means that I need a name posthaste. On Tuesday, I'll take it to the IT crowd to have Lab-approved software (read: out of date) installed and at that point I'll need a wacky moniker. After balancing comedic value with the likelihood that the name will be approved by lab brass, I've whittled it down to two choices:
  • OMJihad - This is only somewhat likely to cause problems with the lab, but is hilarious.
  • Upgrayedd - The pimp from Idiocracy. That's pretty funny.
DEMOCRACY- I CHOOSE YOU! Poll is to the right. Make a choice. I'll go with the most popular on Tuesday.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Whiskey Tango Friday: 100TH POST!

I've now posted on here 100 times. Hooray!

But on to Whiskey Tango Friday: People of Walmart.

Don't go there at work.
Don't go there at home.
Don't go there if you value your faith in humanity.

And definitely, definitely don't follow any youtube links that you see on the back of someone's jean jacket.

Look, it's a site that just has pictures of people at Walmart, okay? Now you don't have to go there. Why are you clicking the link? Stop that. STOP!

It's really bad.

Here Comes Science!

Praise be FSM for this brand spankin' new TMBG album: Here Comes Science! I know what my daughter is getting for her birthday (or, rather, the next excuse I have to buy something.)

If you look at the comments on the video for the song "Science is Real", you'll find several people butthurt over the lyric "I like the stories as much as anyone else, but when I'm seeking knowledge [...] the facts are with science". Why? Because it's a "pot shot" at religion.

. . .

"Get in the fookin' sack!"

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

A Dose of Dumbass

Did anyone happen to catch NBC's Dateline episode named A Dose of Controversy, an expose' on the anti-vax movement? It was pretty good overall. A quick summary:
  • The man who initially linked autism to the MMR vaccine, Dr. Andrew Wakefield, did so with a study that used 12 participants.
  • More recent studies that have used 500,000 to several MILLION participants have found no such link.
  • Nearly all of the 12 participants in Wakefield's study were involved in a class action suit against the makers of the MMR vaccine.
  • Dr. Wakefield was a paid expert witness for the plaintiffs in this suit.
  • Dr. Wakefield was, at the time of the study, applying for a patent on a vaccine to replace MMR.
The accusation drawn from these points is that Dr. Wakefield performed his study in a manner such that the evidence would fit the predetermined conclusion. I've heard of this before... who is it, besides the good Dr. Wakefield, that warps the evidence to fit the conclusion they want???

To put it mildly:

Scientists are people who are concerned about the truth and use natural, recreatable evidence to find it. If all of the evidence does not agree with your hypothesis, even if you strongly want that hypothesis to be true, you must reject your hypothesis. When you are discriminative with the evidence or otherwise warp it in order to build a case for your personal hypothesis, you deceive yourself and others.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


A study to be released soon claims that Tetris is good for the brain!
I'm not sure if they are referring to the puzzle game itself or the oh-so-catchy music. I agree in either case.

Achievement Unlocked: 3rd Most Boring Solar Cycle

Today is September 1st. Time to look at the sunspot number over the past month!

The last time this happened? June, 1913. 1913!!!
Solar Cycle 23 has now secured the bronze for the longest solar cycle in recorded history at 150 months. Gold and silver go to cycles 4 and 6 with 164 and 153 months, respectively. What is the perspective of a space science blogger on these matters?

*Sunspot numbers were zero using the international sunspot number. Provisional numbers from NOAA SWPC show a sudden jump to 10 sunspots on the 31st.