Dishwashers, Goldfish and Death

Years and years ago my grandson and daughter lived with us. We bought our grandson a goldfish when he was almost four. He named it Skipper. One day, after several months, he came to me and said “Grandpa, Skipper stopped.” He was new to the concept of death. Observing him taught us so many new ways of looking at life. He turned twenty in October and is doing well in his sophomore  year working toward a Bachelor of Animation. He is now showing his professors new ways of looking at their worlds and their art.

Now for a more mundane topic: About six weeks ago our dishwasher, like Skipper, “stopped.” It was only six. No lights at all. No noise. No water. Nada. Continue reading “Dishwashers, Goldfish and Death”

The Prague Astronomical Clock

The Prague Astrolabe

An intermittent interest in astronomy helps me to come to terms with our human smallness and, it seems more and more likely, transience.

Most of my preparation for our Spring 2015 holiday in Central Europe was spent on Vienna, Poland and Hungary. I did not read up on this unique clock, a particularly brilliant example of human technological creativity, built in 1410.

The clock measures three kinds of time: common civil time, Old Czech time and, unique in the world, Babylonian time, which is related to the zodiac and sidereal time. If you compare the tower clock (11:30) to the roman numerals that indicate Czech civil time (10:30 in Roman numerals – the golden hand pointer is halfway between X and XI) will show that Prague when we were there on April 13, 2015 used Summer Time, equivalent to DST in North America.

The magnificent astrolabe is beautifully explained on this site. It shows how the clock works in excellent English using several moving depictions. (I can’t vouch for the Russian, German or Czech.)

A worthy way to spend your time if you have an interest in astronomy and inventiveness or if, like me, you need a welcome escape from contemplating the vulnerability of our species… if it maintains its present, social trajectory.

The Hottest Star

Crab Nebula

The biggest, bluest, brightest, hottest stars last a thousandth as long as average-sized stars like my yellow friend, Old Sol. They simply burn hotter and therefore burn out much faster. I just wondered if this physical principle might have a parallel in biological, evolutionary science…

I wonder what you think. Please feel free.

OK, I’m A Geek

SONY NEX-5N, 210 mm, 1/400s, f 6.3, ISO 800, MF assist

Bought a new SONY NEX-5N camera a month or two ago. Spent a couple of weeks testing it and decided to keep it. Having some regard for the planet (and my bank balance) I do not upgrade electronics just because something better has just come out, and I spent some time agonizing over the things the NEX-5N  wouldn’t do that my old Konica-Minolta Maxxum 5D digital SLR would.

The answer, after a time-consuming comparison: not much. Continue reading “OK, I’m A Geek”

Solar Eclipse at Wasaga Beach – May 20

A solar eclipse from a beautiful spot

Serendipity, indeed! We were up at Wasaga visiting my son. Can’t think of a better place to have shot this eclipse.

Some photos taken with my old Konica-Minolta Maxxum 5d and a Sigma 70-300 lens:

Partial Solar Eclipse in the GTA Today

Do NOT look at this event with the naked eye or sunglasses! Look only through #14 welders’ glass or project the image through binoculars onto a piece of white board and look at the board! 

Should begin at about 8:20 PM Eastern Daylight Time, cover about 23% of the sun at its max. at ~8:35 PM and will not be finished when the sun sets in our area around 8:42 PM. I used info for Buffalo, N.Y. on Sky and Telescope’s website. You can check there for info on your own area. Only the western U.S. and Asia/Pacific areas will see the “Ring of Fire.”