Thursday, January 3, 2013

Blog Break: I’ll be back after officiating my son’s marriage

          Good Day World!

I’m taking a blog break until Monday, January 7th. I’ve been asked – and honored –to marry my youngest son, Elijah to his fiancĂ©, Tiffany. The ceremony is taking place in Ashland, Oregon. I only hope it doesn’t snow, as the ceremony is set to take place outside! I’m sure there’s alternative plans if it does happen…at least I hope there are!

It’s a nice way to start the new year. Not too many people know I’m an ordained minister with the Universal Life Church and can officially marry anyone in all 50 states with traditional and non-traditional ceremonies. It’s one of my sidelines to keep life interesting. 

I intend to have lots of fun as our family and Tiffany’s get together this coming weekend. I’m not going to be thinking about fiscal cliffs, or 1st graders getting suspending from school for pointing a finger and saying, “Pow!”(story here).

I’m going to set aside stories like the one about the homeowner who shot a naked man who was choking his dog in his house (story here), or the naked man with the Samuria sword and the assault rifle who finally surrendered to the police in San Jose.

I’m not going to think about Singer Patti Page, whose smooth alto voice made hits of "How Much Is That Doggie in the Window?", "Tennessee Waltz" and "Old Cape Cod," who died yesterday at 85 years-old.

No…I’m going to ignore all that reality and enjoy the coming adventure. Please don’t be shy about checking out the links on the right side of the page: I bet there’s at least one topic that’ll interest you.

Now, it’s time for me to walk on down the road…


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Scientists say sex-starved flies drown their woes in alcohol

Image: Feeding fly

Guys, when your sweetheart says “No thanks” to sex, do you knock back a few stiff drinks to feel better? Turns out fruit flies do pretty much the same thing.

That’s the word from a new study that may explain why both species react that way. In an issue of the journal Science, researchers propose a biological explanation for why “Not tonight, dear” may lead to “Gimme another beer.” If it proves true in people, it may help scientists find new medications to fight alcoholism.

In that case, we can thank thousands of frustrated flies. What’s going on here?

The researchers did other work that implicates a substance in the fly brain called NPF. They theorize that pleasurable activities like having sex boost the activity of brain circuits that use NPF, and that feels good. If a fly is denied sex, the system goes into deficit, driving the fly to seek other rewarding activities such as drinking alcohol.

“I think it’s a pretty good bet that it will translate to humans,” said Ulrike Heberlein of the University of California, San Francisco, who led the research. If so, “one can say we could now understand why a negative experience, such as a sexual rejection, could drive somebody to drink.” (Read the rest here)

Where No Civilian Companies Have Gone Before: Private Space Travel to Make Giant Leaps in 2013

Dream Chaser space plane

                                             Good Day World!

  I’m feeling kinda old today while scanning stories about space travel to share. Buck Rogers would be comfortable with all of this talk about space flight in 2013.

This is all so 21st Century. Space supply ships. The Dragon capsule. Dragon Version 2. SuperDraco  thrusters. International space station. SpaceX. Beam me up Scotty!

“Private companies building new spaceships to soar through orbital and suborbital space are looking forward to an action-packed year in 2013, with new flight tests, launches, wind tunnel tests and rocket technology trials all planned during the new year. 

Image: An artistic rendition of the Dream Chaser vehicle launching into space. Sierra Nevada

Of the many spacecraft being developed only one has already flown in space, the Dragon capsule built by Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) in Hawthorne, Calif.The unmanned cargo ship has flown in space three times so far, and carried supplies to the International Space Station twice in 2012 — first in May during a test and then again October.

SpaceX’s next cargo flight to the station is set for May 2013. But a new astronaut-carrying version of Dragon is also in the works. The crewed capsule will be different from its robotic predecessor in several key areas, with SpaceX set to advancing technology for the new ship in 2013.

“Dragon Version 2 won’t look like [today’s Dragon]. I think it looks pretty cool. Dragon one, we didn’t really know what we were doing so that’s why Dragon looks similar to things that have happened in the past,”SpaceX founder Elon Musk told an audience during a talk at the UK’s Royal Aeronautical Society in London on Nov. 21. Musk described Dragon version 2 as having “legs that pop out” and added that it uses parachutes and its eight SuperDraco thrusters for a “propulsive landing.” [SpaceX’s Dragon at the Space Station (Photos)]

The SuperDraco thrusters, located around the base of the Dragon, also act as the pusher launch abort system to move the capsule (and crew) clear of its rocket during a launch emergency.

While Musk was unavailable for to discuss SpaceX’s plans for 2013, company officials did provide details on its expected activities.

NASA needs private space taxis
SpaceX is developing the seven-person Dragon 2 capsule to compete for NASA’s International Space Station (ISS) crew transportation contract. NASA’s commercial crew program is helping industry develop competing space transportation systems to win this ISS contract. Ed Mango is the commercial crew program manager.

“2013 will be a huge year for us. In the first couple of months we’ll kick off work for our certification contract and we’ll award that shortly,” Mango told (Read the rest here)

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

What a way to start a New Year…

It saddens me to see people murdered every New Year’s Eve like it’s a rite of passage in America. Such a grim statistic for a new year. People who partied until death joined the festivities. A grim aftermath to a night of revelry. Reality. We live in a violent society. 

“Seven people were shot, one of them fatally, during a New Year's party early Tuesday in Columbus, Ga., police said — just one of many fatal shootings to be reported across the country as 2013 got off to a bloody start.

Police detectives told NBC station WLTZ of Columbusthat six people were shot inside the Bar about 2:30 a.m. ET. One of the victims was pronounced dead, and the four others were being treated at the Medical Center of Columbus for non-life-threatening injuries.

Across the country, the New Year rang in with the sound of gunfire:

  • Three people, one of them a 17-year-old boy, were shot and killed Tuesday morning in separate incidents in Philadelphia, NBC 10 of Philadelphia reported.

The teenager was shot in the head about 12:30 a.m. ET during an following a house party, police said. About two hours later, an unidentified man was shot and killed in the Frankford area of the city. Then, about 3 a.m., police who were called to a house in North Philadelphia, where they found three gunshot victims. One later died at a hospital.

  • Police said they were investigating a double homicide Tuesday morning in Elizabeth City, N.C., NBC station WAVY of Portsmouth, Va., reported. The names of both victims were being withheld, but authorities said both were in their early 20s.
  • Police in Suffolk, Va., said a 31-year-old man died at a hospital after he was shot at a "social gathering" about 3 a.m., WAVY reported.
  • In Chicago, which hit the grim milestone of 500 homicides in 2012 last week, New Year's Day kept the toll clicking. A 20-year-old was killed Tuesday morning on the West Side, authorities said. He was among 11 people to have been shot so far Tuesday, the Sun-Times reported.

Tale of two cities: Homicides plummet in New York, leap in Chicago

  • Another man was also shot and killed early Tuesday at a Georgia nightclub, this one the Club Fiesco located in South Augusta, police told NBC station WAGT of Augusta.
  • A suspect was in custody after a man killed one person and wounded four others Tuesday morning at a convenience store in Lansing, Mich., NBC station WILX of Lansing reported. Three of those injured were reported to be in critical condition.
  • Four people were shot, one of them fatally, at about 3:30 a.m. at a gasoline station in Lorain, Ohio, NBC station WKYC of Cleveland reported.
  • Police said a man shot his girlfriend in the head in Port Arthur, Texas, during an argument Tuesday morning, NBC station KBMT of Beaumont reported. She was pronounced dead.
  • A 19-year-old high school senior was dead and two other people were wounded during a shooting incident about 2 a.m. ET during a New Year's Eve party at an American Legion building in Clayton, N.C., NBC station WNCN of Raleigh reported.
  • In Corpus Christi, Texas, a 35-year-old man who was found injured in parking lot Tuesday morning died at a hospital, NBC station KRIS of Corpus Christi reported. Police haven't confirmed how the man was wounded, but they arrested a man armed with a handgun after an hour long standoff at a nearby apartment.
  • Police in Flint, Mich., said they had no suspects in the death of a man who was found Tuesday morning with a gunshot wound, NBC station WEYI reported.
    • Indianapolis police who were called to a duplex shortly before 5:30 a.m. found a dead man with what appeared to be a gunshot wound, NBC station WTHR reported. No other details were immediately available.
    • Sheriff's deputies were investigating a fatal shooting Tuesday afternoon in Columbia, S.C.,NBC station WIS of Columbia reported.”
  • (Source)

First meteor shower of 2013 peaks this week

Quadrantid meteor shower

Good Day and Happy New Year World!

How about starting the year off with some cool stargazing?

What better activity than to observe meteor showers while you contemplate all the New Year’s resolutions you aren’t going to keep!

“The first meteor shower of 2013 will kick off the year's night sky events this week, giving stargazers a chance to ring in the New Year with a celestial fireworks display.

The Quadrantid meteor shower is an annual meteor shower every January. While this year's "shooting star" show is not expected to outshine some of the morespectacular meteor showers of 2012, it may give stargazers with clear, dark skies a great start to the New Year.

Photo - Astrophotographer Jeff Berkes took this photo of the Quadrantid meteor shower on Jan. 4, 2012.

"Those who brave the cold might see up to 40 meteors per hour, although moonlight will make faint meteors harder to spot," officials with the Hubble Space Telescope explained in a January sky watching video guide.

The waning gibbous moon will be out in full force during the shower's peak, but skywatchers in dark areas of the Northern Hemisphere during the wee hours of Thursday morning might still get a decent show.

Scientists suspect that the meteors of the Quadrantids are debris from the asteroid 2003 EH1 — the same source of the Geminid meteor shower every December. The asteroid itself may be a chunk from a shattered comet that broke into pieces several hundred years ago, NASA officials said in a statement.

The Quadrantid meteor shower occurs when the Earth passes through a stream of debris from the comet. The fragments slam into the atmosphere at 90,000 mph (144,841 kph) and burn up 50 miles (80.5 km) above the planet in a dazzling display.

The meteor shower is named for the outdated Quadrans constellation, which is no longer recognized by astronomers, NASA officials said.

"Located between the constellations Bootes and Draco, Quadrans represents an early astronomical instrument used to observe and plot stars," they added.

However, the constellation was still relevant in 1825, when the meteor shower was first documented by astronomers.

"Located between the constellations Bootes and Draco, Quadrans represents an early astronomical instrument used to observe and plot stars," they added.

However, the constellation was still relevant in 1825, when the meteor shower was first documented by astronomers.

Just in case you aren't interested in braving the cold, NASA is streaming the shower for free online from Jan. 2 to Jan. 4. NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., has a light-activated camera pointed to the sky to record and live-stream the meteor shower during its peak.” (Source)

Editor's note: If you snap an amazing photo of the Quadrantid meteor shower and would like to share it with, contact us at

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Monday, December 31, 2012

The Top Ten Weirdest Stories from National Geographic in 2012

               Good Day World!

Here we are. The last day of the year. There’s a lot of topics with the usual Top 10 lists floating around. I settled upon the following one because it’s about animals and other living things in the natural world.

It’s my way of saying I’m tired of documenting people’s stupidity and triumphs every New Year’s Eve.

Animals are more interesting. They don’t take partisan views on subjects and tend to get along – interspecies - fairly well. Unless, of course one is a predator, and the other is natural prey. Then all bets are off. At least there’s no surprised involved in that relationship.

But I’ve seen elephants and dogs become great friends. Cats and dogs get along – under the right conditions. I had a goat whose best buddy was an old chicken named “Stupid Ludmilla.”

So I’m winding up this year with a tribute to all animals and living things like Slime Mold!). Enjoy:

World’s Smallest Frog Found

“Coming in as tenth weirdest is the housefly-size frog Paedophryne amauensis (below), the world’s smallest known vertebrate.At an average of 7.7 millimeters long, the frog is a hair smaller than the previous record holder, the Southeast Asian fish species Paedocypris progenetica, whose females measure about 7.9 millimeters, scientists said in January. Full story>>

Two-Faced Cat a Mystery

In August, Venus the two-faced cat became a feline hit: The three-year-old tortoiseshell debuted her own Facebook page, was featured in a YouTube video, and appeared on the Today Show. (Watch National Geographic cat videos.)

One look at this cat and you can understand why: One half is solid black with a green eye, and the other half has typical orange tabby stripes and a blue eye. The coloration may be a genetic mashup that one scientist called “absolute luck.” Full story>>

See the rest here and decide which one you think is the best!

It’s time for me to walk on down the road… for the last time in 2012! Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

AS IT STANDS: Are you ready for New Year’s Eve?

  By Dave Stancliff

For The Times-Standard
  It’s the day before New Year’s Eve, and all though the land alcohol companies are stocking store shelves with visions of obscene profits. Sales for products like Pepto Bismol and aspirin will go through the roof.
Ah! the rites of New Year’s Eve! A firmly entrenched holiday that celebrates booze and partying. What could be better than that? Millions of Americans gleefully get hammered and make New Year pledges they’ll never keep. But that’s okay.
New Year’s Eve parties are for adults and children are not welcome. Thoughtful parents often have New Year’s Eve parties for children, sans the booze, of course. Having never been to one I can’t vouch for what they do for fun.
Some people wait all year long to let their hair down and do the “Funky Chicken,” on this anointed holiday for drunkards. With any luck, other party-goers will be doing the same thing and everything that happens…is forgotten the next day.
Make no bones about it; New Year’s Eve is a rogue holiday that makes the rest of them look like milquetoast. The festive stage is set for a night of revelry drenched in champagne, cocktails, beer, rum, tequila, whiskey, wine, and vodka.

People also celebrate the holiday by getting high in other ways. There’s a slew of other possibilities ranging from cocaine to marijuana. But that’s not what you see on posters outside nightclubs and party places. 
I can see why the cops don’t like New Year’s Eve. Nothing is worse than a drunken moron on the road endangering themselves and others. Despite educational campaigns nationwide against drunk driving, more people will die on this New Year’s Eve from alcohol-related accidents than at any other time of the year, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

Two to three times more people die in alcohol-related crashes on New Year’s Eve than during comparable periods the rest of the year. And 40 percent of traffic fatalities involve a driver who is alcohol-impaired, compared to 28 percent the rest of the year.

I’d also like to dispel a myth: Caffeine won’t sober you up! The fact is, caffeine may help with drowsiness, but not with the effects of alcohol on decision-making or coordination.
The body needs time to metabolize (break down) alcohol and then return to normal. There are no quick cures - only time will help. So, if you do plan on go out and get blitzed tomorrow night, make sure you have a sober designated driver with you.
  Now some people have tried to convince me that New Year’s Eve is all about reflections on the past year - that people really want to gather and talk and the booze is only secondary. I wasn’t born yesterday.
You may hear talk about good or bad things that happened last year, but the brunt of the conversations go more along the lines of:
“Wow! Did you see that blond?”
Or, “Look at Howard! That’s 16 bottles of beer and he’s still going!”
Let’s be realistic, a New Year’s Eve party is about the here and now - getting drunk and having fun doing stupid things. There’s nothing highbrow at all when it comes to a New Year’s Eve Party.
New Year’s Day is another animal.
It’s the day after the party and people are sober. Some are cranky with throbbing headaches, swearing all the while they’ll never take another sip of whiskey again. Yes, it’s a day for reflection and planning for the future. A noble day with traditions that are observed worldwide.

A day of new starts. The first day of the year, full of promise for the days and months ahead. A day that represents hope for a better future.
But first we must get through New Year’s Eve, unscathed by our own stupidity if we let our sense of reason soak in alcohol and marinade in regret the next day.
Seeing as how this is my last column for 2012, I’ll take this opportunity to thank you for reading my ramblings. I’m not making any pledges for the New Year, but I will try to continue to offer topics of interest.
  As It Stands, Happy New Year!

GOP Governors Unite in Fight to Stop Unions in their States

Six Republican Governors have gathered to warn their residents against the evils of unionization which they claim would threaten their jobs...