Catching Up

A few weeks back, the Deadliest Catch video game came out for the Xbox 360.  Seeing as Diann & I watch the show every week (yeah, we’re addicts), I decided to pick up the game.

Lo and behold, a few of the big names from the show would be at my local Gamestop to launch the game.  We brought the camera, and here I am with Josh Harris, Edgar Hansen, and Sig Hansen.  I spoke a bit of Norwegian to Edgar and Sig, and I’m pretty sure I caught them off guard, but, to their credit, they did talk back in Norwegian.

Josh Harris, Marius, Edgar & Sig Hansen

Yes, the title of the post is a really bad pun, but it wasn’t intended… honestly.

Clear skies on the weekend

796px-Veil_nebula_lanoue This weekend had some more clear skies, and I had been warned well in advance.  I cleared the Saturday morning calendar, and packed up back out to Rattlesnake Lake with a bunch of the SAS guys for some viewing.

The seeing and transparency were phenomenal – a very stable atmosphere with not much crud in the air.  This makes astronomers happy!  The moon didn’t come up until 2am, so we had great darkness for a few hours.  Sadly, a bunch of the things I wanted to knock off my list were hiding behind a large hill to the southeast – I need to find a viewing site that has better horizons in that direction.

Just a few new Messier’s knocked off the list for tonight:

Favorite item of the night goes to M11.  I had just gotten done complaining to a few people how boring I thought open clusters were, and then I centered on M11.  Wow – it’s totally opened my eyes to how cool some open clusters can be.  This one’s definitely a new thing on my hit list of things to look at again.  Most disappointing thing: M80 – a tiny globular.  Most pleasing view: getting M59, M60, and NGC4638 in the same field of view.

67 Messier objects completed since November 2007.  Not bad – 3 more to go before I can file for the initial Astronomical League Messier certificate.  I’ll be at the Olympic Star Party on Hurricane Ridge this weekend, so I hope to knock out a bunch of the eastern ones that keep evading me at Rattlesnake.

Where’s Marius been?

ok, so my last post was about two weeks ago… I’ve been busy, honestly.  Let me summarize:

Attempt at stargazing on June 14.  Clouds were supposed to clear away, but never really did.  No new Messiers off my list, but I did get to re-visit a few globulars and a few galaxies (M81/M82, in particular).  Watched the moon and Saturn a lot, as well. Met a few new stargazers that night: Nick, in particular, with a brand-new first-light Televue refractor.  Beautiful scope, and nice views.  No stargazing since then, but the forecast for this weekend looks promising.  *fingers crossed*

Diann & I bought bikes last weekend (Trek 7.3FX bikes, for those of you that care or are in-the-know about all things bike), and have done a bit of riding.  I’ve been updating my Facebook and Twitter statuses to reflect my rides so far, but, here they are:

  • Ride 1 on the bike: from home, to my office, to REI (to buy some bike clothes), and back home.  Around 15.9 miles.
  • Ride 2 on the bike: commute from home to my office, and back again.  Around 11.5 miles.
  • Ride 3 on the bike: from home, up the Lake Sammamish Trail, and up to Red Hook brewery.  A beer and a burger, and then back home.  20.9 miles.
  • Ride 4 on the bike (today): commute from home to my office.  Will go back home tonight.

I hope to keep up riding to the office a couple times a week, and maybe even riding to/from work daily.  We’ll see how that holds up when the weather starts turning bad again, but that’s the plan for now.  The only problem with my commute to work is a crazy hill just before my office:

Home to RedWest via 40th

Granted, I’m not in the greatest shape now, but the first 3.4 miles of that ride took me around 15 minutes this morning.  Climbing that !#@%$ hill for the next 1.5 miles took me another 20 minutes.  Stupid hill.  Stumbled across veloroutes.org, which is a great mashup of Google Maps and some elevation data to give you distance and elevation maps (just like the one above).

Oh, and speaking of !#@%$, I was saddened to see that George Carlin passed away this weekend. 

Anyhow, that’s all.  More later.

AAL75, Seat 30F, 34,000 feet and bumpy

Well, I’m finally giving in to writing an offline blog post.  From a plane.  At the time of this writing, I’m somewhere over the eastern seaboard.

I’ve spent the last few days in the DC area on business, and got to meet up with a few good friends for food/drinks.  Karl sent me an IM on Friday just before I left to let me know that he had gotten a new job and had moved to DC, and to let me know if I ever made my way out there.  This was great timing, as I was able to respond: “How about drinks on Sunday?”  I don’t think he expected that.  Also got to hang out with Ben for dinner and Dan for drinks on Monday night.

The work I was doing took a lot longer than I anticipated.  I had hoped to visit the Smithsonian one of the days I was out here, but, alas, it was all work, all the time.  As a result of our longer than planned workday today, I wasn’t able to catch an earlier flight back to Seattle.

We were supposed to leave Dulles at 6:15pm, and then I was to have a 2 hour layover in LAX before heading home to Seattle.  Mother Nature had other plans:  just after we boarded the flight (15 minutes late, natch), the captain came on and told us that all westbound flights were on-hold due to weather.  I checked my smartphone, and sure enough, a line of red thunderstorms was just west of our location.  Then, I looked out the window and saw them.  Sign #1 you might be addicted to tech: you check the weather on your phone before looking out the window to see it.

We sat on the ground in the plane until about 8:30pm.  If you’re following along and doing the math, you’ll note that’s a 2.25 hour delay – and I only had a 2 hour layover in LAX.  This means, of course, that I’m going to miss my connecting flight, so I’ll be stuck in LA for the night.  The weirdest thing is that this is the first time I’ve ever missed a flight in all my travels.  And to be frank, I’d say I’ve traveled quite a bit over the course of my 29 years.  Sure, I’ve gotten bumped on standby plenty of times – but never missed a connection.  Until today. Oh well, it’s a first.

So, we’re now cruising along somewhere around mach 0.82 (we’re probably going at just the right speed that’ll make me miss my connection) at 34,000 feet.  It’s turbulent, and I’m surrounded by an army of high-school kids on their way back from a class trip to the east coast.  I’m also cranky: I haven’t eaten since lunch, and that was (*checks watch, calculates time zones*) … 10 hours ago.  The flight attendants are coming by soon, though, so I’ll be sure and snag a $6 turkey sandwich.  Did I mention that American Airlines doesn’t even serve peanuts anymore?  I remember laughing at Southwest Airlines a few years back cause that was all they served.  Times have changed. 

Ok, turkey sandwiches were sold out, so I ended up with the last sandwich on the plane – a $10 chicken sandwich.  The lady in seat 30C is now scowling at me; I guess she wanted a sandwich, and now she’s stuck with potato chips, cheese, and crackers.  I avoided the temptation of staring at her and chewing with my mouth open to make a point: the last sandwich is mine. 

The nicest thing about our flight so far is that we’re chasing the sunset.  I’m sitting on the right side of the plane, so I’m being shown a beautiful display: for the past hour, I’ve been watching the sun set.  It’s dropped a bit, but I can still just see it.  That in and of itself isn’t so neat, but the fact that the duration of the sunset (due to our westward travel, of course) has been so long is awesome. 

Two hours into the flight now, and the sun has set.

Well, I think that’s it for now.  It’ll be nice to get back on the ground in Seattle sometime tomorrow, and I’m not going to complain about the cold/damp weather Seattle’s having for quite a while.  If I’ve learned one thing on this trip, it’s that I’m no longer built for 100+ temperatures.

Guess I’m going to power down since I’ve got nothing else to do on here.  I’ve replied to a bunch of emails (which will send when I connect), reviewed some documentation I have been meaning to review, and that’s about the end of it.  I’m now mad at myself for not prefetching RSS feeds in FeedDemon.

Oh well, nap time.  3 hours of flight time left.

5/30 Astronomy Report

The weather looked promising last night, and the ClearSkyChart was reporting good news.  At around noon, I shot a quick e-mail over to a few of the people I’ve viewed with before, and was happy to get a quick response from Barry (who lives near Rattlesnake) that the skies were in fact clear.  I cleared my calendar for the night, and packed up my gear.

I arrived at Rattlesnake at around 9pm, and was surprised to see 3 other people already set up.  Apparently I wasn’t the only one with the great idea of stargazing tonight!  By the end of the night, we had 9 people and telescopes: Sam (Dobs), Skip (SCT), Jim (SCT), Barry (SCT), Jon (Refractor), Denis (Dobs), Mohammad (Dobs), Marius (SCT), and Michael (Newt and Refractor).  I’m pretty sure that’s everyone that was out there, and if you happen to stumble across this and I left you off – I’m sorry.

I hadn’t planned on staying out terribly late tonight (told Diann that I’d start breaking down my gear at around 1am), and with the sun setting at 9:15 that gave me only a few hours of actual darkness.  By 10:15, you could just start making out the Milky Way overhead, and then we were greeted by the ISS passing over.

Last night’s viewing breakdown:

Favorite objects of the night: M4, M94, and M101.  M94 had a super-bright central core to it and on M101 I could just start making out the spiral pattern of the galaxy.  I think it’s fair to say that my night viewing is steadily improving over time – I was also able to make out individual stars in most of the globulars I looked at last night.

64 Messier objects down, and 6 to go before I can file for my Astronomical League Messier Certificate.  46 to go until I hit all the Messier objects.

Hosting Solutions: Alternatives to Layered Technologies?

I’ve been an exceptionally happy customer of Layered Technologies for a little over 3 years now, and they’ve just announced a monthly price increase of about 30%. Yes, a 30% increase.  My rates are going to go from $93/month to $121/month in July.  Granted, I split this between two other people, but that’s crazy. 

Seems many other Layered Technologies customers aren’t happy either, judging by this forum thread.  Anyone have any preferred hosting companies that have reasonable rates?