Enough War


I hear the drum beat. The hawks among us are posturing for war against ISIS. We didn’t know they existed a few months ago. Now they’re the scourge.

I have seen this before. It never ends well.

I have no doubt ISIS is evil and would kill Americans if they could. However, wholesale bombing won’t stop lone wolf attackers. We’ll kill civilians, create ill will and spend a fortune, but any threat that exists today will still exist, even if ISIS is defeated.

In the 21st Century there is some evil we’re just defenseless against. How do you stop the Tsarnaev Brothers at the Boston Marathon or American citizen Faisal Shahzad who unsuccessfully planted a car bomb in Times Square?

You can’t.

On-The-Air On-The-Web

geoff on slooh

I spent part of the night on-the-air. Is that right? Does on-the-air still apply? I spent a good part of the night on-the-web doing a broadcast for slooh.com.

Slooh is the “Community Observatory.” They maintain three telescopes, one in Chile and two on the Canary Islands. Slooh members individually assign the telescopes’ “missions.”

000259p652617_20140826_003136_0_7078_lIt’s a very cool idea. Timeshare telescopes, better than what most could afford, in locations astronomers covet. You view is via the Internet. Members look at comets, asteroids, planets, galaxies and, of course, stars.

That’s a shot of Comet Jacques on the left. I took it last week on one of the Canary Island telescopes.

As part of the company’s outreach, we produce shows on the Internet. It’s me as host, astronomer Bob Berman and observatory director Paul Cox. Tonight we had Lindley Johnson, who runs the show for the Near Earth Object program at NASA. Our show centered on Asteroid 2002 CU11.

Tonight 2002 CU11 passed within .03 AU of Earth. that’s 3% of the distance to the Sun. In space terms, close.

There was a time when astronomers felt this asteroid had a plausible chance of hitting Earth in 2049. That’s only 35 years away!

Since the first prediction 2002 CU11′s orbit has been recalculated with more precision. We’re off the hook for now, but time is on the asteroid’s side.

I love doing these shows. I work with two very smart guys. Bob is encyclopedic in his astronomy knowledge. Paul is just smart. I’m not sure what he’s not smart in. I haven’t seen it. And the British accent makes him sound smarter–unfair.

Usually we do shows from home. Bob is near Woodstock, NY. Paul lives in England. I’m here in SoCal. Our director/producer sits in East Hartford, CT. How cool is that?

I’m in my office using a webcam and headset. It doesn’t quite look like network TV, but it’s obviously pro.

Good TV needs chemistry. It took a few broadcasts to understand each other’s timing and pace.

My job is to be the dumb guy. That’s not to say I don’t know anything about space and astronomy, but these guys are the experts. I ask questions viewers would like answered and make sure we stay on topic. Think of me as a batting practice pitcher.

I am lucky to once again do a show with substance. Not everyone can say that.

Nearing The Peak


It’s hot today in Orange County. We made the decision early. AC on! We peaked around 93°. Upper 80s still.

Climatologically we’re a day or two from our highest temperature of the year.

Alas, we live weather not climate. The hottest day might have already happened. Maybe it’s still to come.

Our climate is very comfortable.

81° highest mean daily high
66° highest mean daily low
66° lowest mean daily high
47° lowest mean low

There are a few oddities on this chart (click the chart to see it full size) of averages and extremes. You don’t expect charts like this to have noticeable anomalies (seen as bumps), like the dip that signifies the June Gloom or the unexpected warmups in January and April/May.

Tomorrow promises to be 10-15° cooler.

Our Planting Continues


Don’t ask me how, but this week has turned into Agricultural Awareness Week at the Fox house. Heaven forbid you’re a plant on-the-edge. This week, baby, you’re outta here!

There weren’t too many replacements necessary, but I like making myself sound like a real tough guy when it comes to plants.

We do have one problem area, a large planter near the front door. It gets first sun through early afternoon, but it’s been a dead zone for us! We’ve tried twice and just picked the wrong plants.

Helaine and Stef decided we should give it another go with succulents. This is a dry climate. We have no frosts. In the Northeast they’re houseplants. They live outside in SoCal.

Doppler in tow, we headed to the other side of Irvine and OC Succulents. We’ve been before. We like the place.

I don’t know their backstory but I suspect they started small and just kept growing. In a city of neat and planned, it’s a strange mix of inside/outside with a greenhouse that couldn’t co-exist with winter’s real fury.

As we walked in, a woman obviously in-charge said we couldn’t bring Doppler! Yikes. That’s very unCalifornian.

We decided Helaine would shop and make decisions, leaving me and Dop in the car, a/c running. I got to say yea or nay at the end, but this is H’s vision.

While shopping Helaine did get to hear how dogs became ‘canine non grata.’ They’d always been allowed, but plants and pesticides are dangerous. Somehow, a dog got sick.

Who knows what the cause actually was? The Agriculture Department came in and performed a three day inspection. In the end they had to promise, no dogs.

The people who run the place are as disappointed as we were. I’m sure this costs them business. We almost turned around and left!

So, here’s today’s catch and the finished planter. We were told it’s OK to pack these plants in.

Now grow!








Doppler Goes To Home Depot


More vlogging! Around a minute of it. You asked for it. I’m trying.

A little light gardening around the house, then Doppler and I took a trip to the Depot.

What Facebook Messenger Really Is

Facebook messenger has been installed, then uninstalled, twice now. It is dispensable. Facebook has removed message (email) functionality from its smartphone app. To regain that ability you must install a separate Facebook Messenger app. Its purpose is to elevate Facebook messages to the level of phone calls, email and texts. No. There is no way […]

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Facebook Goes After Click-bating

Whoa! Facebook is taking a positive step, or so it seems. They’re trying to diminish the influence of “click-baiting.” I’ll let Facebook explain. “Click-baiting” is when a publisher posts a link with a headline that encourages people to click to see more, without telling them much information about what they will see. Posts like these […]

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Another Beautiful SoCal Sunset (With Time Lapse)

As I was passing by, Helaine asked if I’d seen the evening colors? “It would probably make a good time lapse,” she said. Too late. The camera was already suctioned on the guest bedroom window, pointing at the setting Sun. If I could only rip down the houses west of us for a better view.

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Irvine’s Farmer’s Market

We began going when we moved to Irvine. Then, after a few weeks, they changed to rules to prohibit dogs! Overzealous health department regulations.

The crowds dropped. Dogs are welcome again!

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Who Is Bellingcat?

These are nondescript images. They could be anywhere, until he looks closely at the background (that’s his red arrow for reference). By the end of the article the training camp has been found.

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