Monday, February 29, 2016

Teacher writes brutally honest open letter to Oklahoma lawmakers



Steven Wedel, a teacher in the OKC school district, wrote an open letter to Oklahoma lawmakers about how their incompetence is costing students their education.  It is a great read and I applaud him for calling out the corrupt politicians.

Read Steven's blog here:

https://stevenewedel.wordpress.com/2016/02/26/open-letter-to-oklahoma-voters-and-lawmakers/



http://kfor.com/2016/02/29/oklahoma-city-teachers-powerful-open-letter-about-the-struggles-of-teaching-is-gaining-attention-online/

Frederic is released from his apprenticeship to the pirates, 1940


In Gilbert and Sullivan's "Pirates of Penzance" Frederic is happy to have reached his 21st year of apprenticeship with the pirates and is looking forward to his release.  He meets and falls in love with Mabel, the daughter of the modern major-general.  Alas, the pirates discovered that his indentureship is to end on his 21st birthday.  Since he was born on February 29, he has had only 5 birthdays.  Therefore, he must serve another 63 years until his 21st birthday, February 29, 1940.

Fortunately, Mabel promises to wait for him.






Friday, February 26, 2016

Pluto's North Pole


The north polar region of Pluto, informally named Lowell Regio (for Percival Lowell), has long canyons that run vertically through this area.  In the image below, the widest canyon is about 45 miles across, with the actual North Pole indicated on the map.

The areas in red show pits where subsurface ice may have melted or sublimated from below, collapsing the ground above. 

The lines in blue and pink show winding valleys.  This image was taken by the New Horizons spacecraft from about 21,100 miles from the surface on July 14, 2015.




http://www.nasa.gov/feature/the-frozen-canyons-of-pluto-s-north-pole

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Alabama releases "Mountain Music" 1982





Probably my most favorite country album by any group, "Mountain Music" was released by Alabama February 25, 1982.  Three singles, "Mountain Music" "Take Me Down" and "Close Enough to Perfect" all made it to No. 1 on the US Country charts. 




Oklahoma lawmakers keepin' it stupid!




Once again, Oklahoma lawmakers jump at the opportunity to wipe their collective asses with education.  This time they have banned Advance Placement US History classes because it teaches students  “what is bad about America". 

Seriously?

The Wicked Bitch of the West Sally Kern thinks ALL advanced placement classes should be banned.  "construed as an attempt to impose a national curriculum on American schools.” 

Somebody has to educate Oklahoma's youth and, apparently, it certainly isn't going to be the government.  I suppose the lawmakers are worried that students might become smarter than they are.  Just about anybody outside the Oklahoma Legislature already is.

http://thinkprogress.org/education/2015/02/17/3623683/oklahoma-lawmakers-vote-overwhleming-ban-advanced-placement-history-class/

Movie review - "Saugatuck Cures"




I have typically avoided reviewing movies since they have a much broader audience and my voice would only add to the din of other reviewers but this movie deserves to be noticed.  My husband asked me to start the movie with him, and if we got bored or unhappy, we would turn it off.  We sat through the entire thing and enjoyed it immensely. I don't like gay movies because so often, the main characters are handsome twinks or gym bunnies, and hooking up is never a problem for any of them. 

Any science fiction film has a more realistic basis.

But "Saugatuck Cures" did not rely on sex or focus on physical beauty, although the three lead actors were handsome. 

Maggie Callaghan, played by the glamorous and elegant Judith Chapman, is a B&B owner in Michigan and finds out that her cancer has returned.  Her options are down to one:  an experimental procedure that comes with an enormous price tag.

Her gay son Drew, played by Max Adler, and his straight bff Brett, played by the adorkable Danny Mooney, set off across country to reform gays in ridiculously conservative churches trying to raise money for Maggie's experimental procedure.  Their adventures are mostly hilarious, with a few problems along the way.  In the clip below, Brett tries to drive a stick shift. 

The movie does have some darker scenes when Drew's sister Penelope gets on her soap box and preaching about the sin of homosexuality.  Some scenes show evangelical pastors preaching about hellfire, brimstone, the wrath of God.  I got a little uncomfortable during those but without giving away the ending, the viewer does come away with a feel-good attitude. 

It's definitely worth watching.



Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Rick Perry is off the hook - Cronyism is alive and well in Texas



Associated Press is reporting that former Texas guv'nah Rick Perry will not face criminal charges, as decided by a Republican-majority Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.  Gasp.

Perry blames the lawsuit filed against him for ending his bid for the White House.  At least one good thing came out of it.

http://my.earthlink.net/article/us?guid=20160224/fc3474bf-db2a-4906-bdc8-6b1377342e20

The Pointer Sisters release "That's A Plenty" 1974





The Pointer Sisters released their second studio album, That's A Plenty, February 1974.  It was their second album to be certified gold.  All four sisters lent their voices to the album.  The song "Fairytale" became a cross-over hit on the country charts, which allowed them to be the first African-American vocal group to perform at the Grand Ole Opry!  You go, girls!



Monday, February 22, 2016

Happy birthday, Seven of Nine!



Breath-taking Jeri Ryan, born February 22, 1968, is most fondly remembered by us Trekkies as Seven of Nine on "Star Trek: Voyager". According to her bio, she was Miss Illinois 1989 and came in 4th at the 1990 Miss America pageant (has anybody seen the winner lately?).  I also enjoyed her brief cameos on "Two and a Half Men" since she managed to show off her comedic talents as well.

Here she takes on The Rock!


Oklahoman tells public to "Get over it!" after Devon announces lay-offs




When Oklahoma City-based Devon Energy Corp. announced last week it would lay off 700 local employees, the Oklahoman took to print to scold the public sector's refrain for more money and the lay-off's represent "the hard reality of life."  Loosely interpreted, the worst newspaper in the country has said, "Get over it."

The day before the Devon announcement, the paper criticized Bernie Sanders for "climate change alarmism platform."  Clearly, Inhofe is enshrined in the hallowed halls of the Oklahoman and lauded for his 'concrete proof' there is no global warming.  

So now with a number of unemployed people entering the local economy (Devon employs about 2,500 people in the OKC area), with education funding being cut again it's almost laughable that the Oklahoman contends that "fossil fuels are here to say".  They have a very skewed definition of a renewable energy source.

Dr. Funk included this passage from the Oklahoman in his blog:

This is the hard reality of life in the private sector. The U.S. energy industry is in the spotlight today, but any business — restaurant, IT firm, florist, you name it — that wishes to survive must adapt in order to do so. It's a lesson the public sector would do well to embrace. Instead, “more money” is the usual refrain, and all too often any talk of trimming or changing is dismissed, as we saw at the Legislature this week with a modest consolidation bill involving small, low-performing school districts


This means "Get over it!  That's life.  It's tough all over.  Don't even think of asking for more money, public sector.  Particularly, you the lowest funded educational system in the nation!"

http://okiefunk.com/content/oil-patch-layoffs-show-need-sensible-long-range-energy-policies

Saturday, February 20, 2016

John Glenn, first US astronaut to orbit Earth, 1962




February 20, 1962, John Glenn became the first US astronaut to orbit Earth.  He made three orbits in just under 5 hours before re-entering the atmosphere.  The USS Noa was 6 miles away from where Glenn splashed down and reached him 17 minutes later.



Happy birthday, Joel Hodgson!




A-dork-able Joel Hodgson, born February 20, 1960, is the main man responsible for bringing us "Mystery Science Theatre 3000" the snarkiest show on television.  While on air, Joel and the 'bots, Tom Servo and Crow, they sliced and diced the 'C' and 'D' sci-fi movies every week.  Their wit and humor are sorely missed.




Thursday, February 18, 2016

Time to book tickets to Sumatra and Borneo for the Solar Eclipse!



Southeast Asia will get to see a total solar eclipse on March 8, 2016.  The path of totality will be 8800 miles long, but the shadow will only be 97 miles at its widest point.  According to the map on NASA's website, people in Sumatra and Borneo will get the best view.  So call your travel agents...er, I mean...destination specialists and book those tickets for a chance of a lifetime!



Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Happy birthday, Heat Wave!





Super-macho Dominic Purcell, who plays Heat Wave in "DC's Legends of Tomorrow", celebrates his 46th birthday today.  He was born February 17, 1970 in England but moved to Australia with his family when he was 2.  He studied at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts with Hugh Jackman.


Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Dione and Saturn's rings



Saturn's moon, Dione, looks split in half by Saturn's rings in this picture taken by the Cassini spacecraft from 1.4 million miles away.  Turnus, a medium sized crater, can be seen just above the seemingly razor thin rings. 

Discovered by Giovanni Cassini (the astronomer for whom the spacecraft is named), Dione wasn't named until 1847 when John Herschel (son of William who discovered Uranus) suggested the name of the sisters and brothers of Cronus be used.

Dione is the 15th largest moon in our solar system.

http://www.nasa.gov/image-feature/jpl/pia18358/dione-divided

Happy birthday, Geordi La Forge!





Levar Burton, born February 16, 1957, burst onto the scene in his role as Kunte Kinte on the mini-series "Roots".  He's probably known best for his appearance in "Star Trek: The Next Generation" as Lt. Commander Geordi La Forge, but his children's series, "Reading Rainbow" has earned him numerous awards and nominations.



Monday, February 15, 2016

Galileo Galilei born in 1564




Galileo Galilei, born February 15, 1564, is know as the father of observational astronomy, the father of modern physics and the father of science.  He discovered the first four moons of Jupiter, which are named the Galilean moons in his honor. 

The Catholic church attacked him when announced that the earth revolved around the sun, instead of the other way around.

Friday, February 12, 2016

George Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" debuts 1924




"Rhapsody in Blue", one of the most iconic and beloved pieces ever composed, made its debut February 12, 1924.  Composer George Gershwin wrote the piece in just 5 weeks before performing it for the first time at the concert, An Experiment in Modern Music, at the Aeolian Hall in New York City. 

Reviews were not all favorable at the time.  One critic said "...Weep over the lifelessness of the melody and harmony, so derivative, so stale, so inexpressive!"

Perhaps "Rhapsody in Blue" was too far over their heads for them to understand.  Paul Whiteman and his band Palais Royal Orchestra recorded the song and by the end of 1927, it had sold a million copies. 

Here's the entire 17 1/2 minute piece. 




You're welcome!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Supreme Court halts Obama's clean power plan




Chemistry World is reporting that the Supreme Court has halted President Obama's clean power plan.  Leading the war against a clean, healthy environment is Attorney General Patrick Morrisey of West Virginia, a state heavily dependent upon coal mining. 

Although the article doesn't mention it, I can smell Inhofe's stench all over this.  The senator from Oklahoma, a state heavily dependent upon gas and oil, is the chair of Congress' environmental committee and he has made it very clear he does not believe in science.  I'm sure he's pulling strings somewhere in this. 

Supreme Court halts Obama's clean power plan | Chemistry World

Japan becomes 4th space power in 1970




Japan launched its first satellite, Ohsumi, into orbit on February 11, 1970, making it the fourth nation after the USSR, USA and France to release an artificial satellite.  It sent radio signals long enough to confirm a revolution of Earth but the signal level gradually fell.  During its 6th orbit, the signal was very faint and during the 7th orbit, the signal could not be detected any longer. 

However, Ohsumi continued to orbit until August 2, 2003 when it was destroyed when it re-entered the atmosphere over North Africa.

Two months later, China became the fifth space power when it launched Mao 1 into space. 

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Pluto has floating hills




The vast plain, informally named Sputnik Planum within Pluto’s ‘heart' is host to a mysterious phenomenon of 'floating' hills.  Images from Pluto suggest that the mountains are composed of water ice floating on denser nitrogen-dominated ice and move like icebergs in the Atlantic Ocean.

As they flow along convection movements, they accumulate in a feature informally named Challenger Colles – honoring the crew of the lost space shuttle.

http://www.nasa.gov/feature/pluto-s-mysterious-floating-hills

Monday, February 8, 2016

"The Fog" released 1980


Okay, I admit it.  This is one of my guilty pleasures, "The Fog" was released February 8, 1980.  I saw this for the first time on a black & white television on an OKC station. It wasn't as scary as the station led us to believe but it was interesting enough to grab my attention.  The remake in 2005 with Tom Welling (Superman) was good.  I enjoyed it, but the campy plot-hole ridden original was the best.






"Planet of the Apes" released 1968




One of the classic sci-fi movies, Planet of the Apes, was released February 8, 1968.  It starred Charleston Heston in his first nude scene and still had only a 'G' rating!  Go figure!

The movie's line "Take your stinking paws off me, you damned dirty ape." was voted as the #66 movie quote by the American Film Institute (out of 100). 

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0063442/trivia?ref_=tt_trv_trv

Ingrid Berman was offered the role of Zira but turned it down.  She regretted her decision when the movie became a success and she would have had a chance to star opposite Charlton Heston.

Here's the 66th most classic movie quote of all time.


Jules Verne, the Father of Science Fiction, born in 1828


Jules Verne, born February 8, 1828, is the second most translated author in history, behind Agatha Christie and just ahead of William Shakespeare.  Let that sink in for a minute! 

Although trained in law, he preferred the theatre and began writing plays at the encouragement of his friend Alexandre Dumas (author of the Three Musketeers).  However, it turned out to be an unsuccessful venture.

In 1863, he published "Five Weeks in a Balloon" as a serial in a French magazine.  It didn't generate great sales but received enough critical acclaim that Verne realized he found his niche.  Over the next ten years he produced many of his classic novels, including and "Journey to the Center of the Earth" and "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea".







http://www.biography.com/people/jules-verne-9517579

Sunday, February 7, 2016

"Blazing Saddles" released in 1974


"Blazing Saddles", released February 7, 1974, was nominated for three Oscars, including Best Supporting Actress for Madeline Kahn.  This is one of my favorite movies of all time.  Bravo has listed it as #9 on a list of the funniest movies of all time.  WTF are the first eight?



Here is one reason Madeline Kahn was nominated for an Oscar.  I liked Ingrid Bergman in "Murder On the Orient Express" but Madeline was on screen much longer than 8 minutes, so she clearly should've got the Oscar.


Saturday, February 6, 2016

Author/Scientist Gerard K. O'Neill born in 1927




For my senior term paper in high school, I chose space colonization as my topic. I found Gerard O'Neill's book "The High Frontier: Human Colonies in Space" to be a gold mine of information.  Born February 6, 1927, he got his PhD from Cornell and started studying high-energy particle physics at Princeton in 1954.  He got the ideas for space colonization while teaching at Princeton. 




His views of space colonies included long, cylindrical tubes rotating in space to create artificial gravity.  Think "Babylon 5".  Inside, the axis would be zero-gravity and O'Neill envisioned new sports activities in zero-g or low-g environments. 

Unlike Babylon 5, O'Neill's colonies would be separated into six alternating sections of terra and windows, allowing residents to receive direct sunlight.  Critics said how would someone react to look overhead and see a cow standing upside down.

I read another novel of his, "2081: A Hopeful View of the Human Future" which did offer a non-depressing scenario of what life might be like in 2081, one hundred years after the publication date.  It's interesting now, over thirty years later to see some of his visions already coming true.  For example, people can now order groceries from their home computers and do not have to go to the grocery store. 


Friday, February 5, 2016

Edgar Mitchell, Sixth Astronaut to Walk on the Moon, Dies at 85



A day before the anniversary of him walking on the moon, Edgar Mitchell passes away.



Edgar Mitchell, Sixth Astronaut to Walk on the Moon, Dies at 85

Apollo 14 lands on the moon, 1971




The eighth manned mission to the moon, Apollo14, touched down on February 5, 1971.  Commander Alan Shepherd, Command Module Pilot Stuart Roosa, and Lunar Module Pilot Edgar Mitchell blasted off January 31 and landed in the Fra Moura.  Shepherd and Mitchell spent over nine hours total walking on the surface of the moon.  Alan Shepherd hit two golf balls with a golf club he fashioned out of a six iron golf club head and a lunar excavation tool. 



The Pointer Sisters "Fire" is certified Gold!




The Pointer Sisters first single off their album "Energy" peaked at #2 on the Hot 100 Billboard charts and was certified gold February 5, 1979.  It was the first of several gold singles for the trio.  Written and recorded by Bruce Springsteen in 1978, the Pointer Sisters cover bested all of Springsteen's own single releases at that point. 



Thursday, February 4, 2016

Walt Disney releases "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" in 1938





February 4, 1938, Walt Disney Studios released "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs", its first full-length animated feature.  Adjusted for inflation, it's the highest grossing movie to date.  It is also the first movie to have a soundtrack recording album released with it.


If it was only this easy:


Book review - "Santa? Seriously?" by Terry O'Reilly




I got lazy during the holidays and realized that I hadn't finished my Christmas reading list.  One on my 'to read' list was "Santa? Seriously?" by Terry O'Reilly.  The story got me from the first when Ivan Tykovsky, security guard at a department store, breaks up a fight by lifting the two combatants off the floor.  Ivan is six foot, six inches, 240 pounds (all muscle), shaved head and red beard.

When the guy playing Santa shows up drunk, the store manager commands Ivan to take his place.  Apparently, Ivan is the only one large enough to play Santa although his build certainly does not match everyone's favorite North Pole resident.  Under extreme duress, Ivan goes along with it and meets Skip Mueller, who has been hired to play an elf.  Ivan and Skip hit it off right away, and Ivan takes comfort in having Skip nearby during his ordeal.  Ivan is Jewish and therefore, uneducated in Santa Claus lore. 

"Santa? Seriously?" is a fun read.  You can't help but laugh and sympathize with the big brute as he has to handle such questions as "What are the names of Santa's reindeer?" I fell in love with Ivan from the first, which is always a good thing when reading a story. 

Not much sex, but plenty of romance and fun.  Great read!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Luna 9 makes a soft landing on the moon, 1966


A replica of Luna 9

The Soviet space program managed to make a soft landing on the moon, February 3, 1966 with Luna 9.  The previous successful venture by the Soviets was Luna 3 which circled the moon in 1956 and send back images of the 'dark' side.  After that, they had several failures in a row to make a soft landing on the moon.  Luna 4 and Luna 6 both missed the moon, and now Luna 6 is somewhere out there in the cosmos.  Lunas 5, 7 and 8 all crashed onto the moon's surface.  Finally, Luna 9 was successful, landing in Oceanus Procellarum.  It sent signals for 3 days before Earth lost contact with it.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Happy birthday, Data!





Brent Spiner, born February 2, 1949 in Houston, Texas, is probably best known for his portrayal as everyone's favorite android Lt. Commander Data, in the Star Trek franchise.  According to imdb.com, he was a groomsman at Marina Sirtis' wedding, best man at Patrick Stewart's wedding and godfather to Gates McFadden's son.  So much for off-screen rivalries! 




Monday, February 1, 2016

Book review - Years of Experience:Gay Older/Young Short Stories by Brock Wilder




Of course, the cover is hot so the contents must be, also, right?  Not necessarily.  I'm sure this book will appeal to some readers but to me, it was just porn.  The title seemed to hint at younger men finding comfort and love in the arms of older men, but none of the short stories...the flash fiction stories had any of that.  Four stories, consisting of only a few hundred words each, told about young men (students, athletes, junior executives) hooking up with older men (teachers, coaches, senior executives) to further their grades/standings/careers.  It certainly wasn't worth $2.99 even for a less-than-ten-minute read.

Space Shuttle Columbia Disaster 2003




Just four days after the anniversary of the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster, we remember the Columbia disaster February 1, 2003.  When the Columbia launched on January 16, after 18 delays, a piece of foam insulation broke off and struck the left wing.  Upon re-entry, the damage to the wing allowed hot gases to enter the wing and destroy it, causing the shuttle to disintegrate over Texas and Louisiana. 

NASA engineers realized the damage was worse than had been seen before in similar incidents, but decided there was nothing the astronauts could do to prevent catastrophe, so the astronauts were never informed of their situation.



A video of the last few minutes of the Columbia mission.


Later, the investigation determined that there were two possible scenarios to rescue the crew:  an emergency spacewalk to repair the damage to the wing; or, transfer the crew to the Atlantis, which was scheduled for launch on March 1.  The Columbia had a large amount of consumables on board which would've lasted the crew until February 15.  The Atlantis's launch could have been moved up to February 10, leaving a 5 day window to rescue the Columbia's crew.