Thursday, December 01, 2005

Venus & Mars!

This isn't a comment on that book (which I've never read but was all the rage some time back) about where men and women come from. Rather, it's about my recent astronomical observations of two planets which are very visible in the night skies at the moment. Viewing these two completes my telescopic peeking at all the planets that are easily seen with a backyard instrument, i.e. Mars, Venus, Jupiter and Saturn.

What's really cool is to look with the unaided eye at what appears like any star, basically a point-source, and then look at it through my telescope to see a clearly defined disc. I could see Jupiter's bands and moons, and Saturn's rings last winter and summer. But a few nights ago I saw the red/brown patches of Mars's deserts and a crecent Venus. Very enjoyable.

I'm looking forward to focussing again soon on Andromeda and the Orion nebula this winter.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Time for A Bit of Politics - Miers Bows Out

I for one was happy to see Harriet give up the fight to become the next Supreme Court justice. First of all, she doesn't know how to use makeup. That eye-liner! Made her look like the wicked witch of the west. Seriously though, especially after John Roberts, Harriet's intellect left a lot to be desired. A recent article described her performances at her practice sessions for the hearings as so bad that they decided not to invite outside lawyers to sit in, as is their usual procedure. Senators who met with her one on one were less than impressed. I voted for Bush and I like him, but this one was a stinker. I'm glad it's behind him.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Monday, October 17, 2005

MAC-Like Desktop

Found a very cool couple of applications that allow you to make your Windows desktop look more like Macintosh. Why would you want to do that? you ask. Everyone knows that the Mac desktop experience is a lot more aethetically pleasing than Windows, right? Also, don't you get bored with the look and feel of Windows? Aren't you looking forward to Windows Vista and Office 12? Sure you are. Anyway, check out, especially ObjectDock and WindowBlinds. They're freeware (you can pay for the more full-featured versions) and they allow you to fix up Windows in a big way. I've also installed Cursor XP, which allows me to use many nice cursors.

Now, I'm always warning friends against responding to pop-ups that offer "Free Smiley Faces! Free Wallpaper!" because many of these come-ons are attempts to lure you into downloading adware and spyware. That's very true. But there are some legitimate programs out there. I tend to trust stuff that's recommended by legitimate sites like PCWorld or CNET. So, if you're so inclined, try out what's on offer at (The picture at the top of this post is of my Desktop.)

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Dual Monitors - A Beautiful Thing

People have different ideas about what's beautiful I guess. And among things one would place in that category, there would be different kinds of beauty. For me, a beautiful thing is the experience of using dual monitors for one computer. I've had the capability for awhile; my 4-year-old Dell has a video card can handle 2 monitors, but for one reason or another I hadn't made use of it for years. Then I got some inspiration. I had a spare 19-inch CRT laying around, so I said, Why not?

I plunked the CRT down on my desk (had to make some room for it first), hooked it up, configured my graphics settings and presto change-o! Now I've got twice the screen area and I'll never go back (if I can help it). If any of you have the appropriate video card and a spare monitor, I urge you to give it a go. You won't regret it. If you need help, drop me a line. I'll be glad to help, for a small fee!

Friday, October 07, 2005

The Devil of Nanking - Mo Hayder

I've got to rave about the latest book by Mo Hayder. She's not very well known yet...only written 3 books...but she's one of the best fiction writers out there. In this latest book she tells the tale of a disturbed young woman who is obsessed with finding a 16mm film of an unbelievable atrocity committed during the Japanese invasion of Nanking in 1937. The story switches back and forth between 1937 Nanking and present day Tokyo. Hayder's two previous books, Birdman and The Treatment, are also excellent.

The Devil of Nanking
The Devil of Nanking

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

My Favorite Topics

OK, here's a short list of my favorite topics. My blog won't necessarily be limited to these, but I'll be posting on these topics:
  • Christianity- I'm a Christian, became one in 1977. The church I was involved in for 27 years had some cultic tendencies, so I left after finally seeing the light. I'm now a member of St. Andrew's Chapel in Sanford, Florida.
  • Science - If I'd used my college degree I'd be a physics teacher. I didn't, so I'm not. But I love learning about new discoveries in almost any field of science, from cosmology and brane theory to complex systems and chaos.
  • Fiction - I'm a voracious reader. Some of my favorite authors are Jonathan Kellerman, Robert Charles Wilson, John Sandford, Mo Hayder, Lee Child, James Ellroy, Giles Blunt, Elizabeth Moon, Patricia Cornwell, James Lee Burke, Tom Wolfe, etc.
  • Politics - I'm a conservative with a libertarian bent. From time to time I might be interested in commenting on stuff that's in the news.
  • Computer Tech - I love computers! From my very first (a Trash 80), I've been entranced. As far as I'm concerned, the PC has made everything that can be done on a PC a fun thing to do. I love spreadsheets and databases, wireless routers and USB hubs. I like to help people with computer problems (and sometimes get paid for it). From time to time I'll probably post about things I'm learning and fixing.
And that's it. Other topics that are brought up by readers of my blog, may turn out to be interesting too. We'll see.