Apr 29, 2011

Some call it Yeti, Some call it Bigfoot, Some call it Sasquatch and Zigra


On June 27, 2007, there was a Bigfoot expedition near Bend, Oregon. 35 Bigfoot research enthusiasts visited as part of a Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization (BFRO) sponsored expedition. No sightings were reported.

I'm really sorry I missed that. I hope they come back. I'd definitely go on a Bigfoot hunt.

The Deschutes National Forest near Bend, Oregon has been the location of numerous Bigfoot sightings since 1963. The observatory in which I work in the summers is in the Deschutes National Forest.

Did you read X on this blog? If you did, you know I have more crazy doings than yetis going on around me. Excellent. Hope I run into a yeti or alien one of these days. As long as they don't have huge, pointy teeth.

For more information on this expedition visit: http://bigfootsightings.org/2007/06/27/bigfoot-expedition-near-bend-oregon/

There are these strange stone structure on the summit of Pine Mountain, which we always get asked about. "What are those things?"

No one really knows. They make nice wind blocks though and a good place to rest my camera for a steady shot. Maybe that's their purpose. My usual answer though is, "They're Yeti houses." Well, just maybe they are.

Stone structures I call Yeti houses

Me at the summit with a yeti house behind me.
My favorite place on Earth.

Pine Mountain is my favorite place on Earth, always fueling my imagination with wild and spirited inspiration. Do you have a place like it?

I confess to struggling with Z. I honor Zigra. Z ode to Zigra and the Sci-fi B movie.

I love those old, bad movies. Until Mega Piranha came along, Gamera v. Zigra was my all-time favorite bad movie. Why? It made me laugh so hard, I missed half the movie. I saw it on cable one night way back when I lived in NYC and spent years tracking down a copy. I'm happy to say I have it on VHS and dvd. Others have touted its brilliance, too. I'm not the only one who thinks it's the best bad movie ever made. Well, it and Mega Piranha. These movies entertain me. My guilty pleasure. I hope Syfy keeps cranking out the newer versions of these campy movies.

Yeah, it was Zigra for Z or zilch. What'd you come up with?

This concludes the A to Z challenge. Whew! A great, fun and exhausting ride. Thanks to Arlee Bird of Tossing it out for starting this blogfest. I enjoyed it. It'll take me several more months to get through the rest of the blogs signed up. Now I go back to my 3x a week posting. :) Thanks to everyone who stopped by.

Hosted by Arlee Bird of Tossing it Out http://tossingitout.blogspot.com/

Apr 28, 2011

X-Files, Gangsta Cows and Millican

Hmmm. Blogger is messing with me. This post should have gone off hours ago.

 In 1993 an episode of the X-Files aired entitled 'Eve'. The fathers of two identical girls are found exanguinated in the back yard of their homes. Could these murders be a step-up in the series of accumulating cattle-mutilations in the U.S., or a missing link to a government project known as "The Litchfield Experiments"?

This bit of fiction - the cattle mutilations - was based on reality.

UFO's or black helicopters have been spotted near places where mutilations occured. So, come the conspiracy theories of aliens or the government.

Mutilations defined - blood drained and eyes, genitals, tongue and other soft organs removed with surgical precision without a bloody mess on the ground.

Hmmm, indeed. Although, animal mutilations have been reported around the US, areas around Bend, OR have been a hotbed for it since the late 1970's and early 1980's. One rancher reported to have regularly seen bright whilte flying saucers dragging, lifting, and throwing around steer with beams of energy. Unreal as that sounds, a dead bull was found in the top of a pine, mutilated.

In March 2000, two pairs of dead calves were found in the Millican Valley. The next day, eight more were found.

Here is the lovely town of Millican, which sits at the bottom of Pine Mountain [where the observatory at which I work is located]. So, was I wrong to suspect the rancher's gangsta cows? Local Astronomers Missing

Millican sits right before the turn off for Pine Mountian Observatory.
Yup, turn right onto the dirt road after Millican.

In the valley before the road winds up to the summit.

Cattle of Millican Valley. Are they really aliens?

I saw mysterious lights myself one night. I called them a UMO [unidentified moving object], which is fitting for a cow story. Umooo. They followed me in from the observatory. At first I thought it was another car. It's a very lonely road, more so at a late hour. So, you notice another car.

It was pretty far back. It gained on me some then next thing I knew it was on my bumper. Damn, I thought, that jerk must be driving 150 mph. So, I slowed down to let him pass me. But he didn't. So, I turned around and there was nothing there. It happened 2 more times. The second time I noticed the lights only showed up in 2 of my mirrors and not all 3. The lights were vertical and not horizontal. I thought it really strange and would love to run into them again some time. But I never have. Since then, I've heard other stories about lights on that same road -- the road that goes through Millican Valley. Click on any photo for a larger view.

Have you ever had an experience you still search for an explanation for? I look for those lights every time I come back from the observatory.

Ah, but this isn't the only weirdness lurking in my backyard. Nope. Tune in tomorrow for more weird. Any weird going on in your neck of the woods?

Hosted by Arlee Bird of Tossing it Out http://tossingitout.blogspot.com/

Apr 27, 2011


Without the evils ones, our favorite stories, shows and movies would be flat and unsuspenseful. Every good story needs a good bad guy or gal.

So, here is my ode to the wicked ones, the evil ones I've loved.

One of my favorite bad boys was Apophis on SG-1. Why? Because he enjoyed being evil. This alien with delusions of godhood had a real passion for it. He never made any apology for being what he was. Definitely my favorite Goa'uld.

Another favorite -- before he was humanized -- was Darth Vader. He was one scary villain in the original Star Wars. I didn't care for him being softened by understanding how he became what he became. I didn't want to know. I just enjoyed his evilness. Now he doesn't scare me so much. Pity.

When I searched for a photo of Vader, it reminded me of Box in Logan's Run. That was one disturbing robot.

So were the darleks. "Exterminate!"

Which leads to Terminator. The original. Arnold was dang scary.

Then there's Khan of Star Trek. Wasn't he delicious? And fun.

Londo of Babylon5. Fun and far from saintly. Many would probably not classify him as a villian, but he is wicked and often has nefarious motives. Yet I get a kick out of him.

The shadow things also in Babylon5 were scary. They made my skin crawl.

And the apes in Planet of the Apes, just the idea of them scared me. Loved the old movies and the old TV show.

And one of my all-time favorite movies, Psycho. Norman Bates.

And these things still scare the crap out of me.

What about you? Who are your favorite villians?

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Apr 26, 2011


Voyager Celebrated its 20-Year-Old Valentine to the Solar System on 02.13.10 Click on either photo to enlarge.

These six narrow-angle color images were made from the first ever 'portrait' of the solar system taken by Voyager 1, which was more than 4 billion miles from Earth and about 32 degrees above the ecliptic. The spacecraft acquired a total of 60 frames for a mosaic of the solar system which shows six of the planets. Mercury is too close to the sun to be seen. Mars was not detectable by the Voyager cameras due to scattered sunlight in the optics, and Pluto was not included in the mosaic because of its small size and distance from the sun. These blown-up images, left to right and top to bottom are Venus, Earth, Jupiter, and Saturn, Uranus, Neptune. The background features in the images are artifacts resulting from the magnification. The images were taken through three color filters -- violet, blue and green -- and recombined to produce the color images. Jupiter and Saturn were resolved by the camera but Uranus and Neptune appear larger than they really are because of image smear due to spacecraft motion during the long (15 second) exposure times. Earth appears to be in a band of light because it coincidentally lies right in the center of the scattered light rays resulting from taking the image so close to the sun. Earth was a crescent only 0.12 pixels in size. Venus was 0.11 pixel in diameter. The planetary images were taken with the narrow-angle camera (1500 mm focal length).

This narrow-angle color image of the Earth, dubbed 'Pale Blue Dot', is a part of the first ever 'portrait' of the solar system taken by Voyager 1. Image credit: NASA/JPL  Earth is in the yellowy-orangy stripe on the right side of the photo about 2/3's down. You'll see a light blue dot. Easier to see if you click on the photo to enlarge.

In the years since the twin Voyager spacecraft were launched in 1977, they had already sent back breathtaking, groundbreaking pictures of the gas giants Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. It took Voyager 1 more than 12 years to reach the place where it took the group portrait, 6 billion kilometers (almost 4 billion miles) away from the sun. The imaging team started snapping images of the outer planets first because they were worried that pointing the camera near the sun would blind it and prevent more picture-taking.

After these images were taken, mission managers started powering down the cameras. The spacecraft weren't going to fly near anything else, and other instruments that were still collecting data needed power for the long journey to interstellar space that was ahead.

The Voyagers are still transmitting data daily back to Earth. Voyager 1 is now nearly 17 billion kilometers (more than 10 billion miles) away from the sun. The spacecraft have continued on to the next leg of their interstellar mission, closing in on the boundary of the bubble created by the sun that envelops all the planets. Scientists eagerly await the time when the Voyagers will leave that bubble and enter interstellar space.

For more information, see: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/voyager/voyager-20100212.html
Voyager has played an epic part in our discovery and exploration of space ... and it's still going. Amazing.

What's amazed you lately?

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Apr 25, 2011


Goals: NASA and the European Space Agency joined forces to send Ulysses to study the heliosphere - the region of space influenced by the Sun and its magnetic field - from a unique polar orbit. The spacecraft's 10 instruments on board measured the Sun's fields and particles, ultraviolet, X-rays and gamma rays.

Accomplishments: Ulysses was the first mission to survey the space environment above and below the poles of our Sun. The spacecraft used an unprecedented gravity assist maneuver at Jupiter to hurl itself out of the plane of the ecliptic and into its solar polar orbit.

During its 18-year mission, Ulysses made nearly three complete orbits of the Sun. The probe revealed for the first time the three-dimensional character of galactic cosmic radiation, energetic particles produced in solar storms and the solar wind. Not only has Ulysses allowed scientists to map constituents of the heliosphere in space, its longevity enabled them to observe the Sun over a longer period of time than ever before.

The spacecraft's six-year orbits over the Sun's poles allowed scientists to observe our star from an unprecedented angle during both calm and turbulent periods. Ulysses also made the first direct measurements of interstellar dust particles and interstellar helium atoms in the solar system and the discovery that the magnetic field leaving the Sun is balanced across latitudes.

For more information, visit: http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/missions/profile.cfm?MCode=Ulysses

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Apr 22, 2011

Support Systems Taste of Home

Fantastic Friday Writers Features: Support Systems

Finding other writers to commiserate with in this business is a must. Who else understands the rejections and triumphs better. Who else understands how hard we work for peanuts or less. I'm a member of my local writing association, and through that I have my local critique group. We all root each other on and encourage each other. Through the Central Oregon Writers Guild, I've met so many people who have given me words and stories of encouragement. I'm not just a member, I got involved. I'm their blog director, sit on the board of directors and help out where needed. I believe: if you give, you get back. http://centraloregonwriters.blogspot.com/

I also usually attend 2nd Sundays at my local library, which is a group of local poets who sponsor a published writer. The first 40 minutes or so is all about the featured speaker. After that, there's an open mic. I've used it to improve my reading skills in front of an audience. I got my first fans through this program and not because they know me -- because they heard my work and loved it. Makes me all giddy that folks do love what I write. Applause now and then isn't over rated either.

I also have an online critique group of science fiction and fantasy writers, who have been a tremendous help. I'm grateful I bumped into them.

Then I have this policy -- never say anything negative about another writer, editor, agent or other person of note in this industry. Never. So, thanks to my husband for listening to me whine when I feel the need, and buoying me back up when I'm feeling more on the discouraged side.

And I'm thankful to my first real fan -- another writer who's actually published. You made my year, David. He fell in love with Plantgirl when I read it. And I'm thankful to the other writers I've bumped into along this journey who tell me to keep at it and keep going, and those who've told me I have talent. And thanks to the editors and agents who took the time to send me personal rejection with feedback. Appreciated. And the editors who wrote words of encouragement. So, yes, rejection can sting, but it can also be supportive. So, go for it and submit.

And thanks to Galaxy Quest for my favorite motto: Never give up, never surrender.

See what the other Fantastic Friday Writers have to say on this topic:

Recently I went to the mailbox and found this in it.

I'm on page 151. So that's the third time Taste of Home has published me. Cool. Not as cool as The Tumbas being accepted into the Wandering Weeds anthology. Can find out more about The Tumbas HERE

So, yeah, tooting my own horn for T. How convenient T is involved in both publications.

Got something to toot about? What kind of support systems do you have?

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Apr 21, 2011

Reality versus Fiction

Have you noticed reality doesn't always work in fiction?

Although a rabbit might suddenly spring in front of your car in real life and cause all kinds of havoc in your life, in fiction it sounds 'convenient'. For some reason, there has to be more justification and reason in fiction than real life.

And although characters might have competing personality traits in real life, they don't always work in fiction.

Bizarre events happen in real life -- fights without reasons, exploration just for the sake of exploration, you might obsess about a lost shoe instead of the dead body in your trunk. In fiction, we need reasons. The reader wants reasons and justification. We have to make the fictional world plausible. Something real life doesn't always have to be.

Can you think of other examples of reality that just don't work out on the page?

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Apr 20, 2011

Quaoar Kwa-Whar

October 7, 2002: NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has measured the largest object discovered in the solar system since the discovery of Pluto 72 years ago. Approximately half the size of Pluto, the icy world is called "Quaoar" (pronounced kwa-whar). Quaoar is about 4 billion miles away, more than a billion miles farther than Pluto. Like Pluto, Quaoar dwells in the Kuiper belt, an icy belt of comet-like bodies extending 7 billion miles beyond Neptune's orbit.

For more information, see: http://hubblesite.org/newscenter/archive/releases/2002/17/

There's also a nice article on Quaoar here: http://www.lunarplanner.com/asteroids-dwarfplanets/Quaoar.html

Q was not the hardest letter for me. Z was. And I'm having a mental block on W. Haven't loaded it yet. How about for you?

Hosted by Arlee Bird of Tossing it Out http://tossingitout.blogspot.com/ 

Apr 19, 2011

National Poetry Month

April is National Poetry Month. Click on poster to enlarge, if you want a better view.

In it's honor, my poem, DreamPlay:

Video version [which was fun to do]

Copyright Spring 1982. Yeah, a blast from the past. I wrote this poem inspired by a poster that used to hang in my room. It was one of those black velvet deals [hey, it was hip at the time] with Pegasus flying through space. I still think of that poster a lot, it inspired so much wonder.

by M. Pax

Sailing on a comet's tail
the spinning sun zips by
singeing careless strands of hair
enchanted by its light

S c a t t e r e d pieces of glitter
stain the endless black
pouring through the Milky Way
into the limitless I seek

Tripping over Saturn's rings
I stumble from my ride
To take a tumble on the Moon
to land on Pegus's back

~ we cry ~

Lifting wishes from Orion's belt
while drifting on their sighs
I clasp one tightly and begin to dance
with wistful nebulae

Ah, so now we know where the name of this blog comes from. :) Are you celebrating National Poetry Month?

I'm also on Chris Phillips' blog today in his MTMWT feature. Check him out: http://chrisphillipsclp.blogspot.com/

Hosted by Arlee Bird of Tossing it Out http://tossingitout.blogspot.com/ 

Apr 18, 2011

Observatory and the Owl Cluster

About one month and one week until the observatory opens for the 2011 season. I've missed it -- the cold, the mountain, the telescopes, the stars and the discoveries. Doesn't matter that millions of people saw that object before me. Click on any photo for a larger view.

The white dome houses the 24 inch telescope open
to the public. The smaller telescope outside is
my 8" Dobsonian, which was named
Orson Bradbury last summer.

I am grateful to the universe that I will probably get to spend the whole summer here and get another full season under my belt at Pine Mountain Observatory. I will savor every minute of it more than I usually do.

The darker blue of the sky is the Earth's shadow.
Moon and the dome for the 32" telescope.
The observatory sits at 6300 feet. Pine Mountain is 6600 feet.
It once was an island in an ancient sea before the
volcanic eruptions 6,000 years ago pushed up the
Cascades and turned this region arid.

I get such a sense of peace up on that summit surrounded by nature, and trees, and 50 mile views and farther on clear nights, and stars.

Looking through the 24.

One of my favorite objects to look at is the Owl Cluster. It's an open star cluster just under Cassiopeia. The two brightest stars are the eyes and you can make out the outstretched wings. Visitors have called it the butterfly, the bat and one of my fellow volunteers likes to call it the robot. The photo doesn't do it justice, which I nabbed from http://www.eagleseye.me.uk/Sky/Deepsky.html

Have you ever looked through a telescope? Do you know how to use one? Up at the observatory, we're always happy to teach.

Hosted by Arlee Bird of Tossing it Out http://tossingitout.blogspot.com/ 

Apr 15, 2011

Messenger New Horizons

MESSENGER Begins Historic Orbit around Mercury

At 9:10 p.m. EDT, March 17, 2011, engineers in the MESSENGER Mission Operations Center at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md., received the anticipated radiometric signals confirming nominal burn shutdown and successful insertion of the MESSENGER probe into orbit around the planet Mercury.

“Achieving Mercury orbit was by far the biggest milestone since MESSENGER was launched more than six and a half years ago,” says MESSENGER Project Manager Peter Bedini, of APL. “This accomplishment is the fruit of a tremendous amount of labor on the part of the navigation, guidance-and-control, and mission operations teams, who shepherded the spacecraft through its 4.9-billion-mile [7.9-billion-kilometer] journey.”

For the next several weeks, APL engineers will be focused on ensuring that MESSENGER’s systems are all working well in Mercury’s harsh thermal environment. Starting on March 23, the instruments will be turned on and checked out, and on April 4 the primary science phase of the mission will begin.

“Despite its proximity to Earth, the planet Mercury has for decades been comparatively unexplored,” adds MESSENGER Principal Investigator Sean Solomon, of the Carnegie Institution of Washington. “For the first time in history, a scientific observatory is in orbit about our solar system’s innermost planet. Mercury’s secrets, and the implications they hold for the formation and evolution of Earth-like planets, are about to be revealed.”


Previously unseen side of Mercury

Close-up of crater


In 2006, NASA dispatched an ambassador to the planetary frontier. The New Horizons spacecraft is now halfway between Earth and Pluto, on approach for a dramatic flight past the icy planet and its moons in July 2015.

After 10 years and more than 3 billion miles, on a historic voyage that has already taken it over the storms and around the moons of Jupiter, New Horizons will shed light on new kinds of worlds we've only just discovered on the outskirts of the solar system.

Pluto gets closer by the day, and New Horizons continues into rare territory, as just the fifth probe to traverse interplanetary space so far from the Sun. And the first to travel so far, to reach a new planet for exploration.

This is the most detailed view to date of the entire surface of the dwarf planet Pluto, as constructed from multiple NASA Hubble Space Telescope photographs taken from 2002 to 2003. The center disk (180 degrees) has a mysterious bright spot that is unusually rich in carbon monoxide frost. Pluto is so small and distant that the task of resolving the surface is as challenging as trying to see the markings on a soccer ball 40 miles away. Credit: NASA, ESA, and M. Buie (Southwest Research Institute). Photo No. STScI-PR10-06a


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