21 December 2010

The moon is made of cheddar cheese?

The moon was orange last night... As many of you know, there was a total lunar eclipse last night. Lunar eclipses are rarely visible in the northeast US sky, and this would be a never-repeated-in-my-lifetime event. The reason that we could see this eclipse in Maryland is that the sun is at its most southern point on the winter solstice (December 21). The sun has to be opposite the moon for a total eclipse to occur, and the full moon this month is high in the northern sky.

For a science geek, this was an opportunity not to be missed. And it was a clear night.

The eclipse was maximal at 2:41 am EST, so I set my alarm for 2:30. I could see the moon out of my bedroom window, though it took some contorting. It wasn't like a solar eclipse, where there is a black shadow obscuring the sun, but the moon was definitely darker, like a shadow was obscuring it. TheHusband and I got dressed and trudged outside to take pictures (and see it without kneeling and twisting about to see it out the window). I tried to wake ThePinkThing, but she grumbled, rolled over, and pulled the cover over her head. Her loss, and she's grumpy about it this morning.

At 3:17 am, the moon's color was the most orangey-red. Really lovely and obvious to the naked eye, even without binoculars (TH's binocs are 30 years old and show their age). We have a high-level point-and-shoot camera with lots of settings but no tripod. We were able to get some really nice shots anyway on the "Nightime Nature" setting.

Now I want to see a total solar eclipse, someday. And the Aurora Borealis. Don't you?

19 December 2010

Happy 95th to Zaydie

I am wishing a Happy 95th Birthday to my grandfather (aka, Zaydie) today. Though we celebrated his birthday as a family on the Saturday after Thanksgiving (because most of the grandkids were in for Turkey Day), today is the The Real Thing.

You might remember that I had solicited gift suggestions for a 95th birthday present. I had said at the time that we already had his gift planned. And I promised that I would tell you when the time came.

We got him a web page -- www.zaydie.com. Actually, we regifted him the web page. We (the grandkids) bought our grandfather www.zaydie.net in 2000 to celebrate his 85th birthday. At some point between then and now, zaydie.com became available, so we switched to that address instead. We hadn't updated the web page since 2003, so we collected pictures of ourselves and our kids and revamped zaydie.com. Kudos go to TheHusband who did the majority of the work on the webpage. And our Zaydie has his own (public) photo album of his grandkids and great-grandkids to show off.

This birthday is especially special to all of us, because my grandfather is recovering from a nephrectomy (kidney removal) to treat kidney cancer. When I visited him last weekend at the rehab center he looked better at 10 days post-op than I did at 10 days post-op last year.

I am very lucky.

07 December 2010

Shilling for audiobooks

Happy Chanukah to me! I got a one-year subscription to audible.com for my Chanukah present. It is, for the most part, my first foray into audiobooks. I've listened to a few audiobooks over the years, but I don't love them as I love reading books. However, I am back to spending more time commuting than I like, since my office moved over a year ago. News on the radio just makes me agitated, which is not a good way to start or end the day. I just don't dig music. I've tried, really, but music just doesn't hold my interest longer than a few songs. I don't like hearing the same songs over and over (so my music CDs bore me), and I really don't like commercials (so regular radio is right out). I am not willing to invest in satellite radio. Therefore, in order to keep me sane on my trafficky rides to and from work, I will be listening to audiobooks.

A one year subscription to audible.com comes with 12 "credits", and most books are one credit apiece. I picked out 4 audiobooks last night, 2 each from 2 of my favorite authors, so I have 8 more books to choose. I am looking to find new authors and listen to new books, not just get audio versions of favorites.

I would love suggestions for books that have translated well to the audio format -- books that you've really enjoyed listening to. I tend to read genre fiction -- primarily science fiction, fantasy, and mystery. Got any suggestions?