Transit of Venus Live Webcast

by bobthewizard on June 4, 2012

Transit of Venus |

The Exploratorium will webcast the transit of Venus from Hawaii’s Mauna Loa Observatory (MLO), which is located on the north slope of the Mauna Loa volcano at an elevation of more than 11,000 feet (almost 3400 meters).

Thanks to Exploratorium for the link to the webcast…

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by bobthewizard on April 9, 2012

So, I recently lost several of my good friends…

It’s actually not quite as ominous and it sounds.

You see, over the past several months, several of my good friends at work, have found other jobs and have left. I’m happy for them and glad that they’ve managed to find “bigger and better” things to do. How could I not be happy for that?

But, that doesn’t make up for the loss of my friends.

Friendships are difficult. The truth is if you find a couple of good REAL friends in your lifetime, you are lucky. I was told this when I was in school as a kid and of course didn’t believe it. As it turned out, the one true friend I knew throughout school, I lost track of after High School and my time in the Navy. I’ve never been able to track him down.  I know that finding good “true” friends is difficult.  And as the years have gone by, for one reason or another, I find that although I have a lot of family ‘’friends” that I (or the family) do things with; I don’t have any real friends that I hang out with and do things with.

I remember having a conversation with each of these guys about “friends at work”, and the “just acquaintances”, etc. We have lots of acquaintances in our daily activities, whether at work on school or wherever. Some of them we tend to gravitate to for one reason or another, and they become closer friends. I see them as “friends at work”, and they will be the ones that we trade stories back and forth with, and take breaks and lunch with.

But, I guess as with all good things, these friendships have come to an end. Sure I’ll still receive or send an occasional note back and forth with phone text or email, but they have other thing to do and new friends to hang out with. No anger or jealousy there, just the facts…  But that’s OK…  That’s how things work.

To you, my friends… I wish you continued success and happiness.

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Praying Mantis

by bobthewizard on October 11, 2011

“Dad… Come here and look at this cricket! It’s cool.”

Anthony calls me over to look at a cricket on the post, while I’m sitting relaxing under the patio.

As I start to get up to go see, I said “Anthony, I have seen MILLIONS of crickets in my life. What’s one more cricket? It can’t be that cool… it’s just a cricket.”

I walked up and there’s a bright green bug on the post, and I said “Ohh… that’s not a cricket… It’s a Praying Mantis.”

I lifted each of the kids up for a close look at the Praying Mantis. It was pretty cool… I told them to look his head was tilted toward them.

Here are a couple of cool facts… There are about 2000 Species’ of Mantis in the world, most of them in Asia, and about 20 different species in the U.S. I’ve read that the female kills the male after mating since the protein helps in egg development. Also, this insect is more closely related to the cockroach than a grasshopper. (source:

So… keep your eyes open for the Praying Mantis. It most certainly isn’t a cricket…  I think they’re pretty cool looking creatures.

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Definition of Sci-Fi

by bobthewizard on August 8, 2011

Dictionary.Com (online)
1. of or pertaining to science fiction: a writer of sci-fi books.

science fiction
— n
a. a literary genre that makes imaginative use of scientific knowledge or conjecture
b. ( as modifier ): a science fiction writer
Word Origin & History
1929 (first attested in “Science Wonder Stories” magazine), though there is an isolated use from 1851; abbreviated form sci-fi is from 1955.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source (

“Science fiction writers foresee the inevitable, and although problems and catastrophes may be inevitable, solutions are not.”
Isaac Asimov

Websters Dictionary (online)
: fiction dealing principally with the impact of actual or imagined science on society or individuals or having a scientific factor as an essential orienting component

Student Dictionary
One entry found for science fiction.
Main Entry: science fiction
Function: noun
: fiction that deals with the influence of real or imagined science on society or individuals

Science fiction is a genre of fiction dealing with imaginary but more or less plausible (or at least nonsupernatural) content such as future settings, futuristic science and technology, space travel, aliens, and paranormal abilities. Exploring the consequences of scientific innovations is one purpose of science fiction, making it a “literature of ideas”.  (and there’s much more there in Wikipedia).

On the Wikipedia page, SyFy is actually mentioned, when talking about a sub-branch of Science Fiction. it says “Although horror is not per se a branch of science fiction, many works of horror literature incorporates science fictional elements.” it then goes on to talk about Mary Shelley’s novel “Frankenstein” being basically a horror story with “a rigorous science-fictional grounding.” But then it says, which I totally agree with, “Horror is often mistakenly categorized as science fiction at the point of distribution by libraries, video rental outlets, etc. For example, Syfy (distributed via cable and satellite television in the United States) currently devotes most its air time to horror films with very few science fiction titles.”

What’s my point here?

I find it irritating (that’s putting it lightly) that a organization like Syfy, now run by a hand full of people, can manipulate a term or definition of a term and make it into something much different.  I can only say that I hope the additional influence from Comcast can correct the issues at Syfy, and get back to what made it what it was before the re-branding fiasco.


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Oh, Great Spirit

by bobthewizard on July 20, 2011

Oh, Great Spirit,
whose voice I hear in the winds
and whose breath gives life to all the world, hear me.
I am small and weak.
I need your strength and wisdom.

Let me walk in beauty and make my eyes
ever behold the red and purple sunset.
Make my hands respect the things you have made
and my ears sharp to hear your voice.
Make me wise so that I may understand
the things you have taught my people.
Let me learn the lessons you have hidden
in every leaf and rock.

I seek strength, not to be superior to my brother,
but to fight my greatest enemy – myself.
Make me always ready to come to you
with clean hands and straight eyes,
so when life fades, as the fading sunset,
my spirit will come to you
without shame.

–Chief Yellow Lark, Lakota Tribe

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Thoughts about the future of space flight

by bobthewizard on July 15, 2011

Student balloon photos final shuttle launch Atlantis – Credit: Quest for Stars

I think a lot about space and the stars and planets… I’ve always enjoyed Science and Science Fiction, space travel and the future, what ever it might bring to the Human Race. I used to read paperback novels even as a teenager, imagining exploring strange planets or traveling through time. Now I watch more SciFi TV and Movies than reading, but I’m still immersed in it…

And in the real world, I remember as a kid watching the American space program grow from the single manned flights (I barely remember that, mostly just the names) to the Apollo space program to land a man on the Moon. I remember having the TV set on when Neil Armstrong took his first steps on the Moon, and thinking how cool it would be to be Walking on the Moon. I dreamed of the future where I would be able to vacation in space, perhaps on the moon. At the very least I looked forward to being able to look through that porthole some day and see the earth live, without it being on a video screen.

Over the past 30 years, I’ve followed the US Shuttle program, cheering for the accomplishments through out the years, and mourning with the rest of the nation for the loss of 2 shuttles and astronauts that flew in them. I try to keep track of the changes being made to the ISS, (International Space Station) through the years, and most often have a picture as wallpaper on my computer of the latest images taken of the ISS. I can only imagine how fun and exciting it must be to be able to look out of a port hole and see either the Earth down below, or the Moon shining down.

July 8th was the final launch of the Space Shuttle Atlantis. My wife came in and woke me just in time for the launch, and I actually got tears in my eyes when the countdown reached zero and the plums of smoke started to rise. That was the final launch of final shuttle flight, with NASA moving to the next stage of manned space flight. In a nutshell, NASA is hoping to take the funding that previously had been used for the Shuttles, and redirect it to building new spacecraft, exploration with robotic craft, and the planning needed to take us to the moon again, to asteroids, and then hopefully, finally, to the other planets, like Mars. What an exciting future that will be with the potential of man going into space to see first hand, what is out there and what its made of.

I doubt that I will be around to see the next big step we will take in the exploration of our solar system and universe. Don’t get me wrong… I’ll be watching as the new commercial companies start flying into space, to move the astronauts and supplies to the ISS, and also to offer those first commercial space flights to those that can afford it. But the next big journey into space for humans will take many more years before they are ready. Ready to travel to the moon, to the asteroids and to the planets. I think it will be an exciting time for our children.

But for now, I will be watching… and dreaming… I will be imagining looking through the porthole at the Earth below… I’ll be watching and reading my Scifi films and TV.

—I’d like to know what you think.—

Want to see something pretty cool? Check out the schedule for the sightings of the International Space Station, here: Human Space Flight

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Chinese Space Station

by bobthewizard on May 6, 2011

See how China's first space station, called Tiangong (
Source All about our solar system, outer space and exploration

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Learn what makes a big full moon a true 'supermoon' in this infographic.
Source All about our solar system, outer space and exploration

Thank you for this terrific graphical explanation!

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Post image for Where are we going?

Where are we going?

by bobthewizard on February 20, 2011

I don’t know whats been going on in my head lately… It’s probably related to the fact that I’ve been fighting a Chest Cold for the better part of 2 months, with this nagging cough that is driving me nuts. It’s got me in a “funk”…

But watching and listening to the news lately about all the things going on in the world makes me wonder if the whole world isn’t in some kind of funk….

Things like:

-Worldwide Financial woes with banks and other financial institutions.
-Ongoing wars in Middle East.
-Global Warming issues (with major snow storms in the midwest and east coast of the U.S. recently?)
-Gas prices continuing to rise…
-Cost of living going up faster than my pay…
-and lately… Revolution in Egypt, protests and/or riots in Lybia, Bahrain, Iran and other cities…

Where are we going?

I wonder if it has anything to do with the countdown to December 21, 2012…

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I want my Sci Fi back

by bobthewizard on November 27, 2010

I’m really frustrated.

I have been a big fan of the Sci Fi Channel since the early 90’s (it was founded in 1992, according to Wiki). I remember back then thinking that FINALLY there was television aimed at someone like me that thoroughly enjoys Science Fiction. Sci Fi became the first channel I would tune into when turning on the TV. I could go on about this but suffice it to say, I was pretty happy to see the Sci Fi Channel.

Last year, Sci Fi became SyFy. There were various reasons for the change, but basically, Sci Fi made the change “to end confusion over how to capitalize and stylize their name and as part of an on-going rebranding effort.”(Source: Wiki.) Programming has been changing over time adding reality shows and WWE Smackdown and apparently it has been an attempt to target young male and female audience. (unpopular, according to Wiki’s info…)

What happened?!?! What happened to my Sci Fi??

You know.. I’m smart enough to understand the need to draw newer audiences and look for new programming, and I suppose I can see the rebranding thing and all of that….. but I don’t see how the changes to totally overhaul the station and make it something else makes sense. There is less and less good Science Fiction programming and more (non)reality shows, and of all things wrestling, on the Sci Fi Channel…or what’s now SyFy.

What has brought me to the point of this frustration the most I think is the latest show that was canceled, Caprica. I enjoyed Battlestar Galactica when it first aired in 1978, and when it finally returned in 2004 as a miniseries on Sci Fi. It was a pretty successful show and won many awards. Caprica was based on that series, only took place 58 years earlier, basically telling the story of the Cylons beginning and what brought them to existence.

I really enjoyed this show, but had trouble keeping up with it with my screwy work hours. Any shows I want to watch, I have to be thankful for DVR at home so I can watch when I can find the time between what the kids or the wife are watching. Caprica’s first season consisted of 10 episodes on Friday night. A good time far as I was concerned, as did many of those I see in the forums that talk about it. Nearly a year later, SyFy announced that it was returning on Tuesday night at 10pm and after 5 episodes, it was canceled, with SyFy not even showing us the end of the 1.5 season. WHAT THE HELL?!?!?! Cancel this show, with the first 20 episodes spread in 2 halves over almost 2 years? Man… I could go on and on here but…. (If you want to know more about Caprica, here is a link to numerous information pages )

When it got canceled, I got behind the protest against the canceling, and the drive to try to save it. I sent many tweets on Twitter to try and make it trend in the U.S. (it did in Canada), and added my voice to the many that cried out to save the show, with my thinking that if I voice my opinion, there must be hundreds or more that feel the same that won’t speak out….

MY BIGGEST GRIPE here is that after all these years, I feel that my feelings and my opinion as a fan of first the station, and second this show in particular, mean nothing. I tried to ask intelligent questions of one of the Execs at SyFy in the first place I could, Twitter, and it seemed like I was getting a “Canned” answer back from him for my questions.”It’s still a great show, just not one that we can continue with sadly. We love it, which is why we made it.” Sadly? If you loved it, why kill it with the goofy scheduling? Oh wait… they had to make room for WRESTLING… ARRHHHHHH!!!

Ranting about this now seems pointless. But I did want to put this down in writing somewhere so I could voice my disapproval and disappointment to SyFy and NBC Universal. And I know I’m only one tick on the counter of viewers, but I actually have reduced my viewing of that channel to only the few shows I still follow, like Stargate Universe, Eureka, Sanctuary, etc. (And, I have found I can find those shows elsewhere if need be.)

In the Grand Scheme, my opinion doesn’t count, and that’s what this post is all about. It infuriates me that after all the years of supporting this Channel, my voice means nothing.

I want my old Sci Fi Channel back….

************* Just a quick note**********
January 04, 2011
Sci Fi… er sorry… SyFy channel is airing the last 5 episodes of Caprica tonight at 6pm (check your local listings for an accurate air time). I’d like everyone that reads this, though I know there aren’t that many, to please tune in to the Syfy channel tonight. Use an extra TV if you can… DVR it… whatever… just turn the channel on for the 5 hours that the show airs. If you like the show, raise your voices to SyFy and NBC Universal and let them know. My personal feeling is that it deserves more time, and I’d like to think that some of the Execs at SyFy/NBCUniversal would fight for it if they see enough viewership tonight.

From what I’ve heard of the last 5 episodes, they are quite exciting, and could show fans what COULD come if SyFy can bring it back.

That is all…..

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