Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Red Spot and Red Spot, Jr.

Here you can easily see both ancient storms, noting that the smaller one knicknamed Red Spot, Jr., is the proximate size of earth.  It was always a white-like color but suddenly, last February it changed color from white to an orange-red hue.  It is now almost identical to its brother, the famous Red Spot storm.  Astronomers, after being startled by the sudden, unexplained color of the smaller storm, have had to name it Red Spot, Jr., for reasons obvious.  It remains a mystery.   

Jupiter Flyby This Morning

Well, it's been a year now since NASA launched the "New Horizons" space probe, and finally, this morning at approximately 5:45 a.m. UT it passed about a million miles from the center of Jupiter.  Using the Jovian gravity to increase its speed by almost 9,000 m.p.h., it is now headed out on its way to Pluto.  We all remember our Pluto, cast out of the heirarchy of planets.  But we will always love our small, freezing purple friend, yes?

New Horizons needed its flyby assist from Jupiter to boost its speed on its mission to Pluto, so it could travel at about 50,000 m.p.h., can you picture that on the freeway?  Now that's fast, man.  In fact, it is now the fastest spacecraft in the world (as we know it). 

Yet even at that rate, New Horizons won't reach our cold purple friend until 2015, I wonder if J-Land will still exist.  I know I'll still be keeping a Journal, and I've no reason to believe I won't be here.  Nor you, my friend. 

This stop at Jupiter is actually like a test run so we can study the Jovian system more closely, using newly crafted equipment, very delicate and accurate.  Information and observations collected will assist engineers in making any adjustments, fine-tuning the craft long before it reaches Pluto in 2015.  If all goes as planned, New Horizons will give us the very first extreme close-up pictures of Jupiter and its four largest satellites since the "Galileo" probe of 2003.  It seems like only yesterday we saw those incredible pictures of Jupiter.  This can't last long enough for me, that's a truth.

And another thing, you know the smaller storm, the other "red spot" in the gaseous atmosphere?  You should see the latest pictures of that!  I'll make another entry just to show the picture - if anyone's interested they can see what a telescope can't.  It was taken by Hubble back in April.  Okay, that's the latest from your earth-bound space-stuff correspondent, wishing she were on that craft (along with a few other people).  

Some facts courtesy of Sky & Telescope, & Skywatcher Magazine    


"Did You Know?" A Short Ode

Dedicated to one who needs no name.

Did you know that I picture you in winter?

Are you mindful that I watch you in the snow?

Is your heart thinking how my world would splinter

if another caused your love to up and go? Did you know?

Know it well, then, that you are with me daily;

Keep it clearer in your mind how deep my love -

Never worry that another would assail me,

for I am truly yours alone, my sweetest love.


Sunday, February 25, 2007

Mary's Questionairre via Dawn

I found this at and suggest you have a go as well.  My answers are not what's expected I know, but nonetheless true today.    

l.  Name something you don't have but really want.  Whatever I don't have I don't need hence I don't want.

2.  Name something you have but don't want.  Too much joy, as it makes me over-content which leads to ingratitude.

3.  Name 2 favorite material possessions.  Nothing I think is "mine" is more favored than any other thing.

4,  What is a relationship breaker for you?  For me, nothing.  For the other, I can't possibly know.

5.  What is the best part of your relationship with your partner?  My partner. 

6.  Describe what sadness is to you.  Your pain.  His, hers, theirs

7.  Have you ever been in therapy?  Yes, happily

8.  What is your favorite thing to do as a pick-me-up?  Sleep, to program and learn from my dreams

9.  Who made you laugh last?   You. 


(Note) I have no wish to sound pretentious.  When being truthful, we are lead to use the words of our mood, and mine is somber.      




"The Day Of The Lord"

Awaked into life.

The strange death of sleep fades within my mind.

All thoughts now of Thee.  I am in supplication.  I am nothing, Thou art all.  I seek not comfort in Thy presence, for I am but dust.  I am useless.  I am upon the ground.  I have become all that cannot heal.  I am tears:

THANK YOU.  THANK YOU.  Thank You for my trials and pains, my tortures and blindness.  Thank You for the persecution of hearts that do not know Thee.  Thank you for false hopes.  Thank You for all that assails me daily.  Thank You for feeling.  Thank You for all I cannot feel.  Thank You for the burden of my unknown enemy.  Thank You for the cruel whip of frozen wind upon my naked face.  Thank you for all I have lost.  Thank You for the hand that reaches to take what I foolishly believe is mine.  Thank You.  Thank You.  Thank You.

For Thou art my beam, and upon Thee I depend.  A beam of sheerest Light and Hope, within which I can dream of all that is better than me.  Thou art suffused in the purity of every mercy given by Thy gracious Will.  My Lord, Thou art all I wish to know.

In the eyes of the helpless, the hopeless, the lonely and unloved, I see Thy Way.  Happy am I to come upon Thee in the darkest of places in the earth, where dwells the frightened and the forsaken, the beaten by guilt, and the guilty.  I seek the battered child of illness, I reach for the blind eyes of hate and ignorance.  For here lives My Lord.  Within these souls lies the power to change darkness into miracles.  To love them is a miracle.  Keep me lowly.

The greatest canvas is the heart that knows Thee not, for thereupon do I see Thy most clearest reflection, a sacred portrait to come.  All the boundless nothingness that is the life without love, that is where I need to be, as the humble proof of Thy Truth. 

For need of Thee do men lose their way, warring and shedding the blood of their brother.  If Thou  doth see me amongst them, know me not, let me suffer as the beggar for one morsel of kindness.  Keep me humble.

Yet see me Lord, in the coming of Thy day, and hasten to the hearts of those I care for, who is all men, who is all life, who is all Thou allowest me to know.  Raise me not, dear Lord, above any loathsome thing, for there is the place of the greatest love in creation.  Keep me not safe, for it is but a false creature of mind, and I shall never be whole until I am once again within Thy purest beam, the protection of the One Truth, the One Mercy, the One Grace, the One Lord, my God. 


Friday, February 23, 2007

Ballsy Joke

Okay, for laughing purposes only:

A an old lady walks into a Bank with $100,000.00 and tells the President she wants to deposit all her money with his bank.  He's pleased but curious how she accumulated so much money.

"Oh I like to make bets." she replied.  "In fact, I'll bet you $50,000. that your testicles are square."

He laughed and said of course they weren't, but she persisted and asked, "Well if you're so positive, will you take my bet?"

"Sure, sure", he laughed.  He knew it would be impossible for her to win.

She agreed, and said she'd return at 10:00 a.m. the next morning with her attorney, just to have a wintess, keep it legal.

The bank president by this time had no problem at all and agreed,

That night, he became a little nervous.  He spent hours in front of the mirror examing his testicles, turning them over again and again, just fondling away until he was positive there was no way he could lose.

Next morning, in comes the old lady and her lawyer right on time.  In the president's office, he drops his pants to show her his testicles were, indeed, not square at all.  She asks, "Do you mind if I examine them to be certain?"

The bank president laughs and says, "Well, with that kind of money, why not?  Sure, go ahead, check all you need."

Then he notices the attorney banging his head on the wall, moaning,  He asked the lady what in the world was he doing?

"Oh him?  Well I bet him $100,000.00 that around 10.00 a.m. this morning I'd be fondling the balls of the president of this bank!"

Just goes to show, never be sure of anything ...

                         As usual, courtesy of Jerry - thanks bud!   

Have Another

Well, the amazing Connie got that withint seconds.  So I'll throw another out, just to annoy everyone.  

Which of these words does not belong with the others?  Hint:  Look for a pattern.











No math involved.  Just a pattern, where one word doesn't belong.





Math Massage

As my puzzles seem incredibly frustrating, and one was a paradox with no viable answer, here's a better one.  Based on my belief that a goodly number of people really enjoy having a go at them, trying to stimulate the gray cells, I couldn't resist.  If you don't enjoy pondering, not to worry.  But to work the brain is healthy, you'll have it longer.  (Note to  good friend:  Skip this, but take aspirin just in case lol).   


I recently returned from a trip.  Today is Friday.   

I returned 3 days before the day after the day before tomorrow.  So:  what day did I return?

__ Sunday







Hint:  Examine the last sentence carefully, therein lies truth !

Hope you do well.  Cathy





Thursday, February 15, 2007

We're All Connected

Well hello!  Thanks for coming over, I wanted to tell you something.  Last August, there was one of those "Tag" things from Kathy (onestrangekat) with things like your best and worst memory.  When I posted my anwsers I got a few emails and comments asking for the story behind an answer.  I thought long and hard, made some coffee, took a deep breath, and wrote "The Prison Within".  It was cathartic for me.  The incredible amount of sympathy and caring kindness from this community of souls brought a great healing I didn't think I needed.  Truly, I never think of that incident, but perhaps every once in awhile, a dream maybe ....

I will continually be grateful to everyone who offered such comfort and support for an old wound.   

Here is how your generous words to me have already helped two young school girls in my neighborhood, only a few weeks ago.  This is a large city but I live in a slightly more secluded part of it, with a park and many side-streets.  These two girls were seen running down a street near where I waited for a bus, no one seemed interested but somehow I couldn't take my eyes off them.  Something just looked odd to me - something.  I took the unheard of chance to involve myself, turned on my cane and limped toward them and as the space between us lessened, they both kept yelling, "Lady!  Hey lady!"  (An odd side note:  "Lady" was the name of the horse I cared for as a youngster, noted in my August memory entry).  I told them to slow down, it's alright, what's the matter, all that adult soothing stuff.  They were breathless and crying a bit, obviously wanting to tell me something important.  Between the slang, I realized they had been approached by a young man in a car who tried to entice them into it, offering candy from what they called a "shoebox".  I'm sure they must've known better than to even stand there, but kids are told to "act tough" by their elders, and I don't know if they understand.  It was when they glimpsed into the man's car, they said they saw his naked "jackson" in his lap and it frightened them, so they took off.  They didn't scream, and I asked why in the world didn't they yell out and where did it happen and what did the car look like, what did he look like, I got all the information I could as I took them into my building where the security guards took over in contacting the police, who were there in a quick minute.  I knew it was vitally important to get facts while they were still fresh.  They each held my hand on either side and refused to let go.  There was no arguing, they found someone they could trust and wouldn't let go.  I felt very protective and asked if I could stay.  No problem.  So, all during the time they told their story, and during the ride in the police car to the district station, these two sweet black 9 year-old girls trusted this 56-year old white lady as their "shield" almost, but I think it just made them feel important, noticed. It seems they were more frightened of what they saw rather than what could've happened, for it seemed the man was white.  They'd never seen a "white one" before, they said laughingly.  In the police station as we waited for a free detective to take their stories once again, I got them sodas and candy and we all talked about how strange the world could be, how many people were so different from those we knew, things like that.  They truly unburdened themselves, talking and eating, even laughing.  They had to know how serious this all was.  And here's how all of you were there, without knowing it:

I talked of their bravery.  Like you did to me.  I continually boosted their sense of pride in surviving this.  Like you did.  I explained in much greater detail what could've happened.  Again, as you did when you thanked God I survived my own ordeal.  These girls were literally getting the benefit of words you good people had given me, when I felt I should explain that one answer in that little quiz.  But look where it led:  I now know the mothers, both without husbands but one with a man in the house, I gave the girls my phone number and they call with talk of school and grades and how they "watch for cars that circle the block alot".  O Lord, how it hurt to have to explain to these typical, gum-snapping, laughing faces that in this world, people must be more careful than ever before.  Children most of all.  They wanted answers, explanations,I got the impression their moms weren't as up on facts as they were on superstitions and myths. 

It hurts to look into a young face and tell them never to walk up to a car, for any reason - someone asking directions, offering free puppies, all the ruses we adults know too well.  These are kids, they have no reason to think the world is anything but a free, safe playground for anything they wish.  In comes the nice white lady with these stories about what they must never, ever do.  I realized what I was up against when one of them said, "Well, what if I know the direction they want?"  It's not easy to bring the evils of the world into the bright light of reality in a young girl's life.   

And it's a harsh light.  They watch other adults, they get cues from their mothers and siblings, most of whom are struggling with right and wrong themselves.  Try explaining that the man was wrong in what he did, when the kids watch their siblings laugh gleefully about the extra $ in change they got, or see their mothers shoplift in a store.  That can of tuna in their pocket makes all the difference in how that child looks at life.  And people.  And strangers in cars with candy in a shoebox.   

Thursday, February 1, 2007

The Force Of A Habit

Anyone who went through a Catholic parochial grammar school education during the 50's and early 60's will recognize much of this entry, if they were taught by the nuns of the Dominican Order.  The Sisters of St. Dominic, white and black habits, could instill both paralyzing fear and quiet awe in a child.  For the first eight years of our lives, my siblings and I were taught beneath the shelter of those black veils.  They were sharp, serious and very smart.  No one ever referred to them as women; beyond gender, they had a special aura people reacted to instantly.

These nuns were frightening at first to a 5 or 6 year old, but in time this need to please surfaced and depending on your home life, it either pushed you to excel or left you in that frozen fear where you remained, mediocre.  These nuns had power.  Much of it came from their habits.  When they walked at a clip, those veils would flap in their wake like the wings of some giant crow. 

As the years progressed, every girl in school wanted to become a nun, of course, there was never a question.  As for the boys, they didn't seem to catch the lure for priesthood, wanting to be pilots or truck drivers, and besides they were forced to be "altar boys" who helped the priest during the Mass.  They'd had enough.  Parents worked hard to keep their kids in a Catholic school, so when one or more would express a desire to "take the holy orders" it was cause for great joy.  In all Irish-Italian Catholic homes it was a well-known fact that your place in heaven was assured if a relative "took the veil".  At our age we could hardly remember to take a bath.

My younger sister and me were not immune to the strange seduction of the habit.  We decided we couldn't wait and dove into Mom's neatly folded, clean white cotton sheets to start our "habits."  Measuring, cutting, we knew every inch, every detail of the costume, and set about the task with a special reverance and glee.  Since Mom didn't have black sheets, we ripped off the backing of a new set of curtains Mom was saving "for special".  Too late, we were already under the spell of the black and white and nothing could stop us.  After all, this was the start of the 60's, everything was slow and easy, the suburbs had proved a success, things were booming, we were young, free and we had a plan. 

Stitching and sewing fevorishing, before long we were done.  Oaktag was used for the "box" the nuns wore on their heads upon which was placed the long black veil with white lining ending at the shoulder.  The box always made them look like they had a headache, where it pinched their foreheads.  We made our long white gowns, the equally long, thin scapular which hid the nun's hands when not in use.  She would float on an invisible cloud as she silently, slowly made her way  up and down each aisle to watch us work.  It gave one many opportunities to study this strange garment and its many parts.  A long, extra huge black rosary hung from the inner gown, partially covered by the scapular.  We knew the parts by rote, with no idea what they meant. 

Too young to actually be nuns, we could at least look like them, and even had our purpose:  "Feed the hungry!"  We would get our little brown bags and go about the neighborhood on pious shoes, asking alms for the poor.  Oh so humble!

As we donned our habits, some swift metamorphosis took place, our voices became softer, lower, our slo-motion movements dignified and studied.  We were filled with some faux piety, instilled by the look of the habit.  We felt special, apart, unique and worthy.  Out we went for those pennies, anxious to help "the poor" which of course, was us.

First we thought we'd appeal to the cars passing by our home, which was set back from a main road.  Nothing was really paved except the street, and we stood precariously on the edges between the parched grass and paved gravel, holding out our bags with a look of such eager yet humble need, most people were helpless not to stop and toss out a few pennies.  They were caught like flies in the web of those habits, we soon discovered.  So we smiled graciously and thanked each one, much the way I'm smiling in this picture - with that "I've foresaken all worldly pleasures, don't you admire me?" kind of expression.  We had perfected it by watching the nuns for years.  My sister was a bit shorter, she seemed more pitiful for some reason.  What a couple of hams.

With ample pennies and even nickels rattling our bags, we decided to get bold and go for dimes - wow maybe even quarters - people were so generous!  Dreams of the "five & dime" penny-candy rolled happily through our young thoughts.  Isn't it odd how, as young children, you just don't see the folly in certain endeavors?  It never entered our nutty minds that the neighbors would obviously recognize us and call our Mother, which of course, someone eventually did.  And it was Mrs. Wiles, I'll never forget, I knew it was her by the look she gave us as she pulled into her driveway next to our house.  We didn't like the Wiles.  Her son, Billy, used to pee out of the attic window into the weeping willow tree that separated a part of our property.  

When we eventually had to pay the consequence of our well-planned, well-intentioned (for us) actions, something in my Mom gave way.  She got out her Kodak and took a few pictures, she just couldn't resist I suppose.  And I'm so grateful she did, as it brings back memories of an easy, protected time, a carefree exciting childhood about to break through into pre-teen angst.  And when that teenager appeared, she couldn't be controlled nor would she listen to anyone's advice. 

Though success did come through hard work, study, all the grown-up things one must do to secure a career, I shall never forget those easy summer days when, as a Dominican nun in my perfectly starched, pious, admirable habit, I had the world.