Backyard Observing


Friday evening setup: tarp (to catch falling bits and pieces in the dark) and the base.

All last week, I looked forward to the weekend as a chance to get some astronomical observing accomplished. The weather forecast seemed too good to be true: Sunny and clear, highs in the mid 70s and lows in the 50s, with dew points in the upper 40s and lower 50s. My astronomy club hosted a club star party, but I did not want to lug the scope to Louisburg and share the observing grounds with a previously scheduled private party. Continue reading

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The Death of Free-Range Parenting

Fascinating article I read this morning thanks to NPR’s feed:

Why Do We Judge Parents For Putting Kids at Perceived – But Unreal – Risk?

I’ve seen this materialize with my own eyes of the last 30-40 years.  I became a mother in the mid-80s.  Yet I spent most of the 70s riding my bicycle miles away from home during the summer.  As a parent, I tried not to freak out too much when my kids turned Houdini on me, but this study is right about this being classist (punishing poor single parents – mostly mothers), sexist (less moral outrage when a father leaves kids alone to work instead of inferring the woman abandons her kids to work outside the home) and the ever increasing worry about legal liability (by parents, by teachers, by coaches, by schools, by stores, etc.).

Some noteable quotes from the article:

The people with presumably the most child care experience (mothers) actually expressed the most exaggerated overestimates of risk. I was genuinely surprised by that. But I guess that’s because I was expecting people to be rational, and people are just not rational about this subject.


For parents who are working, who have more than one child, who need to get something else done during the day — to say nothing of single parents — that model of parenting is absurd.


It seems to be socially acceptable to harass parents (particularly mothers) who are “caught” leaving their child unattended for any time at all. . . . These guys are so proud of their behavior that they post the whole thing on Facebook, bragging about how they put these women in their place. It’s like “catching” parents breaking this new rule gives strangers license to harass them. I would be happy if this study prompted people to think about that, and if people moved away from this mentality of “punishing the bad mommy.”


So … don’t be so judgy when you know your judgments are being influenced by things besides actual evidence, don’t allow those same judgments to determine criminal standards of negligence or endangerment, and parents who judge that they can safely leave their children alone in a given situation shouldn’t feel guilty about doing so just because they know that decision would be (irrationally) condemned by others.


I think people still (unfortunately) believe, explicitly or implicitly, that when a father leaves home to do paid work, he is taking care of his child by doing that. Whereas when a mother does the same thing, she is seen as abandoning her child to pursue her own interests. The mother’s paid work is seen as morally objectionable and thus as endangering the child, whereas the father’s paid work is not.

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Day 18,995

I did not get a good night’s sleep overnight.  According to my fitness tracker, I slept about four hours (between 10 pm and 2 am), a quarter of that being light sleep.  Then I woke up and stayed awake for an hour, eventually falling back asleep shortly before 3 am and hitting snooze on my 5:30 a.m. alarm once.Preview post

First thing I did after stumbling downstairs was login to download two new releases I’d pre-ordered as ebooks:  Crosstalk by Connie Willis and The Wall of Storms by Ken Liu.  By then it was already five minutes to six o’clock.  It takes ten minutes to make tea and about the same time to dress so I started boiling the water in the microwave (four minutes) and went to gather my work clothes.  I put two teaspoons of Irish Blend loose leaf  tea in my reusable steeper, dunked it in the almost boiling water and set a timer for five minutes.  I dressed and packed my lunch and my electronics.

Continue reading

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On the Eve of Day Eighteen Thousand Nine Hundred Ninety-Three

Today is my last day of my 51st year on this planet.  It’s been a quiet day.  I woke at my usual time of five o’clock in the morning, before sunrise.  I didn’t walk either dog this morning.  I did take several closeups of Porthos, despite his not wanting to hold still or look at the camera.  Afterwards, I started reading my next book club read and wrote a review on a television series I finished watching on day 18,991.


Portrait of Porthos (10/1/16)

I did walk up the hill to the Lansing Community Library to volunteer for a couple of hours at the circulation desk.  I do this almost every Saturday and have for most of this past year.  On the return trip, I picked up my mail and found two birthday cards, one from my aunt and uncle and one from a long time friend who now lives back east in Virginia.

Later, I’ll make a run to the grocery store and maybe finish mowing the side yard.  I’ll leave the back yard mowing for tomorrow or Monday.  I’m on call for work this weekend and have had only one call from the help desk, which I took care of earlier this afternoon.  I might be on call, but I decided to take Monday off to make my birthday weekend a three day event.  And besides, I don’t do Mondays this time of year.  Whatever vacation I have left by this time of the year goes to taking off every available Monday until New Year’s Eve.  Use it or lose it.

Tomorrow, for my birthday ‘treat’ I’m dragging my husband and my dad to the Nelson-Atkins Art Gallery for the last day of their exhibit of ancient Roman luxury items.  The return trip home will involve a stop at Olive Garden.

Halfway through day 18, 992.

Probably a good time to take a nap.

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Series Review: Human Target (2010 – Season 1) Four Stars

Human Target

Season One Aired: 2010

Watched via Netflix DVD: Fall 2016

Synopsis (from Wikipedia): The series follows the life of San Francisco-based Christopher Chance (Mark Valley), a unique private contractor, bodyguard and security expert hired to protect his clients. Rather than taking on the target’s identity himself (as in the comic book version), he protects his clients by completely integrating himself into their lives, to become a “human target”. Chance is accompanied by his business partner, Winston (Chi McBride), and hired gun, Guerrero (Jackie Earle Haley). Continue reading

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Banned Book Bonanza

Libraries around the country celebrate “Banned Book” week during the final week of September (or the first full week of Fall). My local library, the Lansing Community Library (LCL), decided to extend this celebration of reading freedom through the end of October, to give patrons a longer window of opportunity to explore this year’s top challenged books.

Interview with a Librarian

I asked Emily Stratton, one of LCL’s Youth Services Librarians, a few questions that I had about banned or challenged books and with her permission I’m sharing her answers here:

Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you became a librarian?

I’ve always been a reader. Growing up as a military brat, reading was always something fun to do when we hadn’t made new friends yet or had our house items delivered to our new home. Though I received my bachelor’s degree in photography, I never stopped enjoying reading. I applied for an opening at Lansing Community Library after graduating college and began working there as a Circulation Technician in January of 2015 and fell in love with the job. A year and a half later, I’m now the Youth Services Librarian and plan on starting my Masters in Library Science next year.

What are your hopes for the program?

With our display and Banned Books Week, we’re hoping to get others excited celebrate their freedom to read and access to information. So many are surprised to find that their favorite book or a classic novel they read in high school has been challenged to be removed from an educational environment. Hopefully the displays we’ll keep up will spark conversations about why these are challenged and whether or not they agree. Maybe it will even introduce some new books to someone!

How long will the display remain up at the library?

Continue reading

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Best Home Alarm System: Man’s Best Friend

In my search for different and interesting ‘small screen’ series to sample, I stumbled upon a couple of good ones recently:  Human Target (from 2010 but cancelled after second season) and The Fall (from 2013 with three seasons to date).  I’m still watching Limitless, pausing briefly after watching the pilot to watch the movie that spawned the series, but otherwise continuing with 2-3 episodes per week.

Terry and I have finished two of three DVDs for the first season of Human Target.  I was hooked after the first episode, and not just because Christopher Chance’s pet was a Rottweiler named Carmine.  This show packs a lot of punches into a scant hour of programming and each episode is something completely different.  It’s fun to watch and even has me looking for the original graphic novels to read, but libraries are totally not up to speed in that area.  Continue reading

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