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Day 8: Fireworks and Phones


A short post from my phone so I can claim Day 8 of “Write Every Day.”

This picture was taken on July 3rd with my Samsung Galaxy 5. I was surprised to get a usable photo from a smartphone. We have come a long way.

I took four pictures and three of them came out. I would have taken more, but I was standing on a balcony and am easily startled. I quickly became nervous about dropping my phone 20 feet.

The photos were taken July 3rd because Juneau Alaska has “first in the nation” fireworks at 11:30 ish pm. They finish just after midnight on 7/4.

What’s the most surprising photo you’ve taken with a smartphone?

7/15 Pluto’s First Close-Up: What will be your #PlutoRXN (reaction)? | usra.edu

The New Horizons spacecraft will fly by Pluto and its moons July 13/14, 2015, capturing the first ever close-up images of the Pluto system. The first close-up image of Pluto will be released on July 15. What will the world think the first time we see this image? What will you think? We want to know. Simply tweet the first thought(s) that comes to your mind when you see this first, historic image of Pluto.

via Pluto’s First Close-Up: What will be your #PlutoRXN (reaction)? | What’s New.

You won’t need clear or dark skies to see the first truly close up pictures of Pluto EVER. Just check your computer on July 15th. Then share your reaction.

Pluto: The ‘Other’ Red Planet | NASA

What color is Pluto? The answer, revealed in the first maps made from New Horizons data, turns out to be shades of reddish brown. Although this is reminiscent of Mars, the cause is almost certainly very different. On Mars the coloring agent is iron oxide, commonly known as rust. On the dwarf planet Pluto, the reddish color is likely caused by hydrocarbon molecules that are formed when cosmic rays and solar ultraviolet light interact with methane in Pluto’s atmosphere and on its surface.

via Pluto: The ‘Other’ Red Planet | NASA.

New Horizons is a NASA probe launched years ago when Pluto was still the ninth planet. It will make it’s closet approach on Tuesday July 14th, but we’re already learning new things and confirming previous suspicions. Somehow I had missed that Pluto is red like Mars, but for different reasons.

I had thought to take July 14th off, but after reviewing the list of announced media activities, decided not to. No flyby images will be released that day. It looks like New Horizons will send a “I made it!” signal expected to be received around 4:15pm Alaska Time on July 14th, so I will look for that. As of this writing, flyby images are expected to be released sometime in the afternoon of the July 15th. Tune into NASA television when that happens.  I’ll let you know if I hear about a more precise time for the image release.

In terms of space exploration, I think it’s a good time to be alive.

Day 1: Celebrating Marriage Equality


My “Write Every Day” process hit a snag in June. I traveled twice. Once to Anchorage on business for a week and a vacation/American Library Association business in San Francisco. I find it hard to write from the road, so I let my streak lapse.

Today we resume with the photo above. The American Library Association Annual Conference coincided with Pride Week in San Francisco. The picture above is from a bar in San Francisco’s Mission District the day that the US Supreme Court proclaimed marriage equality the law of the land. The mood everywhere we went that night was jubilant. So many people were so happy. The mood continued throughout the weekend. It was a great place to be regardless of sexual orientation.

I felt privileged to be there and happy that the Court found that any two consenting adults could marry. I firmly believe that is the right choice in a secular society.

Try Your Hand at Balancing Alaska’s Budget

Session 5 Debrief Form (doc)
Economic Considerations with Revenue Options (PDF), Dan Robinson
Fiscal and Revenue Options (PDF), Commissioner Randy Hoffbeck
Updated! 6/7 Revenue and Expenditure Model (xlsx)
The Conversation Overiew (PDF), Bill Dann
Alaska Budget Overview (PDF), OMB Director Pat Pitney
An Introduction To Alaska Fiscal Facts and Choices (PDF), Gunnar Knapp
Potential Revenue and Fiscal Options (PDF), Revenue White Paper
Updated! 6/11 Participant List (PDF)
Conversation Schedule (PDF)
Legislative Fiscal Analyst’s Overview of the Governor’s FY2016 Request (PDF)
Lunch & Learn: Budget Overview by David Teal 3/26/15 (External Link)

via Alaska Governor Bill Walker.

Dear Alaskan Readers, I hope you will share this post far and wide. As part of Governor Walker’s Alaska’s Future’s initiative, anyone can download the Revenue and Expenditure Model spreadsheet and play around with different options in Alaska’s budget to see if you can keep the state from running out of money before 2030.

The spreadsheet allows you to make assumptions about the average price of oil, make choices about taxes and PFD earnings, and reduce spending. My only complaint is that the max cut you can give an agency is 30%. I’d prefer an option that allowed you to eliminate entire agencies if you wanted. Division level zero outs would be even better.

I tried my own hand at this. I assumed $60/barrel oil. I cut every department by 30% and tried a variety of PFD limits and taxes. I couldn’t make it work. A friend of my assumed $200/barrel oil and she couldn’t get it to work – though she didn’t share what else she did.

Can YOU keep Alaska solvent through 2030? If so, please show your work. Our state needs all the help it can get.

(Huffington Post) Photos Show Once-Beautiful Soviet Space Shuttles In Apparently Abandoned Kazakhstan Hangar

The two spaceships are reportedly products of the Soviet Union’s Buran program, which ran from 1974 to 1993. In 1988, the program succeeded in sending an unmanned Buran shuttle in two orbits around the earth in under four hours. That shuttle, called the OK-1K1, was destroyed in 2002 when the roof of the Baikonur Cosmodrome hangar where it was being stored collapsed.

Following the disaster, the OK-1K1’s sister space shuttle (officially called OK-1K2 but nicknamed “Little Bird”) was moved to a different hangar at the launch facility, where it still sits today, according to Ars Technica.

via Photos Show Once-Beautiful Soviet Space Shuttles In Apparently Abandoned Kazakhstan Hangar.

From the “Where are they now?” I remember hearing about the Buran program when I was in college. Buran is a Russian word for blizzards, which was a reflection of how hardy the Soviet Union wanted its shuttles to be. So reliable they could be launched in snow storms. But that never was. I’m actually kind of sorry about that. I’d like to see SOME human nation come up with cheap and reliable space travel. Now my money (metaphorically speaking) is on SpaceX.


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