Sunday, October 26, 2014

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Partial Solar Eclipse!

Unlike the lunar eclipse of two weeks ago, we had perfect weather for today's partial solar eclipse. I managed to take a few photos using my DSLR with its 250mm lens and a handheld solar filter. The shots didn't turn out too bad. The view was greatly improved by the presence of the gigantic sunspot that is on the Earth-facing side of the Sun right now.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Star Trek: I, Mudd

Hey, it's time for another episode of Star Trek. Today, I bring you I, Mudd.
I have to confess that I like Harcort Fenton Mudd, yet I'm not especially fond of the two TOS episodes (Mudd's Women and I, Mudd) where he makes an appearance.
Actor Roger C. Carmel certainly gave expressively wonderful performances of this almost lovable 23rd Century conman, yet there is enough in both Mudd episodes to bring them down for me.

Our story begins with McCoy complaining to Spock about a new crewman, Norman, who, "never smiles, whose conversation never varies from the routine of the job, and who won't talk about his background." Not only that, he's missed two appointments for a physical. Presumably, he's getting billed anyway.
We then see Norman and his stunt double swooping in and taking control of Engineering.

Kirk and the gang realize that the ship is off course and they've been locked out of all controls, when Norman enters the bridge saying that he's taken over. Not only that, any attempt to put the ship back on course will result in it's destruction. Norman then explains, "I assure you we are no threat to humanity or humanoid life. We mean you no harm, but we require your ship." When Kirk asks what he means by 'we', Norman gives us The Big Reveal:
Yeah, instead of answering Kirk's question, he raises his shirt and pops open a panel on his tummy. The dude's an android!
A couple of days later, they arrive at the planet and meet Harry Mudd and a planet full of androids, most of whom have been built to Mudd's lecherous specifications. The exception is one android replica of his ex-wife, Stella.
Mudd: "behind every great man there is a woman urging him on. And so it was with my Stella. She urged me on into outer space. Not that she meant to, but with her continual, eternal, confounded nagging. Well, I think of her constantly, and every time I do, I go further out into space."
We soon learn that the androids are from the Andromeda galaxy (m31) and that they need human beings to serve and study. In fact, they plan on using the Enterprise to take over the galaxy. As Norman put it, "We cannot allow any race as greedy and corruptible as yours to have free run of the galaxy....We shall serve them. Their kind will be eager to accept our service. Soon they will become completely dependent upon us."

None of this seemed to bother Mudd until he realized that he was going to be marooned on the planet along with the entire crew of the Enterprise. So, what to do?
Kirk & Spock have noticed there are many versions of each android model, except Norman. Based on this they, correctly, assume that Norman is the key, that "each android mind must be one component of a mass brain linked through a central locus."  Yeah, Norman is the key.

It was never discussed how Norman would control the other androids that were going to serve humanity throughout the galaxy, but I'm sure he's just that awesome. 
Or is he? Kirk and the gang decide to behave irrationally so as to confuse the androids and then overload Norman. It's all kind of painful to watch though.
Spock: "Logic is a little tweeting bird chirping in a meadow. Logic is a wreath of pretty flowers which smell bad."
 The big finish against Norman is pretty weak. Kirk tells Norman that everything Harry says is a lie and then Harry says that he is lying. Norman, apparently incapable of having learned anything from his extensive time studying Harry before they plotted to steal a starship, can't take the contradiction and loses it (complete with smoke coming out of his ears!), "You say you are lying, but if everything you say is a lie then you are telling the truth, but you cannot tell the truth because everything you say is a lie. You lie. You tell the truth. But you cannot for. Illogical! Illogical! Please explain."

Yeah, I know that this was meant to be a somewhat silly episode, but the payoff here doesn't work for me but it is keeping in the tradition of Kirk vs. Computer that we've seen previously in episodes like The Return of the Archons and The Changeling. Trek will go to that well again, but it would have been nice if they could have found another solution.
While our crew is safe, Harry gets his comeuppance at the end. He's to remain on the planet where Kirk and the gang have created hundreds of the Stella model to nag him into being a better person. It's a light sendoff that would certainly a torturous existence for Mudd.

Speaking of a torture, composer Samuel Matlovsky's score for the episode might well qualify as such. The tracks from this episode are the only ones that, from the otherwise awesome complete TOS music set from La-La Land Records, are totally unlistenable.  If you like Trek and music, you should have this set, but if you get it, skip over Matlovsky's score.

Next up is an episode that's much higher on almost everyone's list, The Trouble With Tribbles.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Golden Sunrise

Yeah, Wednesday's sunset was pretty fantastic, but Friday's sunrise wasn't too bad either.

Here are a couple of shots of it, followed by a timelapse that I captured with my iPhone.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Two Sunrises

Clouds and rain from the remnants of Hurricane Simon obscured the lunar eclipse for Arizona, but before the rain came in we had a couple of nice sunrises earlier this week.

Here's the scene from Monday morning:
Tuesday morning wasn't half bad either:
I'm 0-2 for lunar eclipses this year (I was stuck in New Orleans for the one last spring where it war raining cats & dogs). There's another one in April 2015, hopefully that one will work out.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Lunar Eclipse in Three Days

Don't forget, there will be a total lunar eclipse early in the morning on Wednesday October 8.
Image from Sky & Telescope
The dark part of Earth's shadow first hits the moon at 2:15 a.m. (Arizona/Pacific time) with totality beginning at 3:25 a.m. The total phase lasts almost an hour. It then takes another hour and 10 minutes for the moon to move out of Earth's shadow.

I plan on taking plenty of photos. If I get anything good expect them to be posted here and on my Instagram.