Saturday, October 14, 2017

Booms II

This week we celebrated Earth Science Day at Palomar College and I again helped out with the simulated volcanic explosion demos. Here's are the slow-motion videos that I shot of our three volcanic explosions.

Yeah, I rotated my phone during the explosion. Sorry about that.

 Explosion # 2. Check out the deformation in the trash barrel as it blows.

The third one I shot vertically, in an attempt to capture the ping-pong ball action.

Here's my post showing similar explosions from last year. 

Saturday, August 12, 2017

27 1/2 Songs For Your Solar Eclipse Playlist

The August 21st solar eclipse will soon be here and I am preparing for it in a variety of ways. My camera and eye protection (including solar binoculars) are all ready and I'm just finishing up on one final thing, my somewhat eccentric music playlist to get ready for the eclipse.

Since it has been far too long since I've made a blog post, I thought I'd post it here, along with a few comments for each song.

1) We start off with Heaven and Hell by Vangelis. This was the theme music for Carl Sagan's classic TV series Cosmos. It always makes me think of voyaging through space and time.

2) Solar eclipses are all about an alignment of the Sun and Moon and clear weather is essential to see and enjoy the experience. On the day of the eclipse I'll be getting an early start and Bruce Springsteen's Waitin' on a Sunny Day is a good title for what I'm hoping to have.

3) I follow that up with Here Comes the Sun by The Beatles:

4) While the eclipse is a pretty unique event, I'm keeping the Sun and clear skies theme going, so I follow it up with Another Day of Sun from the La La Land soundtrack:

5) That brings me back to The Beatles and Good Day Sunshine, as the song captures exactly the kind of emotions I hope to have during the eclipse:

6) One more from The Beatles, I'll Follow the Sun:

7) Here's the first of two Carly Simon songs (I'll bet you can guess the other one), Touched by the Sun:

8) Sticking with some more pre-eclipse references to the Sun, next up is Elton John's Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me:

9) Eclipses are not just about the Sun. The Moon ultimately plays a central role in blocking the Sun's rays, an event the has for centuries been steeped in fear and superstition. In spite of its reference to "nasty weather," Bad Moon Rising by Credence Clearwater Revival makes my list:

10) Jonothon Coulton's Always the Moon is a beautiful creation myth song about love and the Moon:

11) Keeping the 'Moon' theme going, the next piece is an instrumental one, William Ackerman's Conferring With the Moon:

12) Solar eclipses can only occur when the Moon is in its "new" phase. This year's solar eclipse happens on a Monday, so Duran Duran's New Moon on Monday is a natural choice:

13) Another 'new moon' song, New Blue Moon by the Traveling Wilburys:

14) Moving toward the actual eclipse,and the music to celebrate it, we come to the grandmother of eclipse songs, Carly Simon's You're So Vain:

15) It gets dark during a total solar eclipse and in the past many people wondered if the Sun really was going away, so Neil Diamond's The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore is an appropriate choice:

16) Bill Withers wonderful Ain't No Sunshine keeps that idea going:

17) I follow that up with Invisible Sun by The Police:

18) Invisible Sun is a dark song, but total solar eclipses should be celebrated, so I begin the celebration with Moondance by Van Morrison:

19) and follow that up with another song by Bruce Springsteen, Dancing in the Dark:

20) There wont be any light from the Moon during the eclipse, but this still works for me, Dancing in the Moonlight by King Harvest:


21) That's followed up by a song that's actually about stargazing, Tom Petty's The Dark of the Sun:

22) I'm not sure if this is a great fit or not, but next up is Black Hole Sun by Soundgarden:

23) Love it or hate it, Bonnie Tyler's Total Eclipse of the Heart has to be played at least one for the solar eclipse, doesn't it?

23 1/2) Actually, I prefer this version of Total Eclipse of the Heart, as it is actually about eclipses (and since it is the same song, it's the 1/2 song in the title of this post):

24) Another almost required choice, Pink Floyd's Eclipse from their Dark Side of the Moon album:

25) Okay, this is what used to be called a "deep cut." The Moon's A Window to Heaven from the soundtrack to Star Trek V. Yes, really.

26) If all goes well with your eclipse viewing at the end of the event you'll be overjoyed. I am hoping that Katrina & The Waves' Walking on Sunshine accurately describes how I'll be feeling at the end of the solar eclipse:

27) After the solar eclipse is over the Moon will leave it's new phase and soon return as a thin sliver in the evening skies, so I'll end this with KT Tunstall's Crescent Moon:

There are lots of other songs about the Sun and Moon that I could have included and maybe I missed some obvious choices, but

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Star Trek: And the Children Shall Lead

It has been quite a while since I've done any blogging, but today I am back to look at another episode of classic Star Trek:
And The Children Shall Lead is not a good episode of Trek. It's the kind of episode that gives season three of TOS Trek a bad name. It's bad enough that I watched it two months ago and am only now able to bring myself to write about it. Really (okay, I've been busy too).
If you loved the kids in the first season episode Miri (I didn't), then you were probably thinking Trek was overdue for another kid-heavy episode. So here it is.

In this one we get kids playing Ring Around the Rosie, Kirk & the kids eating ice cream, and more! It begins with the Enterprise, responding to a distress call from the planet Triacus, finds that all of the adults in the "scientific colonoy" there are dead, but their children are strangely unaffected. They show no remorse or even awareness of their parents' deaths. McCoy is worried that the children could receive permanent psychological damage if the situation isn't handled well.
The children are brought aboard the Enterprise where we soon learn that they are under the influence of the "friendly angel," who instructs them to seize control of the starship and send it on to Marcus 12 where they will make more friends.
They take over, exerting their control over the Enterprise crew by shaking their fists. Maybe they do that because the friendly angel can't - he's got no arms!

It takes Kirk and Spock a while to figure out what is going on. Spock, as usual, has done his homework explaining:
According to the legend, Triacus was the seat of a band of marauders who made constant war throughout the system of Epsilon Indi. After many centuries, the destroyers were themselves destroyed by those they had preyed upon... like so many legends, this one too has a frightening ending. It warns that the evil is awaiting a catalyst to set it again into motion and send it marauding across the galaxy.
Hmmm... maybe that's happening here.

Under the influence of the children the Enterprise breaks orbit before Kirk even realizes it, which was very unfortunate for these two Red Shirts. Instead of being beamed down to the planet they were beamed into empty space. Doesn't anyone scan the beam-down site first?
After Kirk figures out what is going on, he tries to get Sulu to change course, but the helmsman thinks he's navigating the Enterprise through a bunch of giant space swords: "Captain, stay away from the controls! If you touch them, we'll be destroyed."

Kirk soon finds that virtually the entire crew, except for Spock, has turned against him.
 Curiously, Spock then begins to refer to the being controlling the children not as an alien or an entity, but as evil. That's unusual for Spock, but then this isn't a well written episode.
Kirk wonders why Gorgan has no arms.
Finally, Kirk has had enough and wants his ship back so he asks Spock to "playback the chant the children sang to summon up the Gorgan." I'm not sure where or when they recorded the children doing this, why they didn't step in when they did, or when they knew that Goran was the name of the being, but whatever.

After some tough talk from the Gorgan they display a recording showing the children playing with their parents and then shots of their parents dead on Triacus
It ends with Kirk calling Gorgan out and saying to the children "Look at him. Without you children, he's nothing. The evil remains within him... Look how ugly he really is. Look at him and don't be afraid." Yes, because ugliness must be evil and .... actually I don't really understand the ending at all. It all just sort of happens and doesn't make any sense. The kids cry, Gorgan leaves and all is well again if you ignore the fact that the kids helped to murder their parents.
Anyway, McCoy is happy because the kids are crying and can now be helped. By the end of the episode the audience is crying too because they had to sit through it all, but then this is third season Trek, so get used to it.

Composer George Duning wrote the music for the episode. He previously wrote music for Metamorphosis and Return to Tomorrow. His music for this episode works, but unlike a lot of Trek music it isn't something that I enjoy listening to.

The next episode for me is the classic that people love to bash as possibly the worst ever episode of Star Trek: Spock's Brain