Who the Hell is THAT?

     Greetings and Salutations;

     Some time ago, I was poking through Ebay on one of those random walks to see what nuttiness was posted there, when I ran across a delightful little statue of a cat perched on (and looking over the side of) a stack of books.   According to the listing it was done around the 1950s.  Well, at $80, it was attractive, but, past my pain point, so I did not grab it.   Over the next month though, I kept it on my “watch” list, and, checked on it several times.   No one bought it, and, when the vendor re-listed it at $60, I was no longer able to resist the tempation.   So, now it is decorating one of the little alcoves by the main entrance doors in the Octagon.    Tristan has taken to sitting in the next alcove down, as it gives him a good perspective on the room.   Well,  the title of this post comes from his reaction (which I was able to capture on camera) when he finally realized the cat statue was there:
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The twists of life.

     Greetings and Salutations;

     The past couple of months have been a chaotic nightmare in many ways.   Firstly, we were ready to move into the Octagon on The Hill as of the first of the year, so I got given the job of moving everything from the Rental to the new house.   Lisa, who has had increasingly bothersome amounts of pain and disability from her left hip, was not really able to help that much.  She managed a couple of sessions of a half hour or so each, of putting stuff in boxes, but, that was it.   The entire burden fell on me.   In addition, when we told the landlord that we were finally heading out, they turned around and found someone to rent the place who wanted to move in almost the day after we exited!   Of course that was not going to happen, as there was cleaning that needed to be done, and, some repair items that had been pending because I was too nice a guy to make an issue of it with them.   However, they needed us out by the end of February.   I made it, by pushing myself too hard, and, through the kind aid of several of my friends, who came out one day and helped me get four truckloads of possessions out of the Rental and into the Octagon – including the heavy stuff of the appliances and some other furniture.   I cannot express how thankful I am that they came through for me, and, would not even let me feed them dinner in return!   I will get them later with the dinner thing, but, I did not push it then. 
     Then, to add to the fun…At the first of February, Lisa went to an appointment with her medical group, and, finally mentioned to them during the examination that she was having a lot of pain from her hip.   They took an x-ray, and, a few minutes later popped into the examination room to say she was scheduled for an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon on the next Tuesday.   She felt that it was probably not good news simply because one does not get an appointment that quick for a consult, or double-check.  Indeed, the surgeon, Dr. Oros, looked at her scans and scheduled her for hip replacement surgery 10 days later!   While things went very well, indeed, she did have to stay in hospital for several days, and, I, of course, spent much of that time there too – which meant that nothing got moved from the Rental.   It has now been four and a half weeks since the operation, and, from my point of view, she is doing very well indeed.   She has been very good at doing the physical therapy exercises we were shown in Joint Class,   and continues to push the envelope.   She discarded the walker almost completely after Dr. Oros said she could try walking with a cane a little bit, and has hardly used it since.   She is back to work, at least for half days until the NEXT appointment, where with luck, she will be cleared for full time again.   she is driving herself fairly well.   And, her quality of walking has improved greatly.   Now, for example, she is getting good, normal movement out of her left leg – after using it for little more than a crutch that she moved by swiveling her hips for a couple of years.   She is quite steady, and has had NO falls, even when negotiating stairs.    Finally, her uses of the cane is evolving.   She was putting weight on it when she first started using it, but, now, it is more for balance and steadiness.   So…that is good, but, since I was the caretaker during this time,  it did complicate trying to get other things done.
     Finally, once everything was packed into the Octagon, that still left a somewhat overwhelming number of boxes to empty out and sort out the contents to their final location.   That has proceeded apace, though, and while it is still pretty chaotic here, it is easier to find things, and the paths are MUCH wider.
     As for the Art and Cats part of the title….that has to do with the move too.   The cats are really taking to their new environment well.   They enjoy the fact that they can run long distances now, and, have several big windows where they and Mr. Sunbeam can get together.    They are also enjoying exploring the main part of the Octagon, and, really want to get up into the tower (which has been off limits because they could have escaped into the garage)  and have managed to get into it a couple of times already.  Since I covered the open risers of the stairs with wood paneling, I have no problem with them going into it now.
     So…we are in the Octagon.    It is a MUCH better house than we have lived in for some time, and, if we can keep it is going to be a great place for parties, and life in general.   Keep your fingers crossed!
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looking at the ravages of winter and neglect.

     Greetings and Salutations;

     Well, for the first time in far too long, I hiked into the apiary, to see what was happening there.   My thought, as I looked around, was that at least it is going to provide me with a great opportunity to rebuild and restore it in a better place and plan!   I am sorry to report that the two colonies I had remaining last year have either crashed, died during the winter or flown the coop, as the apiary is a quiet, and deserted place just now.   While the hives have not suffered too much – they are still standing and appear fairly dry and such, the girls are gone.   Maybe in a couple of months I can afford a nuc or two and get them going again.   At least this affords me a chance to clean up the hives, and move them to a better location.   
     One problem I noticed a bit ago is that the “good” place I had for them turned out to be a location where a river of very cold air would accumulate and flow by.   Considering the single digit temperatures we had a month or two ago, I suspect that is what did the girls in.   Ah, well, live and learn.     As I may have mentioned before, though, one good thing about living on the property, instead of 30+ minutes away is that it allows the opportunity to actually take care of things, instead of being an absentee Landlord.
     More later…
     Bee Man Dave.
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Keeping life Positive…more or less.

     Greetings and salutations;

     Amazing how quickly time slips away when life becomes a hectic whirlwind of chaos and challenges!   However, I am trying to ensure that I find ways to bring little rays of sunshine into my life, to help drive back the darkness of Depression and frustration.   Although I have been spending almost every penny I have scraped together to make the Octagon livable and keep it progressing to completion, last week, I decided I needed to do something purely for me.    As it happened, I had, some weeks ago been poking through Ebay, marveling at the amazing variety of weird stuff available today, and, I ran across a small statue of a cat, perched on a stack of books.   Well, two of the primary forces in my life that keep it worth living are the cats I interact with,  and the books I am blessed with.   However, at the time, it was listed at $80.00, which was slightly more than I could cough up.   So,  with a sigh, I moved on.   Well, a little bit ago, I was, again, distracting myself from the stresses of reality with a dip into the Weird Pool of Ebay, and, to my surprise, the cat statue was not only still available, but, it had been marked down to $60!   While still a worrisome sum of money, I decided to go for it, and, did a “buy it now”.   The statue showed up today, and, I have to say that it comes closer than anything recently has to bringing a smile to my face.   It was claimed that it was sort of an antique ( supposedly carved in the mid-1950s).  I do not have proof of that, but, it is really nicely done, and, the cat has a very “cat-like” expression of concentration on its face.   I am very pleased with it, and, will enjoy having it around as long as I can.   Violetta and Tristan spent a little bit of time sniffing the “carved” cat….which was most amusing.   In any case, here are a few pictures of the sculpture.

There is a lot of detail on this well-carved item…

Violetta noticed the new cat directly and checked it out.
SHe rapidly lost interest when she discovered it was just a carving

And here is the carved kitty looking down at the floor…
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New picture of the Octagon.

     Greetings and Salutations;

     Progress is happening at the house in Blaine, although it remains a slow and painful process.  The picture at the top of the Blog, as of 2013/11/09 is a picture I took recently when I had to be on site by 7:00.   That was very early, alas,  but, the golden sunlight flooding the structure made it look pretty good.
     More later
     Bee Man Dave
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Once again, the Politicians AMAZE me.

     Greetings and Salutations;

     Well, it is now day 9 of the government shut down, and, I, for one, have been affected by this childish game.    Specifically,   several months ago, my younger sister told me she and family were coming through Knoxpatch on the 3d of this month, and, she was going to throw me into the van and drag me up to Washington D.C. for a few days.   There were three main reasons for this trip.   
     First off, my older sister and her husband are celebrating the 43d anniversary of their wedding this month.   Considering the state of relationships in America, this is a minor miracle, and, is a great thing to see.   There are just too few people who truly complete each other, and, have a happy marriage even after all these years.   No marriage is without conflict of course, but, she and her husband have found positive ways to work it out, and, still care deeply for each other.   I freely admit that I have some envy for them, as I am far less socialized and find that happy state to be well out of my reach.   With luck, they will have many more years of happiness.
     Then,  there was the fact that neither my younger sister and her family, nor I, have been to D.C. for about 10 years, and, my younger nephew, Tim (AKA Tennessee), has never been there, so, it is high time we get re-acquainted with the city, and, he get some exposure to the amazing treasures of the Smithsonian, and, to see the complexities of the Federal Government.   The timing was good, too, as he was out of school for a time, thanks to a “spring break” of sorts, and, my brother-in-law had hit a point at work where the flood of IT problems had subsided a bit, so he could get away too.
     Finally,   my younger sister, being a mother several times over,   is sometimes slightly too concerned about the level of stress in my life, and, wanted to do something to help me escape from it for a bit.   It is certainly true that I have been through some dark times recently,  but, I was surviving….However, she was quite insistent, and, when a Red-haired woman of German/Engish descent makes up her mind that something needs to happen, it is just safer and easier to go along with it.
     So…that was the theory, when this was arranged, several weeks ago – well before the foolishness going on in the Congress right now.   Then,   the Republicans, in yet another attempt to get the Affordable Care Act repealed,  dug in their heels and shut down the government, furloughed 800,000 workers, got the doors of every museum owned by the Feds locked up tight, and, had the Park Service, as their last act before going home and trying to figure out how to feed their kids for the rest of the month,  put up barricades around all the national parks and monuments that they could find.    Now, I may not be the brightest star in the sky, but, even I would have figured out by at MOST the 20th failed attempt to repeal the act,  that I was not being particularly productive.   I certainly would not have pushed on to more than 40 failed attempts, and, I certainly would not have decided to screw over hundreds of thousands of moderate to low income government workers just to make a point.   They claim they are trying to “Save” us from the ACA.   Who is going to save us from THEM?
     As of today (October 10th),   the emergency measures that various governmental agencies had taken to try and shuffle money around to keep going for a while are starting to fail.   Perhaps the most outrageous example is that the bodies of five Servicemen, killed in Afghanistan a week or so ago, finally made it to America yesterday.   The Veteran’s Administration normally gives the families a goodly chunk of cash ($100,000 or so), to cover their expenses for travelling to the Air Force Base where the body will arrive, and, to help with funeral costs and that sort of thing.  Well, thanks to the shut-down, these families were faced with bearing that expense on their own – which meant that there was a good chance that several of those bodies would arrive with no one from their family to meet them.   Luckily,  a private agency has picked up the slack, and is, essentially, loaning the government the monies, to be paid back when the shut-down ends.   However,    the cash that the Veteran’s agency needs to send disability checks, etc, out to our warriors runs out at the end of October.    That will mean that hundreds of thousands of veterans will be forced to find other ways to get dinner, keep the lights on, etc.    In addition, further inspectors have been released from the DOE, so, for example, the nuclear plants around the country are no longer being monitored for safety.    Yesterday, there was a fatal crash on the Red Line Metro in D.C.   THis will not be investigated because the DOT inspectors have been furloughed.   While it may not be that important to a lot of people, I, personally,  find it sad that 97% of NASA’s employees have been laid off, so, many, many programs have ground to a halt.  There are likely going to be some that never start back up, because that equipment is time-sensitive.   I could go on, but, it is trivial to find a train-load of stories talking about governmental services and programs that are shut down.   While I am sure that all of us have one or two programs that we can look at and say “good riddance”.  However, there are a small number of Members of Congress who seem to believe that ANY government  or governmental program is bad.    They want to to destroy everything, apparantly with the attitude that somehow, by a miracle, some other private organization, or church will pick up the slack, or,  all those slackers and parasites who are draining money from the government will go get real jobs and become productive citizens!    It is amazing to me that it seems to be the very well off, nay,  very rich cats in Congress, who could live comfortably off their bank accounts and not raise a finger for the rest of their lives, who seem to feel this way.   They do not seem to have any idea of what a challenge life can be for us ordinary mortals today!  They want to get rid of the ACA – and allow the insurance companies to go back to cherry-picking only the most healthy folks to sell policies to – which did a great job of making huge profits for them, but, left millions of Americans with little or no insurance against catastrophy.   They want to allow the insurance companies to put caps on how much they pay out…so if you happen to get an aggressive cancer in your 30s,  by your 50s, you will have gotten all the treatment for it they will pay for, and, there is little left for you to do but die.    They want to attempt to turn America into a Theocracy, where, as long as you are a fundamentalist, and go to THEIR denomination, you will be “ok”, but, if you stray, or believe anything else, you will be subject to many penalties.   In short, it looks to me as if there is a small percentage of Congress who want to turn America into a live version of “The Andy of Mayberry” show, or “Leave It To Beaver”.    It seems to me that sometimes they do not realize these were television shows and NOT documentaries about reality.   It is impossible for America to go there, because it has never BEEN there, no matter what they say.
     The final bit of amazement for me is that the Republican Party, which my parents were proud members of, has been taken over by these extremists, and has almost totally given up the idea of fact based arguments, and, relies only on lies, anecdotes, and ad-hominum attacks on President Obama and the Democrats to try and push their agenda.   It is a terribly sad thing, because many Republicans I know are very intelligent and wise folks, but, are trying as hard as they can to swallow the jagged bits that the party puts out now.
Pleasant dreams
Bee Man Dave
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How do YOU deal with Stress?

     Greetings and Salutations;

     After far too long as a Renter,  we are moving into the Octagon on The Hill.   Thanks to the economy,  my health issues, and the difficulties that are a hallmark of two people with very different goals that work on building a new structure,  it has taken several years to get to the point where it is livable.     The stress  of moving, and finishing some of the pending tasks is still there, alas.   While I hope that this is the last time I will have to do a major move in my life, I fear that at least one more terrible disruption is rolling down the pike towards me.   That  adds more worries to those dark moments in the wee hours of the morning.   However,  with luck,  being able to contemplate views like the following from the Deck will help me find enough peace to deal with those stresses in a positive and productive fashion:
      This is looking  South-Easterly from the deck.
This is looking Westerly, watching the shadows of the tower creep up the nearby trees
This land has a lot of positive energy to it, so it is fairly soothing.  Combining that with the fact that the neighbors are rather far away, it is quite peaceful.    I am hoping now that we can  have some dinner parties and music evenings there…
Wish Us Luck.
      Pleasant Dreams
      Bee Man Dave
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How should we treat the Needy in our society?

     Greetings and Salutatons;

     Just a short note about a story I read this Sunday morning.   It seems that the city of Raleigh, North Carolina is starting an urban renewal project by making life for the homeless in the city less comfortable.    As I mention in the below note, I am all for cities being clean, nice and attractive, but, it is somewhat repulsive that the towering, crystal spires be built on the misery of the disadvantaged in the city!   A link to the article that came across my desktop is included in the quote of the letter I wrote….
 Greetings and Salutations;
This Sunday morning, I read an article about how the “Love Wins Ministry” was prevented by the LEOs from distributing free food to the homeless and needy in your city.   Here is the link to that story:  http://lovewins.info/2013/08/feeding-homeless-apparently-illegal-in-raleigh-nc/

I am registering a protest against this action, and support the ministry’s actions completely. 
There are several reasons for this decision:
1) As a follower of Christ, I follow His lead in this matter – and his teachings were that we, who are more fortunate, are to help the disadvantaged whenever possible.
2) I have a general objection to the thought that in America, where we throw away more food in a year than many other countries would need to feed their entire population, there are people who remain food insecure.   How in the world does anyone expect a person down on their luck to be able to climb out of that hole when they are preoccupied by trying not to starve to death.
3) There was a mention of a “revitalization” of the city bouncing around in your minds.   While it is a wonderful goal, and if we have to have cities, we want them to be as nice as possible,  it is a bad idea if you are going to build it on the bodies and misery of the homeless trapped in it.   If you think that an artificial limit on how they can get food will have any positive effects, I fear you are doomed to disappointment.   They will not leave, they will not vanish, and, I suspect that if you use draconian methods like this to try and make the problem go away, all you will see is an increase in property crime, and, in the number of homeless, desperate folks standing by the road with cardboard signs begging for food.
4)  From the article I read, the Ministry folks were treated with terrible disrespect by the LEOs that prevented the food distribution.   For the police to arrogantly tell them that (a) they were going to jail if they handed out the food, and (b) to refuse to quote what laws they were breaking indicates to me that there was no legal basis for harassing these people and their clients.   I am not a lawyer, but I have enough age and experience in local politics to feel that I am quite correct in pointing out that this is the sort of police tactic that exposes the city to some serious liability.   If, for example, the LEOs had arrested some or all of the Ministry folks, this would have gone to court, and unless the charges were very well documented and not the usual mish-mash of serious-sounding, but hollow charges that the LEO community uses to annoy citizens, the case would bring nothing but acquittal for the defendants and, loads of bad publicity for the city.   Think for a minute – How would you like Rachael Maddow or Anderson Cooper to feature Raleigh on their programs, in the “worst thing in the world” or “Ridculist” segments?

That having been said – Let me offer you some suggestions on how to fix the problem and make this a winnable situation.   I gather from the article that there are no places in the city, where people in need of food can go for a hot meal on the weekends.   This Ministry was created to deal with that need, so, the simplest way to deal with the situation is to re-open the soup kitchens and shelters on the weekend.   I am sure the Ministry folks who now take food out into the world would be happy enough to support this effort with volunteer labor, if the expense seems too much.
Alternatively,  reconsider the licensing structure and costs as regards public areas.   While $800/day is probably quite reasonable for using the park for an entire day, it is far out of line for the short time that the Ministry folks would be there distributing food.  After all, considering the demand and supply available, I suspect that the food is all gone within half an hour of their opening up shop.   So, either pro-rate the licensing costs, or create a free license with restrictions, so the Ministry can come in, do its work, and leave without hassles.   Now, as a part of this, if there is going to be a conflicting event there that the City knows about…make it a point to communicate with the Ministry folks, so they can have their distribution set up elsewhere, or far enough out of the way that it will not conflict with the other event(s).
I would also strongly suggest that your police department be reminded that they are not warders in a prison, and, the people they were threatening were not prisoners under their control.   The fact of the matter is that, even in these chaotic days, the police force is a servant of the citizens.    They are hired to keep the peace by ensuring that crimes against citizens end up with the criminal being tracked down, arrested and put into the Justice system.  Law is the basic structure of our society, so an accurate and objective police force to enforce those laws is a vital part of that society.   If the police err in their enforcement of the law, it should be on the merciful side.   For example, in the quoted example, it would have been more appropriate for the LEOs to say to the Ministry folks “This statute says that you are no longer allowed to distribute food here.   Go ahead and give out what you have today, but, do not do it again.  The NEXT time you will be arrested for <list of excuses for cracking down on the folks>”  Obviously, this was not the course that was taken.

I could go on, but, I believe this makes my point.
Dave Mundt
Knoxville, TN.

Posted in Ethics, Food, General, Heath, Humanity, Nuttiness, Political rants, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Why should someone have to die because some punk is “bored?”

  Greetings and Salutations;

Once again, my fellow Americans have shown that they have the capacity to amaze me and push the limits of how one should conduct oneself.

In short, Christopher Lane was an Australian baseball player, in the United States on a baseball scholarship. Last week, while visiting his girlfriend and her family in a small town in Oklahoma, three boys (ranging in age from 15 to 17), pulled up behind him in a car, pulled out a gun and shot him in the back. This week, a court heard that their explanation for the act was that they were bored, and, thinking of themselves as wanna-be gangsters, randomly picked this young man as a target.

People around the world are asking”why”, and “How could this happen” and such. A problem with asking these questions is that it pre-supposes that there are some rational reasons for such an act. There really are not, as it has more to do with the weird way that the minds of kids work than any real reason. I believe there are some factors that contributed to this terrible event, that provided the roots for the act, and, I want to discuss them in this post.

Over the past several decades, there has been an almost obscene glorification of the outlaw and the gangster. The American entertainment industry has glommed onto this theme with both hands, as they see that it sells movies and television shows. As I have said before, children are, essentially, empty vessels  when it comes to morality, ethical behavior and the like.  If parents do not work to fill that void with positive values, then, those places will be filled by the next option – which in this case is the examples set by the entertainment media.

As I just mentioned, one of the other issues that is causing problems is the issue of parenting (or the lack thereof) in today’s world. This is a complicated issue, too. Some of the problem is that the economy is such that it is almost impossible to survive if both spouses do not have fairly well-paying jobs. This sucks up so much time and energy that even the best parents have limited time to do the sort of job that is necessary to rear good citizens. There is the fact that, still, too many parents do not want to BE parents, and accept the fact that this requires them to be the “bad guy” at times.  Rather, they seem to look upon their children as their new “best buddies”…and think that it is ok to treat them as equals. This attitude is pretty much guaranteed to ensure that the kids will not get a good moral basis to live by,  but, will tend to grow up with a sense of entitlement and self absorption that makes everyone else far less important.  . This attitude also ends up making it nearly impossible for the parents to discipline their kids, and, it allows the kids to believe that they are doing everyone a favor simply by existing, and they have no duty to put the dirty dishes in the sink after eating (as a single point in the list of helpful chores). The whole concept of assigned chores and working to help improve the environment for the entire family is falling by the wayside. There is the fact that too many parents, these days, have no interest in supporting the education of their children. Too many of them seem to believe that their “Little Snowflake” is perfect, and, if there are problems at school, they must be caused by unreasonable demands on the kid by teachers, or, tyrannical administrators, or some other factor.  So, instead of supporting the teachers, and working to make sure that their kids are doing the work necessary to pack the information and skills into their heads that are necessary to become good citizens these days,  they rant and rave at school administrators to try and force them to change things to fix THEIR problem.

Unlike too many people on the Net, I may rant about problems, but, I also try to offer some ways to improve the situation. Now, how would I approach this can of worms?

First off, I realize that I cannot fix the parents in the world, although it would be nice to be able to wave a magic wand and improve the quality of their work and to make it easier for them to be good parents.  However, I would encourage everyone to consider looking at their parenting habits, and, perhaps start taking a more active part in their kid’s life. My upbringing was hardly perfect, but, my parents DID take far too much interest in my life, and keeping track of what was going on in it. Also, I had chores, and, I had to do them…NOT doing them was not an option. I did not like it so much at the time, but, it left me with a strong sense of taking on a job and finishing it, even if it was hard. I also tend to see problems or messes and clean them up without waiting for someone to ask me to do it….I just do it,   I, for one, think my life and the lives of those around me are better for it.

An issue with this murder was that the three boys who did it were sitting around the house, killing time. The old saying is “Idle Hands are the Devil’s workshop”,  There is a lot of truth to this old saying.   Now, some of this could have been dealt with if the kids had enforced chores to do, or some other, positive activity to fill their time.  One of the things that kept me out of a lot of trouble when I was in my teens was the fact that I had a membership in the local “Boys Club” (Now, known as a “Boys and Girl’s Club”). That gave me a good place to go, it provided me with a fairly decent library, and, the staff there had organized games that they would drag us outside to participate in. While I am no great fan of Basketball, it was good to get dragged out on the court and practice the concepts of teamwork, as well as building my eye/hand coordination. Over the past decade or so, the Conservative wings of the government have consistently cut funding for places like this.  I think this is a foolish savings, as it only saves a small amount, and, ends up removing the places where kids like this can work off that excess energy, and get a bit more socialized.

Finally, this glorification of the“gangsta” world has to end.  It has never brought anything goodto the equation, and, it never will.

These three kids have done a terrible thing, for which they will pay for the rest of their lives. If we do not make some serious changes in the road we are on as a society, I fear we shall see more and more such events in our world.  Nothing good can come from this.

Pleasant Dreams

Bee Man Dave

Posted in Ethics, Humanity, Nuttiness, Observations, Political rants, Questionable decisions, Ruminations | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Why the Space Program is SO worth it

    Greetings and Salutations;

     There are so many amazing images that NASA is collecting, that I thought I would share one here.    This is an image of two of Saturn’s moons (Mimas and Pandora) hanging in space just outside of the Rings.   It is an image taken by the Cassini spacecraft as it orbits the planet, and, is yet another of a amazing flood of images from this craft.
     Mimas is interesting, as it is also known as “The Deathstar Moon”, because the huge crater left from a meteor impact has left a bowl-like depression in JUST the same general area as that monumental space craft from the Star Wars Saga.    It is a pretty amazing sight. 
     However, images like this are not only kind of amazing to view, but, some quite useful, scientific data can be gathered from them.   Rather than repeating the information, let me point you to The Bad Astronomer blog entry that discusses this at some length.
Posted in Astronomers, Astronomy, Cosmology, Ruminations, Something Good This Way Comes | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment