Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Little Black Spot on the Sun This Week

UPDATED 9:15PM June 5, 2012: New lead image ...

Fishermen and a pelican silhouetted on the pier in Flagler Beach, Florida at sunrise during the 2004 Transit of Venus (June 8, 2004).

**NOTE: I updated the lead photo at 9:15PM June 5, 2012 of this entry to a more appropriate one for the entry theme / title. This picture was actually taken in, yes, Flagler Beach, Florida -- where my dad has lived for the past six years or so -- during the last transit of Venus. That pier is a crummy little one I've featured a few times over the years on this blog.**

I plan to post a new entry later tonight. I did NOT see the Venus transit today with my own eyes as it was mostly cloudy at sunset -- and outright overcast in the west.


From before ...

A pleasant day with fair-weather cumulus clouds fleeced upon a gentle blue sky over Washington, D.C., 3:03PM, June 2, 2012. This was taken yesterday at the corner of 18th St. and New Hampshire Avenue NW.


Weekend Doings

It's Sunday at 3PM and I'm really only now getting up ... That's an absolutely horrendous way to live ... And if you could see the dusty cave that is my little 5th floor apartment, you'd marvel at how some humans actually live.  (Updated: I didn't actually post this entry until about 800PM, so the day was completely shot.)

The 1600 block of New Hampshire Ave., Washington, D.C., 3:00PM, June 2, 2012. I was walking to the Dupont Circle Metro to go to Arlington to the Ballston Commons mall.


I was up quite late -- at Nellie's last night, where I had a pretty good time -- and too much to drink, as usual. As you may know, everything in my D.C. life is totally walkable. While at Nellie's, I started talking to this fellow and he bought a strong shot for himself, the bartender Eric, and myself -- it may have been Jäger, which I normally try to avoid outright -- it sort of looked like crude oil when Eric poured it.

Upstairs Bass beer and TV monitor in the "Big Al Room" at Millie & Al's, Washington, D.C., 10:37PM, June 2, 2012 -- as seen with my crummy cellphone camera.

Earlier in the evening, I went to Millie & Al's in Adams Morgan, where I had one drink and two of the $1 Jello shooter shots -- when the shot bulb came on -- downstairs and another drink and one more shooter in the cozy little upstairs bar (Big Al Room, it's called) open only on the weekend.

Here is a picture from Millie & Al's website showing the main bar. There's a lot going on in that picture, including the large papier-mâché of the Star Ship Enterprise from Star Trek.


Here is the shot bulb lamp -- located in a delightfully kitschy corner next to the mechanical skeleton - pirate who does an arrhythmic dance when the "bulb" flashes -- caught as it was winking off.

Here it is in full "on" wink taken on a previous trip to Millie and Al's last April. You can soert of see the pirate (he has red eyes that light up when he dances).

I was there with DG, but we ended up having an argument that night -- over the importance of the British Royal Family to British society ("that's stupid!"), but this followed several other "that's / you're stupid!" comments (including one when mentioning matters of faith) and we haven't spoken since.


Earlier in the day, I trekked over to Macy's at Ballston Common mall in Arlington (about as far as I will intentionally go into Commonwealth of Virginia) and bought some more short-sleeve polo shirts for summer and a new dress shirt for work. I had the same nice Iranian lady who rang up the sale as last week and she gave me an extra 25% off even though I do not have a Macy's card (that's a long and ugly story for another time).

I also went grocery shopping at Harris-Teeter over in Kalorama.


The Weather ...

Today is a partly sunny (partly cloudy) Sunday with temps. around 77F. It is a rather pleasant day and it comes after a welcome decent rainfall on Friday -- actually, it was a rather stormy day with some severe weather and some small tornadoes reported across the region but no major damage.

The Sterling (LWX) radar in standard base mode reflectivity (standard is shown with white background), 7:23PM EDT, June 1, 2012. This shows assorted flash flood warnings and two tornado warnings -- one in effect in northern Anne Arundel County near BWI Airport and another over Caroline and Essex Counties, Virginia.  


The Sterling (LWX) radar in enhanced composite mode reflectivity also at 7:23PM EDT, June 1, 2012. Enhanced is shown with the topographically shaded background and "composite" refers to the fact the radar is also showing activity inside the clouds as opposite the what is falling out of them (that's base reflectivity).


Here were the advisories for the Sterling (LWX) county warning area (CWA) as of 7:33PM EDT, June 1, 2012. The dark reds including for the District of Columbia show the flash flood warnings (not to be confused with flood warnings) and the bright reds show aforementioned tornado warnings.

The whole region was shaded in yellow for a tornado watch. The most serious advisory "overwrites" the others and that's the color that appears.


Here was the same "LWX CWA" webpage at 9:12PM, June 1, 2012. The system was clearning the area with one final burst of rainfall for D.C. that pushed us over the 1" mark at DCA. Here you can see both flash flood and flood warnings. That sprawling tornado warning in Carroll and Baltimore Counties looked more apocalyptic than it really was. These were small EF-0 and EF-1 tornadoes, not Great Plains EF-4 and EF-5 monsters.


The U.S. radar mosiac focused on the mid-Atlantic and Ohio River Valley at 2358UTC (8PM EDT) June 1, 2012. The parent low was centered near Detroit.  


Rainfall totals for Friday June 1st at the three regional airport climate stations were:

DCA: 1.22"
BWI: 1.55"
IAD: 0.61"

The Maryland Science Center in Baltimore had 1.09" of rainfall.

We are still below for the year as follows (through yesterday):

-4.25" at 11.96"
Normal YTD 16.21"

-5.02" at 12.25"
Normal YTD 17.27"

-3.69" at 13.42"
Normal YTD 17.11"

For the upcoming week, it looks like it will be a bit unsettled with a 20 to 40 percent chance of showers each day and highs mostly in the 72F to 78F range except around 80F today.

Screenshot of Sterling (LWX) webpage showing NWS forecast for Washington, D.C., icons and text, June 3 - 7, 2012.


"There's a little black spot on the Sun toTuesday ..."*

*With apologies to Sting and the Police.

One of the items I would like to discuss here and in a subsequent entry is this week's upcoming 2012 Transit of Venus that occurs on June 5th or June 6th (depending upon your location).

The transit refers to when Earth's hellish sister planet as seen from Earth crosses the Solar disk. It is the second of two transits separated by 8 years in a 243-year cycle with gaps of 121.5 and 105.5 years. The previous ones were in Dec. 1874 and Dec. 1882.

The last time this happened was June 8, 2004 -- as seen in the above picture -- and which I saw it with my own eyes shortly after sunrise from my apartment in the Newport West here in D.C. (Yes, you can see it if the Sun is dim enough, such as near sunrise or sunset or if the Sun is otherwise veiled.)

Here is a map showing the global visibility of the 2012 Transit of Venus sourced here. Click on the image for larger version.

The image was made by Fred Espenak of the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center made this map. Espenak is THE expert on all things solar and lunar eclipse related including his 5,000 year catalogues of such events (annular included).  The Espenak NASA website is linked here.

I met him once when I worked there back in 2003 -- I stopped by his office. He was kind of a jerk to me, but whatever.

As for the June 8, 2004 transit, that was during a Very Bad Time for me.

Here was the global visibility of the 2004 transit -- as you can see, Washington, D.C., was in the sunrise time. Click on image for larger version. This image was also made by Fred Espenak.


I was just about to give up because of my unemployment situation and running out of money. I was about to move in with Wall-P at his Silver Spring residence -- he and were friends back then and he genuinely helped me. It was also just days after the Mr. Sirius / JRs incident and overall it was a nightmare time.

This 2012 Transit of Venus finds my life situation much better, at least for now.  It could all change tomorrow.

This is the last Vensus transit until the next pair in Dec. 11, 2117 and Dec. 8, 2125. There are probably 500 to 1,000 newborn babies alive right now who will be alive in 2117 at the ripe old age of 105. (Mercury transits the disk of the Sun more frequently as seen from Earth.) More info here.

Sequence of images showing the 2004 Transit of Venus during Second Contact as seen from Singapore.

I'm not even going to get into the whole topic of the four "Contact Points" (two ingress and two egress) why the silhouetted planetary disk (Mercury and Venus) appears to form a "black tear drop" at contacts II and III when it is "internally tangent" to the Solar disk. The Wikipedia article on this "black drop effect" is here.

Left: Combined images from the Vatican Observatory during the 2004 Transit of Venus at the moment of Second Contact with no black drop effect.

Here is a link to a Sky & Telescope article from last month on how many folks did NOT see it in 2004.


Wall-P To Get Corporate Married in a Meaningless, Money-and-Power Driven Universe

Speaking of Wall-P, his Dept. of Corporate Legal Stoogery-approved marriage takes place next weekend, so there will be that to discuss.

He will be marrying his betrothed in a legal contractual arrangement that runs to 6,000 pages -- not including attachments -- and that has been determined will "add shareholder value" to an otherwise Meaningless Universe.


Paul Krugman, British Gadfly, Spanish Rock Star

I also want to note Paul Krugman's trip to the UK last week, where he appeared on the BBC show Newsnight and easily dispatched with two Cameron government defenders, Conservative MP Andrea Leadsom and Conservative-supporting venture capitalist Jon Moulton.

Just because you have an upmarket British accent doesn't mean you're therefore wise. As for the idiot Prime Minister David Cameron and his Chancellor of the Exchequer (George Osborn), their "endless austerity" has put Britain needlessly back into a recession.

But it wasn't so much about "crushing" them as it was getting them to at least consider his overall point (summed up as "my spending is your income, your spending is my income ...") and why austerity in a slump is so self-defeating all-around. That is, I think they both are smart enough to question deep down their own assumptions.

This would never happen in the U.S., where "learning" and changing minds with facts in today's media and political is not possible. Americans are too duped by their own propaganda and, well, too proudly dumb -- not to mention the fact they are fed a steady diet of corporate media info-taining misinformation, distortions, and outright bullshit.

Again, Krugman was on tear on this topid today, this time on This WeekWhore.

Krugman's book End This Depression Now! has been a huge hit in Spain ("¡Acabad ya con esta crisis!") and made him something of a rock star there. Spain has 24% unemployment.

The Germans remain the biggest problem with their self-righteous but ultimately highly misinformed narrative of why the euro is such a disaster. I refer to their narrative "Deflate Your Way to Prosperity To Make Up For Your Sins of Profligacy" -- a dubious proposition at best, esp. in the case of Spain and Ireland.

Nevertheless, I think it is possible, just maybe, to get people in Europe and Britain to realize the errors of their winds.

As ever, I highly recommend both his daily blog and his twice weekly print edition columns but available online (scroll down to the "Columns" section to see links), both hosted on The New York Times website.

I *highly* recommend his recent blog posting comparing Florida and Spain -- where there were two housing bubbles but in one place, tremendous Federal Government support but in another, just German demands for austerity and deflation.

Following last week's disastrous employment report, I think it is increasingly likely that "No Drama Obama" will be defeated and we will have a Willard Mitt "R-Money" presidency. Once Romney is elected president of these Corporate Oligarchical States of Jesusland, and the Teabaggers no longer have any constraints and are truly free to run amok, that's a guarantee we will plunge into a full-scale financial collapse and economic depression within 12 to 18 months.

Left: Image of GOP dream economics from 1937 -- and probably by 2015.

And while the Washington media elite "consensus" emboding in the sinking WaHoPo will be duly "impressed" with Romney's "bipartisan" efforts, as the collapse accelerates into civil unrest and fascist crackdown, AM rightwing hate radio / Fox News yowling yahoos will turn into a kind of equivalent to what happened in Rwanda in 1994.

OK, on that note, I think that's all for now. My next update will either be Tuesday or Wednesday night.

A picture of a cumulus cloud over 17th Street here in D.C. that Gary took a short while ago.

He was there because the annual Capital Pride D.C. Homo Narcissism and Bitch Fest is already underway and there was some event over in the D.C. Gay Mafia's backyard.


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