Sunday, December 31, 2006

Top Ten Astronomy Images of 2006

I've been bringing you samplings from Dr. Phil all year. Now, he offers his wrap-up of the top astronomy images from the past year. So I offer these to you, my loyal readers, along with my warm wishes for a smashing year ahead. Happy New Year everyone!

Bad Astronomy Blog - The Top Ten Astronomy Images of 2006

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Saturday, December 30, 2006


Large plasma tube at the Franklin Institute, Philadelphia.

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Friday, December 29, 2006

And So It's Done

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Ghost In The Heart

Inside the Giant Heart exhibit at the Franklin Institute, Philadelphia.

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Monday, December 25, 2006

Looking For A Good Story?

This is a story that deserves national exposure since it is so rare we see such displays of largess. Robert Kern, founder and recently retired CEO of Generac Power Systems, gave bonuses to his former employees out of his own pocket. This was done without an announcement, press release or any media trapping whatsoever.

Jeff Dries has worked at the company for nine years and said he got a check for about $10,000.

"People had gone home for lunch and checked their mail like they normally do," Dries said. "They just got broadsided" by the checks.

Dries said he and his wife plan to use their gift as a down payment on a house.

"I know it's going to change a lot of people's lives," he said of the gifts.

I add here that I was an employee of Generac (in the portable generator division) for a short time before my division was sold just prior to Y2K. I only had limited encounters with Mr. Kern, but anyone you talked to that knew him always spoke of his loyalty to his employees. Much was made about the fact that the company did not lay off employees in hard times. Mr. Kern himself never sought attention, even inside the company. While he preferred to tinker with product design, he was a brilliantly shrewd businessman, timing his sale of the portable generator division perfectly before the market went through the floor after Y2K. Sure this news surprised me, these stories are so rare. But in the analysis, it was just Mr. Kern returning some loyalty. Read more at the link below.

Merry Christmas to everyone from This Blog Title For Sale.

JS Online: Generac Workers Get A Holiday Surprise

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Saturday, December 23, 2006

Dome Ceiling

In the Franklin National Memorial, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

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Thursday, December 21, 2006

Tree Lot

Rancho Cucamonga, California.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Another Piece Of My Childhood

Joseph Barbera died today at the age of 95. He and partner William Hanna teamed up at MGM studios to bring "Tom & Jerry" to the screen, and 7 Academy Awards. Later, they founded Hanna-Barbera Studios and were responsible for animated classics like "The Flintstones", "Jonny Quest", "The Jetsons", and later, "Scooby Doo". Contemporary animators today owe a debt of gratitude to these pioneers. They may be gone, but their art will live on.
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Monday, December 18, 2006

Optical Delusion

This is a piece of optical art from the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. It's a type of lenticular image, such that as you move from side to side, the image changes. So therefore, no two photos of this piece will ever be the same.

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Saturday, December 16, 2006

There Is Change Just Beyond The Door

Savannah, Georgia

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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

A Tribute

Actor Peter Boyle died last night at the age of 71. Here he is in a scene from "Young Frankenstein". Super duper!

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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Looking Down Through History

In a historic city such as Savannah, Georgia, the pavement you look down at has seen far more history than you'll ever know, and all it had to do was lie there.

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Sunday, December 10, 2006

In Memoriam

A special tribute to my mother and father on the anniversary of my father's death. For more information, click here to read the article from last year.

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Show of Hands

An interactive exhibit at the Franklin Institute, Philadelphia.

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Saturday, December 09, 2006

Random Thoughts

Anytime you see your name on somebody else's page you get jazzed up. To hear it on their podcast, as Mark Peacock did on his "TravelCommons" podcast, you get double jazzed up.

A couple of new faces on the blog roll to the left are "Pharyngula", by PZ, who is similar to Dr. Phil, but just a bit on the far side of crazy.

And the other is "Frick's World", by Frick, another traveler who stays in many more hotels than I do.

An Alltime Classic Match

I will maintain to my grave that Socrates was offside and that Beckenbauer was completely useless.

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Thursday, December 07, 2006

School Out Of Water

Adventure Aquarium, Camden, New Jersey.

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Liquid Water On Mars!

And now with more news on today's announcement, let's go to the Bad Astronomer. Phil?

Bad Astronomy Blog - LIQUID WATER ON MARS!

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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

NASA Announces(?) Lunar Plans

NASA today announced updated plans for the return (Dr. Phil suggests the word "colonization") of the moon by the year 2020. To be sure, it's a controversial plan both inside and outside the scientific community. It's one thing to harbor a romantic view about space travel and planetary travel, it's another thing entirely to imagine just exactly how society will benefit (or dare I say profit?) from it. For this, and much more, click the link to read Phil Plait's analysis of today's announcement.

Bad Astronomy Blog - NASA's lunar plans

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Monday, December 04, 2006

Tree Day

At the beginning of December, in either the first or second weekend after Thanksgiving, we make the annual (some would call it ritual) trip to the local tree farm to select our Chrismahanukwanzika tree. I could call it a Holiday Tree, but I would do so at my own risk.

The snow was a good thing. It meant that we wouldn't be scraping 3 pounds of mud off our boots before getting back in the truck. And once I got it to the house, and cut 2 more feet off the bottom, it shaped out to be a fine tree. As usual.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Puppy In Peril

Our pooch Patton (featured earlier in This Blog Title For Sale) was diagnosed with hip dysplasia and requires surgery. My wife started a blog to chronicle his experience, with the objective of providing information which may prove useful to other pet owners facing a similar procedure. So if you, or somebody you know, has a pet with hip dysplasia, or just want to learn more about a really cool puppy, check out the blog at the link below.

Patton's Odyssey

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Friday, December 01, 2006

A New Winter

A fast moving snowstorm with near blizzard conditions passed through southern Wisconsin today, though you wouldn't know it from the gorgeous sunset this evening.

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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Does This Come With Work Release Privileges?

Jefferson City, Missouri.

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Monday, November 27, 2006

Got Nausea?

Why did the National Science Teachers Association turn down 50,000 copies of An Inconvenient Truth? The answer just might turn your stomach like it did mine. Click the link below to read more.


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Sunday, November 26, 2006

Capitol Art

Stained glass ceiling from the Missouri State Capitol, Jefferson City.

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Thursday, November 23, 2006

Bar Harbor Sunset

Bar Harbor/Acadia National Park, Maine.

Best wishes and a Happy Thanksgiving to all of my loyal readers.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Patriotism Misplaced?

The connecting corridor between the rental car garage and the old Terminal A at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport is a mundane affair. Strictly utilitarian; not much to see. Taking the escalator up from the tunnel on the ground floor of the terminal, something caught my eye, and I stopped suddenly.

The painting was hanging on a wall several paces from the walkway, itself confined and not very well lit. The height was curious too, more appropriate for someone in a wheel chair. There was no placard with title or artist. I got the distinct feeling that this was not the original location of the painting. It had been moved here.

The painting was created in early 2002, that much I could tell. I tried to transport myself briefly back to that time. Things seemed to be much more focused in the months after the terrible tragedy. It was a rare time in this country's history that there was this much unity of purpose.

Now, looking at the heroic imagery (notice the POTUS with the bullhorn), I'm saddened. The current administration milked as much as they could, thinking that all they had to do was evoke these images and everything would be alright. But it wasn't alright. And by using the tragedy as currency, and squandering the currency, it has cheapened those who were honored in this very portrait. And I'm suddenly jolted back to 2006. Maybe the caretakers at the airport felt the same way.

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Sunday, November 19, 2006

Rubens Tube Physics Experiment

Prerequisite: You must be a geek. Guaranteed to entertain.

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Saturday, November 18, 2006

Waves and Gulls

The Navy-Marine Memorial, Washington, D.C. For more information about the memorial, click here.

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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Off Season

During the summer, hundreds of thousands of visitors come here to Devil's Lake State Park to boat or fish in the lake, or to climb the bluffs surrounding the lake. So to have the park almost by yourself in the fall seems like a guilty pleasure.

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Monday, November 13, 2006


A different view of historic downtown Fredericksburg, Virginia.

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Sunday, November 12, 2006


Three minutes that will make you smile, and touch your heart.

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Saturday, November 11, 2006

Veteran's Day

The Battle of Chancellorsville was fought April 30 to May 6, 1863. The Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, led by Gen. Robert E. Lee, outnumbered by more than 2 to 1 by Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker's Union Army of the Potomac, won an audacious victory through a masterful division of forces. This is the view of Hazel Grove, site of vicious fighting during May 3 and 4. For more about the battle, click here.

Please take a moment this weekend to remember the contributions of the men and women of our Armed Forces.

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Thursday, November 09, 2006

Vastness, On A Vast Scale

You see a picture, full of stars.  But that's not the whole picture.  Dr. Phil has a look at a galaxy cluster, and describes how you need to look beyond the light.  And what you don't see can be just as beautiful.

Bad Astronomy Blog

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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Arcs, Shapes, Ellipses, Circles

All depends on your perspective.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Al. Ringling Theater

Baraboo, Wisconsin.

Recognize the name? If the sounds of a calliope and the roar of the lion echo in your memory, then you've got it figured out. The Ringling Brothers, of circus fame, were residents of Baraboo, and even after attaining worldwide fame, lived their lives in this small town north of Madison.

At the same time the Ringling Bros. were gaining their fame, Baraboo was fast becoming a popular resort area. With Devil's Lake two miles south, and Wisconsin Dells 11 miles north, the area was becoming very popular with vacationers from Chicago, Milwaukee, and Minneapolis seeking a break from the heat of summer. And many brought their taste for culture with them.

In his later years, Al. Ringling decided to give a memorial to his adopted home. And he did it in grand style, commissioning the theater that bears his name today. Built in seven months at a cost of $100,000, "The Al." has been open continuously since its opening in 1915, showing movies, live music, and stage shows.

Unfortunately, Al. Ringling enjoyed his gift to the city only very briefly, passing away the following year. Now run by a non-profit organization, the theater remains a jewel in a small town.

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Saturday, November 04, 2006

Lights Into The Sky

A jet airliner takes off from Washington Reagan National Airport, Washington, DC.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

It's Memphis

You know where you're at even before you exit the jetway. The smell wafts down the ramp like a muse. It wraps its tendrils around you like a yoke and pulls you toward it's smoky essence. That's right. You're in Memphis International Airport and it's time for some barbeque.

Memphis International Airport reminds me of "bicentennial" style of buildings built in the '60s and '70s. Brown brick faced walls, earth tones all over the place. The main terminal is a wide open space, but the gate concourses are narrow and packed with traffic. To their credit, the airport operators have focused a lot of energy into improving the traveler's experience with recent renovations to Concourse B. Especially when it comes to my favorite subject: food.

It's very difficult to find your national fast food in this airport (i.e. no McDonalds!). Instead, you'll find much of what Memphis is famous for: barbeque. Two of Memphis' best barbeque shops have outlets at the airport: Corky's and Jim Neely's Interstate. Corky's has three outlets at the airport while there are two Interstate locations.

From this reviewer's perspective, I've had mixed results. I had eaten at the original Corky's store in Memphis, and their product at the airport came up well short. I found the Interstate product at the airport to be noticeably better than Corky's, but I've never eaten at their store in town. Make no mistake, it's all good. But let me recommend the California Beef Links at Interstate. The sausage itself is a bold beef flavor, and the links swim in a tangy sauce. Be sure to include their excellent cole slaw and use it like you would a chutney. Fork your link, then spread a little slaw on it and enjoy. It's an unexpectedly pleasant combination of flavors.

If you find yourself having to make a connection in Memphis, make a point to partake in some of Memphis' finest barbeque, without having to leave the airport.

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Tuesday, October 31, 2006


December 13, 1862. Site of one of the important battles of the Civil War and certainly General Lee's greatest victory. General Ambrose Burnside had just been given command of the Union Army of the Potomac and was under pressure to produce results before the end of the year. A victory at Fredericksburg would open the way to Richmond and a quick end to the war. Problem was, Burnside took his time, allowing Lee's Army of Northern Virginia ample opportunity to build a defensive stance on terrain any general could love. For more information, click here.

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Sunday, October 29, 2006

A Remnant of Glamorous Times

Terminal A at Reagan National Airport, Washington, DC. This terminal was added in 1955 to the original terminal which opened in 1941. Although I could not locate the architect, the design evokes Eero Saarinen, whose contemporary style can be seen in the terminals at Washington Dulles and New York's John F. Kennedy airports.

Unfortunately, modern travel demands rendered this design obsolete years ago. Air travel was a simpler process during the day. Travelers arrived at the terminal and were quickly marshaled onto their planes. Terminal design was sleek and efficient, all in keeping with the speed of the airplanes.

Today travelers are required to check in early and to get through security and hope the plane is on time. Modern airports are designed with comfort services in mind. Since Terminal A was built without any of those considerations, modern services are shoehorned wherever they could fit. So the snack/newspaper stand sticks up in the middle of the terminal like a sore thumb. A restaurant seating area straddles a corridor. A Starbucks is wedged into an angular corner next to the ladies' restroom. The seating area is woefully undersized for today's larger planes. The whole terminal is worn and neglected.

It all adds up to a depressing experience for the traveler, and I'm sure for those that are employed there. There is hope. Renovations have begun on the original 1941 terminal. Whether or not these gates are saved, a modern update will allow fulfillment of a much larger potential.

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Friday, October 27, 2006


My loyal readers know I'm a sucker for meteorological phenomena. This particular effect is called a glory. For more information, click on the photo.

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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

When I Was Younger

I was a demon on the dancefloor.

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Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Is Time Up For Spirit?

"Spirit has been displaying some anomalous behavior," said Project Manager John Callas, who noted the rover's unsuccessful attempts to flip itself over and otherwise damage its scientific instruments.

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The old train station in Conyers, Georgia.

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Sunday, October 22, 2006

An Oasis of Creativity

Deep below the terminals and aprons at Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson International Airport is an exhibit of contemporary African art. If you take the train between Concourse A and the Main Terminal, you will miss it entirely. It's an oasis of creativity in an otherwise utilitarian structure. I had an opportunity during a recent visit to spend some time examining these exquisite sculptures.

"Welcome Baby", by Agnes Nyanhongo, Zimbabwe.

"The Peacemaker", by Gedion Nyanhongo, Zimbabwe.

"Generation Pyramid", by Gedion Nyanhongo, Zimbabwe.

"Woman Showing Traditional Salute", by Edronce Rukodzi, Zimbabwe.

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Thursday, October 19, 2006

Diet Coke + Mentos

Finally, a real use for Diet Coke. Three minutes of sticky liquid fun. Enjoy!

Monday, October 16, 2006

A Fresh Old Face In The World Series

Congratulations to the Detroit Tigers on winning the 2006 American League Championship and a place in the World Series. The folks over at River Rant were there and have the first person video to prove it. See more here.

River Rant: World Series Bound!

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Windows, Vista?

Taken in Conyers, Georgia.

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Saturday, October 14, 2006

Short Final At Reagan National

I had some free time yesterday before my flight back to Milwaukee, so I found a park just off the end of Runway 19 at Reagan National Airport. In order to land on DCA's southbound runway, pilots had to follow the path of the Potomac River and make a steep turn shortly before landing, in a procedure called the "River Visual." It was a perfect place to do some planespotting.

Last week I had the pleasure of being seated on the left side of the plane and caught this image of the National Mall just prior to landing.

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Thursday, October 12, 2006

Waiting For The Crowd

I took a break from hotel life to visit the Rockdale County Fair at the Georgia International Horse Park (site of equestrian events during the Atlanta Olympics). The horse park itself was intriguing in that while it was state of the art 10 years ago, it was clearly showing the classic signs of the neglect that you would find in an underutilized white elephant.

For us folks in the midwest who are accustomed to the county fair with the animal barns and exhibits and judged competitions and tractor pulls and concerts, the Rockdale Country Fair was a drab disappointment. It was just a carnival, with none of the trappings of a traditional county fair. And while all of the standard rides were there, they all were showing signs of age. And the crowds were tiny the evening I went. Maybe it just wasn't the busy night, but the whole atmosphere was counter to what you would expect from a carnival.

And no one wanted to ride the kiddie train.

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Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Yet More Spacey Kewlness

Just when you thought you'd seen the coolest space pictures ever, Saturn comes along and steals the show.  As Phil Plait puts it:

I say this a lot, but it bears repeating: what else is out there, what things are there to know, what things are there to experience, that we have not yet discovered?
Bad Astronomy Blog > Best. Saturn. Picture. EVAH!

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Tuesday, October 10, 2006


A carnival ride at the Rockdale County Fair, Conyers, Georgia.

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Sunday, October 08, 2006

Old Bricks Old Sign

Conyers, Georgia.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Buck O'Neil, Baseball Ambassador

Buck O'Neil was the consummate ambassador for baseball. Never harbored a grudge, never once expressed bitterness over the racism that kept him out of the Major Leagues. Inexplicably overlooked for induction by the Hall of Fame. He will be sorely missed. - MLB - Former Negro Leaguer O'Neil dies

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Friday, October 06, 2006

You're Not Going To Believe Your Eyes

The title of the linked article says it all.  These are awesome pictures.

Bad Astronomy Blog > Best. Mars. Picture. EVAH!

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The Silver Trail

Just as railroads made the country smaller, airplanes made the world smaller. You never think twice about it, but if it wasn't for the humble "moving sidewalk", airports would have a hard time moving the numbers of people that they move now.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

They Hand These Things Out Like Candy

Of course they don't.  Phil Plait (the Bad Astronomer) passes along his thoughts on this year's winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics.

The first results from COBE were announced at the 1990 American Astronomical Society meeting. When a plot showing the CMB radiation was displayed, it got a standing ovation. This was solid evidence supporting the Big Bang model, and so it was huge news. I was at that meeting (it was my first one, actually) and I kick myself to this day that I missed that session. It was a piece of history!

Bad Astronomy Blog > Nobel prizes for Big Bang scientists!

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First National Bank of ........... Pawn?

Downtown Conyers, Georgia.

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Sunday, October 01, 2006

Frequent Flyer

General Mitchell International Airport, Milwaukee.

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Is History Repeating Itself?

Robert Harris, in an op-ed in the New York Times, points to history as a warning for the future.

read more | digg story
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Friday, September 29, 2006

Banner Ad

Bloomington, Indiana.

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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Name That Tune

Bloomington, Indiana.

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Monday, September 25, 2006

It's Called Pareidolia

At least that's what the Bad Astronomer calls it.

Enjoy responsibly.

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Sunday, September 24, 2006

Early Leaves

Cascades Park, Bloomington, Indiana.

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Friday, September 22, 2006

FAA Slaps Chicago Over Midnight Raid On Helpless Airport

Chicago will pay a $33,000 fine for illegally tearing up Meigs Field airport without proper notification. And the city will have to repay $1 million of airport funds that Mayor Richard M. Daley illegally diverted from O'Hare and Midway airports to give to the destruction contractors.

read more | digg story
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Thursday, September 21, 2006


Indianapolis International Airport.

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Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Spinach and Seatbelts

this is an audio post - click to play

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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Perrine Memorial Bridge

Twin Falls, Idaho. From the archives, April 2004.

The Perrine Memorial Bridge over the Snake River Canyon marks
the northern entrance to Twin Falls, Idaho. At 1500 feet in
length, the longest span bridge in the United States' west stands 486 feet above the Snake River.

The Bridge has particular significance for B.A.S.E jumpers as it is possible to jump there every day of the year, legally. With an excellent landing area and the services of a boat crew to retrieve you after each jump, it's B.A.S.E jumping paradise and the perfect place to learn.

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Sunday, September 17, 2006

Guest Photographer

Today one of my regular viewers sent me a message complimenting me on my Bar Harbor pictures, and then she showed me a few of her own. They were so good that, with her permission, I bring one of them to you. So here is a guest contribution by D. Belian. Enjoy!

Acadia National Park, Maine.

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