Windy Earth Day Walk

Windy and cloudy
Windy and cloudy

I waited until almost noon before taking Apollo on our weekly extra long Sunday walk.  Since I woke up in the middle of the night to watch some of the meteor shower, I slept a couple of hours past when I normally wake up.  With a brisk north wind blowing in clouds, I also delayed the walk in the vain hope the temperature would rise. I wiled away the morning recording the first two races of the F1 2012 season to DVD and reading a couple of books.  I wrote a couple of short blog posts as well.  Once Terry woke up, I left with Apollo, leaning into the stiff northwest wind.  I needed to reinforce Apollo’s training, so I placed the pinch collar on him.  I could immediately tell the difference.  Apollo did not want to pull me along, since he inflicted the pinch on himself when he did.

When we reached Nina Street, I noticed a different type of blooming flower growing along a fence.  I took a picture, even though the wind ruffled the blooms continuously:

Purple flowers

Apollo and I continued northwest towards the highway and West Mary Street.  I planned an hour long walk, meaning I would continue until a half hour had elapsed and then turn around and retrace my steps.

Apollo says Hi!
Apollo says Hi!

We didn’t wait long for the signal to change and were on our way west after safely traversing the highway.  I saw a couple of other walkers on the other side of the street, but so far no other dogs.  Apollo didn’t seem very interested in the grass or light posts or fire hydrants, perhaps because he didn’t like tugging on the leash and causing the collar to pinch him.

Bittersweet and MaryWe walked past the first apartment complex, where the American flag flapped stiffly in the wind (see first photo above).  We continued past the second under-construction apartment complex and approached the relatively new Lansing Elementary School.  Just as we were passing the school, I heard and saw lower flying jet aircraft just to the north of our position.  These planes were flying under the clouds, and circling around in formation.  I immediately realized they were military aircraft, probably rehearsing for a flyover of the Kansas Speedway and the NASCAR race to take place this afternoon.  I tried repeatedly to snap photos of them with my cell phone as I continued walking towards my chosen turnaround point:  Bittersweet Street.

We crossed Mary Street, mostly to give Apollo new sights and smells to investigate.  A man and his dog, which seemed to be a smaller younger version of Apollo, continued west on Mary Street, but not without the two dogs trying desperately to meet each other.  I finally got Apollo headed east, although he whined about not meeting a new dog friend for a few seconds.  I continued my efforts to photograph the jets, finally catching them as we neared the highway.

Miltary AircraftI learned (later) via friends on Facebook, that these were A10 Warthogs and they did, in fact, flyover the Kansas Speedway.

Apollo and I safely crossed the highway and returned home.  We walked for an hour, despite the wind and the Warthogs.

Meteor Sprinkles Likely

My husband is a night owl.  Ironic, since I’m the one with the astronomy bug, but can’t seem to keep my eyes open after nine o’clock.  Saturday evening, Terry went over to a friend’s house to watch the latest UFC pay-per-view fight.  I looked forward to an evening of quiet, watching a movie, reading a book and making sure Apollo got extra dog treats.  Before Terry left, though, I asked him to wake me up after midnight, preferably between two and four in the morning, so I could take advantage of the dark of the moon and a meteor shower. He remembered and got me out of bed at 3:30 a.m.

Vega in the Constellation Lyra
Vega in the Constellation Lyra

I shook myself awake and staggered outside in my flip-flops.  I drug the folding chair to a better location on the patio, and leaned back, stretching out my legs in front of me so my head rested comfortably on the chair back, allowing me to see nearly all the sky overhead.  My eyes immediately spotted Vega, the brights star in the constellation Lyra.  As I mentioned in Friday’s blog post Meteors After Midnight, this weekend’s meteor shower appears to originate from the constellation Lyra, hence the name “Lyrid Meteor Shower.”

Constellation Scorpius
Constellation Scorpius

Within ten minutes, I spotted a meteor.  I decided I needed a sweater or a blanket, so I went back inside to find something to keep my upper body warm and protected from the wind.  I settled back into the chair and gazed around the night sky, trying to connect the dots and recognize and memorize some constellations.  I easily spotted Scorpius (aka Scorpio) almost due south of me.  I could not see my own birth month constellation, Libra, directly west (right) of Scorpio because the stars that form the scales are too faint to be seen from my backyard.  Another interesting bit of trivia about my husband: He’s a Scorpio, whom Libras are never supposed to marry.  According to Chinese astrology, Terry and I went supposed to marry either.  In eight days, we celebrate our 26th wedding anniversary.  Go figure.  But back to Scorpius.  The bright star, Antares, flashed red or green, probably due to the atmosphere and it’s proximity to the southern horizon.

At four o’clock, I went back inside to steep a mug of tea.  I boiled some water in the microwave and selected Irish Blend loose leaf tea (my favorite).  Another five minutes later, I had a piping hot perfect blend of tea and sugar to take outside with me.  While I waited for my tea to steep, I tried to memorize the constellations displayed on the ‘Guide to the Stars’ wheel I purchased recently for Terry.  I set it to the appropriate time of night and month/day so I could identify the stars and constellations I saw above the roof of my house.  No matter how hard I tried, though, I could not find the constellations Ophiuchus or Hercules, which should have been easily spotted between Lyra and Scorpius.  I guess I just couldn’t see enough of the stars to connect the dots and learn those two new constellations.

At one point, a large bird flew directly overhead, barely skimming over the roof of my house.  Once the bird cleared my roof and flew over the court, the lights from the houses ringing our cul-de-sac lit the undersides of its wings.  I think it might have been an owl, but I can’t be entirely sure.  My eyes were focused farther away, watching for falling meteors, than a few feet above my head.

I saw two more meteors before I decided to call it quits and go back to bed.  I gave up at 4:30 a.m.  I had hoped for a few more than just three total for the night.  The ‘forecast’ for the meteor shower claimed upwards of twenty per hour, but I saw only a sprinkling.  Adding the ones I saw last night to the two I saw Friday night at the star party, I observed a total of five meteors this weekend.  Clouds have moved in from the north today (Sunday), so I doubt I’ll get a chance to try again tonight.  Besides, it’s a work night which means I need to be asleep by nine o’clock.

Movie Review: In Time (2011)

In Time (2011)

3.5 out of 5 stars

I’m not the first one to mention this in a review of In Time, and probably won’t be the last.  The comparison to Logan’s Run is inevitable, but I see it also as a retelling of Robin Hood, at least the second half of it.  Dystopian science-fiction is all the rage, especially now that The Hunger Games have made it to the big screen.  But what the Hunger Games lack in depth (but make up for in violence), In Time brings a thought-provoking story and a message about just how much you can accomplish with only one day left to live.