Life Events for Artistic Offspring

Derek Moss
Derek Moss, Environmental Artist

This December, my son, Derek Moss,  will do what I never did myself (nor that I thought he would do for high school, let alone college).  He will graduate from SMU’s Guildhall!

This last term he is focused on expanding and publishing his portfolio and pursuing career opportunities in the gaming industry.  He recently published his portfolio and resume online here:  Derek Moss, Environmental Artist

I’m excited, thrilled, overwhelmed, anxious … all the things a mother is when her fledgling soars on eagle’s wings.

… And Now For the Rest of the Story

Subtitled: Everything I forgot to mention in the previous post due to time constraints and memory overload.

I did lend a hand, at least temporarily, with reviewing and tweaking the old Dell Inspiron 1100 laptop.  I manually removed over 10,000 files from the temp folder after which my dad showed his brother how to use Window’s built in Disk Cleanup utility.  The laptop has only 512 MB of RAM, but could probably benefit from a memory upgrade to 2 GB if possible.  Both dad and uncle are pricing RAM this week.  The hard drive is anemic at 30 GB (and Office 2007 is fully loaded on it) and is using compression (ugh!).  Without more time and some of my normal utilities, I couldn’t accurately predict if turning off compression would result in a fully utilized hard drive (i.e. no free disk space for Windows to operate ‘normally’).  Granted, the laptop is over seven years old, so I’m not much that gone be done to improve performance without dumping too much money into it.  As with most electronics, it’s sometimes better to cut your losses and jump to new and improved hardware.  I suggested a netbook if 90% of their needs involve internet access (webmail, Googling, weather, news, etc.).

My uncle and I (both avid readers and he’s also an aspiring author) swapped several pounds worth of books.  I’ll do the inventory this evening and start sorting for swapping and trading via BookMooch and my local used book store.  My dad gave us both the evil eye, since I somehow ended up with about twice as many books on the return trip to squeeze into his car, along with the telescope and me.

I spied and watched some local fauna, including a large woodchuck, a small green and gray toad and a pasture of self-shedding sheep and their well trained unsupervised sheepdog.  On the ride down to Winfield, we saw many red tailed hawks in the pre-dawn life puffed up like owls, but later in the morning they were sleek or fast as the glided over the planes in search of breakfast.

And we ruminated squeaky floors and their cures and the consensus became you must pull up your flooring, use screws (not nails) and possible some glue to quiet those squeaks.



What a Difference a Week Makes …

This will be a conglomeration of star gazing journal and family events and I only have fifteen minutes to spit it out! So here goes:

First, the star gazing report:  My dad and I traveled to Winfield to visit my aunt and uncle for the weekend.  Since the weather was forecast to remain calm, clear and the moon was just barely a sliver, I took the telescope and accessories with us.  We spent the day visiting, enjoying experimental cooking from my aunt and uncle (which was delicious, don’t get me wrong) and doing fall tree trimming and another household repair a la my dad.  I have photos of a couple of the close calls my dad avoided, but that will have to wait for another post.

Later in the evening, after another wonderful new recipe for dinner, as the sun set and the moon quickly followed, we setup the telescope just in time to catch a glimpse of the craters of the moon along the terminus.  Everyone got a chance to view before the moon slipped towards the horizon and behind the tree line.

Now, we waited for Jupiter (which was visible already) and the first few stars (Altair, Deneb and Vega).  We relocated the telescope to the backyard (for a better angle on Jupiter) and my aunt invited a couple of neighbors to view Jupiter’s spectacular display.  We discovered, over the course of the evening, the Jupiter’s moon move quite fast, so much that when the evening began, we only saw three moons, and as it progressed we saw the fourth appear and a couple others move out and up in their orbits.

My personal goal for the evening was  a second attempt to find Comet Hartley 2.  So I was just killing time until the skies darkened enough to make the attempt.  In the meantime, I showed my aunt and uncle the double star in the Big Dipper (Mizar/Alcor)  and of course we began to see the great sweep of stars for the Milky Way.

We took a break (about an hour or so) to sit inside and rest our backs (tree trimming was only a regular activity for my father) and returned to hunt for the comet.  My dad and I tried for another hour, but haze, trees and light pollution were not helping us.  We finally gave up around 11:00 p.m. and headed off to bed.

I woke at my normal 5:00 a.m. timeframe and migrated up to the dark living room.  My uncle soon arrived and we both exited outside to determine the location of Cassiopeia.  That region of space was still not dark ‘enough’ I believe and clouds were rolling in fast from the west.  I did point out Orion and Sirius almost directly due south at that time of morning.

After another wonderful meal (this time breakfast of course), we visited and discussed books, movies, politics, religion … all the usual topics I’ve come to know and love with my close family.  Lunch was a local Chinese buffet followed by a mini-tour of Southwestern’s campus, where it’s celebrating it’s 125th year and Ron’s art (as an alum from 1968) is featured in Baden Hall.   Recently remodelled, it had formerly housed some of Arthur Covey’s artwork and still sports a block dedicating the fireplace from Arthur to his art professor Dunlevy.

Rain rolled into Winfield and followed Dad and I north along the turnpike, peaking in Emporia where we stopped for supper and Braum’s ice cream, but tapered off as we continued northeast along I-35 to K-7 in Olathe and finally reaching Lansing/Leavenworth by 8:00 p.m. — only one hour late mostly due to too much talking (missing exits) and stopping for gas and food.

A wonderful weekend getaway in Winfield I hope to repeat in the future.



Best Time to Spy Comet Hartley Two is Now

I tried several times this week to spot the comet Hartley 2 using my birthday preset as an assist.  According to EarthSky’s blog, you should be able to find it with binoculars near the constellation Cassiopeia.  Here’s a graphic from that blog posting to assist in pinpointing the comet:

Since tonight is October 9th, the comet is below the Double Cluster.  I’m taking all the telescope equipment with me to Winfield today so I can make the attempt again tonight (since the moon is still very new and the skies are dark).

Happy comet hunting and keep looking up!

What does the contents of my purse say about me?

While driving somewhere this week (either to training or home from it), I heard the DJs on KLOVE mention a new documentary entitled ‘The Contents of Her Purse.’  Apparently, the contents of a woman’s purse says something about her.  What, I don’t know, since I haven’t seen the documentary.

So, the DJ’s asked for women to comment on their blog answering ‘What does your handbag say about you?’.   It got me thinking.  I haven’t done much but stuff things in my purse for many moons, so I took everything out of my purse this afternoon:


My Mossy Mess
My Mossy Mess


So, briefly from top left to lower right:  my purse, my pick, my bifocals (in the case), my reading glass (also in a case), my wallet, my chapstick, my lipstick, my microfiber glass cleaning cloth in plastic slipcover, my brush, my ibuprofen, my mortgage payment booklet, my spare auto insurance card, a fine line permanent marker, a pen, two tissue wrapped coins from my father, a couple of hairclips, an old used up set of check duplicates, my water bill, my library cards (for Lansing, KCMO and Johnson County), my gum, salt/pepper packets, my keys, my St. Louis office security card, an old prayer request from this past March, an old bus pass receipt and a flyer that came with my new Price Chopper Shopper card.

I didn’t take everything out of my wallet, which is crammed full of old receipts, various plastic cards (debit, credit, shopper, membership, etc.) and checkbook and pen.

I’m not sure what this stuff says about me besides that I like to read (three library cards and two pairs of glasses).  Any thoughts?

KCOG October Meeting: Upgrading Sharepoint (2007 to 2010)

After my fourth day of training in SQL Server 2005 (at the New Horizons Computer Learning Center in the Metro South Mall in Overland Park), I stayed in the area to attend the October meeting of KCOG (Kansas City Office Geeks) held at yet another training facility (Centriq on State Line Road).

The presenter was Karthik Venkataraman of Rishi Solutions and he gave a short presentation and demo on upgrading SharePoint 2007 to 2010.  The demo failed (of course) because the prerequisites for upgrading are steep, including Windows 2008 64-bit along with MOSS 2007 SP2.

The most promising avenue of upgrade I witnessed was the Database Attach method.  This may coincide with our plans at work to stand up brand new servers (especially since 64-bit architecture is required) and re-install/re-configure OneView in parallel with our production SharePoint system.  A second learning/preparing step includes running the command STSADM -o preupgradecheck on the 2007 system and documenting all your customizations (especially those that do NOT reside in the database, but rather live in the file system on your SharePoint server).

The basic steps for the Database Attached method include:

  • Backup and Restore your SharePoint database (using a different name for the restored copy, so you don’t overwrite, unless you literally intend to detach/attach to a different SQL Server)
  • Run PowerShell command: Test-SPContentDatabase on an empty web app in SharePoint 2010 and fix issues.  (basically, you setup new servers and install SharePoint 2001 new, then create a web app but do NOT create a site collection)
  • After fixing the issues reported from the last command, run either STSADM -o addcontentdb (with appropriate command line switches for your SharePoint database) or the PowerShell command Mount-SPContentDatabase

The list above is not comprehensive so please do your research (learn and prepare) and test, test, test!

And don’t forget the five steps to any upgrade process:  Learn, Prepare, Test (the most important step), Implement and Validate.

It will be several months before I get to learn this method in a test environment, but I’m so looking forward to SharePoint 2010.

Terrestrial Triumps and Tragedies This Past Tuesday

Transferred from my MySpace blog (originally posted October 5, 2010):

Second star gazing journal.  After calling Meade Support on Monday, I recalibrated the drives and retrained them as well as finally dialing in (for the most part) my viewfinder … all before the sun went down.

Then I packed everything up (carefully) and headed west to my local community park a couple of miles west of my park.  I was a bit disappointed to see what appeared to be a soccer practice occurring even though the sun had set at five minutes before seven.  Since I didn’t want a stray hyperactive youngster to knock over and destroy the expensive and sensitive telescope equipment, I resolved to wait until everyone left.

In the meantime, at five after seven, while sitting in my car, I could already see Jupiter with my naked eye … clearly the brightest object in our autumn evening skies.

I waited another thirty-five minutes before everyone finally left.  So by 7:45 p.m. I was finally set up and ready to try again.  I first manually found Jupiter and confirmed my viewfinder was centered and in sync with the telescope.  It was for the most part.  I then spent fifteen or twenty minutes looking at Jupiter and it’s moons.  I started out with the 26x eye lens and then added the 2x barlow which really brought Jupiter in close and didn’t dim it too much.

By then it was dark enough to attempt an alignment.  I aligned on Altair but didn’t recognize (nor now do I remember) the second star the AutoStar wanted to use for alignment.  I centered on the brightest star I found in the viewfinder.  Then I told it to find the constellation Cassiopeia and it tried, but ended up off by half a sky (basically looking southwest instead of northeast).  I interrupted the sidereel so I could synch it by moving the telescope around to the correct portion of the sky.  My goal was to attempt to find the Double Cluster near Cassiopea and eventually the comet Hartley 2 which is between the two (Cassiopeia and the Double Cluster).  I didn’t have much luck, but I enjoyed viewing so many stars … layers upon layers of them.

Next, I then went in search of the binary star in the handle of the Big Dipper … Mizar and Alcor.  That was easy to find and quite interesting to view.

Lastly, I focused on a bright flashing object in the northwestern sky.  When I attempted to focus on it it appeared to flash green and red rapidly.  (I later determined this flashing star was Arcturus and the red/green was caused by the Earth’s atmosphere).

Unfortunately, about that time, the local constabulary arrived with bright headlights (thankfully not pulling out the spotlight) to inform me he needed to close the park.  I replied the posted sign stated the park was open until 10:00 pm.  He rebutted my statement by saying it was supposed to close at sundown.  I replied the posted sign did not state that caveat.  So, I took one final look at Jupiter and it’s moon, then packed up the equipment and was home by 8:45.  I barely got an hour’s worth of star gazing in.

I’ve learned, though, that my telescope probably needs to be serviced.  Meade, in it’s proprietary wisdom, does not provide parts or service partners, so the telescope will have to be packaged and shipped to their world headquarters in California for service and repair.  I’ll call them tomorrow to get the gory details.

I enjoyed a wonderful but short hour of moonless nearly perfect dark sky viewing.  Not too cool, no wind, and not a cloud in the sky.

Keep looking up!

My Star Gazing Journal

Transferred from MySpace Blog (originally posted October 3, 2010):

Yes, I’m back.  Converting my hibernating blog from occasional theological musings to my star gazing renaissance journal.

Decades ago, I lived miles from anywhere, out in the country, far from city lights.  The nights were filled with hooting owls, howling coyotes, chirping crickets, and thousands of stars.  Half the year the nights are longer than the days so I spent many hours looking up.  In high school, I even had my own telescope.

Then, I went away to college.  I took my telescope with me, but Wichita exploded with light and Lake Afton could have been twelve parsecs away for all the good it did me, since I had no vehicle.  Eventually, I got married, had kids, moved out to a small town, but northeast of Wichita, so light pollution still crowded out the stars.  And toddlers zapped me of all my energy.

Almost fifteen years ago, I relocated back to my home county (Leavenworth) but chose to live in Lansing rather than the country, deciding a good school was the best option for my children’s educational needs.  Now, both of them are in Texas, attending college, and I’m an empty nester.

This past weekend, I said farewell to the first half of my life (I’m basing this on both grandmothers living to age 90 and 88) and embarked on the downhill slide to eternity.

Jupiter this October 2010 is so bright it shines nearly as bright as the moon some nights.  With binoculars I could see three or four of the moons as well as Jupiter.  With such a beautiful object hanging over me each evening, I started looking at telescopes on Craig’s List.  I made the mistake of e-mailing my dad one of the entries (which I specifically told him NOT to buy) but come my birthday, this past Saturday, what did he show up with but a very nice telescope, tripod, several eyepiece lenses, a digital camera and sundry other accessories.  I was flabbergasted, speechless, overjoyed, overwhelmed, excited … you name it, that’s what I was feeling.

Getting my brain to switch gears and re-learn all the astronomical jargon after more than 30 years proved daunting at first, but I quickly picked it back up.  I went in search of other amateur astronomers (hoping for some in the Leavenworth area) and stumbled upon the web site for the local Kansas City club.  And, I discovered that most Saturday nights were open to the public for programs and viewing at Powell Observatory (near Lindsburg, about 20 minutes south of Overland Park on US 69).  I asked my dad if he had any plans for that evening, he said no, so I dragged my husband and my dad down to the observatory for a program on telescopes and the opportunity to look at Jupiter and its moons through a 30 inch telescope.  Very impressive and fun.

I took my birthday gift (and all the accessories) with me.  It was a good thing, too, because Terry couldn’t wait in line as long as was needed and wouldn’t have been able to climb the steep steps to the large telescopes eyepiece (his back, ribs and ankle have been problematic lately).  Dad and I quickly setup my telescope and found Jupiter (easy to do since it’s the brightest object in the sky this week since there is no moon right now).  That allowed Terry to view Jupiter almost as well as through the large telescope.

The night sky over Powell Observatory is vibrant with the Milky Way and all the stars you could hope to view.  Excellent location away from the Kansas City lights and nothing to the south to disrupt the view.

After returning home from Powell, I spent a couple of hours learning how to align my telescope.  I quickly learned my backyard is not conducive to any extensive star gazing.  Overlooking that fact that I’m only a few blocks south of the Lansing Correctional Facility (and it’s very bright very orange lights), my house dominates the east side of the propery (the south end is a tall two stories with a peaked roof.  The west side of my backyard has two pine trees, one of which is extremely tall (close to twice as tall as my house) and a maple tree (that’s about 2/3 as tall as the pine tree right next to it).  My neighbor immediately two my north is at a higher elevation than me (probably at least ten feet higher) and has a very large round tree in the middle of their back yard, which blocks the ability to site on Polaris from the north half of my backyard.  Every star the telescope wanted to use to align the Alt/Az motors on was blocked by trees.

So, at midnight, I gave up and came back in and went to bed.  I spent Sunday learning more about the Autostar hand device, the digital camera and dialing in my viewfinder.  I took a couple of photos but the batteries died in the digital camera after only three snapshots.  Adding the weight of the camera to the end of the telescope also jacked with my viewfinder alignment, so I decided to worry about digital photography at a later time.

After church, I drove out on west 4-H Road to the ‘new’ Lansing community park (named after our current seemingly permanently elected mayor who shall remain nameless in my blog).  I was pleased to note that the park had no street lights and no mature trees around the central ‘high spot that included a circular sidewalk area that looked reasonably level.  I determined to return at sunset and try again to properly align the telescope.

I got packed up and arrived at the park at 6:45 p.m., about fifteen minutes before the sun set.  I patiently waited for the sky to darken.  Jupiter, of course, showed up within fifteen minutes of sunset.  The first actual star I saw was Altair, soon followed by Vega and Deneb.  Three stars in three different constellations almost directly overhead that form a triangle easily seen by the naked eye.

Once I started to see the Milky Way (which is always a good thing for good star gazing), I again attempted to align the telescopes motors through various stars in the Autostar device.  I was unsuccessful using stars.  After an hour or more, I finally gave up and manually located (without using the motors) Jupiter and then used a feature of the Autostar device to synchronize on that known object (Jupiter) and allow the motors to track Jupiter for continuous viewing.

I let the telescope track (or attempt to track) Jupiter for a few minutes and began to notice Jupiter drifting off to my left.  So I began to wonder if the telescope’s gears or motors may not be functioning at 100%.  Since I had successfully aligned on Jupiter, I attempted to find a couple of other objects that were easily identified, and then return to Jupiter to check (and double-check) the alignment.  Each time I attempted to return to Jupiter, the left-right alignment was off by quite a bit.

Since the temperature this evening was dropping fast (down into the mid 40s) I decided to call it a night and carefully packed up the equipment and returned home to write this journal.

My action items for this week are to attempt to train or re-train the telescope’s drives (per the instruction manual) to see if that improves the slewing, tracking and alignment issues.  If not, then I will call Meade, the manufacturer, for advice or suggestions on servicing and/or repairing the drives.

I was just a bit disappointed in not being able to view or find the comet, but I have time (it will reach optimum brightness on October 20th).  But viewing Jupiter in all its glory was well worth the time spent getting centered.

Keep looking up!


Welcome to WordPress … the new home for my Mossy Blog

I’m saying farewell and good riddens to my old MySpace blog.  Recent account privacy and security settings have proved inadequate to my blogging needs.  So, if you used to follow my blog on MySpace, please resubscribe and visit me here at WordPress.

If your an avid reader, like myself, please stop by and read some of my reviews.  I also salvage, rescue and swap many books via BookMooch so check out my inventory if you’re looking for some great reads.

In my limited spare time, and depending on whether the moon is out or not, I could be looking up (i.e. star gazing) during these cool autumn evenings or relaxing online as Kerowyn at Aardwolf.

I’m going to transfer a few of my most recent MySpace blogs to WordPress this morning.  My most recent focus has been on astronomy, so many of my upcoming posts will deal with my discovers in our solar system and hopefully in deep space.