Accountability Blog – October

Remember last month when I said I was going to actually dedicate myself to this better-my-lifestyle endeavor? Well…

I actually did! Let’s see how:


Crap food – I hit my goal, having just one crap Jack in the Box lunch for the whole month. I also only had one crap breakfast. Nothing more to be said here. Grade: 4.

Vegetables – I made a realization that I made a goal that I couldn’t possibly BEAT. You can miss fewer than zero days. So I’m changing my goal to no more than 1 day in a month without at least one serving of vegetables. That being said, I did have one day right at the end where I literally had no veggies in the house and did not want to go shopping. Still, best I’ve done so far. Grade: 4.

Sodas – I tied my best ever by hitting my goal exactly, six sodas or energy drinks for the month. Nearly cracked a seventh one the last week but my fleeting willpower held strong. Grade: 4.

Overall diet grade: 4. Hit every goal, even if I didn’t exceed any of them.


This is going to be a “caveat” entry. I started pretty good on working out, averaging two a week (my goal). Then on October 23, I didn’t work out because I CLIMBED FRICKIN’ PEAVINE MOUNTAIN. That’s right, having not really hiked in twenty years other than my Peavine attempt last year, I hiked 15 miles up 3,500 of vertical grade. It’s 8 days later and my feet are only mostly healed, so that eliminated the possibility of more workouts. Still, 5 gym workouts plus Peavine – we’re gonna go with a straight up success grade. Grade: 4.


I started strong with this goal but petered out a little bit at the end. Ultimately, I meditated 8 days this month, which is a bit under my goal of 12. Still, we’re going to say I was pretty close. Grade: 3.


I didn’t touch a disc this month at all, including not mailing the one out that I borrowed in September (grrr). I did sign up for a local one-day even in November, though, which will wrap up my year nicely.


So I haven’t written 2,500 creative words since 2012. But I resolved to kick ass this month. Did I? Well, I may not have kicked it, but I did give it a hearty squeeze.  I plopped out 2,531 words. They were all done in one day, so you’d imagine this goal is something I should have no problem with, but there just wasn’t a whole lot of days where I had the time and energy to sit in front of my computer again after work. Still, this was heartening, and a ton of fun. Grade: 4.


Recall that I had a one-month goal of “cutting out all booze and pot” for the month. Well, the short answer is we didn’t cut it out all month – there were a couple of rough days that we wanted to toast away. However, the goal was implemented for financial reasons, and we didn’t spend a single penny on vices the entire month. My vice budget was simply a bottle of booze we bought before I made the resolution and some sodas. So I can’t call it a success, but I managed to keep the spirit alive (RETROACTIVE PUN ALERT!), so we’re gonna say close but no cigar. Grade: 3.


OCTOBER OVERALL: 3.5 – I hit all but three goals, and they were pretty close. Unfortunately, I didn’t EXCEED any of the goals. So let’s try and make my lowest grade next month a 4. Maybe see some 5s in there.


White Christmases Redux

As you’ll recall, in 2012 I wrote about having White Christmases in Reno. People think that, since I’m in a desert, I don’t see snow. Hell, ask people FROM Reno and they say it never snows and it’s never a White Christmas. Well, at that time, 4 of the 6 years I’d been in Reno featured some white during the special day.

I suppose I need to define White Christmas again. To qualify as a White Christmas it must either a) feature some actual snow falling at some point during the day, at least a few flurries, or b) feature some snow existing on the ground at some point during the day. So let’s break it down since then:

2007 – We had a little patch of snow in our lawn. Ash’s folks’ house (where we celebrated Christmas) had only a tiny patch where there was the remnants of a shovel-job. Pretty technical in its assertion as being a “white” Christmas.

2008 – We had a decent snowfall on Christmas itself – Ash’s folks’ backyard probably got 5? on Christmas itself. A TRUE white Christmas.

2009 – We had a big snowfall on 12/7 that year, but I’m not sure that any remained by Christmas.

2010 – We had our own tiny patch in the shade. Ash’s folks had none. VERY technically a white Christmas.

2011 – No snow at all for basically the entire winter.

2012 – I thought this would be another technical white Christmas, as our both our front and back yards had a few patches here and there with snow and ice. But then in the evening it started snowing and we got a good two inches when all was said and done.

2013 – I’m not going to count this year, which is surprising because it featured something far cooler than snow. It featured pogonip. This was far from the best pogonip I’ve seen, it happened on X-mas. So I’ll stick to my technical definition of White Christmas and disqualify this year, but it still stands out as being pretty cool.


2014 – While I won’t pretend this was a record-breaking year, it did feature a little snow on the ground from a few days prior and a little light snowfall in the a.m. hours. Not what you’d see in a Hallmark movie for a White Christmas, but it counts nonetheless.


2015 – This was probably one of the better years for snowfall. We got a few inches the day of, as evident in this photo. I think this was the truest definition since 2008.


2016 – It looks, based on photographic evidence, which, after 40 years, is the only way I’m able remember anything, that we got a nice little dusting of fresh snow on Christmas morning. So far, it looks like we’re debunking the crap out of this whole ‘I live in a desert’ thing.


2017 – So purists who believe White Christmases have to include fresh-fallen snow would not include 2017 in their count. Hell, people who lived any lower in elevation than us would not count it either. But as you can clearly tell, there are patches of residual snow, so it’s a *technical* success.


2018 – Oddly enough, those same purists *would* count 2018 since it snowed a pleasant dusting in the dark a.m. hours. Not enough to stick around throughout the day but enough to qualify it as a White Christmas.


So where does that put us? I’ve been in Reno for 12 Christmases and 9 of them have, by my definition, been white. Even if you were to strip the cheap “existing snow on the ground” provision, it’s been half White Christmases. So when someone tells you they’re moving to desert, don’t believe them. I feel like I’ve gotten more White Christmases here than in Jersey, which was at exactly the same latitude.

Maybe I’ll keep this series going in the future years.

Odds and Ends

Time for a bullet list!

  • I recently read through the fiasco that was our first house-buying experience (in a buyer’s market nonetheless) so I arrived at doing a sell/buy transaction with trepidation. Also, having heard some friends at their wit’s end with the insane market that is flooding the real estate world, I expected disaster. So following copious amounts of knocking on wood, I’m happy to announce that so far this has been smooth sailing. We received 3 offers on our house (two over asking price) within two days and accepted one. Our house inspection has been done and the appraiser has come by with no issues. As far as the house we wanted, it was more than we really wanted to spend, but we made an offer at it was accepted. (It was actually our 3rd offer, but the first to be either accepted OR denied – long story) We close on our current house on 4/29, but will rent from the new owners for 2 weeks. Then we move into the in-laws house for about 6 weeks. Finally, we close on our new house 5/6, but the old owners will rent from us until between 6/15 and 6/30. The latest we will be able to move in will be 7/1. Pictures will come when they’ve cleared their stuff out, so we don’t feel weird about posting pictures of their Furry costumes on the web.
  • No real change in my dental happenings. Waiting on the insurance company to (likely) reject the request for payment, and then we’ll schedule the appointment for my surgery. (Maybe an MRI first?) In the meantime, I’m trying to live my life.
  • Everyone's favorite amorphous mascot, Archie!
  • At the above game, we have front row 3rd base seats, L got his face on the jumbotron (smile cam), he got a baseball (not a foul ball, but an Aces employee gave him a ball actually used in the game), we got a shirt (the lady behind snagged it but gave it to him anyway), 2 free burger vouchers (since the Aces scored 10+ hits), 2 free taco vouchers (our row only out of the entire stadium), and they won 6-1. Oh, and Landen got to take a picture with everyone’s favorite amorphous mascot Archie! I’d call that a good game.
  • I’m going to play my first disc golf tournament of the year this weekend at my local course. It’s two rounds of 27 hilly, long holes. My back has been pretty bad lately, but we’re going to go to PT twice this week and see what happens on the weekend. I ended up selling my Gorilla Boy bag because it’s just too heavy for my back, opting to stick to a smaller bag. I may have to buy something in the middle so I actually have a water bottle holder. *sigh* Getting older.
  • D & L are now both at the Montessori school, which puts 3 grades together. So D is with everyone from 3 yr olds to kindergartners, L is with 1st-3rd graders. They’re both blossoming (L was doing division problems in his head, D has started spelling words). It’s good to see our tough decisions rewarded.
  • Years ago I wrote a blog called White Christmases, noting that I live in a desert, yet from 2007-2012 I experienced at least some snow in 4 out of 6 Christmases. Since then, that percentage has continued. 2013 (no snow), 2014 (a dusting), 2015 (about an inch fell the morning of). So yeah, if you want a White Christmas, move to the desert I guess. 6 out of 9 years so far.
  • 2016 has already had some of the highest highs in a while, but more it’s had some of the lowest lows in my life. Here’s hoping for a rebound.

Pogonip Thursday

I never knew what Pogonip was before moving to Reno, but I’ve been lucky to see it a handful of times, including this morning. In fact, I blogged about it before, here and here. I managed to rush out with the camera before the sun came out and took a bunch of pictures (NOT on auto, just to show that I was a great photographer). I didn’t realize that the ISO wasn’t changed so all the pictures were washed out. So I went back out, correcting that. Or rather, over-correcting that and getting some dark looking photos. Finally I got it right and got a few out of it. Note – I took a few “side-by-side” pictures of my own focus/ISO setting vs. auto setting, and about half the time mine came out better. I’m getting there.

Also, interestingly, we had a pogonip in 2011 where I took some pictures with my crappy old camera (and ended up taking nearly identical shots this year). I’ll put them side-to-side as well (older ones first).

Other pictures from today:

White Christmases

When I moved to NV, Ash told me to even bring a shovel because they never get snow and it never sticks. Well, apparently that was before global warming (which we know started up in early November 2007), because it’s snowed pretty regularly (with the exception of last year where it only snowed on October 5 for an inch or two and that was it). Anyway, since coming here, I’ve been involved with a White Christmas of some sort every year but two. Here’s how it breaks down:

2007 – We had a little patch of snow in our lawn. Ash’s folks’ house (where we celebrated Christmas) had only a tiny patch where there was the remnants of a shovel-job. Pretty technical in its assertion as being a “white” Christmas.

2008 – We had a decent snowfall on Christmas itself – Ash’s folks’ backyard probably got 5″ on Christmas itself. A TRUE white Christmas.

2009 – We had a big snowfall on 12/7 that year, but I’m not sure that any remained by Christmas.

2010 – We had our own tiny patch in the shade. Ash’s folks had none. VERY technically a white Christmas.

2011 – No snow at all for basically the entire winter.

2012 – I thought this would be another technical white Christmas, as our both our front and back yards had a few patches here and there with snow and ice. But then in the evening it started snowing and we got a good two inches when all was said and done.

So there you have it – in Reno, a desert, I’ve had White Christmases of some sort in 4 of my 6 years. I think statistically that is more than I ever had in NJ.


Here are more pics of me flexing my newfound photography skillz! Very few pix of kids right now, but I’m sure Ash will have a post up on her blog shortly. Click each to embiggenate, and marvel at how lame my captions are.

Clouds at sunset

Moon before sunrise

River between rocks

Moon in trees

Landen throwing driver

Landen near balloons

Duncan and Mom

My Trip East – Part 2 (What Went Wrong)

Note: this is probably the longest blog post I’ve ever written. Forgive the typos and tense-shifting, I’m not proofreading.

By now, you’ve probably read why I went east. The reason wasn’t fun, but I was looking forward to it. However, Ash was going with me on the flight, and as you know, when Ash flies anywhere, things just go wrong. Not only was this trip not an exception, it might have set the standard for all future shitty trips.

This is as comprehensive a list as I could remember of what went wrong. I’m leaving off minor things like the food we ordered not coming out right (which happened a few times during the trip) or the muggy weather. This is everything else, broken down by day.


We heard the bad news and booked a flight. Landen had less than 24 hours notice, but he handled it like a champion. While not totally packed, we were pretty good that night. Our flight left Friday at 10:40, enough time for me to get an hour or two of work in.


After a little more packing (but not everything), I head to the office to work. Landen comes in a few minutes later saying, “Mommy needs your help.” I go to her and she says “Call 9-1-1.” Duncan had been choking and vomiting and crying for about 20 seconds by this point. I call them and the responders show up almost immediately. This is a little over 3 hours before our flight. By the time they arrived, whatever he’d swallowed made it past and he was okay, though shaken up. Ash had found an envelope with some coins and he had a penny in his hand. We assumed it was a coin, but we weren’t sure.

Because we weren’t sure, they recommended going to the ER to get an X-Ray, make sure it wasn’t a) anything sharp or b) a quarter. Ash says she still needs to pack, but I tell her to take Duncan to the ER and I will get Landen ready and we’ll go. At worst, Landen and I would still make the trip, but Ash and Duncan might not. Turns out they did make it (after security, we were there about 45 minutes before our flight was scheduled to take off – our flight was actually late anyway, but we didn’t know that at the time.)

But in my haste to pack, which I wasn’t ready for, I left some stuff at home: Landen’s blankie and stuffed monkey Buddy, Duncan’s birth certificate, and some berries. Most of these would actually be irrelevant, but not all. In the process of packing, my back gave out. It would continue to get worse every day of the trip.

The flights were fine, and the airline didn’t ask for Duncan’s birth certificate at all, so we dodged a bullet there. Actually, somehow (and I’m still not 100% sure of how this happened), Landen managed to flush his underwear down the airplane toilet, and for the rest of the trip, every time he went to the bathroom he was deathly afraid of losing his underwear.


This was a day where we were just going to take it easy. For the most part we did. We even managed to sneak away and see some friends so they could meet the boys. Landen and Nathaniel (Aaron’s son) got along great and played with cars and trains until they were well-past bedtime. It was this night that I broke my diet. I will have more about that in Part 3 of this journey.


Because of the last-minute nature of this trip, we didn’t work out many logistics. Thankfully, Tracy and Jerry were AWESOME and flexible and extremely accommodating. They let us use their car to drive to CT for the wake and burial, for which we were extremely grateful, and they even watched Landen for two days while we did it. The drive up was rather uneventful, though we later heard we just missed a mega accident that forced Aaron and Julia to turn around and not make it. That might have been the one bit of luck that actually found its way to us.

A second thing we didn’t have planned was where we were going to sleep while in CT. Worst came to worst, we’d get a hotel. But Jaymar had given me the # of a buddy of his. I never got ahold of him, but while at the viewing, Jay and Jen hooked us up with this lovely couple (very good family friends of Jen’s) who volunteered to put us – total strangers – up for the night. They even gave us their GPS to find their place. They simply said “punch in HOME and you’re good to go.” Maybe things WERE looking up.

After the very painful viewing, Jay and Jen invited anyone who wanted to to come out for dinner and drinks and just some camaraderie. During dinner Duncan started getting fussy, so we made new plans. Ash would take the car to get Duncan back to Gail and Kevin’s (the very nice couple). I would hang with Jay, have a drink or two, and mooch a ride from somewhere back to their place. Great.

About twenty minutes later, I get a call. Ash says there’s a problem. She’d already been driving 20 minutes and the next direction on the GPS was to follow that road for 25 miles. Knowing something was wrong, she pulled over. Just then, she notices the AC in the car stopped. And the hood started smoking. GET OUT OF THE CAR! She pulled Duncan to safety, but now she had two problems. She was lost despite having a GPS and her car was leaking fluids in a not-at-all-good way. The next twenty minutes are spent in a mad game of Operator. Ash can’t reach Gail. She calls Triple A. Gail’s daughter (who happens to be at the bar – one of Jen’s close friends) is trying to reach Kevin, her dad, who is both a firefighter and a mechanic (convenient!) Finally, we make new plans. Kevin and Gail will take two cars to pick Ash up (she is probably 40 minutes from their house). Gail will drive Ash and Duncan back to their house, Kevin will wait for AAA to tow the car back to a VW dealership in the same town as the burial the next day.

We found out what happened with the GPS too – they have a summer home in Vermont, and they still had that address set at “home”, and Ash who is not from the area, didn’t realize it until too late. Yeah, that actually happened.

Meanwhile, at the bar, I decide to order one more very stiff drink, knock it back quickly, and head out with Gail and Kevin’s two kids and Jen’s sister to get back. I finally do make it back (before Ash) and at last we all arrive at Gail and Kevin’s house. The car was towed to the dealership, we hoped it wouldn’t be bad, and we tried to sleep. Nobody really succeeded, though. Duncan barely slept and Ash hardly slept because the only way Duncan would sleep is if they shared their (single) bed. I had a tough time sleeping because of my back.

MONDAY – After Gail made breakfast (seriously, they went ABOVE AND BEYOND the call of duty for complete strangers) and we finally determined that our car would be looked at that day, we went to the burial. After the burial and before lunch, Kevin took us to the dealership, where they told us they had no news. Ash told them that we’d need to rent a car soon and we needed to know as soon as possible. They said they’d try.

After lunch, at Jay and Jen’s insistence, we headed back to their house for a few hours. This was to buy us time so hopefully we would get news of the car. We DID get a call saying it was a hose or belt, and that it wasn’t too big a deal, but they were going to replace it and run it a while to make sure nothing else had gone. Best case scenario (ha!!) Ash would be on her way with Duncan that night – Landen was getting very antsy without us by then – and she would drop me off at my boss’ place in south CT to stay with him.

They called back to say that the water pump had also gone and that would take a long time. Kevin agreed that that was a definite possibility given what he saw, and there’s NO WAY it would get done (they told us this news at 2). We begged and pleaded and explained our situation, and he said he’d try, but no promises. Ash gave up and just ordered a rental car. She and Duncan left and I was to wait for the car. Either I would be staying with Jay and Jen (which I had wanted to avoid – to give them their space) or I would have a car and would drive down to my boss’ house.

Jay and some friends decide he needs a walk, so we take a 2-3 mile walk at a nearby park. It was nice when we got there. With about 1/2 mile left, the winds pick up and the sky darkens. Suddenly, THROUGH THE WOODS we see a storm moving in. Someone’s phone rings – it’s a relative saying that the area is basically getting hurricane conditions. The skies open up. DOWNPOUR. Hail, lightning directly overhead. We assumed it was Gavin who had just found the weather control console and REALLY liked pushing the red button. Over and over again. We get back to the car drenched but okay. Just before the walk I had gotten confirmation that the maintenance crew busted their ass and the car was ready. Following a change into dry clothes, Jay and I have dinner and he drops me off to get it.

I bid farewell to my friend, pack up, and head to south CT. I meet my boss there and explain what has happened so far. I needed two drinks in me to even get it all out.


My company asked me to come in for one day during the trip to meet some new employees. Also, Ken, the original boss, was celebrating his last day with the company at his upper west side home that night, so it just made sense. But now we had a problem. Ash was supposed to drop off her rental car in NJ, then wouldn’t have a way to get her, Landen, Duncan, two car seats, and a stroller into NYC, and Tracy wouldn’t be able to drive her because it was Knox’ first day of  daycare. I was in the city with Tracy’s now-fixed car, but had no way of getting to Jersey. After many many many phone calls and planning, Ash changes her location to drop-off the car to a Hertz in NYC, not far from Ken’s, and that’s that.

However, at work, I spent an hour fighting with my computer, as it isn’t working properly. The IT team does a fix that works for about twenty minutes. Bear in mind, I hadn’t worked much of the last few days because of Gavin’s funeral, so I’m very far behind and need every minute I can get (particularly because the office was closing early for the party and 4th of July). Another hour passes and I give up and go to another computer. THAT one isn’t working properly either. We end up having a 2 hour conference call, further reducing the time I have to get stuff done. Add to that my cell phone stopped placing calls while in the city. I was not a happy camper.

Finally Ash comes in with the boys a little late and we start to head over in 90+ degree heat. We divert our trip a bit so we can hit the subway (Landen was promised a train ride). He had a great time on the trains, though they were too loud for his liking. The party itself was quite enjoyable, and I think I ate more red meat than I had in the past two years combined. Scrumptious.

By the time we finally made it back to West Milford, it was after 9. I had to lay down immediately because my back (remember that?) was in so much pain that basically utilizing the muscles hurt so so much. I had a glass of wine and went to bed, hoping it would be better in the morning.


Fourth of July. And my back was worse than ever. I took two ibuprofen in the morning just to make it through the morning. After some pictures and last-minute packing, we head out to the airport about 1.5 hours early. When we check in, the guy asks us for Duncan’s birth certificate. We don’t have it. He says he can’t go on the flight. Ash and I don’t quite realize right away that he’s totally serious. He asks again and we tell him we really don’t have it – it’s in Reno. Ash points out that he has no teeth, can’t talk, and can’t stand. The guy replies: “I know old people that don’t have any teeth. I need proof of his date of birth. It’s on our website.” He tells us to have it faxed. By the time someone were to go to our house and get it and fax it over, we would have missed the flight. Ash breaks down while I try to get the hospital on the phone. (The Doctor’s office is closed, mind you, because it’s a holiday).

After two calls and speaking to 4 people, Ash gets this unpleasant woman who won’t help us – it’s against company policy to give out that information. Finally, the Southwest guy asks to speak to her. He runs around in circles for more than five minutes. The hospital wants authorization – we’re right here! We give it! – and then says that won’t work, they aren’t allowed to give that out. Finally, the Southwest guy says “Just say yes or no. Was Duncan born on 10/12/11? And she keeps fighting him, though at one point she says “yes, but I can’t fax you anything.” After more than five minutes of fighting (we’d probably been in line 25 minutes at this point), the guy instructs me to just hang up on her. He is willing to accept that very unofficial acknowledgment of his date of birth. He (fortunately) ushers us to the front of the security line and we make it through with about 15 minutes before our flight boards.

The flights themselves were okay – Duncan wouldn’t sleep unless he was being nursed, so Ash basically fed him for four hours. Landen did great on all the flights, but he’s still a 3-year-old and that’s draining.

At our layover, my back hurt now so much that I laid on the floor to try to fix it. And when I tried to get up, I couldn’t. I tried three times and I literally couldn’t use my back muscles to help me up. Ash brings more ibuprofen and I suck them down. We instruct Granny to meet us at the Reno airport with something stronger. It is probably the most (prolonged) pain I’ve ever been in.

The rest of the trip went without too much hassle and we made it home.

The results? My back is better now. Duncan DID swallow a penny (it came out during the wake), and all our hosts rocked our socks. We  were able to be there for Jay and Jen, a few friends got to meet our kids, I got to have a send-off for the one-time boss who basically enabled me to move across country and marry Ashley… it wasn’t all bad.

But most of it sucked.

Picture Blast, Pt. 2

The following are pictures largely of sunsets/cool skies.  They were taken mostly on the same day, one handed, with a camera-phone, while driving.  So suffice to say they may not be the absolute best quality.  Enjoy.

Taken with a camera, not while driving, ~2009

The far side of a sunset

Same clouds, same phone, minutes later, completely different look

The near side of the same sunset

Different day, and for those keeping track, we have two suns now

Finally, two pictures that, no matter how many times I look at them, always make me smile, and usually make me laugh.

This is what he did when I asked him to pose for a picture with Mommy

Hooray for “fish-eye” silly effects on the camera phone!

Picture Blast, Pt. 1

I’m just gonna throw up a bunch of random “Earth” pictures I’ve taken over the last few weeks (or, in one case, years).  They’re not the usual cute baby pictures, but I think you’ll enjoy them nonetheless.  The first four are from our trip to Michigan last month.  They’re also with the fancy new camera, so I was trying some nifty stuff there.  Click to make them bigger.

Lake Michigan at sunset

This little guy did not like staying still for me

A different sunset on Lake Michigan

Artsy and/or fartsy

The next two photos were from the balloon races today – this is an annual event that’s one of the largest in the world.  And, while I don’t consider myself a patriotic person, I was very happy to have snapped the last photo as I was walking with Landen around the disc golf course today.  That it happened on 9/11 isn’t the reason why, either.  I’m fine with patriotism, as long as it’s not manufactured.

Uhhh, I think you’re in my fairway

More in the next day or two.

UFO Sighting

Well, okay, that’s a lie.  It wasn’t unidentified, it was a cloud.  And it wasn’t technically “flying”, it was hovering, maybe even coalescing.  But to have a heading of “IHO Sighting” doesn’t really attract the eyes so much.  This was taken with a camera phone that practically doesn’t even take MEGApixel pics, but maybe KILOpixel.  Or just pixel.  Unsure.  Either way, it’s grainy but the photo op was gone by the time I got to a real camera.   Enjoy.

Click to see things larger but still grainy.

Questioning the Big Bang

Here’s an interesting one – I’m going to include an email verbatim that I wrote to Phil Plait, awesome astronomer guy, after reading one of his books.  The Big Bang Theory seems so counterintuitive–that things accelerate faster as they go on–that I had trouble relating to it – I had nothing to compare it to.  On Earth if things explode, they eventually LOSE acceleration (due to friction, air resistance, etc…)

At the time, I had come up with an alternative hypothesis.  As I say in the email, I’m sure I’m not the first to think of it, but based on my rudimentary knowledge of astronomy, I couldn’t figure out WHY it was impossible, assuming that someone had refuted it along the way.  It still seems to be a feasible explanation to me.  I never got a response.  I post it now with the original dates so that, if someone ever makes a mint in the astronomy community (ha!) on this new theory, I can try to sue them for a piece of that.

Rereading it today, it isn’t the clearest, and there are typos, but forgive me.  Thoughts?

Question about universal expansion

Saturday, October 24, 2009 11:06 PM

I am a very new fan of the Bad Astronomy blog, as well as someone who just finished Death From the Skies (which I enjoyed a great deal), and I will start by apologizing for what I fear will become a painfully long email.  After all, I’m asking only one question.  (I hope you’re the type who somehow finds time to slog through, and respond to, your emails.)

I had a thought that I’m assured has been conceived before, but I can’t for the life of me figure out why it couldn’t be possible.  I’m not saying I’m the next Poe (an unlikely source from whom a huge leap in astronomy comes – after all I’m a comedy writer with a degree in acting), but it’s a question I’ve love disproved nonetheless if it’s already been theorized and debunked by people paid to have a much stronger grasp of this stuff than I do.

In reading the chapter about universal expansion and the Big Bang, the idea that the other two theories (of the Big Collapse and of uniform expansion) were discredited once it was determined that the acceleration rate of, well, everything is increasing sorta blew my mind.  I had trouble wrapping my head around it.  The only way I could possibly envision increased acceleration to nothingness was to think of the universe as an endless, frictionless volcano and the Big Bang basically dropped all matter on its slopes, to forever accelerate.  It’s the only way I could justify acceleration like that.

So [hopefully not mincing words/ideas] you went on to say the generally accepted theory is that the universe is expanding increasingly rapidly (as is attested by the fact that all matter is moving away from us.)  And it’s moving in all directions into nothingness.  Everything will eventually dissolve beyond the shrinking universal horizon (which I believe I’ve been able to wrap my head around… figuratively.)  It all goes ad infinitum towards nothing in particular.

Now here’s where I have a problem.  I can’t just accept acceleration continuing forever.  It strikes me as… – not pointless, that’s not what I’m looking for.  But certainly weird.

Is it possible (six paragraphs in and I finally get to the question) that there could be some very very big mass (far bigger than anything we’ve comprehended) whose gravity is so big it caused the Big Bang?  So way over to our right (and this made much more sense when I could act it out with my hands to my wife) we have this super-gravitational orange (it could be something solid or just a really really freakybig black hole – the uberhole.)  It’s very very far away (well beyond the universal horizon and therefore out of our view) and its gravity is so strong that ultimately it just saps all the matter from the infinitesimal spot that was the Big Bang beginning.  It explodes uniformly (like a circle that continues to increase), but because of the intense gravity of the superorange, all matter makes a pretty quick beeline towards the superorange.

Since the explosion is a “normal” explosion, some matter is ejected backwards and has to make a swooping motion to get to this orange, because the force of the explosion it is able to (on a galactic scale) briefly go in the opposite direction – quite a strong blast.  Imagine a firework blowing up sideways on a world with no air friction but strong gravity, and you sorta get my model [thanks go to my wife who got out of bed to give me the example.]  This could arc so high and wide that, from our vantage point, the backwards and perpendicular ejecta wouldn’t even be visible because it’d be so far to our side or, more likely, behind us (temporally as well as physically.)  Let’s say we were on the side of the explosion that is at least on the orange-half side of the explosion.  We’re moving towards the uberorange, and accelerating as it happens.  That’s something that makes sense to me – there’s something sucking us in, that’s why we continually increase our speed.  (Though, I should add, it would also seem to work if we were at the direct opposite side of the explosion, and we were literally the last possibly piece of matter still getting sucked into the uberorange – everything would still be moving away from us as it all would have gotten a head start into the overwhelming gravity.)
This would also explain why everything is moving away from us (using the example that we were on the orange-side of the orange side of the explosion): anything in front of us is accelerating faster than us, and anything behind us is accelerating slower, so from our perspective, it would also move away from us like a slow runner would look to us in our car – moving towards us but so slowly it’s losing distance – if that makes sense.  Anything else to the side or backside of the explosion is too far away (or too slow) to be within our universal horizon.  And the matter that happens to be at the EXACT same distance to the uberorange is just so rare and sparse that it constitutes, fractionally, basically a zero.  After all, space is mostly filled with not stars/planets/”stuff”.

Now I’m positive the number of people who have been considering universal expansion is staggeringly big, so this has to have been thought of before; that we are actually all traveling TO a single point (other than to the starting point, which is illustrated in a theory whose name I forget, but it’s the Big Collapse where the gravity of the universe is great enough to suck it back to the initial Bang.)  Basically, it would put something vastly bigger than any SMBH that we’ve conceived out there that provides an impetus for sudden expansion and explain the increased acceleration and well as why we can’t see anything beyond the universal horizon, because what lurks there could be truly scary.

So I suppose the question twofold: a) has this been theorized and b) if so, why was it shot down?  My inconceivably limited knowledge of the universe, astronomy, and quantum physics can’t figure out the hole in my admittedly ill-thought out hypothesis that I came up with tonight after finishing your book.

Please answer if you have the time and interest.  And if not, continue writing entertaining smart stuff – there’s just not enough of it around.


p.s. I fear the answer may lie somehow in the theory of relativity which, try as I might, I can’t seem to fully comprehend.  I say this to illustrate exactly how limited my knowledge is.

p.p.s.  If I misread your book and this IS the generally accepted theory, I’ll feel very silly indeed.

June 11, 2010

For each day in 2010 (give or take) I’ll be showing a picture from somewhere in my life with a little explanation as to what it is.  Enjoy the trip down memory lane.  (CLICK HERE TO GO TO THE ARCHIVES!)


Recent History

Date: Yesterday

Location: Reno, NV

Description: If this Picture of the Day Archive were laid onto a football field, this picture would be on the near goal line, as it was taken yesterday.  While driving home from improv rehearsal, I saw an amazing sky and, of course, had no camera with me.  I called Ashley and told her she had to snap a few photos because my camera phone just wasn’t doing it justice.  In fact, here is a comparison of what my phone at the same time was taking.


Anyway, this sort of sky is pretty typical in Reno.  I imagine it is fairly universal, but elsewhere in the world there’s too much blocking the view.  In Jersey, it was trees and buildings.  In England, it was clouds.  In Baltimore it was terrible baseball teams.  Here in Reno, you see this fairly often.  And it’s breathtaking every time.

Memorial Day Wrapup

What a bizarre trip to San Jose this was.  It was our first time for more than a few hours when both of us would be without Landen.  And it would be for three full days.  How would we fare?

Thursday – We leave immediately after work, realizing that we forgot to pack lunch for Landen that day (we told Ash’s mom we’d have lunch for Thurs and Fri covered… oops!)  Not a real issue.  We get on the road, and it’s raining.  Oh, but wait, when you start climbing in elevation, it starts SNOWING (May 27…), and of course, they have the road closed off to all but snow tires.  So we have to pay $70 to get snow chains put on our car.  Well, I guess it’s good we have them.  Odd, when I go out for Memorial Day weekend, I don’t think to pack snow chains.  We stop off at dinner (we had read the menu online) and were excited for some BBQ.  What we got was lousy.  Ash didn’t even eat it.  So we hit In N Out so she could get something.  We get lost a couple of times getting to Cyrus’.  But finally we get there.  It’s only got to get better.

Friday – With Cyrus at work, we go to the heralded Delaveaga Disc Golf Course.  This is the site of an NT event (that happened the weekend before) and I’ve heard amazing things about it, especially it’s final “Top of the World” hole.  Well, we played all 28 holes, give or take a couple.  It was a mixed bag, as our weekend would be.  There were some very good holes indeed – holes I hadn’t seen anything like on any course I’ve ever been on.  And a few very very stupid holes.  (Throw over all these trees to a basket that’s down there somewhere.)  I thought the course overall was overrated, though not terrible.  However, I lost two discs (my longest driver and my favorite midrange… grr) in some very thickly wooded cliff-like areas.  More on that later.  We finish, drive down to the Santa Cruz boardwalk, and have lunch that consists mainly of garlic (not a bad thing, mind you.)  We drive home and hang with Erin for a little while, then Cyrus the rest of the night.  Dinner and good conversation were highlights there.

Saturday – It is rapidly occurring to me that I’m long-winded.  Saturday was Erin’s graduation, the reason we were there.  After some massages in the morning (thanks CHI!) we head to the graduation and watch Erin walk up nearly last of 300 students to get her diploma in a short, sweet ceremony.  Then it was on to the afterparty at Erin’s boyfriend’s place.  SO MUCH MEAT there.  And Asians.  Lots of meat, lots of Asians.  It was a really great time.  We played games, had jello shots, decapitated a pinata.  The entire day was just great.  Then home to some very late night conversations with Cyrus, and off to bed.

Sunday – After a nice sleepin, we got up and had lunch with Erin and Cyrus (leftover meat!)  After a wonky start, we were pretty excited as the weekend ended great.  Oh wait, it wasn’t over yet.  We had a flat tire.  Much to our surprise, we had a full tire spare in our trunk, and not a donut, so on a Sunday (of a holiday weekend) we didn’t have to search for someplace open.  One changed tire later, we got on the road.  Oh, wait, we stopped at the pharmacy first, because I had to buy something for my MASSIVE poison oak that I got while rooting around for my discs at Delaveaga.  Another reason I think it’s overrated.  The trip home was uneventful.  We spent all yesterday with Landen, who was finally his healthy happy self.  It was good to be home.

Unsettling Things

Random tidbits from the unsettled jar:

– Grassroots Books was robbed at gunpoint at 7:30 last night, and police think it’s tied to a string of armed robberies committed since January.  This sucks for two reasons.  1) Because not only is it hands down the best used bookstore ever, it is arguably the best store of any kind ever.  It’s sad to see them take a loss, though it might result in increased security measures, which is a nice lining.  And, more personally, 2) I was in the store less than an hour before it happened.  They were having a sale on CDs (I got 5 used CDs for a total of 27 cents), so I booked down as soon as dinner was finished so I could catch it and still make it back in time to give Landen his bath.  Had I not been in a hurry, it’s quite possible I would have been there when it happened, as I often take over an hour at that store.  Nobody was hurt, but I still don’t think I would have wanted to be there.

– One of my childhood heroes recently applied for money at my workplace.  I won’t name who it was, since lord knows the guy doesn’t need any more press about him (he hasn’t fared too well in the public eye in the last two years).  I was initially very excited because the broker said I’d be able to chat with him for a minute, which would have been a dream come true since I was a wee toddler.  However, I started to do research about him online, and man oh man has this guy fallen pretty hard.  It’s downright difficult to find positive things about him said anywhere.  Even the Daily Show blasted him.  We aren’t able to do it anyway for a legal technicality, but reading all those things has put a damper on 25+ years of idolization.  I wouldn’t even know what to say to him if I got the opportunity.

– Ashley and I have been actively planning our landscaping and gardening.  That, in itself, is unsettling.  How old AM I?

– I have an old Sony 5-CD changer, now in the living room.  It’s been a unique piece for a while, although the fact that it’s even still working (I got it as a high school graduation present) is an accomplishment.  Anyway, for years it’s done something peculiar.  While on, it will periodically open and close.  And nearly every time you actually turn it on, it will open, close, open, rotate the tray a little, rotate back, then close again, before you can open it to load CDs.  Okay, whatever, that’s weird, but it still worked fine other than that.  Since moving to NV, it’s started opening and closing WHEN IT’S TURNED OFF.  We’ll be sitting there and then randomly its gears will grrrrrr along and it will open up the tray, as if sticking it’s tongue out at us.  Very unsettling.

– We got snow yesterday and this morning.  While it isn’t the flooding the NE is getting, I still think someone needs to smack Mother Nature around a little and inform her that it’s a) spring and b) a desert.

Working on some new stuff – more DPOD pics and some fresh Smacky pics coming up soon, as well as a long-awaited Fats’ Bad Advice column.

People Who Rule II

This entry’s batch of people who rule is brought to you by: me.

First off, in the selfish arena, the so-far only 2x winners of the People Who Rule award, The Stus (particularly Stu F.)  I won’t go into great detail, because Ash already did that over here.

The second person who rules is whoever made the following video.  If you have six minutes, click on the “HD” button and watch something that will both blow your mind and put you in a trance.  Simply beautiful.

Let it Snow… etc

So we’ve had our first significant snowfall of the year, dumping probably 8 or 9 inches down on our little desert town.  So we figured we’d put our nearly-one-year old boy outside, see what he thought.  You tend to expect all babies to be afraid of new experiences… water, grass, snow… our boy doesn’t actually have fear.  Of anything.   Including crawling face-first off of tall things.  So it was only marginally surprising that after a little bit of trepidation:


he jumped right into the fray.

See, because it was a big snowfall and we don’t really have… what’s the word… plows… things got bogged down.  Ash had the day off and did all the hard labor while I still work for a NY-based company and did not get the luxury of a day off.  But Landen certainly tried to help out.  This was his reaction when Mom made him shovel.


So for a little while (read: 1 minute) he was staying only in areas that had been shovelled, probably because the rest of that white stuff was VERY cold.  But after that long, thoughtful minute, he decided to barrel right through it all and have some fun. And I don’t mean tentative, poke at it kind of fun.  I mean full-throttle immersion fun.


All in all, I’d call his first excursion into snow a success.  Too bad I keep getting told they don’t get snow out here.  (I personally have a theory that snow messes up desert-dweller’s memories, because since I’ve moved here, I’ve experienced at least 4 snowfalls of at least 6″, and one was easily over 1′.  One was on Christmas.  They have no memory of that.  I don’t quite get it.)  But you don’t need to take my word for it, just ask Levar Burton.  Or Landen, who’s answering it in this picture.


Finally, I leave you with an awesome video.  Our son has the best laugh ever.

A month of updates

First off, it is October 5th and we have snow in our “backyard” (Mount Peavine directly to our south.)  Reno is a strange place meteorologically.

Speaking of the 5th, that means it’s Landen’s birthday – he is 9 months old today.  And he’s every bit of that – he’s quite the little man now.  He still doesn’t crawl properly, but does the army crawl like it’s nobody’s business.  He crawls over legs, chairs… he is not afraid of anything.  And while stacking pillows up keeps most kids away from certain areas, Landen’s smart enough to simply move the pillows aside and crawl through.  He’ll even sometimes just crawl straight over them.  He’s extremely intelligent and picks things up quickly.

For instance, he has started picking cheerios up off the table and putting them in his mouth.  That sounds pretty simple, but it’s a monumental step for a baby.  Of course, now if we could just have him keep clothing and food straight (he tends to want to put his clothes/shoes in his mouth, and more food ends up on his body than down his digestive tract.)


Happy baby with a happy mom

He is a very peculiar boy in a number of ways.  At Granny’s place, he will sit with his basket of toys and can play for a half hour with them contentedly.  At our place, we give him toys and within a minute he is zooming off to another part of the house.  Even new toys or toys he hasn’t seen in a while.  And what he does play with most?  Doors.  He’ll crawl up to a door, particularly the guest bathroom door, and push the door closed.  Then he’ll crawl to the closed part and open it back up full (after wriggling himself out of the way, which is usually his major issue – being in the way of the door he’s trying to play with.)  He can do this a half dozen times before crawling off to do something else.  He also really likes drawers, cabinets – anything he can open and close really – as well as his ongoing love of instruction manuals, tags, and labels.


More playtime

Despite looking happy 90% of the time, he’s been a bit crabby and fussy lately.  He hasn’t eaten as much and he’s been generally fidgety and irritable.  In feeling his gums, we think two more teeth might be popping up any day now on his lower jaw.  This happened the first time he popped two teeth out (we’ve still yet to get a good pic of the teeth, but that will hopefully come soon – especially now that we have batteries for our cameras.)  Either that or he might just be hitting another growth spurt.


He apparently isn’t as scared of grass as I was at his age

Most people have asked about the house.  We are officially 10 days from the absolute deadline for our closing date, and we still don’t know if this transaction is going to happen.  It’s actually looking less and less likely with each passing day.  In short, the seller has been completely uncooperative and uncommunicative.  He was supposed to have had new appliances ordered about a week after we put in a bid (two months ago.)  To this date, there are no appliances in the house.  According to the seller’s agent, he ordered them maybe a week or two ago and they’ve been shipped each time and had some defect in them.  I personally think it’s BS (the fact that he changed the closing date from Oct 1 to Oct 15 was an indication that he hadn’t even done half the things he promised to do.)

While it would blow to a) lose out on the $8000 tax credit and b) have been living out of boxes for the last month, we aren’t bound to this.  And if I am not allowed to see the house this week, we’re going to maybe make a significantly lowered offer or, barring that, simply walk away.  We’re not happy, as the place was excellent, but the gloves need to come off at some point.

The realtor is supposed to swing by today and I have left a message to go with her.  We’ll see if she takes me up on that.  Obviously, her commission rests on this, so she’s going to do everything in her power to get this to happen.

Hopefully the next update will be a bit happier.