Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Can I see Uranus?

Apparently not.  And if I could, that wouldn’t be due to any indiscretion on your part either. 

I’m referring to the planet,  but then you knew that.

You did know that,  right?


For the sake of argument,  we’ll stick with the British pronunciation,  which leans towards,  “You’re in us”,   as opposed to, well you know, that other way of saying it that sounds an awful lot like a part of one’s anatomy.

Originally I was tempted to nick a picture of the sky from this website,  but I thought that wouldn’t be all that sporting.   So instead I’ll direct you to one of the images instead.


If you compare my pitiful photo above with the one on the site (go to the second link if your bandwidth is limited) you’ll see that we have way too much light pollution down towards the horizon for anything other than the brightest of planets.   We only want to see the brightest and the best.   I think I need better equipment.  I also think I need to get away from the city if I want to see anything but the brightest.  

I’m slowly coming to the realisation that there are a quite a few planets that are basically visible with the naked eye.  Wow, that only took 50+ years.    A bit of a slow start to my science career.


I took that picture last night of course,  since it seems that just about every evening,  without fail,  I look out the window and say, “Oh look,  I can see the moon.”   Like a complete idiot.  What is it with humans and looking up in the night sky like we’re all missing a couple brain cells?  The moon (and all the rest of the celestial bodies)  has been there for a while,  so it’s not like it’s anything new.

Fun to look at I guess.  I think I’ve figured it out though, there’s also no “moral baggage”.   Quite often when things are “fun to look at”, the result can either be costly,  or morally reprehensible.

So if a feller looks up at the night sky with a blank look on his face (a little drool at the corner of the mouth is optional)  nobody is going to think he’s “up to something”.  

There you have it.


Not much else happening today,  but speaking of “fun to look at”,  I did see this rather interesting idea for decorating one’s minivan this morning*:





Came from Salzburg,  where apparently they have some extra Astroturf hanging around.  Hence the need to decorate.  Sure glad we figured that out.  Um,  this is where we insert the “sarcasm font”?   Just to be clear.

Now,  how do I know this vehicle came from Salzburg you ask?   Well, all licence plates in Austria (along with Germany and a bunch of others)  denote where the vehicle is registered at the beginning of the plate number.   Our vehicle is registered in Gmünd,  where the Company that Cannot be Named has a honkin’ big factory and offices,  so the first two letters are GD.  

I know a few of them,  like ‘W’  for Vienna.  (Wien kids,  it’s Wien in German)  or ‘PO’ for St. Pölten,  which is the capital of Lower Austria,  and so on.  ‘S’ is a no brainer,  since it denotes Salzburg.  Some of them are still a mystery to me,  and I’m sure there’s some obscure data base somewhere listing them all.   I haven’t checked Wikipedia and besides,  I don’t really care.


So you’re probably wondering,  “Hey Bob,  where did you learn this little snippet for the very first time?”  

Well now,  let me tell you.

If we step into the “Way Back Machine”,  (Anyone remember Mr. Peabody and Sherman?)   and head back to 1979,  I was living in a little town just outside Freiburg called Opfingen

It so happened that my room mate,  one Lutz Bauer,  had a car,  and from time to time we’d head over into France for cheap smokes and wine.  Yes yes,  I used to smoke.  Get over it. 

Back then of course,  there was no such thing as the European Common Union,  so crossing borders involved passports and checkpoints.   This was when I learned about the licence plates.  Lutz was from Heilbronn, where at the time, there was a known group of activists.   Actually,  I do think Lutz used the word “Terrorist”,  but let’s not get carried away.   So, the Dudes at the border would know that he was from Heilbronn,  which meant that crossing the border would involve a certain amount of butt clenching. 

Hey,  we’re back to the Uranus theme!! 

Lutz made darned sure to school me on crossing the French border,  since we were obviously going to be using his car.

To wit:

No smoking. 

Turn off the radio.

Take off your sunglasses. 

Have your identification on your lap,  and whatever you do,  don’t reach under your seat.  

Actually,  don’t make any sudden movements at all.   He reinforced that last little bit,  by telling me about the one time when his ‘Mappe’  (in this case it’s like an oversized billfold)  had fallen under the seat,  and when he went to retrieve it,  and before he ever got hold of it, there was the business end of a semi-automatic handgun pressing against his temple.   He didn’t quite poop,  since every muscle in his body froze.   Good control on his part.  I think I would have crapped for sure.


So now I’m forever looking at licence plates.  It’s just part of being here.  It’s become second nature,  even though I’m not always sure where they’re from.   And yes,  I suppose I could know,  if I really wanted to.

I don’t.

The weather’s nice.   Could be a little warmer.  Bla bla bla.


Thanks for stopping by.



*Here the argument still holds up since,  if that guy is taking a picture of the van,  he must be “up to something”.  See?





  1. I think that planet can't win. It's either "Yer anus" or it's "Urine us." It must have gotten beaten up daily on the planetary playground.

  2. ...which is probably why it spins on it's axis SIDEWAYS. Poor thing.

  3. Now that we did the two tours at the Observatory, I look at the sky differently. I really try now to pick out different stars/planets. At our night Star Gazing party, we saw Jupiter, Mars, Venus and Mercury but "You're in us." ~wheresweaver


Well, I've been getting too many spam comments showing up. Just a drag, so we'll go another route and hope that helps. So, we won't be hearing anything more from Mr. Nony Moose.
I guess I'll just have to do without that Gucci purse.