Daily Post – 9/21/10 – Physics . . . . .

Posted onSeptember 21, 2010 
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I’ve been reviewing notes from the two physics classes I am enrolled in this semester.

I’ll just say that I get it, but I’m not sure I understand it.

Two tests in the next week.  Let’s see how that rolls.

Sometimes my diagrams that should look like this:

Look more like this:

On that note i’ll close . . .

Till tomorrow,


Daily post – 9/20/10 Looking for Jupiter

Posted onSeptember 20, 2010 
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It was time for amateur stargazers to dig out those telescopes and binoculars.

Jupiter made its closest approach to Earth Monday, only 368 million miles, and my family and I dusted off the ole’ Celestron and headed out to see what was to be seen.

According to the good folks at the Sky and Telescope web site, this was the gas giants’ closest approach since 1963.

1963 – The Beatles released their first album, Please Please Me, Sean Connery stared in the second James Bond movie, From Russia with Love, and President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas.

But I digress…..

A little after 9pm, we struggled the telescope outside, and after some mild frustration (“I can’t even find the Moon to focus!!!), I re-educated myself on the basics of telescope operation, tweaked the finder scope, and there it was.

Jupiter, with 4 of it’s moons strung out like bright little pearls. A little victory for my (very) weak astronomy skills.

Courtesy Shoestring Astronomy

I borrowed this image because although I tried mightily, I was unable to get my Nikon D-40 to give me a clear image.

As I studied closer, I was barely able to discern the cloud patterns in Jupiter’s atmosphere. We also had some help from an app on my iPad called GoSkyWatchP.

Jupiter won’t be that big or bright again until 2022. I should have my degree by then.

Oh yeah, I was lazy and did not post this weekend. My bad.

Till tomorrow…


Writing assignment – 9/20/10

Posted onSeptember 20, 2010 
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#1 GUN

An armed robbery at BJ’s Drug last evening netted the thieves an undisclosed amount of cash, but the outcome was different from a similar incident almost 25 years ago.

The stores owner, Barney Joseph, Jr., told police that after the less than 1 minute robbery, thieves left in a car parked near the store entrance. In addition, although he had access to a handgun he kept behind the counter, he chose to give the thieves what they came for.

25 years ago, Joseph’s father, confronted thieves and was shot to death.

Joseph relates: “Yes, Dad resisted, I guess.  Anyway, they found him shot to death, his own gun in his hand, and a bullet in the store’s ceiling. I’d rather part with my money than my life.”

#2 Suffolk Downs

One day before the start of the racing season at Suffolk Downs Race Track, Boston, officials are investigating a fire of suspicious origins. Jim Connery, Fire Chief, stated that “Flames were shooting out of the building when we got here.”

15 of the 25 horses stabled in the one story wooden building perished, leaving jockey Albert Ramos, from Miami, FL, to reflect: “That’s my best friends, I love horses more than I do people.  I feel like I want to cry.”

An arson squad is investigating the blaze, which appears to have started in an area away from obvious ignition sources, according to track officials.

Daily post for Friday – Disaster narrowly averted!

Posted onSeptember 17, 2010 
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It’s late so this daily post will be pretty short.

Friday night turned into guy’s night here at the ranch. My wife was out of town and my daughter went out with a friend for dinner and a movie. (Her first try of Thai, I later found out.) I had to do a delivery to a client and then my son and I went for some budget TexMex fare.

Upon returning home, we both went into the basement and I started hunting for a movie to watch.  I was originally looking for an ancient VHS tape of the HBO movie Fatherland, with Rutger Hauer, feeling the need for some alternative history. (The book was much better, by the way, but the movie wasn’t bad.)

We have quite a collection of DVD’s and tapes here, and I was looking through a set of them that happened to be on some of those shelves you attach to the wall with the metal strips and the brackets you can move around to adjust the shelves.

Also on these shelves is my Apple Time Capsule and a 1tb drive with all the backups for all the Mac’s here at home, as well as untold client DVD backups and other business materials.

As you probably deduced from the headline, disaster attempted to strike as I was standing in front of the shelves. One of the screws pulled loose and dumped three shelves and their contents into my arms.  I caught the shelf with the electronics, but the majority of the 200 or so DVD’s cascaded around me and over my son’s and my computers.

Failure analysis points to the screws attaching the metal strips to perhaps not have been into studs in the wall.  I’ll look into it more tomorrow, but a rebuilding is in order, using a stud finder first.

At least we were home when it happened. By the way, the movie we ended up watching was 1974’s Irwin Allen disaster epic The Towering Inferno.

Till tomorrow,


Daily post – 10/16/10 Let’s go shoot something.

Posted onSeptember 16, 2010 
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That’s what I do sometimes to put bread on the table.  Not with firearms, but with a camera.  Most of the time it is video, but the art of still photography has earned me a buck or two over the years.

However, on Tuesday, it was the moving version of photography which made the coin. Responding to a request from a division of AOL, I was tasked to shoot and edit a 2 minute piece on a hairstyle done by one of the Sioux Falls hair salons.

After shooting for about three hours at the salon, I headed out to get some cover footage of Sioux Falls.

After navigating the delays on Minnesota Avenue due to construction, I found a parking place relatively close to the falls, where I could bail out, grab the camera, and get several shots for the opening of the piece.

As I set up, and started shooting, something caught my eye below the camera in front of me.  (As I am very wary of snakes, that was what first popped into my mind.) I looked down and there was a ground squirrel, just sitting there looking up at me like I was a tree or an extension of the fence post I was using for camera support.  I slowly tilted the camera down and this is what I saw:

At least I wasn’t compelled to kill a snake with a 3 month old, $10,000 camera.

I’m pretty sure insurance wouldn’t cover that.

Well, that’s all for today.

From the “burr under the saddle” dept.

Posted onSeptember 16, 2010 
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Formatting and the Sioux City Journal’s website.

One of the things that irks me about the Journal’s online site is some of the weird formating. Some aspects of the formatting, which I am pretty sure is automatic, appears to either be out of the control of the staff, or the posting of some stories is completely automatic and nobody ever looks at what is posted.

If you click on many stories on the “Recent Local News” pane, the article which comes up will have a double headline:

Now, if these posts have no human intervention, then I suppose it is plausible that this an automatic thing.

Still, doesn’t anyone ever check what gets posted by the robots?  Ideally, robots in the newsroom might seem pretty handy – perhaps they could do some of the drudge work, like, well, scanning the tri-state wires for items that tick enough keyword boxes to automatically be amended to the online version of the paper.

(Insert awkward silence here . . . )

OK. Well then, has anyone of the programmers ever looked at what the automatic formatting is doing? Aside from misspellings of common words, I tend to think that this type of error is pretty glaring. I don’t think (at least I hope) that this goes through human hands on the way to the web.

As I worked my way up through production in TV, eventually to be the 6 & 10 weeknight director, one thing above many was hammered into me.


From graphics to music, to the structure of the show to the logos on the news vehicles, there was one way to do it.  Everyone knew the format (or was supposed to) and that way, the thought was that no matter who was working the show would always look the same.

I don’t want to nitpick, but this formatting error has been pretty constant for a while now.  I cannot say for sure, but it might have existed for at least as long as this current on-line format of the Journal has been around.

Well, I’ll get off of the soapbox now.  At least this is probably not as annoying to me as the ads that show up and move the content down the home page.  That’s probably a rant for another week.


Daily Post #1

Posted onSeptember 15, 2010 
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I am going to try something new.  Aside from class assignments, I will try to write something every day.  The topics here will run from school,to photography, to my business, to travels, to my hobby, or none of the above. (Comments and critiques are welcome, including yours, Ross!)

My first post here will be a picture from “my summer vacation”.

In June, my family and I took the first summer vacation, where it was just us, in almost 20 years.  Being a small business owner, vacations have been pretty limited to a weekend in Omaha or Sioux Falls.  Not always because of money, but more because of time.  Before I was ‘full time’ self employed, we did do a week here and there, but we usually tagged along with my mom and sister, aunts and uncles.  This would be the first time we would do a ‘biggie’ just by ourselves.

By ‘biggie’, I mean this: Two weeks.  On the road. In a car. No planes, airports, busses, etc.  Just like the old days, when my wife and I were kids.  There is something to be said regarding a vacation by car vs. flying.  I will admit that the convenience and speed of commercial aviation (hassles aside) have their advantages in this day and age, but there is something to be said for going the car way.

Which leaves me to my first photo.  This is where being ‘on vacation’ hit me the first time.  This was around noon on the second day out.  I’d been in St. Louis several times.  Once through the airport and several times blowing through on I-70.  This was the first time I had stopped, and we took the opportunity to visit the Arch.  More properly known as the Gateway Arch (part of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial), I had never been up in the Arch.  Fascinating, and a good time.  Being a photographer, I took a selection of gear with me on the trip.  (I almost also took my newest HD camera, but space was a limiting factor, as well as the thought of a ‘smash and grab’ leaving me without one of my primary sources of income).  As it was, I took a small HD camcorder, Nikon D-40 DSLR and two lenses.  This was taken with the D-40 and a 18-55 VR zoom.

As I said, this was about the time I felt ‘on vacation’ for the first time.  The tour of the arch and the memorial around it was really neat.

Well, that’s all for now.  Hopefully I will post again tomorrow.


Rewriting assignment for Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Posted onSeptember 15, 2010 
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A car accident two miles east of Sioux City has left one person dead and three hospitalized.  Moyer Quick, 65, from South Sioux City, was killed when a truck driven by Randy Radin, 17, attempted to pass Quick’s vehicle.  Radin’s vehicle struck the front of Quick’s vehicle, sending both into the ditch on the north side of Highway 20.

Radin, of Sioux City, is also hospitalized in critical condition. Two passengers in the Quick vehicle, Dorothy Quick, 61, also of South Sioux, and Maxine Steuerwald, 43, of Lawton were hospitalized.

Writing assignment for September 15, 2010

Posted onSeptember 15, 2010 
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Responding to a cat in a tree call could have turned out better for fire fighter Bob Harwood.  The cat’s ok, but Harwood is in St. Luke’s Hospital following a 15-foot fall while attempting to rescue the cat.

The calico cat, belonging to twins Suzanne and Samantha Decker, twin daughters of Charlie and Kim Decker, was trapped 50 feet up in the tree.  Fire fighter Harwood broke his left leg when a dead limb broke 15 feet up. The cat then landed on top of Harwood.


East High principal Laura Vibelius revealed this week that a series of suspensions has resulted from 5 students who were caught smoking Marijuana on campus.  Those five were suspended for one week.

Ten upperclassmen received one-week suspensions for triggering a series of false fire alarms in protest of the suspensions.  In a possible unrelated event, there was a food fight that closed the school cafeteria on Tuesday.  Principal Vibelius commented that there was general unrest in the student body, “not so much … because of the suspensions, but because of summer vacation being so near.” She feels that there will be no continuation of these “incidents” in the near future.


Catastrophe and HAZMAT procedures and training proved valuable when a Texaco tanker truck, filled with gasoline, overturned just outside of town.  The accident, occurring at the corner of 48th and Correctionville road, spilled the fuel into sewer lines and over the streets and ditches in the area.

Local traffic was re-routed through side streets, and four families were evacuated from their homes for the two hours until the gas was flushed away.


Observing the Observatory – final draft!!

Posted onSeptember 10, 2010 
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The O’Donoghue Observatory.

Comm208 Writing Assignment

Final Draft

By Chris Mansfield

On a chilly, rainy Thursday, students walk quickly by the building without giving it a second glance.  Many students may even graduate without setting foot in it.  On a campus where many of the buildings measure tens of thousands of square feet, it figures out to just 678 square feet.  (Some dorm suites are larger.) According to the latest course catalog, no classes are held here.

The O’Donoghue Observatory sits on the expansive lawn to the northwest of the James and Sharon Walker Science Center on the Morningside campus.  Gifted to the college in late 1948, the observatory, named for Dr. James H. O’Donoghue, was formally dedicated on May 28, 1950, the 60th anniversary of the namesake’s graduation from Morningside, then known as the University of the Northwest. Dr. O’Donoghue’s son, Dr. Arch F. O’Donoghue, gave the observatory to the college in honor of his father. The dedication, following the college’s baccalaureate services, featured a panel of speakers whose names were eventually to grace several other buildings on the campus, such as President Earl Roadman and Miss Lillian E. Dimmitt.

Except for the original door with a porthole window (which was replaced with a solid steel door sometime in the recent past) the building looks much the same as it did when dedicated over 60 years ago. It’s large, silver dome sits imposingly atop a short, stout single story building.  Its tan brick walls provide a firm footing for green ivy that covers them like an airy quilt.  The ivy’s long tendrils are just now starting to assault the silver dome, and have almost covered the building’s name above the doorway.

Appearing to sit dormant for several years, the observatory hosts a 12” reflector telescope “of the German type of mounting which has many advantages and few drawbacks” according to the dedication program from the Morningside archives. At the time of its construction, this was the largest telescope in the state of Iowa.  (It may still be one of the largest, as the telescope atop the physics building at the University of Iowa is only 7”.)

Peering through the windows, the interior walls are decorated with a timeline of the universe.  In several places, the plaster and paint are peeling from moisture, and chips of the same litter the floor just in front of the door leading up to the telescope chamber itself.

As a child, my parents would point out the observatory building to me while driving past, and I was suitably impressed. I could imagine peering through the optics at the craters of the moon, rings of Saturn, or the Great Red Spot of Jupiter. Years later, as a newly minted freshman in the fall of 1985, I don’t believe I ever gave the O’Donoghue much thought as my interests were more fixed on the new television studio and student operated radio station.

We may not know what the future holds for this building, arguably the smallest, but (for me, at least) probably the most memorable of buildings on the Morningside campus.


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