Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Practical advice for the War On Cat Poop

How to stop cats from fouling in your garden
 My garden is frequently visited by my neighbour’s cats. (I like cats. My sister has 4 cats and my cousins like putting hers in cute fancy dresses!) Last year, one of them started to poo in my garden. I embarked on a battle to stop him from doing so. I have tried many techniques; some based on the principles of sound, smell, novelty andcontact and failed most of the time. It was a bit like the movie Catch Me If You Can, except that I was no Leonardo DiCaprio (Frank). I was more like ’Carl’, the FBI bank fraud agent (Tom Hanks), who kept trying to catch Frank, the Conman, but was always a step behind. Every morning, the first thing I did was to roll up the blind and check if the set up has worked. Sometimes, I was amused by how clever the little cat was! A year on, I am happy to declare that I have won the battle! Here is how I found the ultimate solution against cats fouling in my garden. [...]
The author goes through each one of the many typical recommendations that one finds on the internet, and tells you (from experience!) why each one fails. That is, until the final one, that we are told works. Read on to find out!    

Ann Romney, the "comeback kid" politically

How Ann Romney learned to stop worrying and love politics
[...] The 63-year-old mother of five and grandmother to 18 has emerged as an important humanizing force for Romney on the campaign trail. While the presumptive Republican nominee can come across as stiff and awkward on the stump, Ann charms the crowd with personal stories, casting her husband in a softer light. At a rally in Michigan on Friday she choked up while expressing gratitude that so many supporters in her home state had shown up. "Mitt and I grew up here, we fell in love here, and this is a special place for us," she said.
Despite her ongoing struggle with multiple sclerosis, which she was diagnosed with in 1998, Ann has attended hundreds of campaign events and often comes across as having more energy on the stump than her husband. She was at her husband's side at virtually every rally during the long primary—working the rope line alongside her spouse and often delivering a mini stump speech of her own.
In one instance, she tells the story of being a stay-at-home mom in charge of five "very naughty" sons when her husband, then a consultant with Bain Capital, was traveling. "He would call home, and he'd hear a very exasperated wife at the end of the phone," Ann said during a rally in South Carolina in January. "And he'd remind me to hang in there. It would be okay, that actually my job was more important than his job. And the cool thing was he meant it."
"You couldn't pay me to do this again"
Ann now seems so skilled and smooth in interviews it's hard to believe that she is actually something of a comeback kid, politically speaking.
During her husband's unsuccessful bid for a Massachusetts Senate seat, the Boston Globe blasted her in a scorched-earth profile that portrayed her as a chatty, over-privileged woman living a life so perfect it bordered on creepy. The two lines from the interview that most haunted the campaign: Ann's insistence that she and her Ken-doll-looking husband had never once had a fight during their marriage; and her statement that the couple was "struggling" when Mitt was getting his graduate degrees at Harvard. The two were supporting themselves by selling off American Motors stock given to Mitt by his wealthy father—something that didn't exactly resonate with voters working two jobs to survive. ("Mitt was still in school and we had no income except the stock we were chipping away at. We were living on the edge, not entertaining. No, I did not work. Mitt thought it was important for me to stay home with the children, and I was delighted," she said at the time.)
In an article titled "Daughter of Privilege Knows Little of Real World," the Boston Herald ripped off the most unflattering of the Globe's quotes. The experience left Ann incredibly angry, she later admitted. When a reporter asked her after her husband's defeat whether she would ever help him launch another race, she retorted: "Never. You couldn't pay me to do this again."
Writer Ron Scott, a Mormon who wrote MITT ROMNEY: An Inside Look at the Man and His Politicsand who lived in the same stake—sort of the Mormon version of a diocese—as the Romneys, said he remembers "gasping" when he first read the Globe profile, instantly recognizing it as a disaster. But now, Scott thinks the incident just shows how fully Romney trusted his wife—for good or for bad. Despite her political inexperience, her husband was willing to let Ann do an hour-long one-on-one interview without media training or a PR team to hold her hand. And Ann was happy to take that risk, confident she could come out on top.
Perhaps that assurance was misplaced at the time, but it seems fitting now.
"She looks...like she's enjoying the campaign," Scott said. "I think if you were to contrast between now and '94, I don't think she really enjoyed that campaign or the 2008 one, but this time around I think she really looks like she's come alive." [...]


Truely Bipartisan Health Care Reform

Unlike Obamacare, the Wyden-Ryan plan is truely a bipartisan effort, that does not dump any grandma's off a cliff. From Senator Wyden's website:

Bipartisan Health Options

U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) and U.S. Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI) introduced a new proposal that represents a major advance in the effort to build a more secure future for the millions of seniors who rely on Medicare.

The new report from Sen. Wyden and Rep. Ryan, titled “Guaranteed Choices to Strengthen Medicare and Health Security for All: Bipartisan Options for the Future,” outlines a detailed proposal to offer expanded health care choices for older Americans while preserving a traditional Medicare plan as an option. The report also proposes to give Americans under 65 more power and freedom to purchase insurance products they can carry with them into retirement.


Why do you say Wyden-Ryan won’t “end Medicare as we know it?”  Won’t allowing seniors to choose private health plans be a major change?

First of all, the hallmark of Medicare is not its structure but its guarantee that every American will have high quality health benefits as they get older.  And, as has been mentioned before, “Medicare as we know it” will end in 2022 if nothing is done to change its current course.  Wyden-Ryan takes action to ensure the Guarantee is preserved.

Contrary to what many believe, every Medicare beneficiary does not currently get their Medicare from the government-administered Medicare insurance plan.  Many seniors are already getting their Medicare from private health insurance plans.  In Oregon, for example, 56 percent of seniors currently get all or some of their health coverage from a private plan. (15 percent of Oregon seniors purchase private Medigap policies to supplement their traditional Medicare, while 41 percent of Oregon's Medicare beneficiaries are enrolled in private health insurance plans through Medicare Advantage.)Wyden-Ryan would allow seniors to continue to choose between the traditional government-administrated Medicare option and privately administered plans.  But instead of maintaining separate programs, Wyden would make those private plans more robust and accountable by forcing them to – for the first time – compete directly with traditional Medicare.

Every private plan that participates in the program would be required to offer health benefits that are AT LEAST as comprehensive as those offered by traditional Medicare and premium support payments would be pegged to the actual cost of health care in a given area, determined by an annual competitive bidding process.  Therefore, every senior – whether they get their health insurance from a private plan or the government – will be guaranteed to have the high quality health benefits that has long been Medicare’s promise.

How will Wyden-Ryan ensure that private insurance companies don’t take advantage of seniors?

All participating private plans will be required to offer benefits that are at least as comprehensive as traditional Medicare, with such standards enforced by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.  Any plan that is found taking advantage of seniors or providing inadequate care will be kicked out of the system. Cherry picking healthier seniors will be made unprofitable by robust risk-adjustment, and the Medicare Exchange where plans will seek to offer coverage to seniors, will be policed by the federal government.

It is worth noting that the Medigap law Senator Wyden authored to regulate the private market for Medicare’s supplemental insurance market has been protecting seniors from unscrupulous insurance practices for more than two decades.

How will Wyden-Ryan guarantee that health care will be affordable for all seniors? Isn’t it just a voucher?

A voucher suggests giving seniors a fixed amount of money indexed by a set rate of growth that may/may not have anything to do with the actual growth of health insurance costs.  Vouchers would not guarantee that seniors could afford health coverage.  (This is what the last year’s House Republican Budget did.)

Wyden-Ryan does not give seniors vouchers.  Instead Wyden-Ryan would guarantee that seniors can afford their health insurance premiums by giving seniors premium support payments, the amount of which will be determined by the actual cost of insurance premiums each year.

It would do this through a competitive bidding process in which private insurance plans, wanting to cover Medicare beneficiaries, would submit their benefit packages and the amount they will charge in premiums for the upcoming year.  The amount seniors receive in premium support will be determined by either the cost of traditional Medicare premiums or the second cheapest private plan available on the exchange (whichever is cheaper.)  This process will take place each year, so if health care costs – and therefore insurance premiums -- grow dramatically from one year to the next, so will the premiums support payments that seniors get to pay for them – thus ensuring that every senior can afford their health insurance premiums.

And again, every private plan in the Medicare exchange will be required to offer benefits that are at least as comprehensive as those offered by traditional Medicare. [...]

It's not a "Radical Plan to Kill Medicare". It actually builds on the Medicare options that already exist, in a way that will both control costs and offer more choices. And it's a plan we can actually afford!

It's definitely worth reading the whole thing. It's pretty much the same Medicare plan that Paul Ryan is advocating on his website.

In an interview for Human Events, Ryan explains the history of bipartisan support for the reforms he's advocating.


Song will Premiere Broadcast from Mars

NASA, will.i.am to Premiere Song Live From Mars
Black Eyed Peas co-founder William Adams, a.k.a. will.i.am, is working with NASA on an interplanetary stunt with chart-disrupting implications—the musical artist's new single "Reach for the Stars" will premiere live from the surface of Mars via the space agency's Curiosity rover.

"Reach for the Stars" will be broadcast by Curiosity at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, NASA said in a statement. Curiosity, the largest automated mobile lab NASA has sent to the Red Planet, touched down on Mars on Aug. 5 after more than eight months in space.

The premiere of the song will coincide with an event at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif., mission control for the Curiosity expedition. Fans will be able to tune into the premiere of "Reach for the Stars" online via NASA TV, which will stream the broadcast live.

Will.i.am, through his i.am.angel Foundation, is also working with NASA and Discovery Education, a developer of digital educational resources, to push a new science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics initiative leveraging Curiosity and other NASA probes, the agency said.

The singer has taken a keen interest in science and technology in recent years. Named "director of creative innovation" by Intel in early 2011, will.i.am has participated in the FIRST Robotics Competition for high school students and has discussed starting a car company.

In one interview on the red carpet, (video below) he said: "The world doesn't need another musician. They need another Bill Gates." [...]

A $100 Google TV box?

It's in the works:

Chinese OEM plans sub-$100 Google TV box
There is still hope for the future of Google TV.

A Chinese company called Hisense is working on a new set-top box featuring the search giant's operating system for the living room, and plans to launch it in the US market for less than $100.

It comes on the heels of Vizio's "Co-Star," a competing Google TV box that has been doing notably well in the market since its launch earlier this summer.

"Hisense adds even more innovation to the growing list of Google TV-powered devices available around the world. We're working closely with partners like Hisense to bring services from Google and multiple other providers to your TV with an experience tailored for the living room," said Google TV partner manager Mickey Kim in a statement.

Google TV has had a mixed history. It garnered a lot of attention in 2009 when its partnership with Sony was unveiled, but it was a huge commercial flop because of the high cost of entry and very limited feature set.

The platform effectively relaunched this summer, though, and it is starting to gain steam agin. [...]


Monday, August 27, 2012

Neil Armstrong, on Space Exploration

Neil Armstrong: modest man, large footprint in time and space
[...] After commanding the Apollo 11 mission, Armstrong took a desk job at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, then taught engineering at the University of Cincinnati, served on several corporate boards, and worked out of his farm in southwest Ohio. He said he regretted not spending the time he wanted to with his family.

"I am, and ever will be, a white socks, pocket protector, nerdy engineer," he said in a rare public appearance in February 2000, cited by The Associated Press. "And I take a substantial amount of pride in the accomplishments of my profession."

He also regretted that the US space program did not make more progress than it did. "I fully expected that by the end of the century we would have achieved substantially more than we did," he told "60 Minutes." The end of the cold war also marked the end of the drive for space dominance, he said. "When we lost the competition, we lost the public will to continue."

In 2010, he came out of retirement to make a case before the US Congress to restore funding and a vision for the US space program and a workforce he described as "confused and disconsolate" by the termination of the 30-year space shuttle program, layoffs of thousands of aerospace workers, and the absence of a new US space strategy.

Public policy must be guided by the recognition that we live in a technologically driven world, he told a House panel. "Our choices are to lead, try to keep up, or get out of the way" he said. "A lead once lost is very difficult to regain."

"Neil Armstrong understood that we should reach beyond the stars," said Sen. Bill Nelson (D) of Florida, a former NASA shuttle astronaut, in a statement. "His 'one giant leap for mankind' was taken by a giant of a man." [...]

Also see:

R.I.P. Neil Armstrong

Southern End of Cascadia Fault More Unstable

And thus more likely to have a quake soon:

Northwest Earthquake Risk in U.S. Looms Large: 40% Chance of Major Earthquake Within 50 Years
ScienceDaily (Aug. 1, 2012) — A comprehensive analysis of the Cascadia Subduction Zone off the Pacific Northwest coast confirms that the region has had numerous earthquakes over the past 10,000 years, and suggests that the southern Oregon coast may be most vulnerable based on recurrence frequency.


"The southern margin of Cascadia has a much higher recurrence level for major earthquakes than the northern end and, frankly, it is overdue for a rupture," said Chris Goldfinger, a professor in OSU's College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences and lead author of the study. "That doesn't mean that an earthquake couldn't strike first along the northern half, from Newport, Ore., to Vancouver Island.

"But major earthquakes tend to strike more frequently along the southern end -- every 240 years or so -- and it has been longer than that since it last happened," Goldfinger added. "The probability for an earthquake on the southern part of the fault is more than double that of the northern end."


The Goldfinger-led study took four years to complete and is based on 13 years of research. At 184 pages, it is the most comprehensive overview ever written of the Cascadia Subduction Zone, a region off the Northwest coast where the Juan de Fuca tectonic plate is being subducted beneath the continent. Once thought to be a continuous fault line, Cascadia is now known to be at least partially segmented.

This segmentation is reflected in the region's earthquake history, Goldfinger noted.

"Over the past 10,000 years, there have been 19 earthquakes that extended along most of the margin, stretching from southern Vancouver Island to the Oregon-California border," Goldfinger noted. "These would typically be of a magnitude from about 8.7 to 9.2 -- really huge earthquakes.

"We've also determined that there have been 22 additional earthquakes that involved just the southern end of the fault," he added. "We are assuming that these are slightly smaller -- more like 8.0 -- but not necessarily. They were still very large earthquakes that if they happened today could have a devastating impact." [...]

This fits in with a previous post I did, "Oregon Tsunami Inundation Maps and Reports", which referenced the Gorda plate, a seismic zone that extends from Southern Oregon to Northern California. More plates, more faults, thus more activity.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

R.I.P. Neil Armstrong

From Wikipedia: Neil Armstrong
Neil Alden Armstrong (August 5, 1930 – August 25, 2012) was an American astronaut, test pilot, aerospace engineer, university professor and United States Naval Aviator. He was the first person to walk on the Moon. Before becoming an astronaut, Armstrong was a United States Navy officer and had served in the Korean War. After the war, he served as a test pilot at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics High-Speed Flight Station, now known as the Dryden Flight Research Center, where he logged over 900 flights. He graduated from Purdue University and the University of Southern California.

A participant in the U.S. Air Force's Man In Space Soonest and X-20 Dyna-Soar human spaceflight programs, Armstrong joined the NASA Astronaut Corps in 1962. His first spaceflight was the NASA Gemini 8 mission in 1966, for which he was the command pilot, becoming one of the first U.S. civilians in space.[1] On this mission, he performed the first manned docking of two spacecraft with pilot David Scott.

Armstrong's second and last spaceflight was as mission commander of the Apollo 11 moon landing in July 1969. On this mission, Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin descended to the lunar surface and spent 2½ hours exploring, while Michael Collins remained in orbit in the Command Module. Armstrong was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Richard Nixon along with Collins and Aldrin, the Congressional Space Medal of Honor by President Jimmy Carter in 1978, and the Congressional Gold Medal in 2009.

On August 25, 2012, Armstrong died in Cincinnati, Ohio[2], at the age of 82 due to complications from blocked coronary arteries. [...]

Read the whole thing for details about his interesting life and achievements.

Also see:

Neil Armstrong remembered as a 'reluctant American hero'

Neil Armstrong: modest man, large footprint in time and space


The Mindset of the Class of 2016

OR, what are the new College Freshmen like? Read on:

Listen to radios? Watch TVs? Not for Class of '16
(AP) MILWAUKEE - Remember when suitcases had to be carried instead of rolled? Or when an airline ticket was a booklet of pages separated by carbon paper? Maybe you remember when Lou Gehrig held the Major League record for consecutive baseball games played.

This year's college freshmen don't.

They never lived in a world where Kurt Cobain was alive or an NFL team played its home games in Los Angeles. The Class of 2016 has no need for radios, watches television everywhere except on actual TV sets and is addicted to "electronic narcotics."

These are among the 75 references on this year's Beloit College Mindset List, a nonscientific compilation is meant to remind teachers that college freshmen, born mostly in 1994, see the world in a much different way.

(Scroll down to read the entire list)

The students are also accustomed to seeing women in position of leadership. They were born at a time when Madeline Albright was serving as the first female U.S. secretary of state, and women have held the position for most of their lives.

And the old Hollywood stereotype of ditzy blonde women has given way to one of "dumb and dumber males," according to the list.


The new generation gets a lot of its news from Jon Stewart's "The Daily Show." But if they miss an episode, they can always get instant news from YouTube (No. 5 on the list).

Here are some other items to make you feel old: These teens weren't born when "Pulp Fiction" came out. Instead of asking who shot J.R., they wanted to know who shot Montgomery Burns. And to them, "Twilight Zone" is about vampires, not Rod Serling.

But Thorin Blitz, 18, disagreed with that item. He said it's 13-year-old girls who watch "Twilight."

"I've seen quite a few 'Twilight Zone' episodes," said the incoming freshman from Charleston, Ill. "Most of us know what that is."

Similar list items have drawn criticism in previous years. Some teens were insulted by the insinuation that they had no knowledge of events that happened before they were born, as if they had never studied history. So Nief and McBride have softened the tone, replacing "They don't know about..." with "They never experienced..."

The theme of last year's list was how wired the incoming class was. This year's class includes students who might be bitter at the previous generation, Nief said. While their elders went to college in good times and had jobs waiting for them, these students grew up watching their parents worry about unemployment and foreclosures.

That sentiment was captured in item No. 16, which notes unemployment has risen 2 percent in their lifetimes.

But they also live in an era of potential. Gene therapy has always been available, and they don't waste time with outdated technologies like radios and point-and-shoot cameras.

They're also less likely to identify with a specific religion. McBride noted that many church denominations have been losing members, while membership is up at nondenominational churches.

"When I teach Shakespeare or Milton there are a lot of biblical allusions, and I have to explain them all," said McBride, an English professor. [...]

The list goes on for three pages.

South Africa's mine owners and miners.

Cry the beloved country no more
When I first went to South Africa as a callow correspondent in the last year of white rule, veteran colleagues said that of the reams of agonised apartheid literature there were just two books I needed to read: Alan Paton’s Cry, The Beloved Country and Rian Malan’s My Traitor’s Heart. For the first time in many years I have found myself thinking of both books as the stark images from South Africa’s Lonmin mine massacre have played on television screens around the world.

My 1993 reading list spoke more to the preoccupations of western editors than to the travails of the Rainbow Nation. The first encapsulates the dilemmas and uncertainties of the white liberal. The second is a no-holds-barred, to be read with several glasses of brandy and coke, evisceration of Afrikaner angst and the country’s tortured racial politics. But both books have searing passages that remind the reader how the tortured narrative of South Africa over the past 140 years is woven around the saga of the excavation of some of the more lucrative – and inaccessible – mining seams in the world: first diamond, then gold and now increasingly platinum. The resilience of apartheid was founded on the gold mined each year from the Witwatersrand. It was also, as Paton and Malan show in very different ways, based on the labour of hundreds of thousands of migrant workers. The former addresses the nightmarish world of these young men separated from their families, living in fetid single-sex hostels. The latter recounts the murder of two policemen by striking miners whipped up by witch doctors and the frustrations of years.

If they read this far, old friends in the ANC will be clicking their teeth. One of the lazier syndromes in the international media of recent years has been the way that every political, social or economic drama of the post-apartheid era, from the rise of the firebrand Julius Malema to the fluctuations of the rand, has been presented abroad as an existential crisis. So, the sort of conflict of interest that in, say, India or Brazil is seen as irksome but not disastrous, is in the South African context routinely depicted as a step on the road to Zimbabwe. How many reports in the British press of gruesome murders in Johannesburg have had “Cry the beloved country” in the headline? [...]

It gives some good suggestions for dealing with/resolving the conflict, much as it might be done had it occurred anywhere else. But will they?

South Africa's Space Cube, "ZACUBE-1"

South Africa to Launch Mini Satellite for Space Weather Resesarch
A mini satellite weighing 1.2 kilograms will be launched from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) in November to collect information about space weather, it was learned on Wednesday.

Funded by the Department of Science and Technology, the satellite -- ZACUBE-1- will be South Africa's first nano- satellite running on the same amount of power used by a 5-watt light bulb, according to researchers at the CPUT.

Comparing ZACUBE-1 to Sputnik, the first satellite in the world to be launched into space in 1957, lead researcher Robert van Zyl described the nano-satellite as an evolutionary leap in space technology.

He said ZACUBE-1 cost much less and was 84 times smaller than Sputnik, tiny enough to be put on the palm of a human hand.

The satellite will travel to Russia and ultimately to space where the satellite will be released from its pod and its 10- meterantennae will be deployed to send information to receiving stations at CPUT and the town of Hermanus near Cape Town, according to the local newspaper Cape Times.

The satellite, also known as CubeSat, will be operational for between two and five years. Researchers expect the satellite to fall to the earth and burn up in about 10 to 20 years.

ZACUBE-1 is the result of 18 months of research and development by students and staff from the French South African Institute of Technology at CPUT, according to the report.

Doesn't say much though, about what kind of information about Space Weather it will be gathering.

"Wave Power" off of the Oregon Coastline

Oregon wave power project gets green light to go forward
Wave power developers planning a project off the Oregon Coast now have the nation's only federal permit to develop a commercial wave power park.

Ocean Power Technologies Inc., based in Pennington, N.J., said Monday it will deploy the first buoy for testing sometime this year off Reedsport.

Charles Dunleavy, CEO of the publicly held company, said it hopes to have the country's first commercial wave power park online within two or three years of securing full financing.

The project will include 10 buoys anchored 2 1/2 miles off the coast and covering about 30 acres. They will produce 1.5 megawatts — enough to power about 1,000 homes. An undersea cable will carry the power to a site slated for the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, and connect to the grid at a substation in Gardiner.

Belinda Batten, director of the Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Facility and a professor of mechanical energy at Oregon State University, said the Ocean Power facility is small by European standards but presents a big step forward in development of alternative energy from the ocean in the U.S.

The Oregon Coast has become a hotspot for wave power research and development. Waves are bigger on the West Coast than the East Coast by virtue of the prevailing westerly winds, and waves get bigger the farther they are from the equator, Batten said.

She noted that Atmocean Inc., in Santa Fe, N.M., plans to test three buoys this year off Coos Bay; the Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Facility last weekend towed out to sea near Newport the nation's first publicly available wave power test facility, called Ocean Sentinel; a wave power generator from New Zealand is to be towed out to the test facility this week; and Oregon State is looking for a site to build a larger grid-connected test facility known as the Pacific Marine Energy Center, which would be patterned after the European Marine Energy Center in Scotland.


The cylindrical buoy harnesses the power of the ocean's waves through a float encircling it. The float goes up and down with the water while the buoy remains relatively stable. That motion is transferred to turning a generator, which produces electricity.

The final cost of the project is not determined, Dunleavy said. The company has a $4.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, $420,000 from the Pacific Northwest Generating Cooperative, and a state business energy tax credit worth $900,000. [...]

"... The final cost of the project is not determined..." Gosh. Ya just hope it doesn't turn out to be another Solyndra, flushing tax dollars down the drain.

Here is a picture of one of the bouys on a dock in Scotland. They are HUGE:

Botched Art Restoration Inspires Parodies

I read something that said a famous painting of Jesus that had been restored, made him look like Sasquatch. I thought it was a joke, but it's not:

The three versions of the “ecce homo” fresco of Jesus. From left, the original version by Elías García Martínez, a 19th-century painter; a deteriorated version of the fresco; the restored version by Cecilia Giménez.

Despite Good Intentions, a Fresco in Spain Is Ruined
MADRID — A case of suspected vandalism in a church in a northeastern village in Spain has turned out to be probably the worst art restoration project of all time.

An elderly woman stepped forward this week to claim responsibility for disfiguring a century-old “ecce homo” fresco of Jesus crowned with thorns, in Santuario de la Misericordia, a Roman Catholic church in Borja, near the city of Zaragoza.

Ecce homo, or behold the man, refers to an artistic motif that depicts Jesus, usually bound and with a crown of thorns, right before his crucifixion.

The woman, Cecilia Giménez, who is in her 80s, said on Spanish national television that she had tried to restore the fresco, which she called her favorite local representation of Jesus, because she was upset that parts of it had flaked off due to moisture on the church’s walls.


Ms. Giménez said she had worked on the fresco using a 10-year-old picture of it, but she eventually left Jesus with a half-beard and, some say, a monkeylike appearance. The fresco’s botched restoration came to light this month when descendants of the 19th-century artist, Elías García Martínez, proposed making a donation toward its upkeep.

News of the disfiguring prompted Twitter users and bloggers to post parodies online inserting Ms. Giménez’s version of the fresco into other artworks. Some played on the simian appearance of the portrait. [...]

The article has links. Some of the simian parodies are hilarious.

Health Articles, 08-25-12

6 Quit-Smoking Tips for COPD
How to quit smoking, starting today, if you have COPD.
Quitting smoking is a top priority for all smokers, but if you have COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) it's even more urgent.

Here's why: If you quit, it might be possible to slow down the disease and lessen the toll it takes on your breathing, but only if you cut out cigarettes permanently -- and soon.

Here's how to do it, starting today. [...]

Partner Depression Common After Heart Attack
Anxiety and Even Suicide Risk Higher Than for Other Spouses
[...] Depression is common among heart attack survivors, and now a new study finds that this is also the case for spouses.

Depression, Anxiety Common in Spouses

When researchers compared the spouses of people in Denmark who had heart attacks to the spouses of people who had other major health issues, they found that the husbands and wives of heart attack patients were at higher risk for depression, anxiety, and even suicide after the event -- even if their spouse survived the heart attack.

Cardiologist and researcher Emil L. Fosbol, MD, PhD, of Denmark’s Gentofte University Hospital, says the suddenness of a heart attack may be a factor.

“These are usually events that come out of the blue,” he says. “One minute the partner may appear perfectly healthy and the next minute they may be critically ill or dead.”

The study was conducted using data from a comprehensive Danish health registry when Fosbol was a research fellow at Duke University Medical Center in North Carolina.

The analysis revealed that more than three times as many people whose partners died from heart attacks were using antidepressants in the year after the event compared to the year before.

Spouses of people who survived heart attacks were 17% more likely to have a prescription for an antidepressant in the year following the event, whereas spouses of patients surviving other health scares were no more likely to be prescribed antidepressants. [...]


Sunday, August 19, 2012

Oh, Deer! What could the matter be?

A few days ago, we had a back-yard visitor:

She seemed VERY interested in the fresh greens we had growing under netting. Fortunately she couldn't get at them.

We had seen evidence that there had been deer in the yard, but this is the first one we have actually seen during the seven years we've lived here.

So what could the matter be? Nothing, yet. It's just that when I went out in the yard, she didn't seem too bothered, and took her time leaving. Not very skittish. I just hope I won't have to start thinking of them as pests. So far so good.

Hydroponics + Fish Tanks = Aquaponics?

An interesting idea:

Your One-Stop Shop for everything Aquaponic:
[...] Aquaponics is a hybrid food growing technology combining the best of aqua-culture (growing fish) and hydroponics (growing veggies without soil), and it’s completely organic because the fish waste is your natural fertilizer and that means no pesticides. Aquaponics USA is dedicated to sharing information, developing products and bringing awareness of this life sustaining technology to every American home and School because it’s time Americans become Food Independent. [...]

I found this interesting, because for some time we have been breeding Guppies at home. One member of our household has often opined that, too bad we aren't growing something more practical, that could be used as food.

The Aquaponics system seems to be using large tanks of fish (Tilapia!) as a food source, but also using hydroponic plant bins as filter systems for the fish tanks, thus using the fishes waste products as nutrients for the plants, and using the plants (and beneficial bacteria with them) to keep the fishes environment clean and balanced.

What I'm not sure of though, is the greenhouse they are housed in. How is it to be heated in the Winter? They are in the high desert of California, where it even snows sometimes. And would the cost of heating the greenhouse, void the benefits of the food production? What I mean is, how could it be cost-effective? A quick look around the site did not reveal the answer. I will be looking around the site more, it has lots of links.

Also, I've seen seen Tilapia at the Supermarket. Damned UGLY fish. Don't know what it tastes like though. I suppose we'll have to try some soon.

Health Articles, 08-19-12

Blood Types and Heart Disease? Is there a connection?

Blood Type May be a Risk Factor for Heart Disease
The thought of having a heart disease is more than enough to stress an individual. But what if you find out that your blood type may also put you at risk of developing heart problems?

A group of researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston reviewed 20-year data from two large studies involving adult participants and found a link between blood type and the risk of developing heart disease. Compared to people with blood type O, those whose blood type is AB are found to have 23% increased risk for heart disease while those with type B had an 11% increased risk. Individuals with blood type A have 5% risk for heart disease.

While the researchers did not delve into the mechanisms that cause blood type to affect heart disease risk, evidence from other studies revealed some clues.

Blood type AB, the rarest blood type, is linked to inflammation which can affect how blood vessels work. Blood type A has been associated with higher levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, also known as the “bad” cholesterol, that clogs up arteries. Meanwhile, people with blood type O have higher levels of a compound that has a beneficial effect on blood flow and clotting.

But despite the findings, the researchers noted that a healthy lifestyle still play a significant role in protecting people with the higher risk blood types.

So if you are vulnerable to developing heart diseases based on several different factors, including family history, race, age, obesity, stress, or blood type as the recent study suggests, it’s about time you start making some healthy adjustments in your lifestyle.

Does Keen Attention and More Neurons = a more youthful brain?

Probing The Youthful Brains of ‘SuperAgers’
A Northwestern University researcher has identified an elite group of elderly people age 80 and older whose memories are as sharp as people 20 to 30 years younger than them.

Emily Rogalski, Ph.D., who dubbed these seniors “SuperAgers,” said that on 3-D MRI scans, their brains appear as young as the brains of middle-aged people.


“These findings are remarkable given the fact that grey matter or brain cell loss is a common part of normal aging,” said Rogalski, an assistant research professor at the Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease Center at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

By identifying older people who seem to be protected from the deterioration of memory and atrophy of brain cells that accompanies aging, Rogalski hopes to unlock the secrets of their youthful brains so those secrets can be used to protect others from memory loss or even Alzheimer’s disease.

“By looking at a really healthy older brain, we can start to deduce how SuperAgers are able to maintain their good memory,” Rogalski said. “Many scientists study what’s wrong with the brain, but maybe we can ultimately help Alzheimer’s patients by figuring out what goes right in the brain of SuperAgers.”

“What we learn from these healthy brains may inform our strategies for improving quality of life for the elderly and for combatting Alzheimer’s disease.”

Measuring the thickness of the cortex gives her a a sense of how many brain cells are left, Rogalski explained.

“We can’t actually count them, but the thickness of the outer cortex of the brain provides an indirect measure of the health of the brain,” she said. “A thicker cortex suggests a greater number of neurons.”

The study also found that in SuperAgers, another region deep in the brain, the anterior cingulate, was actually thicker than in the 50 to 65 year olds.

“This is pretty incredible,” Rogalski said. “This region is important for attention. Attention supports memory. Perhaps the SuperAgers have really keen attention and that supports their exceptional memories.”

Only 10 percent of the people who “thought they had outstanding memories” met the criteria for the study, she noted. To be defined as a SuperAger, the participants needed to score at or above the norm of the 50 to 65 year olds on memory screenings, she said.

“These are a special group of people,” Rogalski said. “They aren’t growing on trees.” [...]

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

How SpaceX is Saving America Money

By being more efficient than NASA:

Why SpaceX is setting the pace in the commercial space race
[...] Dec. 7, 2012, will mark the 40th anniversary of the flight of Apollo 17. That was the last time the United States ever launched an astronaut beyond Earth orbit. The reason why the operational era of human exploration beyond Earth orbit lasted a mere three and a half years, from July 1969 to December 1972, is that early in the Space Age, and continuing with the space shuttle, the nation tied itself to an infrastructure and a way of doing business that was too expensive to sustain.

NASA acknowledged this reality in 2006, even as it was pursuing its plan to send astronauts back to the moon — known as Project Constellation or “Apollo on Steroids” — by establishing the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services program. The purpose of the COTS program was to see if there was a better, more sustainable model for achieving access to space by forgoing the traditional approach of top-down, sole-source , cost-plus contracting — and instead harnessing the innovation and drive of private industry while still maintaining a close partnership with NASA.

After plowing nearly $8 billion into the Ares 1 booster program, Project Constellation did in fact prove too expensive to sustain. Instead, it was the COTS approach for cargo delivery to the space station that became the basis for NASA’s commercial crew program.

Success for SpaceX
SpaceX’s first demonstration cargo flight to the space station was accomplished in May as part of the COTS program. That flight took longer than expected, but the results were well worth NASA’s time and money. Thanks to its investment of $396 million, plus a great deal of advice, NASA has made it possible for SpaceX to produce not just a new launch vehicle but something much more profound: a new space transportation system consisting of the Falcon 9 launch vehicle, the recoverable and reusable Dragon spacecraft, and the infrastructure to support those spacecraft.

For comparison’s sake, the cost to NASA for doing this was less than what the space agency spent on one suborbital test launch of the Ares 1-X booster in 2009. It was less than NASA has spent on the development of its deep-space Orion crew capsule in the first half of this year alone.

Now SpaceX has a contract to launch 12 cargo flights to the space station at a cost to the American taxpayer of about $133 million per flight — putting America back in the orbital transport business. The SpaceX Falcon-Dragon transportation system arguably represents the best investment NASA has ever made. In light of that success, a failure to include the company in the top two for NASA’s commercial crew program would signal an almost unfathomable retreat, unworthy of the best of American ingenuity.

The stunningly low-cost and expansive nature of the Falcon-Dragon system represents much more than a rare bargain for taxpayers, in an era when most such stories have a very different ending. It offers indisputable proof that a new approach to space transportation can work far more effectively than the old ways. It’s absolutely vital to keep the company and the space transport system which has pioneered this path in the vanguard. [...]

I did a post about SpaceX last year. It's a truly amazing company.

NASA was necessary to get manned space exploration started. It's done that. But now it's role is changing; it gets to hold the door open for others to follow.

Musical Education for Formerly Deaf Man

Deaf man with new hearing aid hears music for the first time, asks, ‘What I should listen to next?’

Austin Chapman says he was "born profoundly deaf" and has "never understood" music--or the people moved by it.

"My whole life I've seen hearing people make a fool of themselves singing their favorite song or gyrating on the dance floor," Chapman, a 23-year-old filmmaker, wrote in a post on his studio's blog. "I've also seen hearing people moved to tears by a single song."

"[It] was the hardest thing for me to wrap my head around," he continued. "All music sounded like trash through my hearing aids."

But that changed earlier this week, Chapman says, when he tried a new pair of hearing aids for the first time in years:

I sat in the doctor's office frozen as a cacophony of sounds attacked me. The whir of the computer, the hum of the AC, the clacking of the keyboard, and when my best friend walked in I couldn't believe that he had a slight rasp to his voice. He joked that it was time to cut back on the cigarettes.

That night, a group of Chapman's close friends "jump-started" his musical education" with a crash-course: Mozart, the Rolling Stones, Michael Jackson, Sigur Ros, Elvis and Radiohead.

When Mozart's "Lacrimosa" came on, I was blown away by the beauty of it. At one point of the song, it sounded like angels singing and I suddenly realized that this was the first time I was able to appreciate music. Tears rolled down my face and I tried to hide it. But when I looked over I saw that there wasn't a dry eye in the car. [...]

I found "Lacrimosa" on YouTube, and it's lovely. I also found "Radiohead". ACCCCHHH! There is no comparison. The two must not even be used in the same sentence! But they frequently are. Welcome to our Brave New World.

Read the rest of the article to find out the further advice he was given for his musical education.

Oregon's New Growth Industry?

Oregon Unveils New Alzheimer's Care Plan
The state unveiled its new plan to improve care for people with Alzheimer's Monday. Between 2000 and 2010, the number of Oregonians with Alzheimer's or a related dementia has increased by one third.

That growth is a result of people living longer. The older we get, the more likely we are to see the symptoms.

Speaking on OPB's Think Out Loud, Jon Bartholomew, the public policy director of the Oregon chapter of the Alzheimer's Association, says about 76,000 Oregonians now have the disease.

"That's approximately the entire population of the city of Bend. And by 2025 we're expected to add enough to raise that to 110,000 people in Oregon and that's like adding all of Clatsop County to Bend."

Similar growth is being seen across the nation. In fact, there's already a federal Alzheimer plan. Oregon is just the latest state to set up its own.

Oregon's plan has a number of goals, including providing treatment; optimizing the quality of care and improving access to care -- especially in rural areas. [...]

I expect it's happening in other states too, that have lots of retirees.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

New Euro Weather Satellite Sends 1st Image

MSG-3 Spins Out The Weather Report ...First Images
[SatNews] It scans Earth’s surface and atmosphere every 15 minutes in 12 different wavelengths, to track cloud development.
Today, the Spinning Enhanced Visible and Infrared Imager (SEVIRI) instrument on MSG-3 captured its first image of the Earth. This demonstrates that Europe’s latest geostationary weather satellite, launched on 5 July, is performing well and is on its way to taking over operational service after six months of commissioning.

The European Space Agency (ESA) was responsible for the initial operations after launch (the so-called launch and early orbit phase) of MSG-3 and handed over the satellite to EUMETSAT on 16 July.

The first image is a joint achievement by ESA, EUMETSAT, and the European space industry. For its mandatory programmes, EUMETSAT relies on ESA for the development of new satellites and the procurement of recurrent satellites like MSG-3. This cooperation model has made Europe a world leader in satellite meteorology by making best use of the respective expertise of the two agencies.


MSG-3 is the third in a series of four satellites introduced in 2002. These spin-stabilized satellites carry the primary Spinning Enhanced Visible and Infrared Imager, or SEVIRI. The prime contractor for the MSG satellites is Thales Alenia Space, with the SEVIRI instrument built by Astrium.

SEVIRI delivers enhanced weather coverage over Europe and Africa in order to improve very short range forecasts, in particular for rapidly developing thunder storms or fog. It scans Earth’s surface and atmosphere every 15 minutes in 12 different wavelengths, to track cloud development.

SEVIRI can pick out features as small as a kilometer across in the visible bands, and three kilometres in the infrared. In addition to its weather-watching mission and collection of climate records, MSG-3 has two secondary payloads.

The Geostationary Earth Radiation Budget sensor measures both the amount of solar energy that is reflected back into space and the infrared energy radiated by the Earth system, to better understand climate processes. In addition, a Search & Rescue transponder will turn the satellite into a relay for distress signals from emergency beacons. [...]

New technology, and more data that should help improve weather prediction.

Numerous Health Articles, 08-11-12

Restless Legs Syndrome and Sleep
5 changes to try for better sleep if you have RLS.
Restless legs syndrome (RLS) steals sleep. It's usually worst in the evening and overnight, which can mean little rest and fatigue the next day.

"Most people with RLS have fragmented sleep, with difficulty falling asleep and repetitive jerking motions that can wake them up," says neurologist Nancy Foldvary-Schaefer, DO, director of the Cleveland Clinic's Sleep Disorders Center.

The good news, she says, is that many people with RLS respond to simple treatments -- and that can mean better sleep.

Here are five simple changes to try: [...]
Read on and count the ways.

Exercise May Fight Depression in Heart Failure
Regular Aerobic Activity Improves Mood About as Well as Antidepressants, Talk Therapy
July 31, 2012 -- Exercise helps people with heart failure feel a bit better, physically and emotionally, a new study shows. It may also lower a person's risk of dying or winding up in the hospital.

Up to 40% of people with heart failure grapple with depression. The combination often leads to poor health outcomes. One study found seriously depressed people with heart failure were more than twice as likely to die or be hospitalized over the course of a year compared to other people with heart failure who weren't depressed.

"Whenever patients are more depressed, their motivation goes down. Their ability to keep up with their doctors' recommendations goes down. Their ability to get out and do basic physical activities like walking goes down," as does their health, says David A. Friedman, MD, chief of Heart Failure Services at North Shore-LIJ Plainview Hospital in New York. "It's a vicious cycle."

"This [study] ... shows a non-drug way to try to improve patients' mood and motivation. That's the best thing you can do," says Friedman, who was not involved in the research. [...]
Read the rest for details of the study.

Fewer Lies, Better Health?
People Who Lied Less Reported Better Relationships, Improved Mental, Physical Health: Study

Ecstasy Pills Cause Memory Problems
Taking 10 or More Pills a Year Linked to Immediate and Short-Term Memory Problems
July 27, 2012 -- People who use the club drug ecstasy (MDMA) can develop memory problems, a new study shows.

In the study, new ecstasy users who took 10 or more ecstasy pills during their first year showed problems with their immediate and short-term memory.

The researchers say the memory problems may not be immediately apparent. Ecstasy users may not notice the problems until permanent damage has been done. The memory issues are associated with damage of an area of the brain called the hippocampus, which is responsible for memory.

The study compared 23 new users of the drug to 43 people who didn't use any illicit drugs besides cannabis. On average, study participants who used ecstasy took 33 pills over the course of one year.

"Given the specific memory impairments, our findings may raise concerns in regard to MDMA use, even in recreational amounts over a relatively short time period," says study researcher Daniel Wagner, in an email. He is a psychologist at the Klinik fur Psychiatrie und Psychotherapie in Cologne, Germany.

The study is published in the journal Addiction. [...]

It's also highly addictive, has other risks and "may even have a greater effect on all cognitive function". That's ALL cognitive function.

I found it interesting, because I've often thought of people who take Ecstasy as being... not too bright? A sandwich short of a picnic? Or just plain shallow and stupid. This study kinda backs that impression up with some science.

Drug May Slow Memory Loss in Early Alzheimer's
Medication Approved to Treat Patients With HIV May Do Double Duty for Dementia

Walking for Exercise: Americans Making Strides
Still, Less Than Half of Adults Meet Federal Exercise Guidelines
Aug. 7, 2012 -- No exercise is more popular than walking, and more people walk these days than they did five years ago, according to a new CDC report.

Nonetheless, the majority of adults still need to increase the amount of exercise they get each week in order to meet federal health guidelines. Nearly a third of American adults still get no exercise at all.

"Fifteen million more American adults were walking in 2010, and that's a great first step," CDC director Thomas R. Frieden, MD, MPH, told reporters during a news briefing. "It's a great way to get started meeting the 2 1/2 hours per week of physical activity."

And, Frieden says, people who walk are more likely to meet that goal; 60% of walkers get the recommended amount of exercise each week, about twice as many as those who don't walk.

"That's much higher than those who don't get that 10-minute walk," he says, adding that for people who follow the guidelines, "physical activity really is a wonder drug that makes you healthier and happier... even if you don't lose weight, physical activity decreases your risk of diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, and other chronic diseases."

The CDC estimates that more than 145 million American adults -- 62% of the population -- took at least one 10-minute or longer walk per week in 2010. That's a 6% increase since 2005. And increases occurred across all populations.

"Because walking or moving with assistance is possible for most persons, does not require special skills or facilities, and can serve multiple purposes, it represents a way many U.S. residents can achieve a more physically active lifestyle, regardless of sex, race/ethnicity, age, or education level," the report's researchers write.

About two-thirds of adults in the West get out and walk, the highest rate in the country. But the South showed the greatest increase of any region, up about 8% in five years. That's good news for a region that, Frieden points out, consistently shows higher rates of diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, and other chronic health problems.

"This is significant progress we are reporting," he says.

The ideal walk, says Frieden, is a brisk one. "You should get a little winded," he says.

And the ideal exercise is one that you like doing. "The key concept is to do something you enjoy, to build it into your routine, and to keep doing it throughout your life." {...}

I've read in other places too, that walking, as much as you can, when you can, just during your everyday activities, can help you lose weight and keep it off. And that people who live in cities, where driving a car can be inconvenient, walk more and also tend to have less weight problems. I know that when I lived in a city, I often walked to many places, and I also weighed less.

Pets for Depression and Health
Can your depression problems improve when you interact with your pet?
This might seem like a no-brainer, but the answer isn't always "yes".

A Romney-Ryan Ticket? I'd be pleased.

Ryan to be named Romney's running mate
NORFOLK, Va. – Rep. Paul Ryan will be named Mitt Romney's running mate on Saturday, ending weeks of speculation about the No. 2 slot on the GOP ticket.

The Associated Press and several TV networks confirmed the news.

Ryan, 42, is best known as the chairman of the House Budget Committee and author of a dramatic plan to overhaul Medicare, the government-run health insurance program for senior citizens.

Romney is set to reveal his running mate here at a museum next to the U.S.S. Wisconsin, a retired battleship, before setting out on a bus tour of key swing states to highlight his economic plans for the middle class.

In an interview with NBC on Thursday, Romney said he was looking for someone with "a strength of character" and "a vision for the country that adds something to the political discourse about the direction of the country."

With Ryan as his running mate, Romney appears ready to have a national conversation about federal spending and the growth of entitlements with one of the GOP's leading budget authorities at his side.

Ryan, a House member since 1999, has proposed to dramatically change both Medicare and Medicaid, the programs that have been a hallmark of the nation's compact to provide health care to senior citizens and the poor.


The Wall Street Journal said in an editorial Thursday that choosing Ryan as Romney's running mate would underscore "the nature and stakes of this election."

"More than any other politician, the House Budget Chairman has defined those stakes well as a generational choice about the role of government and whether America will once again become a growth economy or sink into interest-group dominated decline," the Journal editorial said. [...]

I'll still wait for the announcement. I'll be pleased if it's true, but it will be a tough time for Ryan. It will be tough for ANY Republican.

The 2012 Perseids Peak Tomorrow

Don't miss the Perseids on the starry night of August 12th
How can I best view the Perseids meteor shower?

The Perseids have been observed by humans for about 2000 years, with the earliest knowledge of their existence emerging from the Far East. It is one of the finest meteor showers to observe, producing up to 60-100 bright, fast, and colorful meteors per hour during their peak. This annual meteor shower is active from July 23 through August 22, and usually peaks on August 11 and 12.

Perseids is extremely consistent in its timing and can potentially be observable for several weeks in the summer sky, conditional on your whereabouts, lighting conditions, and weather. Meteor showers are commonly named after their radiant point, the perspective point in the sky from which the meteors appear to come from. In the case of Perseids, it is named after the constellation Perseus, which is positioned in approximately the same point in which the Perseids meteor shower appears to originate from.

While this summer spectacular appears to radiate from a constellation, they are actually caused by the Earth passing through the dust particles of the comet Swift-Tuttle. Each summer, Earth passes into a trail of dust left by this comet, and as a result, all the dust and debris burning up in our atmosphere, travelling at a very fast 132,000 miles per second (59 km/s), produces the spectacle known as the Perseids meteor shower, or what are popularly recognized as “shooting stars”. There's no danger to sky watchers, though. The fragile grains disintegrate long before they reach the ground.

While the meteors are certainly bright, they are typically not much larger than a grain of sand. However, as they travel at immense speeds, these tiny particles put on an impressive show. Due to the way the comet’s orbit is tilted, dust from the Swift-Tuttle falls on Earth’s northern hemisphere. Unfortunately, this leads to extremely low visibility for those in Australia, New Zealand, and portions of South America.

In 2012, the waning crescent moon occurring on August 12 will not have a negative impact on the visibility of the Perseids. Due to the lack of bright moonlight, the fainter meteors will not be concealed from view. It is advisable to observe the meteor shower during the predawn hours on the mornings of August 11, 12, and 13. With up to 60-100 meteors per hour predicted, observers may catch plenty of bright meteors streaking along in the light of the moon.

How do I know the sky is dark enough to see meteors?

If you happen to live near a brightly lit city, if possible, we recommend that you drive away from the glow of city light. After you’ve escaped the glow of the city, find a dark, safe, and possibly isolated spot where oncoming vehicle headlights will not occasionally ruin your sensitive night vision. Look for state or city parks or other safe dark-sites.

Once you have settled down at your observation spot, look approximately half way up the sky facing northeast. This way you can have the Perseids’ radiant within your field of view. Looking directly up at the sky or into the radiant is not recommended since this is just the point in which they appear to come from. You are more likely to see a trail when looking slightly away from this point. Looking half-way up into the sky will lead to the best show in the house!