Posts Tagged ‘winter’

@MarsPhoenix is a twitter success story.  It’s also a NASA success story.  Oh and also a scientific success for all it has done on Mars.  As six months of night approach, the Phoenix probe was slowly shutting down systems to finish analyses.  A couple of days ago, a dust storm diminished the day time charging cycle enough that it caused the lander to go into hibernation.  NASA is going to try to revive the it this weekend, but the prospects are grim.  Even more grim are the chances that the probe will awake come spring.  Temperatures at the Martian poles go so low in the winter, they exceed the minimum tolerance for electrical circuits.

But back to the Twitter success story.  As of right now, @MarsPhoenix has 37,284 followers.  That makes it one of the most followed users on Twitter.  For the past few months, NASA has been posting updates posing as the probe.  The updates take the form of first-person snippets of information and answers to questions from users.  Overall, it has been great PR, keeping people up-to-date on space exploration in a completely new way.  We can’t exactly have a live feed from Mars, but by personifying the probe and getting people involved, NASA has really done a lot for improving public involvement in the mission.

NASA has expanded their twittering to a whole host of other missions.  Most notable (to me) amongst them are the Cassini probe (which is orbiting Saturn),  the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, and the Spirit and Opportunity rovers.  So if you twitter, they might be worth some of your time.

@MarsPhoenix posted the following earlier today:

I should stay well-preserved in this cold. I’ll be humankind’s monument here for centuries, eons, until future explorers come for me ;-)

In honor of its imminent passing, Wired is running a contest to find the best epitaph for Phoenix.  My current favorite is:  “Every robotic lander dies. Not every robotic lander truly lives.”  I’m getting a little choked up..


Posted: 11 February 2008 in Uncategorized
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It is about 11 degrees Fahrenheit (-11.7 Celsius) with a wind chill of -1 (-18.3) degrees here in Pittsburgh at the moment. As such, the dogs should get sweaters, right? Well, Willow doesn’t really need it. She loves the cold, but she’s cute in it anyway.

My australian shepherd Willow in her winter sweater.

Dogs of Winter

Posted: 27 January 2008 in Uncategorized
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It has been snowing here all day, so I’m in a wintry mood. I’ve taken a few pictures over the past couple weeks with my new camera. I particularly like this picture of Willow in the mirror with a snowy tree visible in the window.

My australian shepherd Willow in the mirror with a snowy tree in the background

A couple weeks ago at Frick Park, one of the trails iced over completely. Walking on it was pretty hazardous and I was slipping a lot, but there were joggers running by who didn’t seem to have a problem. Maybe I have bad snow shoes. Daedal didn’t seem to have a problem with it, either.

Daedalus on the ice road at Frick Park

Willow loved the ice road more than Daedalus. You can probably see that she is a filthy mess in this picture. There was an area where the ground wasn’t frozen and it was insanely muddy. If she likes anything better than a hole in ice where she can lie in the water, it’s a hole in ice where she can lie in mud.

My australian shepherd Willow on the ice road at Frick Park

And here is Willow at Schenley Park last Wednesday. She looks kinda wolf-like to me. Like she is about to chase down a ball and hamstring it.

My australian shepherd Willow at Schenley Park in the snow


Posted: 16 January 2008 in Uncategorized
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I took the dogs to a different dog park than usual today. Schenley Park is within walking distance of our apartment, and then it was relatively easy to find a stretch of grass far enough away from the road that I could feel safe letting Willow off leash to play ball. Daedalus and her both explored the woods a little bit, Daedalus still on his leash. I just can’t trust him to come when called if he gets on a scent. Their coloring was perfect for the partially snow-covered leaves.

My lemon beagle Daedalus in the woods

My australian shepherd Willow in the snow and leaves.

Winter is coming

Posted: 16 December 2007 in Uncategorized
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It snowed yesterday enough to cover the ground, but freezing rain turned to rain overnight and it was all gone by morning. It’s back to flurrying today and there was one stretch that was particularly beautiful as the snow was whipped around by the wind. It could have been a blizzard if it lasted for more than 10 minutes.


That picture came out better than I expected, actually. I’ve had difficulty in the past getting snow to show up on film and be anything more than a gray fuzz in the air. I used flash with the “action shot” setting on my camera. Speaking of cameras, I need a new one. This one is going on four years old. And I guess film is the wrong word there since this is a digital camera, so what I would call it? Showing up on silicon?

Willow looking at the snow

Willow in the Window

Christmas Tree 2007

Posted: 9 December 2007 in Uncategorized
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Donna decorated the apartment a couple days ago and it is looking quite festive. I personally love it. I think she managed to incorporate our current colors and furniture quite well and the tree is beautiful. I’m definitely in the Christmas spirit now. :)

Christmas tree 1

Christmas tree 2

Christmas tree 3

Snowier and snowier

Posted: 5 December 2007 in Uncategorized
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The snow continues here.  Today it was covering the road.  When I took Daedalus and Willow out in the morning, they both weren’t having any of it.  Daedal balked at the door and Willow was stepping gingerly and obvious wondering what had gone wrong with the world.  They finally got used to it, though the poor boy was shivering his butt off after a short while.  Willow was more in her element.  We’re gonna have to get him paw gloves.

Here is the scene out my office window.  They are currently building the new Computer Science Complex here.  One of the buildings is the Gates Center.  You can actually see shots from the live webcam 24/7, though the show is quite boring after about 4:30pm or so these days.  What’s amazing to me is that people are out there working right now.  In South Carolina, construction work ended as soon as the sky darkened and rain fell.  If snow fell, it would be like the end of the world had come.  I don’t think this makes them any faster, though.  Another bizarre difference between construction crews here and there is that there are no hispanic people here.  This is a very bad thing as it also means there’s crap for Mexican food.  You could find good Mexican every time you turned around in SC.

Computer Science Complex

First snow!

Posted: 3 December 2007 in Uncategorized
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The first (somewhat) serious snow came today. Well, not particularly serious, but compared to South Carolina where I’ve spent most of the last 22 or so winters, it would’ve shut down schools for two days at least. Daedalus acted a little prissy. He didn’t want to get his paws cold I guess. He got used to it quickly and went exploring. Willow had no problem with it. She loves the cold. The wind was gusting and that was more than the Bug could handle. I wish I could’ve taken a picture of his face. Normally getting him to come in is a hassle, but a quick “let’s go” and he was running for the door.

My lemon beagle Daedalus in the snow

My australian shepherd Willow in the snow

Frisbee Time at Frick

Posted: 28 November 2007 in Uncategorized
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I took the dogs to Frick Park this morning, something I hope to repeat as often as possible during the winter break. By the time we get home from work/school, it’s almost completely dark outside and we’re still a few weeks from the winter solstice. So the poor little devils don’t get to go to their favorite park during the week otherwise. I hear you asking, “How do you know it’s their favorite, crazy?” Well, they don’t whimper when they get close to other parks.

The Watering Hole

The water fountain at Frick Park, Pittsburgh, PA

The Bug

My sweet lemon beagle Daedalus (aka the bug)

The Bee

My beautiful Australian Shepherd Willow, panting after too much frisbee

And yeah there’s no good reason here for it to be all old-timey except that I was bored. We didn’t actually go to the dog park area since there was a big puddle in there (and no dogs), so we stayed out in the public area. It’s technically illegal to have dogs off leash there, but it’s not enforced at this park. Dog people have taken it over. During the day, it’s extremely empty too, so that’s good. We were on our way out and I thought I was hot stuff because I had avoided letting Willow get wet and muddy. However, she managed to find a random puddle on a level area on a hillside. It’s freezing outside and the puddle is completely covered in ice. That didn’t stop her from cracking the ice, laying down in it and drinking to her heart’s content. Blerg.

Winter Daedal

Posted: 11 November 2007 in Uncategorized
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Daedalus got his new winter coat. He just loves it. (He wouldn’t move from the spot where we placed him.)

My lemon beagle Daedalus in his new winter coat


My lemon beagle Daedalus in his new winter coat.