June 09, 2012

The Shininess of my Shoes is NASA Approved

I am unable to see my house from here
I am unable to see my house from here

For those of you not in the know, Phil Plait is a bad astronomer. Not that he's bad at astronomy, but that he's got a website called Bad Astronomy. In addition to discussing and debunking bad astronomy and pseudoscience, he also talks a lot about real science and how awesome it is. So yeah, he's pretty cool. Go check it out.

But wait, you may say, he's just a blogger! Yes, but a blogger with a Ph.D. who worked with the Hubble Space Telescope, so he knows what he's talking about. But there are other Ph.D's who don't write blogs, such as the illimitable Alan Stern. He spends his time being the principle investigator for the New Horizons probe (You know, the one headed for Pluto), as well as a number of other planetary science related stuff (Can't you just taste the irony?). Any way, he's also awesome.

Dr. Stern decided that the 20% cut in funding for planetary science was not that awesome, and so he decided to do something about it (Wait, didn't we lose about 20% of our planets recently?). He organized a cross country bake sale/car wash/ shoe shinin', and Dr. Plait wrote about it. And I participated! Or rather, I drove up to Boulder today so that I could sign the letters to various government officials that basically said, 'Hey, remember that 20% cut in funding? Yeah, that was dumb. You go right on ahead and fix that chop chop.' And guess who was there?

Fun fact for the day: I turn into a stuttering fan boy when I meet people like Dr.'s Stern and Plait (That should totally be a band name, btw). I hope I didn't weird them out too much. But whatever. I met them! It was awesome. Dr. Stern shined my shoes. I asked a question, and they answered it! I also ate a cinnamon roll. Then I took a hike, and pictures of stuff I saw on my hike. Like, pretty flowers, and butterflies, and butterflies engaging in dog fights with other butterflies. I never knew those little flapping pieces of pretty were so aggressive! At least, they are with each other. Every time I tried to get with in a few feet of them (for the taking of pictures) they would flit away. But if I stood still, they would ... flit around far away from me. Too far for me to take good pictures.

But I'm a patient person (Oh crap, I hope that doesn't make me virtuous! That would totally destroy my street cred. Looking at butterflies and flowers is 'street', right?) I stood stock still, camera at the ready at chest height. That's when the butterflies got wise and started messing with me. They would flit in close, but before I could take any pictures they would be off again! So finally I decided to just sit and enjoy the spectacle of Top Gun quality butterfly dog fights. So what happens, now that my camera is at my side? They wouldn't leave me alone. There they'd be, flapping there flying superiority at me, being all close up and stuff, while I got indecisive about whether or not I should reach for my camera. Turns out I shouldn't, because as soon as I moved they would fly away again.

He won every dog fight. It was amazing.
This guy was about as big as my hand, and he totally dominated the skies today. Also, pretty!
But I did get a bunch of blurry pictures of vaguely butterfly shaped blurs, and one or two that weren't hardly blurry at all! So all in all, today was pretty freaking awesome for me. Woot!
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