Morning Sky | Jupiter-Venus Conjunction

Plan to rise before sunrise on several mornings between August 16 – 23. Check the weather forecast to see if clear skies are expected. If they are, you might witness one of the most beautiful pairings of planets for this year. Each morning, Jupiter and Venus appear close and a different distance apart. On the morning of August 18th, they will be closest to each other, about the width of a full moon.

If you have reliably clear morning skies, a series of photographs would be an interesting project. The details and helpful directions about the conjunction are in this video from Science @ NASA. Enjoy the show.

Castor Bean | Poisonous | Growing Tall

Originally posted on Our View From Iowa:

These photos were taken August 10, 2014. Castor Bean (Ricinus communis) was growing tall and strong. The top of the plant was 5 feet high. Yes, I do understand this plant is toxic.

August 10, 2014 | 5 ft tall

August 10, 2014 | 5 ft tall

I remember that my mother grew some of these on the farm in Illinois when I was a kid. Their height of 10 – 12 feet was very impressive to a small boy.

Two inch wide stalk

Two inch wide stalk

Some of the leaves are 2 feet wide. I like their pronounced vein structure. They are casting shade on the smaller pepper plants below.

Leaves are at least 2 ft wide

Leaves are at least 2 ft wide

I was a skinny little kid. Mom was concerned that I was not eating enough. The doctor advised her to give me a daily large spoonful of castor oil just before the main meal. It turned out to be good…

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Ants | Following The Trail To Food

Originally posted on Our View From Iowa:

The cool Iowa morning drew me outside to enjoy my cup of coffee. Two Blue Jays were busy calling to each other as they patrolled the backyards. The air was heavy with moisture. Soybeans and corn grew tall.

I reached for my cup and noticed some movement out the corner of my eye. It was an ant, only 1/4″ long, moving up a black metal rod. It’s antennae were feeling the way ahead of it. They were keeping it on some sort of invisible trail.

Heading toward food.

Heading toward food.

It went up and over the arch and down the other side. It carefully negotiated the wire hanger and went down the side of the bottle of sugar water of the hummingbird feeder. Each ant followed the same path to within about 1/2″. The invisible trail guided them well. Returning ants rounded the top of the arch and got to the rail of the…

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Supermoon v.2.0 | Another One?

Maybe you were one of the fortunate ones last month to see the July Supermoon. My blog post explained quite a bit about it. There were news stories, images, and streaming webcams covering it. It was hyped as a big deal. For some of us, it was.

Well, here we go again. There is another even bigger Supermoon this month on August 10. It will be the biggest perigee full-moon of 2014.

Mark your calendar. Watch for it in an evening sky near you.

Science @ NASA

PS: There is yet another coming in September. You will have another chance if your skies are cloudy.

Oklahoma City | National Memorial

Originally posted on Our View From Iowa:

by Jim and Melanie

Before destruction – Wikimedia

We recently visited Oklahoma where our son is a pilot in training with the Air Force. On one of the days, we drove to Oklahoma City to visit the National Memorial to the 168 victims of the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building. The bombing took place on April 19, 1995. The glass-fronted building formerly stood nine stories tall, faced north and aligned with NW 5th Street. Just before 9:00 that morning, a rental truck was parked by the bomber directly in front. He set a fuse and departed for safety and his getaway car parked nearby. At 9:02 the blast tore a gaping hole in the front of the building, killing 168 adults and children. Through a series of fortuitous events, he was arrested within two hours along I-35 north of the city for having no license plates. Evidence led to his conviction…

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Interstates | Highway Numbering System

Originally posted on Our View From Iowa:

Last weekend we drove through Kansas City and Oklahoma City during parts of a visit to see our son. He is a pilot in training at Vance Air Force Base, Enid, OK. Most of the driving was done on the Dwight D. Eisenhower System of Interstate and Defense Highways. That link provides a large amount of information on the system begun on June 29, 1956. On that date, President Eisenhower signed the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956. This post is about one aspect of the interstate system, namely how the roads are numbered.

Numbering in General

East-west roads are even numbered. North-south roads are odd numbered. The even-odd scheme applies to the general route of the roads and allows for some deviation in places. The one and two digit numbers start small in the south and west. They progress larger for the roads toward the north and east. Here…

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Schoolhouses 1916 | Plans and Comments

Seedy Bunch stopped the big yellow school bus in front of our farm house. I was excited to join five of my older siblings as they boarded. It was my first day of school.

We arrived at East Railroad School first. It was a mile east of town where some of my siblings were going to get off. I had to get off alone and join a bunch of kids I had never seen before. This school thing was not starting out the way I expected. I cried. I cried for a week.

I must have gotten over the trauma with no harm done. As it turned out, I became a school teacher myself. As a teacher, I felt those pangs associated with the start of school each of my 38 years.

East Railroad School looked very much like this fine example. We found this one on a recent hike celebrating our anniversary. It had been moved from its original location to this park site for preservation.

At Wildcat Den St. Pk. near Muscatine, IA

At Wildcat Den St. Pk. near Muscatine, IA

Show me more about old school houses.