Blog Archives

The rare astronomy post

Last Saturday was the 50th anniversary of a total solar eclipse visible across the eastern United States. My parents, who were seven months away from getting married yet still did not know one another at this point, don’t remember it.

Virginia Beach and Nantucket Island were the most notable locations in the United States to experience totality; a New York Times story the next morning reported more than 60,000 visitors flooded Virginia Beach and Norfolk to experience the eclipse.

One location in the path of totality was not as fortunate.

Over 20,000 converged on Perry, Florida, a speck on the Gulf of Mexico 50 miles (80 kilometers) southeast of Tallahassee. The only other time Perry–and Taylor County–is in the news is if a hurricane approaches Florida’s Big Bend.

If a major hurricane came ashore at Apalachicola, Perry would be in the right-front quadrant, the most dangerous part of the storm. Perry might resemble Pass Christian after Camille and Katrina.

For those who made it to Perry, the view of the eclipse was ruined by heavy cloud cover which blanketed areas from Oklahoma to Georgia and all the way down to Key West.

The morning after the eclipse, The New York Times had another interesting article related to space.

The headline: “Nixon Asks for Start of Grand Tour of Planets in ’77”

President Nixon, who spent the weekend of the eclipse at his Key Biscayne compound with Bebe Rebozo, among others, told the NYT he hoped to explore Mars and other outer planets, as well as launch a nuclear-powered rocket by the end of what he hoped would be his second term in January 1977, or at least by the end of the decade.

The idea for touring the outer planets–Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto (it didn’t get downgraded to dwarf planet until 2006)–came to birth because in 1979, Pluto’s orbit would move inside Neptune’s, the best opportunity to explore the nether regions of our solar system.

In March 1970, anything seemed to be possible in regards to space exploration.

Less than eight months had passed since Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin set foot on the moon, and only four months after that, Apollo 12 sent Alan Bean, Pete Conrad and Dick Gordon–the same Dick Gordon who became General Manager of the Saints in 1972–to the moon.

Little did anyone know what was to come with Apollo 13, which launched five weeks after the eclipse. It was a stark reminder space exploration was mighty risky; one only had to mention Gus Grissom, Ed White (not the former Chief Justice of the United States) and Roger Chaffee to realize just how risky.

Nixon also wished to continue flights to moon with Apollo through 1974. The last Apollo flight was Apollo 17 in December 1972; less than two years after that, Richard Nixon was a private citizen, having resigned in disgrace due to Watergate in August 1974.

Before handing the reigns to Gerald Ford, Nixon laid the groundwork for the Space Shuttle.

The 7 March 1970 eclipse is part of a mystery involving Carly Simon’s signature song, “You’re So Vain”.

The last verse begins: “I hear you went up to Saratoga, and your horse naturally won. Then you flew your Learjet up to Nova Scotia to see the total eclipse of the sun…”

“Saratoga” refers to the Saratoga Springs Race Course, a world famous thoroughbred track, in upstate New York.

There was another total solar eclipse on 10 July 1972 which was not visible in the continental United States. It traveled over the Northwest Territories of Canada, then ventured over Quebec City and then out to the Atlantic over Nova Scotia.

The date of the 7 March 1970 eclipse fits because Simon penned “You’re So Vain” in 1971. However, the season does not; Saratoga’s horse racing season doesn’t begin until after Independence Day.

Therefore, the 10 July 1972 eclipse fits in that regard, even if it occured after the song was written. However, “You’re So Vain” was not released until 8 November 1972. Bingo.

If off-track betting was legal in 1970, maybe someone could have placed a bet on a race at Santa Anita or the New Orleans Fair Grounds from Saratoga.

It’s a mystery which may be best left to the imagination, or the clouds in your coffee.

The most recent total solar eclipse was 21 August 2017. Kansas City was in the path of totality, and hotel rooms in the metro area and places as far away as St. Joseph, Topeka and Columbia were totally booked.

I went to Kansas City the Friday and Saturday before the eclipse. Robb was asking me to look for eclipse glasses on Amazon. I had to break it to him they would not arrive in time; that was moot anyway, since all of Amazon’s supply of eclipse glasses were either sold out or defective.

It was the biggest event to hit Kansas City since the Royals won the 2015 World Series, and would be the biggest until Patrick Mahomes took the NFL by storm.

Like Perry in 1970, clouds ruined Kansas City’s view of the 2017 eclipse.

There’s supposed to be another total eclipse visible in the United States 8 April 2024. Locations in the path of totality include Waco; Cape Girardeau; Bloomington, Ind.; Youngstown, Ohio; Buffalo; Rochester, N.Y.

While many were going gaga over a solar eclipse 7 March 1970, the high school which I would attend made history.

Brother Martin of New Orleans defeated Captain Shreve 72-56 in the Louisiana High School Athletic Association Class AAA boys basketball state championship game at Alexandria.

The Crusaders outscored the Gators 16-0 in the three-minute overtime. Why overtime periods were only three minutes and not four in those days is a mystery.

Brother Martin, which was in its first year of operation following the merger of St. Aloysius and Cor Jesu high schools, finished 36-0 and was named national champion by one of the many polls which predated the USA Today and MaxPreps rankings.

The Crusaders won state championships in 1971 and ’74. In 1971, Brother Martin defeated Shreveport Woodlawn, led by future Hall of Famer Robert Parish, in the championship. The 1974 Martin team was led by Rick Robey, who helped Kentucky win the 1978 NCAA tournament and was a reserve on the Celtics’ 1980-81 NBA champions.

By time I arrived at Brother Martin, the basketball program was a mess. The Crusaders did not have a winning season in my five years of attendance, bottoming out at 9-23 in 1990-91. Martin has bounced back, winning state championships 2004, ’05 and ’10.

Brother Martin is a heavy underdog in their “Division I select” semifinal Wednesday at Baton Rouge Scotlandville. If the Hornets prevail, they will play the winner of Baton Rouge Catholic at St. Augustine in their home gymnasium Saturday for the “Division I select” state championship.

The LHSAA is seriously messed up. I’ll explore on the blog this week. I promise.

Russell High’s basketball program was still in pretty good shape in 1970, four years after Amos Morris coached his last game. Morris went 301-99 in 17 seasons at RHS, leading the Broncos to four state championships (1952, ’53, ’55, ’63). His name is now on RHS’ gymnasium, and he was inducted into the Kansas State High School Activities Association Hall of Fame in 1983.

The 1969-70 Broncos, coached by future KU athletic director Bob Frederick, reached the Class 3A final, where they lost 52-50 to Colby. Russell won its sixth state championship in 1979, but has not reached a sub-state final since.

************************************************************************

I didn’t vomit yesterday, although I wanted to.

Daylight savings time returned at 01:00 Sunday. Yippee!

DST is a crock of crap. It does not save energy. It WASTES energy because it forces the use of air conditioning later in the evening in the summer.

Arizona has it right. Save for the areas controlled by the Navajo, the Grand Canyon State does not adjust its clocks when most of the nation does.

Kansas used to get along just fine without DST. The Sunflower State did not change its clocks until it was forced to in 1967 after jerkwad LBJ signed the “Uniform Time Act” into law. Staying on standard time year-round was better for Kansas farmers, who were able to get into the field an hour earlier and wrap up an hour earlier compared to states with DST, not having to stay in the fields when most farmers would rather be in bed.

Actually, half of Kansas should be on Mountain time anyway.

Russell, for instance, is at 98.9 degrees longitude. The mean meridian for Central time is 90 degrees, and the mean for Mountain is 105. Last I checked, 98.9 is closer to 105 than 90. Therefore, nothing would be upset too much if the Central/Mountain divide were extended to the US 281 corridor and put Hays, Garden City, Dodge City, Liberal, Great Bend, Colby, Russell and other places on Mountain time.

Prior to 1967, Missouri was split on DST. St. Louis and eastern Missouri observed it, while the Kansas City metro and all areas bordering Kansas, Oklahoma and Nebraska did not.

Some idiots have proposed year-round DST, which would mean ridiculously late sunrise in the winter, even if the sun were out an hour later. In states where it snows–like Kansas–that would be dangerous, since school children would be forced to go to school in the dark for three months.

Fortunately, there cannot be year-round DST. That is illegal under federal law. A state can exempt itself from DST and remain on standard time year-round, but it cannot go on DST year-round. Thank God.

To those of you getting your jollies because daylight savings time has returned, I feel sorry for you. There’s many more things to be jolly about than a clock changing.

************************************************************************

If you’re bored, I’ve got good news. That’s all for this post.

Random football stuff

The National Football League’s 100th season kicks off tonight in Chicago when the Bears host the Packers. Really, it’s the 60th season of modern professional football and 50th of the merged NFL. The Patriots, last year’s Super Bowl champions, would normally have the honor of playing the first regular season game at home on a Thursday night, but since this is the NFL’s 100th season, the league decided its oldest rivalry should trump Brady and Belichick. Nobody outside New England is complaining, and I’m sure some Patriot fans are not upset, since they can now go to the season opener Sunday night in Foxborough vs. the Steelers who may not have been able to on a Thursday.

I’m in Kansas City, where Patrick Mahomes II, not the sun, is the center of the universe. Mahomes opens defense of his Most Valuable Player award Sunday in Jacksonville. The Chiefs don’t play at home until Sept. 22 when the Ravens and Lamar Jackson come to town.

If Kansas City isn’t 2-0 (the Chiefs play the Raiders in Oakland next week) when Baltiomre invades, there will be plenty of unhappy campers in Chiefs Kingdom. The Kansas City Star conducted a poll this week asking fans what is their realistic expecations for the Chiefs in 2019. Over a third said “winning the Super Bowl” and another 40 percent said “reaching the Super Bowl”. If that’s the case, there will hundreds of thousands of disappointed Chiefs fans come January 19 at 1830 (if not earlier), because I can’t see Kansas City defeating New England, no matter if the game’s at Arrowhead or in Foxborough.

In the NFC, the Saints had better get to the Super Bowl. They were screwed royally by incompetent officials in last year’s NFC championship game, and two years ago, they were undone by horrendous tackling which allowed the Vikings to score the game-winning touchdown on the final play. Drew Brees is 41 and can’t keep this up forever. The Saints should have no trouble winning the NFC South (should, because the Falcons will be tough if their defense improves), and if they have home field advantage, New Orleans will have a distinct advantage with its fervent fan base in the Superdome.

Saints and Patriots in Miami for Super Bowl LIV. Sounds good to me. And the Saints celebrate the 10th anniversary of their first Super Bowl championship with their second. Drew Brees rides off into the sunset on top.

Two nights before the Saints host the Texans, the states of Louisiana and Texas will have their eyes fixed on Austin.

LSU and Texas will square off for the first time in the regular season since 1954, and only the third time since then. It’s criminal the flagship universities of neighboring states, both with elite football programs, have not played a regular season game in 65 years. The only meetings since ’54 were in Cotton Bowls 40 years apart. LSU won 13-0 after the 1962 season to cap Charles McClendon’s first season at the helm, and the Longhorns prevailed 35-20 after the 2002 campaign. In each case, the loser went on to win the national championship the next season, the Longhorns under Darrell Royal and the Bayou Bengals under Nick Saban.

It would be hard for LSU and Texas to play every year, but why not four times every decade? One game in Baton Rouge, one in Austin, one in Arlington at Jerry World, and one in New Orleans. Saban wants the other Power Five schools to schedule more games against other Power Five schools, and he is dead on. This bull about helping out lower level schools by giving them big paydays doesn’t float with me.

For instance, let the small schools in Louisiana–McNeese, Southeastern, Northwestern, Nicholls, Southern, Grambling–play Louisiana Tech, UL Monroe, UL Lafayette and Tulane (although Tulane should consider itself on a higher level and try to schedule more Power Five games). LSU should not be subsidizing these schools’ athletic budgets with a football game. Doing it in men’s basketball and baseball is just fine.

Tthe SEC and ACC should be required to play nine conference games by the College Football Playoff committee. It is patently unfair the SEC and ACC play only eight conference games, then use the fourth non-conference date to schedule directional Louisiana, while the Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12 each play nine conference games. The Big 12 and Big Ten also up the ante by requiring teams to play a Power Five non-conference game.

Sadly, Saban is outvoted 13-1 at every SEC meeting about nine conference games. and I don’t see it changing until Saban is fishing with Ms. Terry on Lake Burton full time.

LSU should play Tulane every year, but the Bayou Bengals should demand the majority of the games be in Baton Rouge. The Green Wave will make twice as much on a game in Baton Rouge as they could ever hope to make on a game at their 30,000-seat on campus stadium, so why not? Without any travel expenses, save for the diesel fuel for the buses and possibly a hotel if the game is in the morning, the Wave will clear a bundle which would go a long, long way to helping their other programs. Yes, there should be games in New Orleans, but they have to be at the Superdome, and LSU must be guaranteed at least 40 percent of the ticket allotment.

If I were in charge of LSU football scheduling, it would be Tulane, a Power Five foe (ACC and Big 12 would get first priority, but Big Ten and Pac-12 would be worked in), and a nearby foe, such as one of the other three FBS teams in Louisiana (Tech, Mornoe, Lafayette) or antoher southern team (Southern Miss, Memphis, UAB, SMU). If the SEC. is obstinate about not adding the ninth conference game, then LSU should sechedule a second Power Five.

High school football starts in my native state and my home state this weekend.

I’m still pissed Kansas refuses to find a single site for its championship games. To me, it reduces title games to just another game; the only difference is it’s played on Saturday afternoon at 1300 instead of Friday night at 1900. If I were a high school player in Kansas, I would be livid that my title game could be on another high school field or a junior college field instead of the stadiums at KU and K-State, or at Children’s Mercy Park, where Sporting Kansas City plays.

Louisiana has played at the Superdome since 1981 (save 2005, when the damage from Hurricane Katrina forced a relocation to Shreveport), but I wish they were at Tiger Stadium. That won’t happen, thanks to a lot of people who don’t want to move them out of New Orleans, and LSU, scared to death its field will get torn to bits. If Alabama, Auburn, Ole Miss and Mississippi State can host high school championship games on its fields, why can’t LSU?

Ah, the mysteries of life.