Inner Planets Party

Approximate positions of the Inner Planets from the Sun (light) with Jupiter hanging out to the right

Approximate positions of the Inner Planets from the Sun (light) on March 20, 2014, with Jupiter hanging out in the lower right corner

303°  Our Solar System is throwing a party and we’re all invited. All the inner planets (Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars) are gathering on one side of the Sun. This is not that rare of an occurrence, but it will be another four years until the Inner Planets are in this type of grouping. Mars is close to ‘opposition,’ meaning it is directly on the opposite side of the Sun from Earth. As the Sun sets, Mars will be rising in the East.

Silver clouds with a white lining

Silver clouds with a white lining

99°  This was the best shot of the day with lenticular clouds to the East of Reno as the Sun was setting.

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Watercolors

Water and light

Water and light

07°  Light on water is holy. It should be no mystery that much of the world’s population lives within 40 miles of a major body of water, nor that most humans live in places where we see the Sun almost every day. To relax many vacation where water and Sun are plentiful. Water comforts, refreshes, and cleans.

All this is to say, I washed the car today, so expect rain in the next two days.

Are they waves of water, or waves of light?

Are they waves of water, or waves of light?

Winter Clouds Don’t ‘Hold In’ the Heat

Earth's solar-powered heat blanket

Earth’s solar-powered heat blanket

267°  Most of us know that in Winter, when it’s cloudy at night, the clouds ‘hold in’ the heat, so it doesn’t get as cold. This concept of ‘holding in the heat has been preached by weather people for years.

It’s not exactly accurate.

A neighbor is finishing up his doctorate program this Fall. His work is measuring the heat (specifically, infrared radiation) absorbed by the atmosphere then re-radiated back to Earth. Nitrogen and oxygen consist of 99% of the atmosphere and they don’t absorb infrared radiation. Only carbon dioxide, methane, and water vapor absorb heat. 

This means the clouds absorb the radiation and emit it back to Earth. So when a cloud is passing overhead it is acting like a solar powered heater. You could call it a ‘blanket’ but it is a solar-powered electric blanket that isn’t holding in the heat but is generating it.

Reno, Nevada: East Versus West

Downtown Reno seen from a northwest vantage point

Downtown Reno seen from a northwest vantage point

120°  Reno, Nevada has several looks. Some of those looks occur at the same time.

Last evening high winds and a storm coming in off the Pacific resulted in clouds boiling over the Sierra Nevada mountains to the West as the Sun set, but also it offered clear skies and downtown Reno lit up as the Sun was consumed by the clouds and mountains.

Angry clouds compete with the setting Sun for prominence

Angry clouds compete with the setting Sun for prominence

Too Much?

Housing on the University of Nevada campus looks great from this view, but things are about to get ugly

Housing on the University of Nevada campus looks great from this view, but things are about to get ugly

347°  I was on the University of Nevada’s campus today to take pictures for my next article. Nevada will be adding almost 1500 student beds in on and off campus housing in the next two years. They claim the need for more housing is justified, but the numbers do not add up. If they are wrong, rental and housing prices will take a nosedive in the Reno community. The impact to local renters could be severe enough to cause a new foreclosure crisis.

More to come. 

A Remake of Reno, Nevada?

Reno's Convention Center, part of the formula for the future

Reno’s Convention Center, part of the formula for the future

12°  What makes Reno, Nevada unique? Here are some of the wrong answers:

  • Mountains – Plenty of cities the size of Reno are next to, or in mountains.
  • Outdoor Recreation — Again, there are no shortages of cities near outdoor recreation.
  • Arts — Many cities have art festivals, and most art festivals have more professional (paid) artists, but Reno relies mostly on artists working for free.
  • Gaming — Absolutely the most non-unique thing about Reno

Reno is Dying
The question about Reno’s uniqueness is critical to the survival of Reno. Over fifty years ago Reno discovered tourism and that vaulted a small desert town into easy money and big growth. The city learned that when people make their money elsewhere and spend it in Reno, the economy of Reno booms.

But for the last decade Reno has lost its uniqueness. Gaming is something you can do at the nearest Indian Casino. If you want to party and see gaudy construction lit up like game show on LSD, then go to Las Vegas. Reno is nothing when it comes to gaming.

Reno’s is Unique
The one thing that Reno has that no other city has is hotel room per capita. Nevada has one hotel room for every 14 residents, and Reno’s ratio equals or exceeds that average. Reno is a city designed for conventions. The problem is how to get convention organizers to consider Reno as a great convention town.

What won’t work is to keep gaming as the attraction. That industry is poison. It demands that the convention goer stay on the property and gamble, which defeats all the other great attractions that might attract repeat business, and American business people do not want to pay for their employees to go and party. The best thing that could happen in Reno is for gaming to be made illegal.

The other challenge is to get all the properties to work as one. That doesn’t happen that often. One property can shoot the city’s bid for a convention down by not cooperating.

However, if Reno can let go of gaming and focus on the big picture, it could be made into the premier convention town.

That’s a big ‘If.’

Too Many Degrees

The Celsius system is the definition of simple. The Fahrenheit system is the definition of stupid

The Celsius system is the definition of simple. The Fahrenheit system is the definition of stupid

281°  America is the dumbest when it comes to measurement units. We refuse to accept the metric system, which are intelligently designed units. Instead, we have stuck to the Fahrenheit scale for temperature — a system that has too many degrees.

In the Celsius system, zero is freezing. Anything below zero is really cold. Zero to ten is cold, and ten to fifteen degrees is cool. At 20 to 30 degrees most humans are comfortable, but anything over 30 degrees is hot. That’s it. Fahrenheit has no easy numbers to go by when equating temperature to human experience.

It’s time we switched to the same units that the rest of the world uses.

Can’t Afford Beauty?

Building functional structures defines humans, building beauty defines humanity

Building functional structures defines humans, building beauty defines humanity

187°  If beauty is not part of any physical structure, then we have betrayed ourselves. Beauty adds to the cost of building anything, but ugly subtracts from our lives. Russia and East Germany have many examples of buildings for purpose, but not beauty…and look at the morale of the people were who forced to live among the utilitarian housing, factories, and offices.

Before any construction worker picks up a hammer, before the engineer creates a blueprint, the artist should create the image that people will see.

Photography at 70 MPH

Shooting and driving, not smart

Shooting and driving, not smart

269°  Photography requires more patience than I have, and more wisdom. Yesterday I was driving to Carson City, Nevada in an off and on rain/snow mix. I was running late, but I saw several interesting shots as I was driving. Rather than stopping I put down the window and took the shot at 70 mph.

It doesn’t take a genius to know that is not safe, but I’m not known for my intellect. The problem is that most shots from a moving car are wasted, especially in cloudy scenes with rain or snow in the air. The combination of speed, low light, and snow or rain will make the image less sharp.

In the future, I need to build in the time to stop and take a good picture.