May 13th, 2011

typewriter monkey

The Katana lives!

So I managed to drop my Katana phone through the wood decking of the patio at Henry's last night. Nobody could quite reach it through the narrow slots where it lay half-buried in the molten goo, so I zipped back there this morning armed with a flexible-extendible-clampy-snake-thingy:

Success! I got this device from Working Assets Long Distance (the liberal-leaning phone company now known as CREDO Mobile (which seems to be having a switch deal right now) when it was hot stuff, back in 2006, I think it was. Since then, it has gone through the washer and dryer; sat overnight at the bottom of a frozen puddle; taken several dives into lakes, fountains, and so forth; crashed with me on a motorcycle; and been dropped countless times onto the floor. I've dropped it while scootering and driven over it at least once with a car. How would you feel after such abuse? Check it out:

Yes, I posed the camera on my heavy bag. Seems appropriate for an old fighter who keeps on doing its thing battle after battle. No, the photo isn't blurry; the phone really is that scratched up.

Despite all this, the thing still works great... except for how it occasionally doesn't ring, and the anticipatory-typing thing only works with words you've already entered, and... okay, it's ancient and kinda crappy, and now it bears new battle-scars and smells of old, wet, beer-ey cigarette ashes. I must admit that I've been thinking of joining the Smart Phone Generation. Heck, I bet there are kids out there who've never even seen a flip-phone.

But after all it's been through, I can't bear to toss it aside! And the butt-dialing... as much fun as that can be (I'm looking at you, Matt J, who accidentally serenaded me last week), I don't look forward to an exposed screen on a device that I carry everywhere. I mean, look at this thing! Would a smart phone survive all that?

Yesterday, I was ready to ditch the thing. Now it's earned a reprieve. Perhaps I'll be like those crusty old reporters who refuse to give up their Royal Portable typewriters, obstinately carrying around my trusty blue Katana deep into the 21st century.

Saturn's rings

Astro-Porn of the Day: Rotating Saturn Video!

Astronomy lovers, I haven't forsaken you! I've just been murderated by teaching way too many frakin' classes this semester, plus reading for the Campbell Award, prepping for the CSSF summer program, and a billion other things. So as I take a little break, I thought I'd share a little astro-porn. Check out this lovely video that Sky & Telescope imaging editor Sean Walker made from a sequence of Hubble Saturn photos:

Right now, Saturn is displaying unusual white bands in its atmosphere, remnants from a giant storm that struck the ringed planet last winter:

Click the image to see the Universe Today story; photo by Anthony Wesley.

You're looking at a storm that started out about the size of planet Earth and has spread out across the entire latitude around Saturn. These "great white spots" only appear once every few decades, so this is a rare treat.