Welcome to the Blog!
(stuff that doesn’t go anywhere else)

periodic table

Periodic Table of the Elements
Includes the Element Game, challenging you to find all the elements on the table.

More Element Games

Molecular Weight Calculator
Finally, a calculator that includes dot notation!  CaCl2·2H2O
Also includes Hill sorting, brackets as well as parentheses,
and non-integers for molecules of crystallization or non-stoichiometric compounds.


Calculate Pi to a Huge Number of Digits, like this:

gibbous moon

The Celtic Wheel Horologium

An Old English Lunisolar Calendar
Sunset Calculator

Solar and Lunar Data* — moon phase and relative size, animations of solar and lunar orbits

Solar Events Calculator — solstices, equinoxes, and cross-quarter days, all at your fingertips
Moon Phase Calculator* — what moon phase were you born under?
Moon Perigee and Apogee Calculator — find the next supermoon

*Updated 5/8/2021 to fix a bug displaying the month in local time.

Study reveals that doctors are neither shocked, furious, nor speechless over quack internet remedies.

“They just kind of roll their eyes,” says the study’s author.

My grandfather’s pocket watch, in SVG format that runs!

I bet you wish you were using Linux.

 July-August-September 2020
 Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
           1  2  3  4 
  5  6  7  8  9 10 11 
 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 
 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 
 26 27 28 29 30 31  1 
  2  3  4  5  6  7  8 
  9 10 11 12 13 14 15 
 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 
 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 
 30 31  1  2  3  4  5 
  6  7  8  9 10 11 12 
 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 
 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 
 27 28 29 30 

A three-month Bash calendar

(updated 10/1/2020 to fix a bug that prevented multiple-digit negative months)


A color-managed Linux workflow

Excerpt:  if you have a color profile for your monitor, copy it to a folder with public access, such as ~/.local/share/color/icc.
Make sure you have ArgyllCMS installed, or at least the dispwin executable.
Then use this command to create a startup application entry that sets the profile automatically:
dispwin ~/.local/share/color/icc/monitor.icc

Using PhotoLine in Linux  (see Notes on Linux installation)


Taken 7/15/2020 just after 10:00 p.m. north of Chico, California.
ISO 800, 8 seconds at f/4, 145mm focal length.

How to see Comet NEOWISE at earthsky.org

San Gabriel Mission

Los Angeles Times, What the fire at San Gabriel Mission left behind.  The house I used to live in is in the little subdivision at the upper right.
See also ‘My heart is full of sadness’: Faithful stunned by destruction of San Gabriel Mission fire

camp fire

The Camp Fire, 11/8/2018, 8:17 a.m. looking over the ridge toward Paradise and Concow.  The fire had started at 6:29 a.m. seven miles north of town, and when this picture was taken, Paradise was already evacuating.

camp fire

8:40 p.m.; the fire topped the ridge about a mile away and started down the hill toward us.  Evacuated shortly thereafter.

Livable Planet

Livable Planet at the Chico Art Center.

Bay Area man learns that Abraham Lincoln was born on his birthday.

“February 12 was always my special day,” says Frank Anderson.  “But now they say Abraham Lincoln was born on that day too.  I guess it’s not so special after all.”

eclipse 2007

Watching an eclipse during the hour-plus between first contact and totality is like watching the minute hand of a clock; there is not much visible movement.  Until the very end when the crescent gets down to about the last 1/6 of the sun’s circumference; at that point it shrinks before your very eyes until it disappears as if being swallowed up.  With bated breath you take off your solar glasses, and hanging in the sky is an object of otherworldly grandeur.  You sort of knew what to expect, but could not have imagined this.  Amid a groundswell of oohs, aahs, and astonished whoas, you stare at it with your mouth open.

Everyone who has seen the corona says photographs do not do it justice.  When you see it for yourself you know what they mean.  It looks almost fluffy, three-dimensional, with a black disk stamped into it.  It has lots of fine detail and gradation as if made of mother-of-pearl.  This against the dark royal blue sky gives it a glowing jewel-like appearance.

Experienced eclipse chasers say not to photograph your first eclipse; just watch it and let it sink in.  After 15 or 20 seconds I couldn’t stand it and tried to get a few pictures.  Watching, fiddling with the camera, watching again; then, inexorably, the diamond ring reappears and it’s all over.  Time to put the glasses back on.  A number of people clap as if to praise a fine performance.  It was the shortest minute and fifty seconds of my life.  One more item checked off of the bucket list.

Spray, Oregon, 8/21/2017
First contact at 09:08
Totality at 10:21, duration 1:50

Composite of two photographs, foreground and sky, with color and brightness adjusted to match my recollection of the scene.

guest blogger

Custom Art Framing:  Guest Blogger at frameusa.com.

A curmudgeon’s guide to grammar and usage

Short-lived rhymes with long-knived.
If you are short of hands, you are short-handed.  If you are short of wind, you are short-winded.  If you are short of life, you are short-lived.  Think about it . . . .

A page that says “This page intentionally left blank” is no longer blank.

Data is the plural of datum.  It’s something like facts.  “These data show . . . .”
Media is the plural of medium.  “Back up your files on another medium.”  “Insert a blank medium.”
Criteria is the plural of criterion.  “The first criterion . . . .”

Kudos (κῦδος) is the Greek word for “praise” and is singular.  There is no such thing as a kudo.

Less refers to a continuous quantity; fewer refers to a discrete number.  If you are on a diet, eat fewer cookies and drink less milk.

One thing is centered on another; nothing is centered around anything.  The center is a point.

Pitiful means full of pity, as joyful means full of joy.
Something that arouses pity is piteous, or pitiable.

Nauseous means causing nausea, something like hideous.
When you feel nausea, you are nauseated.

Mischievous has three syllables and is pronounced “MIS-che-vus.”  It comes from the word mischief.
“Mis-CHEE-vee-us” is not a word.

It is you; it is I.  It is you and I.
It is for you; it is for me.  It is for you and me.
It is with you and me.  It is between you and me.
Always and forever.

Things differ from each other.
“This differs from that.”  “This is different from that.”  Similar to, different from; it all makes sense.
Practice saying it:  “different from; different from; different from.”
(Side note:  if you are comparing things that differ from something else, you might say, “this is more different than that is.”)

None is short for “not one” and is singular.
“None is left,” not “none are left.”
“None of the members is left,” not “none of the members are left.”
Sure, you can use a plural verb.  You can also use “ain’t” in your resume and call your boss a geek.  It’s a free country.

In defense of the “Oxford comma”:
What do you indolent, stuporous people have against a fricking comma?  Leaving it out can completely change the meaning of a sentence.
“Last night I met two prostitutes, your mother and your sister.”
“Last night I met two prostitutes, your mother, and your sister.”

These ( ) are parentheses, these [ ] are brackets, and these { } are braces.
You don’t have to say “square brackets” or “curly braces,” and “curly brackets” just confuses the issue.

“I feel badly” means that when you try to identify something by touch, you do a poor job.
“I feel bad” means that you are experiencing distress.  It’s like “I look bad” or “I am bad.”

Apostrophes that look wrong but aren’t:  the plurals of non-words use apostrophes to prevent ambiguity.
“Mind your p’s and q’s.”  “The 1930’s were difficult years.”
Some people disagree with this.  I feel bad for them.

There is nothing wrong with using first person in formal writing.  Third-person circumlocutions like “this writer” get tiresome very fast and should die.
Similarly, using myself as a way to avoid saying I or me is usually just plain wrong.
I tell it like it is.

Please visit russellcottrell.com.