Another hobby I recently began

I’ve recently started a new area (for me) of photography called “Astro Photography”.  Here are some recent photos and brief descriptions:

Orion Nebula
The Orion Nebula is a diffuse nebula situated in the Milky Way, being south of Orion’s Belt in the constellation of Orion. It is 1,344 ± 20 light-years away and is the closest region of massive star formation to Earth. The M42 nebula is estimated to be 24 light years across.

The Horsehead Nebula is approximately 422 parsecs or 1,375 light-years from Earth. It is one of the most identifiable nebulae because of its resemblance to a horse’s head. The Flame Nebula on the left side, is an emission nebula in the constellation Orion. It is about 900 to 1,500 light-years away.
Andromeda Galaxy
The Andromeda Galaxy is a barred spiral galaxy approximately 2.5 million light-years from Earth and the nearest major galaxy to the Milky Way. This was 25 minutes total exposure time.

Bodes & Cigar Galaxy
Bode’s Galaxy is a grand design spiral galaxy about 12 million light-years away, with a diameter of 90,000 light years, in the constellation Ursa Major. In the same photo at the top, you can see a smaller galaxy called the Cigar Galaxy. Together they are called the M81 group. This was 73 minutes of exposure time.

Rosette Nebula
The Rosette Nebula is located near one end of a giant molecular cloud in the Monoceros region of the Milky Way Galaxy. The cluster and nebula lie at a distance of 5,000 light-years from Earth and measure roughly 130 light years in diameter. This was almost 2 ½ hours of exposure time.

Orion 120mm Refractor with 50mm guide scope, iOptron CEM 25P motorized equatorial mount.

More Music Trivia (Morning Has Broken)

In 1972, Cat Stevens had a pop hit called “Morning Has Broken” and reached number 6 on Billboard’s Pop Charts.  Many people didn’t realize it was a hymn that was written in 1931 by Eleanor Farjeon.  It was also published as a poem called “A Morning Song (for the First Day of Spring) in a children’s poetry book published by Oxford University Press in 1957.

But wait…that’s not all…

The music was an old Gaelic tune called “Bunessan” and has been used in several other songs including a Christmas carol, a baptism song and a wedding song.

Morning Has Broken lyrics are:

Morning has broken, like the first morning
Blackbird has spoken, like the first bird
Praise for the singing, praise for the morning
Praise for them springing fresh from the Word.

Sweet the rain's new fall, sunlit from heaven
Like the first dewfall, on the first grass
Praise for the sweetness of the wet garden
Sprung in completeness where His feet pass.

Mine is the sunlight, mine is the morning
Born of the one light, Eden saw play
Praise with elation, praise every morning
God's recreation of the new day.

Below are the Cat Stevens song, the Christmas carol and the baptism song.  I was unable to locate the wedding song but the lyrics begin: “Vows have been spoken, prayers have been offered”.  Enjoy.

More Music Trivia (Black Magic Woman)

Carlos Santana (Santana – Abraxas album) released Black Magic Woman in 1970.  It was recorded with underlying latin beats, conga drums …well that great Santana sound.  It reached number 4 on the Billboard US Hot 100 chart and is one of Santana’s greatest hits.  It might surprise you to learn that it was a cover song.

The original was written by British musician Peter Green and was released by Fleetwood Mac in 1968.  It was a “Blues” rock hit and reached number 37 on the UK singles chart.  This was back when Fleetwood Mac was a Blues-Rock band (prior to the 1970’s when Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham joined).

Both versions are in D minor with slightly different chord progressions.  Santana’s version added some latin styling with Conga, Timbales and different percussion.  It also included organ and piano sounds that added to the “voo-doo” feel of the music.

Both versions are very well presented and both feel different from the other.  Below, find the links to the Fleetwood Mac version and to the Santana version.  You may like one over the other.  I like them both.  Let me know what you think.


More Music Trivia (Killing Me Softly)

One of my favorite 70’s songs is “Killing Me Softly (with his song)” by Roberta Flack.  It was a monster hit, leading up to a Grammy for Flack that year.  There is more to the story though, so here we go!

In 1971, a young 20 year old musician named Lori Lieberman sat in the audience as Don McLean performed at the Troubadour in Los Angeles.  He sang a song called “Empty Chairs” and Lori thought his lyrics reached deep into her own life.   She took notes on a napkin and after the show, contacted two song writers who worked with her, Charles Fox and Norman Gimbel.  After reading her notes to them,  Norman Gimbel expanded on the notes and wrote the lyrics.  Charles Fox wrote the music for the song.  The title came from some hook notes that Gimbel had written with the words “Killing” and “Softly”.

Lori Lieberman recorded the song in late 1971 and released it as a single in 1972 but her version did not chart.  Roberta Flack heard Lori’s version of the song on an in-flight music system after scanning a listing of titles available.  She said the title “smacked her in the face” and after the flight landed, she called Quincy Jones to ask him to get in touch with Fox and Gimbel.

Flack’s version was released in 1973, quickly climbed the charts and stayed at number 1 for five weeks.  Roberta Flack’s arrangement was a bit faster than Lori’s and contained a backbeat.

In 1996, the hip hop group “Fugees” covered Roberta Flack’s version where it topped the charts in the UK and was a number two hit in the US.

Don McLean said in 1973 that he was surprised to find out that the song described his singing. “I’m absolutely amazed. I’ve heard both Lori’s and Roberta’s version and I must say I’m very humbled about the whole thing. You can’t help but feel that way about a song written and performed as well as this one is.”

So folks, here is the *ORIGINAL* by Lori Lieberman

Music Trivia (Who Was That Masked Man?)

The year was 1977.  I had been a radio DJ for 3 years so I wasn’t a baby DJ anymore, but still an infant.  Elvis Presley passed away and suddenly, as these things go, Elvis was extremely popular again.  Oh, don’t get me wrong, Elvis was always the king, but the crown hadn’t been kept polished so much (no offense to the die hard Elvis fans out there).

We went through weeks of Elvis news, speculation, the inevitable not-funny jokes and a funeral televised around the world.  Again, as these things go, Elvis radio and TV specials were made and even after his death, it seemed he was “Taking Care of Business”.

Back in 1969, Shelby Singleton who acquired the music to Sun Records (except for Elvis songs) heard about a young man singing in the nightclubs in Georgia and Alabama.  He was noted for his voice resemblance to Elvis Presley, so naturally Sun Records signed him.  He recorded two covers of old Elvis songs “That’s All Right” and  “Blue Moon of Kentucky” and they simply listed the artist as “?”.  Many people assumed these were different studio takes that Elvis had recorded but the records didn’t gain much traction.

Shortly after Elvis’ death, Sun Records released “Save the Last Dance For Me” which overdubbed the mystery singer onto the Jerry Lee Lewis classic.  The attribution was credited to a “Friend”.  This “new” Elvis record caused quite a stir.  Good Morning America even did a voice comparison test against Elvis’s voice.

In 1978, writer Gail Brewer-Giorgio published a novel, Orion, about a leading popular singer – clearly based on Presley – who faked his own death.  Shelby Singleton persuaded our mystery artist to start going by the name “Orion”.  He would appear wearing a small mask, with dyed hair and in similar clothing to that worn by Elvis.  His album Reborn, showing the singer emerging from a coffin, was released on gold-colored vinyl on the Sun label in 1978. Some listeners clearly believed that “Orion” was, in fact, Presley, who had supposedly faked his own death. Orion then had several hits on the country music chart, including “Am I That Easy to Forget” (1980), “Rockabilly Rebel” (1981) and “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” (1981). He also recorded several albums for Sun between 1979 and 1981, and built up a substantial live following, still wearing his mask.  He tore off his mask at a performance in 1983, saying that he would not wear it again and began performing under his real name Jimmy Ellis.

Jimmy ran a pawn shop in Selma, Alabama after his fame died down.  On December 12, 1998, Ellis was murdered during a robbery in his store,

I remember well, the call-ins to the radio station wanting me to play the new Elvis song.  I also remember the arguments from those who truly believed Jimmy Ellis was Elvis and those who swore up and down that they could tell it wasn’t really Elvis.  Let’s play now.  Listen to Jimmy Ellis and tell me what you think?

Burning Love – Jimmy Ellis

Kentucky Rain – Jimmy Ellis

Moody Blue – Jimmy Ellis

And finally, the song that started the rumors…

Save the Last Dance For Me – Jerry Lee Lewis and Jimmy Ellis

I Did This (but I shouldn’t have, should I?)

I was in the studio this morning, writing a new script and story boarding the clips for Crash Frehley’s YouTube channel.  While I was dreaming up the story, I decided to put on some music from my *extensive and varied* collection.  I was tooling along when all of a sudden this came on…

Donna Summer – MacArthur Park [Suite]

It’s a good thing Amy wasn’t here or she would have kicked me out of the house because the next thing I did was crank the studio monitor up.  Now there aren’t many *disco* songs I like (I can count them all on two hands and one foot and special note to my sister-in-law, Disco Duck is NOT one of them) but Donna Summer — well heck yea!

Something took over, something deep inside.  The next thing you know, my two dogs are staring at me as if I’d lost my mind!  I was dancing like nobody was  watching (at least I hope not).  From room to room MacArthur’s Park was melting (not in the dark, but in the light of day)!

Then, on one of my trips through the den, our youngest dog Molly, decided it looked like fun and suddenly I had a dance partner!  Buddy (older and wiser) stayed on the couch and looked rather disgusted.  Something in the way he looked at me conveyed the message that this old, fat and out of shape dude should stop that before Mr. Richter blames me for breaking his scale.

I didn’t make it through all seventeen minutes and fifty two seconds because I would have died.  I DID make it through six minutes before dropping out, gasping for breath.  My dance partner sort of turned her nose up in disgust (which also brought me back to my younger days) and I wheezed my way back to the studio to turn the music down before the inevitable neighbor call.

Am I ashamed of my behavior?  NOPE, not a bit.  Was there a camera?  NOPE, not a one.  Will I do it again?  YEP, got more Donna in my playlist.  Today?  NOPE, it will take me a week to catch my breath.

Is There An Expert In The House?

For the first time in many years, I was referred to as an “expert” today.  Just as in most of those past times, I cringed.  My first inclination when someone refers to me as an “expert” is to correct them immediately by saying “you take that back!”  You see, I do not think of myself as an expert and I also believe that there are NOT many true experts out there.

There are times that you cannot correct the person who belches this inadvertent curse toward you.  There are also  people whom you should not correct.  Today’s episode contained both the wrong time and the wrong person.  We were in a meeting with a client when the terrible word was hurled out there by my immediate supervisor.  I had to settle for a shudder and the sure knowledge that I would write about it on my blog after work.

Why am I so opposed to “experts” you might ask.  Here let me analyze myself in a very non-expert way.

Exactly what does that word mean?  According to the dictionary, an “expert” is a person who has special skill or knowledge in some particular field.  Now there is nothing abhorrent about that, so that must not be why I shudder when called that?

Isn’t it true that most of the time a person is called an expert it comes in the first person form?  Maybe not, but certainly a lot of times and it just sounds like bragging.  Still, that can’t be why I am so opposed to the word, can it?  Hmmmm…

If you subscribe to the 10,000 hour rule (to be proficient at something takes 10,000 hours of practice), does that qualify as an expert?  I don’t think so.  It just means you love something enough to have practiced for one year and 52 days (if you can do that 24/7).  I’m sure by then, the person is good at whatever it is, but is she an expert?  Nah

I think when a person calls themselves an expert (or wears it proudly), then things start to go wrong.  An expert is sort of like an oracle.  All seeing, all knowing.  Nope, not for me.  Don’t get me wrong, if you want to be known as an expert then go for it and hope beyond hope that you never make a mistake.  I’d rather just be someone who is comfortable in certain areas and is always learning more  .. from .. [ahem] you experts out there.

Finally, I leave you with this quote from Kerry Livgren (who might have paraphrased someone else):

“If I claim to be a wise man, it surely means that I don’t know”

Until next time, Carry On

Too Much Anger and People Talking At Each Other

I was reading earlier tonight, some passages of ancient philosophical quotes and it struck me that some of these would fit very nicely into our social media filled lives, so I picked a few that I thought had a good impact.  No, they are not left leaning nor right leaning or in-between.  They are just something to think about and perhaps guide us a bit in our increasingly angry  society.

Here goes…


“It is just that we should be grateful, not only to those with whose views we may agree, but also to those who have expressed more superficial views; for these also contributed something, by developing before us the powers of thought.”

“Persuasion is achieved by the speaker’s personal character when the speech is spoken as to make us think him credible. We believe good men more fully and more readily than others. This is true generally whatever the question is, and absolutely true where exact certainty is impossible and opinions are divided.”


“Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising every time we fall.”

“The superior man understands what is right; the inferior man understands what will sell.”

“Ability will never catch up to the demand for it.”


“It isn’t positions which lend distinction, but men who enhance positions.”

Marcus Porcius Cato:

After I’m dead, I’d rather have people ask why I have no monument than why I have one.”

Sun Tzu:

“In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity.”


“The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.”


“Know how to listen and you will profit even from those who talk badly.”


“Make the best use of what’s in your power and take the rest as it happens.”


“A good decision is based on knowledge and not numbers.”

Lao Tzu:

“When the best leader’s work is done the people say, “We did it ourselves.”

“When you are content to be simply yourself and don’t compare or compete, everybody will respect you.”

Mahatma Ghandi:

“Live simply that others may simply live.”

Gautama Buddha:

“Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”


“No man steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he is not the same man.”


“Although you may spend your life killing, you will not exhaust all your foes.  But if  you quell your own anger, your real enemy will be slain.”


And as a final thought, I give you this, er, more recent quote…

Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.

–Albus Dumbledore

(J.K. Rowling)