Thursday, October 8, 2015

The Carolina Adventure!

We intended to enjoy a leisurely trip to Columbia, South Carolina, help celebrate the 90th (!) birthday of our mother-in-law Betty, and take in some of the ambiance of the South. As it was, South Carolina was declared a disaster area, but at least we got to have a birthday celebration! With days to go before our trip, we were a little concerned about hurricane Joaquin threatening the Eastern Seaboard, but what can you do but take your trip. Midweek they had some good rains and when we arrived Friday, it started again in earnest. By the end of the weekend they collected 20+ inches of rain, which washed out hundreds of roads and bridges, and before we got out Tuesday, over 15 fatalities in the state. It truly was a disaster area, certainly if you watched the continuous coverage on local TV.

But in downtown Columbia where we stayed, less than 3 miles from Betty's house, we were on high enough ground we never saw flooding, or even any standing water in the streets. Certainly in low-lying areas there were boat and helicopter rescues, but from our part of town, it was just a rainy weekend. It got worse over the weekend as the water plant was overcome by flooding and the entire city was under a boil water order for any drinking or cooking. It worsened when the parts of town we were in had no water at all for 15 hours or so... You don't know how much you depend on the utilities until they go away! At least we always had electric power in our part of town.

We got in late on Friday and Saturday headed to Betty's house, where she and Mackie raised their 4 girls, and about the time the girls moved out, their granddaughter Shannon grew up there too. It is an unassuming 1930s two-story brick home. The girls lived up in the attic, the adults downstairs. Shown at left is an exterior shot, and at right the living room with a comfortably appointed screened in porch behind the double doors where, in drier weather, we would have spent much of the weekend. Simply furnished, it is a very pleasant place to gather and converse, or hold a pizza party, which is what we did on Saturday night.

Being that we first gathered on Saturday, the first order of business was to find coverage of the local and regional football games of interest. Betty's youngest daughter Susan managed to get her two boys to Columbia. Both attend Texas A&M, so were intent on finding the game on TV (they were not successful), but had to settle for watching the occasional score. By later in the day after a couple meals, most of the Texas contingent was snoozing in front of the TV (at left). The kitchen was similarly Spartan, but airy and easy to handle a crowd of people. Shown at left is a 6-frame panorama of the kitchen where the girls grew up. Unseen is a little breakfast nook just out of the frame at left.

There seemed a plethora of still-life possibilities. As with any grandmother's cabinet-top, grandchildren, and daughters who have passed populate picture frames. Seen at left are great-grandkids Hayes, Cort, Eric, Asher, Rhett and Brian, with daughters Vicki (who I was married to for 13 years) and Sharon. At right, in the picture window of the dining room, her normal angel collection is being displaced by the plethora of birthday cards she's been receiving! The careful observer might notice the puddles forming out the window in the driveway...

Of course, painters' still lives always seemed to involve fruit, so Betty's kitchen provided the view at left in the corner of her counter... Most of us looked through stacks of photos, with the momentous occasion at hand. I joined the family in 1990, so was around for the births of nearly all the male grandchildren. At right is an early photo of Betty, I suspect pre-children, which you can compare to the one of her post-children herding the girls on the beach in a post from a few years ago...

It wasn't raining continuously, almost stopping occasionally. In the front yard in the shade of a bush was a painted metal bench. It has likely seen better days, but in close-up showed interesting details with the macro lens... I knew there was some reason that I brought that lens along! I think it was the only time I used it, for the 2-frame mosaic shown here at right. What I really should have packed was a small tripod, as some of the flower pictures and other images I tried would have benefited.

Saturday drew to a close and we all adjourned to our respective hotels. All was still well with the party on Sunday, but the rain continued overnight. By Sunday with the steady downpour, the Arboretum finally called to cancel. The party was off. Most folks who had planned to attend by driving from nearby states were contacted and encouraged not to come to Columbia. One couple actually drove out to the arboretum but found the road actually washed out! So the family that had collected earlier reconvened back to Betty's. It was decided to have a low-key celebration at a local restaurant, Yesterday's that had enough room for our party of about 16. It was a fun time with a few other family members arriving. Grandson Asher is a professional soccer player and managed to cross 3 states to get to our abbreviated party. Granddaughter Shannon also joined us. At left are the 4 good-lookin' grandsons, from left are the A&M students Rhett and Brian, with Eric and Asher at right. Asher had the coveted seat next to Betty, and we got to meet his girlfriend Ashley for the first time, all shown at right.

Finally Shannon jumped in and Betty too for the official grandkids portrait at left. A good-looking bunch if you ask me!  To round out the official portraits, youngest daughter Susan poses with Betty at right.

As we dined and visited leisurely, it was revealed that the city of Columbia had called for a curfew to keep people off the streets after dark, mostly so they would not drive off roads or bridges that had washed out. Yesterday's locked the front door and hurried us out a couple hours before the 6pm curfew. Susan, Bill and the boys were to head back to Dallas that evening. They were concerned about getting to the airport 8 miles away, so with them driving Betty's car, Melinda and I followed. The trip was uneventful, but you could see the Congaree River, the biggest going through western Columbia, was a good 15 feet above normal. Looking back at our last visit to the area, the walk along the river that we posted about was far underwater! We made it to the airport fine, and Melinda drove back to Betty's. We arrived to find that her water had just stopped, and when we returned to the Marriot, it too was out of water for flushing or bathing. Bottled water was complimentary, though... We heard from Susan that the curfew had shut down the airport - they were unable to leave! Only medical and emergency vehicles allowed on the road.

By morning, I woke and took the elevator down to search for a toilet that flushed... Staff said the ground floor had water and the rest of the building soon would, for flushing and bathing only - no consumption. We had nothing better to do, so checked out, swung by and made our farewells to Betty and headed to the airport, 6 hours early for our flight. At 4pm, 3 hours to go we got the news - another curfew, shutting down the airport before our flight was to depart. American Airlines couldn't help us. No seats were available the next day. If we wanted to rent a car and pay the drop off fee we could drive to Charlotte, NC, but seemed an unnecessary expense for us. They finally handed us over to United Airlines, who had a 4pm flight the next day going through Houston to Tucson.

So Monday night we stayed in a motel that was actually nicer than the Marriot, complete with fridge and microwave, as well as jacuzzi! We were able to order out for Chinese before curfew and watched a little TV before catching up on our rest. The next morning we returned to the airport, observing a nice colorful ring around the sun (left)- a good-luck sign if I'd ever seen one. The sky cleared thru the day, and we spent another 4 hours at the airport (which we'd gotten to know pretty well after most of 2 days there!). In a bored daze, the image taken at right was of Melinda over a glass of water served in a beer glass. Ya gotta make your own fun when you are bored! Right on time, we finally boarded an airplane! It was a small plane - only 3 seats across, but made it to Houston fine, and after a 2 hour layover, boarded for Tucson, where, of course, it was raining Tuesday night when we landed at 9:45!

The plan is to reschedule the 90th birthday celebration for perhaps Betty's 90.5 year birthday! In the Spring the arboretum should be spectacularly beautiful, and well worth making the trip again. Consider this one a practice session for the next one, hopefully held before hurricane season starts!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Seeing Double!

As cat owners, we feel badly for the feral cats that show up at our door in bad shape. We've certainly had some beat-up specimens show up looking for a handout - how can you say no? Most all of our "inside" cats were walk-ups, starting out as ferals in the past. Case in point is one of the ferals, Spats (though I spell it with a "Z"), so named because of his tuxedo pattern with white feet. He has been a semi-regular for a long time, perhaps over a year, and now looks pretty healthy and is now about the friendliest cat I've ever seen. For some time he has greeted my arrival from work by walking up to me and collapsing at my feet, forcing me to either trip over him or stop to pet him...

But interestingly, about 5 or 6 weeks ago, I'd step outside the house and he would run away from me like he had never seen me before! After a few instances of that I realized it was a different cat with identical markings. Unfortunately, this one was in bad shape, skin and bones, just covered with mats of dirty fur, with clumps of mud and poop hanging off his tail. But occasionally, Spatz and the new one would be there at the same time and the resemblance was amazing. I've never heard of identical twins of the feline persuasion, but this was what appeared to be going on. So we called the new beat-up one Spitz to go with Spatz... After a few weeks of feeding, he allowed me to pet him, first as he was eating, then as a prelude to food, finally, whenever I wanted. He had a full-body mat along his back that was doing the same thing that Donald Trump's hair does in a breeze - sticking up in the front. Well, I grabbed it and jerked him up off the ground a few times and got this full-length pelt a good 14" long off of him! It was quite amazing, particularly when he didn't run and hide - for another week I was cleaning him up a little each session, clumps of fur still decorating the front of our house. He was obviously enjoying how much better it felt with the mats gone.

A couple weeks ago, another feral we'd been feeding off-and-on for a couple years, Big Tuna, showed up dead on our doorstep one morning. He had been doing poorly in recent weeks, but I was careful to look out for him and make sure he got food whenever he came by... It made me feel guilty we'd never had him to the vet for some TLC. So I made a pledge to get Spitz in to get looked at. That was last week, and yesterday he was back at the vet to get nearly all his teeth pulled. That was one of his issues, why he didn't clean up his fur as his mouth hurt so much. He is already working on his coat... Telling this story at work, pictures were requested, so at left are a couple shots Melinda took of me holding Spitz with her iPhone. He is still a little rough around the edges, but as much as he eats, he'll bulk up pretty fast. He has a chronic tongue sticking out, and his nose appears to have an infected mosquito bite, according to the vet. And oh yea - he is FIV+, so precautions will be taken not to infect the other cats, but with most of his teeth missing, bites won't be too big an issue. He is already living in the cage in the living room for the other cats to get used to him... And as for Spatz - he was outside tonight, so picked him up and brought him in for a comparison picture. Compared to Spitz he is a sleek, muscular athlete, and also needs a neuter job. BTW, Spitz was already neutered, with his ear clipped - there are some organizations that trap strays, neuter and release, and the clipped ear indicates this was done. Anyway, the Spatz picture is at right.

So assuming all goes well with Spitz, Spatz is next on the list to get a trip to the vet, checked out, neutered and moved inside. It will be nice to get to the point where we're not putting food out for the ferals, but there seems to be an endless supply...

Monday, September 28, 2015


If you get your news off of the Interwebs (you poor thing!), you certainly would have known about the "Supermoon Eclipse" or "Super Blood Moon", or "Blood Moon Spells Doom", or some combination of the above. While I learned that the last "Supermoon Eclipse" was in 1982, back those days we NEVER called a moon at perigee a Supermoon. In those "olden" days, we also NEVER called a total lunar eclipse a "Blood Moon". I do not know how these terms get into the vernacular, and I hate it, so you will note that outside this paragraph, these terms will NEVER be used again here!

From the western part of the country, where we live (Tucson, AZ), the full moon rose right at sunset, of course, just as it was moving into the shadow of the earth. Since we just passed the autumnal equinox a few days ago, the eclipsed moon would pretty much rise due east. We were invited to a 5-year-old's birthday party late in the afternoon, and I suspected we'd be arriving home right about the start of the eclipse, so I at least thought about what I wanted to do. I actually went out the evening before scouting some locations, looking for a foreground that might say "Tucson". I went wandering around downtown, and found this scene looking east down Congress Street, but it didn't yell "Tucson" enough for me, even with a rising eclipsed moon down the street...

So I gave up on a scenic background, especially with the party taking up a chunk of the afternoon. We just went home afterwards for Melinda to rest after spending time at a Hispanic birthday with Techno band and hyperactive children (actually, I could use some quiet time too!). We got home about 15 minutes before sunset and I started setting up the equatorial mount in the back yard to set up the TEC 140 refractor. Right about sunset, I took an amble around the neighborhood with telephoto zoom to look for the rising moon. In the alley behind our house I ran into the neighbors, who were holding a small party with chairs facing west. I pointed out the moon would be rising behind them, but they were celebrating the sunset first... They joined me in the trek towards the rising moon, soon spotted rising due east as expected, shown at left. We have lots of suspended power and cable lines, so walked a hundred yards to clear some of them, as shown at right. These shots taken with the 70-200 zoom off a monopod, 200mm at left, 140mm at right.

It soon got dark enough that the short exposures to properly record the moon way underexposed the background, so I departed to set up the scope. Plus there was lots of good stuff on TV! There was the Cubs game against the Pirates (CUBS WIN!), there was the CSI finale, and a little later there was the Silent Sunday features on TCM. Fortunately, working in the yard, I could keep track of the game while stepping out frequently to monitor the eclipse. My first mistake was assuming the eclipsed moon would clear the tree from where I had first set up the mount. Wrong! Moving an assembled AP 1200 needed more strength than I had, so needed to disassemble and set up against my western fence. It amazing how fast the thing goes together with an eclipse progressing over your shoulder! The shot at left was taken with the zoom lens again off a tripod for 6 seconds at F4.5, showing the total phase of the moon against the stars of Pisces. The TEC 140 works at F/7, so is just about 1 meter focal length, just about perfect for an eclipsed moon, even at perigee! My first guess at an exposure was 20 seconds, shown at right - a little overexposed, but shows more stars than in the shorter, properly exposed images.

I finally settled on 8 second exposures at ISO 200 that didn't saturate any of the channels. With the scope set to lunar rate to track the moon, I used an intervalometer to take an image every 60 seconds. It finally started routine exposures at 7:42, just a couple minutes before mid-totality when the moon was deepest into the earth's shadow. The image at left shows mid-eclipse at 7:47. I let it go pretty much automatically, occasionally adjusting the north-south position of the moon, as lunar tracking only handles the east-west motion. After the deepest part of the eclipse, the moon slowly got brighter at lower left until it eventually left the full shadow of the earth. The image at right was at 3rd contact, just as the edge of the earth's shadow hit the edge of the moon.

The partial phases don't interest me much, so I took down the gear after 3rd contact and put things away. After work today I finally started messing with all the frames, about 43 all told. The limitation turned out to be the visibility of a single star to center on during the sequence, taking out the declination adjustments, and visible throughout. Using Nebulosity 2 software, I centered on the same star, so that in a time-lapse, shown below, the stars appear fixed and the moon moving through the field, as it should be. Since the earth's shadow moves slowly (about 1 degree per day), the moon's motion of about a half degree per hour dominates and zips through in a couple hours at most. Here is the result, uploaded to Youtube. Be sure to go full screen and HD for best visibility of stars and details...

All in all, a pretty good eclipse! The last few we've had had issues, clouds, or shooting from Mexico w/out a tracking mount. They are about to get a lot rarer - after 3 of them every 6 months, the next total lunar eclipse for North America won't be till January, 2019! Seems like a long time off...

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Night Of The Mantis!

Today's title is a partial mash-up of various late-night horror movie titles, The Deadly Mantis, Day of the Triffids, you get the idea. Since discovering the colony of geckos living under our porch light, I usually take a look before opening the door at night, and the other evening found a couple praying mantis! Haven't seen any in years, the last time being on Kitt Peak, where they were devouring telescopes! Anyway, I figured I'd try to take a few snapshots, all these being taken with the Canon XSi and 100mm F/2.8 macro. Of course, being that it was after 10pm and pitch dark, without enough illumination from our porch light, the on-camera flash was used too. At left is a nearly-full-body shot as he climbed towards the light, and at left is the over-the-shoulder glamour shot. The fellows were good-sized, about 7 or 8 cm long, and while they occasionally took flight when tired of my flash, but they would re-land and pose more for me afterwards. The Wikipedia entry indicates this is the time of year for mating, and they are attracted to the insects attracted to outdoor lights, but I think both of these were female, or at least, if they were a pair, I only ended up with pics of the female!

I'm a fan of a well-turned leg as they say, and these didn't disappoint with their armored accessories! Their forelegs are used to grasp mostly insect prey, and with their jagged teeth, you can see the combination of nutcracker leverage and teeth would nigh be impossible to escape!

I'm closing with a couple head shots. Their highly articulate necks result in their most always looking at you with their face or compound eyes tracking you. In the image at left, besides their large compound eyes, separated for good stereo vision, you can also spot their three eye spots, or ocelli between them. Yes, they have two different kinds of vision! It is thought the ocelli provide orientation clues during flight, since they seem to be incapable of resolving forms. The left photo shows them mounted on the forehead - with the head tilted further back, as at right, they "cats-eye" reflect the light from the flash to appear bright. Also in the right image, the mandibles that act like fingers to hold and manipulate food are visible. Neat stuff - wish they were around more often as there is more to explore!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

A Casting and Re-Dedication!

At the Mirror Lab where I work, we're casting another 8.4 meter diameter (nearly 28 feet!) mirror substrate for the Giant Magellan Telescope. This one is #4, which will be the center one in the 7-mirror array that makes up the 25+ meter diameter telescope. On the occasion of the "hot hold" at 1165C as the glass melted into the light-weighting mold, the lab was renamed the Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab in honor of our newest benefactor. So at the end of a busy week of activity, on Friday we gathered to celebrate the renaming and another casting. Of course, there were speeches and congratulations all around, especially with the recent delivery of the Large Synoptic Telescope mirror a few months back. Shown at left is a photo-shopped image of the new sign on the building modified as an announcement f the rededication. And at right are a couple of the speakers at the short ceremony, Joaquin Ruiz, Dean of the College of Science, and Ann Weaver Hart, President of the University of Arizona.

Richard F. Caris, the new namesake of the Mirror Lab formed the company Interface Inc, which manufactures load cell force sensing instrumentation. We've been using devices from his company since our first mirrors, so evidently he felt we were something in which he desired to invest. At left, Head of the Astronomy Department and Director of Steward Observatory Buell Jannuzi at center reveals the photo that will hang at the entrance of the Lab, here assisted by President Hart and Associate Director of Steward Jeff Kingsley.

There was a nice crowd, a good fraction of which I knew!  Interestingly, as each mirror cast has its own t-shirt design, only the latest version reflects the name-change.  At right is the black design of GMT3 from 2 years ago, and the new powder blue reflecting the new name and artwork.

After the ceremony, we were all queued up to tour the Mirror Lab, and watch the spinning oven with 18 tons of molten glass within. Of course, the VIPs were allowed in first - interestingly, though I work there, I was at the end of the line in group 29! I walked in regardless to grab some photos - you never know when you might want to do a blog post! Melinda attended, but wasn't up for too much walking, so found an office to sit in for a while. I sneaked past the volunteer security staff to go catch Mr. Caris next to the spinning oven, shown at left chatting with another guest (note the new signs on the wall behind him!). The tour exited down past the base of the oven and out under the handling ring, which dwarf the guests walking past it at right.

We didn't see much of the casting crew - they were busy monitoring the oven.  The temperature was approaching its peak, so they had plenty to do.  The oven, spinning at 4.8 rpm, was radiating heat, and the interior orange glow could occasionally be glimpsed as it spun.

I connected with some friends in the crowd, and walked them into one of the labs so I could pull up the time-lapse of the glass melting that was live on the internet. About the time we finished that, and my explanations of some of my activities, the staff was turning out the lights trying to clear visitors out. Interesting, with the bright lights out, illumination from the safety lights provided an unusual glow to the interior of the polishing lab. Shown at left is a 4-frame panorama of the two 8.4m mirrors awaiting work. The GMT3 substrate is on the Large Polishing Machine at left, awaiting generating of the back plate, and the GMT2 is parked under the test tower at right awaiting faceplate generating. Both are awaiting refurbishment of the Large Optical Generator which is wrapping up. As I went past the spinning oven for the last time, I took a shot of the digital thermometer attached to the oven, to compare to the shot I took earlier. Shown at right, in the 58 minutes elapsed time between frames, the temperature had climbed 19C, so was likely programmed to climb 20C per hour.

As I mentioned above, there is a time-lapse automatically generated as images are taken through the 7 cameras watching the interior of the oven. The cameras are normal small digital cameras, so to keep from melting, they peer through sapphire windows and are actively cooled with fans. Similarly, since the interior is dark except for the glow of glass, the cameras shoot mostly in the blue part of the spectrum, so need flash units to light up the interior. Since this time-lapse clip continues to grow, I saved it early Saturday morning at 300MB, and uploaded it to Youtube to make it easier to view. There is enough resolution to watch it full screen. Note that the clip is copyright Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab.

As you can see, there are many things going on. Of course, from room temperature, the mold that the glass is cast into is assembled from an alumina silicate ceramic. The glass is graded before loading - rejecting some for high stress and impurities, and the best quality set aside to go in last to form the upper faceplate. At the start of the video the glass blocks can be seen placed atop the mold. As the temperature climbs above 800C, the glass starts to soften and at it's highest temperature of 1165C is a liquid consistent with that of honey. At some point it becomes fluid enough to flow down the 1cm-sized gaps to form the ribs and backplate at the base of the mold. The excess that doesn't flow into the mold will become the faceplate, which is about 2 inches thick (note the marks at the edge of the mold, indicating the faceplate thickness). It is a fascinating time-lapse, and I love seeing these every time!

As I write this, the oven has cooled to under 750C. The displays state the oven is still spinning at 4.8 rpm, but as this is under the "freezing point" of glass, I expect the full-speed rotation to end any time now. At left is shown the temperature-profile-to-date, so it doesn't spend much time at full heat - only a few hours, before cooling rapidly (don't blame me for hard-to-read labels - they are assigned randomly). Cooling will slow down soon though, as annealing starts. Through the 400C-600C range, they must cool it very slowly (.1C/hour) to control stress and crystal formation. But all-told, the entire heat cycle lasts about 3 months, so I expect we'll get to inspect the new substrate before the Christmas break! Stay tuned!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Latest From The Edge Of The Solar System!

I just saw the most incredible image yet from the New Horizon spacecraft, just sent from Pluto and I had to share it with someone!  Shown at left is the image, with NASA's caption reading:

Just 15 minutes after its closest approach to Pluto on July 14, 2015, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft looked back toward the sun and captured this near-sunset view of the rugged, icy mountains and flat ice plains extending to Pluto’s horizon. The smooth expanse of the informally named icy plain Sputnik Planum (right) is flanked to the west (left) by rugged mountains up to 3,500 meters high, including the informally named Norgay Montes in the foreground and Hillary Montes on the skyline. To the right, east of Sputnik, rougher terrain is cut by apparent glaciers. The backlighting highlights over a dozen layers of haze in Pluto’s tenuous but distended atmosphere. The image was taken from a distance of 18,000 kilometers to Pluto; the scene is 1,250 kilometers wide.
While taken mid-July, over 2 months ago, data from the close encounter is continuing to trickle down, and will continue to do so for something like a year! The gift that keeps on giving... Since this blog is limited to images only 1600 pixels wide, the original image is much larger. I won't try to add my own interpretations, nor give the details of how it was taken - I leave that to the experts - in particular, Emily Lakdawalla's excellent blog, where I first saw the original image.  She has an excellent summary describing what we are seeing and how it was taken. Be sure to read it and visit ALL the links she has on her post. Incredible stuff!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Shout It From The Mountains!

We were dreading the routine.  Here we are on 10 September, 25 months into Melinda's cancer fight, sitting in the oncologist office waiting for the results of yesterday's PET scan that monitors the effectiveness of her treatments.  These scans, taken every 2 cycles of treatments (each cycle is a month) are the gold standard for monitoring the growth and spread of her small-cell lung cancer tumors.  Unfortunately, for over the last year now, each scan has been progressively worse, or new spots have popped up in new places, marking a wider spread each time.  Our oncologist, Dr Garland, who we love, always seems to have a new chemo combo to offer as we abandon each treatment that isn't helping her.  But after a year, you would think that the list of options are getting shorter and shorter...

So here we were on another Thursday waiting to get the update.  I asked Melinda, "What is your "spidey-sense" telling you about the results"?  She felt that the results would be good, which I thought was going out on a limb after so many cycles of bad news...  Minutes later, nurse Nancy (yes, really!) came in and said Dr. Garland was in her office doing cartwheels - the PET scan was miraculously good!  Unfortunately, we saw our oncologist's PA (who we also like a lot), and she provided us a copy of the PET report.  There were lots of $5 words, but notably states "Marked interval decrease in size and metabolic activity of the previously identified lymph nodes.  Previously identified left retrocrural, aortocamal conglomerate and periceliac lymph nodes are not seen on today's exam."  One set of lymph nodes that had grown into a single mass in the last scan was now reduced and resolved into 3 smaller spots.  So while we didn't do cartwheels, the ear-to-ear grins we carried expressed our relief!  Good news at last!

So we'll continue with the Irinotecan for a while, and in two more cycles (2 months) hopefully we'll see continued improvement.  She had today's infusion immediately after seeing the PA.  Our buddy Erica sat with Melinda during her treatment as I had to be home for meeting pest control, then we went out for steaks to celebrate, and Melinda finished off her Ribeye without leftovers!  It is amazing how a little good news will brighten your day, week, or for that matter, the entire month of September!  Spread the word!