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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Oliver Otter's LiveJournal:

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Thursday, September 17th, 2015
12:23 am
Look at the size of this
This is even bigger than the giant prominence I saw a few weeks ago. The Earth would easily fit through the hole in it.

Current Mood: enthralled
Monday, August 24th, 2015
5:44 pm
A flare
So, today I took a short break after a meeting, and by good luck captured a picture of a C3.0 magnitude flare right at its peak.

It's the bright dot next to the right-hand dark sunspot. Same storm as Saturday, still going on and spewing flares. C class flares aren't really significant on Earth, but this storm has been putting out M class flares too, and has a chance of making an X class flare.

Current Mood: accomplished
Saturday, August 22nd, 2015
6:57 pm
Wow, Sun
Thursday at the Audubon Center, while waiting for what turned out to be a really great talk on doves to start, I had my solar telescope with me (didn't want to leave it in the car) and saw the biggest prominence I've yet seen:

But today after getting home from the zoo, I saw a huge magnetic storm. I think it's grown from the same plage that was just inside the disc from the big prominence on Thursday, only it grew a lot. Though I haven't had a chance to check yet. It's been putting out solar flares today, and has a chance to put out X-class flares. It's also aimed at the Earth. So friends to the North may get some amazing auroras, and everyone might get lousy radio/cell/WiFi reception for the next few days. We'll see. But it's lovely to see in its own environs:

You can also see some more huge prominences on the edge of the disc, including one that wraps around the Sun's horizon and is visible against the face. Usually against the face they look black because the motion is mostly sideways to us, but this one must be flowing really fast to have Doppler shifted back into the filter's bandpass region. That's another thing I've seen for the first time.

Current Mood: geeky
Tuesday, July 14th, 2015
8:13 pm
Mama always told me not to look into the eyes of the sun.
But Mama, that's where the fun is.

My solar telescope arrived today, and after a little bit of set-up I was able to get an amazing view. In operation it's similar but different from a night sky telescope. Focusing is not that big of a deal. It's the Sun, so it's 93,000,000 miles away, give or take. And it's about 900,000 miles across, so unlike other stars it's easy to see even way out of focus. Finding it and getting the edge sharp took a minute or so. Tuning the etalon filter to compensate for the Doppler shift of the Sun's rotation takes more finesse than the focus. But in a few minutes I could see a couple of prominences on the edge, a couple small sunspots, what I later realized was a truly massive prominence right on the face of the sun, and a lot of subtle texture. The longer I looked the more detail I could pick out. I briefly tried installing the second etalon but tuning them both together was wasting time and the sun was just about to set, so I took it back off and just did some more staring at it. I was able to get a few crappy photos just by putting my cell phone up to the eyepiece. Nothing really amazing, but far from atrocious considering it's the first solar photography I did, with an instrument I only had for half an hour, and taken with a phone and no camera mount.
This one shows some of the bigger prominences. The first one I saw was the little one at about 5 o'clock, but after a little more tuning I got the Doppler shift better and saw the amazing three-looped one a bit above 9 o'clock.
This one shows more surface detail, and also why a cell phone is not ideal for this. The dark stripe that looks like a minute hand pointing to nine is the massive prominence extending about 300,000 miles across the surface.
How big the sun really is was brought to a point as it began to sink behind the mountain. As its edge passed behind a tree, the shadows of the leaves were about the same size as the sunspots. I was seeing "tiny" details on something 93,000,000 miles away with a telescope that has little more magnification than a pair of sports binoculars. Nothing on it is tiny.

I need a better mount than the mini tripod I'm using now, and I need to get a good eyepiece camera.

Oh, and Happy Bastille Day.

Current Mood: impressed
Wednesday, June 25th, 2014
12:14 am
Still here
Wednesday, March 20th, 2013
11:11 am
Happy St. Cuthbert's Day
It's been close to a year since I posted here, or even really looked at LJ. And exactly a year since Luci died. I lost Ayame a month and a half after that. I'm not abandoning LJ, just didn't have any more reason to be here at the time.

Nothing much new at the zoo, the monkeys are amusing, the otters beautiful. I hope all my friends here are well.

Current Mood: nostalgic
Saturday, May 5th, 2012
4:57 am
Goodbye MeMe...
At 4:16am, Ayame left me. It was very sudden. I had woken up with a little insomnia, was watching her sleep in her carpet tower for a while, tail sticking out. She woke up and turned around, and stuck her head out. I reached in the hole to pet her, scritched her chin. She turned herself around again, then instantly she felt odd, floppy. I smelled that she wet herself, and her breathing got sharp. I carefully maneuvered her out of the hole, put some Ferretvite on her gums in case it was hypoglycemic (I didn't think it was, even then, her glucose was fine just last Sunday), and got some Gatorade and sugar. I called the emergency vet clinic to let them know I was bringing her in, but by the time I got her in her carrier she was in agonal breathing, and then it stopped. I hadn't really thought there was anything they could do anyway, though I would've taken the chance if I could. But at that point it was clear she was gone. I called them back to let them know we weren't coming.

I think she had a massive stroke. She had seemed fine just last Sunday, got her Lupron, glucose was fine, 104 mg/dL. We were planning surgery to remove a small tumor (I think benign basal cell) on her cheek, because it seemed she would live long enough that it could turn into a problem for her. It was to be minor surgery, about 5 minutes under. My only worry with the surgery was she might be hard to medicate after because it was close to he scruff. At least she didn't die in pain. The only indication anything was out of the ordinary was she seemed unusually fluffy last night. I had noticed that fluffiness with Aradia too her final night. It was noticeable to the point told her it was so odd to think of her as an old ferret, she was my baby ferret. But she was an old ferret. Not as old as Luci, but at least 6, maybe 7 now. I can't remember right now. Once she woke up she was fine and hungry, and I wasn't immediately worried. I didn't think she'd make it to the end of the year but I didn't think I'd lose her for months.

I was right with her, there was absolutely no pain, she was unconscious instantly. I think this is exactly what Aradia's final moments had to have been like. Sleeping comfortably, then no more. Ayame's last night she spent hunting for treats hidden around the room for her, sleeping all around the floor wherever she liked, and being snuggled on the floor and in my arms. Her last nickname in a long line of nicknames was Velvet.

Current Mood: crushed
Tuesday, March 20th, 2012
4:52 pm
Sad St. Cuthbert's Day
At about 4pm today, Luci breathed her last. Her liver was starting to fail, she couldn't use her back legs at all, and I made the decision to end her suffering before it got too bad. There was a chance she'd make it through the weekend with some fluids and an appetite stimulant (assuming I could get that into her in the first place, and assuming it worked) but she had lost over 10% of her already diminished body weight since her last visit less than a month ago. Like Koda, I don't find myself second-guessing this. It was the right decision with her. As much as I'll miss her, torturing her to avoid it just a few days more was the last thing I would have wanted. Last night as I was stroking her shoulders, she sat there kneading her paws like a kitten, which I've never seen a ferret do in 21 years with them. I think she knew too. I've never known a smarter ferret. The ferret species is lessened by her loss.

Current Mood: crushed
Thursday, March 15th, 2012
9:30 pm
My Little Luci
Luci has rallied some. She's unable to get her hind end up on her back legs at all but she's showing more mobility than the other day. She didn't need a bath when I got home. Evidently she's able again to get herself onto her litter pad by herself while I'm at work. And no diarrhea. She's not eating great, but she is eating and getting water on her own. She's not well, obviously, but I don't think she's still in immediate danger of starting to suffer badly. She was rolling around in a pile of blankets while I was writing that, now she just burrowed under and went back to sleep. I think it's no longer down to a matter of just days now. Probably still just weeks, but I'm not looking at having to put her to sleep tomorrow when the vet's office opens, like I thought I might (my vet's office takes Wed/Thu as their weekend). I don't know how she manages to keep doing this. But I'm glad she does.

Current Mood: hopeful
Tuesday, March 13th, 2012
9:20 pm
My Precious Beautiful :'(
I expect I'm going to wind up having to euthanize Luci soon. She won't give up, and I won't give up on her just yet. Luci may rebound a bit. She has before. But she can barely use her hindlegs now, and at least the last day not well enough to even get onto her litter pad. She doesn't mind baths at least. And it's not diarrhea and it's not giving her a painful rash. Most of her life is spent asleep now, but she's alert and purposeful when she wakes up. And occasionally energetic. She still likes to eat some things, and likes to play with plastic bags and burrow in towels. But the good times are getting fewer and shorter, and the bad times seem to be getting more bad. She barely tolerates her prednisolone any more. Her worst suffering right now seems to be that, and a few seconds a day of fighting to keep some bad-tasting liquid out of her mouth isn't so much I won't let her have a little more time. And when the yucky moment is over with, she snuggles up and licks her Ferretone. She used to love Benadryl, but now that's almost as bad to her. I'm taking her off that as of tonight; even if the lump on her foot is a mast cell tumor the odds it will kill her before something else does are tiny and kind of irrelevant. That will make it a little more pleasant for her. Things don't have to get a lot worse though before the bad will outweigh the good, and I won't torture her to spare myself a few days of missing her.

Ayame's the opposite with the Benadryl at least, neglecting to give Ayame her dose seems to hurt her feelings. I don't even have to scruff her, she tries to suck it out of the syringe. She doesn't like the pred either, but her solution is to lap it up fast and be done with it. Nobody likes prednisolone, it's very bitter. But with the flavored PediaPred it shouldn't be as bad as it seems to be for Luci now. It wasn't until recently.

She may rebound a bit; some of this is due to last week's diarrhea and lost appetite, and with the antibiotics she's having firm stools and she's eating again, enough if not heartily. She can maybe regain some strength again, but probably not much and probably not for long. When Koda reached this point she only had a couple of days left before her organs shut down. Luci isn't Koda, but there's only so long even the world's best ferret can survive. I think Ayame knows too. She goes over to sniff at Luci regularly, which is unusual for her, and then sits against my feet and won't get off.

Luci can't live forever, but as ferrets go she came closer than most. If it's not in the next few days it's still going to be some time soon. She's easily the oldest I've ever had, and the vet said Luci is now her standard pep talk to people with terrible diagnoses. With loving care, she surprised everyone time and time again. She had a life expectancy after diagnosis of less than half this long, maybe less than a quarter. Last June she had a life expectancy of a month. She's come very close to turning that month into a year. (Even Koda really went twice as long as expected considering how severe her insulinoma was when diagnosed. Luci more than doubled Koda's survival already, though she wasn't nearly as severe as Koda was at the time). I really didn't expect Luci to live to see 2011, much less 2012. Every day I've had her for the last year and a half has been a surprise and a delight, waking up or coming home to find her still there for me. I couldn't have asked for a better ferret.

Current Mood: sad
Sunday, January 1st, 2012
1:26 am
Happy New Year!
Good riddance to 2011, and happily, Luci Ferret has made it into 2012. Though I didn't know their birthdates for sure, at this point I can pretty much say the fudge factor couldn't be that large; Luci's now the oldest ferret I've ever had, passing Hershey and hitting the 8 year mark. I could never have asked for her to live this long, and I could never have asked for a better ferret. Ayame's doing OK for now too. Her latest nickname is Sweetie Belle, because she does the chin-scooting thing at 4:55 in this MLP:FiM episode.

I hope all have a good 2012.

Current Mood: exhausted
Monday, December 26th, 2011
12:00 am
Merry Jug Band Christmas
Doing what I forgot to do last year on this day, watch Emmet Otter's Jug Band Christmas. It's such a beautiful story, and so beautifully Muppetized.

Trivia from the DVD extras: Emmet was actually the first radio-controlled puppet in cinema. In the rowboat scenes, him and his mom were actually free-floating in a boat on water. The only oddity is that the motors for his arms were on the oars. The oars rowed him, not the other way around.

Current Mood: nostalgic
Sunday, December 25th, 2011
2:48 am
Merry Hanukkristmas!
I got the best possible gift. Luci and Ayame are still both alive and doing OK for now.

Current Mood: happy
Thursday, November 24th, 2011
10:05 am
Happy Turkeygiving!
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone in the US (and happy Nov. 24 to everyone else).

For my part, I'm most thankful (and amazed) that Luci is still alive and happy. She's recovering very nicely from the infection she got in her incision. It had been a relatively minor surgery or I wouldn't have done it, just a minor skin tumor that had to come off because it was starting to bleed. She would've gotten that infected if we didn't take it off. And fortunately the pathology came back benign on that. But even with that tiny surface incision there was a small complication when the stitches started coming out a week after the surgery. I've never seen her disturb the incision, and I watched her nearly the whole time she was awake (I was home and recovering from my own surgery all week too) but maybe she rubs against her blankets in her sleep. The vet tried bandaging it instead, but it got infected, so now she's on antibiotics, careful rinsing three times a day, and some ointment, and it is slowly granulating closed.

She's close to 8 years old, 2 years of surviving with pancreatic cancer. That's more than twice as long as Steve Jobs, in ferret years. Plus she's basically the human equivalent of 80 or 90. If she makes it into next year I think she'll be the oldest ferret I've ever had, even surpassing Hershey who was around 8 when she died.

And of course I'm thankful for Ayame as well, and for what time I did get to have with Koda and Aradia before they died earlier this year. And that I'm not dead and can still be here with Luci and Ayame.

Current Mood: thankful
Sunday, September 11th, 2011
10:03 am
Obligatory meme
Ten years ago I was sleeping a bit late, waiting to go to an off-site seminar on real-time quantitative PCR. (The seminar wasn't even a mile from my home, much closer than work was at the time, so no need to get up too far ahead of it.) My roommate woke me up and told me a plane had hit one of the towers. I wasn't really concerned, a B-25 had hit the smaller Empire State Building years ago and it wasn't that seriously damaged, so I went back to sleep. A while later he told me the other tower had been hit too and I realized what was going on and really woke up.

I went back to my plans for the day and went to the seminar. It was cancelled, and I was annoyed. Changing our normal lives was exactly what was intended and I was upset it had succeeded.

Current Mood: tired
Tuesday, July 19th, 2011
8:43 am
Meme time-unsurprising result
Which My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic pony are you?

Twilight Sparkle
An all-round goodie, you're noble at heart and strict about following morals. Your intellect surpasses the common pony; you have a great eagerness to learn more and fill your mind with knowledge. While you can sometimes be labelled as a "smarty pants", you always keep true to yourself and would much prefer to stay your brilliantly-brainy self than become someone you're not. A lot of people would consider you an excellent role model; not just because of your intelligence, but because you're also so genuine and virtuous.

Take this Quiz · Browse Quizazz

In other news, Luci continues to do fairly well, losing a bit more fur gradually but still happy and energetic. Not long now until her next double Lupron dose.

Current Mood: amused
Saturday, July 16th, 2011
11:31 pm
Harry Potter
Saw the new Harry Potter movie tonight. Wow, it was great. Especially the ending (spoiler alert)Collapse ).

Current Mood: satisfied
Friday, June 3rd, 2011
12:56 am
As usual I didn't announce I was going to be gone, but I was in Washington DC the past couple days. 100% business, and I didn't really want to go, but it was a nice enough trip considering. Ferrets were well taken care of and are fine, about as happy I'm back with them as I am.

My flight home was on Frontier, and I thought I was going to be on Trixie the Red Fox. But then another plane pulled up to the other side of the gate a few minutes later and our flight was on Thunder the Bison. Trixie was leaving about 15 minutes ahead of us, going to Milwaukee. But I finally did see all three of their fox-themed aircraft (Trixie, Foxy, Misty), as well as many of the others. Not Hector the Sea Otter sadly, I think. There was one plane off the gate being worked on that might have been Hector, but I couldn't see it well and I don't think so. But the second leg of the trip home was on Earl the Walrus. I think more likely it was Earl that was being worked on off the end of the gate. It wasn't there any more when Earl pulled up to the gate.

Anyway, I'll probably be asleep soonish. Now that I've seen for myself the ferrets are OK I'm starting to get tired.

Current Mood: exhausted
Saturday, May 28th, 2011
10:26 pm
Welcome back Aradia. And ...hi Monyca?
I got Aradia's ashes back from the vet yesterday. After putting her with the other ferrets, I started looking through their vet files as I thought about them. When I adopted Astro, Moose, and Luci, their previous owners gave me a folder of records. I never went through it all, just made sure they were up to date on shots and checkups. I knew them well enough it never really mattered to check up on what happened before, they seemed well then and were mine at that point.

Mixed in Astro's paperwork I found something last night that I don't know how to feel about.Collapse )

I don't know which way to hope is right, much less which way is right.

Current Mood: confused
Friday, May 13th, 2011
7:16 am
And then there were two... :'(
Early this morning, Aradia died. The only thing at all unusual before was she actually wanted to sleep in her cage last night. But her last night she was happy and playful, active, well-behaved, enjoyed her treats. I'd just trimmed her claws last night even. Her vet checkup was only a month ago, and she seemed fine except she needed her teeth cleaned, which I planned to do later this month.

It had to have happened literally moments before I was getting her up to give her her morning dose of omega-3 oil and Ferretone. She was still perfectly warm and soft when I reached in to get her, snuggled up in her blankets. She just wouldn't wake up, and then I saw she wasn't breathing. All I can think of is heart attack or stroke, nothing seemed wrong. Maybe Ayame knew, maybe that's why she's been so upset the last week, but Aradia seemed fine to me...

Goodbye little Polar Ferret... :'( I really thought you'd wind up being the oldest ferret I've ever had. Second-oldest I had after Hershey, third oldest I've ever met, and the only one I've ever known to die peacefully in her sleep. You did well, though I wish you were still here. I've never seen another one like you, and you were loved...

Current Mood: crushed
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