Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Stimulus Interruptus

Posted By on Tue, Jun 17, 2008 at 3:21 PM

Who among us has not received your stimulus check yet?

According to the IRS Web site, my check was supposed to be mailed May 30.

Somewhere after digging deeper, I found that it said to allow two weeks. Also people are supposed to receive a letter saying how much they're getting. Personally, I think that's a waste of postage and paper -- but whatever -- our government encourages a wasteful socieity.

I have not received that wasteful letter yet, either.

I called 1-866-234-2942, and it encourages you to use the Web site, which doesn't really have much info on it. Even at 1 a.m., the tired recorded message says that the lines are busy, and there's a considerable wait which is B.S. Stay on the line.

You can enter some info, and it is supposed to tell you the status of your check, but it really doesn't.

The message blabbered on and said to wait 8 weeks ... until hell freezes over and then to check back.

I don't owe any back taxes, and I mailed my payment before April 15, so there should be no problem.

Today I read where some people are getting two stimulus checks. Some are errors, but some are correct because of a previous malfunction.

Oh, well ... by the time I get mine, you will all have spent yours.

Phoenix Mars Lander: Ditch Digger

Posted By on Tue, Jun 17, 2008 at 2:31 PM

sm_5669.jpg

The plucky Phoenix Mars Lander is continuing to bake a sample of Martian soil while scientists at the UA Lunar and Planetary Lab are still trying to riddle out exactly what sort of strange white stuff they've uncovered beneath the surface while digging with their robotic arm.

As you can see from the photo, the robotic arm has dug quite a ditch, now known as "Dodo-Goldilocks."

Here's the latest release from the Lunar and Planetary Lab:

NASA Phoenix Lander Bakes Sample, Arm Digs Deeper

One of the ovens on NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander continued baking its first sample of Martian soil over the weekend, while the Robotic Arm dug deeper into the soil to learn more about white material first revealed on June 3.

"The oven is working very well and living up to our expectations," said Phoenix co-investigator Bill Boynton of the University of Arizona, Tucson.

Boynton leads the Thermal and Evolved-Gas Analyzer (TEGA), or oven instrument, for Phoenix.

Phoenix has eight separate tiny ovens to bake and sniff the soil and look for volatile ingredients, such as water. This baking is performed at three different temperature ranges.

On Sol 18 (June 12), the lander's Robotic Arm dug deeper into the two trenches, informally called "Dodo" and "Goldilocks," where white material was previously found. This created one large trench, now called "Dodo-Goldilocks."

"We have continued to excavate in the Dodo-Goldilocks trench to expose more of the light-toned material, and we will monitor the site," said Robotic Arm lead scientist Ray Arvidson of the University of Washington, St. Louis. "If the material is ice, it should change with time. Frost may form on it, or it could slowly sublimate."

Sublimation is the process where a solid changes directly into gas.

The Dodo-Goldilocks trench is 22 centimeters wide (8.7 inches) and 35 centimeters long (13.8 inches). The trench is seven to eight centimeters (2.7 to 3 inches) deep at its deepest. The deepest portion is closest to the lander.

The white material is located only at the shallowest part of the trench, farthest from the lander, indicating that it is not continuous throughout the excavated site. The trench might be exposing a ledge, or only a portion of a slab, of the white material, according to scientists.

The Phoenix mission is led by Peter Smith with project management at JPL and development partnership at Lockheed Martin, located in Denver. International contributions come from the Canadian Space Agency; the University of Neuchatel, Switzerland; the universities of Copenhagen and Aarhus, Denmark; Max Planck Institute, Germany; and the Finnish Meteorological Institute.

WEBLINKS:

http://phoenix.lpl.arizona.edu

http://www.nasa.gov/phoenix

Monday, June 16, 2008

ScrambleWatch ’08 Breaking Newsbit: More Voter History!

Posted By on Mon, Jun 16, 2008 at 1:13 PM

Which Republican candidate doesn't vote in primaries? Learn the answer at ScrambleWatch ’08!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

ScrambleWatch ’08 Update

Posted By on Sun, Jun 15, 2008 at 7:21 PM

Which Legislative District 29 candidate has a lousy voting record? Check out ScrambleWatch ’08 to find out!

We're Apathetic!

Posted By on Sun, Jun 15, 2008 at 7:02 PM

So we're apathetic when it comes to supporting the Tucson Sidewinders, according to the Reno Gazette-Journal.

The Tucson Sidewinders are playing their final season before they move to a new $50 million downtown Reno stadium in 2009. SK Baseball purchased the franchise last winter, and the move north was the intention all along.

Former owner Jay Zucker offered a $1.5 million discount if the new owners kept the team in Tucson. It was a magnanimous overture, but it didn't work. And so, after a 40-year run, Triple-A baseball in Tucson will be no more.

"Tucson is lethargic," Rick Parr, general manager and minority partner in the Sidewinders, said just hours after making the rounds to five morning radio shows touting that night's game and fireworks show. "But they've always been that way with certain things, and that's just the way the community is."

The word "Reno" did not go over well in the stands at a recent Sidewinders game. Those who come to the games -- 114,587 in 36 homes dates this year compared with 270,301 in 28 games for the Sacramento River Cats -- love the team. There just haven't been enough of them.

Tucson was last in the Pacific Coast League in attendance last season, averaging 3,983 spectators per game. Things certainly haven't been much better in this a lame-duck year. The team is again last, averaging 3,293 through Wednesday.

The buck-beer promotion got me out to the ballpark on Thursday night, but the crowd was sparse. I talked to a certain high-ranking city official who told me it was worse on Wednesday.

It makes me sad to think that we're not going to have Triple-A baseball in Tucson when the season ends, but the fault surely does lie with the lack of fan support. Jay Zucker did all he could--from fireworks to Bark in the Park nights--but Tucsonans just didn't go out to the ball game.

It also makes me skeptical that a minor-league sports franchise--basketball, hockey, croquet, whatevs--would succeed as the anchor tenant of a new downtown arena...

Friday, June 13, 2008

Michael Chihak Retiring

Posted By on Fri, Jun 13, 2008 at 3:34 PM

Michael Chihak is retiring from the Tucson Citizen, where he's editor/publisher, later this summer.

His retirement was reportedly announced to the Citizen staff earlier today, and this article just appeared on the Citizen's Web site.

Now comes the speculation as to why someone relatively young would retire from Gannett. Maybe he doesn't want to be in charge of the Citizen when it inevitably dies off. Or maybe he got sick of Gannett. Or maybe neither of these is accurate, and he feels it's just time to do something else--that something else being a job as executive director of the Communications Leadership Institute, a nonprofit organization in San Francisco.

In any case, it's interesting timing, seeing as Gannett earlier this week announced it was freezing its pension plan.

Whatever the cause, we send Michael Chihak good wishes in his retirement.

R.I.P., Tim Russert

Posted By on Fri, Jun 13, 2008 at 1:13 PM

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

ScrambleWatch 08: Your New Online Campaign HQ!

Posted By on Wed, Jun 11, 2008 at 7:25 PM

As you can see from our cover story, we've got a brand-new election blog: ScrambleWatch 08!

We hope that you'll visit often for the latest news, most insightful analysis and juiciest gossip on the ongoing election season. If you're a candidate with news about your campaign--or, hell, someone with a good tip about a candidate--drop a note to jnintzel@tucsonweekly.com.

And hey: Be sure to use the comments to weigh in on your favorite--or least favorite--candidates.

In a few weeks, we'll be adding a list of ballot propositions to the site.

Staff Pick

#NoDAPL Night Fundraiser

Support Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and Water Protectors. Art, music, film, food, and hot drinks at EXO… More

@ Exo Roast Co. Sat., Dec. 10, 6-10 p.m. 403 N. Sixth Ave.

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