Archive for September, 2005

Fires–Here We Go Again

September 30, 2005

Almost 2 years ago, we had the severe wildfires that burned a large area mainly north of Simi Valley. The fire did jump the 118 Freeway and burn into Corriganville and the neighborhood near there, but most of the burn zone was north of the freeway. This time, it was the area south of the freeway.

When I left for work Wednesday morning before 6:00, the temperture was already 80 degree and the Santa Ana winds were blowing. A small fire was being fought north of the De Soto exit as I drove by. Later in the day, another fire started in Moorpark. In the late morning, another fire started near the Topanga Canyon Blvd. exit of the 118 and quickly got out of hand. The fire has burned from there, into the Santa Susana Knolls in Simi Valley, and clear south and west to Oak Park and Thousand Oaks. So far, the fire has burned more than 20,000 acres and is only 20% contained. As least the Santa Anas have stopped blowing and the humidity has risen.

Here are some of the photos that Steve and I took of the fire. They are all taken from our house, unless otherwise noted.

Taken near the Cochran bridge over the 118


"The Rockets Red Glare"

September 23, 2005

Photos courtesy of my friend Curtis.

So, the glare wasn’t red, it was white, but it was still quite spectacular. I learned from the Griffith Observatory Sky Report that there was a missle launch scheduled from Vandenberg Air Force Base at dusk, the perfect time to watch. I informed my family and friends that I thought would be interested.

The launch of the Minotaur was quite impressive. I was expecting to only see the contail of the booster rocket, as shown in the bottom photo, but we could clearly see the rocket’s path across the sky, including the stage separation and the ignition of the next stage.

The rocket was carrying a satellite for DARPA, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. They are the central research and development organization for the Department of Defense.

Besides getting to watch this launch, I learned that there is a group of people that make this a hobby. There are websites and newsgroups dedicated to viewing missle launches. Check out Viewing Vandenberg AFB Launches.

And a special thanks to Curtis and his son for the photos of last night’s show.

Constitution Day

September 15, 2005

On September 17, 1787, the delegates to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia met for a final time–to sign the Constitution of the United States of America. The Articles of Confederation clearly were not adequate for the new country. The Constitutional Convention addressed this problem and, instead of amending the Articles, decided to create a new document to govern our country. After being signed, the new Constitution needed to be ratified by the states. The Founding Fathers were not unaninous in their support of the new Constitution. James Madison, often called the father of the Constitution, Alexander Hamilton and John Jay wrote the Federalist Paper to urge support of ratification. Patrick Henry, Elbridge Gerry and George Mason opposed ratification. On June 21, 1788, nine states had ratified the Counstitution and it became the Law of the Land. (An interesting note: The Constitution is actually an amendment of The Articles of Confederation, which required all 13 states to ratify amendments. So the Constitution really needed to be ratified by all states, not just the 9 required by the new Constitution.)

One of the main issues concerning those who opposed ratification was a lack of a declaration of rights. This view was especially espoused by George Mason. Mason had drafted the Virginia Delclaration of Rights. It became the basis for the Bill of Rights. The First Congress of the United States proposed 12 amendments to the Constitution. Ten were ratified by the state and became the Bill of Rights, the first 10 amendments to the Constitution.

The government of the United States under the Constitution is the oldest government in the world. The Constitution was the first written constitution in the world and is an example to the entire world of the proper role of government–it creates a government by the consent of the people. I believe that the Constitution is a divinely inspired document. Dallin H. Oaks wrote a very interesting article concerning this–The Divinely Inspired Constitution. Ezra Taft Benson, speaking on the occasion of the bicentennial of the Constitution on September 16, 1987 , called the Constitution “a glorious standard.” [See The Constitution—A Glorious Standard]

At the 218th anniversary of the Constitution, we are living in an interesting time. The Senate is holding confirmation hearings on John Roberts to be the Chief Justice of the United States. They will soon have similar hearings to fill another vacancy on the Supreme Court. While the hearings were going on, a federal district court judge in California declared “the pledge’s reference to God violates the rights of children in three school districts to be “free from a coercive requirement to affirm God.” Once again, an attempt to remove God from the public square, an attempt to create a God-free nation. I am sure that “In God We Trust” on our coins will soon be targeted.

I celebrate the anniversary of the Constitution of the United States. I hope that the freedoms it guarantees will be preserved—including the right to acknowledge God in public.