Howdy Neighbor!

As a person with officially-confirmed-by-Myers-Briggs introvert tendencies, it is always a delight to me when someone new enters the neighborhood, waves hello, and keeps on going.

Especially when the visitor is an asteroid.

2010 TD54 zipped by early Tuesday morning on its way to who knows where? Watchers of extra terrestrial rocks say this one wasn’t big enough to cause damage, even if it had entered Earth’s atmosphere. But the latest thinking about the asteroid threat suggests that these smaller rocks are worthy of our attention; not for a potentially planet killing impact, but rather for the possibility that they might merely penetrate the atmosphere just far enough to cause an aerial explosion, or “airburst”, that could create tree flattening winds and rock melting temperatures.

That would be enough to get my attention.

The experts say this is what happened at Tunguska in Siberia in 1908 with an airburst that devastated an area of about 830 square miles. Hennepin and Ramsey counties together cover 776 square miles, so it’s important to think about asteroids, both big and small. We can learn about the origins of the universe from them, mine them for precious metals and maybe even change their paths to avoid future collisions. In fact, President Obama signed a space bill earlier this week that sets us on course to land astronauts on an asteroid by 2025, under the theory that the best defense is a good offense. Let’s get in the face of Tiny Asteroid before he gets in ours!

An asteroid named Ida and her moon (courtesy of NASA Images)

Word about 2010 TD54 only surfaced on October 9th. One scientist was quoted by as saying smaller, locally destructive asteroids are more numerous and harder to detect than the big ones, and even if we spotted a reckless intruder two weeks before impact, we’d just have to “take the hit”. Ow!

I wonder how much we would know about where an asteroid would enter the atmosphere and whose terrain might get cooked. Suppose you had a week to get out of the way …

Where would you go?

58 thoughts on “Howdy Neighbor!”

  1. Rise and Shine Babooners:

    Turned on the radio this morning and heard FUND RAISING so I turned it back off for a week. Congratulations Dale on not having to do that (should there be a bright side to unemployment, that might be it). RH as an alternative works in my kitchen or near a computer but is no help in the car. Audiobooks will rule the road today (Fall of the Giants, Ken Follett).

    My evacuation plan for terrorist attacks, meteorites, UFOs, or invading armies from Canada has always been to flee for Iowa where I will hide in a bank’s pneumatic tube system somewhere, or in a relative’s home. There are more relatives than tubes, so the relatives are a better option. I figure that in Iowa the sky and landscape are very free of obstructions, so I can clearly see the offending invader for miles and dodge it successfully. It has always worked for tornadoes.

    Meanwhile, I am fleeing for Iowa City anyway tomorrow for a High School friend slumber party. However, one of the girls in in the hospital in Sioux Falls with appendicitis and surgery. I will be on a blog vacation (blacation?) til Monday.

    I think we need a Trail Baboon Glossary for the site’s vocabulary!


    1. You’re a genius, Jacque! Hide in plain sight in Iowa. We all know: nothing exciting ever happens in Iowa. What a perfect plan!

      If the world were going to end in three weeks, would MPR cancel its fund drive? I wouldn’t count on it.


    2. Thanks Jacque, for thinking of me during fund raising time.
      Believe it or not, I enjoyed membership week and I do miss it, a little bit, though I think it is probably more fun to make the pitch than to have to listen to it. And if you think that’s the kind of sensible, moderate sentiment that’s all too absent on other blogs and in the frenetic commercial environment that surrounds us today, perhaps you should consider a contribution to support this very unusual service that wouldn’t exist if not for …
      Ooops. Forgot. Sorry.


      1. but Dale, we still all have to contribute to make it work (just not cash)!

        I’m sentenced to lurkitude for most of my online time at this point. The clattering of my keyboard has drawn comment, so I am laying low as needed to not draw any further notice.

        Alannna, hope you are ok and the car is still driveable.

        Joanne, thrilled to pieces at your news-good luck with the business casual birks.

        Ben, the mine shaft has been sealed, so don’t count on that as a hiding place in case of a close encounter of an asteroidal kind.

        Also, take Anna’s advice on those power tools-Makitas are a girl’s best friend.

        Jacque, good luck with the OEB (Oxford English Blogtionary)

        tim, may your empty gas tank always lead you to greater fulfillment

        Steve, Clyde and Jim, I strongly suspect you are actually 3 old maid sisters who live in a house with lots of cats and have aspirations to be the 21st century’s answer to the Brontes and are just here to try out material. The guy playing Steve at the book club is actually your younger brother.

        Crow Girl, you will be safe in Madison, as it is not in fact on this planet-lived there a number of years and can vouch for that.

        If anyone’s fall is not quite picturesque enough for them, check out the photography on Out to Pasture.

        Renee, I’ll meet you in Montreal-Krista, do you need a ride north?

        Got to go!


      2. nice drop in mig. nice t have you back. what do you do that the keyboard is a noticeable departure form your normal workplace activity?


  2. good morning, All! i’d invite my Steve, and i’d go to the goat barn with a case of EPA (for us) and a big bag of Cheerios and sunflower seeds for the goats. and i’d put T and Niblet in with the Girls.


  3. i’d rent truck and get all my art loaded up and drive it out to north dakota, i’d park it and head out to yellowstone and chill for a while and listen for the news on whether minneapolis got hit or not. my pets and file cabinets would go also and if my wife shapes up i may bring her. guitars and books, pictures from the photo album should be put in the load and hopefully i can get them scanned and put into the archives before the fates get me. its on my to do list.
    a week in yellowstone is all i need. there is no easy phone access or internet access so when you go to relax you kinda have to do it. the maniacs in their bmw’s rush to get ot the front of the line at the old faithful hourly blast then rush off to the next featured attraction but my guess is that they have to head back out to the cities on the outsode of the park to hook up with the real world. i make a point of staying in my womb when i am out there and i think that would be my mode for asteriod attack. just hunker down and come back in 10 days too see if i made it or got devastated.
    or it may be fun to be a storm chaser in asteroid land and wait with camera in hand to capture the moment. the odds of me being in the center of the next crater lake are pretty small and if i got it on film it would certainly be memorable if not profitable. maybe just set a camera on the roof with a remote starter button and accomplish the same thing.
    looking forward to where you will all be heading.
    jim any tips on glacier? i may take a side trip this year and head up there.


    1. Tim, we found out a lot of things are shut down in Glacier at the end of the tourist season, but the park is open all year. The Road to the Sun would be closed as well as the big old lodges, but you might like going there in the off season is you wnat to avoid the the usual tourist crowd.


      1. i guess i’ll hope the asteroid hits during the tourist season. going to the sun roar and beartooth pass are my favorite roads in the world (add a funky little road in the jasper provincial park area of canada but its really out of the way) i am not much for tourist towns but then again tourist towns in the of season are wonderful. all the locals without having to deal with the crap tourists tote with them and introduce to the playing field. i have talked to lots people who started a business because they loved the town and then the tourists showed up it dawned on them living in heaven but looking after everyone else is different than living in heaven and being able to live the life. thats the trick isn’t it? learning how to live the life.


    2. Boy, tim, if we’re talking what to bring — uffda meg. Certainly the photos. Most of the books are replaceable…


    3. thanks guys
      i was in idaho on route to the leigon world series and had gotten up form my campsight and realized i had had let it go a bit too far on the gas and i needed a town in the next 20 or 30 miles. well it was touch and go. 7 am mist on the raod with the mountain streams producing their fog to cover the road, kind of a dreamlike quality i would have enjoyed had it not been for the gas shortage angst, well up pops this 4 building towm and there is a gas station. i stop to get the gas and it has the most wonderful smells coming out of it. so i go in to order breakfast instead of eating the peanut butter sandwich and grnola bar thata had been on the agenda. well its one of those tourist gas stations with racoon caps and minnetonka moccasins and fishing gear and idaho sweatshirts and hats but there is a cash register with a grill behind it with this 60 year old bull dog looking guy and his da (who is an 85 year old bull dog looking guy) and 2 or 3 guys waiting for a breakfast order. well i look at the menu and my mouth starts salivating. really salavating. i know i’m in trouble because i alway order too much food when i’m salavating so i back it waaaay down. a vegetarian breakfast burrito and hash browns. he’s got 3 microwaves a couple toaster ovens and a electric skillet, with the temperature adjustment on the cord where it plugs in. well the dad says ” vegetarian burrito, how much is that and whats in it?” the son says “he’ll tell me whats in it and charge him the same price as the regular burrito.” well of they go to making the food. then more guys come in, chatting and laughing like they do most every morning and i asking about how long the cafe/gas station has been there. 2 brothers built it , been open for 7 years and they are having a great time. one brother cooks breakfast starting at 4:30 so its rolling by 5, the other closes it down at 7 or 8 unless somethin special is going on. they make these breakfast burritos for the miners up the road, 800 to1200 each day and they deliver them or someone comes to pick em up. pa helps out when he feels up to it but it starting to wear on him. he has to run the cash register an hour and sit for 1/2 an hour. the miners are mining some ore that lubricates machinery when its ground into powder and they go through lot and lots of it. the truck drivers haul it 16 hours a day and take burritos with em cause they’re so darn good and truckers do carry fridge and microwave back in the back so they can eat their own food while someone is unloading them rather than having to wait on the road after they are done delivering.
      i asked him 20 minutes into the operation if he had forgotten i was there because i was just chatting away and he looked at me kinda funny ” no there’s your food right there. it just takes as long as it takes” 40 minutes after pulling in for gas i was on my way again with 2, 4 lb styrofoam boxes one with hash browns one with a vegetarian burrito. the bull dog said that vegetarian burrito looked good enough to add to the menu after i told him what to put in there. leave out the beef and add peppers and mushrooms and beans and tomatoes and onions and potatos and lettuce and quac?
      my mouth is watering again. thanks steve for reminding me of eating local.
      calvin trillen made a career of it and i make a point of it whenever possible


      1. you are right, it is a volcano that goes off every 650,000 years.

        How many giant eruptions have occurred in the Yellowstone National Park region and how large were they?

        Volcanic activity began in the Yellowstone National Park region a little before about 2 million years ago. Molten rock ( magma) rising from deep within the Earth produced three cataclysmic eruptions more powerful than any in the world’s recorded history. The first caldera-forming eruption occurred about 2.1 million years ago. The eruptive blast removed so much magma from its subsurface storage reservoir that the ground above it collapsed into the magma chamber and left a gigantic depression in the ground- a hole larger than the state of Rhode Island. The huge crater, known as a caldera, measured as much as 80 kilometers long, 65 kilometers wide, and hundreds of meters deep, extending from outside of Yellowstone National Park into the central area of the Park (Figure 1).

        Later, activity shifted to a smaller region within the Island Park area of eastern Idaho, just southwest of Yellowstone National Park, and produced another large caldera-forming eruption 1.3 million years ago. Subsequent activity has been focused within the area of the National Park, and another huge eruption 640,000 years ago formed the Yellowstone caldera as we now see it.

        The three caldera-forming eruptions, respectively, were about 2,500, 700, and 6,000 times larger than the May 18, 1980 eruption of Mt. St. Helens in Washington State. Together, the three catastrophic eruptions expelled enough ash and lava to fill the Grand Canyon.

        In addition to the three climactic eruptions, activity associated with each of the three caldera cycles produced dozens or even hundreds of smaller eruptions that produced both lava and pyroclastic materials.

        How do the giant eruptions in the Yellowstone National Park region compare to other large historic eruptions?

        Figure 2 shows that the three largest Yellowstone eruptions emitted much more material than the eruptions of Mount St. Helens (1980), Mount Pinatubo (1991), Krakatau (1883), Mount Mazama (7,600 years ago), and Tambora (1815).


  4. See, the little RV I have in mind would be perfect. Gotta go tell Husband. Then we can… go wherever we want, for however long it lasts!


  5. How weird is it that the asteroid in the picture has the same name as my great-grandmother? I doubt she’d be flattered. On the purely practical side, I’d stuff the cats into the Honda and head to Madison WI, because I know quite a few people there. If I could go anywhere…hmmm…I’d need a grant to live in San Francisco, a passport to get to London…maybe if the chaos was great enough I could sneak across the border to Toronto? I know, Seattle. I love rain and coffee, so I’d be set!


  6. Good morning and good luck if an asteroid does hit us,

    Well, if it was strickly up to me I would move to Bulgaria where I have a friend, the cost of living is low, and there are other things I like including the music and other aspects of the culture. However, I am a family man and would have to go some place that would work for my family such as my brother’s home in Maine or an old friend’s place in Canada. An other place I would go, if it was strickly up to me, is Bolivia with it’s amazing mountains, interesting culture, and many kinds of flora and fauna.


      1. It would be nice to just take off on a trip if I could forget about other uses for the money needed to travel and the things that need to be done at home. We did manage to take a fairly long vacation only a few weeks ago.


      2. oh jim, wouldn’t it be loverly. i was thinking as i typed… but he just got back.
        oh well sit here and lets just hope that asteroid doesn’t hit


  7. If the question is where I’d go to duck the asteroid, I s’pose I’d want to go somewhere nice where the thing wasn’t expected to hit. I liked it in the Virgin Islands when I was there once. Rum was cheaper than Coka Cola and the prevailing ethic was “Don’ worry, Mon!”

    If on the other hand the asteroid was expected to vaporize Mother Earth, my options would be different. Perhaps I’d go to my cabin and thrill to the sunsets while reflecting reverently on the gift of life and how nice this world is, although I could do with fewer mosquitoes and deer ticks.

    But more likely I’d respond like that Gary Larson cartoon, the one with the two guys in a fishing boat and a mushroom cloud is boiling up over a distant city, and one fisherman says, “You know what this means, don’t you? No size restrictions and screw the limit!”


  8. If I needed to move quickly, I might head for Brainerd and my aunt’s house near the Mississippi river just outside of town. I’d be with family, in a lovely stretch of the state, and I wouldn’t have to explain much to Daughter that might make her nervous (just that we’re off for visit). Added bonus: my hound would be welcome as well.

    If I had longer to plan, back to Norway I’d go. I have cousins there who I’m sure would take me in at least until I could get resettled, it feels enough like home that I might miss the extended family a little less (oh, heck, I might have to pack up Brother and his family to come along with me – and maybe the immediate cousins). Since it seems like most of the country is pretty fluent in English, I could probably muddle through without knowing the language for awhile. And I wouldn’t have to explain my hankerings for gjetost.


      1. Don’t listen to Steve…gjetost is a wonderful, sweet brown goat cheese. Soft and sort of caramel-y. It is good, however, on toast (especially julekage – which is Norwegian Christmas bread with cardamom…yum…okay, now *I’m* getting hungry – as if tim’s description of the burrito weren’t enough.)


  9. Morning!

    I have no idea where I’d go… probably gather the family in a huddle and hope for the best.

    But speaking of shelter, I mentioned the other day that I have a momma chicken with three little ones. Probably about 2 weeks old now and so far so good.
    Most nights, the momma is backed into a corner of the coop and three little heads are peeking out from under her. Last night she was up in a next box, about a foot off the floor, and had the peeps under her there. And I wondered; how did they get up there? Does she pick them up by the scruff and put them there? I’ve never seen a chicken do that… and I don’t think these can hop / fly that high yet… don’t know; it’s a mystery.
    But it sure looked cozy… I’m imagining hiding out from the asteroid under my giant mythical chicken Mom.

    Thanks for all the spending suggestions yesterday friends… I’ve passed them along to my wife so she can think about what I should buy her.🙂


    1. love the mamma chicken tie in. couldn’t we use the funds for terrorists to develop a giant mamma chicke that could be inflated over our cities in times of attack?
      i used to envision (like dale going up the tube) a giant acrylic dome dropped in by giant helicopter to keep the city safe from atomic fallout and snow when i was a kid. highly imractical unless you do it bucky fuller style (hey maybe i’ll get to work on that) but i think a giant inflatable chicken is almost a no brainer let the asteroind crash into it and it will deflate and nestle down slowly. odds of another hitting the same spot before the mamma chicken could be reinflated are small. like lightning strining twice. or are they… meteor showers from star wars. multi layer mamma chickens may be required. bring in the engineers. cmon ben.


      1. On the other hand, I hear there’s an open mine in Chile….

        Maybe we need to be looking down rather than chickens?
        But we’ll keep the giant inflatable chicken idea on the burner for future use to block gamma rays or replace the ozone layer or something, ya think?


  10. I’d go where I always go when I feel threatened: north. I haven’t spent enough time exploring Lake of the Woods and I think this might be a good place to become lost, or at least, unfound. Pippin would have to go with me though, and he’s not a very good traveler.

    The idea of being covered by layers of inflatable mama chickens is causing a claustrophobic, asthmatic panic attack and I need to go get some air!


  11. Strictly OT: I’ve been waiting for days for a quiet moment to slip in this recommendation for a magazine. Just as Trail Baboon is one-of-a-kind, so is The Sun Magazine. I don’t think it is carried on any newsstand. Check out the web site to get a flavor for it. This is the only magazine I get, and I read it cover-to-cover when it comes. It might be the ultimate reader’s magazine, but also ultimate writer’s magazine, and its values are pure Baboon all the way. No ads. Black and white photography. Creative fiction and non-fiction. Poetry. Thoughtful interviews.

    Give it a look. You won’t be disappointed.


    1. I took a look and read a few — very nice writing.

      The next BBC meeting is on Dec. 11 at 2pm, right? That’s a Saturday, looks like. I was hoping you’d stick with Sundays, but I’ll see what I can do.


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