May 25, 2005
It's something so ingrained, so automatic, I can't even prevent myself from sneering when I see a child wearing a Dodger cap. It's ridiculous. There but for the grace of geography go I, you know? The reason most of us are Giants fans is because of where we were born, where our parents were born, the careers they might have pursued, the twists and turns of relatives seven or eight generations back, and little more. At times, the rivalry seems completely arbitrary.
Also, the Dodgers are objectively evil and wrong. That also has something to do with this whole rivalry thing.
May 24, 2005
Thanks to Red Ted for the pointer.
If there's one thing Rachael (aka Mookie) doesn't need, it's motivation to do well in school, so usually we just get updates on how things are going.
The other night, my wife Liz and I and Rachael went out. Over dinner I asked Rachael how her paper was going. Liz and I sat there stunned as she spoke for 20 minutes on her chosen topic: The National Theater Project, which was part of FDR's "New Deal". Without hesitation, she rattled off names, dates and places, and even tied it in with other similar programs of the day. The conversation went on for quite a while after dinner, even as we walked through a department store looking for something or other she needed (jeans maybe? I forget).
So between that, another huge research paper on the Canadian military in WWII, plus stage managing a show that the school chorus is putting on, she's been a busy busy bee. Yesterday I took her over to the Community College to get a library card and another reference book.
Hopefully, in a month things will settle down for her when school ends. Or maybe she'll just sleep for 36 straight hours and then charge right back into life.
This was a pretty interesting story from The Sunday Wichita Eagle Newspaper a couple of weeks ago. A resident in the area saw a ball bouncing around kind of strange in a nearby pond and went to investigate. It turned out to be a flathead catfish who had obviously tried to swallow a child's basketball which became stuck in its mouth!!
The fish was totally exhausted from trying to dive, but unable to because the ball would always bring him back up to the surface. The resident tried numerous times to get the ball out, but was unsuccessful. He finally had his wife cut the ball in order to deflate it and release the hungry catfish.
He finishes up with this bit of wisdom:
I suppose you need pictures in order to believe this? OK... But just remember:
Be kinder than necessary...
for every creature you meet (be they human or not)...
is fighting some kind of battle.
The pictures are in the extended entry. more...
May 23, 2005
Regardless of what opinion you personally hold about the subject or the man holding the office, you have to admit that the President is consistant.
That's one of the things I like about him.
If you'd like, follow this link to make your own Bayeaux Tapestry (needs Flash).
May 22, 2005
"Lord take me downtown. I'm just looking for some tush."
The top three student teams were all within 1 second of the target time.
Ken Mattingly of Apollo 13 fame (still sans measles) was there.
The Director of Education for NASA attended again, and in her remarks said that NASA was on the edge of a massive wave of engineer retirements, and that they desperately needed an influx of young talent. She said that they weren't able to get enough new people to backfill the positions left vacant.
No mention of commercial space. Not surprising since NASA and the Aerospace Industry Association picked up the tab for TARC, and none of the new players are members in the AIA (yet). Still, this is an opportunity to recruit and promote that private space companies should grab a piece of if they can.
One of the demo flights was a full-scale reconstruction of Robert Goddard's original rocket. Unlike the original flight, this one was designed to fly in a safe and stable manner, and did. It looked scale, it didn't fly scale.
Several teams managed to hang their rockets in evil rocket-eating trees, but all managed to get them back and return the egg payload for scoring. One team found their rocket after searching for five hours. Only one team never found their rocket.
God likes rockets.
Lots of goodies and stuff to check out along "vendor row". Mostly colleges passing out information on their engineering and sciences curriculums. The CIA was there, so was the Civil Air Patrol, and they had a nifty Wright Brothers flight simulator where you could sit in a reconstruction of their original flyer's cockpit (such as it was) and try to fly the darned thing. The line was too long for Mookie and I to get to try that.
I remembered sunscreen. Mostly.
My cheeks hurt from smiling all day long.
May 21, 2005
Last night Mookie and I sat in an auditorium with over 500 motivated and enthusiastic young men and women, their parents and teachers, listening to the pre-brief.
Gotta run. More info over on the right sidebar. Do a search for "Team America", or scroll down under the sections for "Rocketry" and "I'm Involved".
Fun, fun, fun, and a complete report later.
May 20, 2005
I suspect that others' thoughts go back as well, since comments on the original Flugtag '88 series of posts increase as this event approaches.
Read the posts, read the comments. Count your blessings.
If we reduce all the ash from Tambora to dense rock equivalents and include all ash flow tuffs that formed at the same time, we come up with about 36 cubic miles of rock. Quite a bit compared with the destructive U.S. eruptions of Mount St. Helens in 1980 that produced about 1/4 cubic mile.
Wow. Except, that's not the scary part. Geologists have been studying a geologically active region that has in the past underwent events of unimaginable power, dwarfing even Tambora. That place is called Yellowstone.
The volume of volcanic rock produced by the first Yellowstone caldera eruption was about 600 cubic milesÂ—about 17 times more than Tambora, and 2,400 times as much as Mount St. Helen's, an almost incomprehensible figure. One more statistic: Ash from Tambora drifted downwind more than 800 miles; Yellowstone ash is found in Ventura, California to the west and the Iowa to the east.
Yellowstone was created by three separate volcanic geologic events. The last may have removed the southern portions of the Washburn mountain range.
Read that last sentence again.
Here's a simple analogy:
Imagine a bottle of carbonated water lying in the sun. Pick it up, shake it vigorously, maybe tap the cap...boom, it blows off. Instantly the pressure in the bottle drops, the dissolved carbon dioxide exsolves into bubbles and an expanding mass of bubbles and water jets into the sky. In a few seconds, the event is over. Wipe off your face and check the bottle; some of the water remains, but most of the gas is gone. This simple scenario is a scaled-down analogy of what happened 600,000 years ago in Yellowstone when the volatile-rich upper part of the magma chamber vented and erupted the Lava Creek Tuff.
And a simplified reconstruction of the real thing:
Nearer the vents, fiery clouds of dense ash, fluidized by the expanding gas, boiled over crater rims and rushed across the countryside at speeds over one hundred miles per hour, vaporizing forests, animals, birds, and streams into varicolored puffs of steam. Gaping ring fractures extended downward into the magma chamber providing conduits for continuing foaming ash flows.
More and more vapor-driven ash poured from the ring fractures, creating a crescendo of fury. As the magma chamber emptied, large sections of the foundering magma chamber roof collapsed along the ring fractures, triggering a chain reaction that produced a caldera 45 miles long and 28 miles wide.
Yellowstone is three separate but overlapping caldera, and the area is still extremely active in the geological sense. So a reoccurance isn't necessarily imminent, but at some point, it will happen.
Victims of the Mt. St. Helen's eruption were found with their lungs, sinuses and mouths full of ash. We've already seen how relatively minor that eruption was. Here's what you'll experience if you happen to be too close to the action.
Hot ash flows are fascinating. Driven by expanding gas, they are really clouds of hot glass shards and pumice plus expanding gas whose turbulence keeps everything flowing like water.
Not that you'd experience it for more than a fraction of a second. Merciful, that.
I've still got an unopened copy of the original on my shelf, a gift for Christmas.
May 19, 2005
I'd love to see a contingent of Iraqi peacekeepers patrolling the streets of Ottawa.
Weg noticed that someone is proposing to make a Ray Bradbury short story into a movie, and hopes that they'll do it justice. I hope so too. Personally, I hate Bradbury with a passion, but he's done a few stories that I like, and one of them is A Sound of Thunder. Head on over to her place and read the background, plus she provides a link to the story online. It's a good read.
Moving from Science Fiction to science fact, the guys at Random Nuclear Strikes point the way to a nifty experiment in reality vs. Hollywood-reality. We've all seen the bit where the guy confronts a padlocked door or gate, whips out his pistol and, kapow!, removes the lock with a well-placed shot. Does it really work that way? Head on over to Life, Liberty, Etc. to read about the test and see pictures of the results. Way cool.
Rich puts up the best analysis of each episode of Survivor that I've seen on the net. I've never watched an episode, but his posts were good enough to know what was going on.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Minor Perfidy has overplayed their hand and it's now obvious that they desire nothing less than world domination under Canadian financial control. A most excellent writer who began as a commenter, became a blogger, then returned to commenting only has now been assimilated into the MoMP collective. As such, the call has been put forth:
...think of clever and mildly (mildly!) deprecating snippets to include in the random list of capsule bios that appear under every ministerÂ’s name...
Take 'em up on their generous offer to mock Patton before you actually read any of his posts. It's the Democrat
Oops, almost forgot. Buckethead posted his take on the blogmeet/demolition derby we had last Saturday night.
Nic is posting uber-cool pictures!
Gotta run. See ya when I get a chance.
May 18, 2005
News Editors need to dig deep into their values and go back to a place before news was a commodity; before news became earnings, ratings and subscriptions competition, to a place where a News Editor's role is once again that of a vanguard and protector of the truth. For that is what the American people want, and that is what our system of democracy demands.
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