Tuesday, February 28, 2006
Only in the sense of going home. A day of meetings, then class, then listening to students say "What writing assignment?" and "Can I email it to you?" [insert other whining here], then more meeetings.
I have a stack of papers two inches thick to grade, bills to pay, and a new book to read (Julia Sweeney's God said "Ha!") that came in via inter-library loan. I'll try to get all of them done tonight - er, get the papers and bills done tonight and get a start on the book.
Sleep is not an option. A niggling headache kept pestering me all day and acetaminophen wasn't doing any good so I drank some "caffeine" (in non-nutritious form). So we'll see how long I last before needing sleep - or how early I wake up in the morning. I'll regret the "caffeine" in a couple of days but it got me through the afternoon.
Since I'm now below 160 lbs again (~73Kg) I can indulge occasionally.
As for the book I'll try to read it when the S.O. goes to bed. Having a religious family can be trying at times, when they think every time you open a book that isn't "Hail Mysticism" is a slap at them is...well...sigh. And reading at work isn't really an option lately.
You win some, you lose some but I do have to be me. I'm not exactly sure what this last statement means and I'm not going to try and interpret it right now.
Until later (and Beccarii, I promise I'll try to get a reptile redemption post up soon; I've already got it mapped out but time, and the Oh No! post, keep getting in the way).
Galgacus links to an article about a hotel owner who wants to “create a 50-bedroom country-house style hotel on a platform in the Cromarty Firth, off Scotland's east coast”.
Cromarty Firth is Northwest of Inverness in the Highlands of Scotland (see map to the right). I visited there two years ago with the family and spent a week on the Black Isle. The black Isle is situated between the Cromarty Firth and Moray Firth. I stayed in the Town of Avoch (pronounced Auch if memory serves), and used that as a jump off point for the rest of the highlands.
It’s a beautiful area, and the pictures beloware from Cromarty, the town at the tip of the island. One thing not in the pictures is the oil Derricks; I thought they were ugly and took away from the awesome scenery. And now they want to build a large hotel on the oil Derricks?
I realize it will bring jobs and money to the area, but can’t help wondering what its impact will be on both the environment and the scenic beauty. That was one thing that gripped me about the Highlands, their incredible and awe inspiring beauty with a sense of being rather undeveloped. High mountains moving down into lush valleys, small towns with narrow streets built for horse and carts and not cars…a wind blowing off the firth while your eyes strayed to pick out the fresh water dolphins (see the picture, below, of my daughters and I near Fortrose)…long drives where you pass few cars and long walks over fields…and a people that are very friendly (while probably smiling indulgently at us tourists).
I would love to go back and spend days, weeks, months, even years in the Highlands. I think I could lose myself there and never return (I think Galgacus and I have something in common)
But a massive hotel on Oil Derricks? Doesn’t that take away from some of the wild and untamed beauty of the Highlands? Anyway, that’s my opinion only. If that’s what the area wants than that’s what they should strive for…but I’ll still seek the out of the way places to explore, while still hitting a few of the “touristy” spots like Loch Ness (which was a lot of fun to see).
And though it won’t keep me from the Highlands, or even the Black Isle, I doubt I'll stay at the hotel on the Oil Derricks. A B&B tucked away in a small town will be fine for me.
Sunday, February 26, 2006
|You Passed 8th Grade Math|
Congratulations, you got 10/10 correct!
“An intelligent hell would be better than a stupid paradise.”
- Victor Hugo "Ninety-three," play (1881)
Friday, February 24, 2006
Boy, I haven't thought about that little adventure for years so here goes.
When I was just a young lad...oh, probably around 9 or so, my family took a trip to South Dakota and visited the usual spots (Rushmore, black hills, Reptile Gardens, etc.).
Reptile Gardens was where it was. Now I've never been fond of reptiles. I admire them sure but like to do so from a distance. Snake go hiss somewhere else. Nice smile crocodile but you're not fooling me. Lizards - eh.
I also remember there was a game where you played tic-tac-toe against a chicken and the chicken usually won (or it was a draw).
But back to the alligator pit. Some lunatic was putting on a show in the middle of a large open area containing a few dozen (okay, maybe a dozen or so) alligators. I was there with my brother, my mother and father were a few yards away, and we'd run into a kid we knew from our school (we lived in Minnesota at the time).
So we watched and listened and learned something I'm sure (I remember little of the schpehl now but I do remember...) when the guy trapped a gator and put it to sleep. He turned it over and ran his hands over the stomach in a certain direction (I think it was downwards from snout to tail but don't quote me on that).
And then he asked...gulp...for a volunteer.
And like a blithering idiot I raise my hands and yell out. He points our direction and says "One of you over there" (or something like that) and it becomes a race over the fence.
I won the race.
I won it by the proverbial mile.
It was my lightning fast reflexes that did it (you had to be fast to avoid bullies when you were a scrawny kid of average height).
The fact that my brother and the kid we knew pushed me over the fence probably helped.
No joke, they did.
I was over that fence and on the ground before anyone else had even touched the top.
Now I should explain something about the pit. It was...oh...about a mile in diameter.
Well okay, that was a slight exxageration. But it was a large pit, circular in nature surrounded by a chain link fence. Overall it was probably the size of an olympic sized swimming pool - maybe a bit larger.
But to a nine year old it looked huge.
And guess where the sleeping gator was?
Yep and my survival instict started kicking in and soon as I realized what I'd just volunteered for.
So I walked gingerly and nervously (or so I remember) across the open area. the gators were mostly located around the two or three small ponds and the guy had a few near him.
My what big teeth you have...nice gator...
So I draw near and he must have been grinning because he said "To wake it up you have to kiss it".
I don't know what my expression was but it got a laugh from the 50 or 100 or 1,000 people who were there. I don't recall laughing.
What one has to do to wake up a sleeping gator is to rub the gator the wrong way. No joke, rub the "tummy" in an opposite direction to the one that put it to sleep.
So not wanting to look like a coward, and well beyond the point of return I reach out and rub it.
Holy shit, that gator turned over quickly. I mean it flippin' flipped over.
I barely heard the announcer say something to the effect "You gotta be careful now because it's mad and hungry..."
It turned over in a flash, a blink, looking from side to side angrily or hungrily, and I ran. People laughed but I ran and dove over that fence.
Twisting my ankle in the process.
Even my dear sweet (sarcasm - a mode of satirical wit) brother was patting my back in congratulations, and my parents were laughing.
To this day whenever my father passes Reptile Gardens he tells the story (to his wife and my half-siblings) that he's never seen anyone move as fast as I did.
So the next time I'm in New Orleans I'll order blackened alligator tail from the restaurant near the convention center, and I'll contemplate my little adventure and I'm sure I'll enjoy every bite.
South Dakota is now dead for me. I refuse to go to the state.
I've always enjoyed Mount Rushmore but no more.
I've grinned at that tourist trap known as Wall Drug.
I'll always remember as a kid climbing into the alligator pit at Reptile Gardens.
And the Black Hills while touristy are still beauiful to drive through.
But I refuse categorically to spend a single one of my hard earned dollars in a state that tries to hinder...hell eliminate, women's reproductive rights for any reason whatsoever, especially religious!
By night my mild mannered alter ego Aa rests, but during the day...bum bum ba dum...I become Meeting Man.
Defender of Minutae, Protector of Eye rolling, able to supress my gag reflex with amazing agility, able to leap downed stacks of wasted trees in a single bound and able to curb my mighty tongue and keep my tone reasonable and calm (most of the time).
Cripes. A meeting from 9 to 10:15, then another one from from 10:30 to 12:30, a quick bite of lunch and yet another from 1:00 to 2:30, finishing off with one from 3:00 to 3:45. And then I find the 1:00 committee is now continuing in perpetuity. Woo Hoo!
Bum bum ba dum...AIGGGGGHHHHHHHH.
Thursday, February 23, 2006
Monday, February 20, 2006
Trojan Horse battles zebra mussels
I’m finally working through my blacklog of Chemical and Engineering News’ and ran across a summary (Trojan Horse battles zebra mussels; C&E News, January 23, 2006, p 32) of the above mentioned article , so I went and took a quick look at the original article (Microencapsulated BioBullets for the Control of Biofouling Zebra Mussels; Environ. Sci. Technol., 40 (3), 975 -979, 2006). I have to admit, I found it rather interesting.
The abstract is printed below or can be accessed here:
D’oh, I hate the word novel but we’ll ignore it for a moment. So in essence what they do is encapsulate potassium chloride (a toxin for zebra mussels) into small particles made of vegetable oil, silica and other materials. These “BioBullets” are then drawn into the mussels via the gills and are transported to the mouth where they dissolve and voila, no more zebra mussel.
I would still be concerned about the environmental fate of the BioBullets that are not “sucked up” by the mussels, but it appears to be an improvement over chlorine.
So there you have it, better killing through chemistry (er, living, living through chemistry…unless you happen to be a zebra mussel).
When I was a kid I was amazed how limber some of my classmates were, especially playing the limbo game (hold a stick horizontal and people try to bend over backwards and slide underneath).
I never thought I'd be applying that analogy to politics...okay, well, maybe I did.
The answer is pretty low or as beccarii put it "There is no rock bottom"
New pro-war ad cynically exploits families' grief
(via Beccarii of course)
It's now officially known as Misery (abbreviated Mr).
Long-time Biology Professor Forced to “Retire” for not Teaching Creationism
Intelligent Resign when Fundies Monkey
All happening at Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, MO. And Bolivar himself was anti-clerical.
(None of this surprises me. I've had two students from SBU, one of whom was okay mentally...the other was way too religious and believed that she was put here to suffer and deserved every second of it. This is why we need freedom from religion).
(links via Beccarii)
Woo Hoo, more distractions from life and work. What more could anyone want? (and what would life be without rhetorical questions?
(just click on the picture above)
Sunday, February 19, 2006
A couple of previously posted links to Natalie Angier Articles but I ran across them again and felt like posting them.My God Problem
Confessions of a Lonely Atheist
Friday, February 17, 2006
Gah, just when you think it can't get worse it does.
Why not Crichton for president?
An intellectual and scientific lightweight (scratch that, non-entity) is involved in "in setting government policy on one of the biggest challenges facing the country." Well yes, I could mean the president or I could mean Crichton or...maybe that's why they get along so well?
Both are perfect symbols for our culture of emboldened stupidity.
I mean honestly folks...whoa, was that a White rabbit?
Another Friday Random Ten
“The Ballad of Ira Hayes” Johnny Cash
“It’s a hard life wherever you go” Nanci Griffith
“So Long Mom” Tom Lehrer
“Big River” Johnny Cash
“The Boxer” Simon and Garfunkel
“Take Me Home, Country Road” John Denver
“Conjunction Junction” School House Rock
“God’s Grandeur” Dan Barker (Freehtought Song)
“The world is my country” Dan Barker (Freethought Song)
“Billy the Kid” Marty Robbins
Thursday, February 16, 2006
As long as I'm feeling sick, let's make everyone miserable
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
Cheney Shoots Friend. Digby Smells Rat.
Go, get, read, away wi' ye (be sure to click the links in the article).
Monday, February 13, 2006
I shall inflict this on you once again.
1. “Burning Heart” Survivor
2. “Xanadu” Olivia Newton John
3. “A boy named Sue” Johnny Cash
4. “God Bless (-less) America” Dan Barker (Freethought Song)
5. “Born in the USA” Bruce Springstein
6. “Pretty Woman” Roy Orbison
7. “Who’s Next” Tom Lehrer (humorous/biting song about nuclear proliferation)
8. “Girl from the North Country” Johnny Cash
9. “Another one bites the Dust” Queen
10. “Cat’s Cradle” Jim Croce
(note, this was actually ready last week but blogging from home is difficult (religious S.O.; non-religious moi) but then a lot of stuff came crashing down).
On an unrelated note, can we now assume Dick Cheney is not a straight shooter?
Thursday, February 09, 2006
Get ye over to the Carnival of the Godless...oh heck, the new Carnival of the Godless is up at Superlicious so go on over and kill a few hours.
Of particular note, Atheist Ethicist scores once again with A Perspective on Scouting, a continuation of A Perspective on the Pledge. Both truly outstanding pieces.
Wednesday, February 08, 2006
I found it hilarious and oh-so-true.
I forget which blog I saw it on orginally, but the hat tip goes to an un-named reader of this blog who emailed it to me.
I was bored stiff and more than a bit miffed. The "Name with-held to protect the guilty" committee had once again turned into a gripe session. The reason for this committee is beginning to elude me since they seem to do little but complain. Since I have an inside line to our administration many of them feel the need to vent my direction. Hence my "miffed-ness".
Anyway, at one point I'm leaning back half-listening when I notice a fellow two rows in front of me. I've known this person for the past 9-years (since joining the University of ultimate boredom - philosoraptor calls his evil but I'll be a bit more generous) and have been on many faculty committees and student thesis committees with him. And I like him.
Well, I looked at him and thought "That's funny" and then carried it a bit further "Why does he part his hair that far on the side?"
It was parted just above his ear on the left hand side. Since most of us part our hair further up on the crown of the head his part struck me as odd. And I've never noticed this before (obviously). So then I noticed that his hair was also parted way down in the back, and when he turned his head I noticed a part on the right side also. It was a part that went all the way around his head.
At this point my keen intellect zooms in on the fact (while ignoring the gripe session) that he has quite a bit of hair on top. Sure, he has a receding hairline, but I'd never noticed the parting before...and then I realize he has done a comb-over. Not just any comb-over but it was up and over from the left, up and over from the right and and up and over from the back. It makes him look as though he has more hair than he really does and he must keep it in place with lots of hair spray.
Vanity, plain and simple.
Now I have to admit I'm getting some thinning on top myself and am not real pleased about that. You have to look pretty closely to notice it but it is happening. I toyed with the notion of Rogaine to keep what I have from falling out, but then realized that (1) it does not necessarily work near the front of the scalp and (2) it has a boomerange effect (if it doesn't work and you stop you might lose more hair). So Vanity aside, I'll just enjoy the hair I have while it's there and then go for the "Picard" look (though it's doubtful I'll get to that point any time in the next 15 years).
But man, what a comb-over that was. I am still somewhat in awe and now that I've noticed it I doubt I'll be able to get it out of my head when I run into the fellow.
Then again, it gives me something to ponder when I'm in meetings.
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
Everyone knows how religious I am and how much respect I have for the "cloth" but I nearly said "Amen".
""We know now there were no weapons of mass destruction over there [standing ovation]... but Coretta kew and we know that there are weapons of misdirection right down here. Millions without health insurance. Poverty aounds. For war billions more but no more for the poor." -Reverend Dr. Joseph Lowery, at the Coretta Scott King funeral, in front of 4 presidents."
Sunday, February 05, 2006
We'll burn them with love, not hate. But we'll burn them, burn them all!
"I've begun worshiping the sun for a number of reasons. First of all, unlike some other gods I could mention, I can see the sun. It's there for me every day. And the things it brings me are quite apparent all the time: heat, light, food, a lovely day. There's no mystery, no one asks for money, I don't have to dress up, and there's no boring pageantry. And interestingly enough, I have found that the prayers I offer to the sun and the prayers I formerly offered to "God" are all answered at about the same 50-percent rate" George Carlin
And I'm actually posting it on a Sunsday...weird.
Saturday, February 04, 2006
1. “A boy named Sue” Johnny Cash
2. “Back Home again” John Denver
3. “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” The Beach Boys
4. “The Highway Man” The Highway men (Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson and Chris Christopherson)
5. “The Great Pretender” Queen
6. “Burning Heart” Survivor
7. “Heaven is a place on earth” Belinda Carlisle
8. “Puff the Magic Dragon” Peter, Paul & Mary
9. “Imagine” Dan Barker (Freethought Song)
10. “Five Brothers” Marty Robbins
And yes, I do have eclectic taste in music.
(Oh yes, sorry for the day late but life got in the way)