Thursday, August 02, 2007

Hey, Leaguers. Sorry about the sad lack of posting. I've just had some busy days, and then, when I wasn't busy last night, I chose to roll over and go to sleep. I suggest you all write my bosses and tell them I'm entirely too busy and its preventing me from blogging, thus, denying the entire world a vital resource.

Minnesota Bridge Collapse

I keep turning the Minnesota bridge collapse over in my head. Of course thoughts and sympathy go out to those folks.

Part of what I find so depressing is that we know these things can happen and we still turn a blind eye. You hope as a kid that adults will make the right, obvious decisions, but...

If its not in the budget to fix the bridge, then we can't fix the bridge. Anyone who reads the paper might know that a vast number of bridges in our country are not considered safe, but there's an economic incentive not to touch the bridges as it would stop the daily commutes of millions of Americans if we were to actually bring those bridges up to code. That, and raising taxes to actually fix the bridges...

I cross an unknown number of bridges into work. I take at least one bridge over train tracks on William Cannon and, of course, I cross the South 1st bridge when I head over Town Lake on my way in to town each morning. For various reasons I took the Congress Avenue bridge leaving town this evening, but generally, it's the expansive S. 1st/ Lavaca bridge two times a day.

I may also pass over smaller bridges as I cross gullies and creeks on S. First, headed toward town. Certainly there's a dip that, when I think about it, certainly isn't flat with the ground, so that's most likely a small bridge.

Jason crosses the Lamar Street bridge twice a day or more.

I do not think about the possibility of the bridges collapsing. Never. Until
today, when suddenly you realize all those "1/3rd of bridges are considered unsafe" statistics apply to you. I am deeply saddened that the bridge collapse occurred. I think we can all see a bit of ourselves in the position of the commuters.

I wish the victims and families of the victims of the bridge collapse my best.


Hey, it's not just time for a new season of "Who Wants to be a Superhero?", there's a new show on PBS. So, may The League recommend...

Nova ScienceNow

I know, Nova is a show for geeks. BUT... it is informative and very well produced. This new version is hosted by the astrophysicist guy who makes routine appearances on The Daily Show, Neil deGrasse Tyson.

Nova ScienceNow is broken up into shorter, roughly 20 minute segments, far briefer than the usual hour-long Nova shows. Each segment focues on a wildly different topic, with Dr. Tyson popping up between segments and then give you "the cosmic view" at the end. Sort of like "Springer's Final Thought", only... not a rambling bit of incoherence.

One of my life's great regrets was that because I struggled with math in grade school and middle school, I sort of gave up on math and the possibilities for a career in anything which required a strong math or science background. Other topics came more easily, or I could skate by. So, before I ever really understood anything about math or science I was vainly deciding that I'd prusue something a bit more abstract or artistic or something. I had good teachers, I think. I loved Physics and Biology in high school, and I took a boatload of Geology in college, as well as biology, anthropology and other stuff (knowing full well I'd be doomed in physics.) I sort of thought of science, at the time, as something completely out of my grasp. Which was kind of sad and dumb of me. But if it came down to getting low marks in a class or getting the easy A in theater arts, I was going for the easy A.

Nova ScienceNow manages to simplify things so that a brain as ill-functioning as my own can understand the concepts. They're going for the coolness factor and skimming over some of how stuff actually works, certainly, but... Hell, you get to see some really neat stuff and understand how science can make a better world. Plus, you know, robots and dinosaurs.

I was particularly interested in a story on the work of Cynthia Brazeal at the MIT AI labs. She's making social robots that are learning to react to human emotions at a certain level. It was one of those moments when you see a small part of the future, and all those Asimov stories don't seem so crazy. And, for some reason, when they showed the POV of the robot, I was profoundly sad. I don't know why. I guess the idea of the little robot's brain being brought into the world and trying to see and understand the world is that first step beyond being merely a machine. It's sort of a beautiful thing, seeing those silicon neural synapses firing, and wish fulfillment of generations of kids. But you can also almost see the thing struggling.

Sure, in fifty years when the robots have driven us all onto the coasts and we've got our backs to the water while the AI gunships are hunting us down, its not going to be pathetic and heartbreaking... But now... Well, let us hope we are kind to the things we bring into this world.

Anyhow, check out Nova ScienceNow. For us armchair science enthusiasts who are still bstunned by shiny objects and promises of a future full of flying cars and cloned dinosaurs, its a great show.

Christmas is coming...

I'm just saying...

Also just saying...

More Prison dancing action!
From Randy. And this time... QUEEN!!!

Astros Win in the 14th!
Of course I wandred off in the 11th thinking they'd lose...

I Am Popeye

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Jiggity Jog

We're home.

Jamie's procedure was supposed to occur Thursday (it did), and, at most, we expected to go home Friday morning. Well, thanks to the miracles of modern medicine and a doctor who was being properly cautious as we adjusted some of Jamie's meds, we've been at St. David's South Austin on and off since Thursday. I am now properly worn out.

Here's the difference between going into the hospital in AZ and going in here:

Jamie's folks happened to be coming into town Thursday anyway (they're putting an offer in on a house in San Marcos. They shall be living ever so close to Ralph the Swimming Pig), so they were here. Friday Jason and Carla were able to come by. Saturday Wagner was here from Lubbock. Plus the return of Jason and Carla. Throw Matty into the mix, and voila! It wasn't just the two of us sitting there trying to figure out what show on basic cable at 2:00 on a Saturday is least boring.

Thanks so, so much to folks who came by. We really appreciate it.

Jamie is home. She's fine. She's happy to be able to dole out affection upon the pets once again.