NASA Lags in Shuttle Patch Development (AP). AP – When space shuttle flights resume, the astronauts will have putty and other filler to repair cracks and small gashes in the wings, but they will not be able to patch a hole as big as the one that doomed Columbia, NASA said. [Yahoo! News – Reader Ratings]

I’m glad NASA is working on some ideas to reestablish our presence in space.  As I read the above, I thought again of those daring astronauts of STS-107 who were only 16 minutes from home.  What great aspirations they had to tackle such a dangerous job!

Here’s something only a very few of you know about me:  after the Columbia’s final flight, I was so inspired by those heroes as to obtain application materials for the Educator Astronaut program.  It seemed to make sense.  I’m an educator.  I have a degree in physics.  I have a background in astronomy.  I know could execute the assigned tasks aboard the space shuttle and be a good ambassador for NASA’s programs.  I could make a difference in the wake of the Columbia mission.

As I waited for the application materials to come in, I continued to consider the pros and cons of the career shift.  I came the the conclusion that it wouldn’t necessarily be a promotion.   Continue reading Aspirations

Ronald Reagan

rreaganI was a teenager during the Reagan Revolution. I knew then that there was something extraordinary about our 40th president.

His policies were straightforward and completely consistent with his belief that people knew better how to run their lives than career politicians in Washington. His successes, the greatest economic expansion in our history and bringing an end to the Cold War, are nothing less than stellar. As a president, Ronald Reagan belongs alongside our greatest leaders.

As a man, Ronald Reagan was every bit as great. His relationship with Nancy exemplifies what it means to have a life-long love affair with your partner. And anyone who has met him seems to have a story about his graciousness, his simple kindnesses, and his disarming humor. But what always struck me most about Ronald Reagan was his infectious optimism.

It is time for us to realize that we’re too great a nation to limit ourselves to small dreams…. Let us begin an era of national renewal. Let us renew our determination, our courage, and our strength. And let us renew our faith and our hope…. The crisis we are facing today… [requires] our best effort and our willingness to believe in ourselves and to believe in our capacity to perform great deeds; to believe that together with God’s help we can and will resolve the problems which now confront us. And after all, why shouldn’t we beleve that? We are Americans.” – Ronald Reagan, First inagural address.

Thank you Ronald Reagan, for your terrific service to our country and for being a model of great character with your kindness and optimism.

Whatever else history may say about me when I’m gone, I hope it will record that I appealed to your best hopes, not your worst fears, to your confidence rather than your doubts. My dream is that you will travel the road ahead with liberty’s lamp guiding your steps and opportunity’s arm steadying your way.” – Ronald Reagan

Sugar-water addiction

Okay, there are a lot of issues here:  generating funds for schools, nationwide obesity, teaching children nutrition, and more…

Taking Candy From Pupils? School Vending Bill Says Yes. The State Assembly has passed a bill that would severely limit what could be sold in school vending machines. By Marc Santora. [New York Times: Education]

Here’s my own experience with this.  In the school I started my teaching career at, there were vending machines that sold one of the more popular sugar-water “faux juice” drinks (5% juice).  These machines generated a lot of money for the school.  I was not the only teacher to note that many of middle school students who enjoyed those beverages at lunch were “bonkers” with attention problems and other behaviors that made it harder for them to learn in the afternoon.  It was a stark, “Jekyll and Hyde” difference for many of them, too.

Of course, to a sub-par administrator, behavior problems are easily dealt with by assigning a detention, ISS, or some other disciplinary action, but the cash those machines bring in is coveted.  Can this be thought of as exploiting pre-teens for their own good?

For openers….

How often is a novice chess player honored by having his analysis of an ongoing game published? As often as he likes … if he has a weblog….

The following are the opening moves of a game I’ve just started with an old college buddy who lives a long way away. We’re playing over email, allowing “infinite” time to play each move, and we’re allowed to consult computer chess programs to avoid blunders and generate some ideas. The game is not meant to be a masterpiece of strategy and tactics. The regular email moves are a conduit for us to pass along news and happenings to each other. It is a way for us to keep in touch.

Still, for anyone who might be interested, I submit the following analysis. By the way, should you come up with a great idea, that’s what the “comments” section is for. You should do the same for Bill. Oh yeah, that’s right. Bill doesn’t have a weblog. Too bad….

Todd Bill
1. e4 Nf6

Alekhine’s Defence. Not an opening I’m very comfortable with. Let’s see how it develops.

2. e5 Nd5
3. d4 d6
4. c4 Nb6
5. Nf3

Continue reading For openers….

Common sense

I’m putting the finishing touches on my grades now!  Tomorrow is the last contracted day of the 2003-04 school year, and I’m bringing things to a dignified close.  Dignified.

Then I read this story.  I am speechless.  I find it embarassing that people in my profession would show school children a beheading (and even more confounding, one teacher showed it during a pizza party).  This kind of act shows no regard for young minds and demonstrates a complete lack of mature judgement on the teachers’ part.

A message to any educators who decide to criticize heros and positive role models and instead emblazen graphic images of the very worst atrocities humanity is capable of into children’s minds.  Think about what you are doing!  Use your common sense!

You are dismissed.

Quote – ‘One of my fun sites’

From The Quotation Page‘s Quote of the Day for the last week.  Ponder and enjoy them.

Cecil Baxter. “You don’t get anything clean without getting something else dirty.”

John A. Wheeler. “If you haven’t found something strange during the day, it hasn’t been much of a day.”

Alan Kay. “The best way to predict the future is to invent it.”

Unknown. “Cats are intended to teach us that not everything in nature has a function.”

Paul Harvey. “In times like these, it helps to recall that there have always been times like these.”

A hundred-dozen cookies

My computer is infested.  No, not with viruses or worms.  And I’m not talking about the adware that I have to regularly scrape off my hard drive like barnacles from a ship.  The more I dig around my computer recording settings I want to keep beyond my planned system upgrades, the more I find “junk.”  Like twelve hundred cookies.  Twelve hundred.
I’m not a complete “anti-cookie” rebel, either.  I enjoy not having to sign in to select sites every time I visit.  But there has to be a better way to manage these little files.  I can guarantee that of the twelve hundred, there are less than twenty I consider helpful to me.  I changed my browser settings to prompt me before it accepts any cookies, but at the rate I’m going, I’ll get carpal tunnel syndrome from clicking my mouse all the time to block the cookies I don’t want.  The modern realities of the worldwide web, I guess.

Salvador Dali. “There is only one difference between a madman and me. I am not mad.” [Quotes of the Day]

Hello world!

And welcome to my new webspace.  In the late ’90’s, a personal webpage was a fun background, a few graphics, and your favorite links.  You got to dress up a little corner of the web.  For me, the hobby grew to include resumes, galleries of art, and categorized link pages.  Then, for fun, I took on the challenge of creating something original, a page with wide appeal, something that would cause Geocities to shut you down for a period every month because your visitors have exceeded your free bandwidth allowance.

Fun, prestige, sharing favorite links, and the challenge of generating lots of traffic.  I’ve played with all of those things.  Now, with my friends and family spread across the country, I envision this webspace as a dynamic vehicle to keep in touch with your close friends.  A way to interact.  So don’t be shy about posting comments to entries that speak to you.  Please feel free to drop me a “Shout Out.”  Friends, keep in touch.  Visitors, enjoy the “sites”!

Dr. Seuss. “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” [Quotes of the Day]