The true power of the Force

(Note: Sorry to be a little late with this. It’s been a busy Spring as you will see!)

I’m not well-schooled in the kinds of gestures that sweep women off their feet. Angie knows this, and yet she’s still with me after nearly four years of dating….

A few months ago, I started to get really excited about Star Wars: Episode III. I wanted nothing more than to see it with my best girl. I downloaded the theatrical trailer and played it over and over again. In fact, nearly every time she would visit me, I would have it in a Media Player window, awaiting my command to play again. At first, she teased me about it.

Angie was not interested in Star Wars movies when I met her. In the years I’ve known her, however, she started tolerating them. Before long, she actually started appreciating some of them. Then, finally, she gave in to the Dark Side and became nearly as excited as I was about seeing the final episode. Now that’s love.

Anticipation mounted in the days leading up to our trip to the Old Nichols Theatre in Kansas City to see Episode III. We watched Episodes I and II in the week before. We had a few good-natured sparring sessions with our toy lightsabers. And we watched the theatrical trailer again.

The big day came, and Angie and I began our odyssey. We stopped to eat a light lunch along the way, and when we got back to the car, that’s when she noticed the lightsabers in the door side compartments. I explained that there will be lots of people wearing costumes … probably. It took a lot of convincing to get her to “think about” wearing it on her belt as we went to see the film. She told me afterward that she went round and round in her mind for the rest of the car ride whether she would wear it for me into the theatre. That turned out to work in my favor.   Continue reading The true power of the Force

Followups & updates

Things are still very busy here. With first quarter winding down, I’m pleased by what I’ve been able to accomplish with my students this year. Time away from school has been divided between my software project, a couple of computer hobbies, and a narrow social life. As the holidays approach, I expect the latter to ramp up.

I’m also trying to work on exactly what I need to get my dad’s notebook computer to wirelessly connect to his dialup Internet service. He needs to not be tethered to a cord, and broadband is not available where he lives. All I’ve come across on the web have been vague references to certain wireless routers with COM ports to hook up with certain external modems. All theory, no concrete brands and models. If you know something about this, please drop me a line.

Cassini continues to make fascinating observations of Saturn. Here’s one of many such stories.

Saturn’s Perfect Storms (Astrobiology Magazine) – Saturn is the windiest planet in the solar system, which is one mystery of the ringed giant. Imagine not what qualifies as a terrestrial hurricane with category five status assigned beyond one hundred miles-per-hour. On Saturn the superstorms can produce a thousand mph wind.

I wrote my Rathergate entry immediately after Dan Rather “apologized” for running his political attack piece. Since then, CBS seems to want to proceed as if nothing happened. I’ve chosen a couple of slightly different viewpoints that have appeared since my first story.

All eyes are on Rather’s future (Variety). Variety – NEW YORK — The morning after Dan Rather admitted the biggest mistake of his career, he agreed to go on Larry King’s primetime show and talk about the worst crisis ever to strike a network news anchor.   Continue reading Followups & updates

The shot heard ’round the doctor’s office

Some people have asked me how my back is doing. Here’s an update.

After the whirring and thumping of the MRI machine, sitting still for close to an hour (so long I was numb in spots by the end), I got to see the pictures. It indeed looked like a slipped disk. Those pictures are so clear! I studied nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) as physics student, but nothing matches seeing your nucleus squishing back and pinching your spinal nerves….

So the orthopedic doctor talked with me about a steroidal spinal injection. He talked about “raising my threshold for injury” rather than doing surgery on the back. I was thankful for that. The conservative route seemed like a good place to start.

Of course, I hate shots. One of my old doctors used to tease me sometimes about my aversion to shots and difficulty swallowing pills, saying it is a good thing – that I’ll never be a junkie. He can be a regular comedian sometimes. What he doesn’t say is that I’ll also never be a good patient.   Continue reading The shot heard ’round the doctor’s office


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