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Thursday, November 24, 2005

See you at the new clubhouse!

This will be my last post at http://radio.weblogs.com/0131531/.  Please meet up with me again at my own domain:  http://www.toddswebspace.com.

Though there hasn't been much apparent activity on the weblog in a couple of months, a lot has been going on under the hood.  I've been planning to jazz up the site a little bit.  A few things have been broken on the weblog side, so I'm moving the whole shebang to my own server to better control how the different pieces fit with one another.  The appearance of the site will hopefully be a little less bland as I introduce a new concept into the design:  color.  I hope to fix those things that have broken in the past year or two as well.

Any techies out there might also be interested that I'm rewriting the code of my weblog from the ground up to have a table-less three column main page achieved through cascading style sheets.  The entire process could take me up to around Christmastime as I chip away at it.

The forum side is going to remain basically the same, with the same spice and polish being added to unify it with the weblog.  Please make use of those forums.  They are my clubhouse and you're invited to the party!

I don't have a solid timetable on when things will switch over, but if you keep using the new address, you will be fine.  Once I'm settled in to my new environs, I'll get back to the right-brained side of this more regularly.  I expect it to continue to evolve as I rediscover and sharpen my "blogging voice."  I may even take this journal (and you) to a few new "places."  Stay tuned:  this could be fun!

Until my return, take care, and Happy Thanksgiving!

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2:17:06 AM    comment []

Friday, August 05, 2005

A charming little range light.

Haig Point LightThis is a picture of the Haig Point Lighthouse on Daufuskie Island in South Carolina. The lighthouse was built in 1872 as one of two range lights that ships could use to safely enter Caliboque Sound. It is still operational today as a private aid to navigation and a bed and breakfast; and it's on the National Register of Historic Sites. One more thing: it's also the site of my wedding last month.

I know some of you want details! Here you go:

Existing Historic Tower: YES

  • Year Light First Lit: 1872
  • Is the Light Operational? YES (PRIVATE AID TO NAVIGATION)
  • Date Deactivated: 1934-1987
  • Automated: YES
  • Foundation Materials: TABBY
  • Construction Materials: WOOD
  • Markings/Patterns: WHITE W/RED ROOF
  • Relationship to Other Structures: INTEGRAL
  • Original Optic: FIFTH ORDER, FRESNEL
  • Year Original Lens Installed: 1872
  • Height of Focal Plane: 70
  • Has tower been moved? NO

Modern Tower? NO

Existing Sound Signal Building? NO

Existing Keepers Quarters? YES

  • Year Constructed: 1872
  • Number of Stories: 2
  • Architectural Style: VICTORIAN
  • Construction Materials: WOOD


(Source: National Park Service)

Of course, now I have no excuse for blogging only once a month or so. Well, actually, I might have a brand new built-in excuse....

Also Featured In: Informational | Personal

12:37:59 AM    comment []

Friday, June 24, 2005

What's the matter?

We all learned that matter is anything that has mass and takes up space. Our teachers told us there are three states or phases of matter: solid, liquid, and gas. Some of us with cool high school teachers or college teaching assistants learned about another state: plasma. Then there were those of us who wanted a degree in physics who learned there were many more. Extremely low temperatures yield superfluids, supersolids, Fermionic condensates, and Bose-Einstein condensates. Particle accelerators give us quark-gluon plasmas. Stars hold degenerate matter, neutronium, and strange matter. And then there are a few states of matter associated with the instant after the Big Bang.

I found this article about a newly discovered form of matter.

MIT physicists create new form of matter. CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- MIT scientists have brought a supercool end to a heated race among physicists: They have become the first to create a new type of matter, a gas of atoms that shows high-temperature superfluidity.

It's always mind-boggling, the things that happen at the extremes of temperature, size, time, speed, or distance. If one day we are able to harness these phenomena, our civilization will undergo a paradigm shift. Our lives will be forever changed in a qualitative way, rather than the incremental way that normal technological advancements tend to do.

For now, though, we can only watch these things from the window of the hovel we're confined to. Taunting us, prodding us, these extreme behaviors educate us that our day to day experience on Earth is only a tiny subset of the complexity of the universe.

Also Featured In: Educational | Informational

3:42:12 AM    comment []

Saturday, June 11, 2005

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.

The rest of the car ride was filled with the regal sounds of the Star Wars soundtrack from my CD player. As we closed in on our destination, I couldn't help but think how much Angie had changed since I've known her. For all the geekiness of this trip, it was a date. We were going out to see a movie together. We were going to have a little adventure in the City. This trip had my "fingerprints" all over it. She must have made peace with the fact that I'm unusual a long time ago. Whatever motivates her to remain with me, I really love her for it. Conversely, our planned vacation to tour the lighthouses in South Carolina later this summer was something that she has always wanted to do. It never would have occurred to me to take such a trip before now. Now, I can't imagine not going to the ocean this summer with my best friend.

Of course, if she really thought about my unusualness on this day, I probably wouldn't have surprised her when, after arriving at the Plaza, we walked up to the people giving horse and carriage rides. After telling them I had a reservation, the next carriage started toward us. Angie has always wanted to go on a horse and carriage ride. She gave me a frantic look and patted me down looking for a ring box. Rolling my eyes, I helped her into the carriage and hopped in after her.

As we got underway on that late May evening, I taught Angie a valuable lesson. Rings don't always come in boxes. Sometimes they come in a small cloth drawstring bag, along with a marriage proposal.

When her delighted squeals calmed down, we enjoyed our ride and spent the rest of the evening enjoying the Plaza. There is no Old Nichols Theatre at the Plaza, by the way, and Episode III would wait for us until the next day. And, our South Carolina vacation transformed into a "destination wedding" and honeymoon.

So, for those of you who have been wondering, that's how it happened. That was my best attempt at being romantic.

Also Featured In: Personal

6:20:00 AM    comment []

Sunday, March 06, 2005

The blogging process

If you've read this webpage for any length of time, you've noticed a wide variety of posts to match my wide variety of interests. What process do I go through before adding a post? I never really thought of it before.

I read a lot. There is a ton of news happening in the world. Mummies discovered. Remains of a "hobbit creature" found. New life uncovered near thermal vents in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. And lots of Mars and Saturn discoveries.

And I soak up those stories like a sponge and have no comment on them except, "Wow." "Wow," does not make an interesting weblog.

Then I think of stories I've written in the past. Anything to update? Any of them receive a ton of comments?

Well, the chess match with my friend on the Coast was halted after he decided to migrate to Linux which consumed any free time for long enough for us to kind of lose interest. Other computer recreations have tapered down, too.  I now enter the world of EverQuest only a touch over one hour per week. It's basically now simply my weekly chat with a friend from college.

Only two of my posts have gotten some rather serious feedback. My endorsement in the presidential election divided people up nicely. You either were tickled by it, or you hated everything about it. My sister couldn't point out what was specifically wrong with it, but then she thought more research into Kohlberg would have led me to a different conclusion. The other post that caused a stir was the one I wrote about my friend Steve. The feedback was uniformly positive and supportive. Steve is in Iraq now, and he's doing fine over there.  We're looking forward to him coming back to the States in a month or so.

[UPDATE (3/28/05):  Steve is back!  The story of the way he manufactured a surprise homecoming to Jacquie is the stuff "chick flicks" are made of.  We're all glad he's back!]

When all else fails, maybe a comment on society by looking at something happening in our schools will do in a pinch. Well, a bus driver was killed by a student. Then again, there are some schools where sobriety tests are given regularly. On second thought, I don't think I have the stomach to muster up a comment on these.

So you see, sometimes it's hard to come up with something to write about. Then again, there was a student of mine who was in the same boat. I had asked him to write in his journal for ten minutes. He could not think of anything to write. I said, "Why don't you write about that?" After he gave me an appropriately puzzled look, I started writing this on the board:

"It is so hard to think of something to write sometimes. I'm sitting here, my teacher is getting impatient, and all I'm doing is staring at a blank page in my journal. Why is this happening to me? Everyone else is writing away, but here I sit without a single idea...."

And so on....

I guess this post is kind of like that lesson.

Also Featured In: Miscellany | Personal

3:50:20 AM    comment []

Sunday, January 30, 2005


Albert Einstein. "The process of scientific discovery is, in effect, a continual flight from wonder. "

An interesting quote.  Sure, discovery removes the shroud of the magical unknown and gives us the tools to understand and tame these processes. For me, though, reading about discoveries inspires me to wonder even more.  Wondering is exciting.  It's what humans were made to do.  The dance of discovery between the mind and nature casts light on things that had been dark.  But with new illumination, comes new shadows.

Here are some recent discoveries that have given me a "wonder-rush."

Scientists Scan Data From Saturn's Moon (AP). AP - Saturn's largest moon contains all the ingredients for life, but senior scientists studying data from a European probe ruled out the possibility Titan's abundant methane stems from living organisms.

Those who follow this weblog know I've been eagerly anticipating this one. I can't stop looking at the pictures and imagining what it's like there. Yes, I'm quite clear on the fact that it's deadly to life as we know it, but I've been imagining things like that ever since I read a book in grade school, Mission to Mercury (at least I think that was the title, I can't find it on Amazon to make sure). With lakebed coastlines, flowing liquid methane rivers, soft "soil", rains, winds, storms...yes, I know we have much less toxic versions of those things here. Why am I entranced by a sunset over the lake when I've seen hundreds of them before?

Scientists Create Petrified Wood in Days (AP). AP - Researchers at a national science laboratory in south-central Washington have found a way to achieve in days what takes Mother Nature millions of years converting wood to mineral.

This impresses me on so many levels, not the least of which is what led them to this line of research? Did they need to study petrified wood but it was getting too expensive? Did they have a particular application in mind? Did they just think it would be cool to make some of their own? I would really like to know.

Scientists Get to the Root of the Venus' Flytrap's Mysterious Snap (Los Angeles Times). Los Angeles Times - From evolutionist Charles Darwin onward, scientists have pondered how the Venus' flytrap can snap its leaves closed around an insect in less than a tenth of a second even though it has neither muscles nor nervous system.

Okay. Question answered...partially. Fascinating work. Now I'm curious about what evolutionary processes could have resulted in this marvel of nature.

Likely Da Vinci Studio Is Found (Los Angeles Times). Los Angeles Times - ROME A forgotten workshop of Leonardo da Vinci, complete with 500-year-old frescoes and a secret room for dissecting human cadavers, has been discovered in Florence, Italy, researchers said Tuesday.

What an amazing find! I can't wait to learn more about these frescoes and other new evidence of the great Renaissance artist, architect, astronomer, scientist, anatomist and engineer.

Also Featured In: Educational | Informational

3:04:22 AM    comment []

Friday, January 14, 2005


Well, I'm back from an extended holiday blogging break. Call it "back from walkabout." Not that I've completely been able to stay away from weblogs. I've been reading quite a few in the last two months, leaving an odd comment here or there. But holidays are a time for friends and family, so I've been using my computer time mainly to chat with those who are close to me.

Of course I've been fortunate to visit many loved ones including both my family and my girlfriend's. I also made a very special visit that I want to write about to a friend of mine, Steve.

I met Steve through his wife, Jacquie, with whom I shared the experience of 'first year teacher,' several years ago. I've met few people with as quirky a sense of humor as Steve has, and he's always cracking jokes and clowning around. Needless to say, we became fast friends. But then they moved to the city. Something about being with family and wanting to raise their own....

Apparently, this is quite a time-consuming endeavor, because we've only been able to manage a few visits since. But then I got word that Steve was being called up. Steve is in the Reserves. His unit was being sent overseas to serve a few months in Iraq, so his family decided to throw a surprise party in his honor before he shipped out. I went up there with my girlfriend (who is also a friend of the couple) to be part of the surprise. They couldn't believe we made the journey. I couldn't imagine not going.

There was a huge turnout. When I had the opportunity to talk with Steve a little bit, I told him what a great service he was doing. I told him that Iraq can be a shining example of what is possible for everyone who is suffering under Islamic theocracies. I told him I thought it would make us safer at home, too, having a friendly island of democracy in the Middle East.

I knew it was hard for him to leave his family, so I waited for his reaction. He smiled. Then he told me how refreshing it was to hear that point of view. Lots of people, he said, were telling him that we shouldn't even be in Iraq, but he sincerely believed in the mission and the potentially great things that could come from it. He talked about the oppression of women and the genocide that had taken place there before the U.S. came in. We shared a long idealistic discussion of our dreams for building a better world.

Steve left for Iraq last month, but he just sent me some great pictures. They show Iraqi men and women holding signs of thanks to America and President Bush, Iraqi kids playing with U.S. soldiers, and other moments of warmness between Saddam Hussein's former subjects and their liberators. You won't often see those kinds of pictures in the mainstream media.

Please say a prayer for Steve, his family, and all of our heroes who are serving in Iraq when you get the chance.

Also Featured In: Personal

6:26:54 PM    comment []

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Last Updated: 11/28/2005; 3:13:08 AM