Wizards of Oz

"Life is fraughtless ... when you're thoughtless."

31.5.08

An Army of Thumb

While recently in Huntsville, Alabama for the Tennessee Valley Corridor Summit, we were treated to a luncheon keynote address by GEN George Casey, Chief of Staff of the Army. In the Exhibit Hall shortly after his talk, these two field grades demonstrate C2 dominance in the 21st century battlespace. J-HOOah!

30.5.08

Birthday Sex & the City

SatC GirlsCINCOZ celebrates her birthday today, so we honored the occasion with a "cocktail party / Sex & the City movie night". Mind you, CINCOZ is not one for imbibing whilst expecting -- so I ensured that her want of a Cosmopolitan was duly noted on her shirt:

(Gratuitous, unpaid promotion: Check out Kristen's most excellent site, Baby Brewing, with some hilarious tee shirts and maternity wear -- R is sporting a "Mommy Wants a Cocktail" maternity tee, while I am "Drinking for Two". And if you really want some world class parenting humor, check out her 'blog Mommy Needs a Cocktail.)

Thankfully, I was well-versed enough in the characters (thanks to R's weekends watching re-runs via HBO-On-Demand) and their various psychoses. I was even pre-briefing a couple of R's friends before the movie (a feat they all found quite humorous). As one of only seven men in an otherwise packed theater (and the only one accompanying seven stunningly attractive, intelligent and successful women), I had a great time. (Top that, Dante!)

Definitely a trail to avoid....

Labels: ,

End of an Era

Well, O.K., maybe not. But Andrew Exum (nom de guerre Abu Muqawama, literally "Father of Battle") is hanging up his keyboard.

Andrew's coda, posted this morning, tells of his inspiration for the 'blog -- and his rational calculus for leaving it. Hey, a man's gotta find some way to sustain that arak habit....

I was turned on to Abu Muqawama by 'blogfriend (and Überblogger in his own right) ZenPundit and the gang at Small Wars Journal, and have been a regular reader ever since. As a resident of East Tennessee, it's nice to see a fellow Appalachian make it big.

With Charlie's more-than-capable skills, and the rest of the team (Kip, Dr. iRack and Londonstani), AM will still be a part of my daily read. But Andrew's pithy and wry commentary will indeed be missed.

Fair winds and following seas, Ex.

29.5.08

[Moblog] Energy Panel

The Tennessee Valley Authority turned 75 last week, marking 75 years since President Franklin Roosevelt signed into law legislation (sponsored by Sen. Norris - of *Nebraska*) that created a pseudo-governmental agency to stimulate economic growth, provide jobs to Appalachia (hardest hit by the Depression) and harness the power of the Tennessee River.

Today TVA (the nation's largest public utility) provides energy throughout a seven-state region. And while hydrodynamic power was their initial charter, today hydro accounts for barely 6% - compared to 20% from their six nuclear plants, and more on the way.

In the photo, Cong. Zach Wamp [R-TN 3rd, on the left] listens as Jack Bailey (VP for Nuclear Generation & Development at TVA) tells about their efforts to (1) build new plants to meet growing demand in a carbon-neutral manner, (2) take advantage of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's new "Combined Construction & Operating License" procedures, and (3) close the nuclear fuel cycle so that solid waste is minimized why fuel use is maximized.

While I'm optimistic about the promise of microsolar and local (distributed) electricity generation, I believe that nuclear is an essential gap-filler while we await the commercial viability of mass-produced solar arrays.

I figure that our electricity use (even after launching EMC2 LLC as a home-based business) is about 5-6kW 2-3kW steadystate, or 30 15 m^2 of solar panels with current photovoltaic efficiency and battery capabilities [Correction note: we use about 24,000 kWh per year, or 70 kWh per day; I have corrected my mental math errors above.]. Ironically our carbon footprint has diminished greatly - largely due to the lack of a daily commute.

Technology, driven by consumer demand as the middle class in India and China grows in the coming years, will lead us to cheap, ubiquitous electricity in our lifetimes. It is gratifying to see the dual-pronged approach of local and capital generation alive and well in the Tennessee Valley (which includes the Oak Ridge National Lab, where Dr. Dana Christensen - seated below on the left - is ably leading the Energy & Engineering Sciences Directorate).

28.5.08

[Moblog] Huntsville

I'm in downtown Huntsville, Alabama for the next 24 hours, attending the annual Tennessee Valley Corridor Summit.

This place is *booming*: nearly 13% job growth since 2000, nearly all high tech jobs in aerospace and defense. FY09 budgets for tenant commands at the U.S. Army Redstone Arsenal total nearly $30 Billion, with more than 36,000 government employees and another 30,000 industry.

Congressman Zach Wamp [R-TN 3rd] is already on the scene, as a tireless advocate for the "Innovation Valley" of East Tennessee, and Senators Alexander, Sessions and Corker are due later in the week.

Oh, and a keynote address tomorrow morning by Dr. T.P.M. Barnett.

27.5.08

Tsushima Day

One of the most significant naval battles of the modern era took place this day, May 27th, in 1905, in the Straits of Tsushima between Japan and the southern tip of the Korean Peninsula.

Russia's expansion in northeast Asia in previous years collided with Japanese Realpolitik. Tsar Nicholas II refused to negotiate with Japan, seeing them as an inferior nation lacking the stature to be treated as a peer to Russia. So when Japanese forces seized Port Arthur (modern ShenYung) in the summer of 1904, the Tsar dispatched his Baltic Fleet of 45 ships to "teach" the Japanese a lesson.

Admiral Rozhestvensky and his fleet sailed for more than seven months, around Europe and Asia, approaching the Japanese mainland in late May 1905. At dawn on the 27th, Admiral Togo Heihachiro (aboard his flagship MIKASA) departed the port at Chinhae in Korea -- intercepting the Russian fleet just north of Okinoshima at 14:24 local time.

By sunset (19:30 local time, about five hours later), more than 4,000 Russian sailors were dead and another 7,300 were Prisoners of War. Admiral Rozhestvensky's flagship OSLYBAYA was sunk, along with dozens of other Russian ships. Japanese losses were minimal: three (3) small boats and just 116 killed in action.

Two lessons can be drawn from this encounter. First, the fact that the Russian fleet even made it to Japan is significant -- it was the largest, most complex endeavor by a fleet of that size, compounded by the increased logistics demand of modern ships.

Second, the logistics success was trumped by the monumental failure of Russia's strategic intelligence. Rozhestvensky's total surrender the following morning near Takeshima (Liancourt Rocks) underscored the tactical and technological success of the nimble, cohesive Japanese forces that swarmed around the hapless and confused Russian fleet.

The moral of this story is: never rest comfortably on your laurels -- especially when you're convinced that you have technical and numerical superiority. Tsushima represented a seismic shift in the balance of power in the world, and was the first time that a nation perceived by the "Concert of Europe" as a subject of colonization stood up and resoundingly defeated one of the great powers of the world.

Labels: , ,

26.5.08

In Memoriam

Though it has culturally become the "beginning of summer", Memorial Day's roots are far more somber. President Lincoln's Gettysburg Address (November 1863) is considered by some to be the first observance. Less than two years later, as the American Civil War was drawing to a close, two acts of charity many miles apart sowed the seeds for our present-day observance: In Waterloo, New York, a druggist named Henry Welles promoted the idea of decorating the graves of Civil War soldiers with wreaths; and in many communities across the nation Women's Auxiliaries of the North and South shifted their attention from care to families and soldiers to preserving and decorating the graves of the fallen -- regardless of their "side".

In 1868, General John A. Logan, first commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, issued General Order #11 establishing May 30 as an official memorial day to pay respect to all those who had died, in war or peace. My 'blogfriends at Small Wars Journal have reprinted General Order #11 in its entirety here.

Other 'blogfriends who have commemorated this day include:

Armchair Generalist (noting the impending 9/11 Pentagon Memorial)

Blog them Out of the Stone Age (linking a CBS News piece on Arlington)

Opposed System Design (A brief, poignant post)

Chicago Boys (Lexington Green links to Branagh's brilliant Henry V soliloquy)

ZenPundit (quoting Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.)

Danger Room (Noah Schachtman cites LCol McCrae's In Flanders Fields, a Remembrance Day staple in Canada)

Selil (Prof. Sam Liles on the meaning of "service" and "hero")

And most moving of all, our dear friend Melissa (aka BeeDiva) tells us about the father she never knew.

As you enjoy this day, please pause for a moment to pay homage to those who gave their last full measure of devotion so that we can live in liberty.

Update: Two more 'blogfriends have marked the day:

Hidden Unities (Anchors aweigh!)

interact (Sean critiques post-9/11 safeguards and the sorry state of military procurement)

Update 2: Two more 'blogfriends (O.K., three - but two share a site):

Abu Muqawama (AM himself laments the general public's lack of awareness of our military's service)

Abu Muqawama (Kip offers a poignant essay on what Memorial Day means to him)

tdaxp (Dan graciously links back to this post)

Labels: , ,

25.5.08

[Moblog] Car Camp Fun

Since the last two campouts have been "hike in", I had forgotten how wonderfully easy and convenient "car camping" can be. While we had close to a one-mile hike in to our campsites at Charit Creek last month, and a half-mile with the Scouts at Camp Buck Toms, here at Norris Lake we can park right at the "Rustic Campsite".

Packing was greatly simplified (grab all three TuffBins of camp gear, put in bed of truck). Sleeping is more comfortable with the raised queen-sized air mattress. And breakfast includes campsite espresso (see photo above)! Which is exactly what I needed to spool me up for a pickup game of flag football with nearby campers.

Today we'll hike and swim, then return home tomorrow for an afternoon Memorial Day cookout.

24.5.08

Piano Recitals


Man-Cub and Eldest each performed this afternoon with "Miss Musicality", Ms. Celeste, at her conservatory this afternoon. Each also received their gold pins from the National Guild in honor of their "Superior" performances last month before the judge, as well as oversized trophies. If they complete ten (10) years of "Superior" or better, with ten (10) songs each, they will receive the Paderewski Medal.

First up was Man-Cub, playing Belloli's "Hunting Horn":



Then Eldest played Beethoven's "Russian Folk Song":



Before any of these could be done today, though, one of Man-Cub's classmates had a birthday pool party (featuring a modest supply of "adult beverages" to fend off the Tennessee heat). Fun was had by all....

Now, it's off to Norris Lake with Man-Cub for some "rustic camping" with the Cub Scouts while Eldest has a Girl Scout sleepover to plan a big fall event for their "Bronze Award"!

23.5.08

WIRED: Survival Gear

While John Robb pens his next book on Resilient Communities, and Mother Penguin & my fellow Eagles at the National Institute of Urban Search and Rescue plan for GOLDEN PHOENIX this summer in the Southwest, WIRED magazine offers a dozen pieces of survival gear "just crazy enough to work".

As expected, WIRED's piece is two parts serious, one part sarcastic. The most uniquely inventive item on the list? The "HYDRA Collapsible Micro-Wind Turbine System" that uses electricity (converted from wind) to thaw snow, creating 750ml of water per hour:



As I prepare for a weekend camp-out with rising 2nd grade Cub Scouts (who recently received their Tiger Badges and are now "Wolf Cubs"), some of these items look particularly useful... :-)

Labels: , ,

20.5.08

Climate Change: Reprise

Back in September I wrote a post entitled "Climate Change: Yes, But Why?". My premise was that, while "climate change" is clearly occurring, the issue of causality needs more attention.

After that post, I asked some members of the Oak Ridge National Lab staff (including one of ORNL's corporate fellows, Dr. Tom Wilbanks, who was part of the Nobel-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) to share their perspectives. Tom was able to point me in the right direction regarding infrared absorption of various molecules (e.g., H2O, CO2, etc.).

This month's WIRED (16.06) has a great point-counterpoint cover story (which, in the URL, is referenced as "heresies"). Among their proposed "heresies" are Embrace Nuclear Power, Carbon Trading Doesn't Work and China Is The Solution. I think these are great points -- points that hopefully will shift the dialog from impassioned proselytizing to rational decisionmaking. (However, a cursory glance at the WIRED comments section shows this to be a vain hope....)

The WIRED piece has motivated me to renew my own research into the causal relationships between solar radiation (which has been on a cyclical increase, with a corresponding decrease in sunspot number), natural phenomena, and human influence. I finally found a graphic that I find compelling:

This graphic (h/t Thomas Everth's GreenBlog in New Zealand) shows total atmospheric absorption of various frequencies of electromagnetic radiation, as well as individual absorption spectra for ozone (O3), water (H2O) and carbon dioxide (CO2).

It also overlays the distribution of incident solar radiation (most of which is between 200nm and 2μm wavelength, covering the visual spectrum of light as well as the near-infrared band) as well as the Earth's outgoing thermal radiation (covering the infrared-C band from 3 to 80 μm wavelength). Note that the x-axis (wavelength) is a logarithmic scale, going from 0.1 to 1, 10 then 100.

The red line shows the absorption of O2 + O3 (ozone). As expected, the left side of ozone's absorption spectra (wavelength below 200nm, in the ultraviolet spectrum) shows nearly 100% absorption. Our natural defense against harmful ultraviolet radiation is the ozone layer (which is depleted by chlorofluorocarbons, but that's for another post).

The blue line shows the absorption spectrum of water. While some have claimed that water vapor is the real culprit behind global warming (usually with some reference to how much warmer we are when there's a cloud layer), this plot shows that water's absorption spectra drops where the outgoing thermal radiation increases. Therefore, water is nearly transparent to the infrared-C radiation between 5 and 20 μm wavelength. This too is expected -- otherwise Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) wouldn't work on humid nights or with a high water vapor content in the air.

What I find compelling is the green line showing CO2's absorptive properties. In particular, note the spike in absorption between 10 and 20 μm -- where CO2 absorbs nearly 100% of incident IR-C radiation.

When I first considered the absorption and scattering of radiation by molecules in our atmosphere, I initially discarded it as a cause for concern. My rationale was that the absorbed radiation would be randomly scattered, or re-radiated -- and therefore would balance itself out.

While this is true for incoming radiation from external sources (e.g., the sun), what I failed to consider is that we live exothermic lives on Earth. When we convert fuels into energy, we're also creating heat -- so the outbound radiation becomes the key consideration.

By adding the outbound radiation to the equation, with nearly half of the absorbed radiation being scattered back to the Earth, we can conclude that carbon dioxide is a major contributor to climate change.

What can we do about this? Invest in alternative, renewable energy sources (such as solar, which is getting more efficient in capturing the 1.3kW per square meter peak incidence from the sun; wind, with some models generating more than 6MW per turbine; and better batteries to store energy). Travel less (thanks, Internet). And save.

Labels:

17.5.08

Thermodynamics & Resilience

Author and blogfriend John Robb (of Global Guerillas) has done some fascinating "horizontal thinking" lately, tying the concept of "resilience" to thermodynamics. Yesterday's 'blogpost (entitled "Dissipative Structures") combines entropy and complexity -- with special attnention given to the concept of "scale" in complex systems.

John has raised an important point -- one that I echoed in his comments section at GG. If we presume that organizational and political structures exist because they make it more efficient (i.e., less entropic) to live, then we can also presume they will gradually become extinct when people have better options to pursue. "Resilient Communities" may just be one method by which we are able to satisfy Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. From John's comment section:

On the topic of thermodynamics, remember that entropy can be controlled -- but it takes work to do so (otherwise it would be impossible to make ice, an organized lattice of hydrogen-bonded water molecules, from a disorganized liquid).

Organizations are formed in order to accomplish tasks more efficiently. While it is a staple of GG and your own JR blogs (and BNW) to note the declining role of the nation-state, it is worthwhile to remember WHY our nomadic species settled into agrarian communes: because it was more efficient. Therefore, urban centers arose because that was the BEST way to accomplish the tasks required in a civilization dependent on industrialization. Similarly, nation-states were the most efficient mechanism for providing for common defense while creating -- and regulating -- markets in the post-Renaissance era. The former political structures based on the church and the "Divine Right of Kings" were discarded, and we adapted to the new norms.

Have nation-states recently exceeded some threshold of efficiency? Or are there better examples for how we can organize to live, work and play without further disruptions to our environment?

RCs may just be one case -- and I hope you will more fully develop this theory in your forthcoming RC book. It probably deserves and entire section, rather than just a lone chapter.

The premise should be how can we best abide by the 1st Law of Thermodynamics (Energy is always conserved) while also allowing the core social structures to thrive within our environment.


Zenpundit has provided a handy reference of John's work toward his second book (on "Resilient Communities"). Check it out and join the fray.

Labels: , , , ,

16.5.08

[Moblog] Another PR

Man-Cub set another Personal Record in the mile, clocking today's race at 7:45. However, with the addition of 2nd graders to the bracket, that was only good enough for a 5th place overall finish. Oak Ridge running is quite competitive....

First place went to baseball teammate Ian (center, whose speed is obviously being wasted at shortstop), while best friend and other teammate Stephen was just a few seconds behind Man-Cub.

A great day to run, with partly cloudy skies and temps in the high 60°s - far more comfortable than this week's record-breaking heat wave in San Francisco (where it reached 97° F. yesterday!).

Dubious Post of the Week

Earlier this week Stan Wasserman at Harvard's "Complexity and Social Networks Blog" posted a rant about how he's " ... beginning to despise the word 'social' in 'social networks', 'social networking', 'social software', and so forth ......"

My comment (which has not yet been posted, since they moderate blog feedback) was that he'd better rethink the name of their blog. I suppose "Complexity and Network Science Blog" has a nice ring to it... :-)

Labels: ,

15.5.08

[Moblog] RMS Concert

Eldest of Oz performed with her middle school band this evening, including a clarinet solo of "Old Smoky". After next week's piano recital and a dance recital the weekend after that (where she's doing four dances - from ballet to pointe, to jazz and modern) we'll be staged out!

14.5.08

Review: tdaxp's Revolutionary Strategies

Überblogger and 'blogfriend Dan Abbott (of tdaxp) has published his first book: Revolutionary Strategies in Early Christianity: 4th Generation Warfare (4GW) Against the Roman Empire, and the Counterinsurgency (COIN) Campaign to Save It. It's on sale now on Amazon.

Dan, a doctoral candidate at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a co-contributing colleague of mine at Dreaming 5GW, is a dutiful student of the late Col. John Boyd's ideas regarding conflict, decision making and leadership. He introduced this book on his 'blog earlier this month.

Dan has done a remarkable job applying contemporary theories of warfare and network science to the early Christian / late Roman era. The most notable strength in Revolutionary Strategies is his inventive correlation of the defensive strategies employed by Caiaphas (the chief antagonist of Jesus’s ministries) to those of Diocletian (the late-3rd century Roman emperor who ordered the most severe persecution of the Christian faithful). Accompanying this analysis is a very cogent application of the theories of Boyd (Penetrate - Isolate - Subvert - Reorient - Reharmonize, or PISRR), with modern examples like Vichy France that match the dynamics in the early Christian church.

Both Caiaphas and Diocletian sought to preserve the status quo. For Caiaphas, appeasing Rome was his primary objective: a rogue rabbi who preached of other-worldly gifts would have reflected poorly upon him and his hierarchy. Diocletian clearly understood the management complexities of so vast an empire, and seemed to adeptly address many of the most-pressing ills that plagued the Empire (poor civic participation, an army spread thin on the borders with little to no interior defenses) despite his rampant cronyism (particularly in the establishment of the Tetrarchy). But for the first 18 years of his reign Diocletian was unconcerned about the "Christian threat" – and if it not for Galerius would likely have never ordered the Great Persecution.

Most significantly, Dan’s book opens several new fronts on the debate over the nature of insurgency – and counterinsurgency. For instance, is the ex post facto presumption of “co-option” by the splinter Jewish sect that has become the Christian church practical? Or, rather, was the Christian faith “culturally appropriated” by the Roman empire upon Emperor Constantine’s conversion to Christianity in the early 4th century? While Dan asserts the former through the hypernetworking of the Apostle Paul, I believe this is a topic worthy of broader study. For instance, was Paul (née Saul of Tarsus, a Pharisee) savvy enough to realize that his peers in Jewish leadership were attracting the ire of Rome? Did Paul’s ministries throughout the Mediterranean seek to increase the rift between Jerusalem and the splinter sect of Christian faithful? And were the Gospels written in a manner to give Rome (and particularly Pilate) a “pass” in the crucifixion of Jesus? (Note that three of the four Gospels were published immediately prior to the First Jewish-Roman War and the subsequent destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D.)

Dan also provides another benchmark in the evolving theory of the “generations of war”, to wit his development of a taxonomy to differentiate between the various generational constructs. Though I disagree with his assertions that the “0th” (zeroth) generation connotes a form of “total war” and that 3rd generation warfare connotes “better minds”, Dan brings value by identifying possible relationships across the xGW generations and inviting further dialogue.

This is perhaps the greatest utility of Revolutionary Strategies: proffering novel ideas in order to provoke debate. Just as the spiritual values of the Romans were initially at odds with the splinter Jewish sect we now call Christians, the different cognitive approaches of Islam and Christianity – one society favoring creativity and innovation, the other cherishing rote memorization – will have similar consequences for our own unfolding century.

Labels: , , , , ,

13.5.08

Worldhall Launch

The team at NECSI has formally launched "WorldHall" -- one part Wiki, one part 'Blog, one part Voting Booth, all bound together to spur ideas to actions.

Dr. Naomi Bar-Yam, Executive Director of Mothers' Milk Bank of New England, has provided the follow introductory note for WorldHall's inaugural initiative: ideas and actions in support of the nursing mothers. With a baby on the way, this is an issue that is of significant interest to our family -- and a great demonstration of WorldHall's capabilities for advising decisionmakers and influencing policy.


Dear Colleagues,

I want to tell you about a new web resource that can be of real service to the breastfeeding community and beyond. World Hall enables us to discuss policy issues, identify who can do something about them, propose actions and vote ---- to have our voices heard by those in positions to implement change.

This is a unique opportunity: World Hall is being launched in the breastfeeding community. Actions regarding ban the bags, breastfeeding in public, breastfeeding in the workplace, insurance coverage for lactation services and others are already posted on World Hall.

World Hall is different than a breastfeeding listserv or blog. We will be joined in the conversation by activists in other areas allowing for cross conversation and voting, enriching all involved. Our active engagement in World Hall will raise the visibility of breastfeeding to all who are listening to and conversing on World Hall. World Hall is free and non-commercial. It was developed by students at the New England Complex Systems Institute (necsi.edu) with support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC is a great example of a major player that is watching the system and paying attention to the actions proposed and discussed.

Your active engagement in World Hall will help to raise the visibility of the issues we all work on every day. Please vote, add new actions, comments, and identify new issues and players. Share World Hall with others.

The site is at:

I look forward to meeting you there.

------------------------------------------
Naomi Bar-Yam Ph.D.
Executive Director
Mothers' Milk Bank of New England

Naomi@milkbankne.org
617-964-6676
www.milkbankne.org


Labels:

Annasophia-to-be

Hot off the thermal press at CINCOZ's Ob/Gyn appointment: a profile of Annasophia-to-be!

Our little M&M, Princess of Oz (who will be the most spoiled child in the history of the world) is weighing in at 13 oz. Less than 20 weeks to the due date. Pray for a cool summer!

12.5.08

[Moblog] Coach Summitt Lunch

Today was the annual Humanitarian Luncheon, hosted by the Appalachian Chapter of the American Red Cross. In addition to honoring volunteers and donors who make Chapter operations possible, we were honored to host the ultimate "Volunteer" -- legendary Lady Vols coach Pat Head Summitt -- as our keynote speaker.

The American Red Cross provides disaster relief, health and safety training, and emergency support for members of the armed forces. Since they receive no federal funding, these services are dependent upon donations from our communities. Visit http://www.redcross.org for more information, or to make a donation of money or your time.

Together, we can save a life!


11.5.08

Happy Mother's Day

The kids helped make a video for CINCHOUSE in honor of Mother's Day:


Don't send a lame Mother's Day eCard.
Try JibJab Sendables!

Labels:

10.5.08

[Moblog] Kids' Road Mile

Man-Cub participated in this morning's road mile at the Univ of Tennessee, sponsored by the Knoxville Track Club. This race, on a moderately flat course near UT's Tom Black Track, featured more than 100 kids aged 3 to 15.

The overall winner was a 14 year old boy who clocked a 5:34 mile, and an 8 year old boy next to us at the start had recently run a 5k in 26:19 (his mile time today: 7:19).

While the 8 year old competition was stiff (the photo above was Man-Cub pacing an 8 year old at the finish), our J-Man's 8:25 time - a Personal Record for the mile - was good enough for a gold medal, 1st place finish!

Now we're off to a baseball scrimmage, then a friend's birthday party (appropriately at a "Speed Racer" screening), then to tonight's AA-league Smokies baseball game against Huntsville with the little league team.

9.5.08

[Moblog] Speed Racer

Hmmm... Immediate reaction (at 0230 after the midnight screening of Speed Racer) is that the Wachowski Brothers -- of Matrix fame -- have started to emulate Stanley Kubrick in their artistry.

F/X, as expected, were extraordinary. And the "campiness" factor was preserved (though the panning head-shot scene transitions got tiresome after the 57th time). At 138 minutes, there were some way-too-lengthy "character development" scenes that could have been pared down.

All in all, a fun movie that was true to the spirit of Tatsuo's original animated series. Some of my first memories are of watching Speed Racer at my Grandpa's house with my cousins. The Wachowskis did those memories proud.

Labels: ,

8.5.08

[Moblog] Go Speed Racer Go!

I just arrived at the Regal IMAX in Turkey Creek (West Knoxville) for the 12:01am showing of Speed Racer. More details after "The IMAX Experience"....

[Moblog] Scientists' Day

Today is Scientists' Day at Linden Elementary School in Oak Ridge, where dozens of scientists and engineers tour through the school giving demonstrations to the kids (K-4th grade).

Last year, Eldest of Oz was a fourth grader - so I talked "nuclear" for the more advanced students in that class. This year, Man-Cub is a 1st grader - so I brought the 5" Maksutov-Cassegrain and talked astronomy.

We have some smart kids in this school, who quickly grasped the concept of "Doppler Shift" (and easily refuted my test hypothesis that, based on simple observations, the sun goes around the earth).

More than half of all students (K-4) participated in this week's Science Fair, too. Since it was optional for K-2, I see this as a very promising indicator of the science savvy of our next generation!

7.5.08

[Moblog] NBC Live at Five

Man-cub's Cub Scout Tiger Den visited WBIR's "Live at Five" news studio in Knoxville. WBIR is east Tennessee's NBC affiliate, and today's show featured a guest appearance by country supergroup "Lonestar". A great visit, thanks to Den Leader Matt (who's daytime job is as a reporter and photographer for WBIR).

Update: Russ and Beth introduced our Scouts after a commercial break:

5.5.08

¡Feliz Cinco de Mayo!

Cinco de Mayo is the celebration of México's victory over Napoleon III at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. Though it is virtually ignored in México (other than in the state of Puebla, just east of Ciudad de México), it has been celebrated for more than 140 years in the U.S. state of California.

While Cinco de Mayo is not México's "Independence Day" (that date is September 16th), in America it has become the cultural equivalent of St. Patrick's Day: a celebration of heritage and culture of our southern neighbor.

So tonight, raise your cerveza or your margarita and honor México!

Labels: , ,

2.5.08

Blogging Milestone

According to ClustrMaps, Oz has logged its 25,000th visitor since we started counting back in August. Thanks for making us part of your RSS feeds!

Middle School Musical

Eldest of Oz concluded a week of performances with her middle school talent show this evening.

Her classmates demonstrated a tremendous amount of skill, both vocally and with musical instruments. Seventh grader Wyatt P. played a nearly-flawless "Stairway to Heaven" by the mighty Zep (with us 40-somethings waving our cell phones like lighters), and sixth grader Brandon F. rocked us all out with "Revelation (Mother Earth)" by Ozzy Osbourne [corrected - thx Brandon!].

The show ended with the RMS Jazz Quintet closing out with a pair of trumpet solos and a keyboard solo. But the real star of our Middle School Musical was the RMS Cheerleading Coach Traci Russell as the inestimable Sharpey Evans.



Here's a video of Eldest on the keyboard playing "Little Dance in A Minor" by Carolyn Miller:




Labels: